Living Life Ready – Calm Your Anxiety Naturally With Kalms Lavender

Here’s an interesting question for you.  Did you know that lavender can help to manage your anxiety? Do you know the difference between stress and anxiety? We tend to use these terms interchangeably, but there are definite differences between the two.

We experience stress when our feelings threaten to overwhelm us in situations where the demands made on us are greater than our ability to manage. We often know exactly what the source of our stress is too – for example starting a new job, sitting an exam or attending an interview.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is an unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety can exist even when the cause of the worry is gone.  I’m frequently told, “it’s all in your head”!

Did you know that almost one in five people say they feel anxious a lot or all of the time? Anxiety has become a common problem in our daily lives.

Symptoms of anxiety include feelings of worry, apprehension and uncertainty.

We feel we are worrying all the time, perhaps about things that are a regular part of everyday life or things that are unlikely to happen.  Some of us even worry about worrying.

But anxiety and especially prolonged anxiety can have a negative effect on the body.  We may suffer a racing heartbeat, nausea, headaches, and muscle tension.

There is no doubt that long-term, anxiety can impact on the quality of life and wellbeing. So what can we do to better manage these feelings?

If your anxiety is severe, you should talk to your GP or perhaps ring a helpline best suited to the nature of your problem.

If, however, your anxiety is mild there are plenty of ways you can help yourself to manage your fears and take better care of yourself in order to cope.

Whilst you are taking steps to make your life more manageable, you could also try a new supplement to help relieve the symptoms of mild anxiety.

Kalms Lavender One-A-Day packaging

Kalms Lavender One-A-Day Capsules are a traditional herbal medicinal product which contains uniquely prepared, pharmaceutical quality lavender oil.

The product is used for the temporary relief of the symptoms of mild anxiety such as stress and nervousness, exclusively based on the long-standing use of lavender as a traditional herbal remedy.

You see when we are anxious we may suffer from an “Anxiety Imbalance” where the nerve cells in the brain become over-stimulated, due to the excessive release of neurotransmitters – the brains chemical messengers – such as dopamine and adrenaline.

This leads to hyperactive nerves which are excessively ‘switched on’ – an imbalance which can result in symptoms of anxiety.

The results of over 15 clinical trials have shown that a daily capsule of lavender oil can noticeably relieve the symptoms of anxiety in just one to two weeks – and those benefits are comparable to commonly used anti-anxiety medications.

One study found that symptoms in 70% of those taking the lavender oil capsules were rated as ‘much’ or ‘very much’ improved when reassessed by researchers at the end of treatment.

Lavender Oil is the active ingredient found only in Kalms Lavender One-A-Day Capsules in the UK- and the research suggests that it can reduce the overstimulation of nerve cells leading to an improvement in symptoms of anxiety. Kalms want us to enjoy our days to the full no matter what symptoms anxiety may throw at us!

It’s surprising how it’s often the little things that set us worrying.  These are some of the things I worried about this week.

– Mathew flying to Canada for work – I am always worried about plane crashes!

– St. David’s Day – do you think I could find safety pins to pin Caitlin’s Welsh Lady shawl?

– World Book Day – I can’t sew for toffee and we are always scrabbling about to get some sort of costume together at the last minute.

– Cooking – or more specifically what to have for tea.

– The kids actually eating the tea I’ve cooked.

– My glasses not fitting (readers of this blog will know just how much stress this gives me!)

– The constant hissing in my ears – thanks Tinnitus!

My usual coping mechanisms involve hot baths, early nights, reading a good book and a glass of wine – like many parents across the land, and you can find more of my suggestions for managing your anxiety in this post.

Manage your anxiety with these tips

Here are some more brilliant tips from Kalms to help you manage your anxiety.

1. Slow and steady

If you’re feeling anxious, try taking slow deep breaths; calmly inhaling for 4 seconds through your nose, then exhaling for the same via your mouth. Studies show practising a breathing technique can stimulate the part of the nervous system responsible for relaxation, helpful in reducing anxiety.

2. Take a mindful moment

Mindfulness – the practice of being present in the moment and noticing our feelings, body, thoughts and environment – has been found to improve mental wellbeing and be beneficial for anxiety. Being mindful can be as simple as paying more attention to things we touch, see, smell and hear, like savouring our morning cup of coffee, rather than being caught up in our whirring thoughts. Visit NHS Choices for an introduction to Mindfulness.

3. Know your triggers

Knowing what exacerbates your anxiety is an important step in addressing the issue. Often we avoid situations that make us feel anxious – but this is counterproductive and can make our fears worse. Facing what we’re worried about can help alleviate the anxious feelings – whether it’s been making that phone call you’ve been putting off, replying to an email or even tidying the house.

4. Time to talk

Sharing your worries with a trusted family member or friend can make them seem less daunting, and voicing your fears out loud may help you put them into perspective. You can also turn to anxiety support organisations for advice in times of need.

5. Write it down

Try taking some time at the end of each day to write your worries down. Offloading thoughts in this way may help you slow down your thinking, step away from a continuous cycle of worry and clear the mind.

Writing a to-do list also allows you to commit to paper all the tasks you still need to complete – without spending excessive time thinking about, and trying to remember them.

In order to get a bit better at living life ready, I have been trying Kalms Lavender One-A-Day and after just one capsule I felt noticeably calmer and more relaxed.  In fact, I felt so calm I could have taken a nap!

These do seem to help.  Just take one capsule with a glass of water.

The packaging does state clearly that the product may impair your ability to drive or use machines so make sure you read the label.

The product is not suitable for the under 18s, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or are allergic to the product ingredients.

