4 Artisan Burgers and Chips ( we can adjust it to fit the size of your family)
A pair of Dad socks by AJ Arts
and a 250g Pack of the most amazing roasted coffee beans from Ground Coffee House
Price per Box - R480
How to heighten your happiness
I have recently had the pleasure of interacting with a number of individuals living in one or the other of the local retirement villages. Unlike most, a small handful of these individuals have managed to sustain a generally happy and content 'frame of mind' throughout this lockdown period.
And it seems to me that their positive attitude is not because they are in denial about the current situation and/or because they are unable to acknowledge the unpleasant emotions of uncertainty, anxiety and/or frustration that most others are experiencing. It seems, rather, to be because of the well-practiced skill of noticing the good; of looking out for the small daily experiences that are positive and then really soaking them up.
So, what does result in happiness and contentment, especially during difficult times like these?
Well, recent studies have shown that being happy is often about choosing a simpler life that enables one to focus on the essential. And happiness research strongly suggests that by practicing gratitude on a daily basis we will be much more likely to sustain feelings of happiness and contentment.
Gratitude is the feeling that tells us things are good enough as they are; a feeling that sets us free from high expectations and allows us to see magic in the little things. To make gratitude a habit, we need to learn to place more focus on small moments of joy.
The challenge then is for you to recognise the simple things that can make you feel good (and grateful); a friendly exchange with a teller at the supermarket, the last fire-coloured Autumn leaves, a beautiful Winter sunset/sunrise, a genuine compliment, etc.
We are all capable of gratitude, but sometimes we need a little reminder to practice it. And there are many reasons to practice gratitude, including the fact that it has the capacity to change and strengthen the brain in very positive ways.
Research shows that gratitude can improve general well-being, increase resilience, and strengthen social relationships. The more grateful a person is, the greater their overall well-being and life satisfaction. You will have a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, better sleep (and better waking hours).
You will also be more alert and more generous, compassionate, and happier. Grateful people also have a greater capacity for joy and positive emotions.
Gratitude simply involves being mindful of, i.e. paying attention to, the goodness in the world, but it doesn't mean ignoring the difficult or unpleasant stuff that we all experience from time to time. Gratitude makes sure that in the midst of the things that serve up a good dose of difficult and/or unpleasant feelings, we don't lose sight of the good.
Research has found that we tend to feel more grateful for experiences than for things we have. One theory is that 'things' can cause us to compare what we have to what other people have, while experiences are more likely to shift our focus to our own personal circumstances, and expand feelings of appreciation and contentment.
It has been found that regularly practicing gratitude will actually change the structure of your brain. This is because the feeling of gratitude activates areas of the brain that are involved in feelings of reward (the reward when stress is removed), morality, interpersonal bonding and positive social interactions.
Gratitude also causes a surge of feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These all contribute to the feelings of closeness, connection and happiness that come with gratitude.
And the more that gratitude is practised, the more your brain learns to tune in to the positive things in the world. This doesn't come naturally because we humans have a negativity bias, which means that we're wired to notice threats in the environment.
This bias has helped to keep us alive... but not necessarily happy. Gratitude can be a way to nurture a more positive focus, and teach your brain to spend more time on the good and less time hanging on to the things that cause emotional pain and/or turmoil.
It is also important that you hold the good experiences for about 20 seconds as this is long enough to create positive structural changes in the brain. Gratitude gives us space to 're-experience' the event, rather than having us quickly move on from it.
So, how do I practice gratitude? There are plenty of ways, but however it's done, it's important that it's done with consistency and novelty. Our brains like novelty which is why the great joy we feel for things in the beginning often quickly fades.
Gratitude can change this if we regularly give our brains something new and positive to focus on. Being grateful for the same things every day just doesn't work very well. As for consistency, if negative feelings are your default, it can be difficult. So start small. Here are some ways to practice.
1. At the end of each day make a mental note of (or even write down) 3 things that have happened during the day that you're grateful for. They can be as big or as small as you want. Doing this for 21 days will train your brain to start scanning the world for positives instead of for threats. Make sure that the things you are grateful for are new and specific. So rather than, 'I'm grateful for my friends', try, 'I'm grateful for Sally because of the way she made me laugh today.'
2. Spend two minutes writing down in detail one of your positive experiences from today. Try to recall every detail about it. As you remember positive experiences, your brain labels it as meaningful and the imprint in your brain deepens.
In general, gratitude rewires our brain so we become more likely to focus on the positives in the world than the negatives. We're not going to become oblivious to danger if we appreciate the positives for a little while but we will become more open to the good, the things that nurture our happiness and emotional well-being.
The result of my "naming competition" to provide a name for my new psychology-related training "school" / services... is that there were so many clever names offered by so many people that I am feeling a little stuck in trying to choose just one name! A sincere thank you is due to all who participated.
I have decided to offer everyone who reads my Newsletter free access to my online "Dealing with Depression without Drugs" course (for a limited time). This course will be beneficial for all those who have experienced or are currently experiencing depressive symptoms and/or for those who are wishing to support a loved one who is experiencing a depressive episode. The URL for this course is below:
My 8-week online "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction" course is about to be finalised. I will let you know as soon as it is ready for you to access.
