Tackling Loneliness: Young Adults

A growing epidemic, loneliness affects almost one in 10 people in Ireland. Following on from our last blog on Tackling Loneliness in the Elderly, we will be looking into tackling loneliness in young adults.

“The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness reported 43% of 17 to 25-year-olds using Action for Children — a charity helping vulnerable and neglected young people — reported feeling isolated”.

The Causes of Loneliness

Life is filled with obstacles that can challenge and overwhelm us. The changes that we make or are made for us can also cause a lot of stress that in turn lead us to isolating ourselves to try and cope with it.

Here are some example of why people might be lonely:

  • Work related - your job could be too fast paced for you and overall far too stressful.

  • Leaving home, moving to another city/country and going to college

  • Living in remote rural areas or in urban areas without a strong sense of community can lead to isolation and suffering an illness can also all lead to feelings of loneliness.

There is also such a stigma around loneliness that people do not alway realise. Even if you have lots of friends and a great social life; you can still suffer from loneliness. You could be feeling misunderstood or feeling you have lost your identity whilst not feeling comfortable to talk about how you feel to those around you which in turn can make you feel isolated.

“Loneliness does not come from having no people around, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible”. Carl Jung

The Effects of Loneliness

Loneliness may be as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Some of the many health effects of isolation and loneliness include:

  • Higher levels of stress hormones and inflammation.

  • Heart disease, including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.

  • A heightened risk of developing a disability.

  • Increased vulnerability to chronic illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes.


“Loneliness can impact your health in distressing ways — can make it harder to sleep, increase your blood pressure and make social interactions difficult, and a new study from King's College London, Duke University and the University of California found that lonely young adults are at a higher risk for mental health problems and negative coping mechanisms”. - Bustle

The researchers from these colleges analyzed the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, an existing dataset of more than 2,200 young adults born in the 1990s. The questions participants were asked were:

  1. How often do you feel that you lack companionship?

  2. How often do you feel left out?

  3. How often do you feel isolated from others?

  4. How often do you feel alone?

Based on their answers about how frequently they felt alone, researchers were able to determine a loneliness score. Between 23 and 31 percent of participants reported experiencing the feelings ‘some of the time’ and 5 to 7 percent said they often felt lonely. Those participants were more likely to have experienced anxiety, depression, alcohol or cannabis dependence, and self-harm. They were also more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, and have unhealthy ways of dealing with stress. The researchers didn't find any associations between gender or socioeconomic status and loneliness — millennials from all backgrounds were susceptible.

Tackling Loneliness

Spend Less Time Online

Dr Grant Blank, a survey research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, points out that social media and the internet can be a boon and a problem. They are beneficial when they enable us to communicate with distant loved ones, but not when they replace face-to-face contact. "People present an idealised version of themselves online and we expect to have social lives like those portrayed in the media," says Challis. Comparing friends' seemingly perfect lives with ours can lead us to withdraw socially.


Prioritise self-care by taking time to meditate. There are numerous mindfulness techniques that you can learn. A variety of apps have developed over the last while has helped promote wellness, a variety of these apps are here

Start Off Small

Start to overcome lonely feelings by making small talk with the people who you interact with every day. That might be a shop assistant, a work colleague or your flatmate.

Get started with topics of conversation that most people are comfortable talking about, such as what’s happening in the news, in your area, or even just commenting on the weather.

Start small talk with a question about the other person, such as asking how they are, and try to keep the conversation going.

Joining Clubs / Societies

Get involved in clubs, societies or volunteering opportunities that interest you. Not only will you meet new people, you will be more likely to meet people with the same interests and passions as you.

If you want to learn something new you could even take evening classes.

Reach Out To Friends

Instead of waiting for people to contact you, reach out to friends or people you know and ask if they'd like to do something. Try your best to stay in touch and check in with them regularly.

Talk To Someone

If there is something specific happening in your life, which makes you feel lonely, don’t be afraid to seek out help and support for it. Click here for details of support organisations.

