It's all in the numbers...Men's Health Numbers!


It’s ‘Men’s Health Week’ this week (10 - 16 June) and the focus is on ‘numbers’!

The theme this year focuses on the fact that men (as a generalisation) seem to like (the campaign uses the word ‘obsessed’) numbers!

So they want to raise awareness of some critical numbers.

  • 7 ‘must know’ numbers for all men

  • 5 ‘statistics’ that we all need to be aware of

Key numbers for men:

  • 37 If your waist size is 37 “ or more, you’re at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes & cancer

  • 150 Try and do 150 mins of some physical activity each week

  • 5 That’s your ‘five a day’ fruit and veg goal

  • 14 No more than 14 units of alcohol a week spread over several days

  • 10 Years off your life if you smoke (average)

  • 120/80 normal blood pressure

  • 75 % (3 out of 4) suicides are by men

For those of us wanting to help (Family Focus UK included!)…think about the facts that:

  • 1 man in 5 dies before the age of 65

  • 2 men in 5 die before the age of 75

  • Unskilled working men are 3 times more likely to take their own lives than those in senior management

For men wanting some more information, there’s something called man MOT to challenge you and check your own health: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/man-mot-faqs

So, if you are a man or have a man in your life (old or young) please take a look at these numbers and see where you (they) fit in. Do you need to take stock? What can you do to make some changes in your life?

We’re here to help in any way, so let us know if you’d like some more information on any of this.

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Time travel...or time travels?

How many times a day do we say the word ‘time’? ‘I’m running out of time’, ‘I don’t have time…’., ‘there’s not enough time in the day’, ‘when was the last time…’, ‘I wish I could go back in time’?

I’ve just had the absolute pleasure of welcoming my nephew into our home, visiting from Auckland, NZ and the first thing that came into my mind was, where has time gone? He is a full grown man now and I still remember him as a young boy. And yet, when we connect again, it’s as if time travels and it’s like yesterday when we were all together again.

What does time mean to you? Do you put things off for a later date - another time? Do you make full use of every moment of time you have and make it count?

In the work that Åse and I do we often come across people who say, ‘yes - we need to do this or that - we’ll do it when we have time!’ And more often than not, the moment passes and it doesn’t get done.

What can you do today that you’ve been putting off? What can you say instead when faced with another of these time issues? How about accepting and committing to a ‘bite-size’ piece of whatever seems to need too much time. For example. Instead of saying to myself, I must find time to go and visit my friend who lives 90 minutes away (which gets put off and put off as I can’t find ‘the time’ to take a whole day out to do this) - I can prioritise a regular call with her for 30 minutes every week so that I make the time to commit to our friendship.

Every time you come across this thought pattern ‘I need more time / I wish I had more time’ - re-frame that thought into, ‘what can I do in the time I have now’? Commit to that and do it! Maybe it’s calling that friend of yours, or doing a parenting or wellbeing course with us? Something that gives you the time to think, enrich your life and connect with yourself and others.

A small bit of time spent on someone/something is more important than waiting for a big chunk of time that never comes!

I hope you agree?

Have a great weekend everyone…take some time for yourself!

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Work environment - who is responsible?

What choices have we got as far as making our jobs and work environment a good place to be?

Recognition and money does not necessarily mean satisfaction and contentment at work.

The ethos, values and atmosphere of a company can make all the difference to why an employee chooses to stay with an employer.

So what responsibility towards their staffs’ wellbeing does a company have? Where is the employees own responsibility?

We all have to take charge of our wellbeing as much as we can. On a practical level that can be healthy eating, exercise and sleep. On an emotional level, communication and connection goes a long way.

In order to create these relationships and maintain them, there has to be a commitment and understanding from both employer and employee.

To suffer mental health issues can feel like a very vulnerable place to be. It takes courage to talk to a manager about it and ask for help.

An employer/manager needs to be approachable and empathic in order for employees to communicate with them. Employees also have to be better equipped to understand colleagues differences and needs to enable a harmonious work place.

This is where we can help. We can ensure your management and staff are trained and understand what is needed to grow and keep the company family together.

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Do you spy on your child (ren)?

Huawei has been in the news lately and seems to have got into trouble because some people think they are using their technology to ‘spy’ on people.  Even though the Company totally denies this claim, it has certainly generated a lot of interesting conversations about if it’s true, or even possible!

