6 Top Tips for overwhelmed working mums


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If you have children and you’re also trying to hold down a working life outside the home, you will know how busy it feels – all the time! Before you know it, you’re experiencing stress, getting irritable and feeling overwhelmed with how much you have to do each day. Talk to any working mum and they will recognise this. For single mums it can especially difficult – and I know because I was one!

Now I’m no fairy godmother and there is no magic wand to make all this disappear, but there are ways to make it easier for yourself. I’m going to share the tips I used which helped me, and recommend some others that would have made things better for me at the time – had I known them.

Tip 1 – Recognise you can’t do everything and prioritise

Work out what is important. List everything on your mind and split the items into essentials and desirables. Essentials need to be top of your priority list – the desirables can wait

Tip 2 – Get a routine

When you’re busy, it’s helpful to have a schedule to guide you. Think of it like the timetable you used at school – that helped you know what was necessary that day, where to be and when, and what to be doing, as your time was broken down into manageable chunks

Tip 3 – Delegate

You may have a supportive partner who can share the load – so use them. Give them specific things to do, like a good manager does with a team at work. Get the children involved in tasks too – depending on their ages there is usually something they can do to help. Make others responsible for doing their bit! Things may not be done to your standards by the way, but learn to let that go – it’s better for you to get the help

Tip 4 – Back up team

We can all use a support team. Sometimes that doesn’t seem possible, but there are ways to develop one. Your children have friends and their parents are probably working too – perhaps there’s an opportunity to see if you can work out something between you, which allows everyone to take turns doing school drop offs or collecting for example. Rope in anyone in your wider family who might be willing to help when you are stuck

Tip 5 – Ask for help

Most parents are reluctant to ask for help because they believe they should be able to cope by themselves. The problem is, when things become too much you can suffer burnout. Once that happens, others will be saying – “if only I’d known, I could have helped you”. Families and friends can often help out, especially if you let them know you need some support. If you are noticing signs of overwhelm then ask for help. It feels good to know you have helped someone who is having problems, so don’t deny the people who care about you that opportunity

Tip 6 – Look after yourself

I bet you are last on your list of priorities – right? With everything else you have to do, how on earth can you spare the time to look after you! Step 1 is to slow down. Stop! When you take care of yourself, you are in a much better place to support your children. Once they are in bed, do something nice for you. Perhaps you enjoy a relaxing bath or time to watch your favourite TV programme. Perhaps you would benefit from catching up on some quality sleep. Whatever you choose, do something that makes you feel good. By looking after yourself, you are taking better care of your children too

Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. Do the best you can, with what you have right now. As far as your children are concerned, that will always be good enough!

If you are really struggling with stress, anxiety or lack of sleep and would like some professional psychological help, then do what other overwhelmed parents have done and check out my website at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com. There are lots of ways I can help you feel more in control and you don’t need to manage this on your own.

 

 

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Too busy to think about Christmas?

Too busy to think about Christmas?


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Overworked and stressed already?

Perhaps you are juggling a working life with a family life, or perhaps you feel like there’s just not enough hours in a day?

The Christmas period seems to start earlier every year – looking around the town and online it is already upon us and it’s still only November! Even with a few weeks to go, do you feel stressed or even overwhelmed with how much you have to do?

If you have a look around on the internet you’ll find lots of people offering to coach you through this – they even pop up on Facebook ads now so there is no escape. It just goes to show what a problem it is for people – spawning all these new businesses! So with all the stuff that’s out there – usually pretty basic stuff too – what advice can I, as a Psychologist, pass on?

First of all, recognise that you have an issue with constant busyness and that it leads to inevitable overwhelm. How many of these ‘busyness’ behaviours do you recognise?

  • Multitasking – “I am listening to you, I’m just quickly replying to this email/message/doing something else”
  • Time Management – “I have to finish this so I’ll just work through my lunch/take it home/cancel my day off/use my only free time”
  • Messy workspace or home environment – “I know I have stuff everywhere, but I know where things are”
  • Unfocused – “I check my social media in case I miss something – I try not to get too distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing”
  • Being too available to everyone – “If you need to reach me, then just phone/message/email me and I’ll get right back to you”

Recognise any of these? They can apply to your work or your home life, or perhaps both!

Did you realise that the happiest, most successful people are relaxed and take things in their stride because they have firm boundaries around working time and personal time?

This includes the distinction between work you do in the home (housework, childcare, chores) versus the things you enjoy – the stuff that nurtures you and feels good.

