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3 hours ago · · 0 comments

Postnatal Anxiety & Guilt & How To Stop Feeling Guilty

Working Mother Guilt

As a working mother, one of the most challenging emotions to deal with is guilt. This negative feeling permeates through most of our lives, leaving us with exhaustion, anxiety and loads of self-doubt.

Why is guilt such a big part of motherhood

professional mother returning to work after maternity leaveOne of the biggest changes that occurs when you become a mother is this immediate sense of protection and responsibility for your child and his/her development. This instinct is seen in all sultures across the globe. Along with this instinct in human beings, comes judgement as mothers take responsibility for every aspect of their child’s life – from friendhsios, to their academic performance and physislca and mental wellbeing. The problem with these outcomes is that there is no perfect outcome, or a manual to guide mothers towards the perfect way to parent in order the assiste her child to achieve the best outcomes. There is no ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL. So mothers are left to judge themselves based on the opinions of others in their lives, social expectations, media portraylas of the perfect parent and on the ever changing landscape of research. The latter is often contradictory and very confusing and thus leaves many mothers stressed about whether or not their chosen parenting method is the ‘right’ one for their child.

Research into parenting is often at polar opposites. For instance, one researcher will find that babies should not be left alone for one moment. They should be carried all the time and co-sleep safely with parents. Another, equally respected researcher will find that babies are best placed on a routine, should be sleeping safely in a cot and this cot should be in a separate room. These researchers and popular opinion leads parents to have particular views on best parenting. These views often result in criticism of other parents for not adhering to perceived best parenting styles. For instance, stay at home mothers may assume working mothers are not providing the best care for their child, whereas working mothers may believe they are providing the best example for their child. So you can see why it’s so easy for mothers to feel stressed, depressed and full of guilt and self doubt. However, the reason for these feelings is that parents are focussed on the wrong aspect of parenting – the method, rather than the outcome.

Low self-esteem: the culprit and the savour

Research shows that women in general have low self-esteem (low levels of confidence, self worth and self belief). In motherhood, this level of self-esteem is tested even further and mothers often find it very difficult to trust they are doing the right thing for their child. There is often self-doubt and worry over their chosen parenting styles and a huge amount of self-criticism when things do not go according to plan or expectation (e.g. a child acting out in public, or achieving poor grades). However, those mothers that have invested in themselves to boost self-esteem and self-confidence find parenting much easier. They research the best parenting methods to suit their lives and their child’s best interests and can block-out the opinions of ‘well-wishers’ and criticisers trying to tell them their way is the best parenting method. They know that one of the biggest mistakes the population in general makes is assuming there is a ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL approach to parenting. They know that children differ significantly due to their temperament, personality type, family customs and cultural and religious norms. Most importantly they know that the best way to measure a parenting style success is in their child’s level of health, happiness, safety and security. These are the key elements of parenting success.

The key to good parenting

The key to good parenting is not whether or not you are using a particular method – it’s in regularly evaluating your method to assess the outcomes. For instance, regardless of whether you are co-sleeping or using controlled crying with your baby, if he/she is safe, secure, healthy and happy that’s all that matters. If any of these four elements are compromised, then yes it’s time to re-evaluate and modify your parenting style accordingly. Similarly, if you are working full-time and feeling highly stressed on a regular basis and you can see this is having a negative impact on your children, then it’s time to change something. If you’re working full time, but managing your stress well and have a positive and healthy relationship with your children and they are healthy, happy, safe and secure – you do not need to feel guilty and you do not need to change anything! The core element here is NOT working full-time, it’s the outcome for your child and for your personal health too.

Good parenting comes from creating a lifestyle that best suits your needs and those of your family. That’s what really matters. What hold most mums back from trusting they can ‘have it all’ is lack of self-belief and an expectation that they need to live up to other people’s expectations of good parenting. In order to trust that in yourself, it’s imperative that you invest in yourself to build your self-confidence and self esteem.

Begin building your self-esteem in motherhood now

Download these two free books

  1. How to understand your child’s temperament from birth
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2 days ago · · 0 comments

Getting to the point – How to stay motivated to lose weight

Why do you really want be healthy or lose weight?

motivation-weight lossIt’s very interesting to note the magnitude of weight loss products available on the market, yet more and more adults, adolescents and children are struggling with weight gain. So, what’s missing?? There must be a piece of the puzzle missing.
Why does it seem to be so easy for some and yet so hard for others to stick to a balanced diet and fitness regimen? Those who find it easy may assume it’s just as simple as making a decision to be fit and healthy, but this is not accurate. Often there are various underlying issues which make is much harder for some to achieve their health and fitness goals. I have yet to meet someone who didn’t reach their goals because they were lazy! What presents as laziness, is often fear, insecurity, or lack of confidence rearing it’s ugly head.
What’s the secret then to becoming a healthy individual: the answer lies in the reasons behind deciding to be healthy. When you’re trying to shift behaviour, it’s not enough to want it. It has to be imperative and there must be a significant consequence to not engaging in the desired behaviours that lead to heathy living. In other words you must feel that you have no choice – but change!
Once you have reached this point, then you can start to focus on how great you feel – as a way of sustaining motivation, because by this point it has become a way of life. At this habit stage, the routine of healthy living becomes automatic and enjoyable.

