Guest Blog with Caz Campbell

Control

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

CONTROL: Since last week’s lockdown announcement and schools closing, I think a lot of us are feeling a lack of control – in what we can do in our everyday lives, balancing work, home, children and living with a worry of unsafe uncertainty. However, some may feel lockdown actually gives us more control, as we can keep our home bubble safe without sending our kids to school. Everyone’s situations and feelings are different. But one thing we all have in common is wanting some sense of control.

Control generally refers to how a person regulates themselves or wants to regulate their environment. There’s a balance that most people would like to meet, of feeling in charge of their own lives as well as being relaxed. Our sense of control influences how we respond to events that happen in our lives and our motivation to take action. When we feel in control, we’re more likely to take responsibility, avoid being influenced by others, work harder and feel happier. When we don’t feel in control, we’re more likely to blame others or circumstances, be stuck or unwilling to change and feel hopeless or powerless. Feeling in control is great, but we also want to be able to accept, cope and relax when that’s not possible.

Stress mostly arises because of major change, uncertainty and lack of control. Now more than ever people are realising that uncertainty is a fact of life. There are four positions to consider:

1) Unsafe uncertainty, which means danger, unclear, random, chaos,

2) Unsafe certainty, which is negativity, toxic, criticism,

3) Safe uncertainty, which means challenges, adaptations, flexibility, innovation

4) Safe certainty, which is repetition, comfort zone, complacency.

Which one would you prefer to be in? Most people would say 3. (Safe uncertainty) – as it’s the most creative, explorative and helpful to our well-being and for improving ourselves. If you were in 4 (Safe certainty), and you had total control and everything in front of you was planned, your life set in stone, you may struggle to have motivation. We learn better when we perceive uncertainty, it allows us to dream big, to explore a wider picture and look for positives.

I wanted to share with you this little exercise that can help:

Draw a circle on a piece of paper and in this circle, write down things that you can control today or this week. They can be big or small but focus on things that are present to you at the moment. E.g., how often you listen to the news, how often you check your phone, whether you meet up with someone or not. Now draw a bigger circle around it and in this circle, write down things that you’re worried about, and can’t control. E.g., what’s happening in the news, how someone behaves, current restrictions. For each worry, tell yourself: ‘by worrying about this, it won’t help me…’ You can then try and find the positive or reality in each worry. E.g., that situation has taught me…, the depressing news has made me grateful for…, if my boss / colleague doesn’t understand my situation then…

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy.

Declutter

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

 

Declutter… The start of a new year often brings about having a clear out, which you may love or hate. Having too much stuff around or a messy home or workplace can make you feel stuck, anxious, overwhelmed, claustrophobic and even resentful. But clutter is rarely recognised as a significant source of stress in our lives. However, having a declutter can be cleansing, making you feel freer, lighter and it also improves attention, focus and serenity.

Decluttering is basically a process of decisions, which is why it can feel like an effort to start and it’s often a job that’s put off. There can be an object in a room I walk passed multiple times a day and think for a split second “I must sort / get rid of that…” but it may take months for me to actually do it. Even if it’s a split second thought, it’s a negative thought and all the times I walk past it adds up. So why not just do it? When I finally declutter that one thing, I have feelings of relief and clarity, and it also clears all those negative seconds when I walk past that place from then on.

 

Our relationship with stuff is complicated and it’s easy to become ‘consumed’ with the act of consumption. For many items, it’s memories and nostalgia, thinking that one day you’ll use it, show it, look at it with your grandchildren or a friend. But, you may be keeping piles of books when, if you really wanted to have them again in the future you could buy them very cheaply second hand, and all the memories of the stories are still there.

 

While training as an emotional coach, a technique was practised on me. The aim was to motivate me to tidy my clothes away without the dread I always had. I’ve no idea why, but it’s a job I detested doing and therefore always had an untidy room with clothes piled on, around and under “the bedroom chair”! The technique was so simple but it clicked and now – I’m still messy but I tidy away the clothes happily, easily and without the negative feelings I had before.