So, thinking about the concept of  ‘spying’ - who has the right to do this?  As the boss of a Company or a team leader, do you have the right to access any information your employee has created or their correspondence?  What impact would this have on you or the employee? 

As a parent, do you have the right to read your child’s diary or their text messages?  What are the boundaries?  What are the norms and rules?  What impact would this have on your relationship with your child? Can you resist the urge to do this?

In our work with parents,  Åse and I always language this question around the ages of the children and the risks involved.  It can be very controversial but we believe mutual trust is key, so you don’t invade personal space without prior communication and consent (i.e. you don’t ‘spy’).  Rather work with your child to gain access to this communication if you feel it’s important. 

The only time this would change is if you feel there is a significant risk to your child (if they are very depressed or suicidal) and breaking this trust to gain information may in fact be a life-saving action.  There’s also the very real worry about grooming and how this develops.  Breck Bednar  is a real example of this devastating situation.  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47473932 Would this concern justify you spying on your child?

It would be great to hear what you think?  What experiences you’ve had with this and what you can share?  Please comment below if you’d like to join this conversation.

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Why is listening and sharing so important?

This week is Mental Health week and I thought I’d write about the secret battles a lot of people are facing.

The stigma around mental health problems is still big even though it is getting better. A lot of people are working hard to get the message through to companies that they are part of the problem and need to become part of the solution. The more we talk, the more people dare to open up. There are some brilliant movements going on like Minds @ work and the Leaderboard, created by Rob Stephenson at Inside-out.org, which publishes names of leaders who are open about their Mental Health issues. It shows great leadership to share difficulties and real life issues as it enable others to speak up. This is what is needed; real people, real problems and no fear in sharing.

As a counsellor, I worked with many people who did not talk to anyone around them. The fear of being judged and seen as weak was too great. The relief of being able to open up was evident as was the progress of a lot of clients that finally had someone that listened. Listening is a great skill and we just don’t teach this enough.

When a person is heard, they feel understood, acknowledged, validated, significant and seen. How can we ensure that our nearest and dearest and ourselves understand this and are able to share?

How can we create trust with our children to enable talking? The emphasis on communication can’t be talked about enough. It’s the basis of every relationship we have whether at home or at work. Misunderstandings happen too easily and are not clarified often enough.

If in doubt or not clear about what someone is actually saying; ASK!!

Stop making assumptions that people ought to know and how can they not?!

Start talking and actually listen. The effort can make a huge difference!

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Every day heroes

I watched the London Marathon on Sunday from the comfort of my home. The achievement of so many of these runners was amazing. What makes a person continue when it’s so painful and exhausting?

Determination and perseverance to keep going during training even when it’s cold and wet must be at the top of the list. The emotional reason is the main driver for most though. The thought of making a difference to others in memory of a loved one or to bring awareness to a cause will be a major reason for many. One after the other, runners told a different story but similar in the passion and determination to put their cause to the front. So many tears and sadness of the loss or illness of a loved one. The helplessness felt.

There are so many good people out there. We tend to hear more about the ones that are bad though. I think we need to celebrate the every day heroes we have so many of here in Britain. The neighbours looking out for each other, the friends gathering around and taking turns helping a friend in need, the volunteers at the hospices, homeless shelters, nursing homes, schools and libraries. What would we do without them?

The thing to remember is what we can do, rather than what we can’t do. We can’t ensure no one gets a terminal illness or is involved in a life changing accident. What we can do is to be there for who ever is struggling, help with anything that’s needed even if it’s just a hug or a cup of tea. Show empathy and allow grieving of what or who has been lost.

The smallest gestures can make a big difference and the fact that we care is a great thing in itself. This also applies in the workplace. Noticing if someone is going through a tough time and ask "‘Are you OK’ is an important part. Making an effort and show concern for others is a lovely trait to have. Knowing someone cares is a great healer.

To all you everyday heroes out there, continue with your amazing efforts! That is what community and caring is all about. Thank you.

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Judging a book by its cover

I just saw a vlog on LinkedIn (thanks James) about being judged and how can we stop being so quick to do so.

It made me think about what I have learned in my life and also all the times I have judged someone without really thinking about it. It just happens and it’s scary how easily it does and is accepted.

It is in human nature to look at people and make assumptions. That is why it’s so important that we do consider what kind of impression we want to give in various situations whether it’s work or privately.

