Each year in January we have Blue Monday, and it has been cited as the most depressing day of the year. However, it is important not to allow the concept to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps it is time to re-train our brain - maybe January could be the time for new beginnings. The days start to become a little brighter and we are a step closer to Spring and Summer. There is something re-assuring about the subtle change in nature in anticipation of better weather that can lift our spirits and encourage us to look to the future. With the current restrictions in place time is something which is not in short supply, so perhaps make plans and try to think about what we can do instead of what we cannot do. Enjoying an early morning walk Having breakfast with your kids Exploring, and appreciating, your local area Getting out in nature every day Embrace online learning Tackling that big DIY project and much-avoided clear-out Develop new gardening skills Learn to cook or bake Start to play an instrument Catch up with friends on Zoom Activity/Health Now is a good time to think about your health. Being active and having a healthy heart has never been more important. A regular walk will make a big difference and there is plenty of workouts or classes online, no matter what your fitness level is. Self-care Managing our stress and anxiety levels is essential and many people use meditation or yoga. But everyone is different, and some find painting or gardening works. Explore some options and find what works for you.  Dublin City Council has developed a great website with lots of activities and classes to keep us occupied and content during lockdown: Holding it together apart. Appreciation The New Year gives us time to reflect and consider our surroundings, our family, friends, and appreciate all that is good in our lives. It also gives us the opportunity to consider changing things which perhaps were not so good for us.    If, however, Blue Monday has made an impact on you then perhaps CA Support can help? We have a 1:1 confidential listening service and lots of other supports to help get your mojo back. CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Jan 13, 2021

We are in unpredictable times and 2020 taught us to cherish what we have, particularly family and friends, take nothing for granted and look after our physical and mental health. Certainly, getting a fresh start in 2021 is really appealing and creating some new year resolutions or goals means we start off on the right foot.  New habits and behaviours can be challenging they don’t happen overnight and can take commitment and dedication.  The brain does not like swift, abrupt change, but benefits can be very worthwhile, so think of this as an investment in yourself. The top ten resolutions each year include: Exercise more Lose weight Get organized Learn a new skill or hobby  Live life to the fullest Save more money / spend less money Quit smoking Spend more time with family and friends Travel more Read more Most of us can relate to some or all the resolutions listed. Resolutions and goals are unique to each of us, so perhaps before you create them consider the questions below: How would you like to feel? Will the resolution help you get there? Would you recommend this resolution to a friend of colleague? How will the resolution impact you? Are you removing something and simply making a change? What is the improvement you want to make and why? When it comes to new year resolutions almost half of us are unsuccessful at fulfilling them, so perhaps we need to consider how we approach them? Below are some tips which may help to keep you on track and ensure success in 2021 Be mindful When embarking on changing a habit or behaviour it is important to prepare mentally by taking a step back and taking stock. When thinking about any change try to keep in mind: Change should be gradual Build on smaller changes Remain positive Accept that there could be setbacks and allow for them Own them Ensure the goals you have set are yours and that this is something you want and not something which you think you should be aiming for. You have a far better chance for success if you are intrinsically motivated to reach your goal Be realistic Do not create a long list, limit the number of resolutions you commit to. Be selective about the ones which mean the most and are the most attainable for you.  Be specific It’s easy to set goals which we cannot achieve, so take some time to ensure they are achievable. A good suggestion is to use SMART to help you create them: Specific - What do you want to achieve, break it down be specific Measurable - How can you measure if you have achieved it e.g., walk a mile in 20 minutes or lose 10% of your weight Attainable – Is the goal or resolution attainable e.g., this is not a good year to include world travel, but it might a good year to travel your corner of the world Relevant - Keep it relevant to you, your life and how you want to improve it Timeline – Give yourself an appropriate deadline to work towards Small wins Break them up into small pieces.  As you tick off each box, your confidence will grow with each small success and spur you on. Share them By keeping the resolution to yourself you can fall into a trap and give up at the first hurdle. By sharing these with others you become accountable and less likely to forget or give in. You could also find that by sharing, other like-minded people may join you. Keep going Setbacks happen, but it is how you handle them that counts. Own the setback, understand how and why it happened and move on. Remember “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” Lao Tzu.   CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Jan 05, 2021

