Wellbeing Blog

Wellbeing with Your Money

177 Views

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

174 Views

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.

😄
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

84 Views

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.

🖍
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

115 Views

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

112 Views

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

178 Views

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

198 Views

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

144 Views

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

200 Views

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

145 Views

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.

What is Mindful Movement?

205 Views

Put simply, mindful movement is carrying out a movement whilst paying special attention to your motion and breathing. For example, you may inhale as you lift your arms above your head then exhale as you lower them back down.

What?

If you think doing mindful movement means carrying out an ambitious yoga routine, don’t worry. Although yoga is a form of mindful movement, beginners can start of with stretches that are within their ability and range of movement.

If you need some suggestions of stretches, there are some great tracks on SoundCloud. Simply listen to these and follow along with the instructions, only doing what feels comfortable and within your range of movement.

You may wish to take note of your favourite stretches from the various clips and ‘flow’ them together into your own ‘routine’.

When?

There’s no specific time that’s best for mindful movement, so think about what works for you. You may find getting out of bed and doing some stretches first thing helps to waken up your body. You can do some stretches throughout the day, for example, if your body becomes stiff from sitting around all day whilst working from home. I would recommend you leave plenty of time after eating before trying any intense stretches as the movement may divert the energy the body would need for digestion.

You can even bring mindfulness to everyday movements such as standing up from a seated position. You’ll be surprised at just how complex this movement is if you’re not used to paying such close attention, for example:

🦶 you may notice the weight shifting to your feet

🪑 your bum will slowly rise away from the chair

🧍‍♂️ your centre of balance will be completely shifted as your body rises up

As I say with all the other concepts discussed in this blog, experiment and see what works for you.

How to do Mindful Breathing

159 Views

For this blog, I wanted to share with you some simple, practical tips for mindful breathing. They require no special talents or equipment and be done by anyone, anywhere. Try one of these exercises when you’re stuck in traffic, waiting for the kettle to boil or in bed if your mind’s racing and you can’t get to sleep.

1. Feeling the breath in your body

I suggest sitting in a comfortable position for this exercise.

🫁 Take a deep breath in through your nose. Where do you feel it? Do you feel your tummy rising?

😮‍💨 Now exhale through your nose. What sensations in the body do you associate with breathing out? You may feel your tummy falling or feel the air against your top lip.

🛌 This activity can be adapted to help children relax when going to bed. Ask your child to lie on their back and sit a cuddly toy on their tummy. On taking a deep breath in through the nose, watch the toy rise. With a slow breath out through the mouth, watch the toy fall. (For more sleep tips, see our sleep better blog.)

2. Anchoring your attention on the breath

It can be difficult to keep your attention on your breath. This exercise can help you to stay focused.

🫁 Silently say ‘inhale’ as you breathe in

😮‍💨 Silently say ‘exhale’ as you breathe out

You can adapt this activity by counting 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 as you inhale, etc. till you get to 10 or your attention wanders. You can then start counting at 1 again.

3. Counting

This is a more advanced technique that can reduce a sense of panic. Count in your head whilst you’re breathing/holding.

🫁 Inhale-2-3-4

😮 Hold-2-3

😮‍💨 Exhale-2-3-4-5

😮 Hold-2-3

🫁 Inhale (and continue from the start)

Vary the length of each section to find what works best for you. If you feel holding your breath for too long makes you feel uncomfortable, reduce the length of this section. Having an exhale longer than the inhale can help you feel relaxed. If you feel light-headed at any point during the exercise, return to breathing normally.

4. Notice patterns of breathing

“When we check our email, wait for messages to load, we unconsciously hold our breath. And this matters because… holding your breath is something you do in moments of anxiety.”

~ Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Can you notice other changes in your breathing pattern? We tend to take slower, deeper breaths when we experience positive emotions and faster, shallow breaths when we feel anxious or angry. Observe your breathing and consider what triggers and change in rate.

Feel free to experiment with these 4 exercises and see what works for you. Mindful breathing is a great technique to have in your mindfulness/wellbeing toolkit for when you need a little more relaxation in your life.

Does boredom spark creativity?

281 Views

Lockdowns have gave us plenty of time to be bored! Do you think that being bored is a bad thing? Having nothing to do can lead you to make bad decisions just for the sake of having something to do. Those who are boredom prone can turn to drugs, alcohol or excessive technology use such as gaming or social media. Some people would argue that getting bored should be embraced as an opportunity to discover and nurture untapped creativity. Others may argue that you could cultivate this without having to get bored first. Let’s take a look at both side of the argument.

