COVID-19 wellbeing

Amid all of the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, CA Support want to reassure our members and students that we are here for you to provide as much support and advice as possible.  See our articles below for more help and guidance.  Feel free to get in touch with one of the team via our Contact us page.

The ongoing Covid 19 crisis has plunged all Education organisations into embracing online learning and teaching. Educators have worked hard to adapt quickly and ensure students are supported and that teaching, and learning continues.  We have all learnt new skills and embraced technology which has enabled us stay connected with family and friends. However, online learning does not suit everyone as it requires a lot of self-discipline and can prove very challenging for some students. If you are a student who likes to attend class and is motivated by face-to-face interaction with your peers and the lecturer, making the transition to an online classroom could be daunting. Try not to think of the change to online learning as an obstacle but in terms of an opportunity to develop new skills and improve your self-discipline. Just by simply changing your mindset, it will expand your options, making you feel more positive and motivated. We have outlined some tips and guidance to help you transition and become a successful, effective online learner. Set up an appropriate workspace, with no distractions. To fully engage with the online content this is essential. Think about your living arrangements and find a space that works for you and those you share with. Be online ready. Be familiar with the software being used. If you have never participated in an online class/webinar, set it up on your device well in advance and make sure it works. Most applications have a quick tutorial with tips and set up guides and these are very useful. Set time limits. If you are studying online for a long period, eye fatigue can be a real issue so take regular breaks. It is easier if you build these into your schedule. Adapt your study plan. Timetables have been adjusted therefore you need to adapt your study plan to ensure you cover all the content and still have time to review and revise. Allocate time. While face to face lectures were cancelled, this does not mean you have time off.Studying for a professional qualification is demanding and will require dedication to ensure success. Stay engaged and use the online tools. If attending a live online session or webinar, use the chat forum to post questions, or if permitted you will be unmuted, and you can ask your question. This will assist the lecturer and your peers by making it more interactive and improve engagement. Draw on all supporting resources. Most online learning is not stand alone and only works effectively by using all the resources available to you. Share the experience. Peer to peer support is very important, as some online learners can become isolated. Set up a zoom or chat with your peers and discuss the topics and learn from each other, stay connected. Ask for help.The education team is there to assist and support you.If you are attending webinars, viewing online recordings and utilising all the resources available but still struggling, please let them know. The education team are available to help. Stick to the plan. Working remotely and online is hard, but by sticking to your study plan and taking regular breaks, you will remain focused and keep the end goal in sight. The education teams have worked hard to adapt and ensure you are equipped for your exams. There are extensive resources available to you. However, we know that life can throw curveballs when we least expect it, so CA Support is there to offer emotional and practical assistance.  Contact us through the website or email or call us on (353) 86 024 3294 we will be happy to assist.   Terri Gray on behalf of CA Support

