BE POSITIVE – We’ve got your back

We’re dealing with many different challenges as we face a possible second wave, so let’s brace ourselves for what comes next! 

The problems we’ve already faced have been tough! However, you can pat yourself on the back for what you’ve achieved. There’s a lot of debate about what seems to make to sense and what doesn’t. We’re not here to get into that debate, we’re just going to offer you some tips, to help you in your day to day life. 

We know now we’re in this for the long haul, there’s no getting away from it, so how do we keep ourselves positive throughout these difficult times for ourselves and our families?  

The frequent changes to the rules require us to alter our mindset and daily routines with each new announcement, and to put in place any number of alternative arrangements; for our work, the way we shop, the way we socialise, the way we take our children to school. 

Let’s review coping strategies that help us respond in a fluid and adaptable way. We are constantly on our guard for the next local lockdown or indeed stricter, national measures. This can lead us to feeling stressed, anxious, upset, irritated or emotional. 

What you’re feeling is completely normal and hundreds of thousands of us are experiencing the same emotions. 

Given our many years’ experience of helping people through anxiety we want to help you understand what’s happening in your mind and give you some practical strategies to use on a daily basis that will help you feel in control. 

Anxiety needn’t look like you’re sitting in a corner shaking – in fact that’s more likely to be fear than anxiety. When we feel anxious, we can get irritated very quickly, not pay attention to what somebody is saying, not feel able to concentrate very well, we can have delicate stomachs, feel on edge, not be able to fall asleep because of thoughts whirling around your mind or you could find yourself waking up and find it difficult to get back to sleep again.  

You may find it hard to relax, hard to sit and read a book, you might not be able to follow a storyline when you’re watching TV, you may find yourself snapping at others. Again, all these things can show you when the mind is in a different place, it’s natural to feel anxious when things feel out of control. 

Let’s break it down and really get back to basics. We fundamentally need 5 things: clean air, water, food, sleep and shelter. If we focus on these things primarily and how we can improve on them in our daily lives by making small changes then we will not only feel as if we are surviving but thriving. 

Clean air – Throw your windows open, even if it’s chilly outside. Clean air will refresh the room, making you feel invigorated as it reduces the number of allergens in your home and will help anybody who has allergies. 

Spend a couple of minutes breathing in the fresh air. We have talked about the benefits of breathing exercises many times before, but it is a quick and easy way of learning to relax and one that we advise many of our clients to do. 

Click here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2752713634951953

Water – OK so not all of us enjoy drinking plain water, but let’s talk about increasing our hydration to help us feel enlivened and restore our bodies natural balance. Did you know our bodies are made up of at least 70% water? The Eatwell Guide says that we should drink 6-8 glasses of fluid a day – if you really don’t like drinking water, start by adding one glass of water a day, add sliced lemon or cucumber, mint whatever you like or if you can, buy a water filter. Then see if you can increase it! If you drink a lot of sugary drinks, consider swapping 50% per day to something without sugar. We can easily become addicted to sugar and it’s really not good for us! https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/water-drinks-nutrition/

Food – Do you get your 5 a day? Your answer might be does anyone? Did you know that optimum health requires you to eat 10 a day? 

There are some easy ways you can up your quota by making some swaps into your daily life.  

  • A smoothie with breakfast. 
  • Mid-morning go for a piece of fruit or carrot sticks. 
  • A glass of fresh juice with lunch. 
  • Go for a meat-free dinner at least once a week, not only will you be increasing your vitamin intake; you’ll feel good in the knowledge that you are helping to reduce your carbon footprint! It can be quicker and easier than you might think – many ‘no-fuss easy vegetarian’ recipes are available for free on the internet. Or anyone can make a salad! 

Sleep – The reality is that we might all benefit from more sleep. Many different factors affect our sleep patterns: shift work, noisy neighbours, stress/anxiety related issues. However, there are ways which you can improve your chances of sleeping well. These include creating a calm and quiet bedroom, evening routines, not drinking caffeine after lunch and not looking at a bright screen at least an hour before you go to bed which all aid a restful night’s sleep. This is what we call sleep hygiene. Click here for more information: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife/posts/2750585128498137 https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/healthy-sleep-tips

Shelter – Our homes are our sanctuary but when we have to be in them more often than not, you can start to feel as if you’re getting cabin-fever! 

What can you do to give your home a little TLC which in turn will enrich your happiness and relaxation?  

