The Mental Health Impact of Hong Kong’s Mask-Free Policy on Children

The Mental Health Impact of Hong Kong’s Mask-Free Policy on Children

After months of waiting, Hong Kong is now mask free from the 1st March. This is good news for the citizens of Hong Kong and children in particular, who have been living with mandatory masks for over three years. With the lifting of this policy, children can now see their friends’ faces for the first time in years—and that has both positive and negative implications on their mental health. Let’s explore how this will affect them. 

The Positive Effects of Going Mask-Free

The most obvious benefit to children being able to go mask free is the joy of seeing their classmates’ faces after such a long time. Seeing familiar faces and being able to interact with them can help boost children’s moods, build relationships, and create a sense of comfort and security in the classroom  . Additionally, going mask-free can help reduce stress levels that have likely been heightened by having to wear masks every day for over three years. Knowing they are no longer required to do so can bring an immense sense of relief to many students—especially those who may have struggled with wearing masks due to sensory issues or allergies. 

The Negative Effects of Going Mask-Free 

On the other hand, there could also be some negative effects associated with the lifting of this policy as well. For example, some students may struggle with feeling overwhelmed when faced with direct eye contact or conversations after so long without it. They may also feel anxious or self-conscious about speaking up or engaging in class if they’ve grown accustomed to hiding behind a mask for so long. In addition, kids may need extra support if they find themselves struggling with feelings of guilt or shame due to a perceived lack of effort during pandemic times compared to their peers who were able to socialize more freely while wearing masks was mandatory everywhere else but at school. 

Overall, while it’s certainly wonderful news that Hong Kong is going mask-free from now onwards and children will finally get to see their friends’ faces again after so long apart, parents and teachers need to remain cognizant of potential mental health issues related to this transition period and be prepared to provide additional support if needed. By keeping an open dialogue and modeling positive behaviors in the classroom environment, we can ensure our kids not only adjust but thrive in these new circumstances!

Anoush Davies

MSc

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

25 Great Ideas to Celebrate Kindness Today

25 Great Ideas to Celebrate Kindness Today

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” 

– Barbara De Angelis

By performing random acts of kindness, we not only brighten someone else’s day but also enrich our own life. This is the ideal day if you have been meaning to do something kind for someone but have been putting it off.

❤️ See below some great ways to be kind to somebody:

  1. Compliment the first three people you talk to.
  2. Write a hand-written note to your partner or child
  3. Say good morning to the person next to you in the coffee shop.
  4. Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a long time
  5. Pick up litter. Spend 10 minutes cleaning a park/beach or your neighbourhood.
  6. Place uplifting notes in library books, mirrors or on someone’s computer screen.
  7. Dedicate 24 hours to spreading positivity on social media.
  8. Surprise your neighbour/friend with some freshly cooked snacks or meal
  9. Go out of the way to make someone smile
  10. Leave a generous tip
  11. Give someone a genuine compliment.
  12. Send flowers to someone.
  13. Visit a dog or a cat in an animal shelter
  14. Donate for a good cause
  15. Write a positive review or recommendation for someone who provided good services for you
  16. Listen to someone empathetically 
  17. Set an alarm to go off three times on World Kindness Day. When the alarm sounds, stop what you’re doing a call/text/email someone simply to tell them how awesome they are
  18. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line
  19. Learn the names of your office security guard, the person at the front desk and other people you see every day. Greet them by name.
  20. say “hello” to strangers and smile.
  21. compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is
  22. Send a gratitude email to someone who deserves more recognition
  23. Write a kind message on your mirror for yourself, your partner or a family member
  24. When you hear that discouraging voice in your head, tell yourself something positive — you deserve kindness too
  25. Bring a little bit more kindness in each and every day from today onwards. 

We each have the potential to improve each other’s lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, colleague or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit. Be kind, be kind be kind. 

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

by Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

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7 Weird and Fun Ideas to Deal with Stress

Adapting to School

No Brainer Day

Adapting to School

Adapting to School

Happy September, everyone. May the new school year kick off on a positive note. Wishing calmness, strength and zen-mode to all of us (both children and parents).

Adapting to school 🙇 🏢📗📘🗓✏️🖋📝🙇‍♀️ can take a month or even more. And not only for children but also for ourselves, their parents. Here are some ideas on how to help us all get into school rhythm as painlessly as possible – learned from my personal experience, the experience of other parents and recommendations within the framework of positive discipline.

