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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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We've all been there.

You're in a new job, doing your thing, when the hottie from finance walks by and leaves you a red-faced, spluttering mess. 

Workplace crushes are completely natural, and what's more, they good even be good for your health and well-being. 

Well, that's according to Jason Hughes, Founder of Leicester Centre for Psychodynamic anyway.

Speaking to Stylist, Jason explained how the butterfly feeling could actually help us feel better about ourselves. 

“We all want to feel good, crushes are our imaginative and creative way of identifying those things we prize in others, which we struggle to see in ourselves.”

He continued, “Crushes help us to feel alive, help us to feel, and help us to imagine – this is especially important when we might feel that we are trapped in a routine, stuck in a job or relationship where there is little new and vibrant.''

“Don’t ignore them, but pay careful attention to them and what they might be saying about you…”

And if you think your crushing days are behind you, think again. Those lustful feelings can reveal themselves when you least expect it, even in adulthood.

See, crushes stem from the same part of the brain believed to be responsible for drug addiction.

We really are simple creatures. 

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New research commissioned by LinkedIn has shown that fertility issues remain taboo subjects in Irish workplaces, with nearly two thirds (65 percent) of professionals saying they would not discuss difficulties conceiving with their employer.

The research, which surveyed Irish professionals and also workers with fertility issues, highlighted a range of issues relating to why people do not feel comfortable discussing challenges trying to have a child with their employer, the lack of HR policies to support people pursuing IVF or adoption, and potential resentment that can fester due to the lack of HR structures and understanding for coworkers struggling to conceive.

Most Irish professionals (59 percent) are hesitant to discuss fertility issues with their employer as they want to keep their personal and professional lives separate.

One of the main factors behind this is due to the lack of training for managers on how to handle with conversations about topics like miscarriage or IVF, with seven in 10 workers saying that they would be more likely to have a conversation with their employer if they knew that their manager had training on how to deal with it.

Just under half (47 percent) of Irish workers who have experienced fertility issues did not want to discuss it with their manager because it felt too uncomfortable, with over a fifth (22 percent) not wanting to do so in particular if their manager was of the opposite sex. A major factor for almost a third (31 percent) of these professionals is that they did not want to have to tell colleagues if their attempts to conceive were unsuccessful. Over a fifth (22 percent) of workers finding it difficult to conceive also worried that telling their manager about their plans for a baby would hinder their career prospects.

The lack of HR structures and understanding of coworkers has led to a variety of issues for professionals that experienced challenges when trying for a baby. Just over half (52 percent) of these workers reported experiencing mental health issues, with almost two fifths (39 percent) saying that their financial situation was negatively impacted and just over half (51 percent) reporting that their work performance was affected.

Over half of professionals experiencing fertility issues said that they needed to take time off work to attend medical appointments or to recover from them, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) also having to undergo counselling.

Worryingly over half (55 percent) of Irish professionals said that their employer did not have HR policies in place to help staff having difficulties trying for a baby with fertility treatment or adoption. For example, women pursuing IVF are required to take injections at set times during the day, which make staying back late in the office or travelling for work an issue. Despite this there is a lack of formal flexible working options for employees opting for fertility treatment in many Irish organisations.

The top five policies that professionals that have experienced fertility issues want most from employers are:

  • Flexible working options for those undergoing fertility treatment (52 percent)
  • Personal leave to recuperate or aid their partner during egg retrieval or insemination process (33 percent)
  • Paid time off for those undergoing fertility treatment (31 percent)
  • Financial assistance for fertility treatment (31 percent)
  • Flexible working options for those going through an adoption process (29 percent)

There are still some underlying issues around attitudes towards pregnancy, fertility issues and whether colleagues have children or not in the workplace. Almost three quarters (73 percent) of professionals think that workers who do not have children enjoy better career success. 1 in 7 (14 percent) professionals expect colleagues with fertility issues to work at the same pace despite their need for support. On a positive note in this respect, just over a third (36 percent) would cover for colleagues with fertility issues if they had to miss work.

