Tag Archives: self worth

5 Secrets for a Strong Relationship with Teenage Carers

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5 Secrets for a Strong Relationship with Teenage Carers

Young Carers

According to the ONS (Office for National Statistics), there are 149,000 young carers aged between 15 and 19 – about twice as many as in the 10-to-14 age range. [There are about 23,000 children under 9 who are carers].

There are about 50,000 Young Carers looking after someone with a Mental Health Condition in the UK. There are thought to be 3 in 5 Carers who have depression themselves, due to their role.

I aim to share the secrets that have guided our journey. They’re intended for younger families, caring for any family member, but are aimed at those with a teenage/young carer. I’m even sharing some free printables for you at the end of this post.

This advice is based on my experienced teacher viewpoint, but mostly that of a bed bound mum of 2 teenagers, who happen to be my Carers. It’s been tough, but we’re stronger than ever, as a family and individually, because we’ve worked at it!

My family

As the teen years approached our family, I feared the worst; especially as I was now chronically ill with a debilitating brain disease. How wrong could I be? I absolutely love it. We’ve just adapted our parenting style by listening and responding to each other.

With strong foundations, that Joel and I had worked hard to build together, it wasn’t hard to tweak our interactions. As our boys grow into young men, at 13 and 15 and 6ft+, we’ve found we actually enjoy spending time together – I know, crazy right?

I’m incredibly proud of both of them for all that they achieve. Their teachers recognise their awesomeness and they amaze me with what they achieve, both in and out of school. That they’re able to do so well, with so much else to deal with, is exceptional.

But I’m not delusional! I know not everyone has this and our life isn’t perfect either (erm – teenagers and brain disease involved). However, we’re a happy and loving family with amazing relationships. They are my motivation to keep positive every day!

If you want to find out more, read My story so far

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The McKee’s mucking about Christmas 2018

Parenting Styles

The secrets I want to share with you can be implemented into your family with just a little work. We are have our own parenting styles and there’s no right way. So it’s normal to go through phases of feeling like we’ve sussed it and others like we’ve fluffed it!

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So even if you’re a nailed it with some to spare parent; a doing your best, fair and square parent; a making a mess, laid out bare parent; a higgledy piggledy, up in the air parent; a tearing out your hair parent or a feeling guilty you’re not there parent, these secrets could work for you.

 

What Does Caring Involve For Me

I have a PA (carer) every weekday lunchtime, from an agency providing consistent care. These are some of the things I need help with:

  • Waking up after sleeping all morning,
  • Make me lunch, normally a smoothie as nausea stops me enjoying food
  • Making sure I have accessible water
  • Helping me to get dressed as needed and getting out my clothes each day
  • Picking anything up I drop as I can’t bend down
  • Do chores I can’t such as laundry, emptying bins and making beds
  • Preparing meals or freezing food for another day
  • Organising my medications
  • Enabling me to be more involved with the boys e.g. supporting us bake cakes
  • If I’m well enough taking us out for a cuppa or to the shops

I have a great relationship with my carers and we always have a giggle. I need laughter in my day and they bring it! They’re also always there to listen.

The Impact Caring Can Have

Being a young carer can have a big impact on the things that are important to growing up

  • It can affect a young person’s health, social life and self-confidence.
  • Many young carers struggle to juggle their education and caring which can cause pressure and stress.
  • In a survey, 39% said that nobody in their school was aware of their caring role.
  • 26% have been bullied at school because of their caring role.
  • 1 in 20 miss school because of their caring role.
But young people can learn lots of useful skills by being a young carer.

Carers Trust – Young Carers

When we realised what life was going to be like, Joel and I didn’t want the boys lives overshadowed by caring. We’re lucky enough to have PAs, so the boys don’t miss school, but it can be hard to make school aware of everything they carry with them.

Worry and anxiety have affected their mental well-being and both boys have had to learn how to cope with complex feelings. Life as a young carer is tough as we can see in these quotes.

Carers UK’s annual survey (2015) with over 5,000 carers across the UK revealed that 84% of carers feel more stressed, 78% feel more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression as a result of their caring role, which was higher than findings in 2014.3

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 I’ll discuss how we manage teenage mental health in my 5 secrets below.

Being My Carer Every Day

The boys bring me breakfast and dinner make sure I have water and snacks every day. They know how to support me physically and sort anything Clumsy McClumsypants here drops or spills; like the glass of water in (yes IN) my bedside table this morning.

They need to know what to do if I press my life line and what to say to the Lifeline care team. They’d have to stop playing Xbox and may need to support or help me up if I fell. They may need to help calm me down if I was having a panic attack.

The boys have had to get used to another new cleaner being in their personal space and form bonds with my PAs. They’ve been carers for 4 years now, so are used to it, but there’s still restrictions, such as having to be quiet each morning while I sleep.

They told me the other day that their friends have to do more chores than them. My response was to ask if their friends have to make sure the house is secure and answer a doorbell every time theory mum drops something. I said I was clumsy, didn’t I?

Building a Team

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How many kids would go to their parent and tell them they don’t do as many chores as their mates? This is just one example of how we’ve worked hard to build a family dynamic based on trust, honesty, empathy and care.

We’ve all had to learn coping skills and adapt as time goes on. The stress shows at home mostly, so it’s been important to use the same strategies around their behaviour. This has led to the strong relationship we have now.

As they’ve grown up and I’ve become a little bit more stable and aware, we’ve trusted them with more responsibility. We’ve just managed two nights with Joel went away for work. My Dad (who’s always stayed before) was just down the road if needed.

They wanted to cook tea unsupervised and probably not the tidying up afterward. They have to put the hens to bed, safely away from any foxy loxies and check Jasper Cat is in for the night. I had to be trust they would put the house to bed securely too.

They amazed me with how they coped with all this responsibility. There was no time to think about having house parties or sneaking out the house to meet up with a friend! (not that we’d know anything about ever doing that).