⭐️ Preparation for school starts in the evening

In the morning, it will be easier if the child knows what he is wearing and what he needs to bring with him. If you know that there will be something unusual at school the next day (doctor, meeting, photographer), it is best to talk it through and discuss it before going to bed. The younger the child, the earlier the bedtime, especially in the first weeks: due to stress from beginning classes (comparable to the stress from the birth of a new sibling). The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are already produced in large quantities and, if you add to this lack of sleep, then everything can end in a nervous breakdown. If classes are online, then it is best for your child to have a specifically allocated place to study. For example, a desk in a room, on which there is a computer and where all required supplies are easily accessible. In the evening, you can set up the computer and prepare all the necessary materials so that in the morning you just have to switch the computer on and log in.

⭐️ May the mornings be good

A good mood in the morning is the key to a good day. This is easiest to do when Mom and Dad are in a good mood and there is no mad rush. You can set the alarm 15 minutes earlier and have an early morning chat and cuddle. Exercising is another great activity to do together.

It is not necessary to have a bootcamp style workout; even a few minutes of stretching can be enough. You can also add a minute of meditation and visualisation of a cool day ahead. The kids love it.

⭐️ Morning routine

Even if the school is online, get up at the same time as on the days when you have to go to school. The morning programme should be repetitive day after day. As an option: exercise, teeth, breakfast, a little game, dressing up, going out. Maybe dress in school clothes before turning on the computer).

Another good rule is no gadgets or TV in the morning (right before the start of the online process), so that nothing distracts attention.

⭐️ Not wanting to go to school is normal

Sooner or later you will hear the phrase: “I don’t want to go to school.” Any parent should be ready for it on any day. There are a lot of reasons for reluctance: from superficial (got up on the wrong foot and it’s cold) to deep internal processes related to school fights, quarrels or even bullying. Here are several options for interaction: 🧩 Accept and mirror the child’s feelings: “I understand you so well, I also don’t want to go to work (to the store, babysit your younger brother)”. This phrase is often enough. The child sees that he has been heard and understood; 🧩 Accept and give an example from your life: “I totally understand you. I also often did not like going to school as a kid. Especially in winter. Imagine, I had to wear tights, leggings and woollen socks. Everything itched, and it felt hot at home, but so cold outside ” 🧩 Try to find out if there is a deeper reason, and offer to convey this to the teacher: “You really do not want to get changed for PE today and because of this you do not want to go to school? Maybe we will write Ms. Smith a note asking her to help you with your buttons?” To minimise the number of such days (as a preventive measure), you can also try other methods, for example: 🧩 Play school with your child on weekends with the help of toys: “Oh, look at this dolly Anabelle, she cries every morning that she doesn’t want to go to school. How can we help her?” Often, in the course of such a game, the deeper reasons would come out and you can suddenly hear something like: “She does not want to go to school because Mark pushes her against the walls all the time” or “She just does not like to have lunch at school, but they make her eat that food and that makes her sad. ” Children often automatically transfer their associations and emotions to the play situation. 🧩 Chat about the day ahead with your child on the way to school: “Who, I wonder, will be the funniest today? Will the teacher wear a red sweater or a green one?” Here, again, you can switch on your fantasy and say that it seems to you that she will be wearing an orange hat with an ostrich feather. Together you laugh at this picture, and the level of tension will subside. With an online school, there may be a similar reluctance due to lack of socialisation, screen fatigue, inability to physically move. The main thing here is to give your child a break and a change of activity. Switch his or her attention. 👆By the way, at the age of 8-9-10 years old, three hours of screen time per day is the maximum. Up to 6-7 years old the maximum is two hours.

⭐️ Teacher authority

At school, the teacher takes the position of a “significant adult”, which means that the child needs to establish a connection with this person. The focus should automatically be shifted to the teacher and their authority. Usually within 2-3 weeks it becomes clear whether the connection has been established. If the teacher was able to correctly communicate her authority and is being respected by the kids , then he or she becomes a source of instructions and rules: “No, Mom, Mr. Jones said that it has to be a green folder, not a red one.”

If this does not happen and the child cannot adjust to school even after a long period of time, it is best to contact the teacher and discuss what you can do together (an experienced teacher in such a situation will contact the parents).

