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How To Practice Empathy

Elephant Education

Learning everyday empathy at work from elephants

August 12 marked International Elephant’s Day. And while the old saying goes that an elephant never forgets, did you know that elephants can empathise too? As a herd, they are animals that show tremendous concern for one another – studies have shown them to actively use a unique, distinct sound, and a caressing trunk motion to naturally show understanding when they see another elephant in distress. Often considered one of the world’s most empathic species, they make responding to the emotions and need of others a natural imperative. A set of skills that we could all undoubtedly be learning from as we navigate the tsunami year that is 2020.

As we continue to work through the rollercoaster we find ourselves on, the practice of empathy for others is arguably our most critical skill towards recovery. The good news? However empathetic you feel you may be naturally, science has shown that the only thing between talking about being more empathetic and being empathetic is the decision to do so. Empathy is a skill so deeply embedded into our physiology that due to the neuroplasticity of our brains, research has shown that simply the decision to be more empathetic will lead you directly to be more empathetic. 

But whilst it may come naturally to the socially-alert elephants that share our planet, how can we become as empathetic towards one another in our working life as they are?

Firstly, practice live listening – how often do you find yourself listening but not taking note of what the other person is saying? Your body may have been in the same room, but your attention is elsewhere. The first key to driving a deeper empathetic connection is to ensure that when you listen, you listen to truly hear. 

Secondly, focus on those around you – we know that when people feel understood, stress levels are lower, immunity is, therefore, higher and our perceived safety and security goes up. Understanding the perspective of another not only helps you to gain clarity and context, but it creates confidence and calm in those you are connecting with. We need this more than ever right now.

Finally, be curious – enquiry drives connection. Start conversations and provoke sharing by asking questions to deepen your understanding of those around you. Encourage others to share more than their initial response by prompting them to know you are interested in hearing more

And if you think you’re hearing the word empathy everywhere right now, you’re right. It’s now on the lips of scientists and business leaders, education experts and political activists all over the world, and there is a good reason for it. 2020 may just turn out to be the year of empathy. For all of us. 

Mimi Nicklin is an author and renowned empathetic influencer based in Dubai. Find out more at miminicklin.com

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Self-Care for Women

Why Self-Care Is Crucial for Working Women

Caregiving begins with taking care of yourself.

Invited to speak at a Pinktober event recently, I chose the topic ‘Caring for Caregivers’. October and November are months dedicated to increasing awareness on breast cancer and prostate cancer, and as such, focus on self-care. My topic caused a bit of confusion with people expecting another speech focused on the disease, the patient, or the treatment – certainly not the caregiver.

What I have realised is that the term ‘caregiver’ comes with an entourage of associated emotions and labels. The focus is always only on the person being taken care of, with associated emotions ranging from guilt to selflessness. By association, the word ‘care’ has come to take on the meaning of only being directed towards others – more so when you’re a woman, the ultimate caregiver.

I’d like to share a brief version of the popular children’s fable, The Magic Porridge Pot. A poor couple with barely enough to eat themselves hears a knock on the door. They open it to find a tired, hungry traveller. Inviting him in, they share their frugal meal with him and give him a bed for the night. The next morning, the grateful stranger reveals that he is, in fact, an angel and would like to reward their generosity. He gifts them with a magic pot that will never, ever run out of food.

I hear you sighing longingly and asking where we can order this magic pot, too. Let me know when you find it! In the meantime, coming back to caregivers, we like to think of ourselves as magic porridge pots with an unending source of care to give. The truth, however, is that we need to stop every now and again to recharge our batteries and refill our resources so we can resume sharing them with others. In other words, we turn the care inwards and direct it at ourselves, i.e. self-care.

Having been raised to be caregivers for others, with the concept of selfless love drilled into their heads, most women find self-care a difficult concept to accept. It battles with all that they have been told a so-called good *insert role* does. You put others first, more so when you are a wife/mother, always putting the needs of your family above your own. While this school of thought is gradually tapering out, it is still strong enough to make self-care something we need to write about in a magazine, so women will know it’s perfectly alright for them to indulge in it themselves.

Self-care is Important For Women

Guilt

The primary gut response to sometimes even thinking about taking time out to do something just for yourself is guilt. On a personal level, this can sound like:

“This is time I should be spending on carrying out my role as professional/spouse/parent/daughter.”

“It’s not like I really NEED to do this, it’s actually a bit of a luxury/pampering/treat.” 

“Shouldn’t I be spending this money on something more useful?” 

“Doesn’t X need something like this more?”

“Isn’t this a bit selfish of me?”

The same guilt sounds more like this when it refers to a professional context:

“I am so desperately unhappy in this job, but feel so guilty about quitting.”

“Just because I’m being disrespected here doesn’t mean I have to jeopardise my job by speaking up.”

“I know I deserve a better role, but I’ll be letting down so many people if I move on.”

It’s quite funny how the guilt can spring up over something as silly as taking a break for coffee with a friend or buying fancy bath salts, let alone the high-level guilt that comes from taking a longer break to just chill and relax, or resign from a toxic workplace. This guilt stems from the intrinsic belief that time and money need to be spent on (and earned for) someone else selflessly. 

The Talking-Down

After the guilt comes the talking-down. Talking yourself and your needs down in relation to someone else and what they are going through or what they need. Talking down whatever state you are in – mentally, physically, emotionally – with accompanying justification is something all women go through. And it might sound something like this: our mums’ generation never made a fuss about this; this is natural at this age; everyone in my profession has this level of stress; who isn’t stressed these days?

When we finally do get to move past the talk-down and still continue with our plans, a well-placed sarcastic question or comment from a colleague or relative could have you backtracking in a second, cancelling all plans because you realise they are so right.

Why is it important for women to take self-care

Justifying the Spend

This is the one that women find the hardest. A legacy of the hunter-gatherer days for women is that we were the ones who managed whatever was hunted/gathered, ensuring it lasted as long as possible and was distributed as needed. Resource management has, ever since, been our strongest suit, often leading to wives being teasingly referred to as the Finance Minister or Home Minister.