LinkedIn is calling for employers to break the taboo in their organisation and discuss fertility issues at work to help normalise this commonplace issue. Commenting on the research, Lisa Finnegan, Senior HR Director for EMEA & LATAM at LinkedIn, said: “It took my third miscarriage to push me to open up to a manager about what I was going through. Part of the reason why I’ve chosen to speak out about my journey on LinkedIn is that I believe our personal struggles don’t happen in isolation from our working lives. Following the positive response I received on my post, this has prompted many others to share their story on the platform.

“We need to raise awareness of the diverse fertility journeys that people undergo so they feel comfortable starting the conversation at the beginning of that journey. This research  shows that there are a multitude of ways to support employees struggling with fertility and I hope our findings will encourage more employers to begin their own discussions on the topic.”

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Relying on public transport can get the better of you at times, especially when you've had a draining day in work, it's lashing rain outside and your bus has magically vanished from the Real Time.

We're approaching back-to-school season which means the traffic is going to be far worse than it was this summer. Oh how we'll treasure those blissful mornings when our bus could actually drive through Rathmines.

Google Maps has always helped you get from place to place, whether you’re driving, walking, biking or taking public transport. And we know that journeys can be complex, often involving multiple modes of transportation to help you get around town.

Today, we’re making it easy to pair public transport directions with biking options so you can travel that first or last mile with ease — like when you’re headed to work at the peak of the busy back-to-school season so you need to ride your bike to the nearest bus stop to make that important 9 a.m. meeting on time. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Enter your destination in the search box, tap on “Directions” and then on the public transport tab. 

  • From there, you’ll automatically see routes that feature cycling options paired with public transport directions. 

  • If you’re biking, you’ll see routes tailored for cyclists along with everything you need to know about the public transport portion of your journey. 

  • All of this information is automatically factored into your total travel time and ETA so you can know exactly when you’ll get to your destination. 

Public Transport directions paired with biking will be available on iOS, with Android rolling out in the following weeks.

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Dublin Bus launches its Give It a Spin female recruitment campaign on August 20. They want to recruit 50 new female drivers and are calling on women to have a go and drive a bus!

Dublin Bus saw its first all-female class of drivers graduate in 2016 and are now hoping for more gals to join their team.

They will be hosting a series of female driver recruitment open days so why not head along and see if this could be the job for you?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Dublin Bus (@dublinbusnews) on

You will even get a chance to drive a bus on the day, with the help of professional driving instructors. 

The first open day will be held on Saturday, August 24. If this date doesn’t suit you don’t worry they will be holding more open days.

On the day you can meet some of their current female drivers and inspectors who will share their personal experiences of working with Dublin Bus.

You will also get a tour of the Central Control centre, hear about the benefits of working for Dublin Bus and the team will go through the recruitment process with you.

Applicants must hold a valid category B (car) licence for a minimum of two years. All you need to do is email opendays@dublinbus.ie to register your interest. They’ll email you with the details.

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It is Mental Health Awareness Week and we reached out to our readers to have a frank and honest chat about mental health and the workplace.

If you’re suffering with mental health issues like depression or an anxiety disorder, then you know all too well that there are days when going into the office feels completely impossible.

You may be too anxious to get on your train or maybe your depression is so severe you can’t even manage to get out of bed.

They are real and valid issues, but why are we so afraid to talk about them?

52 percent of SHEmazing readers said they have taken a mental health day from work, but more often than not we give our boss a different reason for our absence.

There are so many incredible people working hard to break the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, but we still live in fear of telling someone that ‘I can’t go to work this morning because I’ve had a massive panic attack.’

We can often feel ashamed or embarrassed when opening up about our mental health issues, but why is this?

A fear of not being taken seriously is one of the biggest reasons. When asked if they felt comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health struggles, a striking 83 percent of our readers said no.