The happiest, most successful people are not constantly busy. They prioritise their time in a healthy way. They don’t stay late at the office and they always take all of their holiday entitlement. They take days off. They enjoy their weekends. They spend evenings at home with their family, making time to relax or socialising, not constantly buried in a laptop, paperwork, their phone or endless chores. They ensure they make time for quality sleep. They make time to eat mindfully – enjoying a meal rather than being engrossed in something else. If this doesn’t sound like you, but you’d like it to be – you now know what you need to do!

If you need help with that, then have a read through some of my previous blogs or get in touch to find out about how you can work with me.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Personal Development Specialist based in York. You can reach me at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Life can be hard – how do I build resilience?


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Resilience in action!

On holiday this year I spotted this tree at Loch Lomond. Despite the environment trying hard to uproot it and wash it away, that tree has found a way to stay steady and to thrive, even in a tough location. It prompted me to think about resilience and how people manage to survive and even thrive despite the world sometimes seeming to be against them. Perhaps you will recognise yourself or someone you know in what follows, and if you do then I hope you find this blog helpful.

Life throws us challenges continuously, and often problems happen one after another. When some people face difficulties, particularly when they become prolonged, all of their emotions become negative.  When life is good, they feel great, but when things turn bad, they feel terrible and don’t cope well.

Resilient people are able to find something positive in even the worst of circumstances. They definitely are aware of the bad stuff, but at the same time they find a way to also see the good. For instance, they will take the perspective that as bad as something may seem, at least they don’t have ‘such and such’ a problem. How do they do that?

How do you learn to become more resilient – more able to cope well with life’s problems?

Positive Mental Attitude

Oh I know, it sounds such a cliche – that PMA! However, it is helpful to recognise and acknowledge that the way you think affects the way you feel. In order to change unhelpful emotional patterns, you need to curb that habit of negative thinking and build up your positive thinking. You need to strengthen the neural pathways that support this more helpful way of looking at things, so that becomes your habit instead.

When you find yourself ruminating negatively, notice what’s happening and challenge your viewpoint –  ‘What’s the real evidence that things will never get any better?’ All people have memories of success and of failure. Thinking that things will ‘never’ improve is an example of extreme, black and white thinking and not accurate.

We experience this negative type of thinking because our brains are naturally wired to focus more attention on negative events than positive ones. We have evolved to watch out for things that threaten us, so we are attuned to spotting them. So, even though positive events are happening, we have a natural tendency to filter them out. When you take time to notice and appreciate the positive aspects of experiences, you begin to build up a more balanced evidence base and this allows you to make better judgements. A consequence of this, is developing your resilience and enjoying the good things in your life.

Learn from experience

All good and bad experiences provide opportunities for personal growth. When you see events from this perspective – life as a learning experience – the more resilient you become. Resilient people look at a problem and say – ‘What will solve this?’ and ‘What am I learning from this?’ Problems provide an opportunity to learn and problem-solve – developing these skills allows your resilience to develop. Ask yourself questions such as –  ‘What is useful in this?’ or ‘What available choices do I have?’, rather than focusing on ‘What’s going wrong?’ or ‘Who can I blame?’ It takes practice to shift your thinking in this way, but it is worth the effort.

This type of learning encourages you to think more broadly and to accept what is possible. Alternatively, focusing on the negative will impact on the way you communicate with others and possibly make problems even worse. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself?

Be kind

Being kind boosts the serotonin or feel good chemical in your brain. Practicing kindness to others and also appreciating kindness from others, and being grateful for the good things in life (and yes, everyone has something!) allows you to see any difficulties from a more balanced viewpoint. Think about this as filling up your very own reservoir of resilience. Having a reservoir of resilience you can draw on, means you will be able to cope well when difficult times come along.

Treat yourself well

Stay mentally and physically healthy by eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy. Laugh and nurture the humour in situations – after all, gallows humour is a coping mechanism! Take time to relax – listen to your favourite music or go for a walk in nature. All these things relieve stress and allow you to top up your vital reservoir of resilience.

Finally, if all of this just seems too hard, then please do seek out expert, professional help. A good coach or therapist will help you – you are not alone.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Personal Development Specialist based in York. You can reach me at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Grateful for the small things


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This is a little Amaretti biscuit. I like one with my morning coffee sometimes. It’s just a little thing but it makes me happy. I take tiny bites to make the sugary, almond delight last longer.

Being grateful for such small things feels good. I appreciate this little taste of luxury. Did you know that practising gratitude can make you happier? I regularly encourage my clients who are experiencing problems with low mood to make a note of the things they are grateful for.