To turn up to a job interview in the City wearing jeans and a t-shirt will most probably not make a good impression on a potential employer. Or shorts and a strappy top to a classy restaurant with the future in-laws might be too casual and bare (?!) to some. We do have to judge and enquire if needed about expectations of dress code if we think it’s important to be seen a certain way. This is how we show respect and consideration to others and it is part of being an adult. Some might argue that we shouldn’t have to adhere and everyone should dress however they like but I think, no matter who you are, these values are there and if it matters, dress accordingly.

When it comes to making judgements because of disabilities, ethnicity and sexuality, we have to be taught from a young age about differences. Why they exist and why we need to be considerate and respectful to them. This all comes from home, from school and the environment we live in. Our children learn from us and if we don’t teach them they are at risk to learn something that goes against our beliefs. Of course, they will learn lots from others too and make up their own minds eventually. However, parents are the first teachers and what we show our kids is detrimental to their foundations in being a good human being.

When I grew up in a very ’sheltered’, safe place in Sweden, my parents ensured we learnt about differences by being a host family in the summer to children visiting Sweden with charity organisations. I remember having two boys from Kenya staying with us and they had never used cutlery. Some children didn’t speak English and we had to use sign language. It was very exciting and we learnt a lot.

We were also a respite family to a girl who had various disabilities including being blind and she stayed with us for a weekend a month. To have her with us taught us about disability and how fortunate we were to be healthy. This also led to me and my family becoming a link family here in the UK. For 9 years, a lovely girl with an unusual syndrome, Kabuki syndrome, spent a weekend a month with us. I know my daughters, (despite it being inconvenient to them at times…) learnt to appreciate their lives and help others. They both now volunteer as adults.

Embrace differences, accept them and learn from each other. Behind those facades awaits a possible new friend.

Don’t be so quick to judge, give people a chance to prove otherwise.

We are all human.

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Effort = Reward

I was walking around my neighbourhood last week and thought I would do a ‘social experiment’.

I walked with my head up and as I walked past people I attempted to make eye contact but without much enthusiasm or interest. Result. Out of the 14 people I passed, 2 made eye contact with me and no one communicated with me.

I then walked with my head up and as I walked past people I made eye contact, smiled and greeted them with ‘good morning’. Result. Out of the 12 people I walked past 10 greeted me in return. The 2 that didn’t had earphones in their ears and I suspect didn’t hear me!

My conclusion? It’s so easy to keep your eyes to the ground and make minimal effort to communicate and connect with others. But equally, a really small effort can make a big difference. It felt good greeting people, smiling and seeing them reciprocate. I received many warm greetings and smiles and in those brief moments, felt a connection with total strangers.

So this reiterates that effort = reward. You have to put something in to get something out and if we all make an effort - the overall result could be extraordinary. This goes beyond general ‘friendliness’ with people you pass by. It extends to greeting work colleagues, parents at school, neighbours, new people at your club. It’s so easy to close ranks and contain your world and avoid taking the time and making the effort to extend the hand of friendship or even just ‘connection’ with others.

Take the time. It’s worth it. Not just for you, but for everyone around you. You’ll feel better plus you’ll act as a role model to others - particularly your children.

So try and make an effort this next week to greet others. Smile, make eye contact and try and form a connection even for a brief second. Our world is becoming so insular and downward looking - let’s take some time to look up and outward and include others in our world view. Radical idea - keep your headphones out your ears at times to listen and be part of the world around you.

This attitude can then extend to everything else. If you don’t make an effort - you can’t expect reward (aka homework, school, health, fitness, love, friendships etc)

Let us know how you manage? How it feels? We’d love to have your feedback info@familyfocusuk.com

Have a great week!

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Women and our hormones

I’ve been thinking lately about the impact of hormones in our lives. Girls and women have to deal with this from an early age and it impacts very differently from person to person. It’s amazing to think 50% of the population will suffer at some stage to something out of their control.

I do know that men also have hormonal changes but I am pretty sure, us women have the tougher deal…

One thing is for certain though, all women experience something in our lifetime, whether it’s puberty, childbearing years or menopause. Things like period pain, masses of bleeding, PMS, exhaustion, headaches, memory blips, mood swings, acne, weight gain, weight loss (yes, that happens too…), low libido, high libido, skin changes, hair thinning, depression etc. The list is very long!!