The secret to best weight loss thus lies in finding your crunch point

Figuring out what’s going to happen to you if you don’t change your behaviour today is a great place to start. You may take time to discover your drive.

Start thinking about the cost of living an unhealthy life in terms of the following:

  • money (how much do you end up spending on medical & alternative therapy trying to undo the damage you’ve caused by your unhealthy lifestyle?)
  • work (how many promotions are going to pass you by as a result of your lack of energy and lack of mental clarity due to your poor diet?)
  • love life (how many potential and current partners are you going to self sabotage as a result of lacking in confidence over your appearance or health)
  • health (how sick do you have to become before it really matters?)
… And so on
The more you focus your attention here, the more importance you will give to your reasons for changing your lifestyle.
If you really want to live a long and successful life, you owe it to yourself to stop looking in envy at other people who are leading the life you really believe you should be living and then that when you make positive changes, your life will begin to unfold in the manner in which you truly desire – eg to be fit and health inside and out.

You owe it to yourself to life your best life & to live a long, happy & successful life

Are you currently struggling with your weight?

3 days ago · · 0 comments

How To Lose Weight By Boosting Your Motivation

How to get motivated to lose weight 

Research clearly shows that diet is the biggest influencing factor of your weight. Approximately 80% of weight loss is related to the food you consume, compared to physical activity alone.

how to be confidentWhilst this is true, there are many inadvertent ways that being active actually influences the choices you make when it comes to healthy eating and as a result has a motivating or demotivating impact on your healthy eating behaviour. In addition to supporting your motivation efforts to consume a healthy diet, there are also a great deal of mental and physical health benefits to being physically active.

Let’s look at two weight loss and exercise examples

Weight loss example 1

You’ve had a hard day and are feeling exhausted when you arrive home from work. You wit down to watch television and become even more tired. In order to boost your energy levels, you decide to eat some chocolate. This boosts your energy for a little while, but soon you need to eat more and more of the chocolate just to maintain that energy boost. A little while afterwards this sugar fix dissipates and you’re left feeling more tired than you were to begin with. In addition, now you feel emotional and frustrated that you’ve eaten junk food. You’re negative mood leads to you deciding to forget your health kick for tonight and just order a pizza instead of eating the grilled fish and salad you left waiting for you in the fridge this morning. You finish dinner feeling really sluggish, crash in front of the television and take yourself off to bed in the middle of the night. You wake up feeling sluggish, unhappy and unmotivated.

Weight loss example 2

You’re exhausted after a hard day at work. On the way home from work you decide to get off the train 1 stop earlier than usual and walk the extra 30 minutes home listening to some uplifting music. By the time you arrive home, you feel energised, invigorated and happy. You relax with a nice cold glass of sparkling water and a protein bar. You feel great, so you go straight to the fridge afterwards and start preparing the grilled fish you had left for yourself that morning. You feel so mentally clear and dinner that you decide to read through that paperwork you had been putting off for a while. Then you give yourself a relaxing bubble bath and settle in with your favourite television show before going to bed and sleeping well all night. You wake up feeling refreshed and motivated.

In both examples you were originally feeling motivated to be healthy and as such were organised with a healthy meal in the fridge from the previous evening. However, engaging in just the extra 30 minutes of exercise to music made all the difference to your eating behaviour the next day. So you can see what a positive impact being active can have on your healthy eating choices.

In order to maintain a healthy diet, it’s really useful and helpful to add some exercise to your lifestyle. Even just a 10 minute walk will have a tremendous effect. This is why my ‘Refresh Your Life’ weight loss program incorporates gradually building physical activity into your lifestely with just 10 minutes of walking a day and a morning 5 minute energy boost. These little bits of exercise have the power to motivate you and support you along your healthy lifestyle journey.

