Returning to work? Tiny tips to keep you on track.

As the furlough scheme winds down, many employers are now asking their employees to return to work. Whether this is now working from home, which in itself can present complications or returning to the workplace. After all this time, either can cause you to feel stressed out.  

Whether you’ve loved being away from the workplace or not, you’ve had to create new routines and now will have to change again. You could be negotiating with your workplace or you may have been informed that you need to return, all of these changes require you to adapt and be flexible. Being flexible is difficult but not impossible when you are in a climate of fear. You might be dreading the thought of having to be up and out at a particular time every day again, the school-run, meetings, dealing with new Covid secure procedures or if your workplace will be safe? You might feel you have lost your confidence which in itself is causing you sleepless nights. These are completely natural concerns and will undoubtably cause some anxiety.  

 The thought of getting back to work can be challenging, maybe you are trying not to think too deeply about it. You might have a physical response to this, it is important to address it to enable you to get things back in control.  

There are many different ways in which these feelings can present themselves: having trouble sleeping; dreading certain situations; feeling sick; stomach ache; increased heart-rate; not being to focus etc. For example, if you’re walking down the road and you realise, you’re not taking notice of any of your surroundings or if you’ve driven home but with no memory of having got there, this may be a sign of stress. 

There are ways in which you can help yourself, to regain some calmness before it manifests into something deeper. 

  • Breathe. We are keen believers at Live Life that breathing is something that we all should take more time to practice! This may seem ironic as breathing is what we do all the time, however research tells us there’s a better way to breathe. If you are stressed or anxious your breathing becomes shallower, this sends an alarm signal to the brain which in turn releases ‘fight or flight’ hormones causing your heart rate to increase and making you feel anxious. It is a cycle you can break by taking 5 minutes to concentrate on your breathing, click here for more information https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2752713634951953  If you have an iPhone you can set it to notify you 2 or 3 times a day to remind you to breathe, some of our clients with iPhones swear by this! 
  • Easy meditation. Make some quiet time for yourself. 5 minutes in the morning or evening or both, to practise some meditation or try a body scan relaxation; lie on your back or sit on a comfortable chair and starting at the top of your head tense the muscles of your body each in turn then relax them. An easy technique which really works, click the link for more information;  https://www.verywellmind.com/body-scan-meditation-why-and-how-3144782 You also can download the free Headspace app for easy meditation exercises. 
  • Exercise. An increase in exercise is proven to help reduce anxiety and stress. It makes a physiological change in the body which promotes the release of feel good hormones. There are many home workouts available for free on You Tube to suit every individual circumstance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5PkuMuMqBs. If you don’t exercise very much now, start with adding a little bit of walking into your day. Maybe walk to the next tube station or use the stairs instead of the lift. If your car journey takes 5 minutes chances are it’s only a mile away which means that it would take you 20 minutes to walk. Consider walking rather than driving, if you can do this once or twice a week you will start to feel the benefit.  
  • Get outside. Walk in an open space or wooded area if possible once a week, the Japanese practise of ‘forest bathing’ can help to lower stress and promote a feeling of calmness. Being amongst trees and green spaces is good for us fundamentally. Studies have shown that people relax best amongst the colours green and blue. This is an example of how you can get into mindfulness. Click here for more information https://time.com/5259602/japanese-forest-bathing/  
  • Communication. Really important to tell people who you are living with, how you are feeling. If you don’t communicate, they won’t know how you are feeling. Also, if you share some of your feelings with your colleagues you may be pleasantly surprised that you are not alone. Then you can swap ideas of how to manage things in this transition into full time work or working differently again.

If you are feeling as if you are ‘stuck’ or unable to make decisions, Live Life Not Strife provide personal and business coaching which help you overcome anxiety and stress. Our resident psychologist Adriana Summers and her team have assisted tens of thousands of clients. 

We have been working remotely since March with private consultations via Skype or Zoom, to find out how we can help you, email us [email protected] or call us for a confidential chat on 01625 786026. You can also call Adriana directly on +447980 667103.  

https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife

Live Life Not Strife. 

Tiny tips for living a fuller, happier life! 

Being kind is good for your health!

In these strange and unusual times, it’s inevitable to become wrapped up in the current pressure of living. With all the additional pressures, it’s easy to forget about the simple act of being kind. 

The list is endless, occupying the children, worrying about work, getting yourself kitted up with PPE to undertake a shift at work or working from home, perhaps with a child as well. It can seem to take over and the weeks fly by without you realising that you’ve not spoken to that friend of yours for ages or your elderly aunt.  