These issues can have a massive impact on a woman’s life and everyone around her, yet it’s not something we talk about often enough. A lot of men, in particular those inexperienced with women, have no idea of the battles that go on. Even some men who have female partners are in the dark why their women turn into ‘moody cows’ at times.

I think it’s up to us women to educate the men around us and explain what to expect at times and why it happens. Sometimes we have choices and can control what happens but a lot of the time, we can’t.

The more we talk about it from an early age, to both our sons and daughters, the easier it will be for everyone. Our kids also get to see sides of us we wish they didn’t have to but yet again, talk and explain.

As always, understanding and knowledge is power and we have to help ourselves and our loved ones by taking charge of this. We can’t wait or expect others, like the school or friends, to explain to our men and children.

Also, in a work environment, this is very common. We have to talk to our co workers when needed. They can’t read our minds and understand what is going on. Having said that, please be supportive of the female staff during certain times in their lives. It’s hard enough having to cope with yourself, let alone everyone else around you.

I used to get dreadful hot flushes at any time of the day. In my work, I do 1-2-1 sessions and sometimes a flush would hit me. I’d go red and start to perspire. Not a nice look or feeling. When that happened, I had to explain that it was not about them and their story, but me and my menopause… At least they knew and I felt better for explaining.

Awareness is key. Educate, train and encourage communication. It is needed all around us so get talking!

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What is your Love Language?

After a weekend of celebrating the special mother (s) in your life I was really taken with how different people show and express their feelings. This reminded me of the ‘love languages’ that are so often discussed and how I could pinpoint each of these to various people in my life.

One of my children falls clearly under ‘acts of service’, expressing love by offering to help me, do the ironing, cook supper, make me some tea. My other child’s language is ‘quality time’ and my husband is another one entirely. Makes for a very interesting set of languages in our family.

So how do you communicate with those you love?

The Love languages fall into 5 categories:-

  1. Words of Affirmation: You communicate by encouraging, affirming, listening and appreciating others. You often send unexpected notes, texts or encouragement.

  2. Physical Touch: You are a non-verbal communicator, preferring to express how you feel through your body language and touch. You hug, hold hands and prioritise thoughtful touch.

  3. Receiving Gifts: You communicate with purpose and a lot of thought. You make others feel like they are a priority and you’re constantly giving thoughtful gestures, gifts and expressing gratitude.

  4. Quality Time: You like uninterrupted and focused conversations, preferably 1-1 and like special moments with those you love. You like to do things together and love getaways.

  5. Acts of Service: You like being part of a team with those you love. You like to do things together and often say, ‘I’ll help…’ You are thoughtful and go out of your way to help with chores and workload. It’s important to you to know you and your loved ones are connected.

If you aren’t aware of the different ways love can be expressed maybe you’re missing out on receiving these messages? Think about where you fit in; your partner; children; extended family? Are you picking up their cues through the ways they are communicating and are they picking up yours? Are you a mix of different languages? The more awareness you have the more love and connection you’ll feel.

However you choose to communicate and express love, the most important thing is that you do it! We are constantly being reminded of how tenuous this life is and you never know what’s around the next corner. Don’t let moments pass you by…express your languages of love!

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Relationship maintenance

So, my husband and I just had our 30th wedding anniversary. That is a looonngg time.

Looking back, there’s been many highs and many lows. Somehow we’ve managed to get through them and are still, happily, married. I do wonder what makes some relationships last and why others don’t.

Friendships, family relations, work colleagues and our relationships with them takes effort and time. How do we we keep them going? What makes us put in the work necessary with some and not bother with others?

Connection/love is one of our human needs and we all need this to function and live a fulfilled life. To cover this need we search for connection and look for love. When we are in relationships this need has to be topped up regularly in order to be content and able to function.

One thing I think plays a big role in a relationship is common views on life and understanding of where we come from. If our backgrounds are really different, we have to work harder on learning about each other and acceptance of differences. If the love is there, everything is possible.

A partner has a lot to live up to and be accepting of each others’ needs can be difficult at times.

Here are a few tips:

  • Communication is essential!

  • Talk instead of making assumptions and have expectations they might not be able to live up to.

  • Accept different views unless totally unreasonable. Agree to disagree when needed.

  • Listen and allow people to speak, don’t interrupt.