We continue to provide a number of supports to those in our community who have been unduly affected by the pandemic and other personal challenges.  More members and students than ever have required financial assistance.  Some have lost their jobs and their livelihoods, others are dealing with a bereavement or a chronically ill family member, while others have been unable to work because of severe mental or physical health challenges.  Whatever their circumstances, or their individual needs, we are determined to help each and every one of them.  We aim to provide practical support so they can get back on their feet with their dignity intact.  Donations to this valuable service are the life blood of our work and your gift could change a life. Below is a snapshot of some of the people who have benefited from your generosity and our assistance: William is a Chartered Accountant who lost his business, his home and suffered with depression. CA Support helped him throughout these difficult times. Read his story from Boardroom to Hostel. "Feeling compelled to ask for assistance has been a humbling experience but the response of CA Support has confirmed my faith in the profession I have been a member of for over 30 years." A member with a long-term illness with two children in education In this short video Karen speaks about the assistance and support she received from CA Support when her daughter Niamh was diagnosed with a brain tumour and difference it made to their lives. A family in crisis "I have gone back to work part-time. At long last I have my life in order. I wish to thank CA Support for their help and kindness over the last few years.” Woman separated from her husband "Your support has been an answer to a prayer. We are more grateful than words can easily express. I have struggled with the black dog a lot and every time I think I have got my feet back under me, another wave seems to hit” Member who suffered with depression Unsurprisingly, during the COVID crisis, we have seen a significant uplift in the numbers of students and members reaching out for help. From recent research conducted by Laya Healthcare, the is a major gap in the numbers needing mental health support (90% of respondents) versus those who actively engage with support services (10%).  We know our community of accountants is no different. We are working hard to reach all those in need.  There is now a real imperative to come together to provide this support and ensure that no-one is left behind. To continue to provide ongoing support to those in need, we urgently require your help.  Donations big and small could help to change the life. See more about how CA Support can help you and those in need in our community. Please give what you can.