⭐️ Everyone needs friends

Kids go to school for many reasons and, of course, socialisation is one of the main ones. It is very important for the kids to have friends. At least one or two. The sooner such person(s) appear(s), the better and easier the child’s school life will be.

Often this just sort of happens itself and you start hearing the name of a certain student more and more: “Jake brought markers, Jake gave me a carrot. Jake and I ran.” If the schooling is online and you do not have a strict quarantine, then it is probably worth organising playdates and other out-of-school activities with peers a few times a week.

⭐️ Promise you will be back to pick them up

Usually, this is dealt with in pre-school or nursery, where you establish with your kids that you will definitely be there straight after lunch or sleep or walk. But if your child did not go to kindergarten and is only just experiencing this big new life for the first time, the separation is scary, and it is better to discuss everything in advance.

Even if a child is eager to go to school and outwardly remains calm, remember that inside he can be tense and anxious. After all, it’s not difficult to discuss school hours and the end of the school day: “Look, it’s 8:30 now, I promise – at exactly 3 pm I’ll be waiting for you at the entrance.” At first, you can even leave a little memory of yourself (a little squishy toy or photo or key chain to instil positive feelings and your presence when the child is in school). And it is best to be in school at exactly 3 pm as those 5 minutes of lonely waiting when the rest of the kids have already gone, can seem like an eternity in childhood.

⭐️ Let off steam after school

Sometimes, when they start school, some other things can happen – like nightmares, nail biting or sleeve sucking. Kids get all sorts of colds and viruses. They might have upset stomachs and all sorts of other emotional and somatic reactions. This is all normal and will pass quickly if caused solely by adaptation to starting school.

Therefore, I suggest we parents be patient, get some herbal teas (or a couple of bottles of wine) and try to get through the first weeks as calmly as possible. The beginning of the new school year is a difficult time, but it is wonderful nevertheless. Children are discovering a new world for themselves, and in many ways, the mindset of the parents determines their long-term relationship with the school.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

by Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

7 Weird and Fun Ideas to Deal with Stress

The Brain is not Hardwired

No Brainer Day

How to Help Your Kids Make Friends

How to Help Your Kids Make Friends

One of the crucial components of friendly relations between people is attachment, to which the famous psychologist J. Bowlby devoted his theory. Affection is a basic human need. We all need a person by our side from whom we can receive support, recognition, care. In early childhood, the need for attachment is satisfied by the parents, later each of us looks for a close friend, and in adulthood, attachment transcribes into a loving relationship.

You can’t “teach” your children to be friends in the literal sense of the word, but here are a few tips to help mom and dad help the child feel confident in building friendships.

1. Beware of the age

Before 3

Family matters the most, a child needs secure attachments, and adult attention is crucially important. Playing alongside is preferred to playing with someone.

3-6 years old

At three years old, the child begins to share his toys for the first time and may try to help other children at the playground. At the same time, the first conflicts arise due to the inability to share appropriately, take turns or play together calmly.

6-9 years old

Friendships are usually based on shared interests, but they also start recognising that friends may not share the same interests. 6-9 children begin to understand that they need to include reciprocity to maintain friendships. Girls usually find “best friends,” and boys tend to stick to mini-groups. Friends fulfil practical needs, are helpful, and can be relied upon for assistance.

9-13 years old

At the age of 10, the need for empathy comes to the fore. A friend is someone with whom you are not afraid to share a secret, someone you can safely trust. Friendships are mainly gender split and based on similarity, shared experiences, and emotional support. Children recognise the thoughts and feelings of others and learn the importance of effective conflict management.

Adolescence

That’s the time when more time is spent with friends rather than family. Without an external adult mentor, the peer group can significantly influence decisions and the definition of personal identity. Friends differentiate – different friends for different purposes, and friendship arises between boys and girls, which becomes a kind of preparation for a romantic relationship.

2. Create opportunities

To make friends, you need to socialise and play with other children. Parents should specifically think about where the child can find a group of peers – this can be any place where children can freely play or do something fun or educational together in a safe space.

3. Talk about friendship

  • When talking with children, it is essential to touch on the topic of friendships. For example, it will be exciting for children to hear a story about parental childhood friends:

  • How and where you met.

  • What you loved to play.

  • What exciting adventures happened to you.

  • How you had arguments and made peace afterward.

Such stories by their example allow you to show your child how great and important it is to have friends! It is also beneficial to discuss friendship while reading children’s books, listening to songs, and watching cartoons.

