Are Money Worries Getting You Down Already?

Goodness knows, we’re only just into a new year but maybe it already feels as if you’re hitting your head against a brick wall, at least where money’s concerned.

If 2021 was a year when you were furloughed and just couldn’t live on the money you were getting or, a relationship broke up and you’re far worse off financially, it’s easy to think that life’s getting really hard. Maybe you ran your own business but it took a huge hit during the pandemic (and maybe you still haven’t recovered). If so, don’t despair….read on.

It’s rarely easy having a reduced income – okay, some people manage perfectly well and cut down on what they realised were little luxuries, but for a lot of us, it’s hard-going when we know we’ve got to economise and give up stuff that made life that bit better.

You don’t need me to give you loads of tips – there are lot of money-saving blogs you can read but what I do want to emphasise is that it doesn’t all have to be hard work. If you can work out a budget and allow for a few emergencies (new school shoes, an unexpected birthday) and try to keep to that, it’s a good start.

I’m not sure how you feel about this, but if you can stretch to lunch with a couple of friends, try to put it to them that you haven’t got vast amounts of money and would like to pay for your own lunch rather than split the bill equally. I say this from experience, having been to meals where someone has had a starter, main course and dessert as well as a glass of wine and a coffee to finish with, whilst I’ve had a pizza and salad, along with tap water. How is splitting the bill and paying half the total fair in that case? Well, it’s not and although it takes courage to speak up, it’s possible that your friend didn’t think about it before you said something. If they’re peeved, try not to get upset about it – it’s not a crime to be short of money, and no-one should have to suffer embarrassment because of it.

A lot of money-saving blogs emphasise walking, cycling or taking the bus to save money on transport. This is a great idea if there’s plenty of public transport available but if you live in a rural area it’s not so easy so don’t beat yourself up if you have to take the car. Look online to see the cheapest petrol in your area and fill up when you’re going past the garage rather than making a special journey to get it.

Anything that you manage to save on, put the amount into an old coffee jar or tin…..it all mounts up.

Having said that, one thing that can really help is if you can give yourself a small reward if you keep to your budget. Just a large coffee in a nice coffee shop is enough to keep you going when you’re really trying hard to get by.

When you’re passing a shop, or shops, and there are some gorgeous things in the window, ask yourself “Do I really need that?” before you go in and buy something.

Sell any of your old or practically unused items on FB or eBay – every little helps. In fact, that could be your new mantra this year!

Anything that you manage to save on, put the amount into an old coffee jar or tin…..it all mounts up.

So, I have given you a few tips, but hopefully not too many to have made this a boring read. Some of these are things that I’ve found work for me, so I hope that you find them helpful without being overwhelming.

Lastly, let me know what you think! If you’ve found this blog interesting or otherwise, let me know.

You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

When Someone Close To You Has Mental Health Issues

Going into the New Year, a lot of us feel pretty optimistic about the next twelve months. That’s not the case for everyone though, especially if they’ve suffered with their mental health during the past two years.

If you live with or love someone with mental health issues, it can be hard to know how best to support them. After all, we all like to think that we’re caring and kind (well, I haven’t met many people who admit to being uncaring and unkind!) but sometimes we can really be put to the test.

Maybe you’ve found yourself in the position of wanting to be the best you can where a partner or friend is concerned. If they’re suffering with a health issue, whether it’s mental, emotional or physical, it’s natural to want to help them as much as possible.

Some people are ‘naturals’ in these caring roles, but even then, other people’s health issues can take a toll on our own well-being. If you’ve found yourself in this position, don’t beat yourself up about it. This week, I’m going to write about helping someone with mental health issues following on from my blog on 1 December when I wrote about how physical illness can affect your relationship

If your partner or friend is having a difficult time emotionally, you may have to help them to manage day-to-day tasks that previously they found easy to do themselves. But mental health affects people in different ways, so you have to almost ‘feel’ the situation as you go along.

One of your main roles will be to encourage and support them but also to help them to seek treatment such as medication, if appropriate, counselling and joining a group focussing on what’s going on for them. Don’t let’s underestimate the support of groups – even though a lot of people are reluctant to participate, they often find that the group is a lifeline. As someone who’s trying to help them, it might well be a lifeline for you as well.

