Your Self-Care Roadmap out of Lockdown

As we approach the end of the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown measures, support your wellbeing with these self care ideas.

We don’t need to be told that it has been over a year since the pandemic changed all our lives. As we approach the end of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown measures, many people are finding this final hurdle the most difficult. Have we lost our social skills? Will people ever shake hands again? Will we feel ever comfortable in a crowd again?

Are you exhausted and overwhelmed every day, struggling to be motivated or experience enthusiasm about anything? Do you find it hard to get in touch with friends and family because you feel you have nothing to say? You are not alone.

These months of anxiety, stress, and big changes to our lives and to our routines have had a big impact on our mental health. As we emerge into a new normality we need to be kind to ourselves. Here are some scientifically proven tips, that can help you navigate the gradual steps back to normality and improve your mood and wellbeing.

We need to allow moments that “spark joy” as Marie Kondo would say. This doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate. For instance, it can just be rushing outside when the sun is shining and having a mindful cuppa without looking at your phone. Do more of what you love. If you love reading read a chapter of a book instead of just scrolling. Listen to a short podcast. Have a game of snap or scrabble with the children. Give yourself a healthy treat.

Start Some Healthy Self Care Habits

Make new routines for your wellbeing – if you think you don’t have time for it, you will soon have to make time for being ill. Little bits of time every day go a long way to make you feel a lot better.

Sleep

1. Avoid Stimulation Before Bedtime

  • Create a ritual at night to help get you into a relaxed state: what can you do to wind down for the last hour?
  • Avoid screens for at least 2 hours prior to going to bed (the blue light emitted from screens can disturb your sleep patterns)

2. Enjoy a Hot and Cold Shower or a Bath

  • A bath or shower before bed is a great way to relax your body. Try to rinse with alternating hot and cold water, which is especially beneficial.
  • This is a pump for your lymphatic system and expands and contracts your blood vessels which brings your awareness, consciousness and all your energy into your body and out of your mind.

3. Stretch Your Body

Perform a mild stretch before bed. Try getting into child’s pose: Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart. Rest your palms on top of your thighs. On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees. Extend your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down. Relax your shoulders toward the surface you’re kneeling on. Stay in this pose for about 20 seconds to a minute and just focus on your breathing.

Your Self Care Roadmap out of Lockdown Blog. Start some health self care habits - Sleep

4. Listen to Sam’s “Help with insomnia” mp3

“Help with Insomnia” uses progressive relaxation and powerful hypnotic suggestions to focus the mind on the body instead of that spiral of thoughts.

  • A bedtime routine of listening to the MP3 can be started and our mind soon recognises and enjoys this and then falling asleep is expected.
  • The recording can also be used on waking in the middle of the night to aid the quick return to peaceful sleep.

Lie down on your bed and listen to this evening visualisation because it’s specifically designed to put you into the state of deep sleep. You don’t have to listen to what it’s saying, you can tune out and let your subconscious listen.

Do a kind thing

Doing something nice for someone else can help reduce anxiety and make you feel happier. Of course it’s also simply the right thing to do. A small compliment can make someone’s day, start a new friendship, or just make the world a better, kinder place.

It’s easy to underestimate the impact kind words or the effect kind actions can have on people and yourself. Some ideas here are random acts of kindness, volunteering (you can do this online, if you are shielding) or checking in on your neighbours.

Meditate

Find a style that suits you and do at least 10 minutes a day. You could try mindfulness as it brings you into the present without any wish to change anything (ideal at the moment). An easy way to start is to download Sam’s 3-minute breathing space.

Exercise

Find something you love doing or you won’t keep it up! You might enjoy running, dancing, walking the dog or just walking around town. Maybe yoga is your cup of tea?

Communicate

Talk to friends, colleagues, family or get help from a professional. Do NOT keep your feelings bottled up, we all need to release them, and the best way is to talk to someone you trust.