Talk to someone you trust about how you feel – sharing your feelings and worries with others can help lessen the loneliness or feeling of isolation you are going through.

If you find it hard to spend any time alone, think about seeing a counsellor to explore the reasons why you are so uncomfortable spending quality time with yourself.


Helplines can also reduce loneliness, at least in the short term. One in four men who call the Samaritans mention loneliness or isolation, and Get Connected is a free confidential helpline for young people, where they can seek help with emotional and mental health issues often linked to loneliness. There are also support services on websites such as Mind's that can remind you you're not alone.


Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411

References / Articles









Tackling Loneliness: Elderly

Loneliness affects people of all ages and over the course of the next few weeks, I will be writing about how it affects the different age groups. The first age group I will be looking at in this Loneliness Series is the Elderly.


In Ireland, one third of older people over 65 live alone and 60% of people aged over 80 live alone. The number of over-65s living in Ireland is expected to increase to 1.4 million by 2046! Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness as well as social isolation and over recent years, studies have shown that isolation and loneliness affect the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of an individual. It also finds that loneliness amongst older people may be linked to depression, increased nursing home admission, decreased quality of life and cognitive decline. The effect of loneliness and isolation can be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is more damaging than obesity.

Loneliness acts as a fertilizer for other diseases,” Dr. Cole said. “The biology of loneliness can accelerate the buildup of plaque in arteries, help cancer cells grow and spread, and promote inflammation in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease. Loneliness promotes several different types of wear and tear on the body.


“People can become socially isolated for a variety of reasons, such as getting older or weaker, no longer being the hub of their family, leaving the workplace, the deaths of spouses and friends, or through disability or illness” - NHS

It is important to remember that you can still feel lonely despite having family and friends around you.

There have been several studies that have identified a range of factors associated with being lonely in older age. These factors include:

  • social networks (living alone, being widowed or divorced, a lack of contact with friends and family and limited opportunities to participate in social occasions)

  • health (poor health, limited mobility, social care needs or cognitive and sensory impairment)

  • individual characteristics (age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, low income, retirement)

  • neighbourhood characteristics (structures of buildings and streets, provision of local amenities, territorial boundaries, area reputation, neighbourliness, material deprivation of area of residence).

How to spot loneliness

It isn’t always easy to spot if someone you care for is suffering from loneliness but there are some clues such as:

  • having a significant change in their routine (e.g. getting up a lot later)

  • neglecting their appearance or personal hygiene

  • complaining of feeling worthless

  • not eating properly.

You should also consider if the person you care about has had a change in their circumstances that could have caused their loneliness, such as:

  • losing a loved one

  • moving away from friends and family

  • losing the social contact and enjoyment they used to get from work

  • experiencing health problems that make it difficult for them to go out and do the things they enjoy.


How you can help

Here are some tips from BT to help you help those that you care about tackle loneliness and isolation:

1. Show them you’re available

Keep in touch by phone, email or in person so they know someone is there for them when they need support. Don’t give up on them if they don’t call or visit you in return, but if they need time alone, try to respect that.

2. Offer to take them out

If it’s difficult for them to get out and about, you could volunteer to take them out, for example to a café or to visit a friend. There might even be a local charity who could help if you don’t have much spare time. Just don’t push them into anything, as it might seem daunting to them at first.

3. Ask how they’re feeling

By talking to them about how they’re feeling, without leading them into any particular issue, you might find out that something else is troubling them. Try not to make assumptions about why they are lonely – there are many reasons why someone might be feeling loneliness.

4. Enlist expert help

Some people might feel more comfortable talking about their feelings to a stranger or professional. If it seems appropriate, you could suggest they speak to their GP or call a charity helpline.

5. Be dependable

Missing a visit or phone call may not seem important to you, but could be very disappointing for someone who doesn’t have much contact with others, so try to be reliable.