So, what can workplaces do to help their employees when it comes to their mental health because saying ‘it is okay not to be okay’ simply isn’t enough anymore.

With suicide rates increasing, we need to provide proper services and support for those suffering.

Our readers had some incredible recommendations about what can be done to support mental health in the workplace.

One reader said: “There should be a liaison officer in your workplace that you can speak to that will keep your anonymity and help you.”

“Allow employees to take a mental health day,” was one of the biggest recommendations.

Others said meditation classes, yoga, flexi-time and regular reminders about self-care would also help.

However, the recommendation that stood out the most was to simply treat it like any other illness. You wouldn’t expect an employee with a flu or broken leg to trek into the office so why should those with crippling depression or a panic disorder feel pressured to show up on days when they feel as low as can be?

Support the See Change campaign this week by wearing a green ribbon and show those who are suffering that they are never alone.

It is time to put an end to mental health stigma.

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Do you ever reach a Sunday night and have an absolute pity party for yourself?

You know in about eight hours your mind is going to be buzzing with all the work you've got to do.

Monday morning cues the beginning of another hectic week, with little or no time for you.

If this sounds all too feckin' familiar, know that you aren't alone.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ketnipz (@ketnipz) on

According to a study conducted by Canderel®, almost a third of women are unhappy with their work/life balance. 

In fact, three in ten gals said that they lack balance as they don’t have the right support. 

Another 32 percent revealed they felt it was off kilter because they took on way too much at once, and didn't calculate the impacts it would have on their own wellbeing.

A third of participants said this had a knock on effect to other aspects of their lives, such as the food choices they make (another pack of crisps please) and putting stress on relationships. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Self-Care Station (@selfcareisforeveryone) on

But the study also showed that we are a tough bunch – and we work to find solutions.

Almost half of the women surveyed said they could "take on anything" with the correct work/life balance, and said they strike that beautiful balance by giving themselves some essential 'me time.'

That "me-time" is pretty basic too. 32 percent said they take time out to enjoy a hot brew or a coffee.

Another 31 percent enjoy an ole stroll and 12 percent dig the beats to re-energise their soul.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MISS GLORIA (@missgloriadesign) on

Those who actually take the time to recharge those batteries, massively benefit from it, half of them reported an energy boost.

Additionally, they said they were just generally better human beings around the fam and friends. – so, it's a win-win. 

We all know that our world demands a lot of us. But taking that time out for yourself will make a massive difference when your life commitments come calling.

There's nothing selfish about taking some you time, in fact, it's fundamental to your well-being.

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The United Kingdom is currently facing a mental health crisis, one of which the country has never seen before. Two committees of MPs recently warned that the current support available on the NHS is inadequate and runs the risk of failing a generation who desperately need help.

The average Brit works 43.6 hours a week, with more than four million workers spending more than 48 hours a week in the workplace. British workers also face an average commute to work of 54 minutes, almost 20 minutes more than the EU average.

This means that Brits are struggling to find a work life balance, which some experts believe is fuelling the mental health crisis in the UK and increasing levels of obesity as workers have less time to live a healthy lifestyle.

Did you know? In France there is a law allowing workers the ‘right to disconnect. Employees in an organisation of more than 50 people are forbidden from sending or receiving work emails outside of their standard working hours.

Why is a work-life balance important?

If you are one of the workers that is dedicating nearly 60 hours a week to work, you are at serious risk of burn out. Living in a bubble of all work no play can lead to a disconnect with the world around you and cause you to ignore your mental and physical health.

Although there are no direct figures for work-related suicides in the UK, suicide rates have risen markedly among young people in recent years. Reports suggest that certain occupational groups such as doctors, nurses and farmers are deemed to be at high risk of work related suicide – due to job pressure and the isolated nature of their work.

That might be hardly surprising when you consider that in these professions 60+ hour weeks are the norm. So finding ways to unwind and relax in your spare time are vital to your physical and mental wellbeing.

But what are the best ways to relax outside of work?

