How to support a loved one with depression

October 17th, 2014
How to support a loved one with depression
If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with depression, we have a few tips to help you help them.

Depression is a very serious condition that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Sufferers will experience a wide range of symptoms, including feelings of isolation, hopelessness, low self-esteem, and low energy.

While depression can be hugely troublesome for the sufferer, it can also cause a great deal of distress to loved ones.

If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from depression, you are possibly feeling very confused and helpless. Your support however is crucial for their recovery.

Below we have a few tips on supporting a loved one who is struggling with depression: 

Educate yourself

Having a better understanding of depression will help you to be more compassionate and supportive of someone with the illness. Unfortunately depression is largely misunderstood – often viewed as a personal weakness or laziness – rather than a medical illness. It is not a choice or something sufferers can simply snap out of. 

Just be there

Rather than offering advice or encouraging your loved one to do something proactive, simply being there for them when they need to cry and untangle their thoughts and emotions is one of the best things you can do. While it may be hard to accept their challenging emotions and irritable behaviour, do not take it personally because these are natural side effects of the illness.

Encourage treatment

Some people with depression may be unaware that they have it, thus are unlikely to seek treatment. On the other hand some people know they have depression but are too ashamed to get help – or are convinced it will get better over time. If this is the case with your loved one, it is important that you encourage them to get help. You may want to go through treatment options with them and go along to a doctors appointment with them.

Depression coaching is another way sufferers can receive support, and is typically offered in conjunction with medical treatment. To find out more about how depression coaching can help, please see our depression page.

View and comment on the original LifeHack article. 

Scientifically proven ways to get happy now

October 14th, 2014

Scientifically proven ways to get happy nowFeeling blue? Take a look at these quick fixes for an instant mood boost.

For many of us, the idea of being happy is a complex one and sadly there is no magical formula to help you become ‘happy’. With this being said, there are things we can do to give our moods a lift.

Maybe you’re going through a rough patch, you’re stressed at work, or maybe you’re just having a ‘blah’ day – either way, there are a few tried and tested methods to pick you up, even if it is only temporarily.

Do something kind for someone else

Sometimes the best way to get out of our own heads and gain a little perspective is by thinking about someone else’s needs. Do some volunteer work, visit an elderly relative or offer some tea and sympathy to a friend going through something difficult. Not only will you help the other person feel better, you’ll feel happier as a result.

Work out

Exercising is a well-established mood booster. Energy breeds energy too, so not only will you feel happier, you will feel more energetic and full of life. Still not convinced? Studies show that exercising can improve the mood in those with clinical depression, so while it may be the last thing you feel like doing – it’s got to be worth a try.

Find your flow

Flow is a term used to describe the feeling we get when we are totally immersed in a task – time seems to stop and the outside world (along with it’s stresses and strains) seems to melt away. Find an activity where you find your flow and do it for an instant stress reliever.

Have a hug

In Western culture we tend to shy away from physical contact, but it is actually hugely important for your health and happiness. Releasing the hormone oxytocin, hugging makes us feel more connected. So next time you’re feeling down, don’t be afraid to ask for a cuddle.

Dance it out

Whether you’re in a bar with your best friends, or you’re home alone doing the washing up – sometimes a dance is all you need to put you in a perkier frame of mind. Find yourself a couple of dance party tracks and have them on hand when that bad mood strikes.

If you feel you could benefit from a little guidance when it comes to feeling more satisfied with life, you may want to consult a life coach. Find a coach in your area using our advanced search.

View and comment on the original Mind Body Green article.

Kat’s Happiness Project – September

October 9th, 2014

Kat's Happiness Project - SeptemberSummer is officially over – what will autumn have in store for Life Coach Directory blogger Kat?

Hello1 is it just me, or is this year moving unnervingly quickly? After a wonderfully long summer, autumn (complete with grey skies and rainy mornings) has definitely arrived. Now the nights are drawing in, I feel it is more important than ever to focus on the Happiness Project to ward off any seasonal-related blues.

September was dedicated to passions and pursuing them, so unsurprisingly this was perhaps one of the easier months of the project. So without further ado, let’s see how I got on:

1. Do yoga more regularly

I am so pleased that I managed to keep this resolution. I followed a yoga programme online designed to help you get into a routine and found myself practicing three times a week (most weeks). Yoga is a passion for me, and making the effort to pursue that more regularly definitely boosted my happiness levels.