How the Live Well Practice can help

If you need any help with overcoming a particular issue such as anxiety, stress, or have any mental health concerns, please get in touch with Samantha Culshaw-Robinson. She is a clinical hypnotherapist and Reiki practitioner. She can also help to get your life back into balance through mindfulness and meditation. You can reach her via email sam@livewellpractice.co.uk or call 075 222 777 22. www.livewellpractice.co.uk

Nine Quick Declutter Tasks to Improve Your Wellbeing

Have you ever noticed how a quick declutter feels so good?

I had the pleasure of speaking with Donna Alos on BBC Radio Derby yesterday morning. I shared some ideas to help you get started with some feel-good decluttering activities. 

I was only on for a few minutes, so you may not have heard it, but I didn’t want you to miss out.

Whether you refer to it as clutter or not, most of us have a collection of things lying about in an untidy state somewhere in our home. We have an overabundance of possessions, that can create disorder and a chaotic environment.

Have you ever been bothered by clutter?

If you’ve been frustrated at not being able to find the things you need; distracted or unable to relax because the things around you; you’ll know how it can niggle and even cause you stress. It can affect your mood, and how you feel about yourself and your home.

Recent research by my follow APDO colleague, Caroline Rogers, has found that there is an association between clutter and wellbeing. Caroline says that clutter is subjective; how much we have isn’t important, it’s how we feel about it that is.

Declutter to improve your wellbeing Cutlery Drawer example, Before and After

Taking steps to address your clutter can feel great.

You don’t have to have a huge declutter to feel the benefits. Creating order, even a little, can make you feel fantastic and like a weight has been lifted. 

Here are some examples of the small tasks to help you feel fabulous.

  1. sort out your cutlery drawer
  2. review your cook books
  3. tidy your underwear drawer
  4. sort the odd cables box
  5. review your DVD collection
  6. sort out your make-up
  7. look through the bathroom cabinet
  8. tidy up your bedside table
  9. sort through desk drawer

And if you have larger tasks to do but they feel a bit overwhelming; break them down into smaller activities; race the boiling kettle; work in 25 minute chunks; sort a drawer, box or shelf at a time; or make a list of the tasks that need to be done and complete the first one. 

Do a little each day and it will soon add up, I promise!

What is your surface clutter trying to tell you?

One of my virtual organising client's and I were discussing clutter on surfaces earlier this week. Don't you just love it!

You may have heard, clutter on surfaces attracts more clutter! It can be a slippery slope and before you know it, the clutter is taking over and you don't even know what you have!

Can you relate to this?

We were thinking about the hallway which is a busy location in any home. We all come and go through this (often) small space, leaving behind things as we transition to and from home and outside activities. It's also often a launchpad and storage spot for items bound to leave the house or to go upstairs when we next go!

It's super easy for clutter to build up on surfaces in this space!

So what can we do about it? Investigate ofcourse....

Why does stuff keep appearing and why does no-one put it away properly?

Are these items trying to tell you something? You could ask yourself:

  • What type of item keeps appearing?
    • are they similar items?
    • are they all items needed for a specific activity or event e.g. needed when you go out?
  • Why do they keep appearing there?
    • do they have a home?
    • does their home not work well - maybe it's in an inconvenient spot or doesn't fit the function?
  • How often are they needed?
    • daily?
    • occasionally?
    • seasonal?

Cluttered surface

What's the solution?

  1. Routine - it could be that the household needs to become a little more disciplined and get into the habit of removing things to their 'homes' on a regular basis
  2. New home - Or it may be that these items are attracted to that spot because it is the most appropriate place for them, so assign a new more convenient 'home' for each item in this room
  3. Suitable storage - hang whatever you can and use pots, drawers or appropriately sized containers for anything else
    1. You may store items together (i.e. all the things I want to take out with me regularly - ear phones, glasses, keys, lip balm, purse)
    2. or in categories (all sunglasses in one spot)
    3. you may store by family member e.g. child's shoes in one box
    4. you might store according to season if needed- e.g. store summer hats, sunglasses in one box and winter gloves and hats in another. (If there is not enough space in the location, you could assign an out of the way location and swap these out periodically)
    5. label containers if you can't see the contents

Enabling you to achieve your goals

If you'd like support with your decluttering or organising project find our more about my virtual organising sessions HERE or give me a call.

