Things Fall Apart, But You Don’t Have To

Sometimes being an adult can be overwhelming. The stresses of everyday life include a demanding job, kids being too loud and demanding (even though we love them with all our hearts), money woes and a mortgage that seems more like a life sentence. It is surprising that we can go through the pressures of day to day life without hiding under our beds in the foetal position.

There are many ways to cope with the hustle and bustle of 21st Century life though. The NHS has a helpful article with ten stress busting techniques, with practical and useful advice.

Me Time For Me

‘Me Time’ is something of a luxury in this day and age; a lot is to be said for hiding away with a novel or escaping for a spa treatment, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. Massage treatments and reflexology has grown in popularity in recent years, due to the fact that they are intensely relaxing. There are specialists available such as The Orange Grove who can provide you with foot reflexology, a deeply soothing experience to all parts of your body. Melt away from your worries and escape with a massage, even if it’s only for a couple of evenings a week, ‘Me Time’ will undoubtedly make the difference.

Volunteer

Helping others will make you more resilient and it’s a chance to give something back to the community, and in turn make you feel better within yourself. Knowing that you are making a difference to a person in need is one of the best ways to improve your mood in a pro-active way. Volunteering England has useful information on this subject; whether you want to work at a charity shop or help young people, there will be something for you.

Avoid People Who Stress You Out

If you have someone in your life that makes you feel uneasy and is a bit too much, the simple solutions is to avoid spending time with them whenever possible. Perhaps you can’t avoid this person, maybe they have been friends yours for years, if this is the case you may have to evaluate your friendship with them.

Be Mindful Of Well Being

Don’t feel put off by words such as meditation and well being. The practice of meditation is well known to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. You may feel that you are too busy to indulge in contemplation, however, meditation teachers such as Martin Bronson have resources available if you are interested in reducing stress in a time effective manner. Martin Bronson has a popular book available called ‘One Moment Meditation’ and is well worth a read for de-stressing.

Whichever method you find works best for you, just remember that the key to a happy life and body is to make sure you take a little bit of ‘me time’ everyday, dedicated to doing whatever makes you feel calm, relaxed and fulfilled.

3 Bad Habits, Blitzed!

We all have bad habits. Bad habits include biting our nails, overspending, overeating, procrastinating and many, many more. The line between a bad habit and an addiction can be a little blurry, but the main tenet is that you are still in control of your habits. Let’s blitz them now in case they start to gain momentum and begin to control you. Here are three of the most life-affecting bad habits and tips to blitz them.

 

Hoarding

A cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind, they say. Everyone has different levels of tidiness which they find acceptable but a house where you struggle to find anything is not healthy for anyone. Your home should be a place of respite from the over-stimulating world but there are many reasons why some people seek refuge in hoarding. Keeping hold of items long after they’ve passed the point of usefulness can reflect a similar inability to let go of emotions. As shows like Storage Hoarders show, if you do struggle to let go of items in the home, you’re not alone, but you do need to instigate change. Firstly, go through everything and either throw out or send to the charity shop everything you don’t need. If you haven’t used it in three months, chuck it! There can be some items that can’t be parted with, for example, if you’re storing items for someone out of the country or have an annual fishing holiday but don’t use the equipment at any other time of year. For these items, rent a lock up garage and get these items out of the way. Lock Up Garages has sites all over the country; using one will free up so much space and make your home more relaxing.

 

Overspending

It is so easy to get personal credit these days, from store cards to credit cards and even payday loans that many people find it difficult to curb their spending. If you find yourself spending beyond your means, or simply recognise that your motivation for spending money is sometimes dubious, it might be time to focus on banishing that bad habit from your life! On Divine Caroline, you’ll find advice and guidance for keeping your spending in check. It is important to think about the context of your spending and what your triggers are. Do you end up at the make-up counter after a tough day at work? Or overspend when you are with friends with a flashier budget? If you start to recognise your triggers, then you can eventually gain mastery over them and find yourself keeping within your budget.

 

Procrastinating

We are all guilty of procrastinating to one degree or another. The trick is to keep it in check and recognise how much more satisfied you feel after you’ve been productive. We tend to procrastinate because something about the task at hand is off-putting. Is it too difficult, too boring, too repetitive or too stressful? The action may be a combination of the above. We procrastinate as much in our personal lives as elsewhere. For how long has phoning that one aunt you struggle to make conversation with been on the to-do list? Or re-grouting the bathroom tiles? Just as likely we might prioritise these tasks if we really don’t want to search for a new job or call an intimidating client. This article on LinkedIn is really useful as it breaks down the ways we procrastinate into tiny chunks and deals with them, then and there. If you find yourself wasting a lot of time at the office, it might be worthwhile hiring a remote personal assistant who can get your diary in shape and keep you on track for achieving your goals. Plan My Day is a good place to start as they will take many of your normal time-wasting activities out of your hands and force you to get on with the important tasks.