2. Take more photographs

While I’m sad to say I didn’t brush the dust off my fancy SLR camera, I certainly made use of the camera on my phone. Making a conscious effort to take more pictures definitely brought out my creative side, which in turn made me feel happier.

3. Read some fiction

D’oh, this one did not go so well. I didn’t read a single piece of fiction, although I did start reading a nonfiction book… which totally counts. I have got a list of fiction books I want to read however, so I will get onto this one soon – promise.

4. Discover some new music

I discovered plenty of new albums this month and as I’m writing this I am enjoying one such album. Music is a true passion of mine, and nothing quite compares to the feeling I get when I discover a song that gives me goose bumps.

Goals for October

In the Happiness Project book, the writer used October to experiment with psychological shortcuts to happiness. So this month I intend to follow suit with the following resolutions:

  • watch a feel-good movie
  • monitor how much I laugh
  • do a good deed
  • have a dance when I’m feeling down.

Catch up on previous Happiness Project blogs.

Why being a workaholic is unhealthy

October 8th, 2014

Why being a workaholic is unhealthyAlthough there are many positives to being a workaholic, the inability to switch off can have its downsides.

Numerous studies suggest being a workaholic can be beneficial – helping to improve personal feelings of accomplishment, experience and skills, pride and self-esteem.

However, in many cases being a workaholic can also be harmful, and not only to yourself but to your relationships as well. Below are four reasons why your drive to work hard and inability to switch off may have more negatives than positives.

Poor health

Being overworked means you are likely to be missing out on sleep, regular healthy meals and exercise. This can greatly impact your health and well-being. A recent study at the Kansas State University, US highlighted a significant decline in health in people who consider working 50 hours per week the norm.

Reduced productivity

Working long hours may be a sign of a dedication and productivity, but actually the opposite is true. Extensive research shows being overworked can affect your energy, concentration and decision making skills.

Neglecting downtime

Many workaholics do not take time out to relax and reenergise and are thus at serious risk of running themselves into the ground. Setting time for things that you love, such as spending time with your family and friends, or going for a run will actually help to boost your productivity, so embrace time off.

Missing out on the important things

Workaholics are typically those who go on holiday to relax, but actually end up checking their emails daily and sitting by the pool answering urgent calls. If you are struggling to switch off while you’re at home with the kids or vacationing in paradise then it’s a clear sign you need to assess your work/life balance. Your family want to be with you as mum/dad, partner, brother/sister – not who you are at work.

Many people struggling to find a work/life balance turn to life coaching for help. To find out more, please see our work/life balance page. 

View and comment on the original LifeHack article. 

The simple things that make your life happier and healthier

October 3rd, 2014

The simple things that make your life happier and healthier Here’s a guide to the simple things you can do to feel better about yourself and your life.

These days many of us find ourselves struggling with the demands of our working and personal life – often to the extent that our health and well-being begins to suffer.

If you are feeling out of your depth and overwhelmed with everyday pressures, you may benefit from the following simple activities which can significantly improve mood and boost health in the long term.

Read books that inspire you

Reading in itself is a beneficial activity for it provides mental stimulation, stress reduction and helps to improve focus and concentration. Reading books that inspire you allows you to escape and find the motivation to make key changes in your life to move forward.

Exercise

Did you know that exercise reverses the detrimental effects of stress – as well as helping to prevent it? Stress can take a toll on our health and speeds up the ageing process, but going for a 30 minute run or swim on a regular basis has been proven to reverse these effects. Aim to get your heart pumping a couple of times a week to look and feel better, inside and out.

Cut down on caffeine

Common side effects of consuming too much caffeine (i.e. four or more cups of coffee a day) include insomnia, restlessness, irritability and nervousness – all of which contribute to poor well-being and reduced happiness. Try swapping your regular coffee for caffeine-free green tea and be careful to check nutrition labels as some foods contain hidden sources of caffeine.

Stop comparing yourself to others

It is very likely that if we did not constantly compare ourselves to others we would all be content and happy. The advent of social media however has made it harder than ever to avoid this behaviour, and numerous studies have highlighted how regular use of Facebook and Twitter can negatively impact self-esteem. Most of the time people we compare ourselves to on social media present an illusion of their lives and not the real thing. Remember this next time you find yourself in comparison mode.

Help someone in need

A great way to feel better about yourself is to help others without expecting anything in return. Charity volunteer work is particularly rewarding and studies have shown that those who regularly volunteer lead happier and longer lives.

Reach out to others

When struggling with life’s challenges, you should really try to open up to others and seek help rather than keeping everything to yourself. A life coach is a valuable source of support and advice for many people facing difficulties. To find out how a coach can help you, please see our life coaching areas page.