6. Help them discover new ways to stay in touch

There are a huge range of different ways to stay in touch these days, from social media to email and text messaging. If they don’t feel comfortable using computers, you could encourage them to join a course to learn how to use computers and the internet, which are run by most local councils.

7. Help them to try something new

If they have a particular interest, joining a group, such as a rambling club, reading group or dance class, could help them connect with like-minded people. If they show an interest in an activity, you could offer to go with them to the first session if they’re nervous about going alone.

8. Talk about practical barriers

Barriers such as not having a car, not having enough money or being a full-time carer could be preventing them from connecting with people or getting out and about. Talk to them about what these barriers may be and encourage them to speak to SeniorLine for free on 1800 80 45 91. Lines are open every day 10 am to 10 pm. Seniorline is a confidential listening service for older people. The service is provided by trained older volunteers.

9. Ask other people for help

If you’re very busy or live far away, you don’t need to feel like you have to do everything yourself. See if anyone else, such as a friend, neighbour, relative or charity volunteer, can regularly call or visit the person who is lonely.

10. Host a lunch

Invite your neighbours, friends and family and host an event that will encourage the person who is lonely to interact with those that they are familiar with as well as meeting new people too. You might find that some neighbours are also silently suffering with loneliness and isolation too.

How to tackle loneliness

Derek Taylor, a 90-year-old man from London, England, felt lonely and isolated following the deaths of two loved ones. So he decided to do something about it, and now he’s sharing his wisdom with the rest of the world. Taylor created a list of tips, all of which require action, to help him cope. His suggestions were published in a booklet distributed by the Manchester City Council, which seeks to improve life for seniors in the city through an initiative called Age-Friendly. Taylor’s heartwarming advice includes:

1. Make an effort to make new friends

2. Join a hobbies club

3. Visit your local community or resource centre and find out what’s on offer

4. Learn to use a computer at your local library

5. Seek help from your local social services

6. Consider taking in a lodger or paying guest

7. Use your telephone more often to contact people; don’t wait for people to contact you

8. Contact friends and relatives you haven’t spoken to recently

9. Make friends with your neighbors

10. Do voluntary work if you are able to

To find out more please visit:




Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411

10 Questions with Healthcare Assistant: Donna Sheridan

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I got to sit down with Donna Sheridan to discuss all things healthcare! Within my time with her, Donna answered 10 of my questions from her point of view of being a healthcare assistant for almost 10 years.

1)       When did you begin your career as a healthcare assistant and why?

 I became a healthcare assistant 9 years ago.  My grandmother sadly suffered with Alzheimer’s, I was her carer at home and when she passed away, I thought of how much I liked that work and how I would love to help others as best as I can and I knew that the homecare industry would be the right place for me.

2)      How long have you been with Kare Plan?

 I have been with Kare Plan for 4 years. 


3)      What made you choose Kare Plan?

 During my time with Private homecare, a lot of my clients went into residential homes or passed away and they were not as quick to put new clients in place and I was quite anxious over that but I had seen an advertisement on Social Media looking for healthcare assistants and I rang them up and was given an interview date straight away.   I had my interview with one of the directors of the company, Emma Dandy who explained everything about the positions available and gave me great information about the company itself and the career advancement opportunities.  I soon became part of the double-up team reporting to Emma Dandy herself.  


4)      What was it like for you at the start?

 At the very start, I found it hard to find my feet.  When I started with Private Homecare at the start, I was dealing with a lot of Alzheimer clients and it brought a lot of emotion and pain to the front as I had just lost my grandmother but once I got into the routine of primarily looking after each client as oppose to bringing myself back through the pain, I was fine. 


5)      Did you do any training or complete any courses prior to becoming a healthcare assistant?

 When I started at the beginning, I had no training at all but when the Fetac / QQI came in, I did my training with Kare Plan Training School and completed my Care of the older person module and Care Skills module which are the two mandatory modules required to be a healthcare assistant.  These courses were very helpful because you learn about things that you have never heard of before such as best practices and bad habits.   Especially since I had no training prior to becoming a healthcare assistant, there were a lot of different things I did not know.  Especially when it comes to health & safety, I would not have paid as much attention to this but on the courses, you learn just how important it is always to mind your surroundings and be alert for any hazards.  I really am enjoying the courses so much so that I am currently near the end of completing all modules to achieve my full QQI Level 5 award to graduate in June 2019. 

