Monday, 22 May 2017

Husky And Healthy: Why Having A Pet Is Good For You

Has it ever crossed your mind about having a pet? For a lot of people, having a pet is a lot of hassle for very little in return. They cost money, and you have to feed them, but did you know that having a pet is actually very good for your health? Let’s have a look at the benefits.

If you’ve ever cuddled a friend’s dog and felt all lovely and warm inside, that’s because your body is releasing a chemical called oxytocin, which has a calming and relaxing effect on people. It’s something that mothers release when they cuddle their babies, and cuddling your pet not only helps to release that chemical, but it will strengthen the bond you have. And depending on the type of person you are, not all of us are cuddly people, a cat is a different type of bond, and is more at arm’s length than anything. But when cats show their affection, they will cuddle up in their owner’s lap. The crazy cat lady syndrome may appear bonkers to most of us, but that cat lady is oxytocined up to the eyeballs!

Not only is there the happy hormone aspect, but wellbeing can be improved overall. Exposing children to pets at a young age reduces their chances of getting allergies like rhinitis or asthma. And the bond between child and pet is one we've all seen on TV and so forth, but the overall mental outlook of a lonesome child, when compared to a child with a companion, can be vastly different. For pets like dogs, a routine is very important, so the regular walks (or runs, depending on the level of your dog’s “enthusiasm”) will help to build up good cardiovascular health. And for children who have no sense of routine in their lives, this will encourage one. The task of looking after an animal that relies on you for everything will encourage a sense of responsibility, whatever your age! From buying food and essentials to comfy cushions or a leather dog pillow, the comforts your dog needs will be your responsibility. Even if you live alone, the fulfilment in owning a pet will stave off feelings of loneliness and encourage feelings of responsibility.
It is also a great method of calming down, as owning a pet will decrease the amount of cortisol you have in your body. This is the stress hormone that is released whenever we’re under pressure or have some anxiety. If you find yourself to be of an anxious disposition, you may find that the constant company will improve your whole outlook on life. Depression and anxiety are, unfortunately, very common, and if you find yourself in these states, this could help you to stave off clinical depression. And, a fun little fact, if you find yourself getting colds constantly, dog owners suffer fewer minor illnesses and ailments like colds! Of course, a pet will make you feel better, but make sure you have the means to give them the support and care they need.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Water Palava: Choosing a Water Feature for Your Garden

If you love spending time in your garden, you probably find that it's a very relaxing thing to do. It's a good space to enjoy when you need some quiet or at least a different environment to the one you have inside. When your garden is somewhere you go to relax, you should think of some of the elements that will help to calm you and improve your mood. A water feature is an excellent option. You can have a still pond, where you can watch fish swim leisurely or enjoy various pondlife, or you could have a moving water feature that provides a calming sight and sound. Choosing a water feature for your garden means thinking about several factors.

How Much Space Do You Have?

Firstly, you have to consider how much space you have available. While a lot of people have gardens, they're not always very big. And you probably want to ensure you still have plenty of space for kids to play, the dog to run around, or for you to sit and enjoy the area. You should think about how much space you're willing to give up to a water feature. They can come in all shapes and sizes so you could have anything from a little bird bath to a large pond. Even fountains can come in smaller and larger designs, so don't let the space you have limit you too much.

What's Your Style?

Next, you need to think about what sort of style you want to go for. One of the main things you can consider if whether you want to have a classical style water feature or if you want something more modern. Classical choices could include fountains with cherubs or gargoyles. You can get something that looks like it's made from aged bronzed or invest in the real thing. More modern features could include water walls and tiered fountains. Consider having lights or different colours to add something different. If you're thinking of having a pond, you can consider what types of plants you might use within it and around it.

Care Requirements for Your Water Feature

When you're choosing a water feature, do think about what care it will require. Some will need more attention than others, and you might feel you don't have the time to look after them. For example, a pond can require a lot of care. You might need to buy special equipment and treatments, like an air pump from Swell or solutions to keep algae and weeds away. Other water features won't require much care at all, except for maybe a quick clean once or twice a year.

Positioning a Water Feature

Think about the best place to put your water feature and its installation requirements. A lot of features will need pumps, which might require some electrical wiring. However, it's also possible to use solar power if it's too difficult to wire a feature to your house. You might also want to think about where to position your water feature in regards to sun exposure, safety, and plants in your garden.