Does being bored make me more creative? 🥱

A bored mind can be a great launch pad for new, creative ideas. Research shows that doing a passive activity that allows you to daydream can lead to more creative ideas. In her TED Talk, podcast host and writer Manoush Zomorodi discusses how taking the time to get bored can lead to brilliant ideas:

If watching Manoush’s TED Talk has inspired you, take the Bored and Brilliant challenge. Try each of the challenges each day for 6 days and see how much more creative you are.

Do I need to get bored to be creative? 🧑‍🎨

In a way, these steps are about removing distractions; the sorts of activities you’d indulge in to diminish the discomfort that comes from being bored, such as scrolling through social media or playing a game on your phone. Even if you don’t believe in getting bored, removing distractions by deleting addictive games from your smartphone is a good place to start if you want to cultivate creativity.

If you want to avoid forming bad habits around boredom, have a list of good things to do and things to avoid. Fun Palace’s Tiny Revolutions of Connection provides a fantastic range of creative activities you could try out (you can find our own contributions on our Tiny Revolutions page). Being stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’ trying to find the ‘perfect’ activity to do can bolster an existing sense of boredom. Jump straight into an activity – trick your brain by saying you’ll just try it for 5 minutes; you may find that after those 5 minutes you’ve started to enjoy the activity and don’t want to stop.

If we’ve got you interested in trying out getting bored, remember to start by making a list of creative activities to try out. Also think of what you want to avoid; you don’t want to do anything that would harm your wellbeing. Following the ‘Bored and Brilliant challenge’ is a great next step.

Good luck in finding untapped creative potential! ✨

 

Sources & further reading:

How to Be Bored by Shayla Love on Vice

Does Boredom Bring Out Our Creative Flair? by Dr Sandi Mann on The Huffington Post

How to take control of your mobile phone usage

267 Views

Do you feel as if you spent too much time on your smartphone? Both Android and iOS devices now come with settings built-in to help you keep tabs on your usage. Check out our tips and the videos below for an introduction to the features.

Firstly, you may wish to shift your mindset. Picking up your device every time you hear a notification means your likely to fall down a rabbit hole. I’ve heard the best way to think about your phone is to treat it like a toothbrush:

You only use it when you’re supposed to, for as long as you need to, and then, you let it go.

Using Digital Wellbeing tools on Android

Android devices now include a ‘Digital Wellbeing’ section in the settings. This allows you to keep track of how many times you unlock your screen each day and how much time you spent in each app. The video below describes how to set app time limits. It also explains the process of using ‘bedtime mode’ which can mute notifications and de-colour your screen, making your device less enticing to use.


Using Digital Health features on iPhone

Similar features are also available on iPhones, as seen in the video below.


 

Experiment with what works for you when it comes to limiting your smartphone usage. You may also want to check out the Forest app we recommended in our blog about working from home.

Tips for Mindful Walking

310 Views

These days, people are going for so many walks it’s become a cliché. We’re all so fed up being stuck inside that we’re glad to get outside! Whilst going for a walk in itself is a great way to take a break, adding an extra layer of awareness to it can make it more interesting. For this week’s blog, I want to give you some tips on how you might want to change your mindset when you go outside for a walk.

Mindful walking is about experiencing the walk more deeply. The best way to do this is to use as many of your senses as possible:

👂🏻 Can you hear the birdsong? 🐦

👃🏻 Can you smell the trees? 🌲

🦶🏻 How does you foot feel as you place it on the ground? 🥾

🤍 Also, do you feel a sense of gratitude that you can go outside and breathe the fresh air? 🏞

Do a rainbow walk 🌈

Here’s an interesting game you can play. It might help children notice more about what they see on their walk or help you take your mind of things.

Whilst you’re on your walk, see if you can find something that is each colour of the rainbow. You may see a red postbox, an orange sign, a yellow car, a green leaf, a blue fence and a purple planter. It may be nice to take a photo of each colour so you can remember your walk.

Where do you like to walk locally? 🗺

There are many great locations in our local area to enjoy a walk. For a short walk within Auchinleck, you may wish to visit The Knowe. The garden is about to burst with Spring colour, so now is the ideal time to visit if you want to watch it transform. Perhaps you like to travel out to the A-Frame site. Another option is the churchyard trails at Auchinleck church. There are lots of options, so please feel free to share your suggestions below in the comments.

