The Minding Me section is an extremely important section that explores ways of helping you to relax your mind and take care of yourself.
This is very important if you want to feel better about yourself which will in turn makes you feel more positive about your new journey and also helps with study.
Click on the below Sections to reveal more information.
No matter who you speak to these days, they are under some sort of pressure or stress. Society has placed a lot of pressure on people to try to balance work, family, and education. People are working long hours to try to look after their families and pay the bills. Being healthy and looking after oneself gets forgotten about so it’s important to slow down and take some time out for yourself.
You probably care for other people but have forgotten to care about yourself. Demands outweigh the ability to cope and this is when stress can occur because the pressures finally get to us and we end up in a constant state of emotion and worry. Stress can affect anyone young or old.
External stressors are the things we are aware of like daily pressures, traumas or life experiences.
Internal stressors are those thoughts and feelings which cause you to feel uneasy like uncertainties, low self-esteem, always thinking the worst and unrealistic expectations. During stressful times, a hormone which activates our body’s defense mechanisms called adrenaline, takes over the body making us feel tense, blood pressure rises, we sweat more, and our heart feels like its thumping.
This affects our immune system, which protects us from infections, so once this is interfered with, we are more prone to illnesses, which is why you find yourself constantly tired and sick all the time. Some research shows that women with children have more of the stress hormone in their bodies than women without children. This does not mean that women without children do not experience stress, it just means they may not experience it as much.
Anxiety on the other hand is a feeling of fear and apprehension and a feeling that something bad is going to happen. The source of where this feeling comes from is generally not known, which makes the feeling even worse. Everyone goes through anxiety at various times of their lives, like doing exams or driving tests, before an interview, or during an illness.
It is normal to feel anxious during these times, but it’s when the feeling of anxiety goes on for a long time and can start interfering with normal life, that you need to do something about it. Excessive anxiety can cause depression, paranoia, and psychiatric conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
An individual catastrophises everything and always thinks the worst is going to happen. They may not be able to do something simple like sit down and watch a movie without thinking about all the things they need to do and what may go wrong. Anxiety can start interfering with life in general, which means more time off work, more illnesses, relationship breakdowns and money worries.
Our brains have been wired from the beginning of time to expect the worst and protect ourselves. There is a little part of the brain called the amygdala which holds all our emotional memories. When we are stressed or anxious, the rational thinking part of the brain switches off and the amygdala takes over, which means we are in a highly emotional state.
We are unable to think straight in these states and may snap at people, rush things, be unreasonable or eventually have burnout. Something may trigger an unhappy memory which makes you panic and feel very anxious. You will notice that when you relax, you may regret snapping at that person or being unreasonable. This means that when we relax, the rational thinking part of the brain starts to work again, and you can think clearly again.
When you can understand this, you will understand the importance of finding some time to relax in your life. It benefits you both physically and mentally and you will feel a lot better for it.
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, then don’t worry because there are a few things you can do about it which is discussed in the ‘Balancing Your Life’ section. When you think about the ways stress and anxiety can affect your life, isn’t it worth investing some of your time to something which will make you feel so much better and improve your relationships and life in general?
You need to try to create some work – life balance because if work takes over and you have no time for yourself or the family, it can create all kinds of problems for yourself and loved ones. If you decide to study one of our courses, making time to relax and not be as stressed, will positively affect the outcomes of your course.
This section will discuss the many ways you can balance your life to reduce stress and anxiety and create work-life balance. If you can manage to do as many of these as you can it would be great, or even if you can manage only one it would still be a great benefit.
Mindfulness and Meditation:
Mindfulness makes you more aware of your thoughts and allows you to be more present in your day to day life, which means you are not worrying about what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. If you think about our lives, we are constantly worrying about what ‘may’ happen in the future or what ‘has’ happened in the past. This is a waste of time because we are missing our lives as we are not living in the ‘now’. We are not appreciating what we have living in the moment.
What is the point of life if all we are doing is thinking these wasted thoughts of the past and future and not enjoying the moment. If you made a list of all the thoughts we had per day, you would laugh out loud as hardly any of them are fact, they are all just thoughts. This means that we are getting ourselves wound up over these thoughts which are a complete waste of time!