You might also need to make phone calls for them – speaking on the phone can be a challenge at the best of times, but if you’re suffering emotionally, even more so.

Another way to encourage them is to build up their confidence about making decisions (when you’re depressed and anxious, it’s hard to have faith in the decisions you make in everyday life) and reinforce every little success that they have.

You may well feel frustrated that you can’t make them happy, or better, but like any physical health condition, you can’t always find a solution so don’t put that pressure on yourself. To help them, you need to stay healthy yourself.

If it’s really hard for them to tell you how they’re feeling on a day-to-day basis, setting up a colour-code might help. This would work by getting, say, four different coloured cards with each one having a meaning that you work out together. For instance, black could mean that they’re feeling particularly vulnerable on that day, red means they’re feeling angry or irritable, yellow means that they can’t talk about it but they do need some company and blue means that though they love you, they need to be alone that day. Whatever the card that they show you means, try to respect their needs.

Over a period of time, you might be able to interpret how they’re feeling without looking at cards but more about their behaviour and expressions on a particular day.

Most of all, as I said earlier, try to be there for them to talk to as much as you can but don’t neglect yourself and other relationships, otherwise you won’t be in a position to support them or anyone else.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Everyone Deserves A Second Chance – Don’t They?

‘These are not the best of times I know
I wouldn’t blame you if you choose to go
I’m sorry for this gloomy circumstance
But everyone deserves a second chance…..’

So say the opening lyrics of the song by Raul Midon (from his If You Really Want Album 2018) which explores the idea of second chances. But the whole concept of second chances partly depends on the sort of the relationship you have with the other person, whether that’s your lover, friend or family member.

It’s very human to want and hope for a second chance if we’ve offended someone or done something to hurt them but if you’re on the receiving end of being hurt or betrayed by someone you care about, it’s often hard to even think about giving that person a second chance.

Do you think it’s right to give up on people when they’ve let you down or is it worth giving them a second chance? Even though forgiveness is something we’re often taught is a good thing, doing so isn’t always easy. What do you think that the benefits of forgiveness are? Here are a few thoughts on that:

  • If a lover has betrayed you, perhaps by cheating with someone else or spending a lot of your money, it’s easy to think ‘a leopard never changes its spots’ but the concept of people changing and making changes is a basic part of counselling and psychotherapy. People are capable of changing but, as counsellors like to say (and it’s so true!), they’ll only change if they really want to do so!
  • It makes sense to focus on what you’re feeling when you feel betrayed (that can be within your close relationships or when you’ve been short-changed in a shop or the garage has let you down when repairing your car). However, if you can try to understand why that person behaved in a certain way, adding context to what they did, it can make it easier to show some empathy and forgive them.
  • If you want people to forgive you if you’ve behaved badly and then give you a second chance, it’s likely that other people feel the same. Most people want an opportunity to redeem themselves.
  • You’ll almost certainly feel happier if you forgive someone and then give them an opportunity to make good. There’s also a big pay-off from forgiveness in terms of your own emotional wellbeing so from that point of view alone, it’s worthwhile giving someone a second chance.

You may not agree and I’d welcome your comments if you feel that giving someone a second chance is just plain stupid but however you feel about it, let me know your thoughts……

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself

When Your Relationship Is Affected By Illness

In the first days of a heady love affair, most of us (if we give it a moment’s thought) feel that we’ll be able to cope with anything, whatever happens. Turns out that the reality can be very different, however good our intentions.

This isn’t about Covid in particular but more about the different ways that people respond to illness – for women particularly, there is a feeling, and sometimes an expectation, that if an illness is long-term, they should be the main carers and our society often reinforces this.

However, whatever the expectations in your own family, when faced with a terminal or long-term diagnosis of a partner or family member, whether that’s an adult or a child, people’s coping strategies often cause friction. In particular, the main carer can feel misunderstood by other family members or their partner and frustrated when others put an optimistic spin on the situation.