How to motivate yourself to lose weight 

Here are some steps to boost your motivation to eat healthy foods – through exercise

  1. Introduce a wake up exercise routine like the one in my ‘Refresh Your Life‘ program – to get your day starting right (for example start with 10 push ups, 10 sit ups and 10 lunges)
  2. Look for ways you can increase physical activity into your day (e.g. walking up a few flights of stairs at work)
  3. Take your meetings outside – engaging in walking meeting where possible is a fantastic way to both engage in physical activity and boost your positive mood whilst talking too

You don’t need to be on a strict diet to lose weight long term. The key is to make lifestyle changes that are effective and long lasting and that suit your needs. By making small changes that actually boost your motivation along the way, you will find healthy eating comes much easier and is much more enjoyable too.


Lizzie O’Halloran

Founder of Help For Mums and Author or Perfect Mum & Refresh Your Life

2 weeks ago · · 0 comments

How To Stop Being Insecure

How to stop being insecure and learn to trust your instincts

boost self confidenceThe daily punishment you can place your body & mind under – as a result of constant negative feedback – can leave you with a lack of trust in your inner instincts. You can learn over time that it’s not safe to trust that inner voice that tells you it’s time to speak up (particularly when there is a chance you may get hurt).

Why might you feel insecure and not trust your instincts?

Often this happens as a result of rejections and others letting you down. When you feel rejected by someone you love you can easily learn (incorrectly) that you are not a worthy person and also learn that your instincts about this person were not accurate. You can begin to wonder if you really can trust your guidance system that has led you into a situation where pain has been the outcome. Add to this when those you care about regularly let you down, you can learn not to trust your inner guidance system which once again led you to these relationships.
Unfortunately, ignoring your instincts often gets you into trouble, because your internal guidance system is set up to support you in making daily decisions and to inherently protect you. Just think of the amount of times in your life when you ignored internal warning signs about new friends, a colleague at work, or a new partner. Did ignoring your instincts work for or against you? In the instances above, when you might convince yourself that your instincts let you down, it’s most likely that you had a niggling feeling that things were not right, but you were not consciously aware enough of these warning signs to take action. More often than not, your inner voice has tried to warn you about others who may not be the best ‘fit’ for you, but you have allowed your desires ‘in the moment’ to drive your behaviour and hence pushed forward with people who time and time again let you down.

It’s time to listen to your inner voice

The question you need to ask yourself is “when will I start to realise the importance of listening to my instincts?”
When you repeatedly ignore your inner voice you leave yourself vulnerable. You are vulnerable to:
  • being hurt by those who do not truly show you the respect you deserve
  • ignoring potential errors that could lead to future problems
  • rejecting opportunities to stretch your wings and be the person you truly want to be
  • not standing up for yourself
  • others developing an inaccurate picture of you
So you can see, learning to pay attention when your intuition is trying to speak up, is vital to your overall health, happiness and success in life.

Listen to your instincts

Start to listen to your inner voice. Don’t rush into decisions. Give yourself time and permission to do things in your own time. Don’t ignore your inner drives – particularly out of fear. Act – when your instincts tell you to speak up.
A simple way to start tuning in to your inner voice is when you’re going about your daily life. Every day you are placed in positions where you have to make decisions. Driving a car is a perfect example. Put this theory to the test… Now that you are aware of the power of your instincts test what happens when you drive and listen to your instincts, versus when you ignore them. For instance, you are driving your child to school and there is heavy traffic. Your first instinct is to take the short cut, but you ignore that and travel your normal route. This decision to ignore your instincts results in you running 15 minutes late. However, the next day, under the same set of circumstances, you listen to your instincts and turn into the short cut. This decision gets you to school on time. It sounds like a silly example, but I test this decision every single day and 9/10 my first instinct is always right. The reason most people would ignore their first instinct to turn into the shortcut, is fear – worry about taking a risk and making a mistake. This is not the best way to live your life. When you learn to be guided by your internal guidance system, you will be surprised at how much more relaxed you are, how much you boost your self-esteem and self-confidence and how often your guidance systems knows what is in your best interest.
So don’t be afraid to give it a go.
Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum & Refresh Your Life

2 weeks ago · · 0 comments

How to cope with stress and anxiety in this busy world

How to slow down to beat stress and illness

stress and anxiety
When you push yourself too hard physically and emotionally you can find that you take a lot longer to recover from colds and flu. Modern life does not tend to present you with many opportunities to take time out to fully recover from mild illness. Thus, once your obvious symptoms dissipate, you tend to either feel too guilty to continue to rest and recuperate, or you have too much on your plate to do so.
There are a finite number of hours in the day and your list of ‘to-do’s’ can often feel overwhelming, leaving you little time to allow yourself permission to rest. This is particularly true for high level professionals and parents, who are relied upon significantly by others – day in and day out. In addition to external pressures, it’s very common to feel guilty about resting, when there is still so much more to be undertaken and achieved.


