Feeling Overwhelmed? Here are 20 useful self care tips...

Every now and then life gets difficult, leaving many of us feeling anxious, overwhelmed and unsure of how to cope. Sometimes we can attribute our low mood to an incident of loss; of a person, relationship, home or job. Other times we can find ourselves feeling anxious and/or depressed without fully understanding why. Whatever the reason for feeling overwhelmed, it is important to remember that healing is a process; it takes patience and perseverance. Think of the bigger picture; things will not be the same as they are now in six months, in a year, in five years; this pain will fade. 

In light of this, I have compiled a list of simple self care tips you can use to brighten your day. Feel free to try them out, share them with a friend or write some of your own tips in the comments section below! What works best for one person might be different to what works best for another. 

20 Simple Self Care Tips

1. Get out in nature. 

All those places you've said you'd visit, the park, the mountains, the beach...do it! Getting out in the sun and the fresh air may be an obvious tip but it's such an important one. After all, getting enough vitamin D, whether from the sun and/or your food, has been shown to benefit both your body and your mood.

2. Eat. Hydrate. Sleep.

Have you been eating enough? Drinking enough water? Getting adequate sleep at night? It may sound obvious, but with all we have going on in life, we can forget the basics and leave ourselves feeling run down. Pack a nutritious lunch, take a water bottle out with you for the day and keep it refilled or go to bed an hour early. Your mind and body will thank you!

3. Relax.

Curl up on the couch with a book and a cup of tea and switch off from the worries of the world for the next thirty minutes. Take a nice warm bath and add some epsom salts/essential oils. Pop a hot water bottle at the bottom of your bed for later. Find whatever it is that relaxes you and do it.

3. Engage in social media.

This might sound like a strange one but it can make you feel better if you use it in a positive way. Maybe you have a friend you haven't chatted to in awhile that you can reconnect with. Communication with friends can brighten your day and help you to feel supported and less alone.

4. Switch off from social media.

On the other hand, social media might be making you feel worse. Comparing your actual life to the photoshopped life others display on social media is never going to make you feel good. Remember, people's social media persona is different to their actual life. Even cutting out social media on your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night can make a difference.

5. Do 30 minutes of activity...if that feels like too much, try 15 minutes.

Getting active is good for your body, which in turn is good for your mind. So go on, put on your running shoes and get releasing those endorphins. Many studies show that people who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.

6. Cook comfort foods.

Add some comfort to your life by cooking some of your favourite comfort foods. Make up a batch of your favourite, warming dish and then take the time out to sit and enjoy it. You might even share it with family or a friend if you are feeling generous!

7. Write 10 reasons why you'll be alright.

Then read them back to yourself. Remember, this pain will fade.

8. Postpone the 'To Do List' and don't feel guilty.

Chances are if you are feeling overwhelmed you won't be be in the optimal headspace to accomplish the tasks at hand. Give yourself a break and start the list again when you feel less stressed.

9. Watch TV and don't feel guilty.

Maybe you need a mini break from that To Do List. Sit down, put your feet up and let yourself unwind. 

10. Take a mental health day.

If it all seems to be too much to handle, take a mental health day. You can go back to work tomorrow, recharged and a little less on edge. The world will not stop if you pump the breaks for one day. Minding your mental health is just as important as minding your physical health yet sometimes we lose sight of this and run ourselves into the ground.

11. Take up a hobby.

There are so many interesting hobbies to choose from, from taking up a musical instrument to trying out a new sport. Challenge your brain and enrich your life with a new skill. You might even make some new friends along the way.

12. Listen to a funny podcast.

There are an endless amount of funny podcasts out there if you just take the time to explore. Search online for the right one for you and spend the next 40 minutes laughing. Not into podcasts? Watch a funny movie or go see a live comedy show.

13. Listen to uplifting music.

Make a playlist of your favourite songs and put it on anytime you need a lift. Pair this with tip 5 if the sound of 30 minutes of jogging/working out sounds a little dull. 

14. Cry.

If you feel like you need to cry, cry. Your body may be trying to tell you that it needs something and you are ignoring it. Let it all out and have a good, long cry. Bottling up can leave you feeling worse in the long run.

