High chances are you’re struggling with lockdown fatigue —the inevitable psychological fallout of Covid-19 and all it has brought with it. It’s the reason so many people are feeling exhausted, irritable, drained of energy and motivation — when they’re doing less than ever.  The way in which our lives have transformed in such a short space of time has heavily impacted our daily routines, as many individuals no longer have to wake up at a certain time in order to be punctual for work or college. With such unending disruption to our normal lives, affecting every activity and social interaction we have, it is important to focus on what we can control. So, what can we do to address some of this lethargy?  The routines in our daily lives can be a good place to start as these will give us a structure to hang our day upon and bring us a guaranteed level of certainty, which is so lacking right now: Don’t be so hard on yourself One of the most common things people do when they are experiencing fatigue is beat themselves up for not doing more.  This is counter-productive and results in feeling even more downbeat about lacking motivation.  Instead, tell yourself that the feelings of lethargy will pass and are only temporary.  Give yourself a break – stay in bed a little bit longer, stay up watching TV a little later and eat whatever gets you through that day.  The key thing here is this is a temporary situation. Give yourself the day off and start afresh the next morning. Refresh your routines It’s fair to say that as we are all feeling drained and despondent, thinking “what’s the point” with it all, it would be easy to allow the routines that give us structure and meaning in our day can be discarded too quickly.  It is important to adapt and refresh these instead. Changing small details about our routines can make them easier to stick to - taking a walk outside before you start your day, introducing a no-screen coffee break during your morning, or committing to making a connection with one friend or family member every day – either a phone call, social media connection or email.   Equally, so all the days don’t blend into one, create new routines for different days – yoga on Monday and Sunday, gardening on Tuesdays, baking on Thursdays, pampering spa nights on Fridays and so on.  The trick here is to break the monotony but not the positive habits that bring us comfort. Get up and move! We all know the many benefits we can enjoy from a little exercise. It is the one sure way of elevating our mood – creating a bubble bath of chemicals in the brain!  Taking a 20-minute walk outside, building in some stretches or yoga into our day, or jumping into the sea if we have access to the coast will help to reinvigorate our energy levels. Incorporating any movement into your day is vital in counteracting the damage of sitting crouched over your laptop for eight hours or more. The most important aspect here taking it day-by-day and step-by-step. Change your mindset This is easier said than done but can pay dividends to our mental health. Instead of reminding ourselves how hard the current lockdown is, how bored we are, how we miss our friends and family, or how much we need a holiday, try practising acceptance instead. Repeating the same negative mantras can retrigger your despair and frustration. By reframing your negative thoughts into more positive ones of acceptance, life starts to look very difficult before too long. Learning about re-framing the negative from someone like Edith Edgar in her book The Choice is a good place to start. She asserts that happiness is a choice, and acceptance is a key part of this. This strategy helped her survive and thrive despite spending years in Auschwitz’s concentration camp during the WWII.  She explores how we can be imprisoned in our own minds and shows us how to find the key to freedom. As Oprah Winfrey said of her story: “The Choice is a reminder of what courage looks like in the worst of times and that we all have the ability to pay attention to what we've lost, or to pay attention to what we still have”. And, so to sleep. It cannot be overstated how important getting plenty of shut eye is.  It is the one single wellbeing routine that we can practice which delivers the biggest return on our health. An optimum of 7-8 hours allow us to enjoy 5 REM cycles which is key in obtaining that deep sleep so important in maintaining our circadian rhythms which keep us physically and mentally fit. Avoiding caffeine from 12 noon and blue light two hours before bedtime, while ensuring a cool, completely dark room will all help you maintain a great sleep routine. Dee France, 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