 

Bad habits can signal greater psychological issues that we might need to focus on but fundamentally, changing our behaviour can lead to deeper changes too. Think honestly about your behaviour and list areas which you think you need to focus on. If these top three bad habits are on your list, heed the advice above and break your habits for good!

Autism and Your Child

When your child has been diagnosed with Autism it can feel like your world is crashing down around you. The key to coping with your child’s diagnosis lies within understanding Autism and learning techniques and strategies to help your child lead a happy and healthy life.

What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that affects how a person communicates and relates to others, for instance an Autistic child may have difficulty with interacting with other children. Autism also affects how they process the outside world.

As a spectrum disability, Autism affects different people in different ways, there are various levels to Autistic behaviour. Some people with Autism are able to live relatively independent lives, whereas others can have associated learning disorders and need lifelong specialist care.

For more in-depth information The National Autistic Society offer an invaluable source of information on the Autistic spectrum and how it can affect your child’s interaction with the world and other people.

Treatment for Your Child

Although there is no cure for Autism there are various educational and behavioural programmes (known as interventions) offered to help your child improve their skills. Due to the broad Autistic spectrum it can be difficult to gage which intervention is best for your child, however any intervention should focus on these key aspects:

  • Cognitive skills- for example, encouraging imaginative play
  • Academic skills- developing educational skills such as reading and maths
  • Interpersonal skills- developing their ability to understand and respond to others emotions
  • Communication skills- for instance helping them start conversations

For a comprehensive list on the different types of interventions available visit Research Autism, where they have collated information on a wide variety of intervention techniques and evaluated their effectiveness.

Strategies for Coping

Part of coping after your child has been formally diagnosed with Autism is learning strategies to interact with your child to ensure you and your child can lead happy and healthy lives. You may want to consider some formal training for yourself, so you have the best skills at your disposal when it comes to caring for your child. With online courses Concept Training offer you education in practical methods to best care for your child.

Your child will receive a huge amount of support within school and if necessary at home, however there may not be as much support for you as a parent. Counselling services can be vital for you when first receive the diagnosis for your child. Talking through your emotions and feeling supported is a vital part of learning to adapt your life when caring for your Autistic child. If you feel like you would benefit from counselling services talk to your GP about a referral.

Regardless of what intervention you choose, or how old your child is when they receive their formal diagnosis, it can be difficult to cope with. To best help your child and cope with the change in your life you need to educate yourself in order to understand why certain aspects of life may be challenging for your child. With the right knowledge and help, caring for your Autistic child will be less daunting, so do your research to help your child lead a healthy and happy life.

Fear of horse riding: how to cope with it?

There are no doubts that human beings and horses have worked and lived together for thousands of years. Even in today’s modern and automated world horses still seem to hold a special place in our hearts. Horse riding remains a very popular activity, both as a pleasant hobby and as a competitive sport. However, sometimes through no fault of your own things can go wrong.

For many individuals, the dream of riding freely across beautiful countryside is tempered by the fear of losing control of a horse galloping at full speed and succumbing to a painful riding injury. For instance, jockey and Grand National winner Ryan Mania in his interview with ‘Dailyrecord’ revealed that he had to overcome a childhood fear of horses as well as the majority of people in our world. (Check his interview here: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/sport/horse-racing/winning-jockey-reveals-how-first-1831007). As a result, it is clear that the fear of horse riding is a common issue in our society, and it doesn’t matter how long a history you have with riding.

In order to overcome your fears of horse riding you should understand that it is very important don’t be ashamed of it. According to Doug Lietzke, a psychologist who specializes in helping equestrians, fear is one of the major problems that all riders have to deal with.  Lietzke argues that your fear is just a simple emotion that your mind creates, and you are the one who can control it! (Check his article here: http://www.equisearch.com/horses_riding_training/face-your-riding-fears/). According to Lietzke, it is important don’t feel ashamed to ask for assistance during your sessions. Confidence may take time, especially if you are riding alone with your horse, so riding with a trainer or friend may help you to relax and feel more confident.