15. Book an appointment with therapist/GP/physio/psychiatrist.

There is help out there for all kinds of issues. Whatever it is that you need, let those trained to support you do it. You don't have to face this alone.

16. Take a shower and get into clean sheets.

Sometimes small comforts can make us feel a little bit better. Bonus points for putting on freshly washed pyjamas!

17. Tidy a small section of the house.

Little tasks such as tidying can engage and distract the mind. And you'll feel happier having accomplished a practical task.

18.  Get out of the house.

Why not visit your local coffee shop or take a trip to a nearby museum? Just getting out of the house and being around others can make you feel better.

19. Ask yourself what needs to be done first on your laundry list of "To Dos" and do it.

Organise it by importance/deadlines and do it in small chunks. This will make the whole thing less overwhelming. 

20. Have faith that this overwhelming time will pass and things will be different.

Remember, your only job right now is to keep taking little steps forwards. Don't forget to pause for breaks when you need to!


And remember, life can be messy and challenging, it's all part of the human experience. It's okay not to be okay.

The ONLY New Year's Resolution you need...

Christmas is over, New Years has come and gone and now we're left at January's mercy! For many of us, early January is a time to make resolutions and start the year off on the right foot. Gym memberships soar, smokers vow to quit and we make plans to be more involved with family and friends. While we may keep these resolutions for several weeks or even months, why do so many of us find our dedication trailing off as time goes on?

Perhaps the answer lies beneath the surface of our New Year's resolutions. When we choose to give up smoking or take up exercise it is usually for the main goal of improving our health, even though our health is only a fraction of the issue at hand. Often we fail to explore what it is that drives our need to reach for a cigarette, eat the entire box of biscuits in one sitting or have that 'last drink'. When we take the time to consider these underlying elements, we give ourselves a better chance of actually succeeding at keeping our resolutions. If we simply say to ourselves on the 31st of December, this is what I'm giving up/taking up/changing this year, we are missing the underlying factor, that we are using these 'vices' as a crutch because something is making us unhappy.

Some of the most prevalent reasons that we are unhappy include:

  • Issues from the past
  • Worry about the future
  • A negative view of the world/pessimistic outlook
  • Blaming others for your situatution in life
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Feeling unfulfilled about how you spend your time
  • Feeling unfulfilled about your impact on the world
  • Assuming your life should be problem free (When in reality no one has the perfect life!)

These sources of unhappiness are part of being human and will come in and out of our lives at different times. So instead of making the same resolutions year after year with varying success, why don't we just stick with one resolution: To increase our happiness. Unhealthy eating habits, drinking too much and smoking distract us from feelings of unhappiness that we don't want to deal with. If we can increase our self awareness enough to discover what is making us unhappy, we can begin to work on changing the real problem rather than its surface issue. The surface issue i.e. smoking will be easier to tackle once you have identified what it is that is making you unhappy.

How do I increase my happiness?

1. Take note of what is making you unhappy.

Did you find yourself relating to any of the key reasons for unhappiness above? If so, note it down and make a plan to change it. Your plan needn't be anything more than taking baby steps to improve your situation. Finding that worry about your job is leading you to drink in the evenings after work? Why not begin by cutting your drinking back one night a week until you are successful, then moving on to two nights less a week and so on. Also address the worry...what exactly is worrying you and how likely is it that your worry will come true? Is there a chance you are worrying over something that may never happen? Or perhaps if your fears did come true are there ways around it? We always have options in life whether we see them straight away or not. By addressing both the surface issue (excessive drinking) and the underlying issue (work anxiety) we have a better chance of overcoming our challenges and keeping our resolutions.

2. Write down the things that make you happy in life.

What things nurture your soul? Write them down and do them often! Maybe you feel refreshed after a walk in the park or out in nature. Perhaps cooking and baking leave you with a feeling of accomplishment and pride. Maybe a monthly meet up such as a book club, meeting to watch the match or just grabbing a coffee adds happiness to your life. Find what works for you and carve out space in your life for self care...it's the best gift you can give yourself!

