Sunday, 23 September 2012

A bit of me-time: it's priceless...

So I asked ten (busy, high achieving, child-encumbered) friends recently, what would make your life easier? I thought their answers might be money-related but all of them said ‘More TIME!’. And this became the theme of a talk I gave for Palmolive Naturals recently, to promote their range of shower milks. 
Many women are so busy putting everyone else’s needs first, they are desperately short of me-time.
A recent survey found that
women have on average less than
an hour a day to themselves.

The ability of women to care for others is part of innate female nature. Isn’t part of becoming a mother learning that there are others we would always willingly put before ourselves?

At the risk of some outrageous gender stereotyping I’d say we – as women - are hardwired to nurture and care about others. God in her infinite wisdom decided it would be the female of almost every species that would carry and nurture the young. And she even bestowed a special hormone – oxytocin, upon female humans to help us to do this.

On top of this biological imperative to put the needs of others before our own, we also socialize little girls from very young to please others, to make sure everyone else is OK and to even subjugate our own needs to the needs of others.
Where does this leave us when it comes to me-time?
Do we know how to put ourselves first, or even deep down believe we have the right to?

Women who work who mother, who care for others, who are walways there for ehri friends in times of need - they’re all experts at taking their responsibilities seriously, at juggling everyone’s needs. And me-time is something that gets squeezed in between a whole host of other demands – or squeezed out by them as the case may be.

A recent survey by Mumsnet found that women typically get less than one hour of me time each day….One mum said:
As a stay at home mummy with 4 children (youngest 3 months, eldest 7 years), this house really is a full time job! If I am not looking after the children, then there's the house to look after...
I hardly get any time to myself - 'free' time is used to get jobs done!! And i'm hardly in bed before 11pm. I cannot wee on my own, cannot shower without someone joining me, finish a cup of tea before it going cold (or mostly, it doesn't even make it out the kettle!) Oh, and I only use my laptop when I'm breastfeeding!!

This woman said she can’t even shower without someone joining her and yet taking a bath or shower must be one of the few occasions when we should be able to relax and indulge in some me-time ….

But how many of us really take advantage of that time?
Let’s do a quick survey of our own:
                      Own up now, do you ever:
·       Let someone else come into the bathroom when you’re bathing, or leave the door ajar so you’re ‘on call’?
·       Take your phone or laptop into the bathroom with you?
·       Clean the bath or shower when you’re in it?

I must confess I have been guilty of all of these…. and when I asked women attending my recent talks these questions there was a reluctant but significant show of hands.

So much for me-time. It’s hardly relaxing if we’re slathering ourselves with Ultra Moisturisation Olive Shower Milk and at the same time thinking, Blimey that grouting could do with a good scrub. 

A bath: the perfect stress buster.
You see it’s not enough to have beautiful body pampering products if our mind isn’t receptive to them. Mind, body and soul are inextricably linked and we have to fuse them together to really de-stress.

So in my talk I proposed a positive psychology experiment for women to try when bathing.

It’s based on classical conditioning, a technique discovered by Pavlov who you’ve probably heard of.  He experimented on dogs, and you’re probably wondering what this has got to do with your beauty regime but bear with me here…..

Pavlov fed his dogs at a regular time every day.
Just before he gave them their food he rang a bell.
He soon noticed that even without producing the food, if he rang the bell the dogs would salivate.
The dogs responded physically to the sound of the bell.

Pavlov used a sound in his conditioning experiment, but any of the senses can be used to condition peopleSmells are particularly evocative.

So here’s a technique for positive meditation while you’re bathing. When you have your morning shower or bath do this:

First of all:
Banish everyone from the bathroom, leave your phone and the CIF outside the bathroom. If necessary lock the children in a cupboard or hang a do not disturb sign on the bathroom door.

1.    Rub your favourite shower milk onto your hands and breathe in the fragrance.
2.     Keep rubbing and breathing slowly as you start to bring to mind three good things in your life.
These can be big or small things, perhaps the feeling of sitting in the sun in your favourite garden chair, the sound of your daughter giggling or your loved one’s smile.
3.     Tip more shower millk onto your sponge or hand, and move in slow circular movements all over your body.
This is the point where you’re experiencing the softness and the fragrance but you’ve got to quiet your busy mind so that it doesn’t sabotage the experience….. so
4.     As you circle keep your mind focused on your three good things. Don’t let any other negative thoughts intrude, if they do return to your positive thought.
5.     Keep this up for ten minutes. Before long you’ll feel a positive glow, as you smooth the lather all over your body nourishing your skin and your mind.

The mind and body work together, so focusing on positive thoughts while you bathe or shower will make sure you get the most relaxing experience possible.
If you practice this regularly you’ll find that just flipping the lid off your shower milk will trigger those positive thoughts and that state of relaxation.
If you feel stressed during the day take a couple of minutes to wash your hands and breathe in the fragrance. Because you’ve used that technique of associating that smell with positive thoughts it should immediately trigger a state of relaxation. You’ll have conditioned your brain to associate these pleasant feelings with the gorgeous smell and silky feel of the Palmolive naturals.
Make this part of your me time every day.
You’ll find your mind will be just as responsive as one of Pavlov’s dogs, although hopefully with a bit less dribbling.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Are your savings gathering more dust than interest?

Funny things, human beings. And never funnier (I mean in the strange sense, not ha ha) than in our dealings with money. If you doubt that, then test which side of your brain is managing your money

We search for the cheapest jar of coffee in the supermarket, tutting at the 30p price difference per jar, then hand over £2.45 for a single cup in Starbucks.
We leave our savings to fester away gathering more dust than interest, while at the same time carrying credit card debt.

Do you know what you;re saving for?
This very specific pot is by terramundi
Behavioural economists call this illogical behaviour mental accounting – or treating money differently depending on its source or label, something I've discussed in earlier blogs about using the left brain a bit more. 
An example is our attitude to money we’ve saved and money that’s dropped into our laps (I know, but bear with me on this one)... 
Would you blow your savings on a big birthday party extravaganza? Probably not, unless that was what you’d be saving for. It would seem too… reckless? Irresponsible? 
But what if you got an unexpected tax rebate and had a big birthday coming up? Woohoo, champagne cocktails all round!

I got to thinking about all this while working on a campaign for first direct, the online bank, to do with offset mortgages
Apparently nearly all mortgages in Australia are offset. They originated there and it's what most people go for.
Yet a mere 6% of UK mortgages are offset mortgages. This is probably because this concept feels a bit alien to us. After all, when mental accounting, we Brits have kept our borrowing and our savings very separate. It doesn’t even occur to us that we could use one to offset the other. Mentally they are two disconnected amounts of money.
Of course another reason we shun offset mortgages is because we don’t even know what they are.  
Offset mortgages simply allow any savings or current account balances to be offset against the mortgage, with interest only being payable on the difference between the two.
o   e.g. if a borrower has a £100,000 mortgage and £10,000 in savings, they will only pay interest on the difference (i.e. 90,000).

Dead easy really. You use your savings to work for you, but still hang on to them. 
This makes real logical sense for anyone who has both savings and a mortgage, and now more than ever before. Savings interest rates are so abysmally low at the moment, the loss of interest on them would be more than outweighed by the reduction in mortgage interest.

For more info check out the first direct website