It is also important to consider alternative techniques of training. For instance, you should better take shorter sessions instead of long in the early stages. In that case, you will be able to think more about certain aspects of your riding techniques and slowly boost your feelings towards horseback riding. Also, horse riding in familiar settings can help you to become more confident with your riding skills, techniques and feel more tranquil. There are many equestrian properties to choose from in the UK.  However, it is evident that those in the New Forest region are the most popular whether you are looking to relax, explore or just enjoy while riding a horse. However, you should bare in mind, that equestrian properties in this popular region are quite expensive.  For example, according to this property website, (http://www.spencersnewforest.com/equestrian.html) prices for one simple house can range from £109,500 to £2,550,000.

To sum up, take the rough with the smooth! Some days, battling your fears will be harder than others, so don’t let minor problems knock your confidence! Discuss your fears with other riders, ride in familiar settings, be confident and enjoy!

horse

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: There is Help Out There

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious and somewhat debilitating condition affecting thousands of people in the UK alone. The disorder is sparked in some people who have experienced an extreme trauma. The types of trauma as described by the DSM-IV  may involve the “threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or violent assault on one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity.” The condition is categorised by an inability to cope, flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares, uncontrollable periods of anger, hyper-vigilance and a general numbing of emotional responsiveness.

iStock_000016887358XSmallIf you think you may be suffering from PTSD or are experiencing any of these symptoms and are finding it difficult to cope, the first thing to do is seek help. The medical profession has progressed a lot in the last few years and there is now a far greater understanding of mental health issues. Don’t suffer alone!

If you have been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD, there are a number of treatments available to you that can be administered by health professionals from cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy and even medication to help manage the symptoms.

There are several mental health charities in the UK that offer assistance and proffer understanding to sufferers. Read the guide on mind.com to remind yourself that you are not alone. Furthermore, the guide offers advice to both sufferers and their families alike; it’s essential to allow those closest to you to understand your condition. If your PTSD follows military service, you can access services through Combat Stress.

As indicated in the Huffington Post, June is PTSD month in the US and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t recognise it in the UK as well. After all, we tend to communicate internationally these days so it’s wise to take advantage of every opportunity we have to raise awareness of what is often a very lonely condition.

There’s been some interesting research recently into self-management techniques. These should never be used to replace medication without the approval of your doctor, but you can use them to compliment the other treatments you are using. For example, Stress Care UK run a self-empowerment programme which may prove beneficial. A Danish documentary, Free the Mind, has also recently been released, exploring the potential benefits of mindfulness techniques. Look at the trailer here:

There is so much more help out there than there used to be. If you are suffering from PTSD, you may find it difficult to accomplish commonplace tasks without assistance and may even be unable to work as a result. You may be entitled to make a PTSD compensation claim, which, though a difficult decision to make, is only fair if you’re life has been so adversely affected.

The most important thing to remember is that, whatever the cause of your condition, or how you manifest it, you are not alone. This is a medical condition and there is help out there to help you manage it.

Debt Matters in Scotland

I’m getting a little bit fed up with news reports about the current recession and how hard it is hitting businesses and in particular the banking sector. It seems a rare occasion when the evening news makes no mention of it these days. Forgive me for sounding a little hard faced, but I have little sympathy with the banking industry whose lack of control was responsible for the crisis in the first place. Things can’t be as bad as they make out if the size of the bonuses they have just awarded themselves is anything to go by.

I’d rather the news paid more attention to the effects of the recession on the general public. The London city boys who get huge pay packets might be feeling down about having to choose supermarket own brand champagne – but that’s hardly the same as parents having to skip meals so that their children can eat is it? The stark choice being made by Scottish parents is reported here in this Herald Scotland report.

The extreme pressure of not having enough money to meet every day household bills often leads to people taking out high interest loans from doorstep lenders and pay day loans that end up being re- financed with other pay day loans. I hope that recent action by the Office of Fair Trading will reduce the amount of these loans being taken out. You can read more about the action forcing these lenders to do proper affordability checks prior to lending on the Office of Fair Trading website.

Managing our personal finances is a really important thing in terms of good mental health. Every year GPs, Mental Health Services and Charities help thousands of people whose mental health has been badly affected by pressures relating to debt. Mental health charity Mind has put together some useful tips for budgeting and personal finances. You can see them on this page of the Mind website. Of course, if you are already struggling to meet debt payments then you will need to follow the mind recommendations and take additional action. Although debt management solutions are not for everyone, companies such as Debt Advisory Services (Scotland) can help find a way of managing and clearing debts, thus helping relieve pressure on those with mental ill health.