Tips on how to sleep better

293 Views

For this week’s blog, we share some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep. Feel free to experiment and see what works for you.

Avoid blue light

The first thing you should consider if you want to get a good night’s sleep is your night routine. If you’re using devices just before going to bed, you could consider using bedtime mode on your device. (Wellbeing tools in technology is something we look at in more depth in this blog.) Too much blue light can trick your brain, which means you won’t feel sleepy at bedtime. Check out this article from the Sleep Foundation if you’re interested in finding out more about how blue light affects sleep.

Calm a busy brain

Having calm surroundings can help as a cluttered environment can stimulate the brain. If you have an untidy bedroom, try clearing everything away. If your brain is still buzzing, try some mindful breathing or listening to a sleep meditation (remember if you’re using a device at bedtime to follow our advice about avoiding too much blue light exposure; you could set up what you want to listen to during the day so all you need to is hit play at bedtime).



Some people also find listening to a podcast or audiobook a great way to take their mind off what they’re thinking about. Have a look in the settings of your podcast/audiobook app for a sleep timer setting (it may have a icon). This will allow you to set a period of time the audio will play before it cuts out.

Finding the right position 

Making sure your pillows are allowing you to get into a comfortable position is important for avoiding waking up achy. Good support for the head will help prevent strain on your neck. Side sleepers may wish to experiment with a cushion between the knees to see if this makes them more comfortable. Similarly, back sleepers may wish to put a cushion behind their knees.

Get the right amount of sleep

The average person needs around 8 hours of sleep per night, but this can vary. Not sleeping for long enough can lead to you waking up tired and wanting to take naps during the day. Too much sleep can make you feel groggy when you get up.

Find out if you have a sleep problem

If you think you have a sleep problem, please check out this guide from NHS Inform Scotland. If you have a more serious problem, follow the advice to contact a professional to discuss.

Furthermore, NHS UK have informative guides on sleep and why lack of sleep is bad for you.

Supporting your Children’s Wellbeing

202 Views

Simple activities can help stimulate your child’s interest and increase their awareness of the need for good wellbeing. For this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday blog, I will describe some activities you can do with children to encourage them to think about their emotions. We are also providing activity packs with the materials required to carry out the activities, read on to find out more.

Glitter shaker

For this activity, you will need the materials from your pack, plus a glass jar (such as an old jam jar you would otherwise have put in the recycling).

When you shake the jar, the glitter and water get stirred up, making the water cloudy. Our mind is like the glitter; when we get caught up in our thoughts and emotions, it can be difficult to see clearly, which impacts our perceptions and decision making. Practicing mindfulness can help us to become aware of this process, create some space between our thoughts, emotions, and reactions, and allow ourselves the opportunity to settle.

In this activity, one of Hector’s friends, a tortoise or his underwater cousin the turtle, represents you. The glitter represents your thoughts. When the globe is left undisturbed, the glitter settles and the water becomes clear again.

Stress ball

A stress ball can be a good tool to let your stress go.

The stress ball is made using 2 balloons and a filling such as rice, which are all provided in the activity pack.

We find that this breathing exercise if a good way to use your finished stress ball: clench your fist around the stress ball and you inhale. Hold this for a short while. Now exhale, letting you of your stress and your grip on your stress ball.

Getting your hands on a pack

This Wellbeing Activity Pack is brought to you by the STEP team, who also put together the Summer and Autumn Activity Packs during 2020. If you live in Auchinleck, please complete the form below. Families in Netherthird should contact Netherthird Community Centre. Packs are also available for families in Muirkirk to collect from the former Co-op shop and Toll Garage.

Auchinleck Sign-up Form
Sign-up has now ended.

What’s your morning routine?

245 Views

Sleep well at night and getting up’s alright

You may be thinking, “Morning routine! How am I supposed to start a morning routine when I’m rolling out of bed like a zombie‽”

If you find yourself unable to get up as early as you’d like in the morning, the first thing you need to look at is the night before. Are you staying up too late? Having a good sleep routine is something we look at in another blog.

Get your brain working first thing

If you need a bit of encouragement to get out of bed, try the ‘Challenges Alarm Clock – Wake up Puzzles’ app. You can configure the app to give you ‘challenges’ to solve, choosing what types, quantity and difficulty suit you.
Download Challenges Alarm Clock – Wake up Puzzles from the Play Store

Use the first moments of the day to set you up for success

Using the first moments of the day to set yourself up for the day can help you get the most from your day. Check out the suggestions in the video below:


  • Avoid bad habits such as checking your phone to scroll through social media or browse the news as soon as you awake.
  • Check in with your mind and body.
  • Ask yourself what quality you want to cultivate today. Consider how your day will look if you stick to your intention. You could write your intention down or set a reminder on your phone to bring your attention back to the intention.