So, how do you fully recover from illness in order to function at your optimum – most of the time?

In order to recuperate fully and feel your best, there are the ‘usual’ things to do, such a sleep well/enough and eat well. However, in reality recent research shows that in order to achieve your ever growing list of tasks, most people find it easiest to skimp on sleep. Shaving a few hours here and there can add a significant number hours to your year, so it’s no wonder it’s so tempting to give it up and thus to squander the recommended 8 hours of good quality sleep a night.

Taking it slower to beat stress and illness

Instead of trying to change your sleeping habits, a quick and easy way to improve your health (before, during and after illness) is through slowing down. Most people tend to make the misguided assumption that in order to succeed in life, one must move with speed. The problem with this theory is the body’s reaction to being placed under pressure on a regular basis – STRESS. Regular, ongoing stress has been shown to cause a short-term reduction in IQ and can have a significant impact on your self-confidence and self-esteem, particularly if the anxiety turns into depression. This is why, it can be very difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions with you’re stressed. Chronic stress leads to increases in the chance of making mistakes and having to end up working even harder to amend these mistakes. Rushing around tying to achieve a million things in a day/week/month/year usually ends up resulting in a lot of wasted time and energy.

Taking a breath

In contrast, if you were to start your day with a few deep breaths, 5 minute relaxation exercises and made a conscious effort to slow down, you would be able to think more clearly and rationally and thus be much more productive during the day.

For instance, most people arrive at work and feel anxious as soon as they begin to look at emails, to-do lists and speak to other stressed co-workers. They tend to spend the day frantically trying to spot multiple fires, feeling overwhelmed, stressed and unproductive. If instead of this strategy, they walked into the office, took out a notepad and began to scan through emails, to-do lists and verbal requests from staff first thing in the morning and then developed a daily priority list, they would be able to tick off the most important jobs they had achieved that day. This would in turn provide both a feeling of achievement and a sense of control.

Undertaking such a morning task would take between 15-30 minutes per day, but would give back many more hours of productive work in return. The act of slowing down and gaining control is vital for health and wellbeing, particularly in this busy world we live in.

Your mind significantly impacts your physical health and emotional state, so if you’re feeling run down or overwhelmed, try to simply slow down. Try it for 1 week and see how much it improves your life.

Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Refresh Your Life & Perfect Mum

2 weeks ago · · 0 comments

These desk stretches help you avoid your daily back pain

Try the desk stretches

One of the most important (physical) tasks you can undertake whilst sitting at your desk all day – is stretching.

In your busy day-to-day work life, it’s likely that you think you don’t have time to stretch. However, a lot of back, shoulder and neck pain can be avoided simply by taking a few moments out of your busy work schedule to stretch.

Stretching at your desk only takes a few minutes a day and is really easy to do.

Try these two stretches to start.

Stretch 1: Shoulder, head and neck stretch

desk stretches neck, shouldersGently hold this position for 5 seconds without pulling your muscles too hard. The aim is to feel a gentle stretch. If it hurts, you are pulling too hard, so release the stretch and just stretch until it feels soothing on the muscles. Then repeat on the other side.





Stretch 2: Middle back stretch

desk stretchesGently hold this position for 5 seconds, without pulling your muscles too hard. Then repeat on the other side.

The above two stretches are simple and only take a few minutes to undertake properly. The first neck stretch can be extended further, by placing one hand on the side of your head (as shown) and the other under your desk chair.

By following these simple stretches, you will feel more comfortable at work, increase your levels of concentration, reduce potential depression and assist in avoiding potential damaging desk-based injuries,  in the long term.

For more healthy living tips visit our Free Wellness Resource Centre

2 weeks ago · · 0 comments

Are you suffering from sleep deprivation?

The power of sleep

sleep deprivationWe are all in a rush. We rush to work. We rush to get our kids to school. We rush to social outings. We are in a rush to grow up and so on. Life seems to be spent in a perpetual hurry. We have load of things on our to-do lists daily and in order to fit it all in, the one thing we usually sacrifice is sleep. We are all guilty of it from time to time, because it is the easiest part of out lives to give up, in order to get through our daily check lists and to feel as though we are succeeding in our pursuit of altruism and self-actualisation. But, of course this is at a huge cost to our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

There is a difference emotionally between you deciding to reduce your sleep and someone else (e.g. a snoring partner, a wakeful child, a noisy animal that wants to be fed at 5am every day) making that decision for you. When you are in control, there is less anger and bitterness associated with the sleep debt. Even a waking baby can drive parents to distraction – despite understanding that the baby is of course not deliberately trying to make them sleep deprived. You ability to cope with either situation is also dependent on how well you are able to catch up on sleep on other occasions and on you total sleep debt.