I would say that for periods of mild anxiety Kalms Lavender One-A-Day capsules are certainly worth a try but if your symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks you need to see your GP.

Find out more about the Kalms Lavender range at www.kalmsrange.com and find more tips like this in my guide to holistic living.

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20 Easy Self Care Hacks To Feel Better Now

We all have days when things don’t entirely go to plan or we wake and find we just feel ‘blah’ but I have 20 easy self-care hacks to help you to get your mojo back.

Those of us who bear the strain of a chronic or auto-immune illness may start each day from a position of compromised energy and it may be a struggle to even get to ‘blah’. And if you are in your 50s like me, you may find you have lots of little niggles and aches to deal with.  (Find more on about self-care in later life on my new blog selfcareatmidlife.com).

At times like this, having a strong support network of friends and family is invaluable and the phone can be our greatest ally. Even the often maligned Facebook can offer a lifeline of community, friendship and seasoned advice.

It is also important to treat ourselves with kindness and to know when we need a break.  It is not a crime to take our needs seriously.  As the saying goes, you need to apply the oxygen mask to yourself first before you can save anyone else – and this is particularly true for parents.

I’m sure you will have your own list but here are 20 easy self-care hacks to press the pause button in your life and to take some time out to reconnect with what’s important to you and your feelings – and to make sure you are treating both your mind and body with care.

Self-care hacks to get your mojo back

1.  Say no.  Remind people that ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘never’, but at the moment it means ‘not now’.

2.  Call a friend or relative you can trust.

3.  Lose yourself in your favourite TV box set (mine is the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series).

4.  Read a really gripping book.  Here’s a review of one of my favourites.

5.  Learn a new skill – both dancing, table tennis and learning a new language have recently been shown to keep our brains young and stave off dementia.

6.  Take a long, hot bath.  You could try an Epsom Salt bath which is great for renewing our Magnesium levels.  A magnesium deficiency can be the cause of tiredness. Take this magnesium deficiency quiz to determine if that’s the case.

7.  Turn your gadgets off for a while.  The world will not implode.  Even if you turn email and Facebook notifications off you may feel less frazzled.

8. Try some adult colouring or dot-to-dot.  There are loads of books available.  In fact, so many of us are colouring, we are facing a global shortage of coloured pencils!

9.  Create a vision board on Pinterest.  If you haven’t got into Pinterest yet, you may be surprised at how easy it is to use and how addictive.

You basically create online pinboards containing your favourite images and you swop and share images by following others just as you do on Facebook and Instagram.

A vision board is a visual wishlist of all the things you’d like to have or experience and, so the theory goes, by regularly viewing your vision board, you are more likely to bring the things you want directly into your experience.

10.  Ditch the black – it’s so easy to dress in black because we think it’s slimming or it helps us blend into the background but we know that colour lifts both our mood and that of the people looking at us.

Why not add a dash of bold colour into your wardrobe – a hot pink, yellow or orange?

Black can be pretty ageing, especially around the face whilst a splash of colour can throw a flattering light on our complexions.  This, by the way, is why ladies used to wear pearls – to light up their skin.

11. Do some yoga, pilates or some gentle stretches.  You don’t have to go to a class to get the benefit as there are loads of good DVDs.

As you get older, you might find 10 minutes of stretching each morning ‘unkinks’ your body from your night’s sleep and prepares you for the day.

12.  Meditate.  Just 10-20 minutes a day has been proven to give long-term benefits to our health. There are many guides to meditation online and I have also heard good things about the Headspace app which offers guided meditation if you just find it too difficult to ignore your thoughts.

13. Take some photographs – just photographing your kids, your pets, your garden, the sky, anything that gives you joy, will lift your spirits.

You can share your world via Instagram and, if you use the right hashtags, you may find many others who share your particular interests.  Did you know, for example, that there is a hashtag called #catsofinstagram?

14.  Take a nap.  Not exactly rocket science I know but it comes back to taking time out for YOU and not being afraid to assert your needs.  The theory goes that anything between 20-45 minutes is a sensible amount of time.  Any longer and you’ll probably wake up feeling groggy.

15.  Eat something.  Seriously.  If you have been fuelling yourself on carbs and sugar all day, try a high protein snack – a handful of Almonds or some cubes of Cheddar Cheese and some apple.  Try some Green Tea for a slightly healthier caffeine drink or just a long glass of water.

16.  Write a gratitude list.  I know, I know, it might sound a bit ‘woo-woo’ but you’ll find that there is truly a lot we can all be grateful for, right now.

17. Do something nice for someone else.  I read this week about a lady who was buying an In Sympathy card for a relative since there had been a bereavement in her family. She was surprised to find a small plastic envelope in the card she selected.

In the envelope was £10 and a note from a stranger saying “I am sorry that you are having to buy this card.  Please take this £10 and do something nice for yourself”.  I image that stranger felt as good making that gesture as the lady who received the envelope did.

18. Do some baking.  In her book “Saved By Cake“, the writer Marian Keyes describes how baking helped her to deal with her depression.  You may find it helps you – in which case, worry about the calories later and get creative with the butter icing.

19.  Pray. Although many of us no longer adhere to a formal, organised religion, there is a lot to be said about asking for what we want and putting the future in the hands of a higher power – whether that be God or the Universe.

Just ask, let go and then go about your day. Even better if you can sit in a sacred space, whether that be a church, a garden or a quiet place you’ve made your own.  Why not light a candle and spend some time thinking about what it is that you really want and need.

