A huge portion of the global population has adapted to working from home (WFH). Initially, the main concern for employers was productivity, but now as WFH has been extended, a bigger risk is employee burnout. For many, working from home has been thrust upon us and not a choice, so adapting quickly was essential. Employees who have chosen to work from home are usually good at separating their work from personal life and have a dedicated space. As WFH is likely to be extended, it is important to know and understand the risks and avoid burnout.Our knowledge economy ensures we are constantly connected, and keeping healthy boundaries between professional and personal life can be a real challenge. Emails are often sent late at night just to finalise or meet a deadline. This can have a trickle effect and other employees then feel it necessary to show similar dedication and productivity. Another consideration is colleagues often feel compelled to respond to emails sent outside normal office hours straight away, even though it may not be urgent.  If you have been feeling exhausted, disconnected, finding yourself procrastinating, and feel less effective in your job you could be suffering from burnout. Combining our work and personal life constantly is not good for our mental health. How do we ensure we protect ourselves and our colleagues? How can we leave our work at the door if we no longer walk out that door to work? The best way to do this is to create some boundaries. We have five tips to help you WFH successfully:1. Keep physical and social boundariesWhen going into work there are certain physical actions you do like putting on work clothes, catching the bus, or a train to work, these are indicators that help you switch into work mode. You may be happy not to have your daily commute, particularly if the weather is bad outside, but these signals are important for our brain. Try taking a short daily walk in the morning as your commute and dress comfortably but do try and wear some work clothes and not your usual casual wear for home. This will help you transition from “home you” to “work you”.2. Maintain a structure which worksSticking to the usual 9 – 5 pm structure may not be realistic for you, particularly in the current pandemic, you may have additional responsibilities e.g. a child at home or an elderly parent to check in on. Be honest with your employer and agree to a structure that works for both of you and stick to those hours. Employers and supervisors need to take a flexible approach to the working week to achieve the best productivity and a happier workforce.3. Prioritise your workloadEmployees working from home can sometimes lose sight of this basic time-management principle. Instead, they focus on productivity and demonstrating to others they have been very busy. Draw the focus back on work ,,and prioritise your workload. Do the important stuff first. Block out time appropriately if possible, it will make you more productive.4. Stay connectedIf you were working on-site, team communication is relatively easy, but we need to find a way to keep that connectivity so use the tools available to make it work. A team that remains connected it more motivated, driven, and productive.5. Celebrate your winsPaige Cohan from Harvard Business Review recommends that at the end of each day you celebrate your wins. Working from home is challenging, so by acknowledging what has been achieved it will focus your mind and help to motivate you.  Take a look at her at her short video  If you found this article interesting Noel O’Callaghan FCA and a qualified psychotherapist gives some insight into how to deal with burnout.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 10, 2020

In the same way that many of us found it difficult to get into a new routine in lockdown, it makes perfect sense that we will find it difficult to move on from there too. Remember, you have adapted and coped with change before and you will this time too. Understanding resilience and how to boost it will help us stay the course and finish the marathon. Personal resilience can be described as the capacity to adapt to adversity, while looking after your wellbeing. Resilience helps us to develop and maintain some balance in our lives during difficult or stressful situations. Boosting your resilience can help to protect you against challenging life experiences and prevent them from becoming overwhelming. AwarenessThis is about being aware of the situation and acknowledging what’s happening, as well as recognising your own emotional reactions and behaviour, and the behaviour of those around you.  In order to manage your feelings, you have to understand what’s causing them and why.Understanding that setbacks are part of lifeLife is full of challenges. The trick is to learn from any setbacks and be willing to adapt to change. Setbacks allow us to start again. They give us an opportunity to reset and to rethink our approach. This is an important life skill.Having an internal locus of controlResilient people tend to have an ‘internal locus of control’. It means they believe the actions they take will have an effect on the outcome of an event. It’s important for our mental wellbeing that we feel we have the power to make choices that will affect our situation, our ability to cope and our future. Ask yourself, ‘what can I do about this?’There will be occasions when the answer to the question is ‘nothing’. However, analysing the situation gives you a sense of control. It highlights your choices. Very often the list of things you can do will far outstrip the list of those you cannot. Strong problem-solving skillsAs we move out of lockdown it’s essential to calmly look at problems as they appear, explore potential solutions and work towards a successful outcome. Early on there may be a temptation to attempt to do too much, too soon.List a maximum of 5 things you’d like to achieve each day, put them in order of priority and then address them in that order. Stop regularly to ask yourself, ‘how is what I am currently doing contributing to what I want to achieve?’ At the end of each day, reflect positively on your achievements.Strong social connectionsCoronavirus has changed the way we socialise. Many of us will have made greater use of social media, many will have supported vulnerable people and some of us will, maybe for the first time in a long time, have spent quality time with our family.Research has highlighted for some time that stronger social connections in our lives increase feelings of happiness and self-worth. Those connections are valuable, so make time to interact with people in your life after lockdown. Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, makes you feel happier, increases your self-confidence and provides a sense of purpose. This could be a habit to take with you to boost your wellbeing as we move into the future.If you’ve been feeling isolated, use this exit as an opportunity to make a change. Perhaps join a club, take up a sport or re-engage with old friends.See yourself as a survivor, not a victimInstead of focussing on the negatives, focus on the positives as we emerge from lockdown and see yourself as a survivor. Ask yourself, ‘what opportunities does this situation present?’ whenever you’re faced with a difficult choice or situation.Ask for helpWhile being resourceful is an important part of resilience, it is also essential to know when to ask for help.If you’re struggling, you won’t be the only one. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.  Far too many people wait too long before seeking help, especially men.  For all your practical and emotional needs, contact our in-house CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or via email: CASupport@charteredaccountants.ieArticle written by Richard Jenkins, Behavioural Psychologist and kindly provided by CABA