Dec 03, 2020

A unique combination of mental health stresses is being created with lockdowns, economic anxiety, enforced social distancing, poor weather and isolation.  Everyone will be experiencing a unique set of challenges brought about by the situation we find ourselves in and whilst they are different for everyone, remember that you are not alone in your challenges. We are all affected in some way. Taking proactive steps to care for yourself and others during the winter months will help you feel connected and well. Here are some tips if you’re feeling the pressure: Routine It’s vital if you want to stay motivated that you set a routine. If you’re working, make sure you get up at a regular time and start by 9am. Routines give structure to the day and setting small achievable goals can help you to stay motivated during this time.  To do list Start by writing a small manageable list of things you want to achieve. Work towards ticking off those goals even if they are small. Remember to celebrate your achievements and take time to focus on what you are proud of which will help boost your confidence.  Start by writing a small manageable list of things you want to achieve. Work towards ticking off those goals even if they are small. Remember to celebrate your achievements and take time to focus on what you are proud of which will help boost your confidence.  Stay socially connected Keep in touch with your colleagues. Give them a call, maybe first thing – it will help you both realise you’re not alone. Reach out regularly to family and friends to make sure they are ok during this time. Make the most of online platforms if you can’t meet face to face.  Eat well Make sure you eat properly and stay hydrated throughout the day.  Eat foods that protect your mood. What you eat affects how you think and feel. Individuals who switch from eating mostly junk foods to avoiding sugar, eating lots of vegetables, and cooking healthy meals at home often report feeling much more energetic and have an overall improvement in mood and general wellbeing.  Limit your alcohol consumption Alcohol has a substantial impact on your mood. During the spring, the European WHO issued a recommendation for people to limit alcohol during Covid, for mental health reasons. If you’re vulnerable to mental health ups and downs, as many of us are in the winter months use alcohol very carefully and remember that it is a depressant and has a significant impact on your sleep patterns.  Mindset Health Psychologist, Kari Leibowitz researched the impact of the winter months on the citizens of Tromsø, a Norwegian city which at some points in the year has only 2-3 hours of sunlight a day. Leibowitz's research showed that citizens did not experience the type of wintertime depression you might expect. Her work concluded that a protective factor was the mindset of the community within Tromsø and how they perceived the winter months. Leibowitz’s findings build on decades of previous research showing that the mental framing of stressful events can powerfully influence the ways we are affected by them. People who see stressful events as challenges, with an opportunity to learn and adapt, tend to cope much better than those who focus more on the threatening aspects – like the possibility of failure, embarrassment, or illness. Whilst our appraisal of whether an event feels like a threat, or an opportunity, will depend on our circumstances and our resources to handle the problems we encounter it is sometimes possible to change our appraisal of a situation consciously. Aim to find the things about winter that you might enjoy and value and focus on them. Get as much fresh air and daylight as you can At lunchtime take a walk or sit outside, put your phone down, look around and enjoy the peace and quiet. Finish work at a reasonable time Don’t be tempted to work late into the evening, try and finish at a regular time. Put the phone down After “work” is over, try to forget about it. Enjoy time with a partner or family. Allow yourself to decompress from the pressures of the day and recharge yourself for the next day ahead. Sleep Get enough good quality sleep, every night. Sleep has a huge impact on our mood, and our ability to cope with stress and adversity.  Think of the last time you had a poor or short night’s sleep, how hard it was to get through your workday. Know how many hours of sleep you need a night to feel at your best and do whatever it takes to get that sleep. Exercise, exercise, exercise I can’t emphasise this one enough. Regular cardiovascular exercise has a powerfully protective, boosting effect on your mood. It has been shown in studies to be as effective as antidepressants in treating moderate levels of depression. If you’re vulnerable to low moods, anxiety, stress or burnout, exercise should be your best friend. Try to get moving every single day. Find ways to exercise indoors or bundle up and get outside if you can.  Plan for the other side This will end, we simply don’t know when yet, and when it does you need to be in the best shape possible to seize any opportunities. Get planning!   Remember as winter approaches that although it may be a difficult time, eventually the seasons will change, and it will make way for springtime and a time of regrowth. Finally, as good things often come in three’s … 1. This situation may last a long time, but it will have an end, it will change in its form and shape and eventually opportunities will arise 2.  Don't be held back by your idea of how things should be and aim to adopt an attitude of curiosity about the coming months 3.   It may all feel very personal, but take a moment to remember that everyone is struggling in one way or another Written by Kirsty Lilley Kirsty has delivered mindfulness and self-compassion courses to a wide variety of workplaces during her career and is also a trained psychotherapist and coach. She has worked at a strategic level within organisations developing wellbeing policies and been responsible for developing training courses on improving mental health and wellbeing, as well as courses designed to help line managers support people with mental health difficulties effectively and continually works towards the reduction of stigma within workplace settings. Kirsty is committed to an integrated and compassionate approach when helping others to fulfil their potential. CA Support has a confidential listening service and is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie This article was kindly provided by CABA