  • If someone takes all your energy every time you meet, they might not be good for you.

  • Friends should give and take, not just take.

  • Your children are your children, no matter what. Make sure you always talk to them throughout each stage in their lives. They might not always want to but persist.

  • Expect the downs as well as the ups. Happiness is not a constant. Be prepared and make sure your love bank is topped up.

  • LAUGH TOGETHER!! With your partner, with your children, with friends and at work. Such an important part of life and it makes living a lot easier.

Have a think about what relationships need more attention in your life. If they are important to you, make an effort even if you feel like you are always the one doing just that. The other person will appreciate it.

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Getting your team to connect.

Who is your team? A group at the office, your school PTA, your own family? How important are the connections within that team and what can you do to encourage connections?

Start with conversations and real interactions with others. Let these moments build with shared experiences and emotions until real connections are formed.

Much of life revolves around instant gratification, helicopter parents, pushed and stressed kids, social media pressures and sleep deprivation.  To form a true connection with others takes time. This seems to be a scarce commodity these days.

Connection has the added problem of the technology world that we live in.  These devices are taking their toll on conversations and communication between people and impacting our ability to relate to others, to show empathy, patience and most importantly, on our mental health.

It seems like an oxymoron.  We are using social media to connect with others and yet we are feeling less connected than ever and loneliness is a real concern to many.  Forming connections is more important than ever and here are some suggestions on how to develop these:-

  • Give the people in your team (work or home) a voice and listen to them.  Make them feel valued.

  • Give your team your support and make sure they know they have it.

  • Notice when things don’t feel right and act on it.

  • Get everyone in your team participating in the real world.  Take a walk, do something fun – get out and about together.

  • Have ‘no devices’ time and make sure you communicate directly – eye to eye contact and no distractions. Human interaction is key.

  • Show interest in others and follow through.  Develop empathy by engaging through conversation, listening and asking questions.

If you give this time and focus it will pay off in dividends, as ‘connecting with others’ fulfills our basic human need for love.

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What's your laughter and inclusive culture at work?

Most of us know that laughter is good for us. it makes us feel happy, elated and it creates a bond with the person we laugh with. Not at…

What is the laughter culture like at your work? Is it OK to laugh whilst in the office or do you get ‘looks’?

After talking to a few office workers and reading reports, it seems that the latter is more common. If you are busy laughing, you are not working and being productive.

This is not true. Research and experience shows that laughter helps creativity and productivity. Laughter helps the brain to relax and enjoy the moment which in turn helps a person to feel better and stronger to carry on with their less funny tasks.

How many times have you heard couples say ‘we don’t laugh together anymore! or not enough’?

Humour can save relationships when used appropriately. Sarcasm can also work but there is a fine line of being offensive rather than funny so be aware.

Some companies are aware of the use of humour and have acted on it by creating an environment where it’s allowed. There might be an area with games, a table tennis table and a humour board. What do you enjoy?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/08/10/lead-with-laughter-how-humor-can-positively-transform-a-work-enviroment/#18d40ea15c94

Socialising is another important part of work life. In Sweden, FIKA is a big part of life at both work and privately.

Fika means; coffee and a sweet treat. In a lot of workplaces, people are allocated a day to provide the sweet treats or bread buns and cheese or pate for example. All staff has a fika break twice a day, usually around 10am and 3pm where they sit down for 10-15 min and chat. It creates belonging, familiarity, escape and a chance to get to know your work colleagues. After work is not for everyone, in particular parents who have to pick kids up, so fika provides this time for everyone to have an opportunity to socialise.

Even if it’s just one day a week that you manage to get everyone to sit down together, it’s better than not at all.

It improves mental heath and emotional awareness so what’s not to like?? I love it!!

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/wellbeing/fika-coffee-break-work-swedish-uk-companies/

What can your company do? Is it a fun place to work? Does it need a change?

We’d love to know!

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The horrendous 'momo challenge' for kids...

My daughter (who works in child after-care) recently brought to my attention that there is a horrendous ‘momo challenge’ circulating that is hacking children’s online games like Peppa Pig, Fortnite and Youtube.

Primary schools are sending out warnings to parents as the craze seems to have arrived in the UK. Some are calling it a hoax, but hoax or not - if your child sees this is will most definitely be disturbing and potentially dangerous. I was horrified when I saw the video! It promotes self-harm, inflicting harm on others and even suicide in a series of threats to the viewer who has to ‘complete certain tasks otherwise momo will come and hurt them or their families’. The visual guides are extremely real and graphic.