Having always been responsible for managing the resources for the wider group, the concept of staking a claim for ourselves therefore goes against the grain. There is the niggling feeling that this could have been given to someone else because they might need it more. So how do we negate all this hard-coded conditioning and rewrite it with the empowering belief that we are worthy of care, too?

framed quote

Put Yourself First

Referring to the magic porridge pot story earlier: you cannot be who you are meant to be or do what you are meant to do if you are not in the best shape physically, mentally, and emotionally. By ensuring that your batteries are always fully charged and you are working in peak form, you are ensuring that what you give others – in any capacity – is your best, making it a win-win for everyone.

If Not You, Then Who?

It’s a question that usually stumps my clients. Because the truth is that you are the only one who values your well-being (or should value it!) so much. If you think you deserve better, more, or something else, newsflash: you are the only one who can give that to yourself. Too often, we wait for a manager, spouse, partner, or parent to see what we’re going through and take care of it for us. Not going to happen. Wake up and go after what you want.

Talk Yourself Up 

We know what the opposite does, so go ahead and switch it around. Tell yourself how impressed you are with what you are doing or have just done. List out the attributes you are proud of, the specific details of whatever it is you said or did that made you proud and include even the silly little ones.

Imagine you are talking about someone else and objectively list out the reasons they deserve to make that decision. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to do for someone other than yourself. It is often very easy to appreciate and acknowledge what others do and achieve, and simultaneously find it equally hard to do the same for ourselves. This easy workaround is a great way to get over this and learn to value yourself and your own well-being more.

You Are Someone’s Role Model

Keeping that in mind will help you make decisions that you won’t regret. People, kids in particular, model our behaviours – not our words. So, if you are in a role that impacts how others think and behave, you have a responsibility to show them how to take care of themselves and their well-being by taking care of yours. Lead by example. You never know who you could be inspiring with your proactive self-care.

Bina Mathews is an Executive Master Coach and Communications Consultant at Bina Mathews Consulting FZE. Visit www.coachbina.com or follow @coachbina on Instagram for more information.

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Expert Tips To Run A Business

5 Expert Tips on How to Run a Business Seamlessly 

Are you ready to take the entrepreneurial leap?

As the founder of a relatively new business, My Eco Souk, I’ve firsthand learned the realities of kickstarting a start-up. This past year has been surreal; starting a business from scratch and running it seamlessly is no child’s play. One must run a tight ship and ensure the smooth functioning of all matters. No matter what business you’re in, you will always have competition. At first, it can seem intimidating to face a saturated market.

That’s why it’s more important than ever in today’s business world to stand out from the crowd. With so many businesses vying for attention, making yours stand out from the rest can be difficult. However, if you’re committed and informed, no obstacle is big enough to put you off your path. Some key factors can help you run a business smoothly, and I am here to impart some important lessons to those who want to take the entrepreneurial leap. In my personal experience, here are the ones I treasure the most.

Tips To Run A Business

Tip 1: A Strong Team Is Your Backbone

A dedicated team of like-minded and appropriately skilled individuals is pivotal to the functioning of any organisation. This could be your core team, a council, or even volunteers/interns/regular employees. A team that will back you up no matter what and work to turn your vision into reality is necessary. It is not a battle to be fought alone, but a team effort. 

Having a solid team of trusted individuals also allows various mindsets and ideas to flow and enter the discourse. It also increases chances of accountability as well as a division of workload. Moreover, having people to rely on can be significant while running a business, which may very well take a toll on a person’s emotional and mental well-being. 

There are countless benefits of having an excellent team to fall back on. Your team’s combined skill set and knowledge can help you to overcome obstacles that you might feel insurmountable on your own. They can guide you to see things from a different perspective, which is invaluable. Most importantly, they remind you that the world is not on your shoulders and that all the burden is shared till the aspiration is realised.

Pro Tips for Running a Business

Tip 2: Execution Is Key

Businesses need to be unique and ready to adapt to the ever-changing market. Ideas are constantly circulating among those involved in running a relevant business. However, it takes more than just ideas to be successful. It is essential to have a concrete plan that is executed promptly and effectively. 

A group of people who are good at generating ideas is excellent, but if those ideas are not turned into actionable plans, they will not amount to anything. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to have great ideas and the ability to execute them properly. Execution brings a result – and the result, good or bad, can only add to your learning and experience. 

As a leader, it is essential that you take charge and pick which ideas you want to bring to life. Discussing with your team is a key part of this process; make sure everyone knows your vision and considers their opinions. It’s also crucial that you don’t spend too much time mulling things over without taking action – every execution has value, even if the outcome isn’t what you initially hoped for.

Growing a Successful Business

Tip 3: Be Adaptive to Changes

While working through an idea, you might often realise that it is not exactly going as you envisioned. This is very common when it comes to implementing ideas. Reality is far removed from one’s ideals, and many adjustments must be made. 

In cases like these, it is important to learn early on to take things in your stride. Not every plan is rigid, and not every process is set in stone. There are bound to be changes and last-minute decisions that might throw you off. What matters is to be flexible and grow around those changes instead of shrinking below their weight.

Accepting changes and working flexibly helps in the long run compared to being stubborn and sticking to a redundant way of doing things. Being ready and not letting inevitable bumps hamper your spirit will work out in your favour more than anything else.

Tips to Craft a Strong Business Plan

Tip 4: Networking Is Necessary

Networking is an essential component of any business endeavour. It allows for exchanging information, building relationships, and acquiring new skills and knowledge. Networking is not simply a process of acquiring new customers or clients; it is also an opportunity to learn about new platforms, resources, and strategies that can be used to grow your business. 

By engaging in networking activities, you will gain a better understanding of your industry and the competition, and you will be able to build strong relationships with other professionals who can help you grow your business. In short, networking is an essential part of any successful business venture. The more you expand your network and interact with individuals across the spectrum, the more perspective and the more ideas it brings you.

It is also an excellent way to invite collaborations and build long-lasting partnerships that are enormously important to getting ahead in this field. Networking does not have to be delegated to employees or interns. Actively participating in it as a leader can convey that you are an involved and eager individual, willing to take the reins into your own hands when necessary.

man standing holding a tablet and credit card

Tip 5: Be Ready to Invest and Persist

Investing will be an integral part of your start-up. Ideas and execution require resources, and resources require money. Money and time will be key investments that you will have to gear up for while trying to make a business work – being patient is also necessary. Persistence is vital when it comes to investing. You cannot sow and expect to reap the next day. It will take time and understanding and, most importantly, faith. 