20.  Declutter.  There’s a wonderful book about domestic cleaning called Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley (Flylady)  She recommends doing something called the “27 Fling Boogie”.  Get a black bag and run around your home selecting 27 things to go in the bin.

Or you might prefer the more philosophical approach of Marie Kondo in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying“.  Either way, a good sort out tends to clear the mind and give you something else to focus on.  Just remember not to go too mad and chuck out stuff that brings up positive emotions for you.

So there you have it. 20 simple self-care hacks to recharge your batteries. What do you do to make yourself feel better?

20 Tips To Help You Keep Your Cool With Your Boss

How to keep your temper at work?  It can often be rather tricky, can’t it?  For most of us, there will come a time in our working lives when we feel as if we have been pushed too far.

Whether it’s just one badly conceived project too many with a deadline only God could meet, or a task delegated by someone whose management style close mirrors that of Animal from the Muppets, the urge to lose it rears its ugly head.

But how we respond to this may make the difference between staying employed and finding yourself back down the jobcentre, or endlessly scrolling through internet job sites.

Let me share some of the things I learned during my 20+ years working in a corporate environment, culminating in my role as Practice Director and Head of Marketing for a large law firm.

You might have heard of “The Peter Principle” which says, simply, that “managers rise to the level of their incompetence” and lord knows, I’ve seen this borne out a fair few times.

But when you’re pushed to the edge,  in today’s economically uncertain times and with hoards of younger, possibly better qualified, and more ambitious workers nipping at your heels, you need to think smart and act smarter.  The need to keep your temper at work comes with the territory for many of us, particularly if we work directly with the public.

How to keep your temper at work

Here’s my 20 point primer.  Go get a cup of coffee.  Take 5 minutes.  Breathe and read.

1.  Calm down

You can’t afford to make any rash decisions or take any actions which will result in a summons by HR for performance-related issues.

That way unemployment lies.

You have bills to pay and a career you’ve probably trained hard for and spent years working towards.

2.  Don’t cry

I know some people actually cry when they’re angry, rather than just upset, but particularly in a corporate environment, you’ll look like you can’t handle it.

If you must let it all out, hide in the toilets till you feel you can face everyone again.

3. Consider what is actually being asked of you

If you have a rocky relationship with your boss, it’s easy to assume instructions come with a hidden agenda.

This isn’t always the case.

Sometimes your boss gets dumped on too.

What are you actually being asked to do?

Is it a reasonable request?

4. Don’t take on a task you don’t understand

If you don’t know what you’re being asked to do, ask for clarification upfront.

If it’s a task you are supposed to understand, you need to ask yourself why you’re struggling with it.

Can a colleague help you out?

5. Clarify the deadline

When does the task need to be completed?

Is it reasonable?

Asking for a report by the end of the day may be perfectly reasonable if it’s comprised of data you were supposed to be keeping tabs on.

6. Is it your fault?

Have you let things slide, for one reason or another?

If things have been getting on top of you, rather than going off like a firecracker, it’s time for some honest self-reflection.

If your heart isn’t in your job, you may be better off thinking about making a move.

See my post on hating your job.

7.  Do you need training?

Now is probably not the best time to ask for it, but if you feel you need training (for example in spreadsheets or Powerpoint), make a mental note to discuss this with your boss.

A note of caution though, I’d advise against asking for training for aspects of your job you were expected to know when you were employed unless you can get away with asking for a ‘refresher course’.

8.  Can you delegate it?

Remember that when you delegate, you are delegating the responsibility but not the authority aka the buck still stops with you.

I’m sure you know in your heart which elements of a project are yours and yours alone, and which can be delegated.

9.  Did you delegate it and it’s gone horribly wrong?

Following on from 8. if you did not delegate well, for example, you didn’t give clear instructions and deadlines, then you may have a problem (plus this is a bit of a case of the pot calling the kettle black, don’t you think?).

Did you delegate to the appropriate level of expertise?

Getting junior staff to do the bits you don’t like is just asking for trouble.

If they get it wrong, you’re still in trouble and they’re unhappy.  If they do a sterling job, you can bet your boss will know it wasn’t you who did it.

10.  Document it, document it, document it!

For heavens’ sake, make notes, save emails, back up files on your PC, take screenshots.

11. Remember to C.Y.A. (Cover Your A**)

If you delegate something verbally, follow it up with a confirmation email.

Queries to your boss can also be recorded the same way.

Just make sure that the emails are appropriate to the project concerned and written as professionally as possible.

12.  Communicate without emotion, in professional language

There’s a world of difference between “so you want me to prepare a report on XYZ about DrearyCorp for you to discuss at the board meeting on Thursday” and “so even though I’m completely snowed under, you want me to drop everything, stay late and scrabble together some data”.

Repeat after me. “Attitude is a Luxury”.

13.  Manage your time

Break the project down into manageable chunks.

Estimate how long each piece will take.

Assess which tasks can be delegated.

Call a brief team meeting if you need to so that everyone is clear about what is required.

Check in with team members so you know whether you are on course to meet your deadline.

Having a quick look at Facebook and three cups of coffee while you “get your head around it” will not help, trust me.

14.  Offer solutions

I’m sure you’ve heard the hoary old management chestnut “I don’t want you to bring me problems, I want you to bring me solutions”.

Well, sorry but it’s true.

Rather than just carry out the project like an automaton, get involved.

How would you deal with the issue?

What would your approach be?

The solutions you offer may make your boss look good, make you look good and make you a more attractive candidate for promotion.

15. Use positive body language

Parents will be familiar with the phrase “take that face off” or “don’t look at me like that when I’m talking to you”.