By being more aware of our thoughts and being more present in our day to day lives, we become less stressed, anxiety decreases, our minds become sharper and the cloud fades.
Meditation is used in mindfulness to help you relax and there are a number of meditation techniques you can use to be mindful.
Using meditation to be mindful:
- When you wake up in the morning don’t reach for the mobile phone and check emails or social media, this only creates anxiety straight away. Instead focus on your breathing – try to breathe in for 7 seconds and out for 11 seconds. Listen to everything around you and really be in the moment. Do this for at least 10 minutes. Practice this at nighttime also.
- The body scan – lie in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. Once relaxed start to focus on each part of your body starting from your feet right up to your head. Do this for at least 10 minutes.
- Throughout the day, take breaks to focus on your breathing, the more you can do this the better. You will feel that tense feeling in your tummy disappear.
- Visualisation – try to visualise a place you really feel safe and relaxed in. Think about the smells, colours and what it feels like. Do this for at least 10 minutes.
- Mindful daily activities – when eating, try to focus on the taste and texture of the different food and really enjoy the different tastes instead of stuffing the food in you and rushing to the next part of your day! When showering, instead of thinking about everything you have to do, stop, focus on your breathing and how nice the water feels and the smell of the body wash.
- If you find yourself having some thoughts about what might happen or what has happened, be aware that these thoughts are not fact and then focus on your breathing. Breathe in for 7 seconds and out for 11 seconds.
One of our basic human needs is to get enough sleep and rest. If we do not get enough sleep we become irritable, which makes stress and anxiety worse. It is extremely important for you to get the right amount of sleep. Most people need between 6 to 8 hours sleep every night to feel refreshed in the morning.
When we don’t get enough sleep or when our sleep is interrupted a lot, we feel horrible and don’t function as well. If you are up early the next day, go to bed at an earlier time. Allow extra time for that proper sleep. If you have children, put them to sleep and then go to bed yourself not long afterwards.
Even though the only quality time you get with your partner may be the time after you get the kids to bed, but why not watch some TV in bed or read together. You can make up for it by staying up a little later at the weekend.
Some restful sleep tips:
- Try not to look at too many screens before bedtime. The glare and lighting from laptops, mobiles and iPads can interfere with our natural sleep hormones, so stop using them at least two hours before bedtime.
- Avoid stimulants before bed – don’t drink any tea, coffee or caffeinated drinks after 6pm. The caffeine will keep you up. Alcohol also prevents you from having a restful sleep. Although having a drink in the evening can help you relax, once the alcohol starts wearing off, you can wake up many times during the night to use the bathroom or have a drink of water. Most alcohol converts to sugar in our bodies which also makes us wake up more at night.
- Have a hot drink before bed – drinking a hot milky drink before bed can really help – there is a natural sleep hormone in milk which helps you have a restful sleep.
- Have a routine – go to bed at the same time every night and start preparing for bed an hour beforehand. Wash, brush your teeth, get into your PJs and read a little to wind down before sleep.
- Talk out any problems or concerns with a loved one and never go to bed without making up from an argument. You will most definitely have a restless sleep if you don’t.
- The following food and drinks have higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin and help with sleep – fish, whole grains, bananas, walnuts, lettuce, milk, rice, chamomile tea, kale or hummus.
Fitness and Exercise:
Exercise and fitness has really taken off in Ireland in the past few years. People have realised that exercise can really help with stress and anxiety, while also making us feel more confident and good about ourselves. Obesity is on the increase and so too are the illnesses that come with that, like heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Many people find out they have these diseases when it is too late, but exercise helps minimise risk and helps people live longer. As you may know, endorphins are released in the brain when we exercise – this is that great feeling you have after a workout. It feels like you are walking on air and you have more confidence.
This is good for mental health and it also carries more oxygen to all the cells in your body, which prevents chronic illnesses such as cancers and heart disease. There are so many options to choose from out there from aqua fit classes to HITT and Zumba classes.
You need to find something that you enjoy and stick to it, if you find that your workout feels like a chore – stop and try out something different until you find something you really enjoy and look forward to doing. Like a career, when you find something you really like, you won’t mind doing it.
