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mindfulness

Tossing and turning every night? Us too.

The struggle to fall asleep has been haunting us lately and there isn’t enough coffee in the world to mend our sleepy heads in the morning.

All we want is a good night’s sleep. Is that too much to ask for?

If, like us, you have trouble falling asleep at night then fear not, because scientists have discovered quite the simple solution.

And it won’t cost you a penny!

One of the main things that keeps us up at night is our worried minds. We are constantly fretting about everything and anything, whether it’s an argument with our other half or fears of not being able to pay this month’s phone bill.

There’s always something on our mind that stops us from snoozing peacefully.

But there’s something you can do to ease this problem- write your thoughts down.

Healthy Ireland recommends penning your fears and worries on a piece of paper before your head hits the pillow.

It is simple but effective. Many people even use writing as a form of therapy.

Women struggle to sleep more than men (no surprise there) so why not keep a notebook or even a scrap of paper and a pen by your bed?

Then if your mind is abuzz with anxious thoughts, all you need to do is scribble them down and try to get them out of your system.

Have you tried this method before? Did it work for you?

We cannot wait to give it a go and look forward to catching some well-needed z’s.

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Our phones are something we check in with every day. Like it or not, our lives are tied up in these little pieces of technology, so we might as well use that to our advantage, right?

We use our phones for our entertainment needs, so why not use it for your personal improvement, wellness and mental health needs too? You check in with your phone every day, so you should really check in with yourself too. There are loads of apps out there at the moment that claim to do these things, but which ones are really worth trying out?

We’ve detailed our favourite apps for all your sleep, fitness and mental health needs, to get you back on track in an interactive and effective way. Pick which ones work best for you and make room for a little wellness in your life!

Lifesum

Lifesum is one of the world’s most popular health and wellness apps with over 45 million users, and features personalised diet plans, nutrition advice and healthy recipes. Lifesum emphasises the nutritional value of food, and gives users personalised feedback, so they can successfully reach their health goals, whether it is to lose weight, gain weight, or just be healthier. Lifesum shows users how changing small habits and implementing them in everyday life can improve better eating and overall health.

Lifesum’s key features include

Personalised food rating algorithm: Provides users with important feedback based on their eating preferences. Users are able to get insights for each food, meal, and day they track

Wide variety of diets: Ketogenic, Vegan, Paleo, 5:2, 6:1, Mediterranean, Scandinavian, and High Protein, to help you stay on track

7-21-day Meal Plans: For example, Vegan for a week, Keto Burn, 3 Week Weight Loss, that provide users with four tasty, pre-planned recipes a day

Hundreds of easy-to-cook recipes: With detailed nutritional information, based on food preferences, health goals, and allergies

Track your food: Easy tracking with the barcode scanner. Create and save an unlimited number of foods, meals, recipes, and exercises to enjoy one-tap tracking

Detailed food and meal ratings: Ratings, including “Great source of fibre,” “high in sugar,” “low in sodium,” “high in sodium,” so you know how closely different foods align with your specific goals and preferences

Adjustable settings for macronutrients: Giving you customised recommendations to follow based on your unique needs and preferences

Body measurement tracking: Weight, waist, body fat, chest, arm, BMI – excellent tools for highlighting your progression to health

Integration with your favourite health-tracking platforms: Connects with Apple Health, Google Fit, and Samsung Health

Health Test & Life Score: A weekly health score based on 16 nutrition and exercise measurements, so you understand where you are and what’s next for you to build a healthy lifestyle

 

Headspace

Headspace has one mission: to improve the health and happiness of the world. And with millions of users in more than 190 countries, we’re well on our way. Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. Learn how to manage feelings and thoughts with the lifelong skill of everyday mindfulness, any time of the day.

With over 40 million users already getting some Headspace, you can join them and map your journey, track your progress, and reap rewards in your overall health and wellbeing. You can even buddy up with friends and motivate each other along the way.

Headspace was officially launched in 2010 as an events company, but attendees wanted to take what they learned home with them. Founders, Andy and Rich, and a small team decided to make Andy’s meditation techniques available online so more people could experience the benefits of meditation anytime, anywhere. And that blossomed into the Headspace you see today: guided meditations, animations, articles and videos, all in the distinct Headspace style.

You can try Headspace for yourself and learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with the free Basics course. If you enjoy it, then it’s time to subscribe. Once you do, you’ll have bite-sized minis for when you’re short on time, exercises to add extra mindfulness to your day, and hundreds of meditations on everything from stress to sleep. Their guided meditations truly cover every aspect of life, from work to kids, allowing you to focus, relieve stress and combat anxiety.