May 01, 2020

Breaking the monotony How can we break the monotony that we are all beginning to experience right now?  Maybe we will learn some important life lessons as we live through our own looped existence, as was the case for Phil in Groundhog Day.  Hopefully, these new insights will inform how we live in the future but for the time being, all we have is the here and now.  Thankfully, in this here and now, our daily routines afford us with something that’s not easily found right now: certainty. Keeping our routine - whether a new one or the one before COVID-19 - is an important part in helping maintain our mental and physical health, provided those routines are healthy ones. Routines and rituals are important in times of crisis because they help us feel more in control and centred, while helping us gain a sense of ownership over our time. A routine doesn’t necessarily mean waking up at exactly the same time every day and doing everything in the same order. The key, instead, is to attribute meaning to these routines. Rituals keep our day moving along but are infused with sense of achievement, gratitude and other positive emotions.  So how we can establish a routine which will help to give us the comfort of a new normal? Adapting our daily and weekly routines Get up at the same time each day – even at the weekends. There is lots of evidence that a consistent waking hour contributes to overall health by helping to establish your body’s own circadian rhythm. Now more so than ever, it is so important for us to practice good sleep habits and maintain adequate sleep hours so our bodies can recuperate and boost their immune systems.   Compartmentalize your day This routine is even more important during times of distress or chaos. In order for our minds to function at optimum efficiency, we must have order and stability, and right now it’s harder than ever to have either. Simple habits of marking out when and where we will complete our daily tasks pays dividends to our sense of calm as this reminds our brain that life is still going on despite the interruptions we are facing.   Do short bursts of quality work, then rest. There is growing evidence that suggests our concentration can wane over time and so, short bursts of focused brain activity are far more productive. 25 minutes is optimum for a single task, then take a break.   Maintain consistent aspects of your daily and weekly schedule so the days don’t blend together. For example, exercise on alternate days such as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and build in new routines on the other days – family activities, gardening, DIY projects or cooking new recipes.   Improve your diet. During the early days of the stay-at-home regime, food was a comforter for many.The bad behaviours around food that we have built up over the initial few weeks now need to be challenged. It is worth remembering that 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. What we eat, now more than ever, is key to helping to fight the threat of the virus and optimising our overall health.   Be grateful. It’s hard not to bemoan the many freedoms in our lives that we are missing. But have we stopped to think of all the benefits we may be enjoying during the stay-at-home restrictions? More sleep and rest, time with family, time to reflect and re-evaluate our lives, to name but a few? These new gains have given us a different perspective which may inform how we build a new normal when the time comes. Controlling what we can by making some simple adjustments to our routines gives us the comfort of predictability which can reap enormous benefits, not only to our productivity, but to our mental and physical wellbeing. Unlike Phil in Groundhog Day, we have way more control over how we adapt to our new normal and, who knows, we may even learn to enjoy it. Dee France, MA, manager of CA Support. Members and students who need emotional or wellbeing support can contact CA Support on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294, by email casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or online at www.charteredaccountants.ie/casupport    

Apr 29, 2020

Connecting with family and friends while staying apart We are social beings and seek to connect with those we can identify with whether that is our family, a sports club, college friends or a team at work. In times of celebration we reach out to those connections to share the moment and in times of anxiety or stress we reach out to those within our circle and perhaps seek to support them Now social isolation and slowing the pandemic is crucial, but this isolation can have a negative impact. Psychologists advise that with the increased stress levels, disruption to our normal routine, fears over job losses and reduced social interaction this could lead people towards depression. What can we do? Staying connected while physically apart is challenging, but not impossible. Thankfully, technology will enable us to connect and there are many options available e.g. Skype, Zoom, Whats App are just some of the tools available. We can adapt and for most of us, we have the time to invest in making these connections. Quick tools and guides for video calls There are lots of options and simple guides available online, so use them. Have a virtual coffee or drink with friends, host a virtual party or perhaps for those who are competitive have a virtual quiz. Be creative, have some fun and connect with friends and family and reap the benefits. Setting up a Zoom video call Setting up a Skype video call Setting up a Facetime video call Try and ensure kindness and compassion are foremost in your mind and reach out to connect to family and friends far and wide. We are all in this together and this will pass. A phone call or video call is better than a text. Think about what you will say, you may be stressed, but they could be too, so be prepared to listen. The person on the other end could be vulnerable or perhaps you could the first person they have spoken to today! Top tips for connecting effectively  Think about who you normally connect with and expand it. We tend to stick with our one group and identify with only them, we are all guilty of this strait. This is a global pandemic that affects us all. Be flexible, adapt and push those connections outside your comfort zone and brighten somebody's day by contacting them and checking in on them. By being kind and helping others in need we help ourselves. Is there a vulnerable neighbour who would appreciate some assistance (obviously within the social isolation guidelines)? Working from home can be more challenging for some and if perhaps you know a colleague who might be struggling, could you help with a call/ guidance.   Breath. Yes, we are in an uncertain world, anxiety and stress is constant, and we can feel overwhelmed. Breathing is essential to all us, but just for a few moments concentrate only on that task. This can be enough to reset the mind and start over.  It is useful to be aware of how social isolation may impact us. We have a great capacity to care and show empathy and staying connected with others will lower the impact of the current situation and support our mental wellbeing. Stay safe and stay connected to each other  CA Support has a confidential listening service. Feel free to get in touch if you need support during this time. We can be contacted by email or call us on (353) 86 024 3294.

