I was brought up believing that my Grandad was a butterfly.
I remember having lots of hot Ribena when I was studying for my GCSEs.
I scoffed packets of midget gems in my A level Art exam, to help me cope with my nerves.
Food can have a major impact on how we feel and, more often than not, we’re trained to reach out to certain foods when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
It’s not your fault
What you don’t realise is, that it’s not your fault.
So much of the food you eat and the drinks you have are filled with added sugars and sweeteners, which can affect your mood and your outlook.
Some of the ‘hidden nasties’ include:
- Aspartame (E951) – this can cause high blood pressure, seizures, depression, numbness, aching muscles and dizziness. It’s currently in over 6000 food products available to us.
- Sucralose (E955) – it’s sold under the brand name Splenda. Scientific tests show it shrinks the thymus gland and enlarges the liver and kidneys, it reduces growth, decreases red blood cell count and causes diarrhoea.
- Acesulfame K (E590) – stimulates insulin which causes hypoglycaemia after a low calorie intake. This means it’ll give you low blood sugar levels, which can make you feel clumsy, confused, sweaty or shaky, to name but a few!
- Saccharin (E954) – this was an ‘anticipated human carcinogen’ for many years. Studies claimed it could cause cancer, others claimed it couldn’t. It’s up to you what you believe. It’s up to you if you want to consume it. Saccharin also causes irritability, insomnia, headaches, itching and diarrhoea.
So, if you’re revising and you want to reach out for a comforting food, just check the label first.
All the high energy drinks out there might keep you awake and focused, but they could be adding to your insomnia and irritability.
That packet of sweets that seem to calm you down, could have an ingredient in it that will add to your mood swings and panic attacks.
It’s your body, do what’s right for you
Most people glare at me when I tell them this information. I was the same when I found out. All the happy memories associated with my favourite sweets and treats felt like a big fat lie. I didn’t know that they could do so much damage.
It took practise to break free from the trap and I can happily say, that I no longer enjoy the sweets that I used to go to in times of need.
Instead, I’ve trained my taste buds to savour dark chocolate, or crisps with just a few key ingredients. Fruit is my sugar hit and I know that in times of stress, slow-releasing carbs will serve me well.
Everyone is different when it comes to what they need, but the key is to listen to your body.
Try some of these stress-busting foods to feel good:
- Green veg, potatoes, fresh fruit, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, dairy products, seafood, lean meat, liver, kidneys, poultry, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Why? Because the B vitamins will help release the energy you need to focus and will keep your nervous system healthy.
- Fresh fruits – especially citrus fruits and blackcurrants, and fresh vegetables. Why? To help keep your body healthy and keep those bugs at bay.
- Wholemeal bread, brown rice, pulses, oats, wholewheat pasta and potatoes. Why? They’ll boost your energy levels and keep them consistent, so you won’t get sugar cravings, or low moods. And they’ll help keep your mind calm.
I’ve been contacted by lots of single parents who are worried about Christmas. Some are juggling everything alone. Others want to be with their children, but the children are with the other parent.
So, the wonderful Daniel Sherwin from www.DadSolo.com has written this article to help single parents get some much-needed self care.
Parents in general have a lot on their plates. But as a single parent, sometimes it can seem as though your plate is overflowing.
Your sole focus is the needs and wants of your children. So, what happens when your own needs fall by the wayside?
We all need a little self-care to stay happy, healthy and stress-free, but you might be wondering how in the world to find time to do so. Life is busy, and so are you. Please take some time to read over these simple tips to bring the C back in TLC.
Don’t Stretch Yourself Thin
We’ve all wished we could be like Elastigirl from the movie The Incredibles, so that we could simultaneously cook dinner while loading a pile of laundry. Unfortunately, it is impossible to be in two places at once. Trying to do so is a recipe for disaster. Everyone has a limit, although you are likely constantly pushing yours. Doing too much causes stress and unintended consequences, such as completely spacing on the school bake sale or neglecting your own health appointments.
For starters, take a moment to identify the signs that you have reached your limit. Perhaps you snap at the littlest thing, or find yourself withdrawing due to overwhelming feelings of depression. Then there’s the guilt that you can’t handle everything on your own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for help.
It can be hired help, or simply asking for a friend, family member or church member to help out in a small way. You could ask them to watch your child while you tend to your own needs, whether that is finally getting a check up or meeting a friend for lunch. Take advantage of the help that is there and run with it. Sit down and create a list of everything that needs to be done for the week. Then designate what tasks can be delegated and which ones are a priority.