You might find you’re much busier and your patience is wearing thin with the little things that may not have bothered you previously. It’s becoming almost too much to bear in the current climate. With rules and guidance changing on a daily basis (it seems) this creates underlying uncertainty and anxiety without you realising. You may find yourself acting out of the ordinary and feeling wound up at the slightest thing. Now is a good time to stop and remind yourself to be kind, it’s needed more than ever!  

You have to start with being kind to yourself. Give yourself 5 minutes to relax, practice some deep breathing – (click the link for breathing exercises https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2752713634951953), and tell yourself ‘I am a good person’ whether you believe it or not, make it your own personal mantra! Or if you can’t do that, think of something you’ve done that makes you feel good. This promotes a sense that whatever happens you’re good enough! It will increase your self-confidence and help you to act kindly to others.  

Smile! A basic staple in being kind. You’ll find it gives you a lift if you can remember to smile, even if you force yourself to smile, there is years of research into this very topic that proves smiling can help you to relax and boost the immune system. It turns out my mum was right when she cajoled me into “turning those corners up!” when I was sulking over something as a child. If you smile you can almost instantly feel better, it creates physiological changes in the body and releases feel good hormones. Also, it uses less muscles in the face than frowning and who wants frown lines! A smile creates smiles from others with very little effort. Smile at someone you pass in the street – even if you’re wearing a mask, you can smile with your eyes! You may just make their day a little brighter and chances are you will receive a smile back from them which in turn feels good.  

Do something for others as often as you can, but don’t forget to do something nice for you too. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the reactions you get back and it will help you reduce your own stress. 

A kind deed can prompt others to be kind, you can be the catalyst of a chain of kindness if you make the first step. Who knows where the chain will lead to! For example, For many years, when I visited my London office every Wednesday, a gentleman who I don’t know from Adam, would always say “Hello” to me as he was letting himself into his office at the same time, and I would say the same back. This basic pleasantry in passing was enough to give me a little lift as I began my day. It made a difference. We can make our own and other people’s lives better and happier with simple acts of kindness.   

Another example is when the Duchess of Cambridge spoke at the National Oak Academy online assembly for school children, this year, about the importance of being kind and how being kind in itself creates a good feeling for those carrying out the kind deed and for the receiver. It seems simple, but is easily forgotten in our busy lives. 

A friend’s mum used to say “whatever you do in life, always be happy and always be kind” it may be advice that isn’t always easy to follow but is certainly something you should aspire to because now we know the science behind this. Choosing to feel happy and small acts of kindness actually change how our brain functions and reduce stress, by changing brain activity, together with other things it builds emotional resilience. 

If you’re finding things difficult at the moment and would like to feel happier in your life, we can help. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026/+447980 667103 or email [email protected] 

Please visit our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Is shielding making you sick?

It has been 4 months since lockdown, although there are changes being made to the guidelines all the time we are still being urged to keep away from others. It doesn’t feel natural to keep apart from the ones we love for as long as we have been doing but if you are shielding or are living with someone who is, you may choose to continue no matter how hard it is becoming. This may feel even more difficult now that you can see others out and about, socialising more and shopping. The government guidelines which are due to change from the 1st August will now advise that you do not need to shield at home. 

You know what you feel about this idea and if you are ready to make a change to your daily living arrangements. If you have a serious health condition you may decide to continue to shield for as long as you decide it’s right to do so. This is a totally individual choice but you may have external pressures on you to stop shielding when you don’t feel comfortable just yet to make the change. This in itself will lead to uncertainty and indecision which is bound to cause some degree of anxiety. You are not alone with your concerns, even people who haven’t been shielding are worried, it is a natural and understandable reaction but it is a feeling that you can overcome if you allow yourself some time to start making changes slowly. It’s really important to make small changes which when they come together give you confidence to move forward. 

You may have pressure from your employer to return to work and have the worry that your workplace isn’t covid secure. This is a very real concern for anyone who has a severe or underlying health conditions. You will have to consider your level of risk and how you can protect yourself in this situation. Talk to your boss about what safety measures they will have in place and if you can continue to work from home you should still do this if you are vulnerable or high risk. You can find more information from the HSE website here 

https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/

Perhaps you have grandchildren who you haven’t been able to hug or have round to visit since lockdown began? And now it is up to you and family what you do. For example, you can enjoy having your family around you again providing you social distance. There are measures you can put in place to keep things as safe as possible. 

Also, you may not want to upset your loved ones by continuing to shield now that the rules are due to alter. Although your family will completely understand the need for you to carry on shielding, younger grandchildren will not comprehend the meaning behind why you are staying away and you may end up feeling torn. 

Given the virus is completely invisible, children will only understand why they have to do what they are being told, if they have developed the cognitive processes that enable them to think abstractly. Young children (up to 10 years) will not understand the full implications, so are more likely to forget what you tell them and become upset if they haven’t seen you for a long time. That’s normal.  The way in which children develop is visible in the government’s decision that children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing masks.  

