6 Top Tips for overwhelmed working mums


Can't cope

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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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

Why having friends is more important than you might think!

Why having friends is more important than you might think!


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There’s one thing you can be sure of in life – that things change – and that includes having friends or a lack of them! Many of us are lucky enough to go through school making new friends, who often go on to share our good times and bad and sometimes become a part of our lives for many years more. Later in life we make friendships at work. Often we find ourselves part of larger social circles of friends through interests or just going to the same places. If we have children there are often other parents we see every day, dropping off and picking up at nurseries and at the school gates perhaps, and we fall into easy friendships over the years.

So what happens when children are grown or away making new lives for themselves, we change jobs or get made redundant or retire, we move house or area, or marriages end and all those familiar social circles disappear? Those old reliable friendships change. Sometimes we are left without any friends close by and we wonder to ourselves, “How did that happen?” Without realising it, we can become disconnected and experience loneliness for the first time in our lives.

As human beings we all have a number of basic emotional needs, which are essential for our well being. Throughout life, these needs are usually met by our work, our life at home and the interests we have. As our lives change however, these needs can become neglected and before we know it there is an impact on our sense of well being. The good news is it is amazing how many of these emotional needs can be met by regularly seeing friends! Here is what I mean:

  • We need to give and receive attention. We have evolved as social animals and we need human contact to stay mentally healthy. This is why solitary confinement is used as a punishment in jails! This attention can come from regular contact with our friends and having a balanced social life
  • We need to notice our mind/body connection. We are not machines and need to pay attention to good nutrition, sleep, rest and exercise. We can go walking with friends, do an exercise class together or perhaps even swap healthy recipes
  • We need a sense of meaning and purpose and to feel that we contribute to the broader community. Friends can help us to set goals or work towards something that we would like to achieve. Friends can help each other with charity fund raising or volunteering opportunities
  • We need to feel challenged and express our creativity so we have a sense of competence and achievement. A friend can help us to try something new that we perhaps haven’t considered or thought we could do – a new class or hobby or even an outdoor pursuit. We continue to learn when we mix with other interesting people from different backgrounds and life experiences
  • We need a sense of autonomy and control. Sometimes we can feel that life is out of our control and we need to get a handle on at least part of it. Friends can remind us and help us to relax and provide a helpful perspective on what areas of life we can control
  • We need a sense of status within our social groups. This can come from work or doing something helpful in the community. It can simply mean being recognised for being a good parent, grandparent, son or daughter. It can also come from being a good friend
  • We need to have some privacy as well as feeling secure and safe in our environment so we can develop as fully rounded people. A good friend can help us to see how we can improve this area of our lives – whether we need to change where we live or cut ties with people who make us feel insecure in some way
  • We need friendships and close relationships where we can be ourselves, share our ideas and ask for help when we need it. Many people are without supportive families so good quality friendships are even more important. We need to be emotionally connected to other people

I work as a psychotherapist and see so many people who are struggling with anxiety and depression. When we explore what is happening in their lives there are always emotional needs that are not being met. Friendships can help to fulfil so many of these needs. Friendships are important. Social Media and Internet access means there are now new ways to make friends that perhaps you haven’t considered. Regular groups have sprung up where like-minded friends meet for coffee or lunch reflecting the need many of us feel for that human connection. I recommend checking them out to anyone who is beginning to feel lonely or isolated. New friends can be only a mouse click away!

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist and Hypnotherapist based in York. I specialise in helping people with depression and anxiety. You can contact me at http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

 

 

Have you ever considered how your diet may be affecting your mental health?


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As a specialist helping people to overcome issues that affect personal well-being and happiness, I see many clients suffering the effects of stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and fatigue. There are many techniques and tools I can use to help them and together we work to get them back on track. However, I also look at the big picture and it is noticeable how many people are not supporting their mental health by consuming the nutrients that are needed to maintain it.

Now I’m not a qualified nutritionist but I can guide people in the direction of sound nutritional advice from experts. Have you ever considered how your diet may be affecting your mental health?

It seems second nature nowadays to understand that a good, healthy diet is necessary for physical wellness, but there appears to be less awareness of the effects of poor diet on mental health and well-being. For example, there is growing evidence that what you eat plays an important part in the development, management and prevention of depression. Ensuring your diet has adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals can help protect you from mood swings.

Similarly, sugar can create inflammation in the cells and spike the levels in your blood, causing your energy levels to crash when levels dip, leading to irritability and low mood. Caffeine is a stimulant and affects your adrenal glands – just like stress. It isn’t just coffee that contains caffeine – it is included in tea, many fizzy drinks and in chocolate. In large quantities caffeine can increase blood pressure, feelings of anxiety, depressive symptoms and stop you sleeping. Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it promotes the production of urine and causes you to lose water from the body. It is very important to stay hydrated – we seldom drink the amount of water we need. Effects of mild dehydration include irritability, loss of concentration and reduced mental functioning. Without the essential nutrients you need in your diet, how can the body and mind rebuild and maintain itself properly. All those nerves and synapses in the brain need nutrients in order to connect and fire in the right way.

Just as caffeine is a stimulant, we know that alcohol has a depressant effect on the brain. Alcohol can quickly create low mood, irritability and/or aggressive behaviour. As a toxin, it has to be deactivated by the liver and your body uses many nutrients to complete the detoxification process, depleting any reserves you have.

Today’s diet has developed along with new production techniques, which gives us easy access to processed food. In our busy lives, we often go for the quick, easy option and bypass fresh food, which takes longer to prepare. We are ingesting more sugar and additives than ever before. I’m sure you have heard of the recommended 5 a day, but not many people eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, despite the availability of frozen options. Apparently in the UK we are also eating less fish, so our consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is declining. Have you noticed those supplements on the shelves promoting that they boost brain functioning?

It’s not just about what we eat either! It’s also important to consider when and how often we eat. In order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and avoid mood swings, we need to eat regularly throughout the day, including breakfast. Low blood sugar creates low mood, irritability and tiredness. When you notice that dip in blood sugar, eat a healthy snack such as raw nuts with a piece of fruit or raw veg. Eating wholegrain foods and complex rather than simple carbohydrates (think a raw apple rather than apple juice) fills you up and gives you a slower release of energy which helps stave off those hunger pangs you notice, when blood sugar levels dip and send you craving for the easiest option such as a sugary snack.

So perhaps this has provoked you to think more about the nutritional value of what you are eating. Look carefully at your next meal and consider this – is it just empty calories, or are there vital vitamins and minerals that supply the brain with what it needs to function well? For example we know that the brain needs the amino acid tryptophan, which can influence mood, and is provided when you eat protein. If you have a diet rich in sugary, processed foods and little protein then you are cutting off your supply.

The best way to eat healthily and not get too bogged down by the detail of what each food group provides, is to eat as wide a variety of foods as you can and mix things up a bit. On your next shopping trip why not spend a little longer looking at what is available – try a different fruit or a new vegetable – there are many weird and wonderful examples from all over the world in every supermarket. Your brain will love you for it!