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I recently lifted up the well stapled down carpet of my subconscious and swept out a small debt I had been avoiding. I knew it needed to be taken care of and until it was, I’d feel that niggle. The nights of grinding my teeth into oblivion because of the worry needed to stop and for sure, my sense of self, deserved better than something as trivial as money worries. One fine day, off I headed down to the credit union, cleared out a bunch of savings and paid the debt that had been bugging me. Such a feeling meant that I could function with ease and not have to wonder why I was getting ever so slightly irritated by those little silly things.
Our finances have a habit of being rather central to our lives. If something as unexpected as a surprise expense or bill pops up, it can cause unwanted stress and leave us feeling helpless. If we receive a random invite from a friend we haven’t seen in a while and we need to decline due to our bank balance then that can affect our self esteem and elicit a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). Meanwhile actually going along and spending the money we can’t afford, can stress us even more than staying in in the first place. Ideally, any worries in our day to day lives are probably not so well received so avoiding them at all costs is suggested.
Coming out of a recession in Ireland, we can be confident as a nation that things are getting better. We know for sure that there are more jobs around, banks are being less daft and we are generally being more careful with our cash. Perhaps it’s majorly due to my age (being in my early thirties) surrounded by people my age but this is how I perceive the case to be. Still though, finances will always play a major role in any part of adult-life.
Can we eliminate loans, budgeting or that feeling that we should be spending less?
How then can we keep them under control, stay on track and maintain positive mental health when it comes to our cash?
There are a few ways that I’m personally trying at the moment. As for the rest, be sure to share your tips below.
* Be open and honest about how it’s going. I spent ages denying some of my spending until I sat down with a loved one for an objective view. After realising that a massive chunk of my wage was going to eating out and coffees on a particular month, I did the maths and figured out where it would be better served. This has incentivised me to be more mindful. An outside view over what we’re doing can never hurt. If it opens your eyes and saves you a few bob, well why not?
Disclaimer* Please don’t be surprised if you see me treat myself to a cappuccino a lot less often than before.
*Once you understand where the cash can be saved then it’s time to figure out some accounts. If you’re like me then seeing it piling up in your current account can lead you into temptation. Open a credit union account where you can’t access or a bank account that requires a request for notice should you wish to withdraw lots of saved cash.
*Stop using your card! Tapping away with contactless payments starts to add up quicker than you can imagine. Taking out cash and using that for day to day expenses has worked more effectively for me to stick to a budget. There are less little costs adding up.
*Checking in on internet banking, receipts and other available resources will mean you have a clear pulse on what’s happening. I’ve been guilty in the past of not checking my internet banking following a busy weekend for fear of seeing costs clocking up from those mad nights out.
*Give yourself a break if you go mad spending. I bought 7 dresses in one sale last week and justified it as I needed them for my new job. It was a totally valid reason plus it doesn’t happen super often. The main thing is to be wise with what you’re doing but give yourself a treat when you know you can afford it. Mind your mental health no matter what – nothing’s worth losing sleep over.
Now, take a deep breath and do the best with what you’ve got.
I’m not exactly what you’d call a gym bunny. I’m not one to check in on Facebook while I’m running and I certainly don’t take selfies while I’m lifting dumbbells. As far as I can tell, the joke of “if you didn’t check in on Facebook, it did’t happen” is still a joke that I’ll choose to laugh at. This is the laughing that gets to happen as I use exercise as a method to take care of my mental health.
Fitness expert, weight lifter and gym owner James Hanley is all too familiar with the online and offline world of fitness. When we chatted about the recent mental health awareness month, he offered some valuable insights into the impact the trending world of exercise is having and where it’s heading.
Considering the world of fitness on the emerald Isle, there’s clearly been a surge in terms of the amount of gyms popping up. Meanwhile, the country’s love of healthy food is getting stronger with artisan butchers and health food stores becoming more than a passing trend. As highlighted by James, people are investing more in their health and have a better perspective of what healthy really is.
When it comes to exercise, the phrase “He’s not the sort of guy who gets ulcers, he’s the guy that gives them” rings true for James. When speaking of how people deal with stress, he says “it basically stems towards three points – you can release stress by shouting at someone/something, hitting someone/something or exercising it out”. Looking at these, it’s pretty clear which is going to have the greatest benefits.
As touched on in my recent posts on mental health, James also hit on the point of not being idle: “Having an outlet, somewhere that’s not allowing you to stew at home and instead, being able to meet and interact with other people is one of the biggest benefits of being in a group exercise program”. Exercise not only keeps the mind and body occupied, it creates endorphins which means less stress.