Apr 08, 2020

Amid COVID19 crisis, parents find themselves in unusual circumstances, working remotely, home-schooling children, and juggling many more balls in the air than normal.  It is a time when parents of children of all ages need extra advice and guidance.  Fellow member, Sheelagh O’Grady, having retrained as a Parent and Relationship Mentor in UCC now operates a joint private practice with her colleague Aoife Ryan.  Since the crisis unfolded, they have seen a significant increase in the number of parents who are feeling stressed and worried and are now seeking help and support. In response to this, they have launched a free telephone support service for parents. As a member of the Chartered Accountant community, she would like to offer this free service to members, as a source of support and compassion in these challenging times.     Available 10am-11am and 7pm-8pm Monday-Friday. Simply text Aoife or Sheelagh, stating whether you would like a morning or evening appointment. Sheelagh O’Grady 089 4081313, Aoife Ryan 089 2349339. In the meantime, see below some tips for keeping the kids content while working from home Establish a routine. Children, young and old, thrive on routine.  It gives their day a structure and helps keep boundaries in check.  Let young kids co-create a wall chart that details the daily schedules for all the family. This will help maintain quiet times, family mealtimes, and rest times. It might take a day or two to establish these new routines, but it will be well worth the effort. Keeping them occupied. Small children like to feel useful so giving them simple tasks to carry out will keep them happy.  Empty out a kitchen or bedroom drawer and ask them to “sort” the contents out. Setting up treasure hunts in the garden or the local green spaces can help with fitting in exercise and fresh air into the day while using up all their excess energy. Making a den with old sheets and chairs can create a new magical space for them to play. They can hide out here with their toys and their imagination for hours. There are lots of great websites to help with keeping toddlers and kids of all ages educated and occupied: GoNoodle designed to get kids exercising at home. A good way to explain the virus and the importance of hand washing is to show them this video clip or better still re-create it as an experiment and let them try it out. Marvel artist from Cork, Will Sliney, who has drawn Spider-Man and now works on Star Wars comics set up a new challenge each day on his YouTube channel at 2.00pm WeWilldraw. There are great learning platforms online and one of the biggest is Kahoot which is free to use and gives access to millions of free learning games for the entire family Learning a new skill or language on Youtube is a great way to spend an hour a day for all ages. Lots of museums now offer online tours – what a great way to while away some time while broadening their education. See this one that covers twelve world class museum visits. Is your local library closed? No problem, here’s a great elibrary resource which will provide hours of reading and entertainment to kids of all ages. Be sure to check out the full list of resources at the end of the article.  Connectivity Connecting with grandparents and other family members, as well as friends, using online technology has never been more important.  Setting up regular “Skype” or “Facetime” chats will benefit all of us and ensure we reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness communities are facing.  Perhaps grandparents can “Skype” at bedtimes and read goodnight stories each night?  Getting groups of young children to connect with their best friends and peers regularly will help maintain the fun elements of each day and has never been easier to set up.   Family time Creating an hour or two per day for family activities will be a necessary part of any new routine.  Here are some easy ways to have together as a family: Preparing the family meal – getting everyone involved from the choosing of the meal/recipe, chopping the veg, laying the table, and clearing away. Capitalise on the extra time at home to make meal-times count.  Movie night – have regular movie nights and allow each member of the family to pick their favourite.  Board games – now is the time to dust off the Monopoly and Pictionary. Kids love this time with their parents when everyone comes together, and all devices are turned off and put away. The first few days of this schedule may seem a little awkward as we all get used to our new “normal”, but children are so adaptable and will follow our lead.  Before long, when they see us relax into the new schedule, they will too. This structure of activities and routines will help keep us all productive and appropriately challenged. We may even find we all benefit considerably from this extra time together. Here at CA Support we are here to support our members and students.  Feel free to get in touch if you need support during this time. We can be contacted by email or call us on (353) 86 024 3294.  