Pretending that a problem doesn’t exist and ignoring letters from creditors is an absolute ‘no-no’. The problem will not go away but is likely to get much worse. In the first instance, if you are unsure what to do then I’d recommend speaking to someone at The Citizens Advice Scotland centre nearest to you. You can find out where is your nearest centre at the Citizens Advice Scotland website. Don’t let debt deteriorate your mental health.

Don’t Give Up, Soldier: Fighting PTSD and Military Claims

The armed forces aren’t called the armed forces for no reason. The risks involved in becoming a serviceman or woman are very real and high in comparison to almost all civilian jobs or careers out there. For a high percentage of those who are injured on duty or sustain illness as a result of their occupation, the armed forces will help them financially and otherwise to access the support they need. To gain an understanding of the procedures and safeguards used to ensure the health of British servicemen and provided by the Military of Defence, take a look at the Welfare and Support Section of the MOD website.

One of the most problematic illnesses to affect servicemen and women is Post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. While the Armed Forces have been gaining an understanding of and actively diagnosing since the Second World War, because this is a mental illness that is extremely difficult to diagnose and treat.

PTSD is caused when an individual experiences an especially traumatic or life threatening experience. This experience may be a ‘one-off’ ordeal or happen repeatedly. Because PTSD doesn’t always have a sudden onset it can take weeks, months or even years to recognise and help an individual suffering with PTSD. If you are a service man or women or have a loved one  and you are worried about yours or their mental health, begin by reading this fact sheet: Military Mental Health section of the NHS website, and the Post-Traumatic Stress page on Military.com for further information.

Now and again though, the support network provided by the armed forces fails an individual. Then, that individual can feel abandoned to cope with a myriad of health issues alone, further exacerbating or initiating mental health conditions and leaving individuals in real financial difficulty. Without effective treatment and during that undiagnosed period an individual can find themselves losing the ability to work, cope emotionally and may even find themselves homeless or otherwise alienated from their family and society. As a result of this, servicemen and women and their families can often find themselves facing a battle of their own when it comes to PTSD. Fortunately, services such as PTSD Resolution , who offer veterans counselling and support for their families, and law firms such as Blackwater Law who employ the expertise of Military Claims specialist, Jason Brady, are available to talk to and seek advice from.

To conclude then, though the road can seem long and full of pot holes (and endless at times), it is important that families and sufferers recognise that:

PTSD is an illness which can be treated.

There are People out there who want to help.

You do not deserve to suffer this and do not have to.

If possible, accept help directly from the MOD. If help is refused, not offered or you are ignored, seek outside help. Most importantly, do not give up and do not give in, soldier.

The Importance of a Happy Office Environment

Everyone’s heard of the ‘boss from hell’; a horrible monster of an employer who values output over employees’ welfare, makes their staff work ridiculous hours for low pay, and often has a habit of coughing directly into the face of whoever is talking to them. We’ve all seen them in different shapes and sizes. Whether it’s foul language, compulsory overtime or forgetting your name, bosses from hell will always plague the workplace. So if you are a manager in charge of a team, how can you make sure that a picture of you doesn’t end up on the staff room dartboard?

Any boss knows that if their employees are healthy, happy and valued, the workplace will be a better place to be. The staff are friendlier, relaxed and as a result more productive. As well as this, working in a team is an opportunity to make friends for life. So here are a couple of tips for making sure you get that ‘World’s Best Boss’ mug at this year’s Christmas party.

Recreation: As much as you want your employees to work their hardest, by offering opportunities for relaxation and fun, you’ll earn the respect of your staff. Play a couple of small indoor games such as indoor bowling, Nintendo Wii contests and pin the tail on the donkey (tails and donkeys can be interchangeable for whatever your office finds amusing!) By putting aside a couple of hours on the Friday afternoon you can improve team morale, develop relationships with your staff and generally make the office a more fun place!

Branding: By giving things in the office a brand, you can enhance a sense of togetherness – your company’s logo can become a welcome, familiar sight in the office. Notepads, pens and paperweights with your logo printed on can help you achieve this. You could even buy a set of jackets, fleeces, t-shirts or caps for your employees. Like a football strip, these useful branded items of clothing will help create a sense of teamwork and unity. A quick internet browse brought me to one website that supplies a wide range of branded items for great prices. Visit their website and get branding!