6)      What is the double-up team?

 The double-up team would cater to those of high dependency clients who require the use of a hoist which in turn would require two healthcare assistants to assist.


7)      What are some of the best factors about being a healthcare assistant?

 There are so many amazing factors about being a healthcare assistant.  One of those would be when you go into a client each day and you feel that warmth when they thank you.  Some of my own clients are non-verbal but they always give me a smile or try to rub my face and some people might see this as something small, but it is something that stays with you for the rest of the day.  To know at the end of the day you made people smile is indescribable feeling.


8)      What are some of the difficulty’s healthcare assistants can face?

 One of the difficulties healthcare assistants face is the views some people have of what a healthcare is.  A lot of people do not realise that we are actually a lot than they think as they probably believe we just go into people’s homes and just change their clothing but we do more than that, we are their hairdresser, their makeup artist, their cook, their cleaner, their confidant where they can confide in you.    All in all, we are there making sure that people’s loved ones are looked after. 

 Another difficult aspect is not bringing work home with you.  It can be very difficult leaving client’s at the end of the day because you know that they will be on their own for the rest of the day as they live alone and you wish you could just take the client home with you for a few hours but unfortunately, you can’t actually do that.  Once you leave the house, it is like leaving your job and you have to try and disconnect yourself which is incredibly hard especially when you have built a relationship with them.   

 The next big difficulty is something we can all relate to and it is when you see a client suffering or when the pass away.  It is painful and I found it quite hard to deal with at the beginning, but you know at the end of the day that within the time you knew them, you were able to make their days easier. 

9)      How do you prevent caregiver burnout?

 Before I went onto the double up team, I would work Monday – Friday and have the weekend off.  My weekends were about making up for what I was unable to get to during the week and spending time with my children especially on the Saturday.  Sundays would be my day to spend with me to get myself ready for the week ahead.  It really was a day for me to chill out completely.

 On the double up team, I work 3 days off and 4 days on which now allows me to recharge my batteries and gives me plenty more freedom in terms of sorting out my own house work and run all the errands I need to with the peace of mind that you also have enough time to do all of that while preparing for the next few days of work.  

 Caregiver burnout usually happens when there is no proper routine and you are not going by a system that suits you and your lifestyle.  You always need to have that work/life balance on point because if one side suffers, it is only a matter of time that the other side will also suffer too. 

 I am someone who would be quite active.  For instance, if I finish work at 2pm and I do not have another call until 6pm, I don’t go home and sit there for a few hours.  I like to keep going but at my own pace because those gaps allow me to take my time to get what I can done. 

 Keeping fit can be very difficult especially when you have families and responsibilities, I for one really enjoyed going for walks.  I found it mentally stimulating when I would be walking and it was a way to clear my mind but because I am so busy these days, it has been very difficult to try and get out for that walk. 


10)  What advice would you give someone who is looking at becoming a healthcare assistant?

 If you are looking to become a healthcare assistant, make sure it is not for the money.  This role is not for those just in it for money, it is more than that.  Make sure you come into this role with an open heart and an open mind and really ask yourself is this the right kind of job for you.  You have to be willing to take the good with the bad because you could go into a client who is in great form today but come tomorrow it could be the absolute opposite and you need to be ready for those sudden changes and be able to manage it. 

 If you cannot guarantee that you can be there on the times and days you agreed without any issue, then this role is not for you.  You must be dedicated.  Your company, your clients and their families are relying on you to be there when you need to be there and give each day 100%.  This is a very active role where you need to mentally and physically be there for your clients. 

 This job is not just about working for your client/s, but it is also about working as a team with your client too.  You are promoting independence and that requires you to meet your client halfway.  Patience is key.  