With warm regards,
Alistair Mork-Chadwick (Psychologist)
Laddsworth Grade 7s showing their new social distancing greeting.
L-R: Dax Jursa, Cody Harms, Matthew Bishop and Adam Tilbury keeping their social distance outside their classroom.
L-R: Amy Goddard having her temperature taken by Mr Gavin Lambooy (Headmaster).
Front L-R: Musa Mnisi having her hands sanitized by Mr Neelan Pillay (Deputy Headmaster). Back L-R: Mrs Linda Wolhuter and Madison Guy.
L-R: Jenna-Rose Ingram, Emma Kloppers and Tara Stegan enjoying break-time outside.
L-R: Adam Tilbury, Joshua Tilbury, Zara Gilson, Angie Harvey arriving at school.
Mr Gavin Lambooy (Headmaster) welcoming a Grade 7 class.
Laddsworth Primary School was very excited to welcome back the Grade 7s on Monday 8 June 2020. The school was ready to receive the learners and all safety protocols are continuously followed to ensure the safety of learners and staff at all times. After weeks of doing school work at home, the children were very excited to be back at school and to see their teachers and friends again.
Contact: Addy Tilbury
Tel: 033 343 3256
I have begun to hear a number of things being said by friends and family, in response to my “how are you coping?” question, that are of concern to me. And what I am hearing more and more of, are comments such as the following:
- I am feeling a lack of motivation at the moment
- I have lost interest in….
- I am comfort eating a lot at the moment
- I am not sleeping so well
- I don’t seem to have as much energy as I used to
- I am really finding it hard to focus on anything,
- I can’t seem to make even the most simple of decisions
- I am just feeling irritable
So, what could be going on? Well, it is possible that some of my friends and family are beginning to show definite signs of chronic emotional stress while others may, in fact, be showing the first signs of having dropped into what is termed a “depressive episode”.
And none of this is a big surprise to me. That’s because the last month-and-a-half has been (very) stressful for most people. The high levels of uncertainty, in particular, have resulted in elevated levels of anxiety. And in many families the 24/7 nature of the household relationships, over the past six weeks, is resulting in growing levels of frustration (if not open warfare).
And both anxiety and frustration will trigger the stress response in most of us. This becomes very unhealthy when it occurs day in and day out for an extended period of time as has been the case since the lockdown began. Prolonged periods of emotional stress result in chronic, systemic inflammation of the brain and body which, for those of us with either a genetic predisposition and/or a psychological vulnerability for clinical depression, will invariably lead us into a depressive episode.
Somewhat fortunately, the term “depressive episode” is used because of the fact that it is generally time-bound in nature, and is usually not expected to continue ad infinitum. It is still very unpleasant, however, and is associated with a number of common problems (or symptoms).
If any of the comments that I listed at the beginning of this newsletter resonate with you to some degree and/or with someone close to you, it is worthwhile noting that everyone who suffers a depressive episode will be subjected to a set of problems that is somewhat unique. The intensity of the problems and the particular combination of problems are rarely the same for any two people.
This is largely because your brain is unique in structure because of the unique set of genes and life experiences that you have. As a result, your brain will (mis)function slightly differently from the brain of any other person struggling with depression.
The problems associated with a depressive episode involve compromised functioning in the emotional, physical, and mental (cognitive) areas of one’s being. And for it to be formally diagnosed the majority of the following problems/symptoms must be present most of the day nearly every day (for a period of at least two weeks):
1. Emotional problems/symptoms
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Depressed mood (e.g., feeling sad or empty) or appearing tearful to others
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, including hobbies
2. Physical problems/symptoms
- Change in appetite or a significant weight loss or gain
- Change in sleep patterns, e.g insomnia
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Psychomotor agitation and/or retardation
3. Thinking-related problems/symptoms
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate,
- Diminished short-term memory
- Negative thinking
- Heightened levels of Irritability
- Recurrent thoughts of death or of committing suicide
Common behavioural problems include anger attacks/aggression, alcohol or drug abuse, and risk-taking behaviour.
Keep an eye open for my next newsletter delivered to your inbox next week.
With warm regards,
Alistair Mork-Chadwick (Psychologist)
June 2020 - Landlords and business owners are facing new uncertainties everyday due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Chief among these anxieties is how they are required to adapt interiors and buildings to comply with new international regulations.
Dr Maria Neira of the World Health Organisation put it eloquently when she said, "The wealth of business depends on the health of workers." Bearing that in mind, an ethos of responsibility needs to be cultivated and landlords must proactively assist tenants to mitigate situations that could place them in harm's way.
A system to report possible risk factors and seek assistance should also be put in place. The Occupational Health and Safety system is there to maintain safe and healthy work environments and minimise risk to employees. The legislation has been adapted to add additional layers of protection for the unique circumstances of COVID-19.
According to Raghmah Solomon, CEO at Vortex Design Solutions, an Interior Design company specialising in compliance of building fire, HVAC and electrical systems - business owners and landlords can expect change in the following areas:
Shared Public Spaces:
How to Comply in Retail:
Applying social distancing in design means that business owners should consider changing their interior spaces as a permanent precautionary measure. Ultimately one needs to eliminate all the risks which may spread the virus. Using existing technology to its fullest extent, making products available online.