Top 3 wellbeing tips – May

1. Accomplishment journalling. Write down everything you have achieved so far in life. Sometimes it’s nice to reflect on our accomplishments, big and small. Take time to reflect on how far you have come and how much you have achieved. This isn’t just about money or career – take a more holistic approach looking at every aspect of your life. Have you nurtured some great friendships? Have you completed a qualification? Have you navigated a challenging situation?

2. Basic To-Do. If you’re having a tough day (perhaps your mental health isn’t great and/or you are feeling exhausted), try writing a very small, realistic, to do list. When I have struggled with poor mental health in the past, my to do list on some days would look as simple as this:

  • get out of bed
  • pull back curtains
  • make bed
  • have shower
  • brush teeth
  • brush hair

The act of writing a list and checking off the items can make us feel more in control and help manage the overwhelming feelings of worthlessness/ hopelessness. The list doesn’t need to be long, or contain challenging items, just 2 or 3 things that will help you feel in control.

3. Connect. This isn’t about networking or having loads of friends. As humans, for most of us (introvert or extravert), we require social connections and social interactions to provide us with a feeling of fulfilment and emotional wellbeing. You might get this from friends at work. You might have a close group who you see regularly. Quantity is less important, you may just have two or three friends who you enjoy spending time with. The human connection doesn’t even have to be really meaningful, going to a new club once a week (even a slimming group) can provide enough human connection to feel ‘part of something’. A sense of belonging and connection is hugely important. Take some time to nurture your connections this month. Perhaps you could join a local group? In Oxfordshire we have numerous music groups, walking groups, amdram societies, book clubs, writing groups, parenting groups, climbing clubs… face to face connection is important alongside online support.

Words to live by

A year ago today I lost one of the most important people in my life. She was my role model, my mentor and my friend. I loved her with all my heart and miss her every day. When she found out she was dying she shared her final thoughts on how to get the most out of life.

I read her words every day. It’s easy, living our busy lives, to find ourselves on autopilot trudging through life. She always tried to focus on the true beauty and opportunity presented by life. She loved social media, connecting with people and learning from others, so I feel like she would love for her words to inspire others today. I wish everyone on this planet could practice such compassion.

Love you to the moon and back x

 

”Always be open to everyone around you.                               

Each of us has special talents, so embrace everything that is unique about you.

Be open to learning new things. Be curious about people and learn about their cultures. Decide to continually understand the world around you and expand your thinking, and ways of doing things, to make the world a better place.

Laugh lots, it is the best medicine in life. We create most of our problems by taking everything too seriously. Don’t allow your ego to cloud your judgement.

Choose a career that brings you joy and satisfaction, rather than a job which you do only because it brings you lots of money. Pursue your talent and your passion, not money.

Be grateful. Every night, before you go to sleep, think of at least ten things to be grateful for so that you are smiling as you drift off to sleep.

Remember that everyone in the world is just an ordinary person. Some people may wear fancy hats, have big titles or (temporarily) have power and want you to think they are above the rest. Don’t believe them; they have the same doubts, fears and hopes. They eat, sleep and worry like everyone else. Question authority always. Challenge inequality always.

Live life in the present moment; don’t say ‘I’ll do that tomorrow’. There is no tomorrow, and there is no ‘right time’ to start something new, except now.

Practice self-care. Take a deep breath. Always be kind and go out of your way to help others – especially the homeless, vulnerable, poor, sick, weak, fearful, children, and the elderly. Everyone in life has struggles and needs compassion and love.

Make every day the best day ever”.

                                                         Mamie McCaffrey

 

The coach with… Tourette’s

Throughout my 20’s I decided not to disclose my Tourette’s syndrome to anyone in the workplace, for fear that it would negatively impact my career and change the way people interacted with me/ perceived me. My worst fear was to be seen as weak or vulnerable and I rejected the label ‘disability’. My career and personal brand have been built on my ability to communicate clearly and calmly (traits not often associated with Tourette’s).