People often invest large amounts of time and money in a particular idea, hoping for instant success and profit. My time in the field has taught me otherwise. The marketplace is often unpredictable, and being consistent is the only thing that will get you far enough to secure any sort of achievement or recognition. 

In the one year I have spent as the founder of My Eco Souk, things have certainly not been a piece of cake. I have a long way to go before I can see myself as an established business owner. I will strive to learn and step out of my comfort zone. These were some of the treasured tips I gathered in the months that have gone by. Sharing it with fellow newbies in the start-up arena brings me immense joy because I also would have wanted someone to share these with me!

Garima Gupta is the owner and CEO of My Eco Souk, an online marketplace for sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Visit www.myecosouk.com or follow @myecosouk on Instagram for more information.

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postnatal depression

Understand These Needs As You Prepare for Parenthood

Before you learn all things baby, learn all things YOU!

So you have the cot, the pram, the high chair, some super cute outfits, and a squillion other gadgets recommended by family, friends, social media, and Google. Full disclosure: my favourite gadget was the snot sucker – just saying! The satisfaction of clearing those tiny little nostrils was hard to beat. However, how prepared are you mentally?

When my son was born in 2017, I was 41 years old and thought I knew all there was to know about becoming a parent. After all, we had been trying for a family for three years. We had a great marriage, lived in a beautiful town in Montenegro, and had no major stresses in our life. We were not naive to the challenges that would come along – the lack of sleep, the responsibility of caring for this new person, and the isolation of living overseas away from both of our families were all factors we were very well aware of.

Yet, nothing prepared me (or my husband) for the postpartum depression that enveloped me in those first 18 months. See, here’s the problem: if well-meaning people try to share the challenging details of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, then they are scaremongering. And if they do not disclose the reality faced by many, then they are hiding the truth and sugarcoating the whole thing. You can’t win, really. The best advice I can give you is before you learn all things baby, learn all things YOU.

As a new mother, you have a lot to learn. Diapers, bottles, and baby food are just the beginning. It can be easy to get so caught up in caring for your little one that you forget to take care of yourself. However, self-care is essential for new moms. After all, you can’t be your best for your baby if you’re not taking care of yourself. So what do you need to do to take care of yourself? Start by learning about the six human needs. Once you understand what you need to feel fulfilled, you can start making sure those needs are met. Only then will you be able to give your baby the best of yourself.

parenthood

The Six Human Needs

During the last five years, I have literally lived and breathed maternal mental health and personal development. Upon receiving much-needed support from a counsellor, a doctor, and a life coach when my son was 18 months old, I experienced a pivotal moment where I felt compelled to help other families navigate these waters.

I have realised that while it is quite easy to access information relating to hormone, physical, biological, and social changes, I did not find much guidance that directed me to personal development in order to prepare myself for this chapter in my life. What do I mean by that? Well, if you had asked me five years ago if I knew what the six human needs were, I would’ve said, “No, I do not.” I believe the problem lay in my inability to identify my needs and how to meet them best. They are:

  1. Certainty
  2. Variety
  3. Significance 
  4. Connection and love
  5. Growth
  6. Contribution

We each have these needs. However, we are all unique regarding the varying degrees to which they drive us. For example, I personally am driven by a need for certainty. I am very routine-oriented and systematic. I love schedules and plans. One of my best friends is the opposite. She is driven by a need for variety, always makes plans at the last minute, is unfazed if things are not done systematically, and struggles with routine. Interesting, right?

If I had an awareness and understanding of this at the time of my son’s birth, I believe that I would have been able to help myself more during those dark days. Since then, the personal development journey I embarked upon opened up many layers as to what was affecting my mental health. It was not that I did not feel connected to my son, as is often documented as a sign of postpartum depression.

These Needs As You Prepare For Parenthood

Checking In on Your Framework

When you begin to understand yourself fully, it can incite changes in all aspects of your life and none more so than during a huge transition, such as becoming a parent. It is common to immerse yourself in understanding best practices for the baby, such as feeding, sleeping, and potty training, but no one ever asks if you understand how to meet your own needs (or if you even know what they are).

We each have a unique framework in terms of how best to support ourselves based on our conditioning (upbringing), environment, belief systems, values, the things that bring us joy in our lives, the things that we are passionate about, and the expectations we have of not only our family and friends, but also ourselves.

When Was the Last Time You Checked In on That Framework?

Whether you are a parent or not, the fact remains that we evolve. What once made us feel good perhaps does not have the same effect anymore. Our tastes in music and books changes, the energy we share with others within our social groups shifts, and we can sometimes be wondering what actually makes us tick? What do I actually enjoy? What motivates me and makes me feel alive?

Completing the worksheets in the online programme Stepping Into Parenthood will see you and your family identify the answers to these questions. It will also open the narratives between you and create a visual tool to reflect upon and assist you with simple and easy-to-implement tips and tools that will help you to meet your own six human needs.

life coach

Turning your attention to subjects such as budgets, careers, child care, the running of the household, and expectations of everyone within the family unit as you prepare for the arrival of your child will be way more valuable than only concentrating on the aesthetics of the Insta-worthy nursery. It amazes me how many people marry, have children, and yet avoid uncomfortable conversations surrounding things such as money.

If you aim to raise a child with integrity, honesty, respect, and an ability to communicate openly with others, then now is the time to take a look in the mirror and see if you are, in fact, displaying these values. As I said before, we are all a product of our upbringing, conditioning, and environment. So perhaps consider what you would like that to look like for your child/children? An example of this melted my heart last year when my son came home one day and exclaimed, “Aww, thanks mum!”

Confused, I asked, “What for?” He replied, “For hanging up the laundry and cleaning the dog hair from the couch!” After we stopped laughing at how random that seemed and how cute he was, we soon realised that he was following the example set by his dad and me. We are always vocal with our gratitude to each other, and our son is growing up in an environment where this level of respect and appreciation is fully transparent. By doing so, it also meets our own human needs of significance, love, and connection. Pretty cool, right?

life coach Dubai

There are so many small yet impactful ways to meet our needs, and doing so will provide the foundation and stability required as you enter your next chapter as a parent. Often, when talking to clients, I can identify through the narrative that there is a human need not being met. That is often the root of the feelings of unease, anxiety, and depression commonly experienced by new parents.