Fitness and Exercise Tips:
- Go for walks with your partner, children or friends – keeping fit is just as simple as talking a brisk half an hour walk every day either with your partner, children or friends. Doing it with people will keep you motivated and give you a chance to have chats.
- Take the stairs – take the stairs at every opportunity and avoid lifts and escalators. You will burn so many more calories per day this way.
- Work out at home – there are no excuses for not being able to work out any more as there are thousands of free online videos you can use to work out at home from yoga to pregnancy fitness!
- Have fun – run around with the kids, skip and play games – anything to get your pulse going!
- Attend different classes – if you are a gym member – try different classes, even the ones you think you will hate! You may surprise yourself and enjoy those spinning classes!
- Keep going until you find something you enjoy doing and make it your normal routine.
- Go swimming – swimming is particularly good for working out your whole body. It is good if you have joint problems, and pregnant women benefit as it takes the weight off their joints and gets rid of any excess fluid. Aqua Fit classes are usually held at every gym so check out the schedule.
- Housework – although it may not be the most appealing option, doing some housework like hoovering and mopping can burn a lot of calories!
- Try weights – Your body becomes more defined, your bones stronger and mental health improves. Give it a go and see!
Have a look at your diet and really think about the food you are eating – how do you really feel? Is it doing you any good? Do you feel bloated and have digestive problems? What you eat, and drink should be making you feel fresh and energised not tired and ill. If you are eating more processed and packaged foods or if your shopping trolley is filled more with packaged foods rather than fresh fruits and vegetables, then it is time for a change.
We know these foods are bad for us and they have been proven to increase life threatening diseases, so it’s time to bin them and think proper nutrition for the mind and body:
- One of the most important meals of the day is your breakfast. The word breakfast means ‘breaking the fast’. You have not eaten for quite some time while asleep, so your body craves some good nutrition in the morning. Foods which will make you feel full for longer and give you slow release energy are perfect. Porridge with honey and some fruit is an ideal breakfast. Whole meal cereals or breads with eggs, is also a nutritionally balanced breakfast.
- Lunch should consist of nutritionally balanced sandwiches or salads which gives you energy for the rest of the afternoon without the dreaded slump. Avoid heavy breads, particularly white breads which give you an energy burst but result in a crash late afternoon known as the ‘afternoon slump’. If you chose a whole meal wrap instead filled with lean meat or poultry and lots of vegetables, you will notice that you will have more energy, not feel as bloated and not feel as tired in the late afternoon.
- The dinner plate should consist of half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of the plate for carbohydrates like pasta/rice/potatoes and the final quarter for meat/fish/poultry. Mind your portion size and never just fill your plate with carbohydrates and a huge slice of meat! This is not balanced, and you will feel tired and bloated afterwards. Big portion sizes are linked to obesity which is linked to all kinds of illnesses and diseases, so be mindful and care for yourself with the right foods and portions.
- Have healthy snacks for throughout the day like nuts, seeds, and fruit and drink lots of water to keep hydrated.
- It’s ok to have a treat – if you eat 70% healthy and the rest treats, then you will be doing well. We can’t deprive ourselves of our favourite foods, so make sure to schedule in your treat days and have whatever you fancy.
Do you have lots of things you must do and feel all flustered and stressed because you think you don’t have enough time? If you spend a lot of time panicking and just getting the bare minimum done, just to get from one day to the next, then you need to think about how you manage your time.
A lot of people don’t think about managing their time and end up stressed because they feel like everything is getting on top of them. This is very easily fixed. There is a very simple way of managing your time so that you get all the most important jobs done and meet those deadlines.
What you need first is a diary – note in the diary what you need to do each day.
Now have a look at the list and figure out what are the most important things to be done, and what can be left until the end. Cross off the tasks you have completed – if you didn’t get all of the tasks completed its ok, because they are not so important and you can complete them the next day and so on. You therefore spend quality time on important tasks, reduce stress and feel more in control.