2 thoughts instantly. What is becoming of our world that someone out there takes the time to come up with material like this; and our children are so vulnerable. Although the BBC News reported that ‘The UK Safer Internet Centre told the Guardian that it was "fake news", there are still unofficial copies with footage of "momo" that have been copied so children could end up seeing these unofficial uploads and be exposed to the distressing images’. Knowledge is key and it’s important to know what your children may see.

If you have not heard about this and you have younger or potentially vulnerable children, please do a bit of investigating. Then - most importantly - make sure your children know how dangerous this hack is. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. Help them to understand how to say NO to things that don’t sound or feel right.

Childline offer the following advice FOR KIDS: How to say no

1) Say it with confidence: Be assertive. It’s your choice and you don’t have to do something which makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

2) Try not to judge them: By respecting their choices, they should respect yours.

3) Spend time with friends who can say ‘no’: It takes confidence and courage to say no to your friends. Spend time with other friends who also aren’t taking part.

4) Suggest something else to do: If you don’t feel comfortable doing what your friends are doing, suggest something else to do.

With internet safety there is lots we can do:-

Set up parental controls

  • Use ‘Parental controls’ to block upsetting or harmful content

  • they can also control how long and when they’re online, plus stop them downloading apps.

Talk to your children

  • Have regular conversations about what your child is doing online

  • Explore sites and apps together

  • Talk about what personal information they should share online

  • Create a family agreement about what behaviour is appropriate when they are online

Do your research

  • Check through websites your child is using

  • Change privacy settings

  • Turn OFF location sharing

I don’t want to advertise the momo site here - but google it or look at it on youtube so you know what your child may be exposed to.

It’s our responsibility to safeguard our children. Find out what you need to know and get it done.

Take a look at these sites for online safety help:-

Our Pact: https://www.producthunt.com/alternatives/ourpact

Site recommending apps: https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-parental-control-apps/

NSPCC: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/

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Phones and sleep

So, it’s been in the news lately about the connection between mobile phones and sleep deprivation.

In particular, it’s been concerning children and ensuring they get enough sleep which is a national problem, and was highlighted on the BBC news this morning.

We all need our sleep to function properly and children need it even more in order to allow their brains to develop the way it needs to.

There is lots of data and research as far as sleep goes and it’s being done for a reason; sleep deprivation is affecting people everywhere. It’s not just about individuals and their personal needs, it’s very much about us as a society.

Sleep deprivation affects our ability to function properly including concentrating whilst driving and working. Productivity is affected for both adults and children.

Here are the latest recommendations from https://www.sleepfoundation.org

Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)

  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)

  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)

  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)

  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)

  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)

  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)

  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours

  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

There are a few variables as we do have different needs dependent on fitness levels, weight, health issues etc.

Overall though, we all need to sleep undisturbed to function and allow our brain to rest. This includes leaving phones turned off and preferably away from the bedroom. A child should never have a phone or any electronics in the bedroom as it makes it too easy to be reachable. My daughter was one of them a few years ago, she kept on getting messages from needy friends in the middle of the night and it disturbed her sleep badly. I had to step in and remove it and told her to tell her friends she has the worst mum in the world!

The need to be available 24/7 is creating a society that is unhealthy and stressful. What choices do we have? At what stage do we realise what this is doing to our health?

As parents, we are the adults and decision makers for our children when it comes to knowing what’s best for them. Dare to be the ‘worst parents in the world’ because that comes with being the loving, caring parents we need to be. Boundaries are necessary for a child to learn right from wrong and they will thank you later on!

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Perspective - an essential life skill!

My son is studying photography for GCSE and I was watching him work at the weekend and couldn’t quite believe the difference in what ‘I saw’ him photograph and what ‘he saw’ and produced through his camera. This got me thinking about perspective and how important it is with everything in life.

What lens do you use? What glasses do you wear when you look at something? Clear, tinted, shrinking, enlarging or do you see things in bi-focal? Do you swap your ‘outlook’ depending on what you’re looking at? If so, why?

When you are enmeshed in something, you cannot see the ‘wide angle’ of the situation and when you are removed it’s very hard to understand all the nuances, intricacies or emotions of the detail.

