Wellbeing with Your Money

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Money worries affecting your wellbeing? In this week’s blog, we share some resources looking at balancing money and wellbeing.

Keeping your finances in check is a good way to maintain your sense of wellbeing. In the video below, financial wellness expert Alex Holder discusses how changing your perspective on how you spend money can help bring about a sense of wellbeing. You may be surprised as how much financial stress can have on your overall wellbeing.



Another way financial decisions can have an impact on you is your relationships. Having money discussions with family members can be uncomfortable. In an article from Mindful.org, Bari Tessler, a financial therapist, shares her body check-in practice for before money conversations. The practice helps you to notice sensations, emotions and thoughts. This helps you begin the conversation with understanding of other points of view and consider the point you’re trying to get across.


Read the step-by-step body check-in here

If you’re looking for more money tips, check out our own Money Blog for tips on saving, budgeting and eating well for less. Our STEP Money team will be able to give you friendly, helpful advice if you need practical financial advice.


Visit the Money Blog

Building your Resilience

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What is resilience?

Resilience is the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before.

~ source: Psychology Today

How can I boost my resilience? 

In this video, hear about how Dr Lucy Hone’s own resilience was tested and her tips to boost resilience.

What she learned was:

  1. Accept the reality that suffering is part of life
  2. Enjoy the good things in life – focus you attention using mindfulness techniques or being grateful for the good things in life, as we suggested in previous blogs
  3. Ask, “Is the way I’m thinking or acting helping or harming me?”

Creating a ‘Resilience Tree’ 🌳

Drawing a ‘Resilience Tree’ is a good way to think about how strengths and relationships help you to overcome any challenges you are facing.

  1. Start by drawing as rough outline of a tree with roots, a trunk and branches/leaves.
  2. Fill out the roots with things that help you cultivate resilience. This could be relationships with your family or friends. Also think about interests and hobbies; the things you enjoy doing that take your mind off stresses. Are the any particular places and spaces you can go that help you to feel safe and calm?
  3. Add your fruits to the branches with positive things that you can achieve when you’re at your best such as supporting others, clearing mental fog and working towards your purpose.
  4. Fill out the trunk by connecting your roots to your fruits; digging into your roots gives you headspace, a better perspective and clears your mind to make better decisions

For more instructions and an example, check out this Tree of Resilience activity information.

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It may seem hard to be resilient but practicing it over and over again will help you gradually build a more resilient mindset.

Calming Mindful Colouring Pages to Download

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Many of us enjoyed colouring-in when we were younger. However, the trend of mindful colouring for adults had a buzz about it over the past few years.

Mindful colouring can be good for wellbeing as it engages your mind whilst also keeps your hands busy if you’re fidgety. Keeping the mind focussed on making the design look great prevents your mind wandering to other thoughts or worries.

Here are a selection of colouring sheets to try on a range of topics to help calm anxiety and inspire kindness.

Calm colouring 😌

To foster some tranquillity give The School Counselor Is In’s Mindfulness Coloring Sheets a go. Just click the images to view then download/print.

You could also inject some positivity with these positive vibes lettering and rainbow sheets from Primark’s Pinterest page.

Kind colouring 🥰

The British Red Cross allow you to download  free PDFs of their prints on the theme of kindness. These are available in black and white to allow you to add your own touch to the designs using colours of your choice.

The best designs to colour in include Ruby Taylor’s, Supermundane and Timothy Hunt’s.

Lockdown colouring 🧻

Reflect on what we’ve been through over the past year with Belinda Kou’s ‘Social Distancing’ colouring page, which features which features toilet rolls, breadmaking ingredients and Netflix binges.

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Grab your coloured pencils, crayons or felt tips and pass the time with this peaceful and soothing activity. I won’t tell if you don’t stay in the lines. 😉

Relax with BBC Soundscapes for Wellbeing

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In this week’s blog I wanted to share a resource I came across recently. BBC Soundscapes for Wellbeing allows you to listen to the relaxing sounds of nature on demand.

The BBC explain why they chose to pursue this project:

The Covid-19 pandemic has led many to seek refuge in nature and reconnect with the natural world. As poor mental health continues to rise in the UK, and early research suggests the Covid-19 pandemic could worsen this trend, substantial evidence advocates that spending time in nature can help to reduce stress and mental fatigue. Academic studies have also demonstrated the potential for music to induce positive emotions.

When you visit the Sounds for Wellbeing webpage, you’ll see:

🎶 Instructions on how to create your own chill mix using the BBC Sound Effects archive

🏞 A selection of pre-made soundscapes for you to enjoy, from a dawn chorus to the trickle of a steam through the Dartmoor National Park

🛫 If you’re missing going on holiday, take a trip with the Radiophonic Travel Agency, which includes sounds from the entire journey to transport you to another part of the world

With a varied selection of pre-made soundscapes and the ability to create your own mix from a huge selection of sound effect clips, there’s something for everyone’s taste. The next time you feel the need to escape reality for a peaceful world, give BBC Soundscapes a try.