 

Sleep Cycle

One for the sleepyheads! Sleep Cycle tracks and analyses your sleep, waking you up at the most perfect time, feeling rested!

Waking up feeling refreshed is all about timing. Sleep Cycle tracks your sleeping patterns and wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase, without a conventional alarm clock. Waking up during light sleep feels like waking up naturally rested.

Your movements vary with each sleep stage. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to identify sleep states, tracking your movements in bed, and a wake-up phase that ends at your desired alarm time. During this phase, Sleep Cycle will monitor signals from your body to wake you softly when you are in the lightest possible sleep stage.

 

Streaks

Streaks is the to-do list that helps you form good habits. Every day you complete a task, your streak is extended. Choose or create up to twelve tasks, like walk the dog, floss your teeth, eat healthily, practice Spanish or whatever habit you want to form! This is definitely one that we’re excited about.

Working on something every day helps you form a new habit. Don’t break the chain, or your streak will reset to zero days.

With the iOS Health app, Streaks can automatically track certain goals, like walk 5,000 steps, measure your heart rate, record your blood pressure or run for 5 miles.

Some tasks aren’t for every day, so the app allows you to set the days, so you don’t break your streak! For example;

  • Walk to work (Monday to Friday)
  • Go to the gym (3 days per week)
  • Call your parents (every Wednesday)
  • Avoid junk food (Sunday to Friday)

View your task statistics and track your results easily so you can keep motivated and up to date with your progress!

 

Yoga Studio Mind and Body

This app provides beautiful HD video yoga classes for everyone with easy-to-follow teacher commentary.

They believe yoga should be accessible to all! Which is why they have carefully crafted and curated the prefect mix of technology, teacher experience and overall yoga goodness to make Yoga Studio: Mind & Body the number-one destination for health conscious individuals looking to begin their yoga journey or to take it to an all new level. All the classes come with full HD video and teacher commentary that’s clear and easy to follow

They’ve done all the hard work, so making your own yoga classes is a breeze. Unique features like pose blocks and smart-link make it simple, intuitive and fast. 

Pose blocks are short sequences of poses – like a sun salutation – that can be used like building blocks to make classes. They help speed things up – just add a few blocks, throw in some of your favourite poses and your class will be ready in no time. Simple.

Not sure how to make your class flow? They’ll do it for you with their awesome Smart-link feature. Use it to connect poses that might not naturally lead into each other. This way you see exactly how to smoothly move from one pose to the next. It's like magic yoga glue.

Video stitch is a great way to learn and practice yoga. That's why they created a unique library of over 1,700 yoga video clips. It enables Yoga Studio to stitch together a full, flowing video of almost any class you can think of. So, you make the class, and they’ll make the video.

Freedom to practice wherever, whenever. No connection, no problem. Classes in Yoga Studio live on your phone: just download a class once and have the freedom to practice wherever and whenever you want.

Schedule classes that sync with your calendar, making it easy to stay on track. Don't have time for a class right now? Schedule it for later. They’ll put it straight into your iPhone or iPad calendar, so you don't forget.

Schedule a single class or repeat your favourites every month, fortnight, week or day. Whether you prefer an hour a week or 15 minutes every morning, a regular practice is important, so let them help you fit yoga into your busy life!

 

Sworkit

Sworkit means to simply work it. Your body was built to move daily and this innovative experience that makes it easy, enjoyable, and, yes, simple, to do just that.

This daily workout app is tailored to every goal, whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, improved flexibility, increased endurance, weight maintenance or to simply tone. One of the top fitness apps for iPhone, Android, or web users, Sworkit’s workout plans are designed to help you reach your fitness goals faster and simpler.

Their philosophy involves consistency, meaning believe fitness isn’t just something you do, it should be who you are and part of a lifestyle you enjoy. The workout program is designed to help you make fitness a habit. With Sworkit, the idea is that you can get in shape and stay in shape for life.

No gym? No Equipment? No Time? No problem. They make it simple to workout at home or on the go. You choose the time – from 1 minute to 90 minutes – and they provide the variety, including strength training, stretching, cardio, yoga, and more.

Results: Sworkit has delivered life-changing results for thousands of people. Need personalized help? Get one-on-one guidance from certified fitness trainers with the ‘Ask a Trainer’ program.

With more than 400 unique workouts and over 800 exercise, you choose the time you have to work out, and create and save your own custom workouts. The app recommends workouts plans based on your goals and certified trainers answer all your fitness and nutrition questions.

 

Mood Mission

MoodMission is an evidence-based app designed to empower you to overcome feelings of depression and anxiety by discovering new and better ways of coping

When we feel down or anxious, there are heaps of things we can do to help us feel better again. Doing these things can help prevent everyday mood disturbances from developing into mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety disorders.