Preparation in pregnancy, creating awareness, and a tool kit of best practices as to how to look after yourself mentally will have a domino effect as you parent, helping you to have clarity and understanding of yourself during this amazing part of your life. Yes, some parents indeed adjust with no adverse effects, but having this knowledge is a bit like having an airbag in a car. It’s not anticipated that we will need it, but it is good to know it is there if we do.

Nikki Steele Osborne is Dubai-based life coach specialising in postnatal depression. Visit www.thescottishsoulsister.com or @thescottishsoulsister for a consultation or more information.

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Gender Bias in the Workplace

Let’s Talk Gender Bias in the Workplace

In honour of International Day of the Girl, today.

If there’s anything on-trend right now, it’s inclusivity, diversity, and gender – the media is practically screaming at us about! Some may say it’s about time, while others may question what the point is. That being said, there is no greater time to be a woman and define who you are on your own terms than now. Incidentally, today marks the 10th anniversary of International Day of the Girl, a day designated to eliminate the gender-based challenges faced by little girls worldwide, including child marriages, poor learning opportunities, violence, and discrimination. 

But the bad news is that it’s not just men who are subjecting females of all ages to discrimination, it’s not just men who are guilty of ‘gender bias’. Let me explain. Have you or a friend ever judged a woman based on her weight, job, fashion choices, food choices, or comments? Ever commented, “I can’t believe she did that/said that/wore that!” If yes, it could indicate that you may have a bias towards the female gender, which means there is an unspoken expectation of what or how a woman ‘should’ speak or even act. These ‘shoulds’ are societal female expectations that make women base their relationships on persona and conduct – all of which relate to the self.

Men, meanwhile, typically base relationships on performance, influence, and goal orientation in the workplace. But fear not; everyone has a ‘bias’ towards something, and this is indicative of our upbringing, culture, environment, job role, and relationship status. However, by being aware of our biases, we can come to a place of acceptance and therefore become open to building stronger connections that will benefit our personal life and career. 

Women offer so many skills and, in fact, the new term ‘soft skills’ (which includes empathy, a strong sense of emotional intelligence, the ability to make others feel heard, and a sense of perspective) are all skills that I believe women inherently possess. And we have all this whilst taking on 70% of household decisions! We sound truly unstoppable, right? But it comes at a cost – USD 160.2 trillion to be exact. That’s how much money was lost due to gender inequality in the workplace. In fact, the same report on the cost of gender equality estimated that full gender equality can increase the world GDP by USD 28 trillion by 2025.

gender discrimination in workplace

Companies can transform million dollar ideas and concepts into trillions by checking their bias and focusing on the strengths and the incredible skill sets that women can offer. It can do this by allowing flexible working hours, the ability to work from home, part-time working options, and female mentorship programmes that create a space for women to talk about their performance and collaborate with others.

Let’s now start small and check your bias to allow you to look at a new perspective. When you think of a CEO, who do you think of? A male or female? When you think of a parent, do you think of a male or female? When you think of the breadwinner of a household, do you think of a male or female? If you’ve answered male to most of these questions, this shows that you may share the societal bias towards one gender over the other. It’s powerful and impactful to know our mindset as it puts us in a place of awareness, collaboration, and exploration. It can also make our experiences and relationships stronger and more meaningful.

According to a study conducted at Cornell University: “Women tend to underestimate their confidence, whilst men will overestimate their abilities.” Another study found that men will apply for a job role with only 60% of the credentials, compared to women, who will apply for a role with only 100%. Here are ways to check your bias and thrive with confidence if faced with a job opportunity.

Ask Yourself:

  • What can I offer this role?
  • If confidence or self-belief wasn’t holding me back, what would I do?
  • What’s holding me back?
  • What impact would I make if I had this role?
  • Why not me?

If You Own a Business, Consider the Following Questions: 

  • Could the company benefit from a different perspective?
  • How gender equal are we in this company?
  • Is our team stronger in one gender than the other?
  • What gaps need filling when it comes to gender equality?

These small insights and perspectives can offer a host of knowledge about what sets us back. Remember ladies, we all are worthy of achieving our goals and dreams – and 2022 is truly our time – so be proud, make a stand, and show the world who you truly are. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “I was once afraid of people saying, ‘Who does she think she is?’ Now I have the courage to say, ‘This is who I am.'” 

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World Mental Health Day

How Are You (Really) Doing Today?

It’s okay to not be okay.

Today is World Mental Health Day, so now’s the time to pause what you’re doing and look inward. For the uninitiated,World Mental Health Day is the result of a global advocacy and awareness programme started by the World Federation for Mental Health back in 1992. As for its raison d’etre? Raising awareness around mental health and dispelling the stigma that surrounds it, with each year focusing on a specific aspect.

After all, research by WHO has revealed that some 450 million people across the globe have experienced some form of a mental health issue, and one in four individuals will develop a mental or behavioural disorder in their lifetime. This year’s theme is make mental health for all a global priority, reflecting how the events of recent years – the pandemic, forced displacement, and growing inequalities – have taken a toll on our collective mental health.

And then there’s the sheer volume of people who were struggling even before that; an estimated one in eight people globally was living with a mental disorder in 2019. In fact, knowing how to deal with our own mental health issues whilst supporting those closest to us who may be suffering even more is a challenge in itself. With support of paramount importance in a case like this, Gaggler tapped Aakanksha Tangri, founder of Dubai-based online mental health platform Re:Set, about the tools that can help those who are hesitant to seek help.

Re: Set’s Founder, Aakanksha Tangri
Aakanksha Tangri, founder ofRe:Set

Realise What It Takes to Really Help

Individual communities need to take steps to build a support group for family and friends, creating a safe space that allows for the freedom to express feelings without judgement. Mental health is not binary – it’s not about being sick or healthy. There is an in-between state where the signs and symptoms of mental disorders may not be obvious. According to Ayukta Thakur, co-founder of holistic center for young adults with special needs Integreat Center, statements like “don’t give up” and “just keep fighting” can actually stunt a person’s willingness to seek advice when going through mental health struggles.

