Mental Health · Personal

Summer’s Here – It’s Time For A More Positive Outlook

There aren’t many people who can say they’ve enjoyed the past year. The pandemic has been hard, and has had a huge impact on most people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

But with things looking more positive at the moment, it’s also time for you to start looking on the brighter side, ready to enjoy a great summer and get your health back on track.

Shake off the past year with the following tips for ensuring a more positive outlook this summer.

Image Credit: Unsplash under Creative Commons

Make plans

After a year of not being able to make many plans, it’s time for plans to come back on the menu! Keeping busy ensures you don’t stay at home moping, and instead gives you the chance to go see friends and family as well as enjoy different experiences. Spend time with positive people who make you feel good about yourself. Check out some great things to do this summer and start making plans!

Get outdoors

Spending time outdoors is good for your mental health. It can help you feel a lot more positive after spending a long, wet winter indoors. From going for walks to dining al fresco, there’s a lot to love about spending time outside. If you want to boost your fitness this summer, you can also check out some outdoor workout ideas to keep you busy. Get that vitamin D and spend some time in the sunshine – don’t forget your sun protection!

Think about your future and your goals

The past year might have meant that some of your plans have been put on hold, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay on hold forever. Start setting some goals for yourself that will help give you motivation, serving as a positive way to move forward. You might want to consider going down a more spiritual route with Psychic Lights and see what your future holds. If you’re feeling particularly lost or unsure of your future, you could also consider speaking to a life or career coach, who could help you think about things differently.

Prioritise your mental health

Your mental health is important, but like your physical health, it needs taking care of. Find ways of reducing stress so that you can enjoy life, and making sure that you don’t bottle up your feelings. Don’t put pressure on yourself and make sure you take enough opportunities to relax – isn’t that what summer is all about?

If you are struggling with your mental health for whatever reason, make sure you speak to someone or seek help.

Summer is when a lot of people will feel more optimistic and hopeful. The longer, brighter days can work wonders for your wellbeing, as well as help you get out and about more. Give more time to yourself and let go of all of your negativity so that you can really make the most of the summer months.

Mental Health

Online Counseling and Other Ways to Care for Your Mental Health

Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Lockdown
Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

Whether you’re back to normal and going out and about, or still trying to isolate as much as possible, there’s little doubt about the fact that lockdown had an effect on the mental health of many people. As humans, we’re usually social creatures who need to feel a sense of togetherness and community, even if it’s something as simple as a chat to the other school mums in the morning, or a cheery hello from the person serving you in your local shop.

With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about ways that we can galvanise our mental health, especially if we have a second wave incoming, and I’m sharing them with you today:

Be Active

Besides doing various exercises that help keep the mind active, there are other ways to be active mentally. You can choose a book of your choice to read. Reading a book regularly can help keep your mind alert and active throughout. But, reading a book can sometimes be boring, and this might make you slack. The best thing to do is to set a reminder and schedule time to read. You can also challenge your memory. You can do so by playing chess or learning something new.

To remain active, it would also be best to partake in online racing games. They can improve your brain functionality when you think critically about how to finish a certain level. They can also help reduce stress and improve your decision-making skills. Additionally, engaging yourself in stimulating talks can help keep your mind active. In a group or with a friend, you can choose to discuss a topic that will challenge you to think globally.

Find a Counselor

Never underestimate the amount of mental wellbeing a counselor can offer, and thanks to technology, you don’t even need to be face to face. BetterHelp offers online counselling services, and can match you to the right mental health professional for you. Booking yourself in for a weekly chat to vent your frustration and fears can have a profound effect on your mental health.

Find a Hobby

Unless you live in a house which is equipped with all sorts of entertainment areas, the chances are, you were bored at least once during lockdown. Boredom can be devastating to your mental health and the overthinkers amongst us can dread time alone with their thoughts. Finding a new hobby can really help to combat this – I’ve taken up cross stitch since lockdown began and it’s something that’s really helped to give me a focus and a distraction.

Depending on your likes and interests, some hobbies are easier to do at home than others are. If you’re good with your hands and you love solving puzzles, consider hobbies like picking a lock, jewelry making, pottery (if you have the space), or even calligraphy. You can certainly pass the time picking up new skills or discovering new things.