When you tell MoodMission how you're feeling, it gives you a tailored list of 5 simple, quick, effective, evidence-based Missions to improve your mood. All Missions are taken from scientific research, made accessible to you through the app, so you can learn exactly how what you're doing is helping.

Completing Missions earns you rewards in the app, motivating you to take steps towards becoming healthier, happier, and more confident.

MoodMission’s personal mission is to empower people to change the way they feel, and it is their vision to be the best provider of easily accessible, evidence-based mental health and well-being support. The app does this by showing people new and better ways of dealing with mood and anxiety problems, educating and enlightening people about their own psychology and the importance of practicing self-care and linking people in with professional or clinical supports

The key components of their mission are that they are;

Ethical

  • Evidence-based: using hard evidence to make decisions and recommendations
  • Give back with research: they engage in the research process and publish findings to help mental health support more broadly
  • Respectful: they respect others and act in a way congruent with this

Effective

  • Do what works for the user
  • In line with users’ long-term goals, as well as their short-term ones
  • Solution-focused – do what works and what empowers the user

Collaborative

  • Transparent
  • Responsive to feedback
  • Validating of users
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Take in a deep breath. Unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders. Breathe out slowly.

Did you feel a release there? A little relief?

With our daily routines so altered this year, it’s important to make little moments like this for ourselves throughout the day. But working from home, where it can feel like there’s no separation between work life and home life, it can be difficult to make the effort to experience these moments. We end up becoming balls of stress, eyes red from the computer screen, neck and back in bits from hunching over a laptop and finding it difficult to wind down after transforming from ‘Work Me’ to ‘Home Me’.

There are ways to combat this tension that can build up during the day. By trying out just a few of these mindful moments throughout the day, we can actually increase our productivity, find it easier to relax after a day’s work and feel more motivated throughout our workday. Here are ten little mindful practices that only take a few minutes to reset your head.

De-clutter your space

Taking a little time each morning or evening to clear up your space can make the world of difference. Making your bed and putting away pyjamas, opening your curtains and picking just 5 things off of your bedroom floor makes it a more soothing place to return to after a long day. Alternatively, put away things on your desk and organise it in a way that is conducive to a smoother workday. Instead of head-melting piles of paper, just taking ten minutes at the end of each day to file away documents in their proper place to save on stress the next day. It could make the world of difference, and make you feel that little bit more on top of things.

Do a ten-minute yoga or exercise routine in the morning before breakfast

Taking just ten minutes to wake your body up can change how you view the rest of your day. Shaking off the sleepiness and getting your blood flowing will give you a burst of energy that you can ride through the morning on, making you more productive and focused. It will also give you a chance to connect with yourself and take a little time to reflect and check in with yourself before the day begins.

Do a quick meditation at some point in your day

We all hit a point in our day when we slump. Our heads become fried, overloaded with tasks or information. This file is missing or that email never came through. It can be easy to lose perspective. Taking just a few minutes to switch off and disconnect from the demands of the world can get you right back on track. There are plenty of short meditations on YouTube that can give you whatever you need in that moment; energy, calm, positivity or relaxation. 

Visualise your daily goals in the morning

Going in to work with a cluttered head is almost as bad as a cluttered desk. We stumble our way through the day, going from this to that, finding it difficult to settle and accomplish tasks. But starting your day with a quick self-check list about what you want to achieve with this day can bring order and direction. However, it is important to be realistic. Allow for the limits of your body and mind. Over-scheduling can just bring on more stress, rather than reducing it. Be kind to yourself.

Experience the outside world

Whether you’re on your lunch break, or up early to catch the sunrise, make sure to stop and check in with nature for a few minutes every day. Not only does being outside have the benefit of waking us up with fresh air, but it can regulate our sleeping pattern also.

Do a body scan

Our body can give us lots of indicators as to how we’re really feeling, even if our brain hasn’t caught up yet. Whether we actually listen to it or not, however, is up to us. Body scans throughout the day can put us back in touch with our bodies and are a quick and easy way to take a moment for yourself at your desk. Pay close attention to the areas where there is tension or unease in the body. Breathe into those spaces, slowly and gently releasing them. Move up and down your body, giving each specific part the time it needs to relax.

Cook yourself a nice meal

This may seem like standard self-care, but it’s all in the way that you approach the task. For some, coming home to cook after a long day of work is the absolute last thing they want to do. But if we shift our attitude just slightly from ‘I have to do this’ to ‘I get to do this’, we can change the whole practice. You get to nurture yourself with good food. You get to prepare a home-cooked meal for yourself and really take care of your body by what you put into it. Transform a mundane task into something relaxing, with a little music, some good food and a mindset change.