The key to succeeding in your support is to stay diligent and aware of the state of your own and others’ mental health. It’s essential to make a habit of noticing when someone close to you is not feeling great and reaching out to them by showing support and providing encouragement to seek treatment, and vice versa. As a society, we should strive to pick up our fellow human beings. Something as small as checking up on your neighbour or colleague could have a beneficial effect on someone’s mental well-being by providing a reminder that someone is always there to listen.

World Mental Health Day 2022

Acceptance, Always

Our job as a community should be to encourage and embolden people to seek mental health support, normalise vulnerability, and destroy the illusion of a seemingly perfect state of mind. Loneliness has been found as a key link to severe mental health disorders. Providing people with a space to admit that they are not well – as well as open an honest dialogue about their emotional and mental state – is important in spreading acknowledgement and acceptance around mental health. 

Dubai-based clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Frogely reminds us that it’s okay to admit that you’re not okay when speaking on the significance of normalising the need to seek therapy. “Talking about your feelings sets a good example and is a helpful strategy to make people feel comfortable when speaking about their mental health.”

World Mental Health Day – October 10th

Be a Part of the Change

“When we are sick with the flu or a stomach bug, we go to the doctor, take medicine, or seek natural remedies – so why do we not do the same when it comes to mental health?” asks Ayukta. It is through this realisation that it is absolutely critical to eradicating the stigma attached to mental health and seeking therapy. According to statistics from WHO, the UAE is currently behind the global average in terms of the number of psychiatrists and psychiatric beds per 100,000 population.

Spreading understanding and sharing stories around what it’s like to live with mental health challenges allows for in-depth and diverse discussions around key topics such as inclusivity, parenting, gender, and education, each pivotal in changing society’s perception of mental health issues. Creating a safe space while shedding light on topics that aren’t always brought to the forefront, but are important for the masses to address, is essential. Unlike physical health, mental health is not generally discussed publicly. And that needs to change today.

We need to adopt open communication on mental health challenges and assist others before a possible crisis arises. Our purpose is to provide a voice for everyday people to share their real-life experiences and ignite discussion – be that teachers, educators, counsellors, parents, students, children, people of determination, or family members. “It comes back to building awareness and education about the significance of mental health support. Also making the whole community open to talking about seeking therapy,” says Dr. Frogley. It is with this in mind that our mission is to start conversations and propose solutions, as well as guide and encourage education around tough topics to provide in-depth understanding, support, and resources for those in need.

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Mother and Daughter taking

Raise Your Little Girl to Be a Queen – Here’s How

Empower her in a male-dominated world!

Empowerment is not a buzzword anymore, but an imperative notion for positive change, evolution, and equality. Society at large has always discriminated against girls, their likes, their lifestyles, and their basic rights. So how can we bring a monumental change in the way we raise our girls to turn them into the torchbearers of this generation? Now, with International Daughters Day on the horizon, I would like to highlight ways in which we can raise and empower every little girl to lead the way in the future. 

Teach Her to Voice Her Opinions and Decisions

Allowing girls to express their opinions is key to raising empowered young women. Let her know that her voice matters and say, “What are your thoughts? I want to hear what you have to say. How do you feel about this?” Letting them speak their mind is particularly important in making them feel included, heard, and accepted. At home, parents should allow their daughters to debate big topics – even if it gets heated – as it teaches them to be assertive and holds appropriate boundaries around disagreements. Long story short: listen more and dictate less.

Encourage Her to Pursue Her Passion

It is every individual’s fundamental right as a human being to pursue what they truly love and, as women, it becomes even more vital. It is often observed that girls don’t speak up for themselves when it comes to their career choices. Letting girls fully engage with an activity that they love will give them the opportunity to conquer and master any challenge. This will also boost her morale, build resilience and self-esteem, and affirm intrinsic values in her (rather than limiting her to just beauty and body). 

Identify the Core Values of Your Family

Just as charity begins at home, so does empowerment. Creating an environment for girls to hone their values, yet live life on their own terms, is vital. Consider the ways in which you can convey values, especially by example. Think about what traits and strengths you want her to develop, such as authenticity and integrity, and what everyday life moments you can use to model and demonstrate such family values. 

Create a Safe Space for Them  

It is our responsibility to create a safe environment where she can express herself uninhibitedly, and not restrain her feelings. Allowing girls to show their full range of emotions is important in making them feel respected. We also need to teach young girls that when they feel angry or upset, it’s a signal that something is important to them and they should express it. Thus, creating a safe space for girls to stand up for themselves is very important. Safety is also a feeling that most girls and women never fully feel in life. This makes it important to educate men to learn to respect and treat girls the right way, so that girls can feel safe and don’t always have their guard up. Creating an environment where women are not treated as objects, but seen as equal individuals, is crucial. 

Teach Her to Say ‘no’ Without Guilt 

From a very early age, we are conditioned as girls to take care of others and their needs first, and not prioritise ourselves in the process. This leads to faster burnout for women as compared to men. Thus, it becomes vital to teach our girls as kids to say no without feeling guilty or constantly feeling the need to please others.

Allow Her to Be Adventurous, Daring, and Fearless 

Urge your daughters, cousins, and every other girl to get out of her comfort zone by embracing her authentic self. Help her face the fears that make her feel incompetent and make her realise that there is more to her than she believes herself to be! Let her take risks, stumble, and find her way – that will help her embrace her true empowered version. 

Exercise Equality, Irrespective of Gender

Most girls have witnessed gender bias at least once in their household, which always leaves some form of a scar in their lives. If you have boys and girls in the same house, it’s important to treat them equally, be it when they are in the middle of an argument, fighting, shopping, or even in terms of love, care, and number of hugs. Children have a tendency to observe everything and adapt quickly to actions, behaviours, and words. Schools must also step up to treat boys and girls equally, encouraging them to play together – especially in sports as that’s where most girls feel they aren’t as tough and strong as boys. 

Be Inclusive and Body-Positive

A lot of girls and women worldwide struggle with body image issues. What if this could be eliminated by taking action in one’s early days? Passing mean comments on a girl’s body (even jokingly), looking at their bodies with disgust, pressuring them to lose weight, and warning them that they will have a hard time finding a suitable boy if they don’t can contribute to women’s body image issues. Unfortunately, this practice still happens in countless schools and homes today. 