The way Joel and I choose to do this at the beginning, has shaped how we’ve handled the cards we’ve been dealt. Everyone chooses their own path, so I’m not making any comparisons. this is just my experience. Everyone’s path is unique, so follow yours.

But use my 5 secrets to help steer you. Firstly I just need to make it clear that we sought medical advice and were referred to social services for care and support. I’m not a health Care professional, so please ask for help if you need it.

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5 Secrets for a Strong Relationship with Young Carers
  1. Asking for help is the first step. Talk to your GP.  Talk to school. Ask your kids how they’d like the help. You might need family therapy so do try it, if offered. If support given is not right for you, ask for an alternative. The skills we learnt, recognised and have since reinforced; have shaped our family’s daily lives. We learnt how to talk about our feelings, whilst being respectful. and to speak honestly, without breaking trust. I recommend organising a named teacher or pastoral care and make sure to keep them in the loop. This is individual to your needs, but be prepared to fight for this, as support is in high demand. Mental well-being for you all is key.
  2. Let them be angry with the illness. Structure ways for your children to release this, safely. Help them understand that it’s the illness that’s changed everything. The whole family will grieve for life before chronic illness, so explore ways to cope with that. We used diaries, art therapy, music and a good old shout and swear session (oooh, controversial). We’ve found that music is a lifeline for every carer in the family. Being able to lose yourself in a distraction is a lifeline for carers and you!
  3. Develop open dialogue with the Young Carers in your life and find ways that allow them to discuss what they’re feeling and experiencing without fear of backlash. The silver lining of being a bed bound mum, is having time for my boys to talk to me about their day or about something worrying them as soon as they get home.
  4. Find time for everyone to set one goal at the start of each day. You could introduce Affirmations to reinforce positive thinking. See the end of the post for more details and free printables, available til 31st March 2019. Set a time to discuss at least 1 positive from their day. Create a regular time to air issues and reinforce positives.
  5. Give yourself rewards! A really important part of feeling able to succeed, is by rewarding positive language and behaviour. The rewards can be for anything, big or small. Rewards can be verbal praise, but making time for a family reward is important to reinforce positive thinking. For example, you could go out for lunch, bake a cake together or watch a movie in bed. Let them choose most of the time, but it has to be agreed by everyone. The point is to reward the whole family regularly.

To adapt these for younger children

  1. Involve school as soon as possible, both the class teacher and headteacher should know. School may offer extra support, which can be invaluable. Play and Art therapy is in short supply, so if you’re concerned speak to your GP!
  2. Talk to them about what’s happening in a way they’ll understand. Help them express their feelings using puppets, library books and roleplay (Drs/patient).
  3. Tell them why you’re going to hospital/in pain etc. They may know more than you expect, so let them lead. My rule is that if they’re asking about it, then they’re ready for answers. Just be prepared for a ‘why, but why’ session!
  4. Ask them what they want to do that day on the way to school, you may even find out more than asking at the end of the day! Start a positives jar by everyone writing (for them if needed) ONE positive from their day. Set a regular time, to open the jar and read some. My favourite pulling out ‘cuddling with my Mummy’ on a bad day.
  5. Make time for rewards, they don’t have to cost anything, just do things as a family.

A last word and some links!

I want to help others have positive experiences, even on tough days. So I’m sharing these secrets for you. Families are unique, though, so there’s no one size fits all. Take what you want from my 5 secrets, but remember these things are key:

Ask for help! Young Carers may have to do more at home than their friends, so schools should provide support and make allowances.

Make sure everyone truly understands and enable your kids to express how they feel. Create a safe environment and look out for signs that you may need to step in.

A great team relies on good communication which is honest, loyal and respectful, so be a good role model. Recognise small wins! Celebrate at least one good thing from your day.

If the life you want for your family seems a long way off or you’d like some reassurance you’re doing okay, then I hope this post has helped. Please ask me questions in the comments and tell me how you make life positive for young carers and your family.

Resources 

Carers Trust -Support for Young Carers

Young Minds – Looking After Yourself aa a Young Carer

NHS – Young Carers Rights

Carer Gateway – Advice for Parents & Teachers of Young Carers

Carers UK – Hidden Depression

Chronic Illness Bloggers

Sign up for New & Exclusives – Help for Young Carers

Do you want to be the first to know what’s coming and get your hands on exclusive deals? I’ve created a set of Printable Affirmations that would be perfect for setting the tone for a good day for Young Carers, as mentioned in Secret number 4 above. Grab a copy of this when you sign up to my occasionally regular newsletter today!

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Click Here To Sign Up Today

✋ Hey there! You could really help me out. Just one minute of your time to press that share button helps me so much! You’ll literally make me do a bed-bound happy dance. Now there’s an image for you!

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5 Morning Affirmations To Guarantee A Successful Day!

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5 Morning Affirmations To Guarantee A Successful Day

Hey there, are you someone who needs a bit of a boost in your day?

Maybe you’re feeling like you’re missing the mark at work, that your relationship’s doomed, that you’re useless because you’re chronically ill or that you’re just having disastrous days.

job12-280-chim-00918If you’re a negative thinker or a self-sabotager and the life you want seems a long way off, then this post’s for you! I’ve got tips for making positive changes by just spending a few minutes a day on affirmations. There’s even science to back that up! So now with your morning coffee you can start your day the positive way!

 

What are Affirmations?

Maybe you’ve heard of Affirmations but think they sound sappy or too out there. Maybe you don’t think they’d help as you’re ok, just not as successful as you’d hoped. Stick with me and I’ll show you how affirmations help you build a positive mindset.

Before I start you off on your journey to a successful day, you need to know what the deal is. I first heard of Affirmations about 15 months ago and now spend a few minutes each day on them. I think much more positively now and want everybody to realise they can find positive in every day. Here are a few simple tips to help you!