Every day, pause and notice at least 3 things that you perhaps take for granted, but you are grateful for. For some, it is the smiling faces of their children, for others the unexpected sunshine, or seeing a beautiful flower or tree. For many people life is tough and every day is a struggle. Perhaps feeling thankful is far from the way you feel about your life? Even in difficult circumstances there is always something to be grateful for – fresh, clean water when you turn on a tap, the fact that you are here breathing and living when others without choice are not, the ability to read these words. Search and there is something.

So allow yourself to experience that feeling of gratitude. Try it out. Even if it’s just for a little thing – it makes you feel good.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

Why positive memes don’t always help


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Sometimes I like those positivity memes we see scattered around the Internet and social media and I’ve even shared a few myself. However, the relentless message that you just need to be happy, or think positively, can be very frustrating -especially if you are really struggling with mental health problems right now.

Sometimes someone just needs you to sit and listen, to be there with them and acknowledge their difficulties. They may not be ready to see the bright side yet and seeing these supposedly uplifting comments, memes and quotations actually makes them feel worse, more of a failure, and wonder why they aren’t coping. This listening and sharing the shadows for a while, before encouraging someone to move forward, can be difficult, especially when it’s someone you love who is struggling.

As a professional therapist it’s my job to be that listening person. This week, I’ve spent several hours walking alongside people in the midst of their struggles. It’s my job to judge what approach is appropriate and when the time is right to support and gently guide someone to move forward along a new path.

If you are finding it difficult to support a loved one, you are not alone. I can provide efficient and effective help. I can help you to understand what is happening and how best to change things. As a psychologist, I have the knowledge and skills you need. As a hypnotherapist, EMDR and BWRT practitioner I have the techniques that will help. As a therapist I care about restoring your well being and it is a privilege to be asked to help you.

I can be reached via my website at www.mindmakeoveruk.com

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on positive quotations and memes – helpful or frustrating?

Cloud watching – Taking time out


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We all lead such hectic lives these days don’t we? Whether we are rushing around working, commuting, shopping, cleaning the house, caring for others or doing all the inevitable admin that maintaining a life brings, it’s all busy, busy, busy. When someone asks, “How’s things?” how many times do you answer, “Oh you know, busy!”

How often do you take time to be still and do nothing? I am still shocked but not surprised when clients tell me that they take work or laptops or work phones on holiday with them. Weekends and evenings also consist of checking emails and messages – just in case they miss something. Little wonder that these types of people often present with overwhelming stress, anxiety and feelings of depression.

Perhaps you make time for yourself to unwind and relax: maybe a peaceful half hour in the bath; or an evening walk; or listening to soothing music. When I ask my clients what they do to relax, most have to really think hard about it. Some can’t come up with an answer. Some think relaxing, which they equate with doing nothing, is wasted time.

However, we all need periods of purpose-free calm in our lives. Most of us are surrounded by human chatter or ringing phones or noisy traffic, which are all part of the competing demands and distractions of a busy life. We are on alert all the time, scanning for anything that might need our immediate attention. Tiring isn’t it?

Last weekend, on a beautiful summer’s afternoon in my garden, I looked up at the glorious blue sky and the fluffy white clouds passing by. I remembered lying on the grass as a child, and imagining the shapes the clouds were forming, and the stories I made up in my mind about them. Suddenly, I wanted to experience the joy of that again, so I got out of my chair and laid back on the grass and watched as the clouds floated by, transforming into wondrous shapes as they went. I found myself smiling as I recalled memories of carefree childhood days. The grass felt soft and warm against my back. The sunshine felt warm against my skin. The gentle breeze was cooling and refreshing. I could smell the fragrances of summer flowers and newly cut grass. Most of these sensations had gone unnoticed until I made the time to stop and take it all in. I took some long, slow deep breaths and felt my whole body and mind unwind and relax. I must have stayed there like that, just noticing, being mindful, for 20 minutes or so and when I stood up again I felt joyful, re-energised and grateful for the experience.

So how long is it since you took the time to allow yourself to be at one with the natural environment? When was the last time you stopped and stared and really noticed all the intricacies of something like a beautiful tree or flower, the sea or the clouds perhaps?

Put your busyness to one side and take time to try it out. Focus on all your senses. Notice the detail of what you can see, hear, smell, feel and perhaps even taste. Taking time to reconnect with the beauty of our natural world is never wasted time. It lifts the human spirit – which reminds me of the poem I learned as a child. Perhaps you remember it too?

