Wellbeing articles

Retirement means not only coping with changes to your finances, but also thinking about the impact your retirement will have on your family life and your mental and physical wellbeing.

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

Change is the one constant thing in our lives, we are surrounded by change the weather change several times in one day, but we adapt. However, some people embrace change and see opportunities to grow and learn and others dread it and find it very difficult to adapt.  Changes which are outside our control and not expected are more difficult to accept e.g. dealing with unexpected illness, job loss, recession, or a major disaster. Some changes can be very positive and open opportunities to learn new things, develop new skills or qualities we didn’t know we had. As children we accept change easily, but as adults our brain and body block change and the chemistry of how our brain copes with change is very interesting. We hosted a webinar with Dr Celine Mullin called Creating habits beyond Covid 19 in which she describes this process and how we can create habits which will enable us to adapt to change more effectively We also have some handy tips that may help. Just remember that dealing with change is rarely instant, and that coping with or adapting to change can take time. See things differently Instead of dreading the changes in your life, try to see each as an opportunity to learn. If you can see change in a positive – rather than negative – light, it can boost your resilience and help you deal with it more positively too. This can be especially helpful at work, since having a negative attitude towards change could mean you'll be overlooked when new and interesting projects come along. These days work environments are changing at a faster pace than ever, so seeing change as something to grasp with both hands instead of something to fear and resist could bring many new opportunities. Meanwhile, instead of letting change creep up on you, try to be more proactive and look out for any changes that may be coming. Thinking ahead and planning can also make you feel that you have more control over what happens to you. Keep a record The next time you're faced with a major change, keeping a note of how you feel about it, as well as how you plan to deal with it, could be useful. Instead of burying your head in the sand and hoping everything will go back to normal, write about your feelings towards whatever is changing in your life. After you have recorded your feelings, decide what you want to achieve in respect to the change in question. Then write down your goals and how you plan to make them happen, including the skills you have that could help. Be really specific where your goals are concerned and think about how you can measure your success. Don't forget to set achievable goals and, where possible, set a clear timeframe for reaching them. Also try finding the benefits or opportunities that this change might bring and write them down too. If you have been affected by things such as bereavement, illness, redundancy or financial loss, this can obviously be difficult – but those who look hard enough can often find something to be positive about, no matter how small. Make a point of writing at least one benefit a day. Move on When change comes along that you can't control, don't let it get the better of you. Try to carry on with everything else in your life as normally as possible, as this itself can reinforce the ways in which your life isn't changing – which itself can be reassuring. Realise that there are some things you can do, and some things that you can't do, and instead of dwelling on any mistakes you may have made, put them behind you and move on. One way to keep your worries in perspective is to take a long-term view. For instance, how do you see the changes that are happening now affecting you in one, two or even six months? Remind yourself that change itself never lasts, and that things will become normal again at some point as the change becomes more familiar to you. Be a team player Helping others is a great way to gain experience and build resilience, so take every opportunity to make life easier for those around you who are experiencing changes. And when you find yourself affected by change, don't try to go it alone – know when to ask for help. Build a network of people who can support and guide you whenever you need them, and support and guide them when they need help too. For instance, if you are experiencing changes at work, talk to your colleagues and find out how they are coping. You could well find that you can help each other to manage any changes that are happening in the office more effectively. Look after yourself Change can be exhausting on an emotional – and often physical – level. So instead of battling through it, take time to recharge your batteries. This doesn't have to involve a complete break but could be something as simple as taking a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. Sometimes change can also mean less time to yourself – after having a promotion at work, for instance, when you may feel pressured into working longer hours. At times like these it's especially important to remember to eat healthily, to get some exercise and to relax as much as possible when you're not at work. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world

Jun 18, 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

If you’ve recently retired or are approaching your retirement, have you thought about how you’ll keep your mind active outside of a work environment? With brain power, many experts believe it really is a case of use it or lose it. So, if you don’t keep yours ticking over, could it be a blow for your cognitive powers? While some people believe that retirement comes at an age when a decline in memory and brain power occurs naturally, many experts disagree. A recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences suggests that the more you want to use your brain and the more you enjoy doing so, the more likely you are to stay sharp as you get older. The study also found that doing a variety of different cognitive activities helps to boost brain power after retirement – which means for the best results, you should seek out lots of different ways to challenge your mind. Doing crosswords and other puzzles such as Sudoku can help keep your mind active. But there are also many other types of brain training games and exercises you can access free on the internet. Here are a few you can try right now: BrainHQ is a brain fitness training programme developed by neuroscientists. It claims to improve how your brain functions with dozens of games and exercises that target memory, attention, brain speed, intelligence and even people skills. Again, you can try it for free or subscribe for full access. Happy Neuron claims to stimulate the five main cognitive brain functions, namely memory, attention, language, executive functions (reasoning, logical thinking) and visual and spatial skills. Sign up and play the games for free for seven days. Merriam-Webster – the US dictionary publisher, also offers a range of more conventional online quizzes and games. Be careful however, if you try the spelling games, as they’re based on American, as opposed to British, spelling. If your memory isn’t quite what it used to be, read our article Easy ways to boost your memory for tips on how to keep your mind more agile. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 23, 2019