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Set Positive Intentions

 

Affirmations help you set an intention for that day (or however long you need it for), starting with ‘I am’ for example. They’re a great tool for helping you think more positively and if used regularly, each day will be more positive! OK, so your thoughts won’t change overnight, but I can assure you that they’ll work if you stick with it.

 

 

You use something you want to feel, do or happen and write it as though it’s already happening. So instead of ‘I want to feel loved and happy’. Your affirmation says ‘I choose love and happiness’.

You may have to do a little bit of work to crack the code at first, but you’ll soon be starting your day the positive way. So if you’re feeling low or a bit meh; then this is such a simple way to structure your thoughts and create a positive loop:

positive thought = positive actions = self-worth = positive thought and so on.

How Affirmations Work

For an affirmation to work fully, you need to trick your brain. A bit like changing the TV remote’s batteries, you need to put negative and positive in the right place. Instead of matching them to a symbol, you need to rewire your thinking, especially if you’re a Negative Nelly!

To rewire your brain, you have to make Positive Polly drown out Negative Nelly. To do that, you need to say the affirmation out loud, more than once! Just like exercise to improve our physical health is repetitive, any exercise to improve our mental health needs to be repetitive. Practise makes Positive!

To Create this positive repetition, you could write them in your journal/diary, put them on a memo board/fridge or record them using a voice memo app and listen to them wherever you are. I use all 3 of these for maximum impact!

Each time you create these positive responses from affirmations, your brain kicks in the reward mechanism. I won’t get too sciencey, but if you use affirmations about your most important values, your brain will soon begin to have positive reactions.

These positive reactions create a reward, such as increasing your self-worth. Once your brain gets a reward it will want more. You’ll start thinking and acting more positively. You’ll value yourself and feel a sense of purpose. You’ll want to look after yourself more and start creating more positive than negative in your life.

I want to start you on this journey, so read on and see how much it helped me and get yourself set the 5 affirmations to start your successful day.

**Disclaimer – this won’t happen overnight! You’ll have to put the work in!

My Journey with affirmations

One of my favourite affirmations is ‘I replace anger with compassion and understanding’. When I first picked it from my set of cards, I wasn’t having the best day. I was angry with myself about something (I’ve no idea what) and almost put it back in the pack!

When I say I was angry with myself, I really mean that I felt guilty about something I probably should have done. It’s always been a habit of mine, but when I was still  processing my chronic illness I felt like this a lot!

Anyway, I left it on display for a couple of days and as suggested, I read it often and would say it too myself in my head every so often, as I wasn’t cool with saying it out loud at first. I started to feel calmer soon after making that choice to keep that card.

I started to feel less frustration and guilt and began to feel more positive. As I stuck with it, I found those Negative Nelly feelings were getting drowned out by Positivity Polly.

The more positive I felt the more positive action I took with my self care, which led to more positive thinking. And so the cycle continued and I was hooked!

5 Morning Affirmations to Guarantee a Successful Day

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5 Morning Affirmations to Guarantee a Successful Day

So this is what you’re here for. If you’ve skimmed to get here then do make sure you know what you’re doing, you cheeky thing! I’ve made one for you and a blank one to put personalised affirmations in.

You can download these here: Morning Affirmations

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I am full of gratitude and inspiration affirmation
  1. I am full of gratitude and inspiration
  2. Today is a wonderful new day, full of success
  3. I am open to positive change
  4. Today I will share my knowledge with others
  5. My ideas are worthy of being shared
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Blank Affirmation design for personalised affirmations

These are simple affirmations for success and to use each morning to set you up for a great day. Why not have a go tomorrow morning and come back and tell me about it!

If you’d like access to more free affirmations, then just sign up for my news and exclusives emails, using the pop up form or the link below. 

Sign up today for your free printable Affirmations cards

References

https://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/

If you’re really into Science then this explains why affirmations work and what effects they have on the brain. How Self Affirmation affects the brain

 

Chronic Illness Bloggers

5 Meditation Myths Stopping You Relieve Hidden Stress

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5 Meditation Myths Stopping You Relieve Hidden Stress

Meditation Myths

Are misconceptions about meditation preventing you from relieving stress and pent up anger?  If you want to learn how to develop techniques to think more clearly and positively, then find out how meditation can aid better sleep and restfulness. Find out how releasing negative energy through Meditation can help you live a happier, healthier and more positive life. Please don’t run away – I know the M word is scary as, but if you’ve got any investment in reducing stress levels, then keep reading!

*DISCLAIMER – All thoughts are my own, backed up by genuine research. Please don’t confuse me for a Doctor or anyone educated in Meditation. I just like it a lot!

I think Meditation is one of those Marmite (American? read this) words. Either someone snores you to death talking about Om postures and staring at a candle for 3 hours or the tumbleweeds roll when you mention it. No one wants to talk about 3 hour candle watching, so if you’re a sceptic, stick with me; it doesn’t have to be this way people!

If you’re in the ‘love it’ camp, please read this to consider if you’re adding to these myths. If you’re in the ‘hate it’ camp, then please read this to learn why these myths are giving meditation such a bad image. The word ‘Meditation’ evokes feelings of confusion and disinterest, even in a world where you can’t move for talk of self care!

But before I dive into the myths, I’d like you to reflect on your character, consider your day ahead or the one just gone and remember what your big goals/dreams are.

Reflect

I wonder what goes on in your everyday life and what you wake up to each day. Do you fret over the frenzy or dread the drudgery of your day? Are you fashion frantic or gagging for the gym?  A vocal vegan or a loudmouthed lobbyist? Actually, don’t answer those last questions! My point is, whether you’re a Conscious Charlie or a Trendsetting Tara, you’re expected to live by rules created by someone you’ll never know.