Leisure by W.H.Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

Tips and Tricks for keeping your Stress under control


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Stress is your emotional and physical response to pressure and happens when you feel unable to cope. Many people lead demanding lives and stress can arise from life events, illness, living conditions, work, relationships, and money worries. in fact the list is endless because people have different ways of reacting to and coping with stress. A situation which is overwhelming for one person, may not concern someone else in the same way.  Even those events which you see as enjoyable can be stressful, such as holidays, moving house, starting a new job or course, pregnancy, parenthood, and family get togethers like Christmas.

When you are constantly under pressure, the stress hormones remain in your body, leading to the symptoms that let you know you feel stressed. It’s important to recognise these symptoms early and prevent serious health issues such as high blood pressure. Everyone gets stressed from time to time – it’s a natural reaction to a threat or danger or prolonged pressure, so it’s a biological part of all of us. However, what is important is how you choose to manage stress. Some people adopt unhealthy coping strategies such as comfort eating, drinking alcohol or smoking which take a further toll on health. There are simple things you can do to give yourself a sense of control and help you to cope in a healthy way.

The first step is to identify what makes you stressed:

  • Where am I when I’m feeling stressed? What am I doing? Who am I with?

Even if there is little you can do about some situations, making some small changes can make a big difference. In stressful situations remember to Pause, Take a breath, and Don’t just react automatically. Ask yourself:

  • What am I reacting to?
  • Is it helpful for me to think this way?
  • What is within my control?
  • Is there another way of looking at this?
  • How important is this really? How important will it be in 6 months time?
  • What is the most helpful way to respond for me and others?

I see many clients who are struggling with stress and anxiety in their lives. Common to all of them is the lack of knowledge or skills for controlling these feelings. There are lots of tips and tricks for helping you keep stress levels under control:

  • Deal with problems as they happen. Bottling up your feelings allows them to grow until they overflow
  • Slow down. You don’t have to do things at 100 miles an hour. Eat, walk and drive more slowly. If you don’t get as much done as you would like, there is always tomorrow. Act ‘as if’ you are relaxed: slow down your speech, relax your shoulders, and don’t fidget. This will also affect how other people will react to you
  • Do one thing at a time. If you have too much to do and can see no way to cope with it, see if you can divide it up and then tackle the bits one at a time. Prioritise and then do the worst thing first
  • The words ‘must’ and ‘should’ create pressure. Work out what you can realistically cope with and be content with this. You don’t have to be Superman/Wonder Woman
  • If people expect too much of you, you don’t have to accept their targets. Learn to be more assertive and say ‘No’
  • Stress can make you hard to live with and create problems with those close to you. Nurture strong, confident relationships which give you people to confide in and help you fight stress
  • Talk to someone – if you don’t have a supportive relationship or someone to confide in, there are lots of professional therapists who specialise in helping people with stress
  • Treat yourself as you would a good friend. What advice would you give?
  • Help others – people who help others become more resilient themselves. This can be as simple as doing someone a small favour that costs nothing
  • Shift your perspective by noticing what you have to be grateful for. Problems are often a question of perspective
  • Write down your thoughts and feelings – get them out of your head
  • Accept that there are things in life you can’t change – people get ill, people die, people lose jobs. Bad things happen and everyone has to learn to accept them as a part of life. Focus on the things you can control instead
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and cut down on high sugar foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets which may fuel anxiety
  • Caffeine can make you feel alert but the effects of too much are the same as those of stress and anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system. It can be found in: coffee, tea, Coke, Fanta, aspirin, cold remedies, headache tablets, energy tablets, drinks like Pro-Plus and Red Bull and even in chocolate at a low level
  • Stay hydrated by drinking more fresh, clean water
  • Some people believe that smoking helps them relax, but nicotine is a stimulant. The reported relaxation effect of smoking is nothing more than deep breathing when you inhale. Practice the breathing but lose the cigarettes
  • Make some time for relaxation, fun and enjoyment. If you think you don’t have time for this – you need it the most!
  • Learn Mindful Breathing (see my blog on ‘3 Quick Relaxation Exercises’)
  • Listen to music – sing and dance along to something upbeat, or relax to something calming and emotion-free
  • Physical exercise – get active even if you just go for a walk. Doing something physical completes the stress cycle and allows those stress hormones to dissipate, so you feel better
  • Get out in nature to feel uplifted – go to the park or for a walk in the countryside
  • Find a hobby or interest that gives you a sense of achievement – adult colouring books or doodling zentangles are great for feeling creative. Don’t know what they are? Look it up. Challenge yourself with something new
  • And finally….RELAX! Do some deep abdominal slow breathing or listen to my free 10 minutes Relaxation track on http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com to instantly feel a little better

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I can be reached via my website at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com