Do not put things off – if there is something to be done, just do it. Don’t keep putting things off until later. You may run out of time and not complete the tasks at all and be under a huge amount of pressure. The sooner you tackle each task, the freer time you will have. Don’t forget to schedule in some exercise and ‘me-time’. Drop the things you really don’t enjoy doing or are unnecessary and schedule things with the family that you enjoy or a weekend away with your partner.
Rest and Relax:
Although it is important to keep active and eat well, it is just as important to stop everything and just relax. Ladies, if you enjoy getting your hair done or getting a treatment done at the beauty salon, book yourself an appointment every so often to treat yourself. Find a quiet place and read a magazine or just do the things you enjoy. For the men, if you enjoy getting out for a game of pool or attending a football match, then make sure to do these things too.
We forget what we enjoy doing when life takes over so it’s important to re visit your loves in life and start doing them again – manage your time and fit them into your normal schedule. Organise a weekend away with your partner and have some spa treatments. Resting, relaxing and doing the things we enjoy really improves our wellbeing, especially if we have a very busy schedule.
In this section, some of the things you need to do to just be happy are explained. Some of us don’t really allow ourselves to be happy as life has become so hectic.
How to Be Happy Tips:
- Have compassion for yourself
Have compassion for yourself the same way you would have compassion for others. For example – if your friend misses a deadline and feels dreadful, you will comfort them and try to help them get motivated again. You need to have the same compassion for yourself – if anything goes wrong, don’t be hard on yourself.
Accept that things couldn’t be helped or that it wasn’t meant to be. Learn from it and just move on. You are worth so much more than beating yourself up over silly things.
- What’s the worst that can happen?
No matter what you are worried about always think – what is the worst that can happen? If you don’t pass an exam, you can re-sit the exam again. If you miss a deadline, you can ask for an extension. If your haircut is not what you expected, it will grow back! Things are really not as bad as you think!!
- Don’t judge yourself
Try not to judge yourself. We are all our own worst critics, but it is really important not to judge ourselves or others for that matter. If something is not going our way or if we do something wrong, we judge ourselves on everything from how we perform to how we deal with people. We tend to put ourselves down and have low expectations. The opposite should be the case. Try to be more confident in yourself and don’t feel bad about everything. Focus on you not everyone else and expect only the best.
If you are constantly stressed about certain things, just accept what you can’t change and move on. There are just some things in life that have happened which we cannot change but we can alter the way we think about them. Accepting what has happened takes a huge weight off your shoulders and you can learn from it and move on.
- What do I appreciate?
Appreciating things can really make us feel better. If you think about the things that are good in your life at the moment like your children, your partner, your lovely home and great friends, instead of thinking negatively about everything, you will start to feel a lot better. Write a list of at least ten things in life that you appreciate. When you wake up in the morning look at this list and keep doing so every morning. You can keep adding to the list as you go along.
- What do I enjoy doing?
As discussed in the previous section, we often forget what we enjoy doing. Life takes over and completing tasks and sticking to strict schedules become the norm. It doesn’t have to be this way. If we manage our time correctly, we can fit in the things we enjoy doing. Make a list of at least ten things you enjoy doing. This could be small things like going for a walk along the beach or staying over in a hotel. Schedule these things into your normal routine.
- Be kind to yourself and others
Just as you would be kind to others be just as kind to yourself. Give yourself compliments, treat yourself to things you like, and don’t put yourself down about anything. Life is too short, and you are worth so much more than having negative thoughts about yourself. Being kind to others will also make you feel good about yourself. Do something kind for someone every day. The positivity will reflect on you and you will make other people happy. It’s a win-win situation!
Just be happy ….
One final note is just to allow yourself to be happy.
Don’t think that just because you have other priorities and commitments that you are not allowed to be happy and relaxed yourself. If you try to practice all or some of the tips in this section, you will be a lot happier and content in your life. If you don’t you may be able to find your own way of being happy, but the key is finding that way and allowing yourself the time and effort to do the things you enjoy and look after yourself which will benefit your life in the long run.
Your thoughts drive your emotions.
Your emotions drive your behaviours.
Your behaviours drive your Actions that decide what kind of life you live.
So everything about the kind of life you have starts with your thoughts which you have control of. Make sure your thoughts are positive and avoid negative thoughts.