Consider

24 hours a day, we have access to news, emails, social media, shopping, partying and more. We drive when we could easily walk and lose that feeling of holding a real book as we download them. We have the TV on late at night, affecting our sleep and eat microwave meals instead of cooking even a simple omelette.

Remember

I believe we’re losing the art of engaging with our world. Forgetting to create magical moments for our children, like those from our own childhoods. For me it’s cooking crumble with my Nana and hauling 20 books home from the library. What about you? Do you talk with your family about their days? Do you actively take baby steps towards your ideal life and focus on your family’s hopes and dreams?

As I sat with my youngest and taught him how to make apple crumble without a recipe, I realised our responsibility to pass down the simplicity of life: before technology. The smells, sounds, look, feel and taste matched my memories of Nana and I in the kitchen, I knew she’d be smiling down on us. This was the first cooking I’ve done for a long time, as I need help, and it was wonderful. It was such a calm, peaceful and gratifying activity.

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Hidden Stress Can Result In Pent up Anger

Hidden Stress

We must do what we love, but our zest for success can seep into every area of our lives. We go to sleep with our phones in unnatural light. We compare our lives to the ideal image filling our newsfeeds. These are the hidden stresses of our fast paced world and can only get worse.

Without knowing it, we’re under strain from overwhelm. With no warning, sneaky stress can creep up on us and invade. Read more about overwhelm on this blog post. We all need to find some head space, so that our brains don’t fry and our bodies don’t burn out.

Headspace

I’ve been thinking about the vast space in our noggins for a while, but then read this article and found that we’re using most of our brains most of the time, even whilst sleeping. “The brain is constantly making new connections and breaking old ones” so surely we need to do as much as we can, to keep our grey matter healthy.

This made me consider how much we can balance before we buckle and whether we have any control over what is going on in those active minds. I concluded that we need armour in case of a headspace invasion (I think I may have just revealed my secret geek 😲). This brings me back to Meditation! You thought I’d forgotten then, didn’t you? 🤔

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5 Meditation Myths Stopping You Relieve Hidden Stress

Meditation Myths

If your reaction to this heading is hostility, then maybe we should part ways here – but you’re always welcome back of course. However if you can bear facing your meditation anticipation, then these are the 5 main excuses used when that word gets mentioned:

1. I’ve done it before and still have the same problems, it just didn’t work!

2. I can’t be quiet for long enough to read this post, let alone silence my mind!

3. I don’t have any time for it, there’s just too much in my life already!

4. I don’t really need to do it, I’m fine as I am thanks!

5. I don’t do that sort of hippie nonsense, sitting with my legs crossed and all that!

All that negativity gives me the heebie-jeebies. Anyway, any of the above rsound familiar? I bet you’ve said at least one of those. You’re not alone, meditation is misunderstood, but remember that busy mind I’ve unmecically diagnosed? That’s you, that is (I’d love it if you got that reference)! You may think you’re fine but do you really have all your shizz together?

Let’s start myth busting and see if meditation is something you’d consider. Could you learn to create some head space? Do you want simple techniques to help calm you when anxiety strikes? Come this way and learn how to solve problems the easy way!

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The Typical Image of Someone Meditating

1. Ok, so maybe you tried it once or twice and it didn’t solve your bitchy boss problem, or *________ (insert problem here). There are have been heaps of studies about meditation solving all sorts of things – mental and physical things. So when life goes pear shaped, it’s easy to pin your hopes on something you’ve heard might solve it all. However, like most things in life, you can’t just try it once and be all ‘winner winner’! When has that worked for you? I bet you didn’t just take one antibiotic dose and lose that throat infection either, did you?

You have to practise, practise, practise. But first explore and find out what works for you. Yep, that sounds like loads of work but you’re likely to find one that suits you pretty quickly. I know within seconds if the voice is right for me; if not, I change it. Look for beginner guided meditations first. I’ve recommended some of my favourites at the end of this post ⬇️.

2. Now then fidget pants, close all the other tabs on your phone – Yep, thought as much. I bet you’re doing way too much. No wonder you can’t concentrate, you need to stop sometimes and chill. If you had to sit in silence, could you? I doubt it, but that’s not the point. The goal for meditation is to help you cope with life!

You don’t need to silence your mind to meditate. You’re not a Buddhist monk! (unless you are, then I wholly apologise for everything I’ve said). This whole malarkey has actually been researched! They found that people when asked to concentrate on something, say a candle, for 5 minutes, couldn’t. Then they were told to not think about that candle and let their mind wander for 5 minutes. Guess what? They all thought about that sweet candle. I bet you’re imagining a candle now! 😂 Let your mind roam free and you’ll calm it. Silencing the mind to mediate is a total myth!

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Meditation is Not About Silencing The Mind

3. No time for it? Well I’m going to blow your mind right now… I watched this awesome Ted Talk and found out that there’s a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience about this time thing, I wasn’t expecting what the speaker told us. So, our biological age speeds up when stressed and meditating can reduce the rate we age at. e.g. If you start meditating daily on your 30th birthday and had a matching biological and chronological age (Science stuff), something awesome happens – on your 35th birthday you’d have the skin, sight, hearing, memory and sexual responsiveness (yes, I went there) of a 23 year old! Say again???

Crazy – but logically from this research, meditation is the one activity where you get back the time you put in! You can meditate for 1 minute or 10 hours! You can concentrate on that candle for hours or learn a quick breathing meditation to calm your mind in minutes. I use an affirmation such as ‘Everything is going to be okay’ when the anxiety monster bites me. Just as it starts to sink those teeth in, my muttered words start to become reality; I know it’s going to be👌🏻and I can relax. This has stopped me having a panic attack more than once! You can use these quickies anytime, anywhere; on the train, in the office or lying in the dark.