Apr 03, 2020
Personal Development

Learning to immerse yourself in that part of the glass that is half-full can act as a buffer to depression and anxiety, and increase your happiness, writes Dr Eddie Murphy. For too long, the science of psychology focused on what was ‘wrong’ with people. Only in the past 30 years has psychology focused on what keeps people happy when they are well. This is called the science of positive psychology, and I, for one, am very influenced by this area and Prof. Martin Seligman’s work on resilience, optimism and interventions that prevent depression and build strength and wellbeing. One tool that is recognised to enhance wellbeing is ‘three good things’. Happier and healthier Those who are grateful tend to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. Being grateful can help people cope with stress and can even have a beneficial effect on heart rate. This action is easy to do, and its benefits have been scientifically proven. In tests, people who tried it each night for just one week were happier and less depressed one month, three months and six months later. Gratitude From old wisdom to the latest science, gratitude is known to be good for us and those around us. Yet, it isn’t always our automatic response, and we too often take the positive things in our lives for granted. The challenge is to learn to get into the habit of being consciously grateful. Science shows that gratitude is an essential element in how good we feel, both psychologically and socially. It increases our positive emotion and decreases our negative emotion. It raises our overall satisfaction with life and helps us have a positive outlook. It has also been shown to reduce health complaints and help us cope with difficulties. It even appears to reduce the importance we place on material goods and, contrary to what we may think, it may also increase our ability to achieve our goals. Why does it work? We have a natural focus on what goes wrong in our daily lives, often going over and over these things in our head. We are quick to notice even the smallest of problems, yet we rarely spend any time at all dwelling on the good stuff. Things that brought us a quick smile or felt good are all too often forgotten or, perhaps, not even noticed in the first place. Taking notice This action is simple but incredibly powerful. It’s about taking time to notice the good things in our lives and get more from these. What’s more, if parents remember to talk about what they are grateful for, this can help their children learn to think about the good things in their lives and hopefully develop a gratitude habit they can benefit from for the rest of their lives. This action involves consciously spending a few minutes each day focusing on some of the good things that happened to us. By doing this, we start to notice what goes right as well as wrong in our lives. Even on a bad day, some good things happen – however small they might be. Exercise: Three good things 1. Every night: before you go to bed, think back over your day and remember three good things that happened – something that went well, that you enjoyed, or for which you were grateful. These can be small (a smile, the smell of trees and grass, the sun, a juicy orange, watching a child playing) or of greater importance. You’ll probably find that it varies. Try doing this for a week to start.  2. Note them down: this is important. You may want to get a small notebook just for this purpose. 3. Think about why: for each thing you’re grateful for, write down why it happened and why you feel good about it. This may feel a bit tricky at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. 4. Look back: after a week, have a look back on what you’ve written. How does it feel when you look at all these good things? Do you notice any themes? 5. Keep it up: try keeping it up for another couple of weeks at least. Many people find that it becomes a bedtime habit. After a while, you may find that you don’t need to do it every night. Three times a week, or even once a week, might be enough. You may also find that you start to appreciate the good things more as they happen. ‘Three good things’ orientates us towards a sense of appreciation and engagement in life. It works because it changes our focus from the things that go wrong in life and things that we take for granted to things that go well. Focusing our attention on things that go well acts as a buffer to depression and anxiety and increases our happiness as we reflect and immerse ourselves in that part of the glass that is half-full. Dr Eddie Murphy is a clinical psychologist, mental health expert and author. Members and students can contact CA Support on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294, by email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or online at www.charteredaccountants.ie/casupport

Apr 01, 2020

This is a strange and challenging time for everyone, and even though they can’t meet in person (just yet), Barden want to reach out and let students know that they’re here and more than happy to help. If you’re coming out of your training contract… Chances are you’ve lots of questions about your career, your next steps and your professional future. Or maybe you’re looking for some guidance about your CV, interview skills for the future or making LinkedIn work for you. As part of Barden's partnership with CASSI, they are delighted to offer students of Chartered Accountants Ireland, 1:1 phone / video call sessions. 1:1 Phone / Video Call Session just for CASSI Members Book a 1:1 phone or video call session with one of their expert advisory team today and they’ll answer every question you have; personal to your aspirations. Most importantly, they’ll give you the information you need to make your very best first step as a qualified accountant. How? Drop Barden a quick email and they’ll be in touch to take it from there. For anyone in Dublin, Ulster or the Southeast get in touch with Lisa Hughes, in our Dublin office, at lhughes@barden.ie.   For anyone in Cork, Galway, Sligo or the Midlands get in touch with Marissa Maher, in our Cork office, at mmaher@barden.ie.

Mar 31, 2020