Yes, I’m afraid even as adults we are prone to what body language experts refer to as “leakage”.

Looking like a bulldog chewing a wasp when someone is trying to delegate to you is not a good thing!

Also be aware that crossing your arms looks defensive and worse, stretching back and supporting your head with your arms is tantamount to saying “I am listening, but basically I think you’re an idiot”.

16. Build bridges

If you have a rocky relationship with your boss, this could be an opportunity to build bridges and get to know them a bit.

Could you try to suspend your frustration for a short while and see things from their point of view?

17. Socialise

If the boss invites you out for a drink after work, are you the one that always has to rush home? (I’m not including parents in this obviously).

I was a bit like that when I was younger, prioritising the needs of my obese and usually completely inert cat over the social discomfort of making small talk with management.

Looking back, I probably missed the chance to get to know my bosses which would only have improved our working relationship.

18.  Everybody’s Human

And everybody wants to be liked.

Sometimes, your boss will have problems you know nothing about.  It doesn’t hurt to cut them a little slack sometimes.

BUT 

19.  Ask, are you being bullied?

If you feel that you are being unfairly dumped on, or set up to fail, or that your treatment is a form of bullying, then you must take action.

Keep a diary to record the events of bullying.

Keep pertinent emails.

Make sure you ask yourself, however, if you are contributing to the behaviour.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, personalities do clash but are you being unnecessarily unhelpful or combative?

20.  Take it to HR

Human Resources has a difficult role to play, keeping both management and staff happy.

That said, if you feel your treatment is unjust, you must talk to HR.

You will probably find that if you are having problems with a particular boss, others will be too.

Keeping silent helps nobody.

Your complaint may actually help HR to deal with an unpleasant boss, particularly if you can provide solid evidence.

So, keep calm and carry on, as they say, but with a strategy.

A bit of honest and open reflection may save hours of future misery, for you and your colleagues.

Hopefully, you’ll now have the ammunition you need and some ideas about how to keep your temper at work.

Do you struggle to keep your temper at work? What tips would you add?




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How To Keep Calm When You’ve Got Kids

Having kids is one of the most incredible things you can do in your adult life but it can be extremely stressful at times. Whether you’re worrying about their health, their schooling, their friendships, at every stage of their development there seem to be new hurdles to overcome. Sometimes it can all get too much and you find yourself yelling, shouting or having a full on adult tantrum. Do you find yourself wondering how to be a calmer parent?  I certainly do.

The benefits of a calmer parenting style

Because keeping calm and making sure you’re prioritising your own self care – for example eating right and getting enough sleep – can only help to make those parenting challenges a little easier.

mum outdoors cuddling her two children - how to be a calmer parent

One of the main tools in your parenting arsenal is the ability to listen and interpret what your child is telling you – which isn’t just the words they speak.  It is very difficult to do this if you’re tired.  Similarly acting as negotiator between warring siblings or explaining why junior should eat his greens require consistency, energy and, often a bit of ingenuity.

It is said that you need to apply the oxygen mask to yourself first before you can save anyone else during an in-flight emergency and the same principle applies here. It’s too easy to think that self-preservation is, well, selfish, but if it helps everyone else to live a more peaceful, loving existence then we should all be a lot more selfish.

Don’t Feel Guilty For Needing a Break

Every single one of us needs a break now and again. Being a parent is relentless, hard work. Having time off when you need it is no bad thing. Maybe you could book a babysitter and go out for a nice meal with your partner. Perhaps your children’s grandparents or other relatives will take them out for the day, leaving you free to visit a spa, have a deep tissue massage to relieve stress or just put your feet up and do nothing!

Make Time To See Friends

When you have kids, you change from being ‘just you’ to a mother, and that never goes away even when your children grow up. But it’s important to maintain some of yourself that’s separate from being a parent. Keeping in contact with friends can help you to do this. They allow you to express yourself and just be ‘you’ not the wife, mother and other roles you have. You might not get to go out like you once did, but the occasional girls night, cinema trip, brunch or lunch gives you a break and allows you to keep close bonds with the important people in your life.

Split Duties With Your Partner

Dividing up responsibilities with your partner can be tricky, but it’s essential to keep everything running smoothly in the household. Every now and again you could arrange for one of you to look after the children to give the other time to themselves. This allows you both to maintain hobbies and friends, while the other does something fun with the kids which they’re sure to enjoy. Then switch, so you both get a break.

Tire Them Out

Keeping kids tired is one way to give yourself an easier life! When they’re bored, irritable and bouncing off the walls, you’re likely to get far more tantrums and challenging behavior. Before or after school each day you could take them to a park to allow them to blow off steam. It’s fun, allows them to stay healthy, get some exercise and stops them from getting bored. At the evenings or on warm weekends you could go on hikes, bike rides or kick a ball around at the park. You could also take them to play areas where they’ll tire themselves out no hassle! Getting outdoors with the kids will help to keep you in shape too as an added bonus, you will end up doing exercise without it feeling like a workout.

What do you do to stay sane with kids? Do you have any tricks for getting through a stressful day or how to be a calmer parent?




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Could You Use Your Negativity To Win In 2019?

It’s that time of year when we find ourselves both reflecting on the year just past and the one to come. It’s time to evaluate everything that has gone before, to take stock and to make some changes.

negative thinking - cardboard robot with a grumpy face

The problem with this, of course, is that, if we’re not careful, our focus can be on all the bad events, the unhappy moments, the things we shouldn’t have said and the things we should have done.

But if we find ourselves locked in a spiral of negative thinking, can we turn this around?  Could negative thinking actually be a good thing?