3. Learn to accept that all human life has unhappiness.

There is no such thing as a life free from all stress and unhappiness. The sooner we learn to let go of the past and enjoy the present, the sooner we open ourselves up to greater peace of mind. If you find you are holding anger towards another person, free yourself up and learn to let go of it. The person suffering the most from your anger is you. If you find yourself going through a rough patch in life where you may be stressed, overworked, not getting enough sleep or feeling depressed, take action and mind yourself. Take a day off work to rest and recuperate - and don't feel guilty about it! Identify where you can fit in time to take care of yourself and make it happen.

4. Incorporate mindfulness into your week.

Mindfulness can be as simple as enjoying the good times to the maximum. If you've made time to do something you love, immerse yourself fully in it. Any time you find your thoughts drifting away from the activity at hand, gently bring them back to the present. What are the sights, smells and sensations around you? How crisp are the leaves on your walk? How amazing was your team's last goal? To increase your enjoyment of life, increase your engagement in the activities that bring you joy.

If you only make one resolution in 2017...make it to increase your happiness! :)

 

 

8 simple steps for a happier, healthier you

 

Altering your lifestyle to be healthier needn't be a huge undertaking. In fact, simple, manageable changes can make a much bigger difference to your overall health and happiness than you might think. Being healthy doesn't require you to kill yourself at the gym everyday nor do you need to become militant in your approach to food. All you need to do is set realistic and attainable goals for yourself, and allow yourself the freedom to break them from time to time!

Step 1. Cut back on TV time. 

This is a great step to take if you want to increase your weekly activity levels and get moving. And it needn't mean giving up on watching your favourite TV shows when you come in from work/school. Why not do a rough calculation of how much TV time you rack up a day and try to cut it back by a third? Use the free time to go for a walk, do some cooking, play a bit of sport or catch up on housework - whatever gets you moving! Over time, your evenings will become more productive and your body will thank you too!

Step 2. Get out in nature.

Being in nature has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety and anger and increase positive feelings, leading to an overall sense of physical and emotional wellbeing. To add to the benefits of your walk in the woods or trip to the beach, why not call a friend? Research has shown that people with stronger personal connections are 50% more likely to outlive those who are less socially active. Time to get on the hiking boots and head to Glendalough!

Step 3. Take time to reflect on the good things in your life.

What are you thankful for? Taking time to focus your attention on the good things in your life is a great way to tap into other positive emotions which contribute to better health, greater wellbeing and longer life. On the other hand, chronic feelings of worry, anger and hostility are linked with high blood pressure and heart disease. So do your body and mind a favour and reflect on what's going right, rather than what's going wrong! 

Step 4. Cut back on your sugar intake...and learn some healthier sweet alternatives.

A healthy, nutrient rich diet is great for your mental health. Websites and cookbooks like The Little Green Spoon and The Happy Pear are great places to find some healthy baking inspiration. Cutting back on straight sugar doesn't have to mean all biscuits are banned and you need to deprive yourself of sweets. Rather you can learn healthier ways of making your old favourites. Are you a fan of Brownies? Why not try The Little Green Spoon's Double Chocolate Pecan Bread? The recipe uses ground almonds instead of flour and maple syrup instead of sugar, leaving you more satisfied after a serving whilst cutting down on refined sugar. Or if you want to be really good, The Happy Pear's Honey and Seed flapjack's are packed full of seeds, nuts and berries and taste divine!

Step 5. Hydration is key.

You've heard it a million times before but I'll say it again...drinking your recommended daily allowance of water is vital for a healthy, strong body. Adequate hydration is needed for healthy skin, hair and nails as well as for controlling blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. Most experts recommend drinking around 8 - 10 glasses a day, which works out at around 2 litres for men and 1.6 litres for women. And the good news is, eating fruit can contribute to your body's hydration, with watermelon being a particularly good source. Oranges, grapefruit and melons factor in highly here as well. Vegetables too can add to your tally, as can a glass of milk or a cup of herbal tea!

Step 6. Carry out a random act of kindness.

Kindness is infectious. When you do something nice for someone else, you can't help but feel good about it. And to top it off you may have brightened another person's day. What's not to love about that! Your RAOK can be as simple as holding the door for a person pushing a buggy/stroller or giving up your seat on the train to an elderly person. This step costs you nothing, yet the reward of happiness is priceless. I would love to hear what your favourite RAOK is...please feel free to share in the comments below or on facebook!