A water feature could improve your garden greatly. Choose one carefully to make sure you get the right one.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Teaching Your Elderly Relatives About The Benefits Of Being Computer Literate

The internet has changed our lives for the better in a variety of ways, and it’s now difficult to imagine a life without the World Wide Web. However, the older generations aren’t quite dependent on online communications. While in many ways this is a good thing, there’s no doubt that those digital facilities could enhance their lives too.

If your elderly relatives have resisted the temptations until now, they’ll never be addicted to those systems. Nevertheless, computers and tablet devices can work wonders for their lives. Your job is to help them gain the greatest benefits. Focus on the four cornerstones below, and you won’t go far wrong.

#1. Staying In Touch With Friends

As we grow older, it’s very easy to lose touch with friends and family. This is especially true when people emigrate, but can impact relationships of all backgrounds. Social media enables users to get back in touch, and is also a great place to share photos and stories for free.

Meanwhile, video calls can offer your elderly relatives the chance to feel closer than ever. If this is their only motive for using the internet, an iPad may be a better option as they can simply click the Apps and get started. Either way, though, those connections can have a telling impact on their long-term happiness.

#2. Making New Connections

The internet isn’t only a great place for keeping in touch with old friends. It’s also a wonderful environment for making new acquaintances. This could mean encouraging them to find romance through senior dating platforms. Alternatively, this tool could be used to find out more information about local yoga classes and senior activities. If it boosts your relatives social life, it has to be considered a positive thing.

New connections don’t have to be made through local streams either. Message boards and forums can be fantastic tools for discussing problems and fears. Whether it’s gaining useful support or simply avoiding the panic of facing issues alone doesn’t matter. The online community is there to help when they need it most.

#3. Staying Organized

Good organizational skills are an essential trait throughout every stage of life. While the older generations typically boast far better control than younger ones, computers can still be used to great effect. Perhaps most obviously, they can aid the bid for financial control. This can be done through utilizing software and finding cheaper deals amongst other ideas.

Frankly, there’s computer software and smartphone Apps for virtually every task imaginable. It might take a little time and patience to teach your elderly relatives how to use those facilities. Once they’ve mastered those elements, though, their lives should be noticeably enriched.


Ultimately, your elderly relatives are unlikely to use computers with the same level of frequency as you do. They might still prefer to reach the hard copy of the newspaper, and may not need to use emails for work. Still, those simple elements for increased control and emotional connection can only have a positive impact on their lives. It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My PTSD Story :: #mentalhealthawarenessweek

At the present moment, mental health is a massive topic. The statistics for mental health sufferers is hard reading and even more so now it has been published that only 1% of NHS funding goes towards mental health. 

Mental health still even to this day has a stigma surrounding it. Even back when I was studying counselling, it was such a taboo subject..but why? Just because it's an illness we can't see, that doesn't mean it's not there. I have witnessed mental health and the damage it has on loved ones both from a professional and a personal perspective. Did I ever for a second believe it would happen to me? I can honestly say I was one of those people that thought I was strong enough to overcome anything but that wasn't the case. Now that it's Mental Health Awareness Week, I have decided that I no longer want to hide my struggle and share my story.

Back in September 2016, my relationship ended and the root cause was my ex's depression. Even though I had lived with his illness for 2 months previously, it was such a massive shock and the impact it had on me was a world apart from any other break-up.

A week or so after he left, I was dealing with the break up the same way anyone else would..I was crying constantly, not eating, asking myself question after question of what I did wrong...but something else was there and I knew straight away it wasn't a standard feeling of loss.

When I went to bed at night, I struggled to sleep in my room. I felt like it was a void and if I went in there I would be hurt or someone or something would 'get me' because that was the room we shared together and the room where he had broken up with me. I was watching TV with my mum and a trailer for Gavin & Stacey came on, I ran out of the house and sat outside because that was the programme he and I watched together. I would experience nightmares, something I very very VERY rarely have and sudden reminders of him or memories put me in a panic which made my heart feel like it was about to leap out of my chest and smack me across the face.

I knew from all of this that there was something deeply wrong with me and I wasn't handling the break up like I would've done usually, I went to the doctors and he confirmed my concerns...

I was suffering from PTSD

PTSD is commonly associated with ex forces or people who have gone through a rape or traumatic accident but it can affect people from something as straight forward as a break up and my god it hit me like a bullet train.
My ex and I were together for 3.5 years and he was the love of my life, I wanted to marry him and have his children. For him to leave me when I had supported him and stood by him was what triggered my PTSD and made me question everything about myself. Anyone who knows me, knows that I will go above and beyond for the people I love and I will sacrifice everything to ensure they are safe, happy and at peace with their life. For him to do what he did, I had to ask myself why after 30 years on this planet, had it come to this. Was I a bad person? Did I hurt him? Where did I go wrong? Yes, these are the questions we ask ourselves when we deal with a break up but this is when PTSD takes a nasty turn. 