If you forget someone's name the minute after you've been introduced to them, you may also struggle to keep important facts and numbers in your head. As for your desk, it's probably littered with post-it notes reminding you of dates, meetings and other appointments you might otherwise forget. Sound familiar? Well you're not alone. Most people struggle to remember everything, thanks to our ever-busier lifestyles. So if you've ever walked into a room only to wonder what on earth you went there for, here are some memory-boosting tips to keep your mind agile: Make up some mnemonics A mnemonic is a tool that helps you to remember things. Most people associate mnemonics with acronyms, where a word spells out the initial letters of a sentence, phrase or other information (or vice versa ). If you studied music at school, for instance, you may have learned the notes on the lines of the treble stave – EGBDF – as 'every good boy deserves favour'. Or if you were an astronomy student, you may have learned a mnemonic for the order of the planets ('my very excited mother just served us nine pies' for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). But there are different types of mnemonics. Rhymes are a good example. Most people know the mnemonic that helps with spelling, 'i before e except after c'. The rhyme that starts '30 days hath September', on the other hand, is a great aide memoir for remembering the number of days in the months of the year. You can make up your own mnemonics for things you find hard to remember. Think of a simple rhyme to remember someone's name – for instance, Sally from the valley, or Sam likes ham. You could also use a visual mnemonic to remember someone's name. So if you're introduced to someone called George Woods, imagine him with a tree growing out of his head. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. Train your brain Many people find that mind games such as crosswords and Sudoku help keep their memory sharp. Similarly, learning a musical instrument can help because it makes fresh connections in your brain – in fact, learning any kind of new skill is an effective brain booster. Get talking Researchers from the University of Zurich claim talking to someone may give your memory a boost, even more so than doing puzzles and other brain training exercises. Writing in the journal The Cochrane Library, the scientists analysed a number of different studies involving volunteers taking part in memory tests. They found that many achieved higher scores after taking part in discussions. So if you live on your own and your work doesn't involve that much conversation, pick up the phone and chat to a friend. Use repetition Routine may be boring, but it can help you to remember things. If you have tablets to take on a regular basis, take them at the same time of day, every day – with your morning coffee or evening cup of tea, for example. It will soon become a habit. Repetition works for other things too, such as repeating someone's name soon after you've been introduced to them (saying their name out loud will help you to remember it). Learn to dance Some scientists believe learning dance steps can help keep your memory sharp. A report from the Einstein College of Medicine in New York, for example, followed 500 people aged 60 plus who took part in a variety of exercises including swimming, cycling, walking and dancing. But only those who went dancing were found to have a lower risk of mental deterioration. Then again, any form of exercise will help your heart to pump blood more effectively, which means a better supply of blood to your brain. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity exercise per day. Eat brain food A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can give your brain the antioxidants and nutrients it needs to perform effectively. Omega-3 fatty acids – found mainly in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and pilchards – are thought to be helpful when it comes to maintaining brain function too. Herbal medicine experts also believe a supplement made from a plant called ginkgo biloba helps to boost blood circulation to the brain, which may improve your memory as well as your concentration. Get plenty of sleep If you have an important event coming up – an exam or an interview, for instance – make sure you get a good night's sleep beforehand. Scientists from the University of Geneva believe that sleep helps your brain to consolidate new experiences and learning, as well as to boost your memory. That's because when you sleep, connections between nerve cells in your brain are strengthened, and that may help you to learn and remember things more easily. Find out more about boosting your memory by reading our article Does your mind need a spring clean? Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 23, 2019

Now that winter has finally loosened its grip, it's time for many people to give their homes a top-to-bottom spring clean. And as anyone who has ever had a major clear-out at home knows, it can give you a huge sense of satisfaction. But what about spring cleaning your mind? One good reason to do just that is to improve your memory. According to researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, as you get older you have so much more information to remember. So having the odd memory lapse may have nothing to do with the first signs of dementia, it could be that your mind is simply bursting at the seams. The researchers carried out tests with adults of all ages, and discovered the older volunteers had less working memory than the younger ones. But reducing 'clutter' in the mind by practising relaxation exercises could help, they concluded. Other experts believe that holding on to negative thoughts from past experiences can cause unnecessary stress. But how exactly do you declutter – or detox – your mind? Here are a few ideas... Learn how to meditate This doesn't have to mean sitting cross-legged on the floor and burning incense. Meditation can just mean closing your eyes for a minute or two and relaxing. Make yourself comfortable (sit, stand or lie down, if you feel like it), close your eyes and listen to the sound of your breathing. Don't worry if your mind starts to wander off – if it does, just keep breathing slowly and deeply, and bring your attention back to your breath. Get some fresh air Now that the weather is improving, there's no better way to revitalise your body and your mind by taking a walk outdoors, especially if you can walk in a natural setting. Go for a hike in the country, walk along the beach, or visit a local park or green space. Keep a notebook Write down all the thoughts that are swirling around your head – such as details you need to remember or things that are worrying you. Your mind may find it easier to let go of worries if they have been written down. And the things you really do need to remember – such as when bills need to be paid and other important dates – will be there in your notebook when you need them. Turn off your phone Spend an hour each day clearing your mind. Switch off your phone and other gadgets that distract you, such as the TV, radio and computers. Try not to fill your head with more information that isn't essential, and you'll feel better for it. Get rid of negativity Try to release all those thoughts in your mind that lead to blaming and complaining, and remember you can choose to be more positive if you want to. You'll be surprised at how much more free your mind will feel if you do. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 23, 2019