Focus on De-stressing
We’re often so focused on how stressed we’re feeling, that we forget we have the power to do something about it. All that time you spend worrying and stressing about stressing can be spent elsewhere. There may be days when you have the entire day to yourself, but often self-care will come in increments, so the key is to make the most of it.
This could mean taking a quick power nap, working out, meditating or taking a hot bath at the end of the day. Take advantage of times when the kids are asleep, in school, at extracurricular activities, or watching that movie for what seems like the one-millionth time. You can even involve your kids in your self-care efforts by going for a walk, reading a book or spending quiet time colouring together.
Sometimes all the time in the world isn’t enough to meet your self-care needs. But the least you can do is make sure your home promotes a calm environment. A chaotic house creates a chaotic mind, so do your best to de-clutter and have the kids help too.
Create a spot that is a clutter-free, worry-free zone for you to retreat to when you find yourself getting overwhelmed. It can be a room or even a comfy chair in a secluded corner, but it is your space that you can fill with whatever brings you a sense of calm. This could be soothing candles, a thoughtful painting or a secret stash of your favourite chocolate.
Being a single parent can be tough, but being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences.
Take comfort in knowing that there are people willing to help and that it is possible to find time for yourself. At the end of the day, you have the love of your kids, and that’s enough.
I’ve always loved Wonder Woman, so I was over the moon when my eldest asked to see the latest film as part of his birthday celebrations.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Wonder Woman is someone who knows her talents and gifts and follows her own heart.
This is something I believe children are talked out of from an early age. Us parents need them to be able to act and behave in a certain way to help us deal with daily life and set a routine. Any tantrum, outburst and refusal to go to sleep when we want them to is quickly dealt with.
This ends up with children who don’t listen to their own body which can tell them when they’re tired, hungry or how it’s feeling. They place their self worth in the hands of others. They feel loved only when given external feedback and find it hard to see love for themselves.
Some schools can be rigid, thanks to the outdated education system.
Some kids feel like it’s a prison, because children are taught to be quiet, sit still and get a sense from an early age that they’re ‘not good’ at certain topics. They’re not given the chance to be creative, find their own special gifts and celebrate their uniqueness.
The kids I coach all feel like they’re not good enough.
They can list everything they do wrong, every negative comment that’s ever been said to them and every subject they struggle with. If a teacher or parent tells them they’re not good at a subject, they use this as evidence for life. I’ve had teenagers facing maths GCSEs telling me that they’re going to fail because a primary school teacher told them they’re not good at maths.
Students compare themselves to others based on grades and looks and always end up feeling inadequate, because so and so is more intelligent or prettier. They’re blind to their own skills and talents. They go on a diet as young as 7 because they’ve been told they’re too fat.
Wonder Woman faces fear and does what she can to put things right, by choosing love.
So many people hold themselves back and don’t go for their dreams due to fear of failure, or fear of success.
We doubt our own strength and live behind the shadows of fear, too scared to stand up for what we believe in. Too scared to love ourselves.
The kids I work with are scared of the future, scared they’ll fail their exams, scared they’ll make a mess of their life – and they’re scared no-one really loves them.
They’ve picked up on the fears and self doubt us adults have.
So, how can we all be like Wonder Woman?
Here are 5 tips to try:
- Own your power. Jot down the reasons it’s good to be you. Be honest. Everyone has unique gifts and talents, so what are yours?
- Find out what makes you happy. Do you really know? Are you just plodding through life following your routine without questioning why you’re doing what you’re doing? I have a list of 100 things that make me happy and I aim to do three of them every day.
- Be creative. Creative activities open up your mind and help you see solutions instead of problems. They help you relax and stop those negative mind monkeys that can tell you you’re not good enough.
- Face your fear. What if you knew that you couldn’t fail at something? Would you go for it? If so, then go for it anyway. What’s your definition of failure? If it’s crippling you from taking action and living the life you deserve, think of ‘failure’ as feedback and keep on going for your dreams.
- Choose love. In any situation, choose to see the best in it. There is a balance of light and dark, love and fear in this world. Whatever you choose to see, that’s what you get more of. Be kinder to yourself and others, forgive yourself and trust that you’re doing well. Every day think of those who you love and who love you in return.
I left watching Wonder Woman feeling empowered.
Knowing that we all have our own unique power that is ready and waiting for us to use. Wonder Woman faced a battle, to end all wars.