Step 7. Lend an ear/Lean on a friend.

Does your friend seem to be having a bad day? Perhaps they need someone to talk to but don't know how to reach out. Letting them know that you're there for them could take some of the weight off their shoulders and help them feel less alone. Equally, as you may require a little pep talk of your own one day, you may be thankful for the connection you have made with this friend. Bottled up feelings can build and build until you are ready to explode. Chatting to a friend can help loosen the lid of that bottle, even just a little, giving you more room to breathe.

Step 8. Cut yourself some slack.

We all do the best we can with what we are given. And even though we know that no one is perfect, sometimes we still expect ourselves to be. Living up to unattainable standards is not only extremely stressful but it is impossible. So next time you find your inner critic (that niggling voice inside your head) telling you you messed up or you should have done better, tell it where to go and give yourself a break. Perhaps you could reframe the situation...so instead of thinking, 'The boss always asks me to do the tiresome tasks at work, he must prefer Jenny' you could reframe it and think, 'Maybe the boss asks me to do all these tasks because I'm the best person for the job', or perhaps, 'I am asked to do these tasks at work because I'm the newest to the team...my time will come.' There are often a lot of alternative reasons for things that we don't even think about because we are too busy putting the blame on ourselves.

In short - Be good to yourself!

5 Steps to Avoid Social Media Burnout

Social Media. It's pretty inescapable these days. The first thing many of us reach for in the morning and last thing at night is our phones. Who's emailed about work? What are my friends up to on Facebook? Who's posted on Instagram since I last checked it? Whats going on on Twitter?

Whilst social media is undoubtedly a powerful and important tool for networking and promoting a business, catching up with loved ones and staying in touch with current events and politics, it can also be a major stressor. With the development of mobile phones with internet, we are now accountable and reachable 24/7. Your boss can email or call you after work hours, friends can see if you've read their message and not replied and family can keep track of your every move. It seems that it was much easier to unwind and relax before technology brought us this far. 

Not only are we always reachable, but with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we are now constantly bombarded with images of other people's 'perfect' holidays, relationships, family life, selfies, gym toned bodies and healthy eating plans. Life can be hard enough without constantly having to compare your body and your life to the hoards of rich airbrushed Instagrammers out there. This is something that can affect you no matter what your age, and can be especially problematic for teenagers, who are still developing their confidence and sense of self.

So my question is this...how do we continue to use our smart phones and social media apps without a) being able to switch off and relax and b) feeling like everyone else has a better life than us?

Here are five simple steps for overcoming social media burn out:

1. Make a daily list of 5 things you are grateful for

This is a brilliant exercise for realising that you have things to be happy about in your own life regardless of what others have. We tend to lose sight in difficult times of the things we are lucky to have in our lives. Focusing in on these things can turn our attention away from the negative and give us a boost in our day. 

2. Have a social media free hour before bed

It's a proven fact that switching off computers, tablets and phones before bed can help you drift off to sleep quicker. Why not go one better and have a social media free day and feel the benefit of connecting with the world around you rather than the world behind a screen. Go for a walk, get out in nature, try out a new hobby or reconnect with family and friends! 

3. Don't fall for the social media 'filter'

Who cares that your co-worker is on holiday somewhere tropical posting perfect pictures with his/her significant other? In the grand scheme of life what does it matter? And the truth is, hardly anyone posts pictures of their bad days on social media. You don't see posts behind the holiday of the fight a couple might have just had. You don't tend to see makeup free selfies of the major breakout your friend just had. Basically social media is like a filter where only perfection makes it through. We all know that no one's life is perfect so why do we choose to believe that others have it better than us?

4. Understand your self-worth and that you deserve happiness

We are all unique, worthy and remarkable people. The problem is we can lose sight of this from time to time and forget to value and prize ourselves as we should. We can let others treat us in a way that doesn't match up to how we deserve to be treated. If you find yourself constantly compromising your wants and needs for another person, ask yourself would they do the same for you? A healthy friendship or relationship is one where both people are there for each other and support each other in times of need. Forget what social media tells you makes a person worthy and admirable and be your own best friend. You are worth it.