Clayton John Ainger, award-winning author of The Ego’s Code (£15.99, Panoma Press) shares why negativity is a powerful message from you, to you; a message to learn from rather than suppress you.

Because we all have this tendency to focus on the negative, we may find this causes so much uncertainty that we end up paralysed and end up doing nothing.

As you change, your life changes. Rather than look at negativity as an obstacle, it is better to see it a fuel for change and one which can motivate you to make important changes so that you reveal the real you, the you that is often hidden away!

Here are his three quick tips to help you start banishing your negative thinking in 2019.

Change the meaning of your negativity

Negativity is a natural and normal part of life and is a valuable resource for change. By treating negativity as innately bad or wrong, we give it more power over us and increase its impact in our lives.

Changing the meaning you give negativity and seeing it as something to serve you, rather than hinder you, allows you to approach uncomfortable and difficult situations in a new way, which enhances your ability to engage more fully with life.

Be Aware, Acknowledge and Act on your Negativity

It’s easy to allow ourselves to feel the weight of negativity. When we do this, our negativity anchors us to the past, causing us to literally relive our past in the here and now.

At that moment, we are prevented from making any true progress in life. It becomes easier to bail out and accept failure rather than to push through and pursue success.

Instead of dismissing negativity or sweeping it aside, become aware of it, because awareness pulls you out of the past into the present.

Acknowledge and express gratitude for your negativity! You are about to learn something about yourself to help you in life.

You then have a choice; you can react, in a way that could harm you or someone else, or you can respond by consciously acting in a way that serves you for your highest good.

It is this state of being that make lasting changes, not short-term fixes.

Set yourself up to WIN

Before you go into challenging situations, or have difficult conversations that may trigger negative thinking, try the ‘WIN’ technique to calm the mind, body and emotions; Focus on your intention and the desired outcome so that you feel confident enough to serve others and express your truth.

Here is the WIN technique:

W: Walk and Breathe

Deep, controlled breathing helps you to calm down, bringing clarity about the situation. Clayton always walks in a figure-eight; to access both sides of the brain – creativity and logic – and align his head and heart, powering up his intuition.

I: Intention

As you walk, focus on your intention and outcome from the situation. Clayton spends a lot of time front-of-room speaking, engaging with senior leaders in business, working with customers from all walks of life so being clear about his intention and how he can serve his clients or his audience at the highest level is of the highest importance to him.

Clarity and certainty of his outcomes bring confidence and puts him in the best mindset to help his clients win.

N: Nail it

Deliver, succeed and celebrate! So many people quickly move onto the next thing without thinking about what they just achieved.

Celebrating your achievements helps you to get a sense of your real value and real self-worth. When you value yourself, others will automatically do the same. ”

What do you think of Clayton’s tips?

Personally, I think it’s far healthier to accept your negativity and to actively channel it, rather than make yourself miserable by trying to suppress it – and becoming even more negative in the process!




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Tips For Managing Parenting Stress

Stress is a common issue that many people have to deal with nowadays. Parents are often faced with the complicated challenge of managing a busy work schedule that includes a stressful job, countless household chores and raising children. All of these demands result in parenting stress, which could trigger unwanted illnesses and afflictions.

Parenting stress - mother spoonfeeding her baby

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

According to studies, parents who report higher levels of stress tend to be harsher and more negative with the rest of the family. Moreover, a high level of parenting stress decreases the bond between the parent and the child.

Avoid parenting stress

First of all, as a parent, you need to learn how to take good care of yourself. This experience is emotionally and physically draining. As there is no paid time off, you need to make sure that you look after yourself each day.

The following tips show you how to do that without making drastic changes in your life.

Get Your Rest

Being a parent is complicated as you need to look after your kids 24/7 while also juggling work or household chores. However, getting proper rest is just as important. When you are getting as much sleep as possible, you are able to cope with stress more easily.

A simple way of doing that is by creating a family schedule. Don’t let your kids create their own sleeping pattern. Even if you prefer going later to bed, that does not mean that they can do the same. Moreover, take advantage of your kid’s naps and take a short nap if possible. If not, ask your partner to watch the kids while you get some rest.

Have a Laugh

Nothing works more effectively when you’re feeling stressed than a good laughter session with someone close. It could be a mummy friend or just a random neighbour. Find someone who can provide a supportive ear and talk to them as often as possible. It is good to know that someone is in the same boat as you.

If you can’t find any support when you need it, watch a short funny video online. If none of these work, it might be time to get professional help. You should not be embarrassed by talking about your feelings with a therapist.

Take Time for Yourself

Another guaranteed way of reducing some stress is by taking time for you. This often depends on your current situation. Whether you are a single parent or a home-based parent, you can still find a few moments where you can put yourself first.

Make a habit of starting your days before your kids and use those moments to stretch, meditate or look after your skin and hair. Unfortunately, stress can lead to hair loss problems and premature ageing.

Live in the Moment

Being a parent involves a lot of stress, especially when it comes about the future. For that matter, you need to make an effort and stop worrying so much about the future. Instead, make the most of every second of your life and find a way to celebrate little victories. No matter how tempting it might be to think about college when your kids are still in diapers, you can save yourself from some stress by concentrating on the present.

These are a few simple ways of eliminating some stress from parent’s life. Although it takes some time and getting used to, they are truly effective.

Dealing With Stress When You Have a Special Needs Child

Being a parent is stressful in any family. When you have a special needs child, stress levels can go even higher.

You find yourself juggling with more than getting the kids to soccer practise after school, meeting with teachers on a limited basis and breaking up occasional sibling spats. A special needs child brings a whole new set of responsibilities.

parent and child holding hands

Along with those responsibilities come added stressors you may not be equipped to cope with. Here are some of the major causes of stress and what you can do to relieve the pressure.