Do something creative

Whether that’s doing a full face of makeup, reading a book, making a new Pinterest board or even just a little mindless doodling, give your brain an outlet to disconnect from the demands made of it during your work hours. Allowing you brain to move away from the analytical side that is usually engaged during the day to the creative side can be a release for the stresses that can surround you in work.

Keep a journal

Often, it can be difficult to express why we are feeling certain ways. Keeping a journal for no one’s eyes but your own, allows you to release your thoughts as they are – disordered, messy and contradictory – on to the page. They no longer clog up your brain waiting for you to make sense of them. Whether you burn the pages or keep it to see your mindfulness journey, this is a great exercise for release of worries. Some prefer a more guided method than just outpouring onto the page and there are plenty of prompts online to write about for a few minutes each day to centre yourself, like; How can I add positivity to my life today? What do I need to forgive myself for? What am I in control of right now?

Make a morning and night routine

By setting aside time in the mornings and evenings that are just for you – even if it’s only five or ten minutes each, we consciously focus on how we’re feeling. It can take stress out of the mornings, by having a focal point around which the start your day and also help you to wind down at night. Whether these routines revolve around your morning coffee and evening herbal tea or even just your morning and night time skincare routines, they allow you to have a sense of structure, help you to slow down and give stability at the start and end of day.

Mindfulness helps us to change destructive habits, builds our resilience and improves our daily lives. Now that you have ten easy little ways to do it, there’s no excuse!

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The Covid-19 pandemic has caused major anxiety for millions around the world. Our mental health will take a serious hit due to self-isolation and social distancing, but one thing that will help is reading.

Studies have found that reading has a positive impact on your mental health. Natalie Phillips, who is an English scholar, teamed up with Stanford neurobiologists and radiologists to look at the benefits reading has on our mental health.

They found that reading increases the blood flow to certain parts of the brain. They asked participants to read a chapter of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park– both leisurely and analytically- as the participants read their brain was scanned by an MRI machine.

The team found that reading “requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions”, meaning reading exercises underworked parts of your brain.

I would never have thought reading an old copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby would keep my anxious thoughts away, but it did. Reading is one of the things that has helped ease my symptoms the most.

Pick up a book and dive into a new world, meet new characters and learn about their lives. Reading is a great way to push the anxiety away. It eases your mind when it is full of doubt and fear.

It is the perfect form of escapism. Pop into your local bookshop or order a book online; whether it’s a classic like Wuthering Heights or the latest Sally Rooney novel.

It may not work for everyone, but something as simple as channelling your inner Matilda may keep those dreaded symptoms at bay.

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When you finally get the courage to seek help for mental health issues, one of the first things you will learn is that there is hardly ever a cure for mental. A huge milestone is when you realise that there is no such thing as getting better. Struggling with your mental health is not synonymous with being broken, so it is important to move away from the idea that you can be fixed. Instead, accepting that you will have bad days, weeks or even months throughout your life, is a breakthrough in itself.  

With this in mind, it can be beneficial to plan for these tougher times. To prepare for the difficult days so that you can deal with them as best you can. Here are some things to think about when planning for a tough mental health day:

Write it down

Write your ‘bad day plan’ on a Word Doc on your laptop or in a notepad that you won’t lose. Leave it in a place you will remember that is easily accessible. You don’t want to have to search for this when you are not feeling well.

This could simply be a step by step guide on how to get through the day. Shower, eat (something comforting) and get dressed. It might be helpful to save a draft text or email to send to work etc. Include a list of movies and music you can watch/listen to that might make you feel better. 

Let someone in on the plan

Your partner, your best friend, your sister, or brother. Ask them to be the person you confide in when you are having a bad mental health day/week. There is no shame in this, asking for help is essential. You will need support and it is a comfort to know that there is already someone familiar with your needs who has agreed to help.

Know your limits

Become familiar with how to take days off work, college, school etc. Know what sick days you are entitled to and know the process you need to follow to get a day off. If your mental health is affecting your work, tell your employer and ask them for the company’s policies on sick leave in this case.

Have a backup plan if you have family commitments. When you feel things getting worse, cancel plans. Be honest with friends and family about how you are feeling. Do not push yourself when you are feeling low, anxious or confused. This can make things worse and lead to a spiral.

Go easy on yourself

Allow yourself to take time off. Do not expect to be productive on a bad mental health day. Getting through the day might be all you can do and this is enough. If you have certain basic ways of making yourself feel better, plan these. You could even make up a pack of resources like candles, a hot water bottle, certain foods that comfort you and leave them together with the plan you have written down.