 

My Tourette’s syndrome manifests itself through approximately 30 motor and 10 vocal tics. No, I do not swear or shout words aloud *rolls eyes* (it seems the nation’s awareness of Tourette’s stems almost exclusively from a few extreme channel 4 documentaries). In actual fact, the majority of people with Tourette’s syndrome do not swear or shout (not due to Tourette’s, anyhow). I have spent 30 years learning to hide, control and disguise my tics, such that (I believe) the majority of people would not have a clue. Tourette Syndrome is an inherited, neurological condition.

 

Occasionally my Tourette’s syndrome makes me appear distanced, because I am focussing so much energy on controlling my facial tics that people perceive this as being stand-offish. I have had to work at this. It’s tricky to think about what you’re saying, and how you’re saying it, as well as using appropriate/ welcoming facial expressions – all whilst trying to control the urge to blink 300 times or raise your eyebrows repeatedly. Personally, I do not find that ‘letting them out’ helps. This actually makes it worse for me. There are days (for example when I’m delivering an emotionally intense training course) where I need to spend 10 minutes during my lunch break sitting down, alone, with my eyes closed, in order to calm my motor tics before the afternoon session commences. Controlling tics is exhausting and I have to practice a lot of self-care in order to manage the associated fatigue.

 

Despite the challenges, in many ways it has enhanced my skill set, enabling me to develop and refine advanced mindfulness, breathing and emotion management techniques. My own experience enables me to better empathise with anyone going through a daily, invisible, struggle (often alone), such as anxiety or depression, which I believe makes me a better coach and trainer. I am also able to understand those with strong control tendencies and preferences. Finally, I connect well with those who find large groups overwhelming, tiring and over-stimulating (often, but not always, introverts). I spent time on Haloperidol (a strong anti-psychotic drug) when I was a teenager, in the hope that this would help. It did, a bit, but the side effects were so extreme that I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.

 

When I mentioned to some of my family that I was going to write a blog post about my Tourette’s syndrome a few of them said, ’are you sure that’s a good idea, people might not understand it and then decide they don’t want to work with you’. To be honest, I have reached a point in my life now where I think, fine, if you don’t want to work with me because I have Tourette’s syndrome, then you are probably not the kind of client I want to work with; I suspect we don’t share similar values. I know I am good at what I do.

 

I think it’s time that I start practicing what I preach and encourage people to be open and honest (where possible and appropriate) to help educate, break down barriers and remove stigma.

 

If you would like to learn more about the condition, or if you have it yourself and would like to share your story with me or ask any questions, please feel free to message.

 

 

 

Top 3 wellbeing tips – Jan

1. Buy a notebook. Invest in one you really like (be it the pattern, style, feel etc.). Use this notebook to write down what you are grateful for, what makes you smile and/or what you have learnt. Try to aim for one thing per day. They don’t have to be big things and you can repeat yourself. Here are some examples from my own book this week:

  • The sunshine on my face whilst out walking made me smile
  • Sleepy cuddles with my baby girl, post-nap
  • A really crunchy, sweet apple made me surprisingly happy (it’s the little things)!
  • I learnt the parenting hack ‘let’s do teamwork’ (life saver with toddlers)
  • Grateful to have such amazing friends in my life
  • The sunset over the river this evening was incredible

There are some books on the market that set out a template for you, such as this, but to be honest any notebook will do.

2. Think of food as fuel. We are essentially highly complex, intelligent, emotional machines who need fuel to function. The better the fuel, the higher the performance (mental and physical). This doesn’t mean you can’t have sugar or carbs, it just means think about what you’re having and whether that will give you the desired outcome. For example, if I am hoping to have a highly productive day (in the office, doing housework or at the gym) I will choose the best fuel possible to achieve the energy levels required. In my case, I know that refined sugar does not equal a productive day!

It’s not for everyone but I sometimes enjoy Huel for lunch when I’m out and about, this way I know I’m getting the best fuel whilst I’m working.

3. Spend 10 minutes per day out walking in the sun. Obviously this can be longer, but try to get out for at least 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter how fast you walk, or how far you go. If possible, walk somewhere with trees, water, flowers or grass. Even on a grey day the light on your face, combined with the movement, will boost your mental and physical health.