Get Some Exercise

Keeping your body healthy can have a really big knock-on effect on your mind, not least of all because you release endorphins, the “happy hormones”, when you work up a sweat. It’s difficult with gyms being shut, but there are lots of exercise tutorials on YouTube. If that’s not your cup of tea, simply stick some headphones on and go for a walk.

Have a Spa Day

You don’t need to leave the house to treat yourself to some spa treatments – there are plenty of things you can do at home which will make you feel like a new person! Face masks, hair masks, long baths and even self-massage can all help you to feel like you’ve been pampered and nurtured, and taking the time to care for your physical appearance is vital to better mental health.

Do Something Nice

You’d be surprised at the mental boost you can get from doing something nice for someone else. Write a letter, send a box of chocolates in the post, you could even just mow an delderly neighbour’s lawn without being asked. The glow you get from doing something nice for someone else can really bolster your mental wellbeing.

Happiness · Health

Online Counseling – Five Key Benefits

Five Benefits of Online Counseling
Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

If there’s one thing that many of us have learned durin glockdown, it’s that it is possible to do things differently. Everything from shopping to learning to medical appointments have moved online to help limit the spread of COVID-19, which is something that we should be utilising even more moving forward, even after the threat of a pandemic is gone. With that in mind, I’ve put together five reasons why you should consider online counseling:

Convenience

The top reason for having online counseling with a service like BetterHelp is that you can do it any time, anywhere. You don’t need to take time off of work for appointments if you can go online in your lunch hour for your counseling session, nor do you need to find childcare if you’re at home with the kids. Online counseling is ultra-convenient – you can even stick to your appointments if you’re on holiday or working abroad!

Comfort

Sometimes, going to a clinic or surgery for counseling can leave you feeling totally out of your comfort zone. However, with online counseling, you can do it from the comfort of your own home where you’ll feel totally at ease. You don’t even have to put shoes on, you can sit curled up in your favourite armchair and have a chat with your counselor. What’s not to love about that?!

Cost

When you visit a counselor in an office, part of what you’re paying for, aside from their expertise, is their overheads. They’ll have expenses like rent for thier office space, business rates, utilities, staff etc. When you see a counselor online, it’s likely that they work from a home office and their cost can be very low, which means they’re able to charge less for their services.

Options

When you visit a counselor in person, you’re often limited by the type of counselor you’re able to see. Different mental health professionals will have different methods of being able to help, and by using an online counselor you can access the type of help you need which you may not have been able to find otherwise. You also benefit from an element of anonymity by using a counselor who doesn’t live or work locally to you.

Travel

Even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, travel can sometimes be tricky. We live in a rural location with one, not very regular, bus route nearby. If our car is off the road, getting to appointments is basically impossible, which means online counseling would be a really good option for us. Having an online session means that we only have to travel as far as our PC to get to see a mental health professional.

Happiness · Mental Health

The Healing Power of Looking Forward

The future seems bleak right now. The present ain’t so rosy either. Yet, even the darkest clouds has a sliver of silver lining. We just need to be of the right mindset to be able to see it. Every time we turn on our TV or scroll through our social media feeds, we’re met with images of tragedy and prognostications of doom and gloom. In this context is it any wonder that we’re all cooped up feeling depressed, anxious and frustrated? We’re naturally inclined to catastrophise- to jump to the worst case scenario and feel despair. Believe it or not, it’s a psychological defense mechanism. However, I think we can all agree that it’s not a terribly helpful instinct under the current circumstances.

Image by Pexels via Pixabay

We can acknowledge the troubles of the present while still keeping a hopeful eye on the future. Indeed, a healthy sense of anticipation can actually have a profoundly positive effect on our mental state. Having something to look forward to can make your outlook and disposition much cheerier. It can help you to focus on positive outcomes rather than getting dragged into despondency. Here are some things you might want to concentrate on looking forward to…

Helping out in your community

All over the country, we’re seeing a revived sense of community. This is our opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves and help our neighbours, our vulnerable and the NHS. From picking up shopping or medicine for eldely neighbours to sewing scrub bags for nurses, there are lots of ways in which you can help out.

Making improvements around the home

Another thing we can get excited about is making some improvements to the home which might have been put off under different circumstances. Rather than bemoaning how long we have to spend at home, we can focus on making our homes the best they’ve ever been!

Planning your next holiday

One thing’s for sure, the next holiday you take as a family will be the most satisfying and exciting you’ve ever taken. Whether you’re planning on jetting off to a far flung country or simply considering taking the family for a weekend by the beach, the air will smell that much sweeter, the food will taste that much better and your memories will be that much more vivid as a result of your prior quarantine.

