Too busy to think about Christmas?

Too busy to think about Christmas?


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


What 10 things made this a good year?


It’s that time of year when many of us look back on the year that has passed and have a quick mental review of what sort of year it was. We all wish each other a ‘Happy New Year’ at the start of January, so how did your year go? Spend a moment now just looking back over the last 12 months of your life and see what your overall feeling is about this year.

Isn’t it strange how when we do this we tend to focus on the things that went wrong, were really bad, or disappointing? I noticed myself doing this, which prompted me to write this blog.

For many, this has been a particularly challenging year as things have shifted on the world stage. Perhaps you have experienced #anger, #anxiety or even #depression. Add in any personal, financial or emotional challenges and your review may be teetering on the edge of that negativity cliff! We all have this negativity bias as part of our human nature and it helps us to watch out for threats or danger in our everyday lives. However, we can become too focussed on what went wrong and fail to notice what went right! It is easy to become blinkered to the good stuff. So, I decided to write a list of the things that made it a good year…..

  • Love and support from close family
  • Good friends
  • Opportunities for meeting new people who enrich life
  • Exercise to feel good and improve health
  • Getting out in nature
  • Regular, healthy meals
  • Time to rest and recuperate
  • Helping others
  • Enjoying hobbies
  • Learning from a new challenge

The good news is that there are many more than 10 things on this list – this list goes on. So, my new view overall is – that was actually a great year full of challenges and opportunities that stretched old ways of thinking, increased learning and therefore enriched life! If you are feeling down about the last year perhaps your focus is in the wrong place. Take a step back and shift your focus onto what went well. What did you learn? How did you grow and develop emotionally? If you find this difficult, the easiest way to start is to think about what you can be grateful for this year – perhaps things, surroundings or people you have taken for granted? Get started now. I wonder how many you can write on your list?

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

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


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!