Do you feel trapped, like a prisoner in your own home? You may be yearning to go somewhere different, go back to work and have built up a resentment of those who can go about their daily business seemingly without worrying. Alternatively, after all this time shielding, the thought of stepping outside your own four walls may cause you to recoil in horror.  

If you are a vulnerable adult, after shielding is paused you can still receive support with collecting shopping, medications etc from the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme website

Stress relievers to try 

We all think we know how to breathe, many of us don’t. When we’re stressed our breathing becomes shallower and that sends the wrong message to a particular part of our brain which puts that part of the brain on alert and so our stressed cycle continues. You can search our Facebook page for more information and techniques. 

If you are able to, get outside. Make a conscious effort to get into the fresh air, just into your own garden if you feel more comfortable. Try out some mindfulness – be still for 5 minutes – listen to the trees or the birds. Going barefoot is another stress relieving technique, just wander round your garden barefoot for a change. To feel the grass under your feet makes us feel grounded and if it’s wet? Even better! You will feel invigorated within a few minutes. 

There is the home workout option too, you really do feel the benefit of it afterwards and there are hundreds on YouTube to suit every person’s situation, need and age. To change your mood, change your body. Get up, change the position of yourself, get moving, put on some uplifting music to listen or dance to. You will almost instantly feel different. Listen to this one and you’ll see you just can’t help feeling happier! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM 

This won’t last forever. 

If you are feeling stressed out or anxious this is a natural response to these abnormal times, however it’s important that you get help to deal with your anxiety because in some cases untreated anxiety can lead to clinical depression. If you would like some independent help to reduce your anxiety contact us to book an online session with Adriana, our experienced psychologist. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103 or email [email protected]. Please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Uncertainties about keeping safe

Now that lockdown restrictions are being lifted, we find ourselves with a brand-new set of questions and worries about social distancing. Of course, we have the government guidelines set out for us to work to but it almost seems that the onus is on the individual now to decide how they conduct themselves; whether you wear a mask when you’re out and about, visit your relatives in their homes, standing 2 metres apart from your friend in the park? It is almost bringing a whole new etiquette into our daily lives which in itself can be stressful. 

Wearing masks 

The governments’ announcement yesterday evening that it will be compulsory to wear a mask in shops in England from next Friday may come as a relief, as the uncertainty recently has led to confusion and anxiety for some. Wearing masks can be a very individual decision, you may wear a mask yourself every time you go out because you believe it will limit the spread of the virus, plus you may feel more protected in wearing one. 

You may have asthma in which case the Asthma UK website states: 

“If you’ve got asthma, you may or may not be able to wear a face mask or covering. It’s a good idea to try one out at home, or on a short walk around the block first. If it feels fine, then you can wear it, and it won’t harm you. 

But if it makes it feel harder to breathe, the UK Government has advised that you don’t have to wear one. You could try a few different types to see if there is one that suits you, but if you feel breathless or suffocated while wearing a face covering, then don’t wear one.” 

NB Always remember to take your inhalers with you. 

Others might have different personal issues with wearing masks. It takes a bit of getting used to and if you harbour some level of claustrophobia perhaps or have a child with autism it may well be completely impossible for you or your child to put a mask on. You might have autism yourself, in which case the same issues apply, Autism Hampshire.org says: 

These new guidelines raise new challenges for some autistic people. Autistic people sometimes have difficulty in understanding facial expressions in ‘normal’ (pre-Covid-19) times. The new guidelines for people to wear masks will make it even more difficult for some autistic people to understand facial expressions as body language in communication will be restricted to what the eyes can tell us.”  

Practically speaking 

You might find it helpful to try a few different types before you find one that is comfortable or easy for you to breathe in. You may feel self-conscious or vulnerable which puts you off wearing a mask, if this is case just give it a go! In time we may see pictures similar to those in China where wearing masks is part of our daily routines.  

Why is it hard to wear a mask? 

You might not understand your hesitation about wearing a mask outside of your home. As humans we are deeply programmed to assess risk by watching what’s happening around us. So, before we pass somebody, we will automatically have looked at their face and unconsciously made an assessment as to whether we feel safe. If not, we tend to put greater distance between us and them in an everyday setting, it could be crossing the road.  

Wearing masks stops us from gaining the information we need to feel safe. It also stops us from giving feedback to other people approaching us. Maybe we have to consider new ways of giving this information, such as a nod of our head as we approach somebody rather than smiling. This deep unconscious recognition of another person, is what helps to ease the anxiety of passing someone we don’t know. Alternative ways of acknowledging someone e.g. by a nod in passing or saying hello can reassure that we and/or they, do not present a threat. 