Plan for your physical health, too

Mental and physical health go hand in hand. Try to stay away from alcohol when you begin to feel low or anxious. Make an extra effort to eat well if you can – but don’t deny yourself comfort food when you are having a bad mental health day. Try to stick to your exercise routine as best you can or even make sure to go outside when you feel things begin to get worse.

When a bad mental health day becomes unmanageable or when you feel out of control, call you GP or mental health professional.

source: SpunOut

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To mark World Mental Health Day (tomorrow 10th October 2020), Avoca is proud to partner with Walk in My Shoes, the flagship mental health awareness campaign from St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, which promotes positive mental health, tackles mental health stigma and works to change how people think about mental health.

This Christmas, Avoca’s team of crafters have designed two bespoke exclusive products for the Walk in My Shoes campaign; a beautiful candle and pack of paper chain decorations, with all proceeds donated to this worthy cause.

The exclusive candle, made in Ireland, invites the smooth and warm scent of Sandalwood and will be available for €22.95 and the paper chains at €8.95, will add a charming festive flair to the home with a beautiful decorative floral print. Both items are designed in Avoca’s Wicklow Studio and will be available to purchase from 27th October in store and online at www.avoca.com.

The Walk in My Shoes campaign was first established in 2012 when a young man in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services said, “he wished his friends could walk in his shoes to understand how he was feeling.” Since then, Walk in My Shoes have launched initiatives each year to promote positive mental health in schools and communities around Ireland. Thousands from across Ireland have become involved with the Walk in My Shoes campaign, including charity ambassadors, TV and radio presenter Blathnaid Treacy and Dublin Ladies GAA player Nicole Owens.

Amanda McArdle, Project Manager at Walk in My Shoes comments: “We are delighted that Avoca has chosen Walk in My Shoes as their charity partner this Christmas. Walk in My Shoes runs a number of awareness-raising and education campaigns throughout the year, such as our #MindYourSelfie resources for classrooms, our Transition Year programme and our popular Mission Possible awards, celebrating schools that promote positive wellbeing. This partnership will allow us to create further opportunities to support young people, teachers and parents at home, or in the classroom, during this challenging time.”

Maoliosa Connell, Marketing Director at Avoca, says: “We are very proud to support and promote positive mental health and effect meaningful change in peoples lives, particularly in these current challenging times. We’re thrilled to be part of the conversation this Christmas and support Walk in My Shoes’ campaign initiatives, as well as raise funds to aid the awareness-raising and education resources they provide to local communities across Ireland. We are proud to offer a meaningful gift to give this Christmas.”

To mark World Mental Health Day this Saturday, 10th October, and as part of the Walk in My Shoes Live campaign running all week, Avoca will be hosting a complimentary virtual yoga class this Saturday, 10th October from 11am– 12pm, on their Instagram Live platform. The class will be hosted by Avoca staff member, Rachel Lenny of Earth and Purpose Yoga and it will be centered around mindfulness and mental wellbeing, through a vinyasa flow practice accessible for all levels. It will offer a welcoming opportunity to breathe, stretch and connect within.

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We pity the girl who sits in the cafe on her own, nursing a cup of coffee with nobody but herself for company, but news flash- people enjoy spending time on their own and it’s time for us to break down the stigma surrounding it.

As kids, we were fooled into thinking our self-worth was measured based on how many friends we had. You were a nerd if you spent lunchtime by yourself. You were sneered at when you were picked last for the basketball team. You were viewed as ‘unpopular’ if you celebrated your 14th birthday with five friends.

It is time for society to stop looking down on the guy who goes to the cinema by himself and give up addressing people as ‘loners’.

An army of wonderful people have shared why they love being on their own to help me beat this ridiculous notion.

Anna Keat said: “For a 19-year-old, I'm an extremely avid knitter and given how I also have anxiety, time to myself plus something as rhythmic as knitting really gets my head back in check.”

“I moved abroad and only had a handful of friends when I first moved over so I started doing some things alone and I found it SO peaceful. Not having to rely on others is a blessing at times,” said Shauna Kiely.

“I always love spending time with myself. For a myriad of reasons (not too draining, don’t have to make conversation, won’t panic about the way I behaved later on) but mostly because I’m the only person who won’t let me down,” Grace Latter shared.

“I found myself living alone suddenly after a relationship breakdown and was terrified but I had the time of my life!  I learnt to be happy in my own company & as a result I know myself so well now. We should all be our own one true love!” Penny revealed.

Victoria Teasdale, professional stress consultant and coach explained why we need to accept the fact that some people simply prefer time alone.