Feeling Overwhelmed

If every minute of your day is taken up with the care of your disabled child, it’s no wonder you’re stressed. There are resources available to you when you have a special needs child. In Dubai, the Sanjay Shah Autism Rocks Support Centre offers a host of support services for parents. In the U.K., the Council for Disabled Children website features a list of resources, guidance and toolkits to assist parents. Nearly every community has some type of assistance available to parents of special needs children.

Guilt is the Worst

A parent of a special-needs child runs the gamut of emotions, but guilt is most likely at the top of the list. Guilt over the fact that you have a child with special needs, guilt over not having time to spend with your partner, guilt over feelings of neglect towards your other children, guilt and worry about whether or not you’re doing everything you can for your special needs child—the list goes on.

The problem is that guilt is a destructive emotion and prevents you from moving forward. If you find yourself with overwhelming feelings of guilt, seek a professional’s help. You’ll be a stronger parent and better equipped to handle stressors when you put that unwarranted guilt to rest.

Worry About Your Partner and Other Children

Another source of stress when you have a special needs child is the worry about the effects on your partner and the other children in the household. You no longer have time to spend alone with your partner; the other children aren’t getting the nurturing they need. The family’s activities seem to revolve around your special needs child and no one else’s needs are being met. You used to have a life. Now you have a duty.

What You Can Do

A large part of the stress factor when you have a special needs child comes from feeling like you don’t have control anymore. But, you can regain control and make positive changes in your life and that of your family. Here’s how:

  • Maintain a Regular Routine: Daily routines, such as regular bed and bath times, meal times and wake up times as well as weekly routines for chores and other activities ensure the family works together. The special needs child should be included in all of the family routines according to his or her ability. Shared routines go beyond simply getting things done, they also build a sense of cohesion within the family.
  • Involve Everyone in Family Decisions: Everyone needs a chance to be heard. Involve everyone in family decisions in most areas. That’s not to say you hold a vote and the majority wins. But each member of the family, the special needs child included, needs to have a voice.
  • Have Some Fun: Ask everyone in the family to make a list of activities they enjoy. Lists might include big items (such as a trip to a theme park) or activities that can be done in the backyard (like playing catch). Make sure everyone gets to do something they enjoy as often as possible.
  • Nurture Your Other Children: If you can include your special needs child in most activities, fine. If not, find a caregiver for your special needs child and spend time doing what your other children love from time to time.
  • Spend Time With Your Partner: Get away with your partner. Maintaining a close bond with your partner is essential not just for your relationship, but for everyone involved.

 

You Before Them: The Necessity Of Self-Care

Being a mum goes hand in hand with putting others before yourself. Parenthood changes everything. You can no longer do exactly what you want when you want to do it because there are others who rely on you. This is all fine, of course, and is completely natural. But there are times when it’s necessary to put yourself first. After all, if you’re not healthy and happy, you’re not going to be effective in caring for others.

Self-Care

The concept of self-care means taking care of your own needs. It means making time to focus on yourself for a while and do the things that are necessary to keep you well and happy. It is necessary for optimum health and your overall sense of wellbeing.

What Happens If You Don’t Practise Self-Care?

If you fail to take some time for yourself once in a while, it’s likely you’ll burn out. You’ll feel ill, frustrated, irritable, and unhappy. It may also lead to physical illness. And if you’re ill, you won’t be able to take care of anyone.

Little And Often

The difficulty, when you’re a parent, is finding time to practise self-care. What with the morning routines, preparing the kids for school, work, meals, housework, etc., there’s little time left for anything other than sleep. The trick is to take a ‘little and often’ approach. Each day carve out a short period of time just for you; even if it’s just for twenty minutes. It could be when you first arrive home from work, or at some point in the evening. Let the rest of your family know that you’re taking a little time and you won’t be available to them for the next however many minutes. If you know that you have this time to look forward to, it makes the rest of your busy day a little easier.

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Types Of self-care

Self-care isn’t just about practising yoga and meditation, though this works for a lot of people. It’s about doing the things that support, sustain, and nourish you. This will vary from person to person. The following are common examples:

1. Taking A Bath

Water is naturally soothing and has been used in therapy and health for thousands of years. The water and heat help you to unwind and relax, gently easing away aches, pains, and stresses. Throw in some Epsom Salts for added impact.

2. Pamper Night

If you have the time, you can extend your hot bath into a full night of pampering. This can include some or all of the following:

Soothing your tired, aching feet with a range of treatments

* Spending time on your nails and toenails and applying your favourite nail polish

* Face and body masks

* Exfoliating

* A gentle steam treatment for your skin

* Applying a conditioning treatment to your hair

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3. Concentrating On Your Physical Appearance

If you rarely have time to get your hair cut or to try some new makeup techniques, set aside an evening or a couple of hours to do this. Looking and feeling your best sometimes go hand in hand and so it pays to spend a little time on your appearance. Try out some new hairstyles. Take out your straighteners, heated rollers or electric hair straightening brush. Watch some online tutorials and experiment with different styles and looks. You might even think to opt for cosmetic dentistry veneers altamonte springs if you want to enhance your smile.

If your makeup is a little old, invest in some new items. Makeup doesn’t last forever, and over time it can attract bacteria. So keep it fresh and new. This is a great excuse to try some different colours and products.

4. Reading

For many people, getting lost in a good book is a welcome form of escapism. For the duration of the book, they can divert their attention from the stresses and strains of everyday life and enjoy being part of someone else’s life or another world. Audiobooks are also a great way to relax. You can sit back while someone else tells you a story.