So how much sleep is enough?

On average, adults need between 7 and 9 hours per night, however, you may function well on as little as 6 hours sleep, or may require 10 hours of sleep to be at the top of your game. Most people have a sense of how much sleep they need in order to feel alert and functioning at their best – the average being 8 hours of sleep per night.

Sleep Deprivation Effects

According to WebMD too little sleep may cause/influence:

  • Memory problems
  • Depression (e.g. postnatal depression)
  • A weakening of your immune system, increasing your chance of becoming sick
  • Increase in perception of pain

The accumulation of repeated sleep deprivation results in a sleep debt which is only temporarily masked by coffee. When you are really tired, that coffee hit won’t do the trick – you need to repay the sleep debt in order to be able to function at a suitable and safe level again. If you continue to push through your sleep deprivation, you can end up with depression, so it’s important to catch up on your sleep at the next available opportunity. Do whatever you can to regain your sleep. For example:

  • take a quick nap with your child
  • eat dinner an hour earlier to allow your food to digest & give you a better night’s sleep
  • give yourself permission to have the night off & go to bed earlier
  • ask someone to give you a hand so you can have a rest
  • ask for an extension on a work project or class project so you can catch up on sleep

It’s a matter of planning and making sleep a priority. You know yourself better than anyone, so if you really are sleep deprived, make a commitment to clear your sleep debt and see how much more positive, clear and vibrant your life becomes.


Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac

Founder of Help for Mums and Author of Perfect Mum and Refresh Your Life

Get Your Free Copy of the 5 Steps To Boost Your Self Confidence Today

5 ways to reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem

3 weeks ago · · 0 comments

Could your tiredness be due to dehydration?

Signs and symptoms of dehydration

signs of dehydrationI have noticed a pattern every time I have a coffee at a café – I am yawning afterwards. I experimented with the carbs I was eating with the coffee – thinking perhaps that was counteracting the caffeine and making me feel sluggish afterwards. However, no matter what I did, I would still yawn afterwards. Being a mother of two small children I put this down to the motherhood slept debt I have accumulated over the past 8 years. However, I soon realised that I was yawning after a coffee, even after a good night’s sleep.

Being a health conscious person with a background in health and fitness, I am always carrying a bottle of water with me, so it never occurred to me that I could be dehydrated – I assumed 2 large bottles a day of water was enough to keep me hydrated, but I was wrong. After some quick research I discovered I was missing out on 2 bottles of water per day. The recommended daily water consumption for adult women is 12 cups of water and for adult men it’s 15 cups. This equates to approximately 3 large bottles of water (in my 24 ounce water bottle) per day for me.

Signs of dehydration

By the time you are thirsty you are already dehydrated, so it’s best to be mindful of your water intake before you feel thirsty.

According to the MAYO Clinic, here are the signs of dehydration for children and adults. If you are a parent, it is very important to ensure your child is hydrated at all times, particularly when they are sick.

Symptoms of dehydration in infants and children

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability

Signs of dehydration in adults

  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion


Two of the biggest indicators of dehydration are the colour of your urine and the dryness of your skin. The more yellow your urine and the more dry your skin is, the more dehydrated you are. The only spanner in the works is that when you take vitamins it discolours your wee, so you can incorrectly  assume your yellow wee is the result of your vitamins, not your level of hydration – this is the mistake I was making. So, one day of avoiding vitamins gave a much clearer picture of my level of hydration.

I decided to put my water consumption to the test to see if this would reduce the yawning after coffee. One week after drinking 12 cups of water per day made a significant difference to my energy levels. I no longer yawned after coffee and felt much more energised in general. What a simple solution to something that had been bothering me for some time.

Tips for increasing water consumption

If you think you might be dehydrated, the easiest way to boost your intake is by having a water bottle with water level markers with you at all times. The best bottles I have found are from the brand Contigo. Their bottles are so nice to drink from and the water level is clearly visible from the outside of the bottle.

So always be mindful to take a water bottle with you when leaving the house, but be particularly mindful of your water consumption at home. This is the time when you are likely to forget to drink, as you are not being overly active, are going about your business in the home and are unlikely to keep a water bottle at hand to remind you to drink. Being regularly hydrated will boost your energy levels, help you to think more clearly and keep you healthy, so drink up!


Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac

Founder of Help for Mums and Author of Perfect Mum and Refresh Your Life

Get Your Free Copy of the 5 Steps To Boost Your Self Confidence Today

5 ways to reduce anxiety and boost self-esteem

Positive Parenting Blog

Positive Parenting Blog