Buying a new car

While, of course, we shouldn’t rely on material possessions to make us happy… there’s no denying the satisfaction of treating the family to a big purchase. And looking forward to buying a new car may be something that the whole family can get behind. Head on over to Choosemycar.com to look at car finance deals. You may be surprised by how many great deals there are, even if you don’t have outstanding credit.

Having a fun day out as a family

Finally, it’s not just the big things that we’re all missing. It’s the little things too. We’re all looking forward to spending a day in the park without wondering if we’re spending too long there. Or heading to the cinema on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Or enjoying a meal in a restaurant together. All the little things that make for treasured lifelong memories.

Having something to look forward to doesn’t mean you’re burying your head in the sand or refusing to acknowledge the severity of the situation. It simply means that you’re choosing to hope. And that can make a huge difference to the person you choose to be right now.

Uncategorized

Managing Financial Stress This Christmas

Christmas is typically a time of joy and love, giving and receiving, peace to all men and all the lovely things that we look forward to around this time of year, from tasty treats and delicious Christmas dinners to meeting up with immediate family and having a laugh.

There is a darker side of Christmas however, one that parents usually keep wrapped up in their own mind; financial stress. Too often do people believe they need to go over the top every year and have a bigger, better Christmas than years before. This can quickly lead to debt which casts a dark cloud over the New Year celebrations when you are more focused on saving the pennies to make it through the typically longer pay period between Christmas and January.

If you are concerned about the effect financial stress is having on your mental health and home environment, here are some tips to make your Christmas less about the cost and more about the sentiment.

Reduce Santa Presents

A modern trend that is causing more harm to children than good is the increase in cost and number of presents from Santa children get each year. While in your own home it might be wonderful to see the joy on your child’s face as they open their gifts from Father Christmas, however, this is often the greatest cause of financial stress for parents, who see no appreciation or gratitude for the presents they get from Santa.

Not only does this cause financial worry in the household (which your children can and will pick up on), but this can have a knock-on effect on less-fortunate children when they go back to school and see the disparity between what Santa brought one child when compared to them. Of course, while no family needs to curb their spending to protect somebody else’s feelings, your child won’t be worse off from one less gift.

Introduce Secret Santa Amongst the Adults

Secret Santa is typically a gift giving activity that takes place in offices and between large friend groups, however, with bills ever increasing and the cost of goods going up, buying decent gifts for the adults in your family can soon get expensive. Consider introducing the opportunity for Secret Santa in your family. Each person puts together a list of different things they would like to receive below a certain budget, choosing multiple items so the gift giver can offer a surprise rather than an expected gift. Names are then put into a hat and picked at random, just make sure nobody picks themselves out!

Sell Things Around the Home You Don’t Need or Use

Sometimes things pop up that are unexpected, and you may find that an expensive bill or expenditure is going to leave you short for the season. To make a quick bit of cash without taking up more of your precious time (like getting a second job would do), consider having a look around your home for bits you can sell, popular items that sell well second hand include; children’s toys, baby and toddler clothing, working homewares and unblemished furniture. If you are crafty, consider putting together some homemade Christmas cards or decorations, you can even work with your local shop to sell your creations or create an online store via Amazon, eBay or Etsy.

Other Small Areas to Make Savings

There are few things we typically do at Christmas that can be changed up in order to save money, for example, rather than sending out physical cards, put some effort into creating a digital card and email this around your friends and family. Rather than give gifts that don’t offer anything value, like gag gifts and silly presents, you could instead give the gift of a charity donation, adopt an animal or even sponsor an orphan. These sorts of gifts can make the receiver feel like they’ve helped a bigger cause and save getting something cheap and plastic that will be thrown out in the next house clearing.

 

If you are worried about funding Christmas this year, think about the places you can cut back and consider setting rules, a popular one going around at the moment is a “ban on unnecessary gifts” where you reduce the giving circle to immediate family only. This stops people thinking they need to give you a gift in return, just make sure to discuss with friends and colleagues before hand so you don’t receive a gift and feel obligated to give back.

Christmas shouldn’t be about the monetary aspect, so spend more time with the people you care about and let them know how special they are to you with your words and actions, rather than your wallet and if you do find yourself struggling from month to month, without the extra cost of holidays, consider talking to your employer about a pay review.