I didn't just cry or hurt inside when I remembered the good times and memories we had together, I went into a blind panic. I would sweat, jump at every little sound or even when people spoke..everything was a trigger for me. 

PTSD is a complex disease. Say for example if you suffer from anxiety. Your anxiety will kick in from being in a crowded environent or getting onto a plane, PTSD is similar only we are in the firm belief that being in that crowded environment or getting onto a plane will somehow reinact what happened to us. A month or so after the break up, I was walking to my local shop like I have done every day for years then out of nowhere someone beeped their car horn and most people would think 'oh are they beeping at me is it someone I know?' - in my mind it was him and he had come back to me to break up with me all over again. My brain told me I couldn't go through it again and I ran home. 

I'm a stubborn bitch I admit but even I knew I couldn't do this by myself so I went for counselling and believe me, a counsellor going for counselling is more ironic than you can believe. But what the counselling taught me was that it's a fact of life that as humans we must go through traumatic events so that we can establish our coping mechanisms and build up our 'fight or flight' responses. It wasn't my fault that my ex left me, I did everything in my power and out of the love I had for him but his depression TOLD him he had to leave. I did nothing wrong. But with me being the type of person who feels like they were put on the earth to be a people pleaser and make sure everyone is safe and happy, it knocked the shit out of my confidence and I felt like a failure not only to myself, but to my ex. My counsellor reassured me that this was not the case and that I am a good person and nothing that happened was my fault.

So here I am now, 8 months later, pregnant with his baby. He came back briefly but we once again seperated but I thought being pregnant with his baby would bring back everything that put the fear of god in me and the flashbacks would rear their ugly heads...they haven't. I feel nothing but love for this baby and even though my ex did what he did and hurt me beyond belief, I forgive him. I believe in my heart that he didn't mean to hurt me and I really know the heart of the man, depression took over and one day, he will come back stronger than ever. I think about him everyday, more so now that I am carrying his baby but the memories are no longer painful also the memory of the day we broke up has completely vanished from my mind. I miss him everyday too but again, this is no longer a painful experience. It upsets me but knowing how far I have come and knowing that I have to be strong for my children is what keeps me going. As for me? I'm ok, 2 words I never thought would come out of my mouth after everything I went through but...

I'm OK

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Financial Savviness For Major Life Events

Are you prepared for anything when it comes to your money? There are plenty of the main life events that can cost you a fortune, and unless you make informed choices about savings, spending habits, and investments, you could be forcing yourself - and your family - into a corner.

In today’s guide, I’m going to take a look at some of the most important life events that everyone will experience, and ensure you understand some of the things you can do to prepare for them financially. Let’s get started with the absolute basics.

Start saving

Getting into the habit of putting aside some money every month is vital for anyone and everyone. Even if you can only afford to make small contributions to a savings pot and an emergency fund, it is critical to look ahead to the future. Make sure that you pay off your expensive debts first, of course, and address any areas of your life where you are overspending. But, essentially, the earlier you start saving, the more secure you and your family will be.

Think about retirement

It’s never too early to start thinking about your retirement. The difference in your income when you start a pension in your twenties and when you start one in your thirties is huge. With good health and a little luck, your retirement funds will need to see through anything between 20-30 years, so don’t underestimate the importance of building up a good pension.

Consider the worst

Whether you are young, free and single or have a family, no one has any idea of how long their life will last. And bleak as it may seem, you need to consider what happens when you aren’t here. You should compare funeral plans to make sure that your loved ones aren’t saddled with enormous cremation or burial costs. It’s important to draw up a will, too - especially if you have children. And finally, make sure you have plans to pass on your financial affairs with a power of attorney if you suffer from some sort of mental health issue that means you can no longer make any decisions for yourself.

Buying a home

Buying a home is likely to be the single biggest expense of your life - and the more you have set aside for a deposit, the better. Larger deposits mean that you will be able to access better deals on mortgages, and it will also lower your monthly payments by a significant amount. It’s also a good idea to keep yourself free of bad debts as much as possible. The worse your credit score, the more unlikely it will be that you manage to get a mortgage. And the better your credit rating, the more likely you will be seen as less of a risk to lenders, who will reward you with a better home loan deal.

Sound financial planning is essential in all areas of life, of course. But even more so for these major life events. How are you saving for your future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.