  • De-cluttering can help to achieve a calmer environment. If you have too much ‘stuff’ around you it can cause you to feel stressed out without you realising. It may overwhelm your senses which leads you to feeling as if you can’t concentrate. Clear an area of your living room or bedroom, even if it’s solely clearing the coffee table! You will feel as if you can think more clearly, start today! 
  • Give everyone in the family their own tasks to help keep the house tidy, if everyone buys into helping each other out, it creates more family harmony and you will all feel more organised! 

If your circumstances change, don’t put your head in the sand, go and see if you can get a mortgage holiday or if renting, find out what your rights are during this period. https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support

Be Thankful! 

Many of us are lucky to have the lifestyles we do and although we may not have the extra leisure/social activities as we did previously. Let’s take stock and be thankful for what we have. 

Being thankful is another way you can increase your level of happiness in easy steps. For instance, take a moment before you go to bed to think of 3 things you can be thankful for from your day: it could be that you enjoyed a healthy lunch, or you had a quick kick about with kids in the garden or simply that you got chance to listen to a podcast! 

If you’re finding things difficult 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] 

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Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life!

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.  

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Live Life Not Strife. 

Tiny tips for 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! 

STOP PRESS. Essential reading if you are thinking of separating.

The last few months during lockdown will have caused some couples, who have been having doubts about their relationship already, to readdress their entire lives together. Your forced time together may have contributed to heightened stresses in your home and brought questions to the forefront which you have been putting to the back of your mind for a long time. It may have reached the point that however devastating the idea of separation is, staying together is just not an option any more.  

Working from home means you don’t have the usual time apart from one another, where you would return after a full day, ready to catch up with each other’s news, successes and frustrations of the day, what the kids have been up to etc. However, 2020 has given us a different way of living, your family may have been able to uniquely benefit from the unprecedented time together and cemented strong bonds. However, if the situation was already under strain, this time could have been detrimental to family life. 

The usual hours away from one another gone so suddenly and being thrown together for 24/7 may have been a turning point for many couples, when your differences are highlighted with nowhere to hide or escape from them, this may have been the time to make that heart-breaking decision.  

If so, worse still, how to tell the children? 

The thought of their faces, depending on age of course, when the reality sets in, that one of you isn’t going to be living at home anymore? Or that you may all have to leave your home? Could this be the reason you’ve been putting it off for some time? 

There’s no best time to break it to them but, if you’re sure this is going to happen, the start of the summer holidays may be a good time to plan and implement it. The summer holiday gives everybody the time to get used to what’s going to happen in future. If you’re certain, don’t wait until the new school year in September. Children have enough to cope with then; a new teacher, a new school possibly, getting used to school again after lockdown, going back and seeing their friends, this will be plenty for young minds to deal with, so give them chance to get used to the idea of your new way of living. You might not have physically separated yet, so it could seem really strange to your child, if mum and dad are still at home but living apart. Summer break allows you all to start coming to terms with your decision.  

The most successful way of managing this family transition happens when a couple decide to invest in a family consultant, who can help them think about how to tell the children, who to tell before the children, what to say to different people, why it’s important to agree what you’re saying and stick to that, who to seek support for you as individuals and for your children. 

A family consultant will help you think about who absolutely needs to know about the separation. People naturally take sides – particularly family members and friends, so it needs careful planning to ensure your family gets the best support, as you go through this transition. Plus, your child will need someone trusted and who they can confide in, someone they can talk to without holding anything back in case they make mummy or daddy upset. You will need to decide on a number of difficult things together over the next few weeks e.g. the arrangements you have with school, etc. It will help you to do this in good time. School will need to know about the changes in your family. They will be on hand to deal with any unusual responses your child would not usually show.  

Practically, school will need separate email addresses for letters and separate contact numbers so very important to make sure you have the school’s contact details saved into your phone if you haven’t already. One parent usually has the role of dealing with communications with school, however, once you separate the dynamic changes and we need to put things in place which enables both parents have direct connections with school. Experience proves conflict can arise around this – a family consultant shows you how not to get stuck. 

You have one shot at this.  

Rather than try and end up misunderstanding each other, it’s safer to use a family consultant who can help navigate from what you want, to what you can achieve for your family. A family consultant understands your child’s developmental needs and where you each are, with respect to the end of your relationship. They have the skills to avert you from getting stuck and arguing with each other, which often leads a separating couple, to feel as if they’re banging their heads against a brick wall! 

For example, your eleven-year old daughter starts a new school in September. She’s been to see it, she’s really excited and she knows a couple of people who are going there from her primary school. You tell her, mummy and daddy have decided not to live together. In the coming months at her new school, she won’t yet have built a warm relationship with any of the teachers. She may reach out to one of her friends who went with her from her primary school. 