“Humans are made up of our own unique genetic code. When you realise that there are approximately 3 billion base pairs in the genome and that each of us can house variations of them that are infinitely unique, it’s about time that the word ‘normal’ is dropped from the vocabulary used to describe people.”

She explained: “While there is a benefit for us to be social, oxytocin release, problem-solving etc, some of us simply aren’t designed to be social people.”

“As a society, we do not teach people how to define their individuality.  In fact, it's better for corporations if we all aspire to be the same, we're easier to market to that way.

“What you're doing by saying 'it's unhealthy not to socialise' is pinning everyone as the same, discounting the fact that there's a LOT of variation in people who don't fall into the 'abnormal enough to be labelled' category."

So, what can we do to make a positive change? “What is needed is a shift towards teaching people how to discover their unique identities, their strengths, struggles, quirks and needs.

"To allow them to express themselves however they see fit. And if that means sitting at home with a book on a Friday night… That's ok by me!”

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No matter how much you might love your job, there are few among us who don't find ourselves struggling against those classic Sunday Night Blues as Monday morning creeps ever closer.

And such is the extent of our weekly woe, many of us fail to realise the true potential of a well-spent Sunday evening.

Relaxing and unwinding before diving back into the working week is essential, but so too is putting a little prep and planning into ensuring a successful week ahead.

From brisk walks and at-home manicures to goal checklists, reclaiming your Sunday with our simple P plan has never been so easy.

Press pause

There comes a point on Sunday evening when you have to accept that the weekend is coming to an end, and it's time to look ahead and stop clinging to the last vestige of the previous days' festivities.

While it sounds harsh, there is no point in dragging your Sunday Fear into Monday morning because you were unable to draw a line under your days off.

Telling yourself you're simply pressing pause on your down-time until next weekend is a simple way to focus your mind.

Plan your week

Much of the anxiety brought about by Sunday night stems from concern over commitments and responsibilities awaiting us in the week ahead.

Take 30 minutes to sit down and consider the next five days, so you have a clear idea of what is expected from you.

It sounds like a bummer to consider work-related events during time-off, but it really helps to alleviate stress.

Pamper yourself

After you've accepted the fact that work is looming, and dedicated some time to considering the week ahead, it's time to focus on treating yo'self!

Why not indulge your hands with an at-home manicure from Sally Hansen which guarantees a salon finish without the price tag? With an incredible array of products which protect, condition and strengthen your nails, Sally Hansen provides you with all the tools need for a high-quality treatment from the comfort of your own home.

Taking the time to pamper yourself on a Sunday evening is a guaranteed way to relax, and ease yourself into the next five days.

Pound the streets

It's rare you'll return from a brisk walk and not feel much better than when you left.

Shake off the cobwebs from the weekend's excesses by grabbing your runners and going for a 30 minute walk around your neighbourhood.

Not only will it help you sleep better (something that is absolutely vital on a Sunday night), but it will help clear your head if your planning hasn't quite done the job!

Prepare your outfit

A very simple way to rid yourself of Sunday night fear is to prepare an outfit (from underwear to accessories) for the following morning.

Take the time to iron your clothes, and tidy out your handbag so your Monday morning doesn't involve frantically rooting through your laundry bin or fighting your way through mountains of receipts in search of your Leap Card.

Covering the little things makes Monday mornings so much more doable.

Praise and preach

Now is the time to truly relax… because it is still the weekend, after all!

Praise yourself for getting ahead of the game by tending to vital tasks, give props to yourself for taking the time to treat yourself, and remind your friends to do the same by getting straight on WhatsApp and preaching the good word!

 

Brought to you by
Sally Hansen

When it comes to nail care, Sally Hansen’s wide range of products guarantees a salon-quality finish … at a snip of the price. From treatments to polishes, the range is exactly what you need when you want to make nailcare a priority without breaking the bank. Available in pharmacies and grocery stores nationwide with prices ranging from €6.99 to €10.99.

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Going off track from time to time is perfectly normal, especially over the summertime and breaks when we tend to feel more relaxed and carefree. Emerging from a global pandemic is, however, a significant event that can easily throw our worlds into chaos. If you've had your kids at home for the past eight weeks, while you work and perhaps care for an elderly relative, it's no wonder that you've deviated from your daily routine. Lie-ins, lots of screen time, too much junk food, alcohol and late nights are all to be expected, but when this lockdown lifts, it can be a challenge to get back into the old schedule. 

A lot has happened in the last few weeks. But despite the overwhelming sense of uncertainty, it appears we are still remaining hopeful moving forward.

A recent survey conducted online by PrecisionBiotics®, the manufacturers of Zenflore®, found that while people were eating, drinking alcohol and cooking more during his COVID crisis, two-thirds remain positive about the future. 