Keeping hopeful helps some people cope better, but for others it’s unrealistic and they prefer to be completely realistic and deal with the probable prognosis in their own way. Carers who are faced with a relative’s deteriorating health on a daily basis can feel frustrated when those who aren’t involved on a daily basis insist on putting a positive spin on the situation.

In the case of a very sick child, it’s not at all unusual for the worry to cause problems between the parents and they are less available to one another and probably less patient than they might usually be under different circumstances. In addition, one parent might be trying to deal with life on a day-to-day basis and attend to medical appointments, give medication and cook special meals whilst the other one might use their energies to research case-studies, alternative treatments and possible cures. If one, or both of them, are very tired, which is likely, understanding and patience aren’t going to be in abundance.

If a child is born with or develops a long-term condition, parents can feel that the demands upon them have no end and find it extremely difficult to cope. The questions they might want to ask are:

  • “Is it worth getting another medical opinion?”
  • “Is there a better medical regime for my child?”
  • “Could I be doing more?”

The same questions also apply if you are caring for an elderly parent, a sibling or other family member – most people want to do their best for the sick person but almost inevitably, it brings concerns and sadness, exacerbated by the tiredness involved in caring.

However, some families can and do thrive during difficult times, whether this is about caring for a child or an elderly parent with a chronic illness. It can actually bring people closer together as they find that they have to communicate more openly and this can provide them with a feeling of mission, pride and cohesiveness.

One important part of all this is that you alone cannot solve all the family problems associated with your child’s/family member’s illness and it’s crucial that you don’t isolate yourself. However caring you are, you will need time to yourself to relax, wind down and socialise.

There are social workers, family therapists and support groups who will hopefully be able to provide advice and, despite funding cuts, possibly put in some professional care at certain times. Social networks are forums are invaluable too as you can message people in the same situation. Although this can help you feel less alone, beware of not going down the road of getting into miracle ‘cures’ or negativity about the prognosis as neither of these is likely to help you in the long-term.

Try to access support from your extended family – don’t carry on and tell them that you’re “fine” as you’re not probably not. However, if they’re not told this, they often won’t know. Being open and clear is the most honest way to progress here – most people will help you if they know that you need support at times. Friends are also invaluable at such a time and you can ‘let rip’ about the situation when it becomes too much at times.

In my next blog I’ll look specifically at situations where it’s your partner who is ill and the effects it can have on your relationship, however happy you are together.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself

Talking to the Men in Your Life About Their Mental Health

I thought that I’d concentrate on men’s’ mental health this week, mainly because it still seems to be a difficult subject for men to talk about, despite all the recent increased awareness of what has previously been a taboo subject.

If the man or men (thinking not just partners but brothers, fathers and friends here) have recently had a change in their lives, this can lead to mental health problems. I’m thinking a relationship breakdown, retirement or job loss…

Some men complain of physical symptoms like headaches, tiredness, nausea or pain in their joints as well as being unable to sleep or losing their appetite. Channeling their pain through more aggressive behaviour is common too, as is drinking or smoking more and taking over the counter painkillers.

So whatever your relationship with them, try to find a way of helping them relax by going for a walk or something similar so that you can talk at the same time. Avoid asking how they feel as a lot of men shy away from that question. Instead, ask what a particular change means to them. When they hopefully starts talking, it’s natural to immediately say things like “oh, you’ll soon find another job”, but that stops the conversation and may not actually be true either. Instead, let them talk – and talk, and talk.

Don’t accept a brush-off like “There’s nothing wrong – I’m absolutely fine”. Trust your own feelings and ask again. If they’re struggling with really dark thoughts, suggest them seeing their GP, visiting the website CALM (thecalmzone.net) or calling the Samaritans which is a 24 hour seven day a week service. Their number is 116 123 or you can visit their website samaritans.org.

Lastly, accept that you won’t have all the answers and that’s alright. As long as they know that you’re there when they need you, you’re doing a grand job. Being there physically or at the end of a phone is one of the most important things we can do for anyone who’s struggling with whatever’s going on in their life right now.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anxiety #familyrelationships #stress #self-esteem #workonyourself