Thursday, 31 December 2020

New Year’s resolutions for your wellbeing

If ever there was a year to consider making New Year resolutions, it’s 2020! Although many people believe that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time, for many they offer focus and a more positive mindset. They don’t have to be about creating a challenge so difficult that you are setting yourself up to fail, they can be something simple to ensure you are more focused on yourself and your own wellbeing. We all need some self care to ensure we are feeling at our best both mentally and physically.

Health goals

Research shows that our physical health is an important contributor to our mental wellness. A report 'Let's get physical - the impact of physical activity on wellbeing' published by the Mental Health Foundation  says that: “Participation in regular physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity can help play a role in preventing mental health problems and improve the quality of life of those experiencing it. For example, there is an approximately 20–30% lower risk for depression and dementia, for adults participating in daily physical activity”.

By setting yourself achievable targets to improve your physical health, you can create routines that you are likely to continue as part of a healthier lifestyle. Choose a physical activity that you will enjoy, start off small and increase the amount of exercise at your own pace. Where possible, perhaps walk to work or take the stairs instead of the lift and take things from there.

Many of us understand how big a role diet plays in our physical and mental health so you could aim to reduce the amount of sugar or fat in your diet and replace them with natural, wholefoods such as vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds. The key is to allow yourself to eat the foods you crave from time to time so you don't feel deprived of them. Depriving yourself completely will add to the cravings. 

Sleep routine

Poor sleep or sleep deprivation can lead to significant health problems including depression, weight gain, and even heart disease. The New Year is a great time to get into good sleeping habits as we are usually back into our normal working/study routine. Some ways you can improve your sleep routine include:

Plan wind down time 45 minutes before bed when you reduce the screen time on all electronic devices.
Avoid drinks with caffeine in the evening.

Play relaxing music and practise meditation before you go to bed.

Aim for between 7-9 hours of sleep each night and go to bed at a reasonable time. The website Medical News Today recommends you go to bed between 8pm and midnight.

Make more 'me time'

We often feel like we’re being selfish (especially those with families to take care of) if we take time out to do something we love, but 'me time' is essential for our wellbeing. Put some time aside each day, even if it’s just 15 minutes to take a long soak in the bath, go for a walk among nature, or read a book.

Get outside more

Being outdoors and surrounding yourself in nature can be a huge boost to your mental and physical wellbeing. The fresh air and soothing sounds of nature are great for alleviating stress and anxiety and lowering your blood pressure.

Remember that no matter how small your New Year’s wellbeing resolution may be, it’s a step in the right direction and can only make you feel better.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Day 6 – Six geese are laying – Lay down your reserves

When things are going well, take time to lay down reserves for future leaner times. We can do this by taking five to ten minutes a day to practise some deep breathing or mindfulness/relaxation exercises. These practices have been shown to make us feel less stressed, which allows us to respond better to stressful situations. When we are faced with a stressful situation, our bodies change rapidly and significantly to help us deal with it head on or run away (known as the ‘fight or flight’ response). If these events are constant and our bodies don’t reset in between, it can lead to long-term physical and mental health issues. Mindfulness and deep breathing are some of the ways to manage our stress response. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Day 5 – Five gold rings – Prioritise what matters to you most

What do you hold precious in your life? It’s not always the things that you give priority to. Note down the five most important things in your life and spend today prioritising those things in some way. For example, if your grandparents are important to you, give them a call. If your job is important, think of some ways you could improve your performance going forwards. If your health is important, make an exercise and nutrition plan. When there's a lot going on, it can be easy to do the things that come up and never have time for your important things. Prioritise your important things and you will feel happier and more fulfilled.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Day 4 – Four calling birds – Communication comes in many forms

Communication isn’t always vocal, we communicate a lot about ourselves and our feelings through our body language, actions and behaviours. Do you say that you want to spend time with your partner, but sit staring at your laptop when you’re together? Do you suggest meeting a friend but always turn up late? There may be an underlying message in these behaviours. Perhaps you feel tired and don’t really want to interact with your partner or perhaps you feel ambivalent about meeting your friend and struggle to motivate yourself to get ready and out of the door on time. On the other hand, you may simply be struggling to cope and feel overloaded. It’s important to consider all non-verbal cues when reading a situation. These include not only actions, but also facial expressions and body language. What is your face and body saying about you? Did you know that research has found that we even judge the intelligence of others by their facial expressions? If you want to find out more about non-verbal communication and how to improve the messages you're sending to others, read more here. 

Read more about non-verbal communication >

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Day 3 – Three French hens – Make time for friends

Like partners, friends are vital to our mental health. They provide us with a different perspective on things and are often kinder to us than we are ourselves. We may not see our friends often, but having social connections is important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Make the effort to give a friend a call today and find out how they are. You can even meet them on platforms such as House Party and do quizzes together. Shared experiences boost the feeling of connectedness. Give it a go! 

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Day 2 – Two turtle doves – Nurture your relationships

None of us can survive alone in the world. We all need someone to love and cherish us. Take some time today to nurture your relationship with a partner or to work on supporting future relationships. According to Dr Arthur Aron, psychology professor at the University of New York’s Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory, the way to rekindle some of the sparks from the earlier stages of your relationship is to do something new and different together. Dr Aron says that couples who share new experiences report greater happiness in their marriage than those who simply share familiar experiences. So if you’re at a loose end today, think of something new to do together and start rekindling those sparks! And if you’re single at the moment, plan to take up a new hobby – join a club or society or take some lessons. Shared interests are vital in new relationships!