1. Go to the gym

Finding the time to go to the gym is often difficult for those in busy occupations, but it can be done. The vast majority of gyms offer guided classes in the evenings and at weekends to appeal to those with a busy lifestyle.

The benefits of going to the gym are tremendous. Firstly, your physical health will improve dramatically as a result of increased physical exertion. Secondly, attending classes or regularly visiting the same gym can broaden your social circles, opening your horizons to future social activities.

Most importantly, exercise has been proven by scientists to improve mental wellbeing. The NHS recommends regular exercise as a way of combatting mild depression and warding of the sceptre of anxiety.

2. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a mind-body based approach that helps people to process their thoughts rationally and reconnect with the world around them.

If this sounds like a new-age, hippy technique then simply think of it as unwinding. It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of becoming too involved with the day-to-day processes of going to work, eating, sleeping and avoiding your emotions. Mindfulness can take as little as 10 minutes a day and allows you to unwind, evaluate your emotional state and relax.

Did you know? Mindfulness has been proven to decrease depression by 63%, anxiety by 58% and perceived stress by 40%.

3. Play poker

Playing games with people – such as poker – requires social interaction on some level, and it’s a popular way to meet people and socialise with existing friends.

What makes poker so popular is the relative ease you can play the game. The strategy involved in poker can improve your mental agility and provide a distraction to take your mind firmly away from work.

But if you don’t fancy going to a casino, or you don’t live near one, don’t worry. Gamblers are increasingly going online to play their favourite games. Playing online is so much more convenient than having to find your local land-based casino – as you can play from the comfort of your own home, or if you’re on the move.

What’s more, online casino technology has evolved so much that the games feel as immersive and engaging as they would do in a real casino experience. One option out there for online gamblers is video poker. With its cool retro style and simple gameplay, video poker is an entertaining way to unwind – and it gives you a great opportunity to get your game up before playing against other competitors for real.

Check out this video poker game and you’ll put yourself in the frame for all these benefits, plus one more: winning a huge jackpot.

4. Ditch the phone

Mobile phones have revolutionised the world and given people almost everything they’ve ever wanted at the tips of their fingers. Yet overuse of mobile phones and tablets has been proven to negatively impact on people’s mental wellbeing and social lives.

Putting your phone down for an hour a day and interacting with those around you can have huge benefits to your life. You will develop more meaningful relationships with the people around you and avoid the social isolation that social media can cause.

Added to this, time spent away from social media can be beneficial to your mental outlook. Scrolling through Instagram and Facebook can be chastening as you are constantly confronted with images of people’s successes.

It’s easy to forget that you are only seeing a glimpse of someone’s life, the best bits, and unfairly judge yourself against other people. Take time away from social media and viewing other peoples amazing lives, and instead make memories of your own.

Did you know? Teens in the US using their phones for more than five hours a day were 70% more likely to have suicidal thoughts than those using their phones for one hour a day.

5. Join a social group

Regardless of who you are, you will have your own interests and hobbies, and it’s important to continue those hobbies, preferably with other people. If reading is your number one relaxation technique, then you can join a weekly book club and use your passion to expand your social circle.

Likewise, if you’re a sports fan there are a plethora of amateur sports clubs that you can join to expand your social circles, as well as improving your physical well-being.

Summary

A work life balance is important to your mental and physical well-being, and it’s too easy to neglect that fact in modern life. Taking steps to improve your mental wellbeing, physical health and social life are all important factors in having a healthy life.

Take the time to look at your life objectively. Imagine you were talking to a friend and giving them some advice, what would you say to them? Slow down, take a break, do more of the things you enjoy? Whatever it is you would say, apply that advice to yourself.

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In this modern world, we are obsessed with constantly being busy. We are constantly on the go and often forget to stop and take a breather.

We update our Instagram stories with snaps of our morning coffee, selfies with our dearest friends and photos from work parties and our delicious Sunday brunch.

We do our best to strive in work, constantly saying yes to new opportunities and taking on extra work to strengthen our careers.