How well do you know that child and their parents? Is the child able to provide support? Or might it stress that child out? As parents you don’t need to worry about the above scenario if you’ve sought professional advice. You will have discussed the ins and outs of what you can set up for your child, who would be their go-to person etc, before they return to school. 

The number of family consultants with experience to help a couple separate into a different sort of family unit are few and far between. We have the experience to work successfully with separating couples (on zoom/Skype) to enable more people to have access to this essential resource, which helps you move through your transition as painlessly as possible. 

Adriana has helped couples stay together or divorce for more than 30 years, she has set up an award-winning service, Painless Divorce helping people prepare, for a changing family’s future. An Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and registered to work in the UK and throughout Europe, she has been an expert speaker for the BBC and was a lecturer at one of the top 25 universities in the world. She is an International conference speaker, published author and has helped tens of thousands of people over the years. 

http://www.painlessdivorce.co.uk/

Separating together for a better life apart. 

We’re available for remote consultations, for a confidential chat contact Adriana directly on +447980 667103. 

Office 01625 786026 or email us [email protected] address. 

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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! 

Frustration? Guilt? There is a Better Way…

Have you ever felt frustrated and done things you wished you hadn’t? 

I am sure the answer is, “of course…haven’t we all?” 

Yes, we have, but sometimes it spills over into bigger things. In these restrictive times when normal social interaction is still limited, we are not going back to how life was before – we can’t take things for granted in the same way. Part of staying alert is recognizing that, at any time, we may have to moderate our behaviour and interactions. It’s no wonder some people have found their frustration bubbling over. 

However, when you can’t always access services as you did before, when queuing to get in the supermarket takes forever, when you can’t go for a drink with your chums in the normal way, when your children stop being able to sleep through, when the home you used to see as a refuge now feels too overwhelming, when you can’t do this or can’t do that… turns into something else, then maybe it’s an indication that frustration is building.  

Frustration is a bit like a pressure cooker, you’ve got something cooking on the stove, you can’t see inside the pan but all of a sudden, the steam is released. Perhaps you have got so wound up that you feel the need to lash out? E.g. have you ever thumped a wall? Stormed out and driven the car recklessly as a tension releaser? Said something spiteful to your loved ones? This is the “steam” coming out of the pressure cooker! What’s really important is knowing what is the cause of the pressure building up, as this is the start of being able to regain your self-control. 

Ask yourself a question, how often do things frustrate me? How do I usually respond? Do I notice if/how my response affects other people? How do I feel about that? What do I say to myself? Has my frustration become a habit? 

Once you understand the root causes, then the power frustration has over you can reduce. 

Ask yourself another question. “Do I want to make a change?” 

If you can relate to the above, we will help you understand where your frustration comes from – and how to manage it. The lockdown situation may have been the trigger to release thoughts and emotions that were actually already there, so when you begin to unpack what is behind these pent-up feelings, you may find there is more going on than you originally thought. 

We help you understand and change the way you view things. You will learn how to develop better ways to get your point across and also hear what the other person is really trying to say, allowing you to reduce those guilty feelings you had in the past. The benefits will help you to feel happier in yourself, as you improve how to communicate in a calm and constructive way. 

To discuss this issue confidentially, please do not hesitate to make a private online consultation. 

For enquiries please contact our psychology service on 01625 786026 / 07980 667103, email [email protected]

For regular updates please like our page: https://www.facebook.com/livelifenotstrife 

Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Home Schooling Stresses – Older Children

We have already written about the pressures of home schooling with younger children but recognise that home schooling for older children also brings pressures – albeit different ones. 

The stresses will of course be different from family to family. It may be that you have a really driven older child who is happy to log-on to school work and simply get on with it. Great you think…but this is not always as plain sailing as it may seem. Without the distractions of a normal school day, such as break times, an aside with chums in class, a humorous comment from the teacher, the time spent working alone can become intense. I believe schools have not generally grasped this and appear focussed on piling on the work, not appreciating how undiluted it can be for some pupils. It is important to try and encourage these students to break up their day and ensure there is a defined time to stop work. It might be beneficial if they can have a short walk at lunch time, or if possible, time in the garden – but certainly away from the work space. Some students might want to set up a video link with their friends, so they can at least meet virtually at lunch or after school. 

And then of course, there are the students who simply see this time as an extended holiday! Getting them off their X boxes or whatever can be a nightmare – especially as older children develop more inventive strategies for hiding this fact! There is no easy answer to this one, except perhaps to dangle a carrot here and there, whether it be time on the X box later on when school work is finished, or the promise of some other longed-for item or activity, even if it means waiting until the COVID crisis is over. 