 Be kind to yourself in this role too because I believe a lot of us who are working in this role don’t always see the difference we make in peoples lives and it can be hard trying to avoid any negativity thrown at you, especially at the beginning, whether it be by people you know, clients, their families or even your own family but it is so important that you remember that your job is changing lives each day and you make life easier for so many people. 

 Thank you so much to Donna Sheridan for taking time to answer all of these questions and give an insight into the life of a healthcare assistant.

If you have any questions about the above, please email me on monica.oneill@kareplan.ie

Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411

Brain Health: 5 ways to improve brain health


When it comes to keeping healthy and fit, living a mentally active life is as important as regular physical exercise. Although it has been overlooked, keeping your brain healthy and young is just as vital as keeping your heart healthy.

There are many ways to ensure that you can enhance your brain health and you can do this with various activities however, the activities with the most impact are those that require you to work beyond what is easy and comfortable. Playing cards and watching a documentary on Netflix more than likely will not be enough. If it’s too easy, it’s not helping you.

Here are 10 ways you can maintain your brain health

1. Keep learning

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, or volunteering for a project at work that involves a skill you don't usually use can function the same way and help improve memory.


2. Use all your senses

The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain that will be involved in retaining the memory. In one study, adults were shown a series of emotionally neutral images, each presented along with a smell. They were not asked to remember what they saw. Later, they were shown a set of images, this time without odors, and asked to indicate which they'd seen before. They had excellent recall for all odor-paired pictures, and especially for those associated with pleasant smells. Brain imaging indicated that the piriform cortex, the main odor-processing region of the brain, became active when people saw objects originally paired with odors, even though the smells were no longer present and the subjects hadn't tried to remember them. So, challenge all your senses as you venture into the unfamiliar.


2. Get physical exercise

Research shows that using your muscles also helps your mind. Exercise also spurs the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells (synapses). This results in brains that are more efficient, plastic, and adaptive, which translates into better performance in aging animals. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, helps blood sugar balance and reduces mental stress, all of which can help your brain as well as your heart.


3. Socialize

People with strong social ties to friends, family, and their community have been shown to be happier and live longer than people without those ties. Furthermore, people who are lacking social connections are at a higher risk for developing depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline over time.

If you feel like you may already struggle with depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition, make it a priority to seek help. Some studies have found links between mental health and brain health, so it’s important to make your mental health a priority too.


4. Feed your brain

The brain requires certain nutrients to stay healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, help build and repair brain cells, and antioxidants reduce cellular stress and inflammation, which are linked to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.


You can find out more about the best foods for your brain by clicking here

5. Get Quality Sleep

The brain does not shut off when we are asleep. There is a lot of work going on while you sleep and much of it involves consolidating the learning that took place during the day. Psychologists have long understood that our dreams, for example, are really just a reflection of all the work our brains are doing trying to make sense of all the information we have been taking in but have not yet fully interpreted and made sense of. So, if this is true, you really can solve problems and make of sense of things by “sleeping on it.” On the other hand, if you do not sleep properly, you can lose the benefit of your learning experiences. You also will not learn as well the following day. Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to benefit fully and perform at their cognitive peak each day. However, this method of keeping your mind sharp only makes number seven because there are now some scientific doubts about the importance of what is known as “sleep consolidation”.


Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411

Why Choose Homecare?

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Over the last few years, care at home has become quite a popular option for families in Ireland.

When you make the decision for homecare and hire someone to help your loved one, you should have the confidence of knowing your choice was the right one.

If you are looking into homecare for your loved one/s, there are a few things to take into consideration that can help you make the right choice for you and your family.


With home care, clients are encouraged to be independent.  With safety being a priority, there is the option of inputting hand bars and anti-slip rugs into the home, this gives each individual the freedom to move around in the comfort of their own home while ensuring their safety. 