Best activities for the morning

Here’s some classic suggestions of activities for the morning:

read (if you want to get into the habit of daily reading, join the #Read21in21 challenge)
 mindful movement or yoga
journaling

Have you go any tips for a positive start to the morning you’d like to share? Please set us know in the comments:

Mindful Moments for when you’re short on time

277 Views

Sometimes we get so busy that we leave ourselves without enough time to take a break to be mindful. However, being short on time doesn’t mean that you should miss out on you mindfulness practice. Here are some ways you could bring some mindfulness into a short period of time…

<60 seconds: Looking at Something ⛈

The ‘Looking at Something’ site allows you to change to on-screen weather by moving your mouse pointer towards the top or bottom of the screen. You could start off with the pointer towards the bottom of the screen if your in a bad mood and slowly move upwards as you calm down, turning a thunderstorm into a pleasant, sunny day enhanced with birdsong.

Visit Looking at Something (This is best viewed on a PC)

60 seconds: Pixel Thoughts 🌠

You start the Pixel Thoughts session by typing your ‘stressful thought’ into a ‘star’. There is then an animation with calming music and reassuring messages. Sit back, relax and sense your worries melt away.

Visit Pixel Thoughts

5(ish) minutes: Headspace Radio 🎙

These short podcast episodes are a great way to inspire some mindfulness in your day.

Check out Radio Headspace – tap your favourite podcast app to start listening

Everyday Tasks 🍽

By turning everyday tasks into an opportunity to be mindful, you can bring some mindfulness to your day without it taking up any more time.

Good activities top turn into mindful activities include mindfully eating your meals or mindful walking.


We hope you enjoy finding short moments to enjoy mindfulness throughout your day. Soon these short moments of mindfulness will start to add up and you will be able to approach each day with a sense of calmness and intention.

Work from Home Wellbeing Tips

287 Views

Wellbeing can take a back-seat when working from home. Sitting, staring at a monitor all day can lead to a eye strain and an achy body. Furthermore, staying focused can be exhausting. The answer can sometimes be found by making the technology you use work for you.

Get ‘eye break’ reminders 👁

Install EyeLeo onto your PC to receive reminders to take ‘eye breaks’ from your screen. It can be easy to get engrossed in an important task and end up spending too long staring at your monitor. This can reduce your blinking rate and lead to dry eyes. EyeLeo gives you long breaks and short breaks. You can adjust the time between breaks should occur in the program’s settings.

Take a break to stretch 💪🏻

Visit ineedabreak.work on your PC for a 60-second mini-workout. There are a variety of workouts, each with 4 different exercises of 15 second each. Sometimes the exercises are chair-based so so you don’t even need to move away from your desk. The “RECHARGING DO NOT DISTURB” message across the top of the screen lets anyone who wanders by know to not interrupt your break.

Similarly, the New Tab Stretches extension for Chrome suggests a stretch to you each time you open a new tab in your browser. A description of the stretch is accompanied by an illustration to give you a good idea of how to do the stretch. If that particular stretch isn’t for you, a button in the top left of the window allows you to view another stretch.

Keep your focus 🌲

Downloading Forest onto your Android phone or iPhone encourages you to stay focused on a specific task for a set period of time. You start by ‘planting a tree’ which will take a set length of time to grow. If you get distracted and start using your phone during this time, your tree will ‘die’. Use the app throughout the day to see your forest expand and earn coins to increase your tree species options.

Download these websites, apps and extensions and see what works for you. They’re all free to use, so you’ve got little to lose.

How to Make a Kindness Jar

321 Views

The first month of the year is almost at an end but we’ve still got a good way to go till the end of 2021. How do you want to remember this year? If you want to look back on all the positive moments with a sense of joy, I’d suggest you make a kindness jar.

What do I need?

A large jar would be best, such as a pick-&-mix sweetie jar. If you don’t have a jar, a box could work just a well. Perhaps you received a gift at Christmas which can in a nice box you just couldn’t bare the throw away – now’s the time to use it.