Being time-poor is one of the obstacles to effective self-care in today’s day and age. So if you’re in need of a stress-reliever in the form of exercise but your schedule seems too jam-packed, how do you fit it in? Well, getting a notepad is where to start. James’ method of figuring it out involves the following ” From the moment you wake up, write everything down that you did every fifteen minutes for the previous fifteen. It will take some time at first but do it for 7-14 days and it will do one of two things: It’ll validate the fact that you are busy and make you find more time to train. OR it’ll make you realise that you aren’t as busy as you initially thought you were and show you where you’re wasting time, dossing or being otherwise inefficient. From there, all you have to do is make a decision whether what you’re doing is making you happy. If it is, keep doing it. If it isn’t, change something.”
So say you figure out the time, how do you then decide which exercise works best for you? There could be a trend of people lifting weights amongst your friend group, does that mean it’s for you? Definitely not. Likewise if running bores you then keep away. On this note, James’ advice is find something you love and give it 100% – “The best exercise is the one you enjoy the most and can stick to”.
From James’ endless experience of the positive impact of exercise on any given human, the only negative that he considered was what’s happening in the online world of instagram, check-ins and the dishing out of ‘healthy living’ advice by those that consider themselves experts. According to James, “The fitness industry in failing us right now. Influencers are creating a highlight reel on social media and misleading everyone into believing they have everything they want, love their body and have the perfect life.” Married with insecurity and unhappiness, James explained that at times the same people who are dishing out advice (mostly young girls and guys) will delete posts if they don’t get enough likes upfront and censor comment streams for fear that the writings there will destroy their planned narrative. This translates to poor mental health in such influencers real-lives.
In a world where there is a range of mental health challenges, insecurities and unfortunately, still a stigma behind talking about mental health, James offered his advice: “You don’t have to pretend to be 100% all the time. Vulnerability is cool. Not being OK is OK. Talking about how you feel with friends or trusted sources isn’t a show of weakness, it’s a show of strength. ESPECIALLY for guys”.
While mental health awareness month has passed, we still need to keep the conversation going. Got something to share? Hit me up via social media or in the comments’ field below.
If strength training, strong mindset and/or health living is for you then I’d strongly suggest checking out James’ site, social media and if in the area, his gyms. To learn more, you can visit him here.
We all have our days where we aren’t feeling ourselves. Our mood isn’t what we’d like or actually needs it to be. We can feel stuck in our heads, foggy and solutions don’t come so easy. Thankfully, there are ways to alter how we’re feeling and contribute to our overall positive mental health.
I’ll never forget the head of my course saying last year that “a thought has ten seconds to hijack your mind”. It sounds rather scary, right? It’s certainly a powerful way of considering the power our thoughts can have over us. On the bright side, this means that you have ten seconds to allow it to pass and move onto a more helpful thought. Of course, we’re all guilty of allowing the thought to fester and unfortunately this means that it can grow and manifest in others ways through actions and emotions. To be honest, there are days where this can happen and it can be tricky to snap out of it.
How about considering how we can impact our mood positively when we’re not feeling it or would rather stay in bed than function in society?
1. Exercise is number one here, not surprisingly. There are numerous types of exercise that one can practise and they will all create endorphins. The simplest idea can be a walk down the road to the local park. Even ten minutes outside will get the blood moving and get you out of your head. Not feeling it? Then still try and go. Often it’s the feeling after exercising that we need to remember to make us move ourselves.
2. Journaling isn’t just something from back in the day. It’s an effective technique that allows for clarity and expansion . For one, it’s is a method of getting thoughts on paper – making sense of them. Or alternatively, jotting down solutions to a challenge or writing down all the positive elements of your day creates energy and motivates.
3. Planning a trip, outing or even a coffee date with someone you care about means that you have something to look forward to. They say that a large element of the excitement of making plans is the planning itself so get planning. Even if you don’t go, it keeps the mind occupied which is sure to get those thoughts to a more positive place.
4.Eat something healthy! They say you are what you eat so how about a trip to the local health store? Getting those healthy vitamins and minerals into you will mean you feel better afterwards and are adding some nourishment to your body.
This past week, I’ve been guilty of snacking on sweets, cookies and donuts – everything that is considered cheat food. Today, I’ve got a fridge full of fruit and vegetables. If you fall off that wagon, get right back on there.
5.Give yourself a break. I don’t have to say it again – but I will. Beating yourself up and being hard on yourself won’t achieve anything except to make you feel worse. Find ways to stop those harsh thoughts, talk it out with someone you love or practice some affirmations. Being kind to your sweet self is so important.
Other ways of minding your mental health include getting lots of sleep, surrounding yourself with the best (plus avoiding toxic people) and seeking out inspiration online and on TV (take this Conor McGregor documentary for example that worked for me).