Visiting friends and family 

Then there is the question of visiting friends and families’ homes. The guidelines now state we can go into another household and have another household visit us, while maintaining social distancing, but again it all comes down to personal choice. It may feel totally strange to go into your friend’s house for a coffee and chat after all this time we have been staying away. We know that the risk at the moment is lower than it was, but it is still there. You may feel too worried to take this step right now, there’s always that ‘What if?’ in the back of your mind, so just do what you feel comfortable with. 

Alternatively, you might be keen to invite your friend in for that long-awaited cuppa, but don’t be surprised if they don’t take you up on it just yet. It might take them a little longer to get used to the idea. Another friend might just bite your hand off! Maybe you have actually “got out of the habit” of visiting friends and are finding it difficult to get back to doing it – (not just because of the social distancing or fear). 

People who are natural introverts may have even found lockdown an enjoyable experience, to have the social pressures of meeting friends removed may have been almost a relief and now the thought of getting back to normal could be anxiety inducing! Sometimes it’s hard to make the first move, especially if you have let contact lapse over the last 2 -3 months and haven’t been mixing with people much?  

Take it slowly, as a first step, send a text and ask how your friend is, do they fancy a chat at some point? Don’t worry if they don’t get back to you straight away, they themselves might be in a similar situation. Once you’re feeling a little more confident, think of someone who makes you smile. Make an arrangement to meet them, for example, out of doors for a quick catch up, you will be glad you made the effort as chatting to a friend can be beneficial.  

Finally, it’s natural for people to react by having an opinion about others who aren’t wearing a mask or keeping their distance, but we have to keep an open mind. We should perhaps concentrate on what responsibilities we are taking ourselves rather than scrutinize other people’s behaviour. You may feel less stressed out once you take on this mind set!  

If you are unsure about what is the right thing to do regarding social distancing, click the link here for the government guidelines https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Have a look at some of the information we have on our Facebook page about anxiety but if you need more individual help please contact us to book an online session with our experienced psychologist. 

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103 or email [email protected] Please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller, happier life! 

Working from home and home schooling?

Trying to juggle home schooling and working from home? You may be feeling overwhelmed by what is expected of you and that you can’t give your usual 100% to any one thing. Remember, there is only one of you and only so much you can do physically and mentally. By now, you will probably have got into some kind of ‘new normal’ routine but is it working for you and your family?  

There may be ways you can change your day to make life easier for yourselves. 

So, you have to work, there’s nothing you can change there but you may be able to break up your working day around when the kids need you the most. 

With the new guidelines around some primary school year groups returning to school, this in itself can create more unease and confusion as you may still not have decided whether to send your child back to school if yours fall into this category. However, we still have to carry on with what is required of us each day. Everyone’s family is different and since lockdown, although the restrictions are beginning to ease, it has changed our daily lives dramatically and we need to try to retain some kind of consistency and routine for the children as this makes them feel secure, plus it gives you focus on when you can work.  

If your kids are sleepyheads and will sleep in later than they would do usually you can use this as a really good quiet time to work. Get in a few hours at the computer in the morning, an hour before the kids get up for instance and while they are breakfasting; you could then maybe set them up with an online lesson (there are some brilliant daily lessons from BBC Bitesize, Oak Academy or White Rose Maths for example) followed by some cosmic yoga; then some free time to play while you carry on. 

Break for lunch, then give yourself some time away from the computer to help with their home learning in the afternoon or switch it around if that works better. You may find spending the morning to home school the children and letting them have the afternoon to read, watch a movie or have some screen time works better for them and you. 

There are lots of educational TV shows they can watch or apps they can use while you continue work, also some more traditional type games and activities can make a refreshing change for our children: jigsaws, dominoes, sticker books, painting by numbers? Dig out some forgotten about toys and games for them to play with. It’s all good for them and may give you some respite while you carry on with work. If they are playing, they are also learning, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with every single thing that school are posting on the website as they do understand how difficult it is for everyone. 

Talk to your friends, find out how they are managing their days, plus it helps general wellbeing and happiness to connect and chat with someone who is going through a similar experience. There’s no right or wrong way to do this and it is a matter of trial and error, everyone’s family is different. 

Are the children anxious about the situation, or having trouble engaging with their school work? They need extra reassurances, take 5 minutes on a 1:1 with your child, tell them how proud you are of them, that you can tell they’ve worked very hard on that colouring in/dot to dot/maths work, ask them what they would like to do with you on your day off and make a mental (and set a reminder!) note to make that thing happen for them. Make time for cuddles, they make everyone feel better!

However your day works out try to keep focusing on positive thoughts, you’re doing great.

Live Life Not Strife 
We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat on how we can help 
you contact us on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103, please visit our Facebook Page: 
https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life!