We face a battle – to end the war inside of us and choose to know that we are each wonderful in our own unique way.
In the run up to Valentine’s Day the shops go crazy, trying to sell you items that will make you or your loved one feel loved.
I remember, as a teenager that my Maths teacher told us he refused to buy his wife a card on Valentine’s Day. We were shocked. He said that he didn’t want to be told when to love his wife because he loved her all the time. He wanted to show her this love when it was right for him.
As I look at my kids I want to show them each day how much I love them.
I want to show my husband how much I love him. But, as a coach I’ve realised that it’s not my job to make them feel loved. That’s their job.
Yes, I can help them feel loved and of course I want to do that, but the only way they can actually feel loved is to start with loving themselves.
My 7 year old son has been going through a tough time again. Every day he tells us that he doesn’t deserve to be loved, or happy, or have friends.
Every day I tell him that we love him, but it’s falling on deaf ears.
The spiritual teacher Abraham Hicks often states that ‘words don’t teach’. Action does.
So, I give my kids cuddles every day. I smile at them, I make eye contact as often as I can. I do what I can to show them that they are indeed loved.
But kids learn from observation. Adults are their role models.
How many parents out there truly love who they are?
Can you look in the mirror and love who you see? Or are you focused on the bits you want to change?
So, if you want to show your loved ones how much you love them you have to start by loving yourself.
If you want a better relationship with your partner, you have to love yourself. If you want to attract an ideal partner you have to love yourself.
Think about it.
When I was a teenager I had a series of rubbish relationships. Cheated on, I became jealous, paranoid and felt unworthy of love. I didn’t like who I was, so I was getting the men in my life to reinforce that belief.
In my 20s I decided that I’d had enough and I focused on finding out more about me. What was I good at? How could I enjoy life? Were there things I liked about myself?
Once I could answer these questions I met my soulmate.
Our relationship is a good one. It’s not like the ending of a Disney movie, it’s better. I don’t need to be swept off my feet because I can do it myself. Any time I feel like I’m not getting the love or attention I want, I know it’s down to me. I take time out to remember what I’m good at and to appreciate who I am.
I used to think that this behaviour was selfish, arrogant or big-headed.
It’s like putting your oxygen mask on first, so that you can then help others.
So, if you need some love this Valentine’s Day I’d encourage you to chill out and focus on you. Remind yourself what makes you happy and do it. Look at what’s good about being you and celebrate it. Appreciate who you’ve become and accept your uniqueness.
Only then can you get the love that you deserve.
Happiness tips from the opposite sex
Please don’t lynch me for choosing to include a chapter on men for my book ‘The Happy Woman: What You Can Learn from Kids, Dogs and Men.’
And I do want to make it clear that my research or my own personal observations are the focus of the chapter. I don’t want to come across as making horrible stereotypes.
We’re all different in our own unique way.
But, there are generalisations that fit men.
On the whole women have a higher risk factor of being depressed. It’s women who are most likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Despite efforts across the globe to give women equality, we’re still not on a par with men when it comes to earning top salaries or holding top positions.
So, I was fascinated by this and wanted to dig deeper.
And I loved what I found out.
Therefore, I’ve created a short animation sharing my favourite lessons and happiness tips from men.
I hope you like it and if you do please share it with your friends.
Oh and don’t forget, you can get your FREE chapter of ‘The Happy Woman: What You Can Learn from Kids, Dogs and Men.’
And if you do go ahead and buy the book – I want to make it clear that I know many men who love to clean the house!
There’s lots of articles appearing about kids suffering from anxiety.
Some people don’t believe it even exists. Others blame the parents because kids are told they’re great, aren’t taught to compete and then fail, thinking they’re rubbish. Let me set the record straight from my point of view.
Kids do get anxiety.
I’m coaching kids at 8 years old who are anxious. I know kids younger who suffer from it.
I don’t believe that the reason they are anxious is because they’re spoilt/praised too much. There is psychological research to show that if you praise a child’s result – such as an exam result, a painting they’ve done, or something they’ve made then they can rely on more praise to feel good about themselves. Whenever they don’t get that praise they’ll then feel low.
So, if you’re going to praise a child then praise the effort, because that’s what society is built on – trying, failing and trying again.
That way they’ll feel good about themselves for trying.
However if we lived in a world where kids were taught to compete and compare and weren’t given praise then that would make things ten times worse!!