You’ll also need some paper to write your kind comments on. You could use anything, just cut it down to a business card size so they can be easily dropped into and picked out of you kindness jar. It’s best to stores these cards somewhere easily accessible so you can write something down in the moment. If you don’t, there’s a chance you’ll forget or the emotion will pass.

Record you moments

Every time something that inspires joy happens in your life, write or draw it onto a card. These could be moments such as:

  • when you laugh out loud 🤣
  • you feel in awe of nature 🏞
  • you have a sense of gratitude 🙏
  • you are the recipient of an act of kindness 💝
  • you overcome a barrier in your life 🚧
  • an inspiring quote you heard someone say or read in a magazine 🗨

Look back

Soon you will have collected a good variety of cards in your kindness jar. Having these moments to look back on is good for when you’re having a ‘bad day’. These moments in your jar can help to remind you that life isn’t always bad.

Ways to Keep your Goals on Track

286 Views

Did you set any goals at the beginning of the year? Have you managed to make good progress towards them? In this blog, I’m going to give you some suggestions on how set positive habits and stay on track if you’re struggling.

🗓 Start a #100DayProject 

This is a perfect choice if one of your goals for 2021 was to be more creative. The idea is simple: choose a creative project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process online. If you want to find out more, watch the Q&A video. Draw a picture every day, write a poem, take a photo… the choice is yours. Further information can be found on the 100DayProject website.

This year’s #100DayProject begins on Sunday 31st January 2021.

📋 WOOP My Life 

This is a process in which you can set a wish, set a specific outcome connected to that wish, identify obstacles and create a plan of how you will overcome obstacles.

If this method of adding a little more structure behind your goals and having a strategy to overcome obstacles appeals to you, you will find resources on the WOOP practice page. There, you will find an interactive section to make your WOOP online. If you prefer to WOOP offline, download (and print) the WOOP kit. You may want to WOOP on the go, in which case download the WOOP app.

📔 Discover a strategy that works best for you 

Author Gretchen Ruben has a list of strategies that will help you set habit in a way which is most effective for you. The strategies are grouped by her ‘four tendencies’. You can take a quiz for free via the link on the page. This will help you find the strategy which works best for you. For example, if you are reluctant to do a task, the ‘strategy of pairing’ means linking the task you don’t want to do with something you’re enthusiastic about doing.

📲 Track habits on your smartphone 

Timecap allows you track habits based on the amount of time you spend on them, number of times you do them or simple check-off.

HabitShare is a good choice if having an ‘accountability buddy’ will motivate you to achieve your goals.

Confetti allows you to track your progress towards good habits as well as how often you indulge in bad habits you’re trying to avoid.

Guardians: Unite the Realms turns habit tracking into a game. The element of having to inspire the creatures in the game will motivate you to complete real-world goals.

All of these apps are available for both Andorid devices and iPhones.

If you’ve got any wellbeing goals you’d like us to help you achieve, please get in touch. We can help you by guiding you through setting goals relevant to your life and ambitions as well as helping you stay on track.

Tips to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

440 Views

At this time of year, when the days are still short and the glow of Christmas is behind us, you may start to feel a little ‘down’. This could be a sign that you are experiencing seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD). We’re keen to share with you this video from our friends at COPE which gives you some tips on staying well at this time of year:



For some people, technology is the answer. Spending time in front of a SAD light box can be a substitute for spending time in the sun on dreich days. If it’s the dark mornings you struggle with, an alarm clock with a wake-up light feature may help. These devices will light up slightly around 30 minutes before your alarm is due to go off, then slowly increase there brightness. This is an attempt to mimic a sunrise.

Ordinary light bulbs and fittings are not strong enough. Average domestic or office lighting emits an intensity of 200-500 lux but the minimum dose, necessary to treat SAD is 2500 lux, The intensity of a bright summer day can be 100,000 lux!

Light treatment should be used daily in Winter (and dull periods in Summer) starting in early Autumn when the first symptoms appear. It consists of sitting two to three feet away from a specially designed light box, usually on a table, allowing the light to shine directly through the eyes.

The user can carry out normal activity such as reading, working, eating and knitting while stationary in front of the box.

~ advice from the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (source)

Remember, if you feel you have a condition you should get in touch with your GP who will be able to give you a professional diagnosis and ensure you receive the correct treatment. More details are available on the NHS Inform website.

2021: Inspiration for goals and how to achieve them

342 Views

If you completed our end-of-2020 reflection exercise, you may be keen to use what you learned to set your goals for 2021.