4. Alright, you’re fine are you? Be honest – it’s only you and me! Do you have a busy mind; ever worry over things; lose your rag with your kids or argue with your partner? If you just nodded, raised your hand (it’s ok, no-one’s watching –  unless you’re on that train) or accepted those may be a possibility; you might want to rethink your excuse. It sounds to me like you need some time out, headspace or coping strategies! In a day we have tens of thousands of thoughts, it’s highly unlikely that you really are just fine. Meditation Mindfulness is a great way to take some time to consider what you need and how to get it. I bet after a few weeks meditating, a loved one notices something – an normal argument topic, becomes something you let go of instead! 

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Meditation after Brain Surgery

Meditation in any form, has more restorative effects than sleep. It’s thought to release feel good hormones and free the tension that’s built up over a stressful day. In my case, my pain is often worse than when I gave birth to my 10lb 9oz son naturally (really)! 15 minutes of meditation will reduce that pain to a tight band feeling – I know, right? I even use it after brain surgery to help me cope with the pain and busyness of a hospital ward. Mediation is a very important part of my daily routine; it can reduce my pain and let me write to you!

5. Ok, some meditation is full on hippie (no offence – I love that myself). The four (some say 30+) types of meditation vary in that between and within each category.

  • Concentration meditations are tough – this is where you have one single point of focus, such as that flickering candle and try and clear your mind of everything else.
  • Contemplation meditations are beginner friendly – guided meditations, visualisation and affirmations. Your mind is active and your thoughts roam free.
  • Mantras or Chanting meditations are the typical image of meditation. This involves prayer beads and chanting ‘om Shanti om’ and is typical Buddhist prayer practice.
  • Transcendental meditations are about going beyond thought. They’re usually way out, using vibrations to take the brain from using beta waves to Delta wave (beyond conscious thought). But can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing and being in the present/now.

There are studies that say meditating can heal such and such, but honestly can a medical meditation trial work? The Ted Talk linked above, explains this much better than I can. But as a beginner, if you try sitting cross legged in the lotus position with palms up in ‘om’ pose and start chanting;  you’re setting yourself up to fail. You’ll feel like a drowning peacock with all your beautiful feathers ruined; losing the attention you crave!

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Meditation Myths Busted! Silencing Your Mind is Not Typical Meditation Practice

My point is made now, but these myths are holding people back from using simple tools and techniques to deal with stress, hidden or not, that would ease the impact on both their mental and physical health!  Whatever you felt about meditation before reading this, I hope I’ve made you think or at least chuckle – unless you’re a Buddhist Monk of course.

Meditation can be an amazing tool for calming your mind. So, I’ll just finish by saying this: Anyone aged 3 – 103 can meditate. We all experience stress in this age of fast paced living. You can stay calm along this busy path through life with simple meditation techniques. Don’t be swayed by the myths and don’t add to them! It really is easy to let meditation into your life.

Here are some links to my favourite beginner meditations if you want to give it a go. * These are not affiliate links, they’re just my recommended go to’s.

Guided Body Scan for Beginners By The Honest Guys

Back To Basics Meditation By Jason Stephenson

Easy Beach Visualisation and Breathing Meditation

3 Minute Breathing Exercise

Deepak Chokra 3 Minute Focus Meditation

I use this App which has access to loads of meditations at different levels of ability and the different types of meditation. Insight Timer

Do you have any questions about meditating?

Do you meditate or is it still not for you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings on this. Please pop any comments or questions below. I’m looking forward to hearing if you’re a lover or a hater! Peace my friends!

Chronic Illness Bloggers

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How to Write Awesome 2019 Goals Without Feeling Overwhelmed!

It’s Goal Setting Time. So how can you do this effectively, with a positive mindset? Here are my Top Tips!

 

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Okay, I know there are heaps of blogs out there about planning your goals for 2019, but (and this is a BIG but), there aren’t many out there which give you tips, based on science, to help stop nasty overwhelm and anxiety come knocking.

So, if you’re likely to be run ragged over resolutions; inundated with intentions; in a tiz over targets or engulfed in a goal funk then you NEED to read this post! You can interrupt that cycle of overwhelm and anxiety triggers.

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Why Me? 

Well, I’ve been there year after year. I’d make resolutions that would be forgotten by the end of January and endless to do lists that grew overnight. That was just at home! At work I’d have pages of lists and plans for every second. But, my professional targets would be in a folder until a week before my progress review!

I spent years making lists about lists and overflowing lists of things going round in my head, often keeping me up at night. I’d get distracted and put off doing what would move me forwards and achieve my goals. But now I know how to keep on top of my to do lists and manage my busy brain so I don’t get overwhelmed! You can too!

When Change Was Needed

When I fell ill in January 2014, you can imagine there were no resolutions being made. My focus was all on the one thing that was out of my control – getting better [I’ll come back to that]! I made a conscious choice not to make resolutions the next year, as they’re just too broad for me. I’d put too much pressure on myself, over-thinking and having negative experiences as it felt unachievable!

When I started taking my own business more seriously, even though it was mainly a pain distractor and boredom buster, I still wanted to succeed so I joined a new Facebook group, run by a coach called Josie. I was really excited by what she was saying about living with less worry, especially learning about the science behind my feelings. It was just what I needed to hear! Now I’m going to share some of what Josie’s taught me with you! You can read about what she does here: Worry Free

I soon realised I was still trying to do too much, leaving me drained when my husband and 2 boys needed me. I ended up giving myself just 1 goal: ‘I Will Be Kind To Myself’! I learnt so much about myself, mostly, that my family come 1st – Always! I’ve worked with Josie on my goals for the last 3 years now and each time has been different. From her amazing live videos, small group conference calls and support.

This year I’ve used her brand new Goal Creator download and video, which I’ll tell you how to get for FREE at the end of the post….

How To Write Awesome Goals for 2019 without being overwhelmed! 

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The Big Review

One of THE most important parts of Goal Setting is looking back at what’s worked well for you in the past and what you could improve. It’s really important that you don’t skip this bit! Here I’ll share 2 exercises that might help you. Try it and see!