 

The biggest step is to just start – stewing is worse than doing! You can start small by giving or throwing away a few things you don’t need. Give yourself one cupboard or drawer or room to sort, and build up. If you haven’t got time for a total declutter, you can just be aware of things around you as you go along. A general rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you would miss or replace something if it broke or got lost. If the answer is no, give it to someone who would like it, to charity, to a school’s jumble sale or throw it away.

If you have a block of what to save and what you can let go of – this is a good list to check first: old toiletries, nail varnish, magazines, CDs, DVDs, unplayed-with toys and games, clothes or bedding you’ve not used in a year, duplicate kitchen items or things you’ve not used for ages like spices or a pasta maker.

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed

Touch

Hello and hope you had a Merry Christmas! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

Touch is a sense we probably used to take for granted, but since covid, we may have realised how important it is. From all the family and friends we long to hug, to simply being tactile with people, whether it’s sitting next to them or touching on the arm while chatting away. Research says that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding and health in many ways.

Research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding and health in the following ways:

Pain – Touching someone you love can reduce physical pain.

Security – When we’re touched in a comfortable way, our neurological senses are ignited through the skin, and our brain gets the emotional response that we’re feeling safe, secure and good.

Calm – If you’ve had an overwhelming day, a good hug can do wonders to help you relax. It reduces cortisol and increases oxytocin. Which leads onto….

Health – When you’re feeling reassured with touch, your blood pressure and pulse decrease as you are calming your body, which puts less stress on your heart. These physical benefits of hugging and touch can lead to a healthier, longer life. Every time you lower your cortisol, this has an impact on your immune system so you’re increasing your ability to fight disease.

However, it is crucial to always remember that hugs and touch must be agreed to by both parties. Touching someone who doesn’t want to be, is extremely disrespectful and can cause physical or mental damage. Some people aren’t tactile, some are very private, and some have issues with touch. Forcing hugs is a huge no-no in my eyes, especially with children. It’s totally wrong to say they should hug someone to say hello, goodbye or thank you. Their body is theirs and they can choose. Just as your body is yours and you make your own choices.

There are some people who prefer animal hugs to human hugs and these can be just as beneficial. Did you know? Interacting warmly with your dog for 30 minutes can increase oxytocin levels (the love hormone) by 300% (and by 130% in your dog). Our cortisol levels (stress hormones) can also decrease when stroking a pet (unless you don’t like animals of course). And the pet’s cortisol levels also decrease when being stroked or cuddled.

You can also think about other forms of touch – what textures you love. Stroke a pet, feel a silk piece of clothing through your hands. Feel the rain. Wrap up warm and intentionally go out when it’s cold. Coming back into the cosy warmth, feeling that contrast is revitalising, refreshing, and you appreciate having a home.

Hopefully in 2021, we’ll be able to hug a lot more when we want to!…. Happy New Year!

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy.

Resilience

Hello and Merry Christmas! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

Resilience:

When I think of resilience I think of daisies as they are super resilient (whenever I mow the lawn they pop back up the next day!). Everyone has had struggles in their lives and everyone is going through something right now, whether small, big… or life changing. Looking at hurdles we’ve overcome in our past, how we battled, what worked, what didn’t, helps us to remember we are resilient and we can get through whatever faces us.

 

I’m training as an emotional “Ollie” coach and this is reflected in the Ollie model which explains this to children really well:

First of all, Ollie has many super powers that represent his feelings. They all help him in some way and he knows that he can tap into his super powers whenever he needs them. For example if he faces a new challenge he uses his brave super power. He knows he has all the tools within him to deal with life.