5. Walking

There’s something about being in nature that helps clear your mind and helps you feel more focused. You don’t have to go anywhere special. Just fifteen or twenty minutes with your iPod and the fresh air is all it takes.

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6. Exercise

Some people use exercise as a form of self-care. It gets their blood pumping and heart racing. You don’t have to go to the gym if that’s not your thing. Find a physical activity that’s right for you, whether it’s running, cycling, tennis, etc. Some people find that low-impact exercise such as swimming helps them to relax and wind down.

7. Gardening

Gardening not only gives you a good workout but it can help with aches, pains, and anxiety. Because it tends to last for a few hours, a gardening session can burn off more calories than going to the gym. If it’s a sunny day, you will also get a good dose of Vitamin D, and the close proximity to nature has a positive impact on the mind, helping ease stress and worry.

8. Meditation, Yoga, And Tai Chi

Forms of meditation, yoga and tai chi often go hand in hand with self-care, and there is a good reason. People who practise these activities report feeling calmer, less stressed, and generally happier. Much research has been done on this topic, and results show that exercising your mind has many physical and mental benefits.

9. Keeping A Gratitude Diary

Keeping a gratitude diary is much easier than it sounds. It doesn’t require you to write pages and pages. Many people do this each day, by simply recording three things they’re grateful for. Over time, it has been shown to increase positivity and refocus the mind. The idea is that no matter how busy or stressful your life is, there are lots of good things that are often forgotten or taken for granted. Focusing on these things helps to reset the mind and ease some of your worries.

It may be that you’re already practising self-care without even knowing it. What steps do you take to look after yourself and maximise your health and wellbeing?

Mums: Don’t Get Angry -Get “Turbo-Calm”

Week 5 of the Summer holidays and we are now all living in a simmering state of restrained hostility. Caitlin is showing all the signs of galloping puberty or is permanently auditioning for Hollyoaks – I can’t tell over the sound of harumphing, slamming doors and “none of you understand me”.

Ieuan is admitting to getting “a little bit angry” which is akin to saying Kim Kardashian is quite fond of cameras.

I have exhausted my repertoire of bribes, threats, cajoling, wheedling, pleading, stropping, sighing and outright emotional blackmail.  I have hidden in my bedroom and taken mid afternoon showers to shut out the thunderous sound of bickering which erupts over something world-shattering like the wrong placement of a Lego brick or the refusal by one or the other of them to play their longstanding (and weirdly entertaining) game of Puppy and The Incredible Hulk.

I have taken them out to run free on our nearby common or to explore the local beauty spots.  They have iPads, books, TV, a safe garden, bikes and scooters and Lego which appears mysteriously like damp in the various corners of the house but they still require entertaining.  I’ve read to them (which lasts the length of a shortish chapter till they get bored) and they have enough craft materials to build a space shuttle. I have eaten so much pizza I’m starting to resemble Gino on the Go Compare advert.

But I have a new thing.  I’m calling it “Turbo-Calm”.

It’s where you are rendered speechless by rage or irritation. It’s the replacement of shouting with silence. It’s when you finally think”enough of this nonsense” and take yourself out of the argument equation in order to defuse it.  And, surprisingly, it works quite well.

Expecting a spectacular explosion of maternal nagging, the kids find an icy calm exterior.  I become one with the universe and my mind is like a computer.  I am Mrs Logic.  I show no emotion.  Oh no.

Now, I’m not entirely sure this is a healthy method of interaction but it does at least create a space for everyone to calm down a bit.

My mother used to send me to my room to fester and then appear with a cuddle about half an hour later.  I’m guessing today that would be referred to as positive time out.

There’s no escape when you’re a parent though, is there?  You can run but you can’t hide.

When it all gets too much, hit the turbo-calm button.  And break out the biscuits.

While you’re carb-loading you may just remember that you love the little menaces after all.

And if you’re lucky, the kids will remember they quite like you too – and come for a cuddle.

Manage Your Stress With Nelsons Arnicare & Flower Power!

The lovely people at Nelsons, makers of Spatone (reviewed here) have sent samples of their Arnicare Bath & Massage Balm, Bach Emotional Eating Kit and Bach Rescue Liquid Melts for me to try for you.

As you know, I am always interested in anything which helps a busy parent to manage their stress levels better!

I have been reading Susan Balfour’s fabulous book “Stress Control: Stress Busting Strategies For the 21st Century” [review here] and Nelson’s products are a perfect complement to this.

Nelsons Arnicare Bath & Massage Balm

Nelsons Arnicare® Arnica Bath & Massage balm is a unique dual purpose relaxing balm which creates a luxurious, lovely fragranced bath to help ease aches.

It contains Arnica Montana to soothe and relax you after a tiring day, with Calendula, Evening Primrose and Sweet Almond Oils to hydrate and nourish the skin naturally.

The balm has a lovely Lavender and Grapefruit scent to help melt away tension and clarify the mind.

I found the milky bath very soothing after a day with the kids and I rely on the occasional hot bath to help my back. (I’m relying on pilates to help set me straight, exercise-wise).

As a plus, the bath was easy to clean afterwards with no heavy, oily residue.

The advice is to use 2 capfuls per bath but I like the fragrance so much I used a good 3 to 4 capfuls. Nelsons Arnicare Arnica Bath & Massage Balm costs £8.49 and is available from Boots.

emotional eating kit from Nelsons
Nelsons Emotional Eating Kit

If you find yourself wandering off the path a bit when it comes to your diet and healthy living resolutions (don’t we all, especially with all that Easter chocolate on the horizon!), and you need a helping hand to get you back on track, then try Bach™ Emotional Eating Kit. [£11.99 at Boots]

The kit comprises three flower essences to help with emotional eating (using food to deal with your feelings).