But how often are we able to digest all these angles, lenses and perspectives when we are faced with a situation or event? Where do we get the tools to navigate perspective successfully?

Perspective comes from having a personal opinion or view on something that has been moulded over time by your life experiences, values, thoughts, assumptions plus a whole lot of other factors like community, finances, environment etc.

In order to successfully develop relationships, communications and experiences for yourself it’s imperative to develop empathy and compassion for others. We often use the word ‘mindful’ of others to emphasise how important it is to both respect and acknowledge everyone’s thoughts and feelings in situations and not just your own.

On a parenting level, children will learn how to develop perspective if they grow up knowing that their thoughts, feelings and experiences are both understood, valued and respected by their parents. Make sure you constantly engage with your children and reflect their feelings back to them to let them know that they are noticed and that you are available to both help and support them.

In the workforce, you should be constantly mindful and aware of the different points of view that exist and to allow, acknowledge and respect those different perspectives. Sometimes this might mean that you need to take a break, take a breath, or take a long hard look at yourself to make sure that whatever glasses you are wearing are not tinting the situation.

Perspective is what brings diversity, inclusion and growth. Perspective allows for creativity and compromise and development. Perspective is a life skill that our children need to develop and we all need to encourage throughout our lives.

As you move through today, be mindful of what is influencing your perspective and how this differs from others.

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Envious or pleased?

I’ve been thinking of trolls on the web and bullies everywhere and wondering what causes their horrendous behaviour.

What makes someone behave in such a way towards others? What do they get out of it?

Self-esteem; Self-esteem is the way people think about themselves, and how worthwhile they feel. Psychologists use the word self-esteem to describe whether someone likes them self or not. ... Someone with low self-esteem might think that they are bad at things and worthless.

Now low self-esteem comes out in many different ways and bullying and trolling is one. This temporary ‘I am better than you, see how I was able to make you feel’ gives a lift and sense of achievement in its warped way.

By trolling and bullying a person has a purpose and thinks others might think they are clever. It’s all about how others perceive them, that is what makes them feel that temporary feeling of ‘good’ about themselves. Not for long though but once they started this behaviour, it’s hard to stop even when they know it’s wrong. Then the justifications start, ‘he deserves it’, ‘she asked for it’ , ‘they are scum’ etc. Because if it’s not justified, they are the ones who are wrong…

It’s a sad way of getting acknowledgement but if a person doesn’t get it anywhere else, that will do.

There is always a reason behind a persons behaviour and this is about significance and love; the need to be seen. When someone is a bully, they need help and support, just like the victims. I don’t condone this behaviour at all but I do feel sad for someone who inflicts this on someone else as inherently, we all want to be loved and significant.

The ability to feel genuinely pleased and happy for someone else is not something that always just happens. Most of us can have twinges of envy and ‘why not me’ thoughts. However, how far we allow those thoughts to go is a different matter. This is where we have a choice and can push away the negativity and think; ‘why not them?!’ ‘My turn might just come, good for you!!’.

Gratitude and contribution are two things that will make us feel good about our lot in life. No matter how difficult something might be, there will a silver lining somewhere. We just have to find it.

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The Millennials Challenge...

You may have heard these words being bandied about:  Baby boomers (if you were born between 1944 and 1964); Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979); Millennials (born between 1980 and 1994) and our new generation that is coming through, Generation Z (1995+).

The millennial generation is now firmly entrenched in the workforce and it’s predicted that by 2020 they will make up 35% of the global workforce with Gen Z making up 24%.  This means that by next year almost 60% of the workforce will consist of employees under the age of 40. 

Research indicates that millennials both present and face of a lot of challenges to the workforce and society.  They are a unique generation with more than 1/3 living at home with their parents with very few owning their own homes.  They are also much less likely to buy cars.

At work they prioritise work-life balance which some older generations tend to label as showing no work ethic.  Many millennials are self-employed or have additional business interests in addition to their main employment.  They tend to move jobs every 18 – 24 months and they do not have the same needs (long term stability) as their older employer/ees.  This has led to concerns over high employee turnover problems in organisations and the associated costs.

Employers today have the challenge of providing the right type of work environment for millennials as well as being able to take advantage of the strengths that millennials offer.  Statistically, they are usually good team players and good with diversity and inclusivity.  They are technology savvy and almost never ‘unplug’.  One solution that Companies offer millennials is the ability to work flexi-time or work remotely. 