Second of all, part of Ollie’s brain is like a library that stores his memories. Events that happen get filed away everyday with the date on the box. Sometimes, when Ollie looks back at memories from the past, they can seem scary, like the time he was left alone in his lounge for 10 minutes when he was 2 years old. Ollie is older now and he understands that when he was 2, he didn’t like being left alone, but now he doesn’t think twice about being by himself for 10 minutes. He also has a memory from when he was 4 of some kids calling him names which made him cry and want to leave a party. But as an older child, Ollie knows that memory was from when he was younger and hadn’t yet learnt how to tap into his resilience super power. Ollie can look back at his past memories, learn from them and use them to be an even stronger person. He looks for the positives, for the super powers that have helped him and are shaping who he is.

 

This totally relates to adults as well, we are all growing still as people and we can look back to past experiences and look for the positives, what we may have gained or learned, look for that silver lining.

We’ve probably all had to build our resilience this year, more so than other years. And December can also be a time for strength – with lockdowns, family conflicts and the pure stress of the chaos. Resilience is the capacity to recover from a difficult time or place and to bounce back from that struggle, coming out stronger and wiser. It’s about maintaining our mental health and well-being while continuing essential tasks.

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy.

Kindness

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

Kindness is defined as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” It’s also contagious, a source of pleasure and even elevates the immune system.

It’s a stressful time at the moment. Most people think the opposite of stress is calm and relaxed, but these are the absence of stress. Physiologically and behaviourally, kindness is the opposite of stress. Research shows that as one increases, the other decreases. Stress produces the hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which increase blood pressure, suppress the immune system, tense the nervous system and trigger depression. Whereas kindness produces oxytocin which decreases blood pressure, lifts the immune system, relaxes the nervous system and reduces the risk of depression.

Kindness elevates the immune system. A study where volunteers watched Mother Theresa carrying out humanitarian acts on the streets of Calcutta, showed that s-IgA levels (a component of the immune system) had significantly increased after watching the film. So even watching kindness gives us feelings that promote the immune system, whereas feelings of stress can suppress it.

Another factor is ageing – as we know stress accelerates ageing – this damage is caused by ‘free radicals’. High levels of oxytocin (produced by kindness) on the other hand keep free radicals down so is a natural way to feel young!

Results of surveys from 200,000 people from around the world showed that those who gave money to charity were happier than people who didn’t, even after taking into account their financial situation. Giving money to charity made as much difference to happiness as having twice as much income. Increasing happiness by giving, works much better when there’s a connection – i.e. if you can envision how your money is helping. One of our advent activities was to choose a charity to donate to. My 7 year old choose Save the Children after watching videos about it, and my 5 year old wanted to “Save the Unicorns”! …So we chose the RSPCA!

It’s not all about donating money though. Almost half of UK adults say that their busy lives stop them from connecting with other people. We can all play a part to tackle loneliness. And it’s incredibly simple. Research shows even small moments of connection can improve someone’s well-being and help tackle loneliness. Small moments can make a big difference. A smile and a hello can lift someone’s day.

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Resilience, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy, it will make a great Christmas present!

We Rise By Lifting Others

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

Community News-December is usually a time for doing lots of things with friends and family but this year may be slightly less. The sense of community can still be “present” with other people in many ways. Connecting, socialising, learning new things and even reaching some sort of united goal – brings many benefits to your physical and mental health. Feeling part of a team gives a huge sense of well-being, belonging and often achievement. This is often through your job, as many people work in a team, or in sports but there are many other ways to be part of a team or community.

E.g. When I left my job where I was part of a team and had children, I then felt a void of belonging to a team. I joined Rock Choir and got back these feelings of connecting, contributing to an achievement and sharing a passion with a group.

People connect directly to others within a local or physical community. People also connect through technology, West Berkshire Villagers is a great example of a local community connecting physically and via technology. But connecting online doesn’t have to have anything to do with where you live and the options are limitless. Relationships and attachments between people who are far apart can sometimes be stronger than those living next to one another on the same street.