Kids – and girls especially – are bound to self-sabotage, question their looks, and think that there’s something wrong with them. To change this, parents can be mindful of how they talk and feel about their own bodies. If a girl sees her mother avoiding certain foods because she wants to lose weight or groaning at the weighing scale, that can send a certain message. In contrast, using positive phrases, avoiding negative comparisons, being mindful of how they talk about themselves and their friends, and not unnecessarily restricting them from behaving a certain way will surely encourage them to unlock their girl power.

Set Healthy Boundaries 

Teach her to establish healthy boundaries for herself, be it personally or professionally. This will help her to not be taken for granted. Not only will it make her understand her own worth, but also teach her to treat others with respect and harmony. 

Lastly, Celebrate Her 

Women are creators themselves, and should be celebrated at every stage of life. They are symbolic of grace, abundance, feminine energy, love, joy, and so much more. Always upliftyour daughter to be independent, push her to become a fierce woman, teach her to become self-sufficient, and never limit herself to her beauty and body. Let’s give wings to her aspirations! 

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Making Amends: The Journey to Healing

Read on if you’re anxious about a quarrel with a loved one.

Have you ever been anxious about a quarrel with a friend, sibling, or spouse? We’ve all been there. There is always guilt, but at the time, your fury overtook you and caused you to say things you didn’t consciously mean, and you wish you could take them back. 

You can’t take back what you’ve said after you’ve said it. It keeps you thinking about how you could wreck your relationship with them, which takes you down the overthinking spiral. There appears to be no answer, but there is one that may improve your situation – but what is it? Making amends. It’s the only way to get over it. After what you said, you may feel embarrassed and even guilty about contacting them again, but it’s never too late. A sincere apology may even improve the bond between you and your loved one.

The first step is to admit to yourself that you made a mistake. Making amends after wrongdoing can only happen once you’ve admitted and accepted your role in the situation, as well as the pain you caused them and yourself. There is no need to continue reading this article if the acceptance is missing. Being mindful of your triggers and starting the healing with yourself will lead to making amends and asking for forgiveness.

As specialists have discovered, the hardest part of the healing journey is asking for forgiveness and forgiving oneself. On the other hand, the healing process begins the instant you recognise your mistake and start to resolve the cause of the trigger, and are eager to correct it. Stabilising your mental health and manifesting positive energy can be difficult, but it is not impossible. It all begins with you.

To “See Through Their Eyes”

We’ve all heard the advice to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes or see things through someone else’s eyes to understand a situation better. However, this may be difficult since everyone has their own narrative about a scenario, and it’s difficult to discard that narrative because there’s always a bias, which is difficult to overcome.

Nonetheless, this is a critical step that you must not overlook. Putting yourself in their shoes or seeing things through their eyes is imagining yourself in their circumstances and changing your perspective to see things from a different one. In this manner, you can comprehend why you did something wrong and hash it out with the person. Furthermore, you’ll be able to empathise with their suffering and give them and yourself time to heal before continuing your connection.

Communication Brings People Together

Communication is the second most important aspect of making amends. It solves 50% of the problems when they are done correctly. The goal of communication is to eliminate any potential for misunderstanding. This way, instead of expecting to hear what you like, you can truly and meaningfully ask the individual what you can do to improve things. 

Their response could be very different from what you expected, making you upset and enraged. To summarise, you must accept their response with an open mind. If you truly want to make amends, you must mentally prepare yourself to accept what they say while putting selfishness at bay.

Processing the Apology

Giving the other time to accept your apology and giving yourself time to accept is crucial. You can’t immediately apologise and expect everything to go back to normal; forgetting and erasing the negative from memory takes time, and moving on takes time. However, forgiveness and acceptance are the first steps toward regaining control of your thoughts and improving your mental health.

Making amends is a way to make peace with oneself and start healing. It’s important to remember that your apology should represent your selflessness – not your desire to re-establish the relationship, but rather to help the other person feel better and improve the situation. There’s a chance the individual won’t forgive you, but you should let it go and see this as an opportunity to grow.

Liberate Your True Self

You must keep on track and not stray. Your apology aims to restore the other person’s faith in humanity and apologise for the actions you have shown honestly. It reflects your true self and allows the other person to comprehend your objectives better. If they don’t accept the apology, it doesn’t mean you’re abandoning the original goal – whether the individual forgives you or not, you should stick to your words. Making mistakes is inevitable in life, but failing to acknowledge them causes your character to deteriorate.

Asking for forgiveness is a healing process that can help you regain control of your life and mind as well as improve your perception of things. It should be a selfless deed to cure yourself and the person you have offended. It’s okay if you accidentally hurt someone and learn from it during your self-love journey. In contrast, what is not okay is being mindless about it. However, you are selfish if you purposely harm another person to benefit yourself. There’s a fine line between self-love and selfishness, and it’s up to you to draw it.

The Perfect Present

Researchers, mental health experts, religious leaders, and those in the recovery community all agree that acknowledging our triggers, healing our triggers and mistakes, expressing regret, and doing what we can to make things right may lead to immense benefit. Forgiveness is critical to the healing process because it allows you to let go of your anger, guilt, shame, grief, or any other negative emotion and move on.

Once you’ve identified what you’re experiencing, given it a voice, and realised that mistakes are unavoidable, you can go on. You’ll realise how liberating and forgiving it can be. Researchers have concluded that self-forgiveness is a “morally problematic area” and that “individuals may, at times, believe that they deserve to continue paying for their wrongs”, but they might be able to “tilt the scales of justice” if they make amends.

Aditi Vijay Chandani is a mental health coach in Dubai. Visit @therapywith_aditivc for more information.

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Ways to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

7 Ways to Have a More Sustainable Wedding

Small changes equal big impact.

Here’s an inconvenient truth for all brides-to-be: your wedding, while designed to be the greatest day of your life, will inevitably have a hefty carbon footprint. Flowers will be discarded, as will excess food, paper decorations, and even wedding favours left behind by guests. It’s no wonder that more and more couples are opting for a ‘green’ – a.k.a. eco-friendly – wedding, which is easier to plan than it sounds. Here, with peak wedding season on the horizon, we share a few tips to get you started.