Using ASMR for Wellbeing

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Many people are trying out ASMR as a way to bring relaxation into their lives. It can be a strange concept if you’ve never tried it before. As everyone feels the sensation to a different strength, not everyone will get the relaxing benefit but it’s a low-risk technique.

What is ASMR?

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. The concept relates to the reaction generated by audio/visual cues.

… the experience of tingling sensations in the crown of the head, in response to a range of audio-visual triggers such as whispering, tapping, and hand movements.

~ source

Try it out

There are numerous videos available, particularly on sites such as YouTube, which cover triggers such as whispering and brushing.

You can also try making your own mix of sounds on ASMRion which features sounds such as leaves rustling and cat’s purr.

Watching and listening to these can bring a sense of blissful calmness or tingling, particularly in your head and could spread thorough your neck and arms, as if the hair is standing on end.

You may find that listening to them before bedtime can help if you have trouble getting to sleep.

What if it’s not for me?

Some people may find the sounds in ASMR videos annoying. Others may have an active hatred, known as misophonia:

…this can produce a kind of really angry aversive responses to things like chewing, pen clicking…

~ source

If this is the case, you may want to try less irritating sounds such as whispering or nature sounds.

Discover Joy in Your Life

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Ingrid Fetell Lee’s work centres on finding joy in the world around us. An emerging body of research shows a clear link between our surroundings and our mental health, so she’s became devoted to bringing joy into the places we live and work, learn and heal.

Having conducted research into what ‘joy’ is, Ingrid wrote the book ‘Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness’. The book sets out 10 types of joyfulness:

🟡 Energy – Don’t be afraid to embrace bright colours – they can transform a space!

✨ Abundance – Think of glitter, sparkles, bunting, confetti – these small things repeated bring delight!

🌲 Freedom – Feel liberated and carefree by getting into nature!

📚 Harmony – Creating a balanced environment by overcoming chaos and disorder – such as a neatly arrange bookshelf.

🤾 Play – Play is so valuable for the development of children and is often lacking in our adult lives – do something just for the joy of it.

🧶 Surprise – Be brave, embrace the weird and wonderful – yarn bomb lampposts, cute messages written on sticky notes hidden around your home for others to find…

🎈 Transcendence – The joy of floating or flying such as in hot air balloons, zip lines etc.

🪄 Magic – Makes us question how matter behaves – and wonder whether elves exist!

🪅 Celebration – Moments which are the pinnacles of joy in life with pom-poms, confetti, fireworks, bursting shapes, glitter….

🌄 Renewal – Joy fluctuates, but will come back around. Nature takes over and replenishes.

Ingrid shares key finding from her book in her TED Talk:

Inspired to start adding some joy to your life? Start by tuning into what’s already around you. If you need help finding joy, download a Joyspotter’s Guide to give you prompts of where to look.

Drab, uninspiring surroundings may leave you feeling apathetic. Consider which of the 10 types of joy you relate most to and add some joy to your life. It could be something as simple as flowers in your home to redecorating a room in bold colours you were to shy to try before. For more inspiration, join The Joyspotters Society Group on Facebook.

Managing Your Energy

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In this week’s blog we will take a look at how to manage your energy. If you find yourself constantly drained and lacking the energy to engage in your interests, taking a step back may be a good idea.

Firstly, we suggest reflecting on what energises you (energy gainers) and what zaps your energy away (energy drainers).

Energy gainers

Some ways to help you boost your energy are:

  • engage deeply with hobbies to foster the qualities of enthusiasm, creativity and mastery
  • take proper breaks from your work, which means stepping away from your devices
  • go for a walk
  • do some mindful movement
  • eat well, have a balanced diet and focus on what you’re eating rather than looking at screens
  • get a good night’s sleep, free from technology
  • foster connection to others building the qualities of kindness, empathy and generosity
  • take a short meditation break, such as the one below:

Energy drainers

Here are some things that will result in your energy dropping:

  • scrolling through social media or your e-mail inbox
  • ruminating on negative emotions such as anger, fear, stress or nervousness
  • overthinking situations
  • overstimulation, such as being in crowded places, particularly for introverts
  • distractions preventing you from making progress

We suggest you limit the time you spend on draining activities and make time afterwards to do one of the re-energising activities suggested above. Have a look over your weekly schedule. Is it packed full of drainers with no time to replenish your energy? Look for opportunities to re-energise that don’t interfere with existing commitments such as walking to work, meditating on the bus and dedicating your full attention when you eat.

Building Block Elements: Abstract concept to practical actions

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Sometimes wellbeing concepts can be very abstract, making it difficult to understand how they apply to everyday life. In this blog, we will take a look at how the concept of the ‘building block elements’ relates to an ordinary day. You don’t need to take the concept too literally. However, it’s a good way to consider what you need in life and whether you’re getting the balance right.

Get into the mindset 🎧

Firstly, I’d invite you to listen to the podcast episode below. It give you a little background into what they acknowledge as a pretty ‘out there’ concept.