Imagine what you could achieve in your home with my guidance, encouragement and accountability!

10 Free Self-Care Tips to Improve Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Lockdown

Guest blog by Samantha Culshaw-Robinson of the Live Well Practice

Self-care is an important part of feeling good. It can reduce your stress levels and helps maintain a good relationship with ourselves and others. Self-care can also improve your self-esteem and your self-confidence. Overall it is a necessary tool to improve your mental health.

Here are my top ten self-care tips for you. Most of them are no-cost, some of them might be low-cost depending on your approach. But all of them require for you to take a little bit of time for yourself. Do it. You will feel better for it. So, let’s dive right in.

Do a little writing

At the end of the day, write a list of things down that you want to tackle the next day. Writing things down will get them out of your head which will in turn help you to sleep better.

You could also try some journaling. Go over the day in your mind and write down how different events have made you feel. This will help you stop ruminating while you’re trying to go to sleep.

Another idea is first thing in the morning to set a timer for 2 minutes and write longhand, a stream of consciousness writing about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.

Do something you enjoy

If we don’t spend any time doing things we enjoy, we end up irritable and unhappy. So, take some time out every day and do something you love. Whether that’s reading, baking, knitting, tinkering in the shed or garage, gardening, cuddling with your pet, listening to music, playing an instrument – you choose. Watch your overall mood soar. Make sure as Marie Kondo says, to “spark joy!

Connect with people

Don’t try and cope with everything on your own. Find people you can talk to. You can find local Meet Up groups online for all different kinds of interests. Maybe you’re looking for a support group or a social group. Connecting doesn’t have to be in person; it also works well over the phone or via apps such as Skype or Zoom. Who can you call and connect with?

Exercise

Taking time out to exercise is not only great for your physical health but also mentally. Exercising releases endorphins that stabilise your mood. Going for a mindful walk that gets your heart rate up works wonders for many people. The key think here again is joy. Have a look online from Zumba to yoga, find an activity that brings you joy. It could be dancing or cycling!

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness means being in the moment and experiencing something will all your senses. There are many different exercises you can do, such as eating a raisin mindfully (about 5 minutes). It doesn’t have to take hours to practice mindfulness, a few minutes here and there can really ground you and bring you out of a mental tailspin by bringing you back to the here and now.

Anthony Tran 8i2fHtStfxk Unsplash

Hygge – relaxing the Danish way

You might have come across the Danish tradition of Hygge. It’s the concept of cosiness. How can you make your surroundings cosy and comfortable? Snuggling up with a book under a cuddly blanket with a lit scented candle is the ultimate form of Hygge. Does this appeal to you? Then go for it. Laura has some great ideas on adapting your surroundings to feel more “you.”

Rest when you can

Ideally, you’ll be getting around 8 hours of sleep. This will go a long way to keeping mentally healthy. If we don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to anxiety, depression and even chronic illnesses. This is because sleep helps to regulate chemicals in the brain that manage our body, mood and emotions.

Taking a power nap during the day (ideally between 1 and 3pm) can help to give you a boost if your energy is waning after lunch. This is also good for preventing dementia.

Personal care

Take time to look and feel your best. Even if this means that you get up a few minutes earlier. Having a refreshing shower can set you up well for the day. Go shopping in your wardrobe and find clothes that make you have (as Lisa Newport Style) advises “comfydence”. Spending an evening giving yourself a manicure and/or pedicure can leave you feeling pampered and relaxed without spending any money. You can even put on some soothing spa music, light some candles and use your fluffiest towels. Spoil yourself!

Meditation

Another activity that you can anywhere and anytime is meditation. And again, you don’t have to do it for hours. When you first start you will probably find it impossible to meditate for more than a few minutes anyway as your mind will take a little while to get the memo that it’s time to relax. You could start with my 3 Minute Breathing Space – a mini meditation you can download.