Download our FREE relationships booklet (pdf) >

Friday, 25 December 2020

Day 1 – A partridge in a pear tree – Find your happy place

Just like the partridge, it’s important to have a happy place where we feel safe and happy. But you may be surprised to learn that your happy place is a place you can create within yourself – no pear tree required! And the best bit is that once you have a happy place, you can visit whenever you need a top up of happiness. To find your happy place, think of somewhere where you've felt safe, relaxed, carefree and happy. It may be your childhood bedroom, somewhere you’ve been on holiday, on board a ship or whatever works for you. Imagine being there, remember how you felt when you were there (the sun on your skin, the softness of your bed beneath you, the gentle movement of the waves beneath you, etc). What did you see (imagine the beautiful scenary, your familiar things around you, etc). What did you hear? (your favourite music, the waves lapping on the shore, seagulls, etc). And finally, what did you smell and taste? Practise transporting yourself there today and feel the tension melt away.

Further reading on the importance of finding your happy place >

Friday, 18 December 2020

How to bounce back from losing your job

2020 has been a tough year for everyone, and it has had devastating effects besides physical illness. Owing to lockdown and businesses being unable to operate as normal, many people have found themselves not only in extremely difficult financial situations but in some cases, out of work. If you or someone you know has recently lost their job and is struggling with their mental wellbeing, we have some useful tips that could help you get back on your feet and feeling in a more positive state of mind.

There’s no denying, losing your job can seriously impact your health and wellbeing. As well as being faced with the worry of paying your bills and rent or keeping up mortgage repayments, it can leave you feeling rejected, hopeless, and feeling as though you have lost your identity. In the short term you might feel stressed, anxious, or angry and if you don’t find ways to cope with these emotions, it could lead to long term depression.

The emotions you may experience after losing your job are often likened to those of someone suffering from grief with feelings such as deep sadness and loss. In a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, it was found that grief from losing your job can lead to depression. So, what can you do to take care of your mental wellbeing during these difficult times? With these coping techniques, hopefully you will begin to get your life back on track and establish a more positive mindset.

Coping techniques for managing your wellbeing after losing your job

Give yourself time to grieve

Initially, it’s important to accept your feelings of grief, however, try not to dwell on these feelings for too long as it can make it more difficult to get yourself back into some kind of routine and a positive state of mind.

Plan a daily routine

Although you might feel like staying in bed all day or watching television to take your mind off your situation, try and make the effort to establish some kind of daily routine. Shower, get dressed and set yourself tasks (no matter how small they are at first) for the day, such as updating your CV, browsing through job sites, or even just going for a walk in the fresh air. This will help you to value yourself and give you more self-confidence over time.

Learn a new skill

This is a great way to focus your mind and energy into something positive. There are plenty of opportunities for re-training so take advantage of any courses that might be available. You might even find that you’d like to take a completely different direction in your future career.

Highlight your skills

A simple task but one that will improve your self-confidence and help you to see your own self-worth. Write down all your skills and positive personality traits - regardless of how minor they might seem to you - that would benefit a potential employer.

Ask for help financially and emotionally

There’s no shame in asking for help, and remember, in the long term it will only benefit you and your situation. Government websites contain lots of information about benefits for the unemployed so it’s worth browsing the website or even giving them a call to see if you are entitled to financial help that you’re not currently receiving.

Reaching out to a close friend or family member can have a huge impact on how you cope with your mental health. Often, we feel as though we don’t want to burden others with our problems, but you’ll be surprised at how much love and support people want to give when you ask them for help.

For more about dealing with this, and other, difficult periods of transition, visit our webpage on life transitions where you will also find a free download to our booklet on dealing with life transitions. 

Friday, 11 December 2020

Attracting positive people into your life

One of the best ways to increase your own positivity is by surrounding yourself with positive people. Although there are situations, such as at work, where it might be difficult to choose who you come into contact with, there are other parts of your personal life where you are more in control.

In a study by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, we learn that positive thoughts can boost the immune system thus reducing anxiety and creating more positive emotions including happiness, love and contentment. Being around negative people can be a serious drain on our wellbeing and can even affect how we think and what we think, so it’s crucial to spend as much time as possible time with positive people.

Benefits of being around positive people

  • They make you smile more, which releases endorphins and makes you feel happier
  • They can increase your self-confidence
  • They can make you feel more relaxed which reduces anxiety and stress
  • They inspire you to be more positive

5 ways to attract positive people

  1. Be mindful of your conversations – When at social events or in company, be aware of what you are saying to others. If you only speak negatively, then it’s likely that positive people will want to avoid you. Keep your conversation upbeat and full of positivity and you are more likely to attract like-minded people.
  2. Avoid negative people – This can be easier said than done, so if there are times when you do have to be around negative people, try to limit that time and where possible, make an excuse to leave as soon as you can. Alternatively, if someone is saying negative things, perhaps put a positive spin on it so that they might be less negative in the future.
  3. Express gratitude – When you show appreciation for what you already have in your life, it can attract like-minded positive people who also show gratitude. Expressing gratitude (even to yourself in a private journal) can remind you of the positive things in your life and make you feel more positive.
  4. Practise mindfulness – By practising mindfulness techniques, you will learn to shift your thought patterns so that you look for the good in every situation, no matter how small. When we begin to notice the less obvious details in our day-to-day life, we become much more appreciative and positive about the world around us. Our positive outlook will, in turn, attract positive people.
  5. Practise visualisation – Visualisation is a wonderful way of attracting what you want into your life. By imagining positive outcomes in our life, we can increase our confidence and strengthen our ability to achieve what it is that we actually want. Before you start, make sure you know what kind of people you want to attract. Create a clear vision in your mind of what they would be like, imagine what they sound like, how they would interact with you, and how they would benefit your life. 

Once you do start to attract positive people into your life, you’ll notice a shift in your mental wellbeing which will make you feel happier and more confident.