  • Look back at 3 of your biggest achievements and 3 experiences that didn’t go well (avoiding triggers). List what stands out on both occasions?
  • List all that went well for you in 2018. Do this quickly, without thinking too much. Is there anything from your goals that you didn’t achieve as you wanted to? Do you notice any patterns that could help with planning goals this year?

Finally, don’t worry if you didn’t achieve all of last years goals. You can be flexible.

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Life Choices

Before doing anything, take a moment to think about your needs. Are you thinking how to create what you want more of or less of in your life? Overwhelm occurs if you don’t create balance. This exercise from Josie’s 6 week goal setting course can really help you zoom in on your needs. She explains it in more detail, but have a go!

  1. Roles – family, worklife, hobbies and community/your tribe.
  2. Relationships – family, friends, loved ones and other positive interactions.
  3. Self Worth –  positive mindset/thoughts and how you value yourselfY

Priorities  

You may have a long list at this point. Now narrow it down to just 3 or 4 goals. Try rating these areas from 1 to 10.  This is based on an exercise from The Goal Creator.

  • Personal Growth
  • Emotional Well-being
  • Romance
  • Family & Friendships
  • Self Care
  • Hobbies and Fun
  • Career/Work
  • Money
  • Your own Environment
  • Health, Nutrition and Fitness

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Which of these score the lowest number? The lowest of these should help you prioritise 3 or 4 goals. What do you need more of? What do you need less of?

 

 

What Might Be Holding You Back

Jot down the 3 or 4 goals you’re thinking of. Now take a step back and think of what might be holding you back from achieving them? Have you got any fears or worries?

There could be a few reasons for this. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this goal out of your control? Remember when I said ‘Getting Better’ is my ideal goal, but I can only control some aspects of this. Yours could be ‘Becoming a Millionaire’. But things you can’t control at all, need to go. If you could control parts of it, then make the bit you can control your goal.
  • Is it jumbled in your mind? Is there too much going round in your head and you can’t work out what to focus on?  Too help, can you see how the goal you’re thinking of fits into your Roles, Relationships and/or Self Worth?
  • Is it too much to do? It’s quite possible that in your excitement, you’ve forgotten  these aren’t your long term goals. Realistically is it something you can do in under a year? If you don’t think so, then making this a goal could make you feel overwhelmed. Break it down into smaller chunks and try again.
  • Is something already bothering you about this goal? Maybe you feel overwhelmed by how much you’ve got to do. Or maybe you feel pressure to succeed. Jot down everything you’re worrying about, then come back to it. Here’s a bit of science about Fear when setting and achieving our goals.

When under too much stress, the body’s natural response to fear may trigger the fight – flight response. When triggered, our bodies release chemicals which cause a burst of energy and strength, raising our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. This primal response to fear or stress is because our bodies can’t tell the difference between real or perceived threats. This may lead responses such as – anxiety attacks (flight), guilt (fight) or procrastination (freeze). The Fight or Flight response occurs when we are overwhelmed by everything we need to do. Want more? Click this link

Setting Goals

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Now you should have some clarity on the goals you need to set. However, this is just a taster of the process that Josie takes you through with her Goal Creator training that you can get FOR FREE! So if you’d like more support then check out what she has to offer you at the end of this post!

  1. Write down the 3 or 4 goals you’ve chosen to focus on. Why have you chosen these? What positive effect will working on these goals have?
  2. Write down the steps you need to achieve each of your goals. Include everything that will accomplish your goals, especially the little things that may seem obvious – they’re important.
  3. Use definite language for each goal – using ‘I will’ instead of ‘I want to’. Using this language helps to set your mindset and believe that you will achieve your goal in 2019!
  4. Go back to each step and set a date that you think is reasonable for completing  that step. This holds you accountable for your actions and keeps you focused.
  5. Write down your goals where you’ll see them daily. Get creative! This ensures you’re thinking of your goals each day and will encourage you to act!
  6. Choose a reward for completing each goal. How will you celebrate? It doesn’t have to be a material reward, you can get your a manicure or have a date night, for example. This might seem silly, but it’s a really important part of the process. Josie has kindly explained the science behind using rewards:

The brain loves rewards. It loves to feel like it’s getting somewhere. So, when we reward ourselves for small actions, we are sending positive brain chemicals around our bodies. The more we do this, the more we create these positive chemicals which encourage us to do more of the things that keep us safe and well. The more we do this we are creating positive reinforcement. So the more positive actions we take, the greater success we will have. This will keep you focused, motivated and feeling good!

In Conclusion 

When you have lots running around your head you can get into a negative cycle of overthinking. Having a busy brain can affect both your physical and mental health! Getting your ideas down on paper will help you to stop worrying about everything.

Then you can work around your strengths and create a positive mindset for goal setting. When you consider your priorities you can create meaningful goals, which can be broken into small, manageable steps. Finally, by rewarding wins, you create a positive cycle which leads to more and more success. Now go and create your awesome goals for 2019, without feeling overwhelmed!

The Goal Creator 

Yay – you’ve found the link to Josie’s FREE Goal Creator training, that’s brand new for 2019! Whether you’ve read all my tips or skimmed your way here; It’s a win!

The Goal Creator workbook and video will help you get clarity of mind by getting things down on paper. You’ll be able to move forwards and take small actionable steps to stop overwhelm and lead you to success.

The Goal Creator Free workbook

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How to stay sane when stuck in bed with chronic illness or recovering from surgery. An insider’s guide

Staying level headed with debilitating pain. 

Those of you that already follow my story know I’m no stranger to surgery. I’ve  had my 3rd brain stent surgery for IIH (Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension ) on 15th November. I was aiming to get downstairs on Saturday and I made it. It’s so important to have goals to keep you motivated. I had a family day yesterday too!