Music: Research has shown that music can often improve performance and concentration in the office. Dr. Alexandra Lamont of Keele University reported that by listening to their favourite songs, a study group of participants showed increased performance and quality of work. You can read more about this study here. Why not invest in a radio for your office? This will reduce the chance of people plugging themselves into music on their computers and make the office a more social space, reinforcing the team feel.

By taking a few simple measures you can improve the performance of your staff, create working friendships and generally create a sense of teamwork and unity. If you gain your employees respect they will be willing to go that extra mile, staying behind to finish bits of work and feeling more enthusiastic about the job. So be the world’s most popular boss and treat your employees today!

Don’t Forget To Keep Your Brain Active

If you’re like me, then having a day when your mind feels like mush is an everyday occurrence.  I always forget where I have placed my keys, what time that doctor’s appointment was – and if my head wasn’t screwed on to my shoulders, I’m pretty sure I would forget that somewhere too. Since this problem is becoming increasingly worse, I decided to invest some time into new ways to improve my memory and general awareness of the world and hopefully exercise my brain out of lethargy.

Where are my keys, where is my phone?

As I mentioned before, losing my keys probably happens more than I care to admit.  My phone is another one high on the list of offenders and my constant panic as to where my rather expensive phone is mustn’t be good for my heart.  For my keys, I found this really cute Key Finder Purse Hook from Isn’t This Clever.  You simply attach your keys to the device then hook the design feature over the top of your bag meaning you never lose your keys and have a great personal touch to your boring old bag!

 

Sodo-who?

Brainteasers and mathematical games have been advertised as being beneficial to brain activity and keeping a young mind.  My grandfather is 79 and is as sharp as a button.  He tells me that this wasn’t always the case though and it was only since his carers at Managing Care, a personal care service supporting the elderly and those suffering with dementia, that his brain activity has improved leaps and bounds.  Other ways he keeps his brain active is by engaging it in reading the classics that he never had chance to read on his brand new Kindle that we bought for him for his birthday.  The Kindle is handy since he can adjust the text size and its super-light.

Let me check my diary…

Sometimes, it’s necessary to admit defeat and realise my brain really does have more in common with a sieve than I care to admit and simply write things down.  You can opt for a traditional paper diary which does make you seem important when you have to whip it out to ‘check your schedule’.  I like the designs by NotOnTheHighStreet that are different to the things you see all the time.  If you want something straight forward though, you can’t get better than a classic Moleskin.  The iconic Moleskin diary (www.simplymoleskine.com) comes in at only 13.50.  A small price to pay for you sanity!

 

If you’re more technologically advanced than I am, there are some great apps on your smart phone you can download to make sure you’re always where you need to be. Mashable have come up with a gallery of their best seven apps that you can download and use all from the palm of your hand.

Part of being human is forgetting sometimes and it isn’t always to do with how old you are.  Forgetting something you know is important can be very frustrating but adopting these few tips can help you when you really have no idea where you head is at that day!

 

 

 

meditation

Mind Meditation

Have you ever had a day or a moment when you feel that it is time to stop? When you feel that you cannot even do simple things and wonder what’s wrong with yourself? If you have this feeling then ‘mind meditation’ would be a good method to transform you to the new beginning.

Mind meditation can be used to help us release stress. People use mind meditation for various health problems, such as anxiety, pain, depression or insomnia. When your head is full of thoughts, it is difficult to go forward. It is thus important to empty your mind so that you can have a new start. It is best to meditate so you can detox  ’troubles’ that are bothering you.  The action can help you to feel more calm and be in control of the situation better.

It is similar to the meditation in Buddhism. However, you do not have to be in a meditation room to empty your mind, you do not have to be in a temple either. You can do it anywhere you like, and whenever you feel that you need that ‘little push’ to put you back on track. All you have to do is to take a little break from whatever you are doing; go for a small walk, have a cup of tea or take deep breathing. But the most important thing is to be on your own, just you. You need that little time for yourself  to stop and clear your head.  Mind meditation will help you to transform the stressful stage of your day to a new beginning – where you will be more energetic – knows what needs to be done , what to focus on and most importantly what your priorities are.

To put it simple, it reduces stress and improves mood.

The Daily Telegraph reported that “after meditation training of 20 minutes once a day for only five days, people, had measurably less anxiety and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol”. The papers said that levels of anxiety, depression, anger, and fatigue had also gone down.

It is therefore recommended that you take a small moment everyday to empty your your mind – so that there will be a better beginning whether it is a new afternoon or a new day.