Looking throughout history, neighbours were said to provide the sought-after sense of solidarity, security and proximity associated with the word ‘community’. But privacy is also key – looking at any street’s infrastructure you see fences, hedges, walls, gates etc. that are designed to keep people apart rather than to bring them together. Despite this, in general, a neighbourhood is a place where people look out for each other.

When lockdown started, I knew a few neighbours to say hello to, but that was it. During lockdown, we took more time to talk to neighbours from a distance, clapped key workers on a Thursday evening from our driveways (but with a sense of togetherness) and baked cakes to deliver to each other’s doors. Just these few gestures made such a difference to the sense of community from our point of view. Did you get to know your neighbours more this year?

Christmas time is chaotic, but it’s also a time people think more about volunteering to help in the local community. If you haven’t got the capacity it can be simply picking up some litter rather than walk by, making a point of saying ‘hello’ to someone you don’t know or checking-in with an elderly relative or vulnerable neighbour.

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Resilience, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy, it will make a great Christmas present!

Slowing Down with Caz Campbell

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

This week will be a transition of lockdown rules changing – (for many this means a big change, for some it means very little), as well as going into December, usually the most hectic month of the year for most. So Slowing Down is a perfect topic!

Before covid-19, I would’ve asked, “When do you last remember doing nothing?” but this year has been a bit different! During lockdowns, most of us are forced to slow down in some way. What most people have realised this year is just how busy modern life is, whether it’s the change to slowing down or trying to juggle everything and not having a work / life balance. Overthinking is a huge problem of recent times as we are all so busy. I definitely struggle to process the day so when it comes to going to sleep, my brain gets stuck trying to process everything. My mental computer can’t run its night-time back-up because I have too many files open!

I know you may want to forget lockdown days, but one idea for the future is to try to block out days or weekends in your calendar, as though it is lockdown, to remember the slower pace of life. It may mean you give yourself a break, say no to things, catch up on sleep and get to spend that quality time with people.

We live in a world of multi-tasking, it’s very normal now to be working, talking and listening to something all at the same time. It’s also common to assume we’ve had a productive day if we work late and come home exhausted. The problem is that there will always be more things to do no matter how many jobs you do and how fast you do them. We clutch at the idea of higher efficiency because it helps to maintain the illusion that we can get everything done. But we have to learn to do what matters and tolerate leaving other things undone. Something has to give and that choice is yours: do you settle for an untidy house or not be the employee who always does overtime, so you can spend more time socialising with friends or reading with your children? (I definitely opt for the untidy house!)

Consciously making the decision is key, so you’re not then worrying or thinking about how messy your house is or doing that overtime. Many people get their sense of self-worth from their work but no one aged 90 will boast of always having an empty inbox in their working life.

So my tip is to slow down… like a sloth! How are you going to be more sloth? What can you slow down on? And an extra fascinating fact – the sloth is the slowest animal in the world – even slower than a snail!

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Resilience, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy, it will make a great Christmas present!

Motivation by Caz Campbell

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

The first topic was about “Being Present” and this week is about Motivation, as I know a lot of us have found this hard this year, especially in lockdowns.

Most people have a good idea of what’s good for them in terms of health, work and habits. It’s not a lack of information that’s the problem, but a combination of procrastination, lack of follow-through and self-control. In general, it seems we want to do what we know is good for us… Just not right now!

During lockdowns, many people found it a huge struggle to get motivated. My husband was one of the only people I know who lost weight and increased his fitness this year. Most people did the opposite, understandably. Uncertain times affect us all in different ways but lack of motivation is incredibly common. There are days when you won’t want to take action and that’s OK. However, if you’re stressed about your lack of motivation, this can have an impact on your mental health and well-being.

Motivation is a flow, it’s not an on-off switch and there’s normally a driving force behind it, a reason, a purpose. When you accomplish any of these purposes, acknowledging and even celebrating your wins, however big or small is a great practice to get into.  All the little wins count and they create that spark in us. You’re the creator of how you want to tackle your days and what you want to accomplish.