It's essential to accept that there will be challenges for everyone adjusting to their own new norm. However, while the stress is understandable according to Virgin Media's 'Doctor in the house', GP, Sinead Beirne, it is essential we keep our anxiety to a manageable level. "In small doses, stress can actually be a good thing, it has many advantages, but chronic or high levels of stress has been linked to health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type two diabetes and depression."

Dr Sinead Beirne continues: "Everyone of all ages is facing challenges daily, and managing stress levels is key to maintaining good health through this COVID crisis."

Here are 5 ways to help you adjust to 'normal' life again.

  1. Exercise

The free drug without any side effects! Stick to the 5km rule and make use of your garden if you are fortunate enough to have that space. It’s important that we get out in the open fresh air while practising social distancing and good hand hygiene. Exercise is great and the treatment of choice for mild to moderate anxiety. I always recommend it to my patients. My personal favourite is walking. You can do it into your 90’s.

  1. Sleep

Be mindful of sleep hygiene for you and your family members. Put away your phone and turn off the computer. It’s important to have a wind-down period before you go to sleep. Spend time offline with children before bedroom answering any questions or concerns they may have in an age-appropriate way. Also, Avoid caffeine and alcohol after 6 pm.

  1. Food 

Start to make good food choices again- Fueling your body with good nutritious food helps you to cope. Take time to eat, chew and enjoy your food.

  1. Mindfulness 

Whether you’re using an app on your phone or just taking 10 minutes by yourself, taking down time has great benefits. Pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. You’ve got to practice it to perfect the art.

  1. Talk

Whether about your concerns to a best friend, a spouse or a parent. This can sometimes be as effective as attending a counsellor or psychologist. When we bottle things up, our worries can seem out of proportion. Use social media for this purpose, reach out on Facetime or Skype but stay connected.

Finally, Positive Thinking

When you think and talk about what you want and how to get it, you feel happier and in greater control of your life. When you think about something that makes you happy, your brain actually releases endorphins, which give you a generalized feeling of well-being. As a result, you develop a positive attitude. As a nation, Ireland continues to rank well in the World Happiness Reports putting it ahead of the likes of Germany, France and the United States. 

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The Christmas holidays are a hectic time of the year. We can get wrapped up in the merriment and festivities that we often forget to take care of ourselves.

To ensure you don’t burn out this Christmas, we reached out to the lovely Anna Geary who is working with Zenflore on a campaign which is focused on helping to manage stress during busy times. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Anna Geary (@annagcork) on

Anna said that self-care is the one gift you need to give yourself this Christmas. She understands the pressures young women are under, especially when we’re exposed to Instagram every day.

Anna stressed that one thing you must do is not to compare yourself to others. Seeing the girl you went to school with is on the trip of a lifetime in New York when you’re sat at home in your pyjamas can knock you back, but Anna reminded us that comparison is the thief of joy.

She said: “Your chapter One is someone else’s chapter 20. Remember that, so just focus on you.”

“We  often  look at  social media  and see perfection  everywhere and we can  compare ourselves to that false reality. Stay in your own lane.”

“Don’t  worry about  others, they are  on a journey you know nothing about,  with their  own obstacles  and challenges.  Don’t assume and don’t judge. It wastes precious energy,” Anna shared.

Another thing that helps the GAA player feel mentally and physically better is to simply be kind to herself. 

Self-care isn’t just about facemasks and Gossip Girl marathons. You need to take care of your body and mind and nourish it, especially during these dark, colder months.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Anna Geary (@annagcork) on

“Sometimes  you need to  take a ‘time out’  unexpectedly. Cancel that gym session or brunch date and just take time for you. It’s not selfish. We all need to push the reset button every now and again. Don’t feel guilty about doing that. It happens to everyone.”

It’s an indulgent time of the year but don’t forget to give your body some TLC amongst the turkey sandwiches and Roses.

Anna recommends taking a food supplement each day, like Zenflore, as it will help provide support for your mind and body during this demanding time of the year.

Don’t be ashamed to take a step back and have some time to yourself this Christmas. It can be a joyous but draining time for many so remember to take care of yourself, it’s the best gift you could receive.

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By Laura Lynch

It’s no big secret that we have all become phone, screen and social media addicts. It seems we are rarely present in the moment these days, as we always feel the need to capture all the big (and small) events in our lives, on our phones. Whether it’s at a concert, at the gym, on holiday, or even just at the dinner table… why is it so hard for us to put our phones away for a few hours?

This addiction to our phones and the online world was certainly something I had become accustomed to over the past five or so years, and it puzzled me, why was I so hooked to my phone?

What good was this constant scrolling, checking for notifications and need to keep up with the Kardashians' daily lives actually bringing to my life?  