Aug 20, 2020

Your mental wellbeing is about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.It's not the same thing as mental health, although the two can influence each other. Long periods of low mental wellbeing can lead to the development of diagnosable mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If you're living with a mental health condition, you may experience low mental wellbeing more often, but there will also be long periods where you're able to maintain good mental wellbeing.What does good mental wellbeing look like?Importantly, good mental wellbeing is NOT the absence of negative thoughts and feelings. We all face difficult and challenging situations that cause us to feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and everything in-between. Instead, it's about being able to understand and manage those feelings, so that generally you're able to:feel confident in yourselfbuild and maintain positive relationshipshave a sense of purposelive and work productivelycope with the normal stresses of day-to-day lifemanage when things changeWhat can affect your mental wellbeing?Our mental wellbeing is often affected by big life events that we have little or no control over such as bereavement, illness, or redundancy. In these situations, it's about how we respond - our behaviours and habits - that will determine the impact on our mental wellbeing. For example, do we tend to reach out for support or withdraw? Do we assume the worst or remain open to new opportunities?It's here that our level of resilience comes into play. Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you're better able to maintain good mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs.There are also factors that influence our mental wellbeing, which we can control.1. Our relationshipsStrong connections with friends, family and colleagues help to strengthen our confidence and self-esteem.2. Our physical healthThrough good nutrition and regular physical activity, we can boost our energy levels, improve our confidence, and relieve stress. Small changes make a big difference. 3. Our emotional healthPracticing mindfulness can help you understand and manage strong emotions so that rather than feeling overwhelmed, you're able to approach difficult situations with a sense of calm and clarity. The big pictureAt CA Support, our vision is for all members of the chartered accountant community to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. The key to this is empowering you to take care of your own mental wellbeing. Because when you don't feel quite yourself, other areas of your life are affected too. Our services can help you balance all aspects of your wellbeing, so you can live the life you want to.CONTACT USContact us through email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or call us on (353) 86 024 3294 we will be happy to assist.Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members and students.