Fire 🔥

How does the fire element apply to me? Well, we can think of an internal fire as our body temperature. Have you ever noticed that after exercising outside (even going for a walk) can leave you warmed up? The heated glow can last for a while even after you come back indoors.

Another way to bring fire into your life is through experiencing a fire. You could watch a video online and enjoy the bright glow of the colours and the calming crackle, as we discussed in our blog about Coorie. Even without the physical heat of the fire, these sensory cues can help bring a sense of warmth to your body.

Water 💧

Water is another element that we should pay attention to. The water element manifests in your body in the form of sweat, blood, saliva and urine. It is important to keep the water element in balance keeping yourself well hydrated. Try using a water tracker such as the app Waterful (available for Android or iPhones).

Another practical way to feel more connected to the water element is to go swimming. The more adventurous among you may also want to look into wild swimming!

Earth 🏞

In our busy lives, which we mostly spend indoors, we can easily forget to stay connected to nature. What are some practical ways to feel more connected to the earth? A mindful walk in nature can help. Fanatics may even encourage you to walk barefoot to feel maximum connection! Another approach is to go camping and feel grounded as you sleep on terra firma.

The earth also provides us with nourishment. Taking up gardening can help us to appreciate where our food comes from.

Air 🌬

The air element can easily be forgotten about despite the fact it is such an essential part to life. Within the body, the air element is represented by the breath. Some mindful breathing exercises can help if you feel disconnected to the air element.

You may also have noticed the rejuvenating quality of the air element without realizing it. Have you ever used the expression “blow the cobwebs away”? Get outdoors and experience the wind blowing away your worries!

Improve your Wellbeing with a Spring Reset

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Spring is traditionally a time for cleaning your house. Being stuck indoors during the recent lockdown has given more opportunity for clutter to accumulate in our homes whilst also making us keen to get back out and about again. Here’s some ways to take a ‘Spring reset’ which could boost your sense of wellbeing…

Restart habits that have fallen away over the Winter 🌥️

You may have been reluctant to get outside over the colder months. With the colourful flowers and buds on the trees, now might be the ideal time to get outdoors for mindful walking. There’s so much change at the moment with new flowers appearing. Open your eyes and ears and experience what’s around you. Experience the fresh air and allow the joy of nature to distract you from any Cornonavirus worries.

Tidy up indoors 🧹

Due to being at home more often over the past few months, it’s been easy for stuff to pile up. Perhaps there’s a corner of a bookshelf where you’ve been collecting paperwork whilst working from home? Take the time to organise it and file it correctly. If you need inspiration, take a Marie Kondo book from your local library!

“Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”

~ Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Tidy your mind 🤯

With so much extra worries and thoughts swirling around in our minds, it can feel like we need to Spring clean inside our heads. There’s only so much information your brain can hold! Listen to this podcast episode for tips on monotasking, distractions and holding information in your brain.

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful in shaking off the cold grip of Winter. How else are you marking Spring? Let us know in the comments…

Meditation

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If you’re new to mindful wellbeing, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of meditation. You may have some misconceptions about it. In this blog, I wanted to show that meditation is for anyone. Like all good habits, it can take a little up-front investment but once it becomes part of your daily routine, you’ll have a way to escape the hectic everyday life.

What is meditation?

With the increase in guided meditations available, it’s easy to think of meditation as an activity. However, it is not something you ‘do’ but an effect you receive from what you do. Sit peacefully and wait for meditation. The sensation of a blissful calmness is what you’re hoping for. There’s no way to create this feeling, in fact the more you try to ‘chase after’ meditation, the less likely it will come to you.

Getting started…

Where? The great thing about meditation is that you don’t need to be in a particular place or have any special equipment. The main thing is that you feel comfortable and will not be interrupted.

When? Start with 5 minutes for your first session and increase to 10, 20… as you become more accustomed to the practice. I would suggest setting a specific time to meditate each day such as making it part of your morning routine, a wind-down after work or to relax into sleep. This makes it easier to establish the daily habit.

How? Meditation can be done seated, lying down or even walking. Sit comfortably, there’s no need to fold yourself into the lotus position if that’s difficult for you. If lying down, have your legs uncrossed and arms either by your side or your hands on your tummy if you want to feel your breathing. A walking meditation can be a form of mindful movement where you mindfully notice each step. Choose a straight line to walk across a room, ensuring there’s nothing you’ll trip over or bump into.

Meditation is often done with the eyes closed. However, it’s also acceptable to have your eyes open. Just have a soft gaze in front of you. Having you eyes open is a good idea if you’re tired but aren’t ready to go to sleep. Furthermore, if you feel overwhelmed by any emotions that come up during the meditation, opening your eyes can prevent you from getting drawn into an emotion too much by re-connecting you to the outside world.

Let go of any thoughts in your mind. Use your breathing as an anchor if you become distracted. When you notice your mind wandering, well done for not falling down a rabbit hole, now bring your attention back to your breath. The brain will keep thinking, that’s what it does.