Monday, 16 May 2022

Managing parents' expectations

Trying to find a compromise between our parents’ expectations and our own life goals when we’re growing up, particularly during our teenage years, can sometimes be a struggle. Perhaps they have certain ideas of the route you should go down, whether that’s college, university or a specific job path, but your ideas don’t match up to theirs. Having a difference of opinion certainly isn’t uncommon but when you feel as though you’re underachieving or you’re a disappointment to your parents, it can have a serious impact on your mental wellbeing. In an article published by the Journal of Adolescent Health, it was found that “high parental expectations, emphasis on academic achievement, or feelings of not meeting parents’ expectations are associated with worse mental health.”

While we all want to please our parents and live up to their expectations, it shouldn’t come at a cost of negatively impacting our self-confidence or trying to be something we’re not. There are many different types of expectations you might be faced with, and not all of them will necessarily relate to your career or education. Maybe your parents expect you to dress or act a certain way, or maybe they have religious beliefs they want you to follow. Whatever the expectations are, if they are making you unhappy, anxious, stressed or even depressed, you should try to find a way of addressing the issue.

Ways to manage expectations

Firstly, it’s important to remind yourself that just because you don’t have the same views or expectations as your parents, this doesn’t make you a bad person.

  1. Make a note of all your strengths and practise positive self-talk or positive affirmations. By doing this regularly, it can increase your self-confidence and reduce any feelings of not being good enough.
  2. Try to understand your parent’s expectations from their perspective, after all they do have many years’ experience and often only want the best for you. Perhaps they are more aware of any pitfalls ahead and want to prevent you from making similar mistakes that they made when they were younger. 
  3. Write down the things that make you truly happy and the kind of expectations you have for yourself. Find some time to sit down and talk to your parents about their expectations and how they are making you feel. Try to stay calm and tell them about your own expectations. By having a calm discussion, listening and letting each other air your thoughts, you might find that you come to a better understanding.
  4. If you are still struggling to agree and it is impacting your mental health, remember that, ultimately, it’s your own happiness that is important. Once your parents see that you are happy within yourself, they might begin to ease off and respect you more as an individual.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

How gardening can help improve mental health

As well as spending time outdoors soaking up the vitamin D and fresh air, gardening has a whole heap of benefits and natural healing powers that can significantly improve your mental health and wellbeing. All your green-fingered hard work will be rewarded with so much more than a pretty garden.

It improves mood

Connecting with nature, from listening to birdsong to inhaling the sweet scent of flowers, can make you feel calm and relaxed, and it’s also a good way to distract your mind from overthinking and negative thoughts. By practising mindfulness and savouring every moment of being in the garden, whether that’s weeding or watering the plants, you’ll feel more in tune with nature. Simply being outside also comes with its health benefits as the Vitamin D gained from exposure to sunlight can lower blood pressure and strengthen the immune system.

It boosts self-esteem

As humans, it’s not only in our nature to want to be cared for but also for us to nurture others. To be relatively successful in your gardening efforts, you need to take good care of the plants and flowers that you grow in order for them to flourish. By nurturing them and seeing the results of your labour, you’ll start to feel a wonderful sense of achievement, which in turn will boost your self-esteem and confidence.

It reduces feelings of stress and anxiety

Combined with enjoying the peace and natural beauty of any garden, gardening is a great stress buster. As well as the physical act of gardening, being among nature and the great outdoors can make you feel calmer, which will ultimately lessen your symptoms of anxiety and stress.

It improves attention span

If you struggle with concentration, by regularly paying attention to one activity at a time, such as gardening, without any distractions, you can gradually improve your attention span. Because of this, gardening can offer fantastic natural therapy for anyone with ADHD of other conditions that make it difficult to focus.

It provides exercise

Garden activities such as mowing the lawn, weeding, raking or digging are great forms of physical exercise and are often more enjoyable than going to the gym. A study undertaken by the John W. Brick Foundation found that regular physical activity could improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.

It reduces feelings of loneliness

Often when we’re pottering around in our own garden, at a community garden or at an allotment, we’re introduced to like-minded people who share a love for gardening. This is a great way to meet other people and get chatting about your hobby. Alternatively, you could join online gardening communities to help you feel connected and prevent feelings of loneliness.