5. Identify your triggers and don't be afraid to unfollow

Is there a particular person or group on social media that triggers your insecurities? If so why not unfollow them. Focus on following personalities and pages that make you feel happy and good about yourself rather than those who make you feel bad. Basically if comedy posts bring you up and diet posts bring you down, you know which posts to filter out.

What are your experiences with social media? Are they mostly positive or negative? Do you have any of your own tips for avoiding social media burnout? Please feel free to share in the comments below!

Anxiety got you down? Here's 10 tips to manage stress and worry.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines anxiety as, 'an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or might happen in the future.' Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety from time to time, but it can become a problem when these feelings begin to affect a person's day to day functioning. Dealing with regular anxiety can be extremely difficult and debilitating and can leave you feeling powerless to control it. The good news is there are different techniques you can employ to help keep your anxiety in check. Some work better than others depending on your type and level of anxiety, and a combination of techniques is particularly helpful. Why not try out some of the tips below and see what works best for you?

1. Exercise

If you've read up on anxiety before you probably already know that exercising can be helpful in managing it. PsychCentral explains the science behind this in that 'exercise reduces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol...Moderate exercise raises core body temperature, which is accompanied by a simultaneous reduction in muscle tension, thereby affecting the experience of anxiety.' Personally, I find it hard to worry when I'm working out as it makes for an excellent distraction if nothing else!

2. Focus on your breath

Here is an easy technique to calm your anxiety that only takes a few minutes:

  • Breath in through your nose from as deep down in your belly as comfortable
  • Breathe out slowly through your mouth
  • Begin counting to five with every in breath and five again with every out breath, slowly and gently
  • Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Yoga

Why not combine steps 1 and 2 by taking up yoga? It is an excellent activity for those dealing with stress or worry as it combines both exercise and breathing techniques. Solace Yoga Dublin describes how yogic breathing helps to quieten thoughts and facilitates mindfulness. Yoga and pilates are very popular these days and there are classes all over Dublin and further afield. Meetup.com is a good place to look for free yoga classes, ideal for testing the waters to see if yoga is for you. Alternatively the internet is a wealth of knowledge for doing yoga from the comfort of your own home. 

4. Diet

B Vitamins are important for healthy mind and body and some studies link a deficiency with anxiety and mood. Your GP can do a blood test to check your levels of B Vitamins and there are a number of B supplements out there that you can incorporate to get your levels back up if they are dipping. Good sources of B vitamins in your diet include beef, pork, chicken, leafy greens, legumes, citrus fruits, nuts, rice and eggs.

Another diet tip for the anxious? Watch your caffeine intake! Lack of sleep won't help your anxiety so why not drink less caffeine and/or limit yourself to a morning cup. Herbal teas such as camomile tea can make for a soothing and relaxing alternative.

5. Postpone worry

Worrying first thing in the morning? And then all through the day? Trying to forget about your worries altogether is way too big a step for many people. This is where the technique of postponing your worry can come in handy, as it allows you to manage your worry by taking a much smaller step. Here's what you do:

Step 1. Mentally decide to focus your attention on your worries.

Step 2. Choose a specific time later on in the day to return your focus to these worries.

Step 3. When you get close to your specific time, either choose to start worrying or choose to postpone your worries to a later time again. Any time it's possible, choose to postpone.

Basically this technique helps as it allows you to keep the idea that you will worry, without you having to instantly worry every time it beckons you. This can be quite freeing and empowering.

6. Distract your racing thoughts at night

Many people try to switch off at night in bed and find that they simply cannot quiet the worries and thoughts in their mind. Nighttime can be very stressful for many anxious over-thinkers. This is where falling asleep listening to a podcast, the radio or a guided meditation can help. Everyone's nighttime routine is different and this technique may work better for some than others but in my experience for those that it helps, it REALLY helps. Not into audio stimulation at night? Why not commit to reading until you're really ready to nod off. Distraction is key!