View and comment on the original Life Hack article. 

Five ways to cope when work gets hectic

September 30th, 2014

Five ways to cope when work gets hecticWe offer some tips for maintaining a work-life balance when work tries to take over.

All of us have been there – a big work project comes up and suddenly you seem to be spending every waking moment either in the office or thinking about work. You struggle to switch off at bedtime and the only exercise you get involves a short walk to the printer.

Stressful periods like this are sadly inevitable and while in the short term they can be manageable, if you don’t take steps to manage your time and stress levels, you’ll quickly burn out.

Studies have shown that happy workers are more productive, so it is in your best interest to find a balance and remain happy. So, how can you do this? The following tips may help:

1. Talk to your boss

Taking on extra responsibilities and projects can be great news for your career, but it is essential that you discuss expectations and deadlines with your boss. Try to foresee any potential roadblocks and keep your boss in the loop if you have any setbacks.

2. Create a morning and evening routine

Having an established morning routine is a great way of getting your day off to a positive start. Make time for a nutritious breakfast, write an action plan for the day, enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee – whatever you need to do to get you in the right headspace.

An evening routine will also help you to relax and unwind after a hectic day in the office. Dedicate time to relaxation – whether that involves reading a book, practicing yoga or writing down tomorrow’s to-dos. This will help you mentally and physically relax, ready for bed.

3. Get some exercise, no matter how little

Going to the gym may not be a priority right now, but ensuring you get a little exercise will do wonders for your stress levels. Try to increase activity levels throughout the day by walking more and taking the stairs, and fit in a short stretching routine when you can.

4. Allow yourself some quiet time

Carving out some quiet time for yourself can help you stay sane during times like this. Call a friend, listen to some music or go out for a walk in nature to help clear your head. This will help you stay focused and calm when everyone else in the office is pulling out their hair.

5. Make space for creativity

Allow yourself time to be creative. For you this may mean writing, cooking, painting or playing a musical instrument. Even if you aren’t that creative, set aside some time to just have fun – go dancing with your friends or watch a funny movie. Letting yourself be just you (not ‘work you’) will help you gain perspective and stay grounded.

If you think you would benefit from a life coach when it comes to creating a work-life balance, you can search for a coach in your local area using our advanced search tool.

View and comment on the original Daily Muse article.

How to clear negative people from your life

September 25th, 2014

How to clear negative people from your lifeFind out if you have a toxic relationship with someone and how to let go.

The transition from summer to autumn is a great time to reflect and clear anything negative from your life, and sadly this sometimes includes people. It isn’t always easy to recognise when someone is having a negative impact on your life, so we’ve rounded up some questions to help you understand what relationships to let go of.

When you think about the person, how do you feel physically?

Do you feel a sense of anxiety, a sick feeling or any other unpleasant physical response? If you do, you may want to look into why this is. Are there any unspoken things between you that need to be addressed? Or do you feel you have to take personal responsibility for something you have done or said in the past? Take a closer look at this relationship and establish whether it is nourishing or depleting your energy.

How do you feel emotionally after spending time with this person?

If you feel exhausted or emotionally drained after spending time with someone, you may want to examine why this is. It is also important to note whether or not this is a one-off event or if this happens after every interaction.

What does your gut tell you?

Rather than running to your friends or family to help you make a decision, check in with your own intuition. It may seem difficult but spending some quiet time with yourself usually uncovers how you truly feel.

What to do now

Once you have established that the person or relationship in question is having a negative impact, you can say goodbye. When you do part ways, be sure to have a conversation to explain your choice to the other person. Remember that no matter how painful your relationship, all relationships have value so try to part ways with a sense of love and gratitude.

If you want some guidance or advice when it comes to relationships, you may find it helpful to consult a life coach. Find out more on our relationship coaching page.

View and comment on the original Mind Body Green article.

Simple things that make for a happy, long-lasting relationship

September 23rd, 2014

Simple things that make for a happy, long-lasting relationshipWe explore the little things that can help reinforce connections and keep couples happy.

Seeing elderly couples together with 25 years of marriage under their belts can be quite astonishing, but when you look closely often these relationships have survived because of the little things couples do to keep the spark alive.

Below we explore five things that can help to reinforce connections and keep your relationship happy and strong for many years to come.

1) Express gratitude for your partner

In a previous blog post we explored the importance of gratitude – particularly for strengthening relationships. Ultimately, your marriage vows shouldn’t be the only occasion when you express how much you are happy and grateful for having your partner in your life. Make an effort to show how much you care on a regular basis.