1

Instead of creating a wedding registry and accumulating more material possessions, direct your guests to a charity of your choice. Whether you’re passionate about animal welfare, fighting hunger, or protecting the environment, there’s a whole host of brilliant initiatives that your guests can support on your behalf.

2


Seek a stationer that gives back to the planet in some capacity. Ananya Cards, for example, plants trees for every wedding and event stationery order placed. It also uses cardstock from sustainably managed forests and recycled cards where possible. We also recommend posting information such as directions on your wedding website instead of using additional paper.

Eco-friendly Wedding Ideas

3

Floral centerpieces do wonders for the aesthetics of a wedding – not so much for the environment, though. A more sustainable substitute is using potted plants (like succulents) or flowers (like orchids or roses), which can be taken home once the big day is over. Alternatively, bypass the blooms in favour of more modern options like books, branches, and or sculptures.

4

An entirely vegetarian feast will inevitably make for a more eco-friendly wedding as plant-based meals consume fewer resources to produce – and harm no animals to boot. Looking to accommodate meat-eaters? Aim for a menu that’s 50% vegetarian. And if neither of these is an option, opt for plated dinners as buffets lead to greater food waste.

Green Wedding Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Celebration

5

Edible wedding favours are a no-brainer. For starters, your guests will likely be famished towards the end of the night. And let’s face it – they’ll probably prefer mini cupcakes or cheese popcorn over a candle with your wedding date on it. Bonus: you can support small, locally based businesses if you source your favours from Ripe Market or ARTE, The Makers’ Market.

6

Unless fancy soirées are a regular occurrence in your groom’s social life, suggest that he rent a tux instead of splurging on one – it will be better for the planet and his wallet. Based in Jumeirah, The Wedding Shop has both tuxedos and morning suits in cuts ranging from classic to contemporary for hire.

Ways to Plan an Eco-Friendly Wedding

7

You will need to arrange some type of transportation for your wedding day, especially if your out-of-town guests are staying at hotels far from the ceremony or reception venue. Providing post-event vans or buses is not only safer, but it also reduces the number of vehicles used.

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How to Be an Empathetic Leader

The Dos and Don’ts of Being an Empathetic Leader

Empathy isn’t reserved for your personal life.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that it weeded out the weak and ineffective leaders, and spotlighted those who exhibited good leadership skills. Good leaders were able to navigate their companies through uncertain waters while maintaining employee morale and productivity.

While these good leaders possess many qualities, the one that we will focus on here is empathy, as that was the one brought into sharp focus over the past few years – because even leaders with the best strategy and roadmap for the company will not be able to get everyone to share that vision and own it if they don’t have empathy. And everyone knows you get further and faster when everyone is equally motivated by the end goal.

That’s where an empathic leadership style comes in. It can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale, and loyalty. When a colleague has an issue, for instance, they may be frustrated and just want you to listen to them. By something as simple as letting them tell you all the details before responding, you can show them you value what they have to say. And Gallup surveys have consistently revealed that people value being valued more than increased salaries!

Teams with empathetic leaders are more innovative and push the boundaries more, as they feel safe in the knowledge that they won’t be blamed for failures in these experiments. Leaders benefit from empathy as it helps them to understand the root cause behind poor performance and address it constructively.

Ways You Can Improve Your Empathic Leadership Skills

Let’s Dig Deep About Empathy

Empathy is a hard skill to quantify, but leaders who have it are generally able to lead through challenging times more successfully. Good leaders know how to collect input and suggestions from everyone, make a decision that is best suited for the organisation, and fulfill the (reasonable) requirements of the majority. 

In order to recognise the qualities of being empathetic, it is important to understand what empathy means. According to Wikipedia, empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. 

Given the divide between management and the rest of the organisation, it’s a given that executives cannot understand the issues faced by the rest of the employees. By being empathetic, leaders bridge this divide and connect on a human level, strengthening loyalty and pride in being a part of the organisation.

Empathy is a key factor in Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ), which measures an individual’s abilities to recognise and manage their emotions and the emotions of other people, both individually and in groups. An empathetic leader with a high EQ will know which of the three aspects of empathy – cognitive (head/thinking), affective (heart/feeling), and behavioural (action/doing) – to use in a given situation.

A Few Dos and Don’ts of Being an Emphatic Leader

Empathetic leaders can steer a company through turbulent times by providing employees with the understanding and recognition they need to navigate the crisis. It’s not all woo-woo and fluffy stuff, either. In fact, the quantifiable benefits can be seen in the level of innovation, employee engagement, and retention rates – not to mention employees who are brand ambassadors, building up your reputation as an employer of choice.

Empathetic leaders understand the consequences of their decisions on everyone in the company. They are able to look beyond whatever is happening at the moment, inspire, encourage, and strategise in ways that will motivate employees at all levels.

Empathetic leadership style

So if we were to condense all this into a quick checklist for empathetic leaders:

  1. Show genuine interest in others and their situations.
  2. Be willing to support team members with their personal issues.
  3. Schedule one-on-one meetings to stay connected.
  4. Keep an eye out for work burnout.
  5. Implement employee analytics.
  6. Validate how the other person is feeling.
  7. Develop your listening skills.
  8. Challenge your biases.
  9. Build a great culture to generate speed. 
  10. Approach problems from a different perspective.

A few behaviours to avoid:

  1. Don’t ask people to “earn your trust”.
  2. Don’t neglect those who are making the transition to a management role. 
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in order to understand better.

The skills that make an empathetic leader can be learned through training and coaching, and are a worthwhile investment. You will reap the dividends through increased employee engagement, higher morale levels, and a corresponding increase in productivity and quality of work. These skills will also serve you well in your personal life, but that’s another article for another time!

Bina Mathews is an Executive Master Coach and Communications Consultant at Bina Mathews Consulting FZE. Visit www.coachbina.com or @coachbina for more information.

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Sleep Management Tips for Over 40s

Over 40? It’s Time to Revisit Sleep Management

Sleeping peacefully or counting sheep?

If you’re reading this, then you are probably looking for some answers as to why can’t you sleep. Any age can experience sleepless nights and insomnia, and often, this can be traced back to external life stressors like work, personal issues, or illness. Unfortunately, around the age of 40, we have another equation to factor in: menopause. 