4. Be a role model

Children copy their parents in many life aspects. Therefore, the only way we can teach our children to be friends is to be good friends to someone ourselves. Adults can show by their example how to treat friends, the ways to resolve conflicts, how important it is to compromise, and that it is not at all scary to be the first to start a conversation and get to know someone you like. In addition, several personal factors underlie friendship between children of different ages – the main ones among them, perhaps, are the child’s communication style and temperament.

5. Let them choose their friends

Of course, I want my child to be friends only with nice, polite, intelligent, and positive children. But life doesn’t always go the way we expect. Also, children’s logic is very different from that of an adult, and the parents’ expectations may not coincide at all with the wishes of the child. In this case, parents are better off keeping their distance, not giving unnecessary advice or criticising the child’s environment. Just make sure your child knows that they can, in any situation, turn to them and discuss the experience of his relationship, even if this experience is negative.

6. Be realistic about your expectations

Childhood friendships are full of ups and downs and the ins and outs. So, if your child is having some issues with his friends, try not to be too worried. Remember, making friends and being a good friend are skills that need to be learned. So, focus on helping your children build and practice their friendship skills. Eventually, everything will fall into place.

Also, be sure to keep the lines of communication open. Talking about how to be a good friend is just as important as learning how to make friends.

For more inspiration on how to become a more effective parent, please take a look at my other blog posts, or follow me on Instagram. I’m also available for personalised parent coaching, just use the contact form on my website if you’d like to know more.


If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

The Brain is not Hardwired

Five Elements for a Happier and Healthier You

What is PTSD

10 Things to Prevent and Fight Alzheimer’s

10 Things to Prevent and Fight Alzheimer’s

20 June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Day, and it’s a great opportunity for all of us to be reminded about brain health, Alzheimer’s disease, and other dementias. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the leading causes of death which can’t be cured, can hardly be prevented or delayed and can potentially affect everyone who has a brain. 

There are an estimated 47 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias worldwide, with that figure likely to rise to 76 million by 2030 if nothing changes. However, everyone can make a difference and take a part in combating this debilitating disease. 

Here are 10 things you can start doing now to prevent and fight Alzheimer’s!

1 Get physical

Engage in regular exercise that elevates heart rate and increases blood flow/ studies have shown that physical activity reduces risk of cognitive decline.

2 Continue learning

All types of education help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Enrol for courses online or find a class in your local area. 

3 Use your hands (and brain)

Challenge your motor skills. Take up a hobby that requires using both your brain and your hand. Build a piece of furniture, paint, carve out something or take up knitting or sewing. 

4 Call a friend

Staying socially engaged supports brain health. Share activities with friends and family and become an active member of the local community.

5 Get enough sleep

Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with mood, memory and clear thinking. Make sure you are having a minimum of 6-7 hours of sleep every night. 

6 Look after your diet

Eat a balanced diet that is higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

7 Safety first

Brain injury can raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt and use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike.

8 Quit smoking

Smoking increases the risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce risk. to levels comparable to those who have never smoked.

9 Look after your heart

Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes -negatively impact your cognitive health.

10 Take care of your mental health

Growing evidence indicates that it is possible to reduce the risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits including those above. When possible, combine these habits to achieve maximum benefit for your brain and body.


If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

The Brain is not Hardwired

Five Elements for a Happier and Healthier You

What is PTSD

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

After a stressful and traumatic experience, it’s quite usual to have disturbing flashbacks, feel anxious, stressed and/or depleted and have difficulties sleeping. It may be hard at first to carry out routine everyday tasks, such as going to work, school, or spending time with and paying attention to people you care about. However, after a few weeks or months, the majority of people begin to feel better. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms for more than a few months and things are still not looking brighter, you may have PTSD. PTSD symptoms may appear later in life for some people, or they may come and go over time.