Setting your intentions

You might be tired of setting traditional New Year’s resolutions. Just as we did with the reflective journaling, we’ll share a list of prompts that you can choose from depending on what resonates with you. We also share some techniques to help you achieve your goals.

Work

  • Skills I want to develop in my career are…
  • New connection I want to establish in my professional network are..

Finances

  • Ways I will get myself into a more comfortable money position are… (Check out our Money Blog for tips)
  • Contacts I will reach out for advice on my finances are… (Perhaps our Community Welfare Champion could help, call 07555 060 664)

Giving Back

  • Ways in which I could ‘give back’ in the coming year are…
  • Strengths I could share for the benefit of others are…

Health & Wellbeing

  • What can I do to make myself fitter?
  • How can I make healthy food choices?
  • How can I find and connect people who I could share my wellbeing journey with? (Get in touch with us if you would be interested in joining our Wellbeing Group.)

This is a good opportunity to use some visualisation. For example, imagine yourself saying “no” to unhealthy deserts, walking to the shops instead of taking the car or taking some mindful breaths before entering your work.

Social Relationships: Friends/Family

  • In order to best help [insert friend/family member’s name] in to coming year I will…
  • Activities I could do to spend more time with my family are…

Hobbies

  • Activities I want to devote more time to this year are…
  • A skill I want to work towards mastering is…

If you’re looking to master a new skill, you may wish to ‘work backwards’. Look at someone who you admire and consider how they got to where they are now. Next, think of how break this into smaller steps you can achieve in 5 years, 2 years, 1 year, 3 months. This can make something ‘impossible’ seem a lot more achievable.

Self-development

  • Ways I will avoid the things I don’t do and don’t want to start are…
  • My number 1 enemy to self-improvement is [???] and ways I will avoid this are…
  • Am I spending my time in the way I want to? Activities I am not investing enough time in are…

Pause to reflect throughout the year

Flexibility in your goals may be important with the ongoing uncertainty. It may be good to set the intention to check in with yourself and change your goals. You could even set one of your goals to be “I will replace one of the goals above with something I have realised is more important.”

Also, remember to reward yourself and celebrate your achievements.

Reflective Journal for the end of 2020

256 Views

It’s been a turbulent year, but this reflective exercise can help you see it in a different light. The video below suggests one way you may wish to carry out a reflective journaling exercise. (You could even combine it with the gratitude journaling we discussed last week.) Don’t worry if the video doesn’t fully resonate with you. Our prompts below help you to customise the exercise to suit yourself. You can also adapt the activity by drawing instead of writing or simply jotting down a list.



Here’s some other prompts you may wish to use. Don’t let the list overwhelm you, just pick and choose what applies best to you.

Work

  • Keys achievement in my career are…
  • My work makes me feel fulfilled by…

Finances

  • To keep my spending/saving in check, I have… (get some pointers with a money health check)
  • Things I bought on a whim that I didn’t actually need…

Giving Back

  • Ways in which I have made a positive contribution to my community are…
  • I balance giving to others with being kind to myself by…
  • Ways in which I show respect for our planet is…

Health and Wellbeing

  • To take care of myself, I have… (eg. physical activity, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption)
  • I avoid burnout by… (eg. self-care activities)
  • Steps I have taken to increase my resilience are…

Social/Relationships: Family and Friends

  • Ways I’ve spent time with my partner/family/friends are…
  • Moments I have enjoyed with my partner/family/friends are…
  • I need to spend time getting more connected to…/Relationships I should prune are…

Fun and Recreation

  • New hobbies I have discovered are…
  • Places I have visited that I enjoyed exploring…

Self-development

  • New skills I started using this year are…
  • My methods to stay productive include…
  • Good sources of learning for me this year were…

Living Environment

  • To make my home more comfortable, I have…

Spiritual

  • To bring peace into my life, I have… (eg. by being more mindful)
  • I have found purpose in my life by…
  • The values I live by are…

Use what you’ve learned from this exercise to help you set goals for 2021. Our goal-setting blog will be released on Wednesday 6th January 2021, which will contain more guidance in setting your goals for the upcoming year.

What are you grateful for?

199 Views

A great way to change your perspective on things is to look through the lens of gratitude. Even when things don’t seem so good, just look a little closer and you’ll probably find something to be grateful for. Here are a couple of activities we suggest to make gratitude a habit…

Make a Gratitude List

We all have tough times when we need some uplifting messages to remind us that there is positivity there. We suggest you create a list of everyday things that make your life comfortable and enjoyable. Think of simple things such as clean water, food, warmth, entertainment or connections with friends/family.

