Wednesday, 30 May 2018

How to get over a relationship breakup

We'll soon be into June and prime wedding season, but sadly not every relationship has a happy ending. Sometimes people grow apart by mutual consent, sometimes it is one party that chooses to move on while the other would happily stay together.

When a relationship ends, there are a number of emotions that we go through – especially if the break-up was unexpected / unwanted. This article from Psychology Today suggests there are seven stages to getting over a relationship which includes the grieving process, so it’s little surprise that most of us could do with extra support when a valued relationship comes to an end.

We've pulled together some things to remember if you’re going through a break-up:

It’s OK to not be OK (for a while)

Relationships take time and effort and chances are you will have invested a lot of energy and emotion into your partnership. When someone you love is no longer around – for whatever reason – even if you are the one that finished things, it’s only human to feel sad for what you have lost and for what you hoped would be in the future. Give yourself time to grieve the end of your relationship and to properly process the emotions that the breakup brings to the fore.

Being busy helps

Chances are that your relationship had resulted in some routines and that many memories will have been created as a result of the time you spent with your partner. After a breakup, there is a need to replace these memories with new ones and to try and form new routines that don’t remind you of what you have lost. Post breakup there is always an urge to wallow in self-pity, which often only serves to make us feel worse about ourselves. Our advice: go to the gym, take a walk, start a new hobby. Keeping yourself occupied helps both physically and mentally.

Clear your mind – and your space

Memories… Everywhere you look after a breakup you’ll see things that spark memories of the happy times you spent together. While in time, you’ll be able to value and treasure these memories, in the raw, emotional state that you will find yourself in after a relationship ends, such memories only serve to reinforce your sadness. Take some time to have a spring clean. Sort stuff away, change your furniture around – you’ll be surprised how much clearer your mind will become.

Beware the rebound

Sometimes we think the best way to get over someone is by getting back out there. Not only does this prove we’re still attractive to others, it also takes our mind off the breakup, right? Wrong! While dating again might seem like a positive move to make, resist. Until you’ve worked through your emotions you’ll not be sharing your best self with others. Give yourself the time you need to heal alone; it will make your future relationships more positive and productive.

Realise it’s not all about you

Breakups are hard. They call us to question ourselves and often result in us taking a long, hard look within so that we can prevent things going wrong in future relationships. While a bit of inward reflection can be a positive thing, to make sure that we offer the very best version of ourselves to future partners, we also have to appreciate that it takes two people to form a relationship – only one of which you have no control over. Keep focussed on yourself but don’t take the full burden of the breakup on your shoulders.

Remember, recovery takes time. In much the same way as it took time and effort to develop your relationship, the same is true when it ends. Don’t rush the time it takes for you to become an emotionally healthy person again. Every journey of self-discovery and self-improvement is built one step at a time but by being kind to yourself you’ll come out the other side a better person.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The benefits of walking to school

The sun is shining and the mornings are bright - it's a great excuse to try and encourage our kids to get more active. We know how difficult it is to get organised in the morning and that the school run is often the most stressful time of the day for most parents, however, with a few small tweaks to your schedule we hope you’ll soon see the benefits that a simple walk to school can bring to your kids – and your family.

Walking makes you smarter

Evidence suggests that children who have done some exercise earlier in the day arrive at school brighter and more alert. Walking gets the blood flowing round the body and our brains working, which increases the creativity they need to help them once they’re in the classroom. Park a little distance away from school – even if it’s just around the corner. It's enough to kick-start our bodies and get us ready for the day ahead.

Walking encourages independence

While we’re not suggesting that all children should walk to school by themselves, there is a lot to be said for allowing our children a little more independence. It enables them to think responsibly and helps them to make decisions for themselves. Maybe this week you could arrange for them to meet you at a set location a little distance away from the school gate? This has the added bonus of avoiding the pick up traffic too. As well as the exercise, the skills your children will learn will also help them be more independent at home.

Walking lifts the mood

Walking (and other forms of exercise) help release feel good chemicals into the body, which has a calming effect on the mind and an energising effect on the body. Whatever the age of your child, walking will be beneficial on their mood. And if they're doing exams, walking is a great way to manage exam stress. 