Symptoms of PTSD

There are four distinct diagnostic clusters of PTSD:

  1. Reliving the event
    At any point, unwelcome recollections of the trauma can resurface. They can feel quite real and frightening as if the event is happening again.  Those feelings are referred to as flashbacks and usually they are happening because of a trigger. A trigger is something that reminds you of the event and can bring back memories of the trauma. Anything can work as a trigger: smells, sounds, and people are just a few examples. 
  2. Avoiding things that can bring up memories of the event
    You might try to avoid situations that bring up memories of the event. Someone who was attacked in the lift, for example, could only use stairs or never share the lift with others. Alternatively, a person who survived a car crash might avoid driving for years as it feels dangerous. 
  3. Feeling generally more negative than you did before the trauma
    Feeling sad for no apparent reason or losing interest in things you used to enjoy, feeling numb and emotionless – all could be signs of PTSD. Lack of trust in the world and the people in it could also be another sign. Another feeling that often accompanies PTSD is the feeling of guilt and constant wondering if there was something you could do to prevent the event from happening. 
  4. Feeling on edge
    Experiencing extra levels of anxiety and feeling like it is impossible to relax are common for PTSD. Sudden outbursts of anger and irritability are also possible. Those symptoms are called hyperarousal and they often drive those who suffer from PTSD to search for relief in unhealthy ways, such as drugs and alcohol. 

The only way to find out whether you suffer from PTSD is to speak to a mental health professional who will talk to you about trauma, symptoms you are experiencing and treatment options available. Even if you don’t have all the above symptoms but have experienced a traumatic or life-changing experience, reach out for help. And remember that all people are different and it is not only abuse, assault and accident that may cause PTSD, for many major life changes such as relocation to another country, loss of a friend who moved or change of job could also be traumatic and cause subsequent PTSD. 


If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

The Brain is not Hardwired

Five Elements for a Happier and Healthier You

Five Elements for a Happier and Healthier You

Five Elements for a Happier and Healthier You

We all are unique and have our preferences and things that we like and dislike, yet I am sure we all would rather have a positive mindset, clear focus and good physical health.

Therefore, this month we invite you to celebrate wellbeing by stepping up self-care and working on five essential elements towards a happier and healthier you. 

The pillars of well-being can be divided into the following five categories: 

Physical

Intellectual

Emotional

Social

Spiritual. 

The above is just a large-scale picture, and to look into more detail, let’s check the practical ways to implement each element in your daily life. It is not a detailed and exhaustive list of points as things are different for different people, and you might have your ideas to add. We encourage you to take a few moments to reflect and rate yourself on every point between 1 and 10. One shows the lack of attention to this particular area, and ten signifies the harmony and balance concerning this element in your life.

  1. Physical wellbeing: 

Healthy nutrition and diet. 

Regular sleeping routine

Physical exercises, push you out of your comfort zone

Regular medical check-ups

Things that make you feel good (massage, manicure, new hairstyle)

  1. Intellectual wellbeing: 

Challenging yourself with new learning

Having “me” reading or writing time

Making time for hobbies and creativity

Bringing cultural aspects into your daily life

  1. Emotional wellbeing: 

Celebrating achievements, no matter how small

Silencing the inner critic

Accepting compliments with ease

Being grateful for things that you have

Being kind to yourself

Being kind to others 

  1. Social wellbeing:

Having friends (at least one person you can call a friend)

Having a group of like-minded people

Feeling a sense of belonging

Quality time with those people you value (your children, your partner, your parents)

  1. Spiritual wellbeing: 

Doesn’t have to be religious

Reflect on something that keeps you going when things are tough

Verbalise it. What is it? Prayer? Meditation? Yoga? Walk-in nature?

Now look at the numbers above and see which areas you are doing well and which elements might require improvement. Choose one small step in relation to each component you want to strengthen and commit to it. Please write it down and make it visible. Set the deadline for two weeks and check in regularly. Make an effort to raise the score by at least two within the next two weeks( for instance, if if you rated yourself at 2 in “quality time with partner”, – write down a small step that you are ready to make to raise this number to 4 (two invitations to morning coffee before work in two weeks, for example) and commit to it. And keep noticing the way you feel about the changes along the way. 

Small steps and self-belief are all you need… 

And I promise it works!!!!


If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

The Brain is not Hardwired

7 Weird and Fun Ideas to Deal with Stress

7 Weird and Fun Ideas to Deal with Stress

 

April is Stress Awareness Month, although every month in the last couple of years has made us aware of stress in one way or another. So whether we like it or not, tress is an integral part of our daily life. And we all have been doing a great job navigating through crazy times of uncertainty, saddening new and illogical rules, while understandings that no one can predict what else might happen tomorrow.

There have been numerous books and articles written about stress and the ways to cope with it, and I am sure each one of us knows some ways to deal with stressors, yet today I would like you to shift the focus and look for unusual and weird ways to deal with stress.