7. Challenge negative thoughts

Anxious people often fall into the trap of 'catastrophising' or jumping to the conclusion that situations and events are going to end up as a worst case scenario. An example of this could be if you had a party coming up where you only know the host and it was causing you excessive worry. Whereas anyone might be a bit anxious about being in a social setting where they don't know many people, a catastrophiser might convince themselves that the party was going to be a disaster and they would be standing awkwardly and alone all night. 

When you find yourself thinking in 'worst case scenario' terms, challenge yourself and your negative thoughts. What other outcomes might there be to attending this party? Is there a chance you might get talking to someone? Could you ask the host to introduce you to their friends when you get there? What about the possibility that it might be a little awkward for a minute or two to start but that could pass? There are numerous outcomes to every anxiety provoking situation we put ourselves in, it's just a matter of acknowledging your negative thinking patterns and challenging yourself to think of other more positive options.

8. Feel the fear and do it anyway

Yes, this is the title of a popular self help book, but, in a nutshell, if there is something you would like to do or not be afraid of anymore, do it. If you were deathly afraid of dogs and had to pet a dog once a day for a month, chances are your fear of the situation would be considerably less on day 30 than it was on day 1. So you 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. This can also be done in baby steps by easing yourself in to a situation that makes you nervous. Fearful of public speaking? You could start by presenting in front of a close friend or family member. Do this as often as it takes until you are no longer that nervous presenting for them. Then take another step and present for a few friends in a room, and so on and so on until you are much closer to getting up on stage in front of a larger group.

9. Positive affirmations

When anxiety takes hold, you can begin to see the world through a negative lens. It is important to acknowledge this and train yourself to notice when you are thinking negatively. Why not reframe negative thoughts in a more positive light. For example, 'I broke out yesterday and everyone will be staring at my acne today' could be reframed as, 'Yes, I have acne on my face but I doubt others will be as focussed on it as me. And anyways, my hair looks great today.' Be kind to yourself. You deserve compliments and positivity in your life! Why not make a list of things you like about yourself in a journal? Or how about a list of things you are thankful for? 

10. Don't be afraid to seek support

Anxiety comes in all shapes and forms and can vary in severity. If you have been struggling with it for some time now and things aren't getting any better, don't be afraid to reach out to a psychotherapist, counsellor or GP. A trained professional can support you during your difficult time and provide some guidance when it is needed most. Dealing with anxiety on your own can be overwhelming so make some time to reach out to family members and close friends for support. As I've said before, a problem shared is a problem halved.

 

Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

Emotional Intelligence. You've most likely heard of it before but could you describe it to me if I asked you what it means? Most people find this difficult, but it needn't be. In fact, if we learn to listen to our emotional intelligence we can get much better results out of life, from our home life and relationships to workplace situations.

So how do I start enhancing my emotional intelligence you ask? Well you are in luck, as there are a number of ways in which you can do so!

1. Listen to your body

Our bodies are amazing things. Often times we overlook the clues they give us regarding how we are feeling about various situations. For example, that knot in your stomach when you wake up in the morning may be a clue you are feeling stressed. Or that flutter you get in your stomach when your date turns up may indicate an attraction to this person. Pay closer attention to your own body language and see how much insight you gain into your feelings.

2. Tune in to other's body language

You are chatting with your partner after work and you are worried about an upcoming job review so you find yourself being distracted and not really listening to them. They are unaware of your worry and keep discussing their day with you. You notice them frown or look at you with confusion on their face. This is where the emotionally intelligent person reads these non-verbal queues and realises they need to clue their partner in on why they seem distant. It might be tempting to just say 'I've had a long day and don't feel like talking' but this might shut your partner out and leave them feeling even more confused and maybe even wondering if they have done something to upset you. Rather, to encourage the emotional connection in the relationship, the emotionally intelligent individual might respond by saying, 'I'm sorry that I am not paying close attention to you tonight. I have a job review coming up and its making me so nervous that I can't focus on anything else.' This will clue the partner in to why you are shut down to them and may encourage further discussion where your partner has the ability to support you in your worry.

3. Ask a friend

Not really sure how you are feeling? Why not ask a friend or family member for their input? Other people can be a great tool for working out how you are feeling and how you are coming across. Asking someone you know and trust how you seem can be eye-opening and informative. In my work as a psychotherapist I have seen time and again that a problem shared really is a problem halved!