Walking helps you appreciate nature

We all know that our children are not spending as much time outside as we used to when we were kids – there are far too many distractions inside for them to venture far. But it’s not just fresh air and exercise they miss out on by being inside the house or travelling by car, they’re missing out on the opportunity to appreciate the beautiful nature around them. By carving out the time to walk to / from school every day, we are providing our children with the chance to see how things grow, learn about life cycles and appreciate the seasons. Perhaps if there really isn’t time for you to do the walk with your children yourself, you could enquire about any ‘walking school bus’’ schemes that may have been set up or develop a walking syndicate with other parents to share the time burden?

Walking rocks

Once you’ve started to encourage your children to walk more, chances are it’ll be something you want to continue. It’s a cheap and simple way for them to get the exercise they need to keep mentally and physically alert and healthy. The key to an ongoing love of walking is to make the walk interesting. You may have seen the growing trend of rock painting? Like a low tech version of ‘Pok√©mon Go’, rock painting ingeniously encourages children to be more creative and more active.

There’s no denying that walking to school – even part of the way – requires you to be super organised in the morning. Here are some tips for keeping your morning routine on track:
  • Make sure bags are packed and uniform sorted the night before
  • Prepare breakfasts and lunchboxes in advance, 
  • Help children take responsibility for their own morning routine

With childhood obesity on the rise, the temptation to stay inside with electronic devices ever growing and an increasing pressure on parents to do more in less time, we can’t promise you that getting your children to walk more will be easy – but it will certainly be worth it!

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Why it’s good to cry

The British are said to have a stiff upper lip. We are conditioned from a young age – boys especially – that maintaining an emotional balance is the key to a happy, healthy life and that even the most trying of situations can be addressed with a cup of tea!

While culturally, this may be the way to do things, keeping our emotions bottled up can actually cause more issues than it solves. And sometimes the best way to deal with a negative or upsetting situation is to ‘let it all out’ and have a good cry.

According to this article in Psychology Today, crying helps us communicate how we’re feeling at times when language fails us – it’s a way of soliciting help and comfort from others to help us process and make sense of things that are happening to us.

There are a few reasons why we cry – it’s a natural reflex that keeps our eyes healthy by flushing out irritants, for example, or a natural response to physical pain – but what we’re looking at in this blog though are emotional tears, caused by sad or stressful situations.

So, what are the benefits of a good cry?

  • First and foremost, crying has a soothing effect on the body and calms us down so that we are better able to regulate our emotions and think about things more rationally. After a cry, we can physically feel our body relax – this is because our parasympathetic nervous system has been triggered. So, it makes sense that if you find yourself in a particularly stressful situation, a bit of a sob will do you good. It will help you relax and reduce the physical effects that exposure to stress can have on your body – such as tension headaches, high blood pressure and perhaps even digestive issues. Have you heard the saying ‘Cry it Out’? You’re literally flushing the negative emotions out of your body, which can only be a good thing.
  • As well as activating the nervous system, the act of crying releases oxytocin and endorphins, both hormones that help us manage our physical and emotional pain, which release feelings of general well-being. It also helps us break down the buildup of manganese in our body, which can lead to stress and anxiety if we have too much of it. After we’ve had a cry, we are often better able to find the clarity of thought we need to navigate through stressful situations. This is because we are not dealing with the situation emotionally, only with the facts. This leads us to make better choices and makes it easier for us to make decisions.
  • Some people may choose to cry in private, but for those of us whose emotions may get the better of them in front of others, crying also rallies support and emotional care from the people around us. We are conditioned to reach out to people when we see them crying – it’s an interpersonal cue that helps us get the personal interaction we need from others in order to feel better. It helps us find the support we need, but often don't seek – due to a fear of showing weakness, or not wanting to bother others with our own problems and issues.

So next time you’re faced with a difficult situation, don’t keep your emotions suppressed. Grab some tissues, find a quiet place and let it all out – you may be surprised by how much better you feel afterwards.