It can also be an opportunity to let your creativity out by designing your list in an imaginative way, including colours, drawings etc.

Start a Gratitude Journal

If you find the ‘attitude of gratitude’ helpful, you may wish to include it in your daily routine. Think about what time of day would work best for you. Some people find that first thing in the morning works for them and sets them up for the day with a positive mindset. Alternatively, you could reflect on what you were grateful for throughout the day just before you go to sleep.

A gratitude journal can be as simple as you want. Simply list bullet points such as:

  • “I am grateful to have a cosy bed to have a safe, relaxing night’s sleep”
  • “I am grateful for the food I ate today (which you could have experienced with a mindful eating practice) and the work of the people who prepared it”
  • “I am grateful for the opportunity to nurture my skills at a hobby”
  • Even if you’ve had a neutral day, you could write: “I am grateful that today was a stress-free and nothing went wrong.”

Why should I bother?

Research shows that keeping a gratitude journal is beneficial for your physical and mental health by reducing feelings of anxiety, depression and stress. It can also help you to cultivate empathy with others and build healthier relationships.

We hope that we’ve inspired you to start a gratitude practice to start bringing some peace into your life.

If you’re interested in learning about more methods of maintaining your wellbeing, please get in touch. You can phone us on 01290 428 474 or message us on Facebook.

An Introduction to Mindfulness

320 Views

If you’ve started exploring ways to look after your wellbeing, you’ve probably heard of mindfulness. This video sums up what mindfulness is and why we need it in out lives.



Mindfulness can be brought into a wide range of activities, some of which we will explore in more depth in upcoming blogs. Just a few mindful moments throughout the day can make a positive difference.

We suggest that you experiment with the various types of mindfulness to see what best suits you. You’ll know what’s working for you when you start to notice emotions and sensations as they arise. The earlier these come into you awareness, the sooner you can act rather that waiting until things feel as though they are spiralling out of control.

How to De-stress Christmas

421 Views

With so much preparation required, you can be forgiven for believing that what’s supposed to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ is the most stressful time of the year! Here are our tips for making the festive month a little more relaxing.

Money 💸

If a spiralling Christmas spend is what keeps you up at night, check out our recent Money Blog posts in which we share Christmas budgeting resources and tips on how to make Christmas just as special without breaking the bank.

Food 🥮

The festive period sees lots of yummy treats that you don’t get at other times of the year. Take the time to savour these festive flavours with our tips for mindful eating.

Engage Your Senses 🕯️

The scent of some potpourri or a Winter-spice candle can help to distract your mind from your worries and give you that warm-fussy feeling!

Take a Festive Walk 🚶

The cold weather can be off-putting but there are sights you can see only at this time of year. Wrap up warm and hit the streets with your family and see how many cool Christmas lights displays you can find. If younger children need more encouragement, make it into a game eg. how many Santas can you spot; can you find a house with green lights, blue lights, red lights etc…?

Take Some Time Out ⏳

Taking just 10 minutes out of your day to listen to a relaxing guided meditation can help you to see things from another perspective. This guided meditation give you tips specifically for the Christmas season.

(Click bottom left for Soundcloud’s cookie policy – the data kind, not the ones you leave out for Santa!)

Looking for more tools to maintain your wellbeing? Please get in touch with us by calling 01290 428 474 or message us on Facebook.

Mindful Eating

562 Views

‘Mindfulness’ is often seen as a wellbeing buzzword right now. Even if you’re new to the concept you may have some ideas what it means. In this week’s blog, I’m going to give you some practical tips to bring mindfulness to something we do (multiple times) every day – eating!

A great place to start if you’re new to mindful eating is by following the instructions in the video below:


Mindful eating isn’t about going on a fad diet. It’s about listening to your body and giving it the food it needs to fuel you.

Tips for before you eat:

💚 Feel grateful for the food. Think about the time and effort put into preparing it.

⏸ Take a moment to pause; don’t just wolf down the food.

🥛 Have a drink of water to ensure you’ve got enough fluid in your system to digest the food.

📺 Clear the area of distractions – switch off you’re TV so can focus on the food.

Tips for what you eat:

🍉 Think about the ‘water content’ of the food. Melons, strawberries, oranges, salads etc. are water-rich and help you stay hydrated. This is essential for keeping your body in a healthy balance.