Being cared for at home has advantages for families as it gives them the freedom to visit as regularly as they would like as there are open visiting hours 24/7.   Should there be any illnesses with the client, the families have the liberty of stepping in and feelings more in control of the situation.  Having access to the family is also quite valuable and beneficial for the client as having family close can keep their spirits high and boost their mood. 

Continuity of Care

It is usually the same carers that deliver the care to clients to carry out daily tasks and helps each client feel more comfortable.  This way the carers are aware the kind of care being given and the care required too.   

One-on-One Care

There is less of a risk of infection as one-on-one care is guaranteed with home care.  Each client receives full attention when being cared for which means that your loved one’s needs will be met with a fast response and without delay. 


The financial aspect of finding the right care can be daunting to say the least but with home care, you can have a care package designed for your loved one at a price that suits you and your family.  In Ireland, home care is a lot cheaper than a nursing home and this gives your loved one a peace of mind in case they are concerned about any financial burden put on their families. 

At Kare Plan, we are dedicated to supporting our clients and their families.  These decisions can be difficult to make but our client care managers would be more than happy to discuss this with you and help you make the best choice.

To find out more please email info@kareplan.ie or alternatively you can call us on 01 8511411.

Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411


7 Reasons To Become A Carer

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Whether you are thinking of a career change or have just left school / college, there are many reasons to become a healthcare assistant.

1)       Flexible Hours

Healthcare assistants usually work flexible hours and this allows you to fit in your career as well as other daily activities.   This is an ideal position for those who have families, part-time college and other hobbies.  By having this flexibility also means you will successfully meet your clients’ expectations and have your work life balance intact

(Read our blog on Work Life Balance). 

2)      Training

A QQI Level 5 qualification in healthcare / completing the two mandatory QQI modules

(Care of the older person & Care Skills) can give you the right training in becoming a healthcare assistant.    There is always room for upskilling too, for instance, Kare Plan Training School offer further courses such as medication, introduction to first aid and dementia training to assist carers in advancing their skills.  For more information regarding Kare Plan’s Training School please click here

3)      Right job for the right personality

In order to be a healthcare assistant, you need to be passionate about the job.  If you naturally have a caring and considerate personality and you are concerned about the wellbeing of others, you are likely to do well in a caring role.  If you truly want to make a difference in people’s lives this will give you the steady foundation for your future career.

4)      Location

Sick of travelling long distances for work?  Being a healthcare assistant gives you the opportunity to voice which areas work best for you to travel to.  Whether it be close to your home or a 10-minute drive down the road, you decide.    This strikes out any stress of commuting to work and also cuts any travel expenses too. 

5)      Meeting new people

You will get to meet those around your area and familiarise yourself with new neighbours.  As mentioned above, being a healthcare assistant requires the right personality which means that being part of the large community of healthcare assistants, you will get to surround yourself with people with the same values as you too.  This allows you to be even more active in the community.

6)      Rewarding

Knowing that you are making a positive difference in someone’s life is the reward for being an excellent carer.  You are encouraging and enabling individuals by supporting them to live in the comfort of their own homes.  By promoting independence is an extremely rewarding experience.

7)      Experience

 Being a healthcare assistant is hard work, you will be confronted with the harsh realities of people struggling, people with all abilities and overcoming illness.  However, it is those times that will allow you to appreciate the little things in life we all take for granted.  Once you are able to provide the highest quality of support your client/s need to live day-to-day also allows you to see the results of your hard work.  You will feel like you have achieved your goals each day because you will know that you provided as much support as possible and have left each home without stress. 


If you think being a healthcare assistant is the right job for you, get in touch with a member of our HR team by emailing hr@kareplan.ie and they will be able to help you take your next step!

Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411

Work Life Balance

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There is a large amount of your physical, mental, emotional and psychological health required as a healthcare assistant.  As fulfilling as it can be, it can also take its toll on you and can make you put your life on hold or even put it in a grey area.

Once you put your life on hold, you are allowing your work to consume you and it is not healthy.  You work 8 hours a day and when you go home your remaining time should be delegated to your hobbies, families and overall wellbeing.  Your mental health is key and it is important you surround yourself with aspects of your life that keep your spirits high.