4. Pick up a pen

A handy tool for self exploration and good mental health is to write your thoughts and feelings down. This can be as simple and quick a task as starting the day by jotting down five things you are grateful for. Or, if you've a little more time on your hands why not keep a log log book of your day to day feelings, assessing your mood on a scale of 1 to 10. This can be extremely helpful in identifying days when your feelings are more extreme allowing you the chance to think about any ideas or associations attached to those feelings. Research has proven time and again that journaling is good for your health and happiness!

5. Make time to chill out and relax

Sometimes we find ourselves dwelling too much on our feelings and when these feelings are negative, we end up stressing ourselves out. Learn to acknowledge when you need to stop looking inward and focus more on the world around you. Mindfulness can be a great tool for relaxation and living in the here and now. Focus on your breathing, close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you or find a guided meditation on youtube. Maybe you just want to escape in the pages of a book, whatever it is that helps you to switch off, do it! Emotional intelligence involves more than just the ability to look inwards, its about being present in the world around you too!

Mental Health: Stigma in the Workplace

Imagine its a Tuesday evening and you realise you are coming down with the flu and need to call in sick to work. You call your employer, visit your GP and maybe even get a medical certificate to hand in. You feel reassured, knowing you have that little slip of proof, evidence that you are not well enough for work and require some time at home to rest and recuperate. Time to get under the duvet and switch on Netflix! That wasn't that difficult was it?


Now lets say instead of this flu you've been fighting off, you are faced with something with less visible symptoms, such as depression or anxiety. You're symptoms might be so bad that you would happily swap them for a dose of the flu, but how do you explain them to your employer? Would you feel as confident in their understanding and accommodating your absence from work for depression as you would for the flu? 

Many people feel that they cannot be vocal at work about mental health or the possibility of taking time out when their wellbeing is suffering. They might feel that doing so would be too much of a risk, their employer wouldn't understand or their ability to keep on top of their workload would be questioned. This leaves you forced to "get on with it" and keep working until you burn out. Hiding issues with mental health at work can leave you feeling isolated, stressed and hopeless.

Accordining to walkinmyshoes.ie, 1 in 6 Irish employees suffer from mental health difficulties. That is a lot of stressed out employees! What we need is more discussion regarding mental health and how it is as vital to human happiness and success as physical health whether in the workplace or at home. If you are experiencing difficulties getting support at work, why not take the first step to end the stigma and open up to someone. It could be a friend, a family member or a counsellor/psychotherapist. Perhaps there is a way to be open and honest with your employer. Many companies offer sessions of counselling as part of their package, so why not take them up on it?

Open up today and begin to heal the "invisible" pain you've been dealing with up until now. After all everyone needs a little extra help from time to time.

Some Links Worth Taking a Look at...

www.aware.ie - This website provides helpful tips on dealing with depression, stress and anxiety. They also have a support line you can call as well as a support email address.

www.walkinmyshoes.ie - This site offers free downloadable workplace mental health packs and encourages employers to host a fun event or coffee morning for staff to engage in talk about mental health. Why not get involved!

www.seechange.ie - See Change work to promote positive change in the public's views on mental health and provide useful information on stigma in the workplace.

www.greenribbon.ie - Green Ribbon month kicks off on May 1st. Keep an eye out for your chance to buy a ribbon supporting the open promotion and discussion of mental health in Ireland.

A New Kind of New Year's Resolution

Every year, Christmas flies by quicker than the last and before we know it its the New Year and we are once again faced with that familiar laundry list of things we want to improve on. Whether you are a fan of New Years resolutions or not, its hard to deny the pressure that a New Year can bring to be the best version of you. Maybe you are having issues with your job, maybe you are looking to get fit for the New Year or to eat a healthier diet. Perhaps there are vices in your life you are looking to overcome. Whatever the issue, the important thing is to be kind to yourself. This might sound like a simple or obvious thing to say but often times when we set goals for ourselves and face minor setbacks, we beat ourselves up over it. No one ever got to where they are by being perfect, so when things seem to be falling apart, give yourself a break, and do something nice for yourself. After all tomorrow is a new day and a chance to start again.