👩🏻‍🌾 Think about where your food comes from. Try to chose locally grown food. Perhaps you could grow your own or check our what’s on offer from The Knowe Garden Centre (late Summer is a good time to get yummy veggies from there).

Tips for after eating:

Digesting food takes a lot of energy so ensure you give your body time to rest:

🚿 Wait for at least one hour before taking a shower;

🏩 Wait for at least four hours before engaging in sexual activity.

💤 However, it’s also best not to go to sleep straight after a meal as your body will be dedicated to the recovery processes that take place overnight rather than the digestion functions.

Once you become familiar with mindful eating, you may wish to move onto a more advanced version:

(Click the link and familiarise yourself with Soundcloud’s cookie policy – the data kind; not the edible kind)

If you find it difficult to remember to eat mindfully, why not print out this great graphic from ‘Summer Tomato’ and use it as a placemat on your dining table?

The wonderful ‘Mindful Eating Placemat’ from Summer Tomato

If you’ve enjoyed checking out the resources in this week’s blog, why not get in touch? We’d love to share with you more resources to help you learn about mindful eating such as tracking how different food make you feel. Call us on 01290 428 474 or message us on Facebook.

Get Cozy for Winter with the Art of Coorie

340 Views

Coorie. A Scottish word you may think is more associated with snuggling. However, the definition has evolved to mean a way of life. We can embrace Coorie in our life through what we eat, wear and buy. Have a look at these resources about how Coorie can be good for your wellbeing.

This video from our friends at COPE explains the ways Coorie can help improve your wellbeing.



A lovely way to bring Coorie into your life is with a warming fire. Watching a video of the crackling fire can be help bring a sense of warmth without the hassle and expense of a real fire.


This month, wrap up warm, get outside and enjoy the warm Autumnal colours. Coorie can be found in the places we visit but sometimes we need to change the way we look at things.

To find coorie reference points we just need to look with fresh eyes at the same streets we’ve walked down hundreds of times.

~ from The Art of Coorie: How to Live Happy the Scottish Way by Gabriella Bennett

Learn more in the book, The Art of Coorie: How to Live Happy the Scottish Way by Gabriella Bennett, which you can reserve from East Ayrshire Libraries.

Learn more about the book in this report:



Looking to learn more tools to maintain your wellbeing? Please get in touch with us by calling 01290 428 474 or message us on Facebook.

Welcome to Our New Blog

525 Views

Welcome to the first post of our new blog!

We’re building on the success of our money blog (if you’ve not have a look, give it a read!) and launching this new blog. Each ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ we will share a new post inviting you to consider a new wellbeing tool to help boost the positivity and balance in your life. We will consider a range of topics, so feel free to ‘experiment’ and discover what works for you.

This week, to celebrate, World Kindness Day on Friday, I invite you to think about what kindness means to you.

A fun way to spread kindness in the community is by creating a Kindness Rock. These painted rocks have cool designs on one side and an uplifting message on the other. Check out this video to see how to create a Kindness Rock:

Finished Kindness Rocks can be placed around the community or given to someone you care about.

Furthermore, if you received an Autumn Activity Pack, you will find inside it kindness postcards. These are a nice way to share positivity with a neighbour or friend.

Here are some ideas of some ‘acts of kindness’ you may wish to try:

🚲 Walk or cycle instead of taking the car in order to reduce your carbon footprint

🚯 Buy reusable products rather than disposable

🦔 Make places for wildlife to shelter (such as a Bug Hotel)

🛍 Donate unwanted clothes, toys etc. to a charity shop

🗑 Help a neighbour by taking their bins out, particularly if they find this difficult

Remember to think about how you can be kind to yourself and the planet or feel more connected to your local community. During lockdown, we heard about how kindness was important to communities and we hope that can continue into the ‘new normal’.

If you want to learn more about kindness, this video from Carnegie UK Trust takes an in-depth look at how kindness can be embedded in everyday life for individuals, organisations and the government.

I was lucky enough to take part in the fascinating project that was Carnegie Trust UK’s Kindness Innovation Network. It really changed the way I think about kindness and gave me a new perspective on the systems within the government and organisations.

~ Stuart Mitchell, Community Events Engagement Co-ordinator

Our header photo for our Wellbeing Blog is inspired by the fact that one act of kindness can ripple out and spread the kindness further.

Whatever you’re doing this be kind to yourself and connected to your community 🤗

Ready to take the next step in improving your wellbeing?

Get in touch with us and we can help you find the right wellbeing tools for you:

01290 428 474

Message us on Facebook