Your work should never be prioritised over your wellbeing.  Life is all about balance and it is vital that you find that work life balance.  Although it might be easier for some people, it can equally be frustrating for many of us too.

So where do you start?  Well, Forbes have put together 6 excellent tips below to put you on the right track.  

1. Let go of perfectionism

A lot of overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It’s easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a kid, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities mushroom. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive, says executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, who wrote The Office Survival Guide.

The key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism, says Puder-York. “As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going,” she says, adding that the healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.

2. Unplug

From telecommuting to programs that make work easier, technology has helped our lives in many ways. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. The work day never seems to end. “There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment,” says Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life. Brooks says that phone notifications interrupt your off time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. So don’t text at your kid’s football game and don’t send work emails while you’re hanging out with family, Brooks advises. Make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, you will be developing a stronger habit of resilience. “Resilient people feel a greater sense of control over their lives,” says Brooks, while reactive people have less control and are more prone to stress.


 3. Exercise and meditate

Even when we’re busy, we make time for the crucial things in life. We eat. We go to the bathroom. We sleep. And yet one of our most crucial needs - exercise - is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Puder-York recommends dedicating a few chunks of time each week to self-care, whether it’s exercise, yoga or meditation. And if you’re really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute, a quick five minute meditation session morning and night, or replacing drinking alcohol with a healthier form of stress reduction.

“When I talk about balance, not everything has to be the completion and achievement of a task, it also has to include self-care so that your body, mind and soul are being refreshed,” says Puder-York.

These exercises require minor effort but offer major payoffs. Psychotherapist Bryan Robinson, who is also professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and author of the book Chained to the Desk, explains that our autonomic nervous system includes two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (our body’s stress response) and the parasympathetic nervous system (our body’s rest and digest response). “The key is to find something that you can build into your life that will activate your parasympathetic nervous system,” says Robinson. Short, meditative exercises like deep breathing or grounding your senses in your present surroundings, are great places to start. The more you do these, the more you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which “calms everything down, (and) not just in the moment,” says Robinson. “Over time you start to notice that in your life, your parasympathetic nervous system will start to trump your sympathetic nervous system.”

4. Limit time-wasting activities and people

First, identify what’s most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.

From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from the schedule. If email or internet surfing sends you into a time-wasting spiral, establish rules to keep you on task. That may mean turning off email notifications and replying in batches during limited times each day. If you’re mindlessly surfing Facebook or blogs when you should be getting work done, try using productivity software like Freedom, LeechBlock or RescueTime. And if you find your time being gobbled up by less constructive people, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. Cornered every morning by the office chatterbox? Politely excuse yourself. Drinks with the work gang the night before a busy, important day? Bow out and get a good night sleep. Focus on the people and activities that reward you the most.

To some, this may seem selfish. “But it isn’t selfish,” says Robinson. “It’s that whole airplane metaphor. If you have a child, you put the oxygen mask on yourself first, not on the child.” When it comes to being a good friend, spouse, parent or worker, “the better you are yourself, the better you are going to be in all those areas as well.”

5. Change the structure of your life

Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our habits are set in stone. Take a birds-eye view of your life and ask yourself: What changes could make life easier? 

Puder-York remembers meeting with a senior executive woman who, for 20 years of her marriage, arranged dinner for her husband every night. But as the higher earner with the more demanding job, the trips to the grocery store and daily meal preparations were adding too much stress to her life. “My response to her was, "Maybe it's time to change the habit,'” recalls Puder-York. The executive worried her husband might be upset, but Puder-York insisted that, if she wanted to reduce stress, this structural change could accomplish just that.

So instead of trying to do it all, focus on activities you specialize in and value most. Delegate or outsource everything else. Delegating can be a win-win situation, says Stewart Freidman, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. Freidman recommends talking to the “key stakeholders” in different areas of your life, which could include employees or colleagues at work, a spouse or a partner in a community project. “Find out what you can do to let go in ways that benefit other people by giving them opportunities to grow,” he says. This will give them a chance to learn something new and free you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities.