2) Check in with each other

A busy lifestyle can often mean communication between couples starts to falter, but happy couples tend to be those who regularly text and call each other during the day. This simple act is a strong sign that you are thinking of your partner and that you care.

3) Work on something together

Working as a team is a great bonding activity, and whether you are training for a marathon, decorating a room or sharing an obscure hobby – doing something together will really help to bring you closer.

4) Support each other’s ambitions

A happy relationship requires a mutual understanding and respect of each other’s needs, dreams and goals. Happy couples care about each other’s hopes, listen to each other’s thoughts and feelings and are there for each other during difficult times.

5) Have fun

Taking life and a relationship too seriously will affect your happiness, and the most content – and resilient – couples tend to be those who are not afraid to laugh at each other, invent their own silly language and take life as it comes.

Life coaches understand that couples may need help at some stage in their relationship to rediscover the romance and strengthen bonds. To find out more about the advice and support they can offer to get your relationship back on track, please see our relationships page. 

View and comment on the original Mind Body Green article. 

Express gratitude and change your thinking

September 19th, 2014

Express gratitude and change your thinking With World Gratitude Day around the corner, we explore ways to show more gratitude and feel more positive.

Sunday 21st September marks World Gratitude Day – a day that allows individuals and organisations across the world to celebrate what gratitude means in a variety of ways.

In particular, this annual event aims to highlight the benefits of gratitude – and how expressing appreciation and positivity for life can have profound effects on our well-being, health and relationships.

Unfortunately, in our busy and chaotic lives it can be hard to find time to give gratitude. There are many moments when we may feel stuck and fed up, but taking time to appreciate the good things, and what we are grateful for, can be life-altering.

Benefits of gratitude:

  • Helps us to realise what we have, which takes the focus off what we don’t. This can lessen our need for wanting more all the time.
  • It can put situations into perspective – seeing the good as well as the bad can help us to feel less stuck.
  • Research has shown gratitude improves stress levels, relationships and overall mood.

How to cultivate gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal – Write down what you are grateful for on a daily basis to help your mind focus more on the good things in life rather than the bad.
  • Switch from negative to positive – If you identify someone or something with negativity, switch this in your mind to a positive trait.
  • Dish out compliments – Giving out compliments on a daily basis will not only make others feel better but will have benefits for you too. You can also share your appreciation of things, such as how nice the journey to work was.
  • Sound genuinely happy to others – If someone calls or messages you, make an effort to seem really happy and pleased that they have done so. This will make them feel valued and will also help lift your mood.
  • Avoid complaining and criticising – Vow to not complain, gossip or criticise for a couple of days and notice how your energy wasted on negative thoughts and feelings diverts to focusing on better things.

Life coaching is valuable for helping you to see the positives rather than the negatives, and develop to become more productive and successful in all aspects of life. To find out more about the benefits of life coaching, please see our Life Coaching Areas page. 

View and comment on the original UnStuck article. 

Walking or cycling to work boosts well-being

September 16th, 2014

Walking or cycling to work boosts well-beingA recent study reveals that those who walk or cycle to work rather than drive have an improved sense of well-being.

Active commuters reportedly felt better able to concentrate and felt less strained than those who travelled by car say researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA). It was also found that those who travelled by public transport felt happier than those who drove.

Looking at 18,000 UK commuters over a period of 18 years, this study suggests we should leave the car at home to boost our sense of well-being.

Of the 18,000 participants, 73% travelled to work by car, 13% walked, 3% cycled and 11% used public transport. To analyse levels of well-being, researchers looked at a variety of factors including sleepless nights, unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness.

After taking into account any external factors (such as income, having children and relationship changes) the results found that those who had an active commute had higher levels of well-being than those who didn’t.

To prove their point, researchers asked a small group to switch from driving to walking/cycling – and participants were found to be happier after the switch.

Lead researcher, Adam Martin from the UEA’s Norwich Medical School said the following:

“Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological well-being. And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work.”

The fact that those who used public transport were happier than drivers was surprising to Adam:

“You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress.

“But as buses or trains also give people time to relax, read, socialise, and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up.”

We all know that physical exercise is beneficial to both our physical and mental health, so it comes as no real surprise that those who exercise on their way to work are generally happier.

How do you get to work? Try walking or cycling all or part of your commute and let us know how you feel on our Facebook page.

View and comment on the original BBC News article.