Thursday, 25 June 2020

Get ready for summer

Summer shouldn’t all be about the countdown to looking good on the beach, it should be a time for fun, relaxation and some much-needed time out from your daily routine. Unless we make some proper time for ourselves when we can fully relax and escape the stresses of everyday life, the pressures can mount and as a result we face mental and physical burnout, especially when we’re constantly trying to maintain a hectic lifestyle.

In order to make time for ourselves, ideally a week or longer, where we can enjoy lazy mornings, lingering lunches or BBQs in the sunshine, we need to declutter our lives and start to wind down.

8 ways to declutter your life

  1. In the weeks leading up to your summer break, try to make sure you’ve finished any outstanding tasks at work. There’s nothing worse than worrying about your job when your supposed to be enjoying a break. You need to be able to totally switch off your mind so that you don’t have any feelings of anxiety.
  2. Meditation is a great way to relax, unwind and clear your mind. Set aside 10 minutes every day if possible to free your mind of unwanted chatter. As well as feeling much calmer, it will also help you deal more effectively with any tasks you need to get done before your holiday.
  3. Do one extra household chore each week so that you don’t have to think about those niggling jobs during your time off. Perhaps you might want to deep clean the house or catch up on some gardening, especially as it might not be possible to travel this summer and you’ll need to make the most of the holidays at home.
  4. As we tend to over-indulge when we’re enjoying a break, doing some form of exercise in the run up to our holiday can make us feel less guilty if we want to enjoy a week of eating and pure relaxation.
  5. Try to ease yourself into a better evening routine so that you’re getting plenty of sleep – you don’t want to waste your entire break simply catching up on sleep after feeling mentally exhausted for so long. You’ll also find that if you sleep well, you’ll have more energy to complete you’re the tasks above.
  6. Take stock of anything that’s causing you anxiety or stress and try to resolve the issue before the summer so that you don’t have a sense of doom looming over you. Perhaps there’s something at work that’s concerning you or maybe you need to resolve an ongoing disagreement with a colleague or friend. Whatever it is, try to find a way of dealing with it so that it isn’t taking up your head space when you’re supposed to be relaxing.
  7. Make a pact with yourself that during your summer break you focus on yourself and do what makes you happy. Put work out of your mind and soak up all those wonderful moments that make you appreciate life.

Studies show that summer provides some very important benefits to our health and wellbeing so it’s vital that we are able to truly enjoy the season. By decluttering your life in the run up to your summer break, you’re much more likely to savour every moment.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Dealing with transitions in your life

Change in our lives is inevitable, yet it can still be a troubling thought for some of us. According to literature on stress and coping, there is no such thing as an inherently difficult life transition, so what is it about changes in our lives that we find so challenging?

Well, research has shown that the reason we can struggle with transitions, is because of the mindset we apply to the situation at hand. Life transitions that can feel particularly difficult to deal with include leaving home, starting a new job, and divorce. Achieving a positive mindset in all of these situations is not always easy, however, there are ways we can manage these transitions to make them less stressful.