Nov 18, 2020

The theme of Alcohol Awareness Week 2020 is change, something that most people find challenging, but change has been ever present since March.  As we spend more time at home it is easy to reach for that glass of wine or bottle of beer. We can easily slip into a pattern of using alcohol as a tool to cope with the boredom, the restrictions and lack of social contact. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to force a change in our mindset and seek alternative tools. Covid 19 has increased our levels of anxiety and stress and put significant pressure on our mental health, however high levels of alcohol consumed regularly can undermine our physical and mental health. The World Health Organisation states that a high consumption of alcohol can compromise your immune system and therefore make it more likely to contract the virus, so being mindful of the amount we drink will ensure we are protected and less vulnerable. If you are finding you are inclined to drink more heavily and frequently, then perhaps it is an opportunity to explore alternative coping strategies. Being mindful and observing a low-risk relationship with alcohol can make a big difference to your anxiety levels and mood. Below are some tips to get you started: Stick to the weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines If you can stick to these guidelines it will reduce alcohol related problems The recommended weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines are less than: 11 standard drinks for women 17 standard drinks for men Drinks should be spread out over the week –no more than 2 standard a day for men, or 1 standard a day for women. Have 2-3 alcohol-free days per week. For more on these guidelines and what is a standard drink check out the HSE site  The Ask About Alcohol  drinks calculator also provides fact-based non-judgmental information about how drinking affects health, wallet and weight. Be aware of your mental health & wellbeing Physical distancing is very different to social isolation, so use the tools available to stay connected with family and friends. By connecting with others is essential as it gives us purpose and a sense of belonging. Get out and about, walking and being outside is so good for our mental health. Keep a routine that works Most of us not only like routine, but we need it, so find a routine that works for you and reap the benefits. Keeping structure to your day and evenings will really help you to stay focused. Find alcohol free alternative tools While working from home or self-isolation we have more time on our hands, so why not explore new options. Reaching for that drink each evening can become a bad habit and one which could be hard to break. Reconnect with hobbies or interests you once had or learn a new skill and try some relaxation or mindfulness. Take a news break Turn off the endless newsfeed for a few hours. Anxiety, depression, and alcohol are linked, so give yourself a break and take sometime out from social media and all news feed. You will be amazed how quickly your mood can change once these distractions are removed. CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email: CASupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Nov 12, 2020

 Our lives have changed a lot since March. The constant newsfeed draws our focus back to restrictions or bad news, making it difficult to see any positive outcomes, but there are many new behaviours we have developed that we don’t want to give up.   What are the lockdown habits you developed in the last few months? Maybe you tried and kept some of these: Enjoying an early morning walkHaving breakfast with your kidsExploring, and appreciating, your local areaGetting out in nature every dayEmbracing online learningTackling that big DIY project and much-avoided clear-outDeveloping new gardening skillsLearning to cook or bakeStarting to play an instrumentBinged on box setsCaught up with friends on ZoomAs new agile and flexible working arrangements will be key benefits for most people, but what smaller changes made to your day-to-day life are now non-negotiable? Are there any healthy habits you would like to keep?Family mealsThere was nowhere to rush off to, so families got to enjoy meals together again. This was certainly a novelty for anyone with teenagers at home or if a parent had a long commute. Sitting together as a family to enjoy a meal became the norm, so holding onto this habit would be beneficial for everyone.CommunityAs movements were restricted initially people explored their local community a bit more. No commute meant we saw neighbours we had not seen in a long time. There are many heart-warming stories of people helping each other within a community setting. This sense of community had been lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life and has found a welcome return and hopefully, we will keep and cherish it.Activity/HealthSome people binge-watched box sets, and some binge walked and did daily workouts online. Daily walks became very popular and we enjoyed nature again. Being active and having a healthy heart is always good, so hopefully, we will be able to carry these activities into the future.Self-careThe last few months have been a time of anxiety and stress, particularly if you have a vulnerable person in the family. To manage stress and anxiety many people took us meditation or yoga. Both are healthy skills with many benefits, so are always good to have and maintain.AppreciationAbove all else, the crisis has taught us appreciation. To take time to consider our surroundings, our family, friends, and appreciate all that is good in our lives. It has allowed us to reflect and consider changing things which were not so good for us.   By showing appreciation and reflecting we are more aware and conscious that others may need help or support, and this is the best habit we could take forward and keep.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Sep 16, 2020