You can create your own individual combination and adapt it to suit your changing moods.

The essences are alcohol and artificial additive free and suitable for the whole family.

Each essence offers a different psychological boost and can be taken as drops on the tongue or in a glass of water.

Crab Apple is for acceptance of yourself and your imperfections,

Cherry Plum can help you to think and act rationally and Chestnut Bud can help you gain knowledge from your experience.

I have used flower essences before and find them easy to take, comforting and reassuring. You don’t have the worry of side effects as you do with many over the counter medications.

Bach Rescue Remedy Liquid Melts

If you are having a difficult day and are struggling to find motivation, try some RESCUE® Liquid melts [£8.89 in Boots] to help when your day threatens to get on top of you.

The Bach Rescue Liquid Melts are tiny capsules containing 4 drops of a blend of 5 flower essences designed to offer calmness and to help you regain clarity.

You might argue that the act of pausing and taking stock is therapy enough but it is difficult to do when you are ‘up to your eyes’.

You simply place a melt on your tongue and let it dissolve.

The drops are combined with grapeseed oil and they melt onto the tongue with very little taste.

I have previously used Bach Rescue Remedy (the same blend of drops) which comes in a glass bottle but the Melts are easy to carry in your bag and each individual melt is sealed for hygiene.

The Melts don’t contain alcohol and they are non-drowsy and suitable for all the family.

I was surprised to find that the famous Rescue formula comes in a number of formulations – even chewing gum!

In case you’re wondering what the 5 flower essences in the Rescue blend are, they are Rock Rose (for terror and panic), Impatiens (for irritation and impatience), Clematis (for inattentiveness and to counteract faintness), Star of Bethlehem (for shock) and Cherry Plum (for irrational thoughts and lack of self-control).

So there you have it, Nelsons offer a wealth of alternative remedies to help you manage your stress – the natural way.

*PR samples were received for the purpose of this review.

Book Review: Stress Control” by Susan Balfour

Stress Control:  Stress-Busting Strategies For The 21st Century is the latest self help stress management book from psychotherapist Susan Balfour, who has made a special study of stress syndrome with a particular emphasis on the effect of stress on our health and how to manage our stress in daily living.

Susan has a private therapy practice in south-west London where she works with both individuals and companies and lectures extensively on the subject of stress management.

She has been featured on a number of TV programmes about stress and anxiety management and has worked with leading medical specialists on the management of Repetitive Strain Injury.

There are acres of words written on the subject of stress and its management, as just a cursory glance at the Mind, Body, Spirit section both on Amazon and the few remaining UK bookshops (thank God for Waterstones!) will attest.

These books seem to fall either into those with a medical focus or the more traditional ‘self help’ tome which offers advice in almost ‘soundbite’ format or has a spiritual focus, which some people may find hard to relate to.

Susan Balfour’s book is a happy blend of both styles, combining important scientific information (such as the impact stress has on our bodies) with a frank discussion of how modern life and particularly how today’s society, with its constant drive towards consumerism and acquisition, is affecting us.

I found the tone to be no-nonsense and frank, rather like chatting to an old friend who has your best interests at heart.

Susan believes that we need to learn from the lessons of the past and ancient wisdom rather than constantly seeking new (and temporary solutions).

This is not, however, done in a wishy-washy, navel contemplating way.

She proposes alternative approaches to modern problems, for example, our addiction to social media and the urge to be constantly connected to our phones every minute of the day! Bullying at work, working from home, excessive workloads, every modern dilemma is included.

The book contains 11 clearly defined chapters, each with suggested, easy-to-implement exercises. For example, “Technology and stress” (Ch 4), “Take control of your agenda” (Ch 5), “The Positive No” (Ch 6), “Stress at work (Ch 7) and “Food to empower you” (Ch 10).

I particularly liked Susan’s focus on tension releasing exercises, since I have been doing Pilates for the last few months to help a lower back problem thanks to two Caesarians just 18 months apart!

We can definitely control our stress by the way in which we move our bodies.

The book includes a loosening and stretching routine which is easy to do, as well as an exercise to achieve deep relaxation.

Finally, Susan talks about what we can learn from successful people, focusing on control, challenge and commitment.

I really liked this book which is choc-full of advice.

It is not a book to be skimmed through but rather contemplated and digested slowly. Susan reminds us that it is OK for us to prioritise our own health and happiness – something that many busy mums totally forget!

So are you stressed? With which of these symptoms can you identify?

  • drinking more alcohol than usual
  • sleeplessness
  • feeling more emotional than usual
  • non-specific hostility – feeling angry most of the time
  • feeling threatened by life’s demands and by other people
  • increased irritability
  • humourlessness
  • eating too much, or too little
  • increased dependence on caffeine, tobacco or other mood-altering substances
  • digestive disorders
  • frequent minor ailments
  • excessive sweating
  • impaired memory
  • palpitations
  • indecisiveness
  • feeling indispensable
  • inability to relax
  • feeling the joy has gone out of life
  • always feeling rushed; always in a hurry
  • resistance to change

If you’re anything like me, I’m sure a few of these will ring a bell rather loudly!

It is imperative to manage our stress so that we lead happy productive lives and can give our best to those around us – particularly our children!

Stress Control:  Stress Busting Strategies For The 21st Century is available on Amazon.co.uk.