But I’m going to be spending this week in bed again recovering, as expected. My pain levels are high today and I had a bad night’s sleep, but I don’t regret it. Days with family are what keep you going . My condition is extremely debilitating but I’m not seeking sympathy; I share my experiences to raise awareness!

Please note: if you have questions about IIH, any chronic illness or mental health concerns; please speak to a trained health professional. These tips are about self care and any advice I share is based on my own experiences.

I shared this selfie on social media, 10 days after surgery. It was youngest’s 13th birthday and I was in bed, fed up that I couldn’t celebrate. The response to this post has been amazing. I received lots of supportive messages and my husband, Joel, was asked at work how I stay sane and positive when I’m stuck in bed for weeks – struggling to get to my en-suite bathroom at times.

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So here’s my guide to staying sane as a chronic and invisible illness warrior! 

  • Don’t fight the pain! I used to be determined not to give in to the pain and I’d push myself to do too much too soon, making my recovery take longer. Now, I try to listen to my body and have retrained my brain to know that it’s okay to rest, This has taken years of making mistakes, until being taught to recognise and change patterns in my behaviour by my coach, Josie (details below).
  • Ask friends and family to tell you when you’re looking tired. It’s easy to miss signs that you’re flagging, but don’t shy away from asking those close to you to say if you look like you need to rest. If someone tells me I look rough I’m not offended, I just realise that I do hurt a lot and may need that pain relief!

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  • Remember your condition doesn’t only affect you. A delicate ecosystem occurs for most familes when someone has a chronic illlness. This means any change has an effect on family life. If you’re the one in constant pain, then your contribution to family life is probably limited. For example, I usually do online grocery shopping and am usually the mediator. Plan for those times when you can’t make your usual contribution. Try asking a friend to pop to the shops or do some jobs around the house, so your partner doesn’t have to do everything!
  • Give yourself time to recover. I always seem to forget how tough living with daily high level pain is or how hard recovery from surgery is. So I tend to think I’ll cope better than I actually can. Now I set myself goals and break these down into smaller steps. E.g restarting your physio or getting dressed before venturing downstairs. Whatever goals/steps you take need to be all about you! This is the time to practice self care! Maybe keep a pain diary or notes after surgery, so you can look back at what has worked for you in the past,

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  • Be honest about having visitors. Let’s be honest, the novelty of surgery soon wears off and friends might get bored with your chronic illness. You’ll probably stop getting as many flowers and cards, but hopefully your friends will still support you as much as ever. For me, receiving a text cheers me up, but having visitors (when you can) is vital! You’ll get a mental boost and it breaks up the bedroom boredom. But, if you’re in too much pain; be brave and postpone. True friends will understand and if they don’t, then you don’t need them!
  • Keep a gratitude journal. I spend time every day reflecting on what I’m thankful for. I write 3 positive things in my diary every night or the following morning, This can be anything and it’s the little things that count when you’re recovering from surgery or a bad flare. Washing my hair, managing to eat a proper meal, having a snuggle with Joel or a giggle with my boys mean so much to me in that acute pain phase. I’d suggest starting getting into this routine before surgery. It’s also really nice to share these with friends or family!
  • Meditate. I can’t explain how much meditation helps keeps me calm in hospital and in the following weeks. I download my favourite meditations (in case there’s no WiFi) on my phone and take my headphones to block out the horrible noises on a ward. They also help me sleep between hourly obs through the night! I also use techniques I’ve learnt to visualise my happy place to lie still during a procedure or anaesthetic. You can read my tips for meditation here.
  • Use affirmations to visualise positivity. Ok, so I know the word meditation may have scared you off, but stay with me! Using affirmations has been the key to staying sane through 3 brain and spine surgeries this year! I also use affirmations cards from TheYesMum  (@theyesmummum on Instagram) daily.

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My coach Josie, from Worry Freedom created personalised affirmations to help manage my worries, which are mainly about how surgery impacts my family. She turned each concern into a positive affirmation, such as ‘I am proud that my boys have built resilience’. I record these as voice memos on my phone and listen to them before, during and after my stay in hospital. They’ve helped me to stop worrying about everyone else and concentrate on my one job – healing.

  • Ask family to spend time with you in your bedroom. When you’re always in bed, it can get very lonely. So, whether it’s snuggling with Joel watching TV, having a chat about the day or watching a film with everyone on the bed; having my family come to me is so important. For example, we ate youngest’s birthday meal in my bedroom, so that I could still be a part of his special day.
  • Entertainment. I’ve always been against TVs in bedrooms (personal choice), but after my first surgery Joel set one up in my bedroom so I could watch my favourite comfort movies. It’s stayed! I rely on my iPad so when we realised this was going to be our new normal, Joel set up Apple TV so I have lots of choice. I’ve also have audible and Spotify so I can listen to gentle music or spoken word on the days when I can’t open my eyes.
  • Bonus Tip – When you’re doing better, but still stuck in bed or the house I think you need a hobby. Many chronic illness warriors craft and this helped me not to feel so lost when I’d been diagnosed. I’d taken silversmithing classes before falling ill, so I began making beaded and up-cycled creations. Now I run my own online business with an Etsy shop. I’m closed whilst I recover, but I’ll be posting more about this as I prepare for reopening. You can see what I make on my social media pages too. ⬇️

Paprika Jewellery & Accessories

Paprika on Facebook

Paprika on Instagram

Paprika on Pinterestl

Paprika on Twitter

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So these are my top 10 tips for managing to stay positive, or at least rational when can’t do anything. But hey, we’re all different and these are just what works for me, If you’ve got the money to invest in working with a coach, do it! It’s all about finding solutions and a good coach can change your outlook! I had counselling after diagnosis, when I was still grieving for the life I’d had. If you’re struggling please talk to your GP/Doctor straight away!

Are you recovering from major surgery? Do you have a chronic illnesses? I’d love to hear about what you’ve tried if you’re housebound or bed-bound. What tips do you have to keep rational and level-headed? 