There is also the willing pupil who perhaps needs extra help to understand some of the lessons being set. As most of the remote learning systems do not lend themselves to instant access to teachers or with rapid answers to queries, this can be hard on the parent who suddenly finds themselves needing a teaching qualification! It is important if this happens to remind yourself that you aren’t super mum or dad and that you can only do your best in the circumstances. If your child is struggling, message the teacher through the usual channels but move to a different topic until you get a response to your query – it is better to do that than to spend hours struggling to find answers when you don’t really know. 

The same applies too if the teacher sets tasks with unclear instructions as to what they want. They might know what they mean, but your child certainly might not! Again, most online learning models have a forum, so see if anyone else has been puzzled by the work, or contact friends to see if they have also been confused by the instructions. However, if in doubt, contact the teacher – no-one is going to be cross or think it is a silly question – it is the teacher’s job to make things clear and they need to understand if they have been too general with what they are asking. Remember it is a learning curve for everyone, teachers included! 

Another major stress can be the necessary use of technology for online learning. Some households will have more equipment and know-how than others, so let the school know if you are struggling with any particular aspect of this. They may be able to lend you some equipment or offer different ways of doing things. 

Most of all though, remind yourself that these are strange and difficult times and you can only work with what you have and work to the best of your ability. No-one can be super-human, so don’t be hard on yourself – be there to offer love, support, encouragement and the odd pat on the back for effort, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have all the answers! 

If your child is stressed and needs some independent help to reduce their anxiety, 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, please visit our Facebook Page: 
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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: 
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Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Young children missing seeing their grandparents?

So, we are into our 3rd month of social distancing and the situation isn’t becoming much easier. Although the restrictions have been lifted slightly, we still need to keep our distance from those outside our own household. To do this with our loved ones who we do not live with, feels increasingly difficult and totally unnatural. Particularly, for young children who do not fully understand the reasons for social distancing, this can be very trying. 

 
1 – Your children may have spent a large amount of time with their grandparents before the lockdown measures were brought in and since, have not been able to be with them at all. This is bound to have had an effect on them and they will undergo a form of grieving that they will not understand. It’s important to bring extra reassurances and support by continuing to give comforting hugs and quiet chat times before bed while snuggling up reading stories and playing games together is also important, being able to give your children a few minutes to share disappointments or upset about not seeing their grandparents and little friends is crucial. We often find it difficult to see our child’s upset when we can’t do anything to change things. An acknowledgement and hug makes things better for all age groups. 

 
2 – Another way to ease the situation includes bringing the technology we have around us into play. To see one another on a screen is the next best thing to sitting with your loved ones having a cup of tea and a chat, it may take a bit of getting used to at first but it is definitely a fantastic way to connect. Children love it too, although you may find they can take over the call! Equally if your children are very young they may find it hard to associate their grandparent’s voice and face with the screen and sometimes find it confusing, or they lose interest in the call very quickly, because this is a new way of being with their grandparent and planting a kiss on a cold glass screen just isn’t a substitute at all! So if this happens don’t ignore it, you may want to explain to your child that everyone in the family wants to see everyone else, but there are new rules to stop people getting poorly so we can all only hear or watch our relatives and friends at the moment. Equally a great aunt who hasn’t had children may not understand why your child doesn’t speak into the telephone or screen so explain, explain explain! 

Your children’s general level of cognitive development will help you gauge where they are with social distancing. My own rule of thumb is, if your child understands the concept of how to cross a road safely they probably understand and can remember to social distance. The less they understand that the less able they will be to understand why people are wearing funny masks and not touching each other. At least they know what a car or a bike is, but it’s another level again, to try and explain that we are all being careful of something that is invisible! Plus, there’s a balance to be had between too much information that could lead them to become anxious verses them being in situations where they are constantly having to be reminded not to do something. eg., For those of you with four year olds, this is akin to them getting 
scared because they think there’s a monster under their bed. Or teaching them to remember how to brush their teeth – and that’s only a twice a day exercise! 

 
3 – By this point in our social distancing situation, you will be able to meet together outside, which could feel like things being back to normal, from your child’s point of view. While a 7 or 8 year old will understand they can meet but can’t touch or stand too near their grandparent, you have little to no chance of a younger 3 – 6 year old child remembering to social distance, it will seem very strange to them, and they may become upset or unsettled after these visits. A little quiet five minute chat before or after seeing the grandparents may be just the thing to avert things! If you have a child under 5 years, be alert to the fact their brains haven’t developed enough to understand anything about social distancing, they will simply feel upset and hurt that their grandparent who usually gives them a hug and kiss has to turn away from them. They will not have the capacity to understand so you need to hold onto them tightly so they feel the reassurance and warmth of your love. 