The reason kids are anxious is because they’re already comparing themselves to others. They don’t feel like they’re good enough. We’re all focused too much on achieving and comparing. That’s why kids are anxious. They’re taught that they’re not good enough if they get a ‘B’ in Maths, if their best friend gets an ‘A’. OMG!!
What about the things they are good at?
We DO need to build our kids up, but we need to teach them that ‘failing’ is part of life and makes us stronger.
We need to let them fail LOTS in school. That way the anxiety around their ‘worth’ as a person can be tackled.
If you’ve got a child, or you’re a teenager suffering from anxiety or low self esteem then my fun books can help you.
So far, I’ve got the one for teenagers sorted and am now working on a one for kids.
I care about this SO much.
‘I don’t believe it’ (Luke)
‘That is why you fail’ (Yoda)
Failure gets a rough ride. You’re scared to fail because there are so many negative connotations attached to it.
I used to feel like a failure LOTS, until I realised that there is really no such thing as failure.
If you’ve ever seen a baby learn to walk, at first they’ll fall on their bum more than they can walk. Yet we don’t tell them they’re failures, because we know they’re going to walk in their own time. With each step they’re learning.
And that’s what you’re doing. Every moment of every day you’re growing as a person, evolving and learning.
The things you think of as failures are lessons and probably the most important ones.
When I look back to my time as a teenager I realise the things I thought of as failures – the failed relationships, the failed subjects – they all taught me what I wanted in life, what I didn’t want and that I had the strength within me to go for my dreams.
As a mum, I’ve often felt like I’m failing my kids. But at these times, I’ve learned that I can’t control their happiness or them – we are each individuals, in charge of ourselves.
There’s a cheesy saying ‘there’s no such thing as failure, only feedback’ and that’s what I want you to look at your so-called failures as. Feedback. For you to learn from and to grow from.
So, if you’re putting pressure on yourself not to fail, then please don’t. Yes, I know that exam results are important. But they’re not a measure of your worth as a person. Everyone fails. Yet, everyone is special and talented in their own unique way. That’s what makes life so great.
When you feel like you’ve got too much to do, you don’t have time to spend hours meditating, master tough yoga poses or get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
But there are still key things that can boost your health and happiness, when you’re short of time.
Here are my top three rituals:
- Meditate – even if it is just for three minutes a day, do it daily. There are some great apps you can get on your phone such as Buddhist meditation, Headspace and Buddhify. I also use YouTube either during the day, or a guided meditation as I fall asleep. Meditation helps you get rid of stress, anxiety and depression. It helps you sleep better and live longer. It also teaches you to live in the moment and be happier. Here are my very own short meditations just for you.
- Move – if you don’t enjoy ‘exercise’ you will enjoy moving your body in some way. I love walking, swimming and yoga as they help me maintain my fitness levels without wrecking my joints. Move every day and try to get stronger and more flexible with it. Exercise helps your body and your mind.
- Love and laugh – a cuddle and a giggle can really solve most things. Deep down we all want to be loved more. I went through a really tough time with the behaviour of my eldest. He became more and more aggressive, no matter what we did. I started to remind him every single day how much I loved him and made an effort to cuddle him at least once an hour and his anger and aggression melted away almost instantly. When you start to love yourself you begin to treat your body better and your confidence improves. Cuddle your family and friends and your relationships will improve. If you laugh every day by taking time out to play, have quality ‘me time’ or watch a favourite comedy, you’ll melt away your stress and produce more happy hormones.
So, now it’s your turn. What are you going to try to do this week? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below or on social media.
When you believe in yourself life is great!
Therefore, looking back at the time I’ve had since being a teenage girl to now – the times when things went ‘bad’ were the times I doubted myself and didn’t think I was good enough. As a result, I didn’t believe in myself and I was miserable.
And I have a feeling you’re the same.
You’re scared of failing, scared of letting others down and of not being good enough.
Because you’re amazing just as you are.
So, I’d like to share 3 simple things to do to start believing in yourself:
- Start a success journal. Write in it each day, making a note of everything you’ve done well that day. It can be big, or small. This acts as a daily reminder to help you realise you’re fab.
- Look in the mirror and say in your head (or out loud if you’re brave enough) ‘It’s good to be me.’ Repeat every day! This helps you focus on the best bits about you.
- Do things each day that make you happy. Whether you like singing, dancing, drawing, chatting with your friends, chilling out in front of Netflix – just do it! When you feel happy you feel good from the inside out and you don’t doubt yourself.
Since these are all something you can do NOW – which one will you try first?