  1. See the challenge in change rather than the threat – When we see change as a something to be dreaded or feared, we automatically open ourselves up to the stress which occurs when we feel threatened. Instead, try to approach any event that may scare and overwhelm you, into a challenge you can tackle. 
  2. Seek support throughout the transition – Studies have shown that having social support is one of the most significant keys to successfully managing change. Try to remember that absolutely everyone will go through a significant life transition at some point. Although everyone's experiences will be different, it can help to have that emotional boost along the way from people who care about you and may have helpful tips to share with you.
  3. Prepare for the change – As with many things in our lives, it often isn’t helpful to avoid or deny that change is happening. It may seem easier at the time, but the sooner we can accept what’s happening, the sooner we can start to adapt. In certain transitions such as retirement or moving house, research has shown that planning at least two years ahead, will allow the moving-on process to occur without the accompanying ‘devastation’ of the loss of your old home or job. 
  4. Use the transition as positively as possible – All major life transitions, no matter what they are, come with potential for meaningful reflection. Where possible, try to see the positives in the change coming, while also acknowledging the positive elements of this part of your life before the change. With some transitions, such as the death of a loved one, this can be extremely challenging, and it might feel impossible to identify positive aspects of this change. In this case, it can be useful to focus on the things you were able to experience before this change, and recognise that going forward, you are taking memories with you that you will be able to cherish forever.
  5. Realise that change is a natural part of life – Fortunately, our lives are never at a complete standstill, as this would be extremely boring and entirely uneventful. You may not be seeking or wanting change when it happens to you, but the realisation that transitions are inherent to human life is something that can be useful to remember. Instead of fighting it, try to accept it as something that we all face at some point, in different forms. The aim is to make these transitions as smooth as possible, to enable us to move forward and to grow, rather than becoming stuck in the past, in a part of our lives that is no longer serving us.

Thursday, 11 June 2020

How to raise confident children

Confidence is one of the most important life skills you can develop as a child. In such a vast world with so many social rules, there’s much to discover and overcome. For any parent, helping to build their child’s confidence is one of the greatest lessons of all and it will stand them in good stead for conquering any difficulties or challenges that lie ahead of them.

Ways to increase confidence in children

Show appreciation

No matter how big or small the achievement, always give praise to your children. And it’s equally as important to praise effort as well, so they don’t feel they have to achieve something great to be worthy of your approval or love. However, it's important to make sure it IS an achievement. For example, don't praise your children for tying their shoelaces unless they have a problem with that particular task and are making progress with it. 

Let them be themselves

One of the many reasons children lack confidence is because they're afraid to be themselves for fear of being reprimanded. Although we should still impose guidelines for behaviour and teach them right from wrong, we should also allow our children to express themselves and not be afraid of what others might think of them. They should be allowed to have their own opinions as long as they learn to express them in a positive manner.

Teach them it’s okay to fail

Failure is often something feared by children the most because they are afraid of the repercussions. It’s so important to let them know that failure is a process everyone must experience in order to become a better person in whatever capacity. As long as they know it’s okay to fail, they will continue learning valuable lessons for life. From experiencing failure, they will also discover resilience and perseverance.

Set them challenges

Setting challenges for children and pushing them out of their comfort zone can be extremely beneficial to them. As long as you start off small and increase the challenges gradually over time, this will give them the confidence to try new things and they will become less fearful as they grow up.

Help them discover their talents

Even as adults, some of us never realise our talents or potential because we're too afraid to take risks or try something new. Sometimes we might have hidden talents that won’t be discovered at school, so we need to try our hand at lots of different things to find out what we enjoy and want to improve at. Whenever possible, let your child take up a dance class or learn to play an instrument and if they don’t enjoy it, let them try something else.

Teach them not to be afraid of adults

It’s not uncommon for children to feel fearful of adults, and this can prevent them from expressing themselves truthfully. As long as your children understand respect and that it applies to everyone not just people of a certain age, then we should avoid instilling a fear of adults in them.

Show them unconditional love

Although there will be times when you need to let your children stand on their own two feet, make sure they know that you love them unconditionally. If they know they have your support and love at all times, this will give them the confidence to learn from their own mistakes.

Be a good role model

One of the best and most important ways that our children learn from us is when we lead by example. Let them see when we make mistakes and how we learn from them, or show them how we cope with situations that we might be fearful of.

By raising confident children, we are also giving them the skills to manage their mental wellbeing. The better they become at facing challenges and overcoming failure, the less likely they are to feel anxious or stressed about certain situations.

More information

For more about raising confident and happy children, download our pdf booklet, Flourishing Children - Help Your Child To Thrive

This BBC article looks at a study that was undertaken to determine if confidence in children affected their academic success. It's an interesting read!