 
4 – You could find time for you as a family to check in with the Grandparents and then have your more usual chat on a 1:1 another time to fully catch up with them. If your elderly relatives don’t have the facility to video call the telephone still works and is often the more ‘normal’ way for older people to stay in touch, remember learning new tech things can make us all feel a bit anxious, so keep to the things they find easiest for them. Calling them up on a regular basis, email or send them some photo’s in the post of what you’ve been getting up to gives your parents and your in-laws something to look forward to too. Or, make a personalised photo card/postcard to send to them for instance. It will brighten their day. 
Make family mini me’s with the children to send to Grandparents. As you may not be able to see each other in person at the moment, you can send them a mini version of yourselves to visit instead! Print off a full-length photo of each of you and stick to some cardboard (e.g. back of a cereal packet) and cut around the outline of the person. Then make a fold of cardboard to stick on the back so that it stands up. Get everyone to write a little message on the back of each one to make it more personal. 

 
5 – Get the children to make something for their Grandparents, it will help them feel connected. Kids love getting crafty, so with whatever you have around or from the recycling make something you can send to them. A picture made from different bits of a magazine torn up into colours for a rainbow perhaps, paintings or drawings. 
Older children may like to write them a letter, or a poem. Whatever it is they can 
make for their Grandparents one thing is certain, it will bring a smile to their face and be received with love. 

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: 
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Tiny tips towards living a fuller happier life! 

Stress and Self-Employment in These Difficult Times

We self employed people are sometimes viewed with envy by those in regular employment – who perhaps imagine that you can knock off when you like, have a day off if the weather is nice or pick and choose which jobs you want to do.  The reality is not like that.  Most self-employed people will tell you, it’s hard graft.  You have to work hard to build your business up – and if you are successful, find you sometimes have to work long hours and weekends to fit in all the jobs. It is easy to lose sight of the direction you want to go in, find there is no time to plan and just lurch from job to job, struggling to complete the paperwork and chase the bills.  It can be lonely too – many are sole traders and have no colleagues to fall back on should a job prove more complex than expected, or no-one to have a bit of banter with if they are having a bad day. 

Those who might be envious, reflect that there is no holiday pay and no sick pay either.  If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  So, that brings us to the current situation.  What if you are self-employed and not able to work at present?  If your savings are limited, then life it pretty tough and it is your turn to envy your chums in employment who may have been furloughed, yet are still receiving money.  Help is on it’s way if you have been self-employed since before April last year through HMRC’s grant scheme, which is now open for applications  – don’t hang about though, it is only available for a short time – you can access the claim system on GOV‌.UK by searching for ‘Self-Employment Income Support Scheme’ . You may also be able to apply for Universal Credit, especially if you aren’t able to claim money from other means.  However, this blog post is not meant to offer financial advice – there are many other expert sites to help with that.  It is simply a post to suggest other ways to alleviate the stresses of not being able to work at the moment. 

The good thing is that you can now use the time to catch up with paperwork, put the filing in order, chase those debts and – most importantly, plan for the future.  It might be that you have been wanting to set up or update a website, start a Facebook page, get a Twitter account – so now is the time to put yourself out there and let everyone know you exist.  Join local Facebook groups so your name is known to people and it will keep your name current in the community for when your skills are needed again; also, look for advice from others who work in your particular area of expertise to see what tips they may have – it may also stop that sense of isolation as you connect with others in a similar position.  

It’s also a time to plan.  It might be that you have never had chance to re-think the way you work, so now is a good time to give it some thought. We have all had to adjust the way we do things currently, so think ahead to when you are working again and how you may be able to think outside the box to get some fresh ideas.  It may be frustrating at present not being able to apply any of these ideas, but stay focussed as this time will not last forever.   

The important thing is to stay positive and try and have a plan for each day – it is easy to wake up and think there is nothing to get up for. Make the most of this enforced rest – keep yourself busy with the jobs you have meant to do at home but never had chance to get on with, take up that hobby you put to one-side years ago, re-engage with nature, learn a new skill – or, simply learn to relax, whether by meditation, yoga, or just going for a walk.  

Remember too, it’s good to talk. Whilst you may not be able to see your friends and colleagues face to face, there is always the phone or various ways to video call  – don’t be afraid to communicate – whether it is to help yourself, or perhaps to help a friend or relative who you know might be lonely and appreciate a call.   

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