Chronic Illness Bloggers

Self care: Are chronic illness warriors good at looking after themselves?

Are you a chronic illness warrior?

By that, I mean, are you the kind of person who:

  • Is an advocate for or is a fundraiser for a charity supporting your illness
  • Works or runs a business, even if it makes your symptoms worse
  • Has lists of things to do or achieve because you want everything done now
  • Is there for your friends who need support even on your worst days
  • Struggles to accept help-even not taking a medicine that helps your symptoms
  • Says ‘I’m fine’ when friends/family ask how you are, even when you feel awful
  • Has to be busy doing things that aren’t important; rather than prioritising
  • Doesn’t plan in any time to rest or even just sit still; let alone meditate

If you answered yes to some of these then read on:

We certainly need advocates for all chronic illnesses and doing most of these things likely makes you an inspiration to others. However, where do you come in your list of priorities? Your choice to raise awareness for others with chronic illnesses is awesome, but if you don’t make yourself a priority; you’re no good to anyone else.

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The bullet points above are the opposite behaviours to those in this diagram. I could have added many more examples, but I based it mostly on my own behaviours. In this blog post I’ll discuss my experiences, my understanding of ‘self care’ and the steps I’ve taken to try and put myself first.

Until last year I don’t think I’d really heard the term ‘self care’, now it’s fairly prevalent. I didn’t practice self care and I admit that I still revert to old behaviours occasionally. When I fell ill, my self worth plummeted and when I had to leave my teaching career; I fully lost any sense of purpose. I love helping others and raising awareness. Once I even raised money for 2 charities in the same month!

After 3 years of everyone saying that I was putting too much pressure on myself; I began to realise my self care was pretty nonexistent. Considering the severity of my symptoms; I knew this wasnt good. I was making my symptoms worse and my mental health was suffering too. You can read about a day in my life here.

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About a year ago, I joined a closed Facebook group at the recommendation of a friend. This was for women who ran their own businesses; started by an amazing lady who is a coach and hypnotherapist. This is Josie’s website. She sets a theme most weeks and then does a live session discussing aspects of that theme, such as; what we do to have fun or about asking for support.

She ran a course for us to choose one thing we wanted to achieve in 2017. I started, thinking this would be about my jewellery business. However, I soon realised that everything seemed to be pointing towards choosing ‘being kind to myself’. This was the first time I truly contemplated the cost of my actions. I suddenly saw that by being kind to others, pushing myself with my business and trying to prove I was still independent; was not only bad for my health, but was affecting my self worth.

So, I set my 2017 goal as ‘being kind to myself’, which you can read about here. I underpinned this with the steps I needed to take to reach this goal and even thought about who I needed to help me achieve this. I set up a Pinterest board with related quotes and some feedback from customers. I don’t set New Year’s resolutions, but having this structured goal, was much easier for me to follow. I wrote my goals out and kept the image in my favourites on my iPhone, so I could refer to it often.

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  • I started a diary and only wrote 2 activities a day, so that if a friend was visiting, I only wrote one activity for my business/blog/supporting others.
  • It took a while to add rest times as standard, as I already meditated. I lost my way a few months ago though, so now I write in time for meditation every day.
  • I let my friends support me and a rota of lovelies now put up the positives post in our Conscious Crafties (CC) support group. It’s one thing less on my to do list, but I still write my positives on it, so keep the positive interaction with others,
  • I’ve continued to build on my Pinterest board throughout the year although I needed a bit of a boost about a month ago, but am now back on track.
  • The step I’ve found most difficult is resting on bad days, let alone making this the time to focus on my achievements and ways to continue my self care,

About a month ago, I realised I needed a boost to get me back on track for my goal. I still benefit massively from Josie’s group but I joined in with a group I’d been added to; run by the Anne-Louise. You can find out more about her here. She’d just started a 26 day challenge about improving self worth. This was exactly what I needed, at exactly the right time. I even received a free support call a few weeks ago. This call and the 26 day challenge has kickstarted me back into thinking about self care.

I have now added these elements to my self care regime:

  • setting aside regular time to engage in positive interactions with my husband Joel, my boys and my friends.
  • starting a journal to record the gems of knowledge from the amazing ladies who run these groups, who are generous enough to share their message.
  • writing a ‘self care’ to do list as I process what has been said.
  • writing at least 3 positives each day in my journal, so that I can reflect on my day and revisit my achievements and good feelings on those bad health days.
  • using affirmations to increase my self worth. These are short, positive, statements that you repeat out loud to yourself or write down repeatedly. For example: ‘I’ve got this’ or ‘I am beautiful’. This is still quite new to me and at first I could only say them in my head. The aim is to say them in the mirror.
  • doing my physio exercises every day that I can. I’m adding in gentle yoga and Pilates techniques I already know, to improve my core and help me lose weight.

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I haven’t updated you since my last operation, but it has given me some relief from most of my symptoms. I’ve managed to do more and have reduced my oramorph. Sadly, It’s been harder than I hoped to get over the school holidays  (I knew I was doing a lot, but accepted there would be consequences). Frustratingly, I’m now a week in to a chest infection, but instead of waiting it out, I spoke to my GP when I first experienced symptoms; so this work I’ve been doing is sinking in, finally!

The results from my operation give me hope and I’m starting to plan for a future of less pain. I’m considering carefully how to merge Paprika Jewellery & Accessories  and my passion for helping others. I have lots of ideas depending on how my health improves. I still have lots to learn about self care, but I know my priority must be looking after myself, so that I can give the best of myself to those I want to help.

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Are you a chronic illness warrior? If so I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Are you able to ask for support?  Can you prioritise self care above all the amazing things you do?  Do you engage in positive interactions with others?

What could you do to address the balance between being a chronic illness warrior and practicing self care?

 
Chronic Illness Bloggers