Jul 23, 2020

“I’m going to like you.We’re going to be friends.”…is what I said to my Management Accounting book, the week after the CAP1s. Coming out of the exam hall, I knew that I had failed that subject. I’d put in the time studying, but didn’t understand it, and counted on enough of the theory coming up to cover myself. But it didn’t. So each evening, after work, I’d sit down to study. Friends teased me for being such a nerd- the results weren’t out yet!As predicted, I’d failed- scoring 25%. I continued to tell myself that I liked the subject as I studied. September came, and so did the repeat. I was on holiday and had just finished a hot air balloon ride when the Partner called me with the result- 62%. I felt sky high again!The science part…I didn’t know it at the time, but I had been practising “Neuro-Associative Conditioning”, a human behavioural science developed by Coach Tony Robbins. It’s all about changing our attitudes to increase our likelihood of success.What’s your current association to exam success?You want it, but thoughts of “what if I fail?”, “I just don’t understand it!” “I’ll do it later…” might be stronger in your nervous system. To get the results you want requires more than positive thinking- you need to change the meaning you give to study and actually feel good about doing it- from your head to your heart, right down to your gut!There are no shortcuts to success, but here are some ways that you can re-programme your mind to facilitate it:1. Begin with the end in mindThink of the big picture and take time to question- why are you doing this? It might be painful to sit down and study when you want to do other things, but ask yourself “what pleasure is it going to bring to my life in the long term?”…greater security, increased opportunities, a sense of achievement?  Once you’ve done this:• Write down what it is that’s driving you.• Spend a few moments daily, before you start studying, imagining your ideal future and reminding yourself that what you do in the present, will help to take you there. • Really feel and visualise your success to get it ingrained in your nervous system. Get excited about it!2. Get familiar and get it out of the wayWe don’t like changing our habits. Therapist Marissa Peer notes that the mind instinctively rejects what’s unfamiliar to us and returns to the familiar. This keeps us alive, protecting us from things perceived as dangerous. But this approach doesn’t always serve us- sticking to the familiarity of studying theory didn’t work for me. Good news though- studies show that it is possible to make what we don’t want to do familiar to us. We may even end up enjoying it! You just have to start the behaviour. Do it before you get comfortable doing something else. By consistently repeating, “I will make this familiar/I will like you”, you will. You can choose how you feel about something- knowing this gives you control. Getting what you dislike doing out of the way by prioritising it is empowering.3. Mind your languageListen to the language you use to describe studying. Are the words “hate”, “painful”, or negative sound effects common?Switching to more neutral language makes the process far more manageable. Phrases like:“I am determined to be a success, and I am prioritising my studies for me and my future”, or“I am choosing to feel great about doing what I don’t want to do” are great for interrupting our mind from negative internal conversations. 4. Celebrate your winsFocusing on your reward system will instil the habit of doing what you like least first. Maybe this is the lack of guilt/feeling of accomplishment by getting it done? Take your breaks and give yourself something to look forward to. And remember…Nothing is wasted. All the work you put in now will help going forward. Keep focused on that promising future of yours as you sit down with those books in the present!CA Support are here to assist you and we can be contacted on email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.  There are also other video supports on mindset available on our site.Article written byCharlotte Keating is a Member and Life, Business & Creativity Coach. With both trainee and managerial experience, she established Act On It Coaching to help fellow Chartered Accountants, trainees and other professionals achieve more balance and fulfilment in their lives. To get in touch or to find out more, visit www.actonitcoaching.com or contact charlotte@actonitcoaching.com

Jul 22, 2020

William is a Chartered Accountant who had his own business, but because of circumstances beyond his control he lost his business, his home and suffered with depression. CA Support have helped him throughout these difficult times, and he has given his permission for us to share his story with you. As a Chartered Accountant, I worked with a professional firm until 1985 when the entire department in which I worked was made redundant. With a partner I started my own business importing ladies fashion dresses and accessories from Hong Kong. It was very successful; the items were sold in exclusive outlets throughout the country. All went well until a supermarket chain sold identical items at a much lower price. My business partner left me with extensive business debts, so I had no choice but to sell my home. I was not aware of the Benevolent Society (CA Support) until I rang to explain why I could not pay my annual subscription fee. It was a huge relief to discover that there was support available to me. I worked hard to get my qualification and wanted to keep my membership up to date. On the initial call I explained my circumstances and it was a relief to have a friendly non-judgmental voice on the phone. There was a lot of unemployment at the time due to a severe economic downturn. To help those affected, the Benevolent Society (CA Support) hired the ballroom in the Intercontinental Hotel in Ballsbridge and asked me to address the large audience of unemployed accountants. The Institute then set up a small department to assist and offer advice to those who were unemployed. I was very glad I was able to help. I don’t know how I would have managed in the years that followed without their support. I am a very independent person, so the lack of control over my life was extremely difficult to accept. I was unable to find employment, my age went against me and I was also told that I was over-qualified. I turned to writing and had some short stories and magazines published. But the money didn’t cover a fraction of my outgoings, Unfortunately in the winter of 2013 I found myself homeless. I approached the DLR Housing Department and was initially promised accommodation but, the promise was not fulfilled. I was advised I could go into a hostel with the warning that I might have to share with a drug addict, an alcoholic or someone with mental health problems. It was only with the help of a compassionate community officer and my rector that my situation was resolved. Thankfully, I now have a home again I don’t know if I will ever forget that fearful experience, of not knowing what was going to happen to me. I still struggle to find words to express how awful it was. With assistance from CA Support I was able to go in a new direction. I continued with my writing, gave a series of public talks on the effect of suicide on those left behind and last September I gave a talk on the emotional impact of homelessness on mental health at the request of The Irish Council of Churches. For this, I could draw on my own personal experience of having been homeless. I have no doubt that there are others who have stories to tell on how CA Support has helped their lives and continue to do so. Speaking for myself, I hope that those who can will continue to support this organisation, especially now during the current Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertain future that face us all.   William Blackall CA Support are supporting our members and their families always. If you would like to help or if you need help please contact us by email or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.

Jun 04, 2020

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