However, as Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

It’s important to remember that taking a break is acceptable. Stopping and letting yourself breathe is a necessity in this life, especially for your mental health.

Model Kendall Jenner recently admitted that she had to step back from her career for the sake of her mental health. She has worked for some of the biggest fashion brands in the world, like Givenchy, Chanel and Marc Jacobs, but despite her stellar career, the 22-year-old knew she had to take a break.

 

A post shared by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

Kendall told Love Magazine that she cut her workload during spring/summer 2019 fashion week: “Last season I didn’t do any shows. Just ‘cause I was working in LA and I was like ‘Oof, I can’t right now – I’m gonna go crazy. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown.”

 

A post shared by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

Our careers may not be as glamorous as Kendall’s, but the supermodel is right. It is okay to step back from work regardless of your job title, whether you work in Topshop, the local cafe, as a trainee doctor or a budding musician.

At the end of the day, we are all human and you should never run your mental health into the ground for the sake of a few extra hours work, or in Kendall’s case a Chanel fashion show.

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Some Irish workers can look forward to a slight increase in their hourly pay as Ireland’s living wage has increased by 20 cents.

Workers will now be paid at least €11.90 an hour so they can enjoy a decent standard of living.

It is understood that the boost is down to Ireland’s housing crisis. People are struggling more than ever to afford housing in Ireland, which means the price of living has increased.

The news was confirmed by the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice: “Rising rents push Living Wage to €11.90 per hour in 2018, a €0.20 increase from 2017. The #LivingWage represents the minimum average gross salary of a single full-time worker without dependents, needs to afford an acceptable minimum standard of living.”

There has been a drop in the cost of health insurance, transport and food in 2018, but the growing rent prices are swallowing up nearly half of the average person’s wages.

Dr Bernadette McMahon of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice stated:  “We try and reflect a figure which actually reflects the cost of living and what people have to spend for a reasonable standard of living.”

Employers do not have to pay their workers the living wage, but many companies support the idea.

There is no plan to increase the minimum wage yet. The minimum wage currently stands at €9.55 in Ireland.

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Office spaces can often be dreary and dull, especially if you work in an environment without a lot of light or with cubicle dividers.

It might not surprise you to know that sitting in a grey, uncomfortable and unwelcoming environment for eight hours a day can have a negative impact on your mood and even your health.

But it's much easier than you'd think to brighten up your desk space and make it more warm and inviting.

Here are a few tips…

1. Make the space personal to you
Bring your desk or cubicle to life with some framed photos and bright artwork. We love how much these fun prints brighten up this decidedly dull desk area:

 

2. Prettify your storage boxes
Wooden storage boxes like these can be picked up cheaply in Ikea or other homeware stores. Simply apply a layer of masking tape around the box, two inches above the bases, and paint the area below the tape in a calming colour like green or blue. Instant zen!

 

 

3. Make books, files and notepads into desk decoration
Rather than  stacking books and files in a messy pile or loading them onto your in-tray, get or make some cute bookends and display your things with pride! It'll help to de-clutter your desk, too.

 

 

4. Keep your desk as clean and minimalist as you can
The more clutter on your desk, the smaller it will feel. Try to clean it at the end of every day so that all files and notes are tucked away. 

 

 

5. Get a killer wall planner
Rather than writing meeting notes on scraps of paper, get a wipe-clean wall planner or calendar, like this framed one which can be written on with dry-erase markers.

 

 

6. Light your space up
If your desk does not get much natural light and you're sick of fluorescent bulbs, consider getting a lamp or a string of fairy lights to add warmth to your work space. Missing the bright natural light? Try a full-spectrum bulb in your lamp, which imitates sunlight.

 

 

7. Bring nature indoors
A desk plant can go a long way to making your workspace feel calmer and more open. If you travel a lot or don't trust yourself to keep it alive, try an air plant like a tillandsia which doesn't need watering. 

 

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