Feb 11, 2021

We live in uncertain times and in a world of constant change.  We have to adapt very quickly to new restrictions and lack of freedom.  This comes at a price for our physical and emotional wellbeing. It is important that we focus on ways we can build our resilience and tackle our stress responses.  In the pre Covid-19 world, anxiety and depression were some of the most common mental health problems in western society, with 10% of us experiencing anxiety in the past year. With so much change in our lives, it’s inevitable that some of us will experience more anxiety now than we did before the pandemic.  Try these 4 simple techniques, to help ease anxiety and leave you feeling more relaxed. 1. 7/11 breath Closing your eyes and: Inhale to a count of 7 Exhale to a count of 11 Aim for 10 rounds of the 7/11 breath each time you practice This will help you feel calmer because the longer exhale stimulates the body’s relaxation response. 2. Altering the sensation Close your eyes and notice where you feel anxiety in your body Visualise what colour and or shape the anxiety would be Imagine how the colour and shape would need to change for the feeling of anxiety to be manageable and ok 3. Shaking off the stress When we experience anxiety, the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol run through our bodies. To break down these hormones we need to move, so shaking your body is a very effective way to release anxiety. Simply shake your arms, legs or torso vigorously, focusing on areas that feel uncomfortable. You could put on your favourite music! 4. Dialling down Close your eyes and imagine as vividly as possible a dial with the numbers 1 to 10 on it See or sense the needle registering at the number that best represents how anxious you feel right now Look at the dial and choose to turn it down to the amount of emotion you feel is appropriate to the situation 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 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.

Feb 02, 2021

 Stress and anxiety are often mentioned together, but they’re not the same thing. In fact, anxiety can be caused by stress – it’s what you feel when you’re uneasy about something, when you worry or when you’re afraid.Most people experience some level of anxiety from time to time. In many situations, feeling anxious is perfectly normal – if you’re taking your driving test, for instance, or going for a job interview. But once the situation has passed, your anxiety should disappear too. It becomes more of an issue when you feel overwhelmed by anxiety on a more frequent basis – or all the time.Anxiety can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, such as:Faster breathing or shortness of breathIncreased or irregular heart rateFeeling tired but not being able to sleepLight-headedness or dizzinessHeadacheFeeling restless, unable to concentrateSweating or having hot flushesFeeling constantly on edgeFearing the worst (having a sense of dread)Feeling that other people are looking at youNot being able to stop thinking about negative thingsNot being able to motivate yourself Anxiety levelsMild anxietyGenerally speaking, mild anxiety is the type that most of us experience on a day-to-day basis during certain situations. You may have an uneasy feeling in your stomach, and you may feel your pulse increase slightly. But anxiety at this level can also be beneficial, as it can help you to focus and increases your alertness.Moderate anxietyModerate anxiety is similar to mild anxiety but can become more severe and overwhelming, making you feel more nervous and agitated.Moderate anxiety can mean you place your complete attention on the thing or situation that’s making you feel anxious and ignore everything else around you. You may start to experience stronger physical and emotional anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension, sweaty palms, a shaky voice, back pain and changes in your sleep pattern. Emotionally you may feel more sensitive and excited than normal, and you may also feel less confident.Severe anxietySevere anxiety is the highest level, when you stop being able to think rationally and experience severe panic. You may feel afraid and confused, agitated, withdrawn and you may also find it difficult to think clearly. Your breathing may quicken, and you may start to perspire while your muscles will feel very tense.Anxiety disordersThere are also several anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). Unlike being anxious about a specific thing or situation, GAD is when you feel anxious about lots of different issues, often for no good reason.Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a specific type of anxiety, where you feel very stressed or fearful about something traumatic that’s happened to you.Panic disorderPanic disorder is when you have panic attacks on a regular basis. A panic attack can make you feel nauseated, sweaty, shaky and lightheaded, and you may feel your heart beating very quickly or irregularly (palpitations). They may not be harmful in a physical sense, but panic attacks can be very frightening.PhobiasPhobias are also a type of anxiety disorder. You may have a phobia when you have an overwhelming or exaggerated fear of something that normally shouldn’t be a problem. Depending on what type of phobia you have, it can seriously affect your daily life as well as cause a great deal of distress.Social anxiety disorder – or social phobia – is a type of phobia where you have an intense fear of social situations.If you think you may have the symptoms of an anxiety disorder or if anxiety is a constant issue in your life, it’s important to get the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. 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.ieThis article was kindly provided by CABA