6. Start small. Build from there.

We’ve all been there: crash diets that fizzle out, New Year’s resolutions we forget by February. It’s the same with work-life balance when we take on too much too quickly, says Brooks. Many of his workaholic clients commit to drastic changes: cutting their hours from 80 hours a week to 40, bumping up their daily run from zero miles a day to five miles a day. It’s a recipe for failure, says Brooks. When one client, who was always absent from his family dinners, vowed to begin attending the meals nightly, Brooks urged him to start smaller. So he began with one evening a week. Eventually, he worked his way up to two to three dinners per week.

“If you’re trying to change a certain script in your life, start small and experience some success. Build from there,” says Brooks.


If you would like to find out more about work life balance, you can do so by visiting the below links.





Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411

Caregiver Burnout

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Caregivers often focus so intently on the needs of the individual receiving care that they may neglect their own health and wellness

Being a caregiver can be one of the most fulfilling jobs and although it has its positives, it can also have its negatives too. It is vital that you find a balance between caring for your loved one / client and maintaining your own mental, physical and emotional health. Without finding this balance, you will be at a risk of developing what’s known as “caregiver burnout”.

Feeling exhausted, unmotivated, constantly frustrated, and forgetful as well as having problems at work or with relationships are all signs of caregiver burnout,” says Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a New York-based therapist specializing in anxiety and depression

This can interfere not only with your ability to care for your loved one / client but it is also hazardous for your own health, raising the risk of chronic depression, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and premature death. Very often, caregivers can find themselves accustomed to the routine stress, worry and discomfort that comes with providing care for a loved one. And as a result, you may not acknowledge the warning signs of your own need for support.

Warning Signs include:

  • You no longer find pleasure in things you once found enjoyable, or you have no motivation to participate in previously enjoyed activities

  • Friends and family have expressed concerns about your well-being

  • You’re getting negative feedback at work

  • You're having problems with your spouse

  • You experience intense and recurrent feelings of anger, sadness, worry or fear

  • You have difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, notice drastic weight changes (significant gain or loss), or unexplained health problems

  • You find yourself using a substance to cope with, manage or suppress uncomfortable or painful feelings

Darren Sush, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst put together a list signals caregivers should know that indicate they’re at risk for developing caregiver burnout in the near future. These include:

  • Regular thoughts of anger or resentment toward the person you’re caring for

  • Irritation toward others who aren’t helping with your loved one’s care (both those directly related to the person receiving care, and those who aren’t involved)

  • Isolating yourself from people who aren’t involved in providing care to the person

  • Consistently arriving late to appointments or to visiting the person receiving care, or often leaving early

If you read the above and have found yourself relating to the above then it is time to take action in combating how you feel.

Here are some expert strategies to assist you in combating caregivers burnout:

Embrace gratitude. Make a daily gratitude list by writing down 10 things you’re grateful for. This could include anything from your family, legs to walk on or even a TV show you find entertaining. Focusing on what is good in your life as opposed to what is "going wrong with your loved one's health" helps relieve stress.

Read affirmations every morning. “Starting your day with positivity kick starts your day on the right foot,” says Hershenson.

Start the day with you. Hershenson says having a morning routine with time to yourself (going to the gym, having your daily coffee while reading the newspaper or stretching for 10 minutes) is crucial to fending off mental stress and fatigue.

Practice acceptance. Make a list of what you can control in the situation (getting enough sleep, eating well) and what you can't control (your loved one's health). Focus on what you can control to make changes where needed and try to accept the things that are out of your control.

“Self-care needs to be a top priority when caring for another person, otherwise neither the caregiver or the one receiving care will thrive,”

To find out more about caregiver burnout and how to combat it, take a look at the links below.





Monica O’Neill

Marketing Manager


01 8511411