After discovering a video online, about a girl who quit social media for one month, I decided to challenge myself and try to do the same. I deleted all social media apps from my phone (Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook).

The first week was WEIRD. I was finding myself feeling quite bored at little gaps throughout the day, such as on my commute.

While everyone else was staring at their phones, I had nothing to look at. I wondered if I might be missing out on some big celebrity news that may have come out online. I kept going to click into apps on my phone, even though they weren’t there anymore.  

The second week was NICE. I was already noticing lots of positive changes at this point, in myself and in my life and I found it was easier to continue the detox from this point on.

The first month came and passed and I never even for a second considered going back online at that point. I had come so far, I was enjoying the freedom and my new outlook too much to go back.

Five months later, I was still offline and living a completely new, happier life. I felt different, it was like a weight had been lifted and I was so motivated to share my story. I was finally beginning to understand the importance of self-care and started seeing everything in a new light.

Here are the important things I noticed during my Social Media Detox:

  • During the first two weeks of my social-media-free life, I noticed just how often I glanced down at my phone, without even thinking, and it was staggering.

  • I was sleeping much better and for longer – the less grumpy and less stressed version of me began to appear.

  • My anxiety reduced by 90 percent – this was by far the most significant change I noticed and loved about this whole experiment.  

  • JOMO – the joy of missing out has actually become a thing. It was lovely just doing my own thing and not knowing, or worrying about what everyone else was up to. When I wanted to hang out with my friends, I just messaged or called them, and this worked perfectly. I didn’t have a fear of missing out on anything (FOMO), which is something I worried I would experience, before the detox.

  • I just stopped caring about the crazy things we do for social media, like taking photos of our food whenever we go out to eat and sending it to everyone.

  • I didn’t feel any pressure to get that perfect Instagram photo or Snapchat story everywhere I went. I went to an outdoor concert and felt there was no pressure on me now to look perfect and get lots of amazing photos to post online. I felt I enjoyed the whole experience much more than I would have in the past.

  • I read books on my commute instead of staring aimlessly at influencers or celebrities, who I once compared myself to not realising how toxic these comparisons were.

  • I felt like there were more hours in the day and there was. I was amazed by how much more free time I had when I took social media out of my life.

  • I genuinely felt happier, more confident and less stressed out.

After my detox, I did return to the online world, but in a totally different way. I felt it was really important to share my story with others and encourage people to try this Social Media Detox Challenge for themselves and see the impact it could have on their lives. I decided to start writing my thoughts and ideas down. This led to me starting up my own blog on Mental Health & Wellness, called ondayslikethis.com.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Laura Lynch – Wellness Blog (@ondayslikethisblog) on

I have returned to Instagram and Facebook but don’t have the apps on my phone anymore as I feel that constant scrolling throughout the day can be toxic for our mental health and body image. I have created a new Instagram page called ondayslikethisblog, where I share only motivating posts, news and information about my blog.

I have also only chosen to follow pages that uplift and inspire me and this most definitely makes a huge difference.

I never returned to Snapchat and still don’t miss it, which is crazy as this is the app I would have used the most before my detox.

With all the above said, I would encourage everyone to detox from social media for a few weeks. I promise you will definitely notice so many nice changes in your life.

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It has long been claimed that flowers have a therapeutic effect on those who surround themselves with them, but science had yet to truly back it up.

Research conducted by the American Society For Horticulture Science has recently revealed that fresh flowers can have the ability to ease feelings of anxiety, and even physical pain. 

The study evaluated whether or not plants have an influence on surgical patients, and we're pretty surprised by these results. 90 participants were split into rooms with plants or without, and those with foliage feelings have different outcomes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by (@more_floral_events) on

According to the research, those who were exposed to flowers had lower heart rates and blood pressure, decreased ratings of fatigue, anxiety and pain, and harboured more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms.

It's now suggested that flowers should be 'complementary medicine' for recovering patients. It's time to click your fingers and insist that a crowd of men throw a bouquet at you every few minutes…for health reasons.

Flowers are often the go-to gift for celebrating milestones, or for offering messages of hope or condolences. Good old science has just given us the opportunity to buy our own blooms, for self-care.

According to a study published in Complementary Therapies In Medicine, bouquets of flowers can reduce our stress levels.

The researchers gave college-age women a fresh vase of roses for their accommodation, and the subjects felt more relaxed than they did before. Whether it's psycho-somatic, or true therapy, it seems to work.

It seems like an easy breezy way to experience multiple health benefits while keeping your home aesthetically lush. Apparently, indoor plants and gardening come with health advantages similar to gym workouts.

We like this, we like this A LOT.

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