Cooking from scratch

Cooking your meals from scratch instead of relying on ready meals or even take outs will not only save you tons of money in the long term but also improve your health and wellbeing. You know what goes into your meals, as you’re preparing them. No artificial colours and flavours, tons of sugar or artificial sweeteners – all of which negatively impact your mental health.

Also stay away from pre-cut, pre-peeled fruit and veg. Chopping your own will cut down on your food waste as the pre-packaged varieties go off much quicker. It is also cheaper as you don’t pay someone else to do it for you. You can make chopping and prepping your raw ingredients part of your mindfulness practice. If you are short on time during the week, cook double the amount on the weekends and freeze, so you have your own ready meals. Susan Hart Nutrition Coach has some great ideas.

 

How the Live Well Practice can help

If you would like any help with getting your life in balance, mindfulness or meditation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Samantha runs one-to-one online sessions, and a regular Tuesday night Mindfulness, Resilience and chat zoom group.

You can reach me via email sam@livewellpractice.co.uk or phone  +44 (0)7522 277722.

Samantha Culshaw-Robinson Live Well Practice

Five reasons you find it difficult to clear clutter and what you can do about it.

When I tell people what I do, they ask me all sorts of questions about my work but this has to be the one subject that comes up the most.

Why do I find it so difficult to release my possessions and what can I do about it?

If you find yourself distracted by your possessions when you want to relax with a cup of tea, your wardrobe overflows making it difficult to decide what to wear, or, your surfaces need to be cleared before you can clean or prepare a meal, then you are affected by clutter.

Clutter is the stuff that gets in your way. The items may be treasured possessions, or paperwork and other disorganised debris, that has gathered on surfaces like it has a mind of it’s own.

Why is it we find it difficult to release some items?

A number of researchers have considered this question and further research is needed, but here are some of the reasons it’s not so is easy to tackle your possessions.

Perhaps the item:

  1. reflects something about you
  2. is part of your personal history, triggers memories, or has associations with family history
  3. relates to an experience or a gift received from a valued friend (even if you dislike it)
  4. is personified or has become familiar over time and you've come to believe it’s unique (perhaps you've given it a name)
  5. enabled a transition, such as a child's toy or blanket that helped them become more independent

Feelings about objects are complicated but they often change over time and as we change as individuals. We may be affected by memories associated with the items or fear of losing the item. Some people experience grief when releasing items.

So how might you manage this?

For some, the practical considerations are enough to enable them to release things they no longer need or love. It may make decisions easier to think about their lives with greater space and freedom, the physical, financial or emotional costs of keeping items in the home, or the benefits that others will derive from receiving donations.

Other approaches to try:

  • Acknowledge the emotions you are feeling, give yourself time to deal with them. Perhaps journaling or talking will support you but do get help if you need it. You don’t have to do it alone!

  • Think about where you are now and what’s important. Give thanks for the past but begin to focus on a positive present and future

  • Think about how you can keep the memory or sense of who you are without keeping the item (would taking photos or keeping a small part of the item be helpful? If you have lots of items, could you select a few to keep?)

  • Give it time – take your time. Start with the easy items, keep items you aren’t ready to part with and come back to these later when you may feel differently

'Time is the wisest counsellor of all' - Pericles

You may need to give it time, but the very process of sorting through our possessions and removing the easier items brings focus and awareness. As we work on the task, we change and grow. And over time it becomes easier to release things that had felt meaningful but that no longer serve us.

If you have questions or need sensitive support to work through your things, I'm here for you. Feel free to contact me on 07970 989955.

 

 

Spring Clearing Week

APDO members are focusing on clearing our closet this Spring Clearing Week so I’ll be sharing wardrobe clearing ideas and my experience of the Six-item Challenge on Facebook and Instagram all week – join me and watch out for a guest appearance by Helen, The Wardrobe Fairy, from 16th March!

Spring Clearing Week 2020-logo