All our systems are interconnected so let’s experiment with unusual and different solutions and notice what works and doesn’t. If the old solutions don’t work, it’s time to try something new to help our overwhelmed body and mind to pull themselves out of a stressful state.

1. Walk barefoot for a day (or half a day, or an hour, do it!)

It is proven that connecting to mother Earth has a calming effect on the human body, yet we often don’t pay attention to this basic grounding. Take a walk on the grass, on the beach, in the field. If you cannot go out, still let your feet be free for a while and notice the sensations in your soles when you touch the surface.

2. Strike a tree pose

Another way to connect to nature is to become a part of it by being a tree. Besides calming you down, the Tree yoga pose helps the body balance and strengthens the core. Stand with your feet grounded. Take two deep breaths. Lift one leg, shift the weight to the other and hold the leg up. Now, bend the leg you have lifted, and place it on the upper thigh of the other leg. Lift your arms and start swinging like a tree. Stay in this pose for 5-10 long deep breaths.

3. Do things the opposite way

It is all about neural pathways and creating new ones while breaking the patterns and teaching the brain to look for an unusual solution. Challenge yourself to do five things the opposite way today to beat the stress. Walk backwards, drink water while bending down, write with your left hand. Be creative and free in making choices.

4. Do a random act of kindness

One of the best ways to deal with stress is to help others. Do something unexpected for someone you work with, for example. Buy a cup of coffee for the office guard, get some flowers for the cleaner, call your great-aunt and chat to her about the weather. Do it intentionally and genuinely, and notice how it makes you feel.

5. Do unusual creative task 

When was the last time you were singing? Drawing? Dancing? When was the last time you were doing something that was entirely out of your character? Well, do it today. Challenge yourself to write a poem, draw a painting or sing a song from the latest Adele album. Make it happen!

6. Practice throwing

Any activity with rhythm and repetitive patterns might help shift the mind and refocus. Find tennis or a golf ball or make a paper one and have ten attempts in throwing it into the paper bin. Focus very hard and see how many times you will hit the target.

7. Tell a story of your life (or from your life)

Talking things through even with an imaginary audience is one of the best ways of dealing with stress. Imagine speaking at a Ted talk or an award-winning ceremony. Set the timer for 10-15 minutes, imagine the grateful crowd and go for it. It might feel weird in the beginning but persevere and continue talking. You will be amazed how the narrative will come out, and the conclusions will be made.

There you go. These are just seven simple ideas from us to you. What else can you think of? Unusual and weird ideas are wonderful because they are, well, unusual and weird. They allow us to take ourselves out of everyday routine and look at things differently.

So here’s to challenging the stress in the most creative and fun way! 

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

by Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

Other Articles:

The Brain is not Hardwired

No Brainer Day

No Brainer Day

No Brainer Day

Today is No Brainer Day, a beautiful day to remind you that most issues that we face in our life have easy and obvious solutions. It was first celebrated in 1995 and since then more and more people across the world dedicate this day by giving their brains a break. And it is not as easy as it sounds, since our brains just love overcomplicating, overanalysing and generally being worried about things that have already happened or could potentially happen. 

Nevertheless, we encourage you to give your brain a break. Celebrate today by unwinding your mind and letting go of any worries and tension, stay away from overthinking and analysing things. Give your mind a break, relax, enjoy the day, and be content. Here are a few things that could help. 

1. Breathe

Use the power of breathing and try Power Breathing by exhaling for twice as long as you inhale. Activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down the fight-or-flight reaction and helps the body and mind to return to a relaxed state. Because your brain no longer thinks you need to run or fight, blood flows back to your inner organs from your hands and feet and your body and mind feel better. Simply sit comfortably, close your eyes, and begin by inhaling for a count of four, pause for six and exhale for a count of eight. Practice for 3-5 minutes.

2. Meditate 

There’s no need to set a specific meditation goal. Your aim is to sit with yourself and be present in the moment.  Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, allowing yourself to inhale, hold, and then slowly exhale. Turn your attention to any tense spots in your body and bring them to relaxation with each and every breath. Spend 5-7 minutes bringing your awareness to the “here and now” and once you feel relaxed, slowly open your eyes.

3. Stretch or go for a walk

Any physical activity is better than none. Take a few minutes to stretch or take a walk outside. Being in nature or exercising takes the pressure and tension from the mind and helps it to switch from the chatter and noise to physical sensations of stretching or walking. Be present, observant and aware of your senses. 