Sep 30, 2020

When I failed SFMA and Financial Reporting, it felt like an unexpected break-up. I hadn’t anticipated failing. All that time invested in study and now I had to start all over again!Work smarter, not harderBut that’s just it- you’ve already put in the hard work and laid the foundation. You are not starting from scratch. This time round it’s about working smarter, not harder. Use your time and energy wisely.Take a few days for yourself if you need to. It is a form of loss and can be a very lonely time. Talk things through with supportive people, indulge in some self-care and do things that make you happy.I remember the Partner in my Department calling me at the time and encouraging me to “get back up on the horse!”. That’s what I did and know that you can, too.Ways to get back on trackCapitalise on the time and energy you’ve already invested studying by preparing for the repeat in the following ways:Boost your confidence. It’s helpful to write down all of your achievements to date, as far back as you can remember. Look at them- aren’t you proud? Reflect on your study routine and exam technique. Be honest with yourself:-What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of?-What should you do differently?-What can you start doing?-What must you stop doing altogether?  You know best! What resources are available to help you?You are not on your own with this challenge. Utilise the resources available to you, which include:-          Role models- Senior colleagues may surprise you by sharing their stories of failure with you. When I realised that others ahead of me had failed, I felt less alone and also realised that I could still advance in my career even after this set-back. You can learn from others how they achieved success when it seemed impossible. -          Additional classes and grinds-Taking additional classes run by Chartered Accountants Ireland was really valuable. A group of us who were repeating also arranged a day of grinds which was very beneficial. -          Help from colleagues and peers- Reach out to people who have sat exams recently. I received a great deal of support from colleagues the year ahead of me when I struggled with past paper questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Most people will be happy to assist, as they’ve been there too! You might also arrange calls and study sessions with others who are repeating where you can share thoughts. -          CA support- CA Support are here to assist you and can be contacted on email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or on 01 637 7342 or 086 024 3294.  There are also other video supports and articles available on our site.  Ease back into study by reading relevant articles that make the subject come to life for you and keep it interesting. Make it an activity that you enjoy and build your confidence back up this way! While the process is still fresh in your mind, going through as many sample questions and past papers as you can may be easier than immediately going back to the text books.  Take time for you every day. Your well-being is more important than anything else, so do something that you love daily. Prioritise yourself and make sure that you eat well, get enough exercise, fresh air and rest. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to have tunnel vision when in study-mode.And finally…This experience is a tough one to go through. It might feel very unfair, stressful and worrying. Please know that even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, it will all come together in the end and although it sounds cliché, you will be stronger. You may become a future specialist in an area because of the additional time you’ve had to spend studying it! Opportunities can come from the most surprising places. As you continue your studies, celebrate the results that you have already achieved in your life!By Charlotte Keating. Charlotte is a Chartered Accountant and the founder of Act On It Coaching, www.actonitcoaching.comCA 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 29, 2020

CA Support in collaboration with CASSI are delighted to announce a motivational webinar with Tony Og Regan at 1.00 on the 30th September. Tony is a keen advocate of CA Support and in this bespoke webinar will motivate and guide students onto their next challenge. During his time as a trainee and the disappointment of not passing them the first time was a huge setback. A former Galway Hurler and a Chartered Accountant, he is now also a Performance Psychology Coach. He runs his own coaching business that inspires, supports, and enables people, teams, and organisations to achieve peak wellbeing and performance. In this webinar he will concentrate on how to overcome exam setbacks- develop the key tools to deal with setbacks effectively and comeback strongerHe will share with students:Why our state of mind has an important role to play in overcoming setbacks/challengesHow elite performers in sport and business manage their state of mind in challenging situationsUnderstand what state of mind we are in right nowWhat is enabling or blocking us for moving forwardWhat are the key tools we can use to accelerate our growth from setbacks/challenges?To register click here Overcoming exam set-backsTo read more about how he coped with change and his journey. 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 24, 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