Motivation is much more productive when coupled with kindness. The intent behind the motivation needs to come from a place of care. If you’re motivating yourself or someone else is motivating you with force or shame then it won’t be good for your well-being.

The simple act of writing down your goals can boost your motivation and increase the likelihood you’ll reach your goal by 50%. Having accountability can also massively help. Most people fit into a personality trait where we often break promises to ourselves, but rarely do to others as we’d feel awful letting them down. If you have someone to check in with weekly or do something with that person, you’re much more likely to feel motivated and stick to your plan.

I’ll finish this topic with some “homework” for those who would like to do this for themselves! These questions can help with everyday motivation:

1) What do I want today to be about?

2) What action do I need to take?

3) How will I feel at the end of the day once I’ve accomplished this?

In Donkey on a Waffle, there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Resilience, Environment, Relationships and Travel. It is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy, it will make a great Christmas present!

Being Present with Caz Campbell

Hello! My name is Caz Campbell. I’ve lived in Newbury most of my life, I’m a mum of two daughters who are 5 & 7 and I have three other job “hats”: I teach baby massage, I’m an emotional coach and I’ve just published a book last week focusing on happiness, kindness and calmness. It’s called “Donkey on a Waffle” (see at the bottom for more info!) and includes topics which I’m going to talk about in this blog.

The first topic, as we’re in a lockdown at the moment, is “Being Present”… Being present in what you’re doing; appreciating and living life in the now, so trying to avoid worrying about what you can’t control. Children are brilliant at this, only thinking about right now without the worries of the world.

Most of us adults are the same in that we seek out and remember negative news more than positive, because our human instincts are to problem solve so we look for problems! Neuropsychologists explain that our brains are like velcro for negative experiences and teflon for positive experiences. Positive and negative emotions use different memory systems in the brain. Positive emotions don’t transfer as easily to long-term memory the way bad emotions do. Most of us don’t stay with positive experiences long enough for them to be “encoded” into our brain’s neural structure: The longer the neurons in our brain fire, the more of them that fire. And the more intensely they fire, the more they’re going to wire that inner strength – so that happiness, gratitude, feeling confident, successful and loved. In other words, if you let a moment of happiness pass without being intentional about taking it in, it won’t stay with you. So: stop in the moment of your bliss and acknowledge it.

There’s a Buddhist technique for making the present count – spend 30 seconds consciously paying attention to the feelings you have. The feelings may increase and you’ll encode the memory of the experience in more detail, so much so that when you look back and remember that moment, it will feel even longer. A friend Susie told me to do this on my wedding day, as the day just zooms past in a whirlwind. She said at some point in the day when you’re not talking to anyone, look all around you, take it all in, absorb it and you’ll be able to look back and really feel that memory as you consciously took a mental video. I now tell my children to take mental pictures during their school day to tell me later and it helps them to remember the good things. Choose whichever wording works for you – “bookmark it” or “take a mental picture” or “capture it in a bottle”.

Another thing I do is I have a notebook of “those little moments” to write down funny or memorable things my daughters have said or done. Or you may choose to have a jar with a label of what year it is, then put little notes of happy moments into the jar – at the end of the year, empty the jar and go through them to stir up the happy moments you may have otherwise forgotten.

A little more about my book – the term “Donkey on a Waffle” is from an urban phrase meaning to make something a priority or to get on with a task – “I’m all over it, like a donkey on a waffle”. It’s something my husband says and I love it because it conjures up an image of two things that make me smile!

In the book there are 52 topics, many of which are particularly meaningful since covid-19 hit, such as the importance of Community, Environment, Motivation, Relationships and Travel. Donkey on a Waffle is available on Amazon or feel free to get in touch with cazncampbell@gmail.com for a signed copy, it will make a great Christmas present!

One Reply to “Guest Blog with Caz Campbell”

  1. Pingback: Community News

Comments are closed.