4. Draw or colour

This is a simple way to relax and get in the flow. There are so many amazing colouring books available to choose from, but if you don’t feel like filling in pre-drawn designs,  you can always doodle away with your own creations.  

5. Free write

Some people also call it “dump writing”. Just do it. Take a notebook, take a pencil or pen, sit down and start writing about anything that comes to your mind. Even if it feels like nothing at first, write exactly that. You will see that once you start thoughts will flow in. Use this time to write out your worries, frustrations or anything else preoccupying your mind. The only rule is to not stop writing until at least 2 pages are filled in. Otherwise, write away.

6. Laugh

Laughing heals. It is a scientifically proven fact. It also relaxes your mind. Remember, when was the last time you genuinely laughed? Well, today it’s time to do it. Watch a comedy, call your sister who makes you giggle, read a book, join in with silly games or puzzles. 

At the end of the day, today is a No Brainer Day, so don’t overthink ways to celebrate; just relax and appreciate the simplicity of a good life.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

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The Brain is not Hardwired

Time to Talk Day

Time to Talk Day

Children are biologically wired to communicate with their parents, yet as they grow older, they don’t always express their need to connect. Use your position as a parent and find time today (and then aim for a couple of times a week regularly) to talk to your child and start a two-way, open conversation. 

Below are a few tips to help you with this:

1. Use one-to-one time

Make your time together quality time. Whether it’s during a car drive, while walking the dog or having a meal together, these moments often present themselves without any special arrangement or agreement and too often we are too busy or too tired to use them. Seize that moment today and start the chat. 

2. Start by being a good non-judgemental listener

Sometimes children are willing to share something but there is no convenient time to do just that. Now you have that quality time together, try using some of these questions and statements to begin a conversation with your older child:

  • Tell me your most interesting story of today. 
  • It makes me glad that we have lots of time to talk. 
  • What were the highs and lows of your day? 
  • What are the feelings that make you afraid/happy/sad/angry? 
  • What was the worst part about today for you? 

If your child is not ready to talk, start by sharing something yourself. You can use the same prompts for yourself.

3. Be curious

Pay attention to detail and ask questions once they finish sharing. 

  • Help me understand your feelings a little better. Tell me more. 
  • Tell me what you were most concerned about then? And now?
  • What did you really wish for when this happened? 

4. Express empathy

Unconditionally accept your child’s story, without taking sides, validate expressed feelings even if you don’t agree with their point of view. Let them know you empathise with them. 

  • I wish you didn’t have to go through this. 
  • Oh, wow, that sounds tough. 
  • You probably felt really _______________ (fill in emotion). 
  • No wonder you were (are) upset. 
  • I’d feel the same way you do in your situation. 
  • What fun! 
  • That sounds fantastic. 
  • What a surprise. 
  • That’s just shocking. 
  • That would make me _______________ (fill in emotion: mad, sad, angry) too. 

 

5.  Use the body language of openness (a smile, nod, pat on the shoulder, hug). 

The importance of body language and tone of voice in non-verbal communication cannot be overstated. Try these to deepen the connection. Touch your child’s arm to show that you’re paying attention and are concerned about what they’re saying. Mirror their body language and lean forward. And if they have crossed arms and/or legs, slowly change your own body language as the conversation progresses to a more open one, most likely they will follow. Make eye contact with your child and turn to face him or her while being on their level. Be aware that sometimes, it is better to have a deeper meaningful conversation with older children while being “in parallel” (like when you are driving or walking the dog) as it might be easier for them to share without direct eye contact. 

 

6. Look for alternative solutions or give advice should it be needed

This point is for the times when your child directly asks for advice, and/or you both are in a calm state of mind without any high-level emotions that need addressing first. So, assuming you are having a calm constructive conversation, you can continue further and explore deeper. Do not use this time to lecture or give them a prescription, but rather, brainstorm together. 

  • What could be the next step?
  • What can you do differently next time?
  • What do you think would be the better outcome of this situation? It is under your control?

Give them time to think and be there to support and encourage. 

Several decades of research show that frequent, open and non-judgemental conversations between parents and children build mutual trust and respect, pave the way to stronger connection and boost a child’s self-esteem. 

Enjoy your Time to Talk today.

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Anoush Davies

Find out more about Anoush here

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Psychotherapy the talking cure