Research shows that millennials prioritise constant feedback and are very goal-oriented with a strong sense of fair play.  They believe pay should be individual and not ‘role’ or ‘experience’ driven which can lead to complications with larger organisations with set tiered or banded employee categories.  Finally, millennials want to work for Companies with a social conscience and that they feel are making a difference.

So, to attract or retain millennials, it appears you need to develop an organisational culture of inclusivity, diversity, social responsibility and tolerance with a strong focus on pay and job culture!

Sounds simple right ???

Let the work and the conversations continue….

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Is the world different now?

Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, on which we remembered the millions of people murdered by the Nazis, and in the genocides since in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Most of us know about this and spare a thought every now and then. What a horrendous thing to happen…

How different is the world today? Could this happen again in Europe??

I do wonder at times and it makes me sad to think how narrow minded and easily persuaded us humans are. Some more than others but generally most of us can get convinced of something that feels wrong to start with.

How can this be avoided? What do we need to stay strong in our beliefs and remain decent, caring human beings?

One thing I know is that parents have a massive influence on their children whether they like it or not. The way we bring our children up, show and teach them our values that influences them immensely.

By being role models, showing rather than saying, we teach our kids right from wrong.

This does not stop just because they become teenagers and don’t want to listen. It’s our job and responsibility to continue to be present and pay attention to what are children are doing, who they hang out with and who they ‘meet’ online.

  • Be a parent, not a friend.

  • Set boundaries and enforce them.

  • Be empathic to their problems.

  • Support the kids and listen without judging.

  • Again, be a ROLE MODEL.

We can if we try, and they are worth it!

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What colour do you feel?

I was sitting this weekend with my son as he put together a page in his photography portfolio on colour and we had a very interesting discussion about the different colours and how they represent people, moods, attitudes and feelings. It reminded me of when I had a ‘mood ring’ in my younger days and how I’d watch it change colour from day to day.

So what is colour and how does it work?

There are four psychological primary colours - red, blue, yellow and green. Each of them relate to the body, the mind and emotion and how these 3 elements are (or are not) balanced. The trick is to understand how these colours can how power over you and your emotions and how you can use them to your advantage.

The colour RED represents physicality.  Strength, energy, that ‘fight or flight’ reaction or in a negative way can suggest stress or even aggression.  Red often grabs our attention first which is why it is used with ‘stop’ traffic lights.  Red makes your pulse race faster (think love symbolised as a red heart).

BLUE refects intelligence, communication, trust and calm.  It makes us think of blue skies and releasing the mind.  It works with us on a mental (rather than a physical) level and is said to help with concentration.  However, too much blue can feel distant and even unemotional.

YELLOW is the colour of emotion and personality.  It demonstrates friendliness and creative impulses and optimism.  On a negative note it can be linked with emotional concerns such as anxiety and depression.  Using the right colour yellow will lift spirits and self-esteem and give the wearer/viewer confidence and a feeling of optimism.  Too much or the wrong tone can make you feel panic, fear and anxiety.

Finally, GREEN is about balance.  Green promotes nature, rest, peace and awareness and is often used to promote a sense of calm.  Too much green can suggest boredom and stagnation and being bland.

From these 4 primary colours comes a surge of ‘mixed’ hues that allow for a range of emotions, feelings and responses.  They are study in themselves.

Usually when we select colours to wear, paint a room, highlight a text, pick out an object it is done on a sub-conscious level, but there is always more behind the choice.  We are naturally drawn to certain colours and this can change depending on the way we are feeling, what we are trying to accomplish and the message we are wanting to relay.

So for today.  Have a look at the colour chart here and see which colour you naturally respond to.  What is your physical (body reaction), intellectual (what do you think), emotional (what do you feel) and psychological (how do you want to act) response to the colours.  Ask yourself why?

See how often this changes and when it changes.  Ask yourself why?

Colour can be a tool that you can use to build your self-esteem, your confidence.  It can help to portray a message to others subliminally or be part of a campaign with an objective to get a certain feeling or message across.

there are some different schools of thought eg DISC personality profiling that uses colour references as well as lots of additional reading available online about colour psychology and colour mood charts: https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824

Today I am wearing black and blue for a meeting, so I guess that makes me wanting to exude both power and trust!

How about you?

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