Menopause can send in what feels like a speeding train, derailing any blissful sleep pattern you ever had. Difficulty sleeping and sometimes insomnia can leave you tossing and turning, waking up at 3am with your mind racing or in a pool of sweat. Not a pretty picture, I know, but it happens. 

These are among some of the earliest signs of perimenopause. 61% of women suffer from sleep problems during menopause because of hormonal fluctuations, according to the Sleep Foundation – so you are not alone in counting sheep. Let’s take a step back and explore why getting a good night’s sleep is important to staying fit and healthy in our 40s.

“Sleep is the best medication.”

– Dalai Lama

If you are a night owl and don’t go to bed early, here are a few reasons why working on your sleep hygiene and hitting the sack earlier, especially as we head into our 40s, is so important. You can see that stage 3 is deep sleep. This is where all the good stuff happens. All the repair and regeneration occur here because we produce the majority of our HGH (Human Growth Hormone), which: 

  • helps fat burning (if this is not a reason to go to bed, I don’t know what is)
  • stimulates tissue growth to help build muscle
  • aids recovery
Sleep Management Tips 40+

Most of your body’s HGH secretion happens between 11pm and 1am. Getting to bed early to take advantage of this production, especially during menopausal years, is a big plus in aiding repair and regeneration.

Other Reasons to Rewire Your Sleep Patterns

  • Sleep well, and your body’s circadian rhythm helps regulate healthy hormone production
  • Hormone levels fluctuate during sleep stages
  • Melatonin promotes high-quality sleep
  • Growth hormone, produced during a good night’s sleep, supports bone and muscle health
  • Good sleep reduces our cortisol stress hormone levels
  • Good sleep regulates healthy leptin and ghrelin levels – our appetite hormones – which stops us from overeating 
Sleep Management Tips

Why Menopause Affects Our Sleep

Two words: declining hormones. For starters, the role of estrogen is as follows:

  • Increases our deep sleep (REM) and helps in serotonin metabolism. It also decreases how long it takes us to fall asleep. 
  • Estrogen also decreases the number of times you wake up during the night.
  • Increases total sleep time and quality.
  • Helps regulate the stress hormone cortisol to stabilise sleep.
  • Helps regulate the internal thermostat and body temperature, so the decline in estrogen can lead to hot flashes and disruptive night sweats.

Women also produced less melatonin, the key hormone for regulating sleep and helping the body cool down to trigger optimal sleep. As for the role of progesterone? It helps control stress and helps us relax. The decline makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

The level of stress hormones like cortisol (which women already struggle to keep in check) can stay elevated at night. Short sleep slows this decline of cortisol down, messes with your moods, and plays havoc with your insulin resistance, leading to increased abdominal fat storage – which we don’t need at this stage of life!

How to Sleep Better as You Get Older

Who would’ve thought that, at the age of 40, we need to learn how to sleep again?

Sleep is essential and needs a multipronged approach to taking back control and reaping from all its health benefits. Putting some sleep hygiene habits in place and learning to manage the challenges presented should be on top of your priority list. Let’s start with these basic strategies that create new habits for a good night’s sleep.

  1. Re-train: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. It might be hard at first, but you will adapt. Getting yourself into a routine is crucial to start improving your sleep.
  2. Keep your head cool: Hot flushes and hormonal mayhem are the culprits for a bad night’s sleep. Simple things you can do straight away:
    • Keep the room temperature as cool as you can manage.
    • Wear light clothing or none and light sheets that you can kick off.
    • Put a fan near your head to keep the pituitary gland (temperature regulator) in your head cool.
    • Take a cold shower before bed.
  1. Put a cork in it: If you have a tipple at the end of the day to wind down or make you drop off quicker, it’s a temporary fix. It lessens the quality of sleep you have. 
    • It shortens your REM cycle.
    • Can increase hot sweats.
    • Makes you restless.
    • Your liver is working overtime to get rid of the toxins.
  2. Calm – dark – quiet: Create a calm, relaxed environment in the bedroom. Soften the lights, light some candles, spray the pillow, or use a diffuser with essential oils like camomile, lavender, and ylang-ylang.
    • The production of melatonin starts around 9pm. This is when you want to start reducing the bright lights around you. Avoid watching TV or looking at your phone one hour before bedtime. Create a new habit: read a book with low blue light. 
    • Stimulation from all the light and noise stimulates the brain and suppresses melatonin production. Block all the switches that have a light attached to them. Make the bedroom as dark as possible. 
  1. Coffee fix: Reduce your caffeine intake before bedtime. Try to avoid it after 2pm, allowing it to be removed from your system, which can stick around for about six hours (depending on the size of your pick-me-up). Need something to drink at night? Try drinking cold cherry tart juice instead; this aids sleep.
  2. Sugar baby: Reduce or quit your sugars and starchy carbs three hours before bedtime. Eating this type of food will disturb your insulin production, which will then compete with the production of your sleep hormones.
  3. Eat early to sleep more: We do not want our digestive system to work overtime during the night by trying to digest large, heavy foods that we have eaten so close to bedtime. This has an impact on all the other systems in the body, including the parasympathetic (calming) system.
    • Also, if you suffer from night sweats – your body temperature naturally increases around 8pm. This is in sync with our 24-hour circadian rhythm. 
    • Try reducing your protein intake late at night. Protein is a thermogenic food (produces heat when metabolised), the last thing you want if you are suffering from hot flashes. It increases your body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
    • However, protein must be a staple in maintaining muscle mass during menopause, so it shouldn’t be eliminated from the diet. Eat light and at a reasonable time, so you avoid bloating, reflux, and overall fullness.
    • Try something like a banana, oatmeal, or other foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid needed to make serotonin and melatonin, the chemicals that make us sleepy.
  4. Exercise: Exercising at the right time and intensity is crucial to a good night’s sleep. Exercising late at night and too near bedtime can keep some people awake, especially if they are stressed and cortisol is already at an all-time high. Try to experiment with different training sessions. Introduce yoga and meditation to your daily routine.
  5. Take a breath: When you relax in your nice cool dark room, try some deep breathing exercises before settling into sleep. This calms the mind, lowers blood pressure, removes the body’s stress, and helps you sleep tight. 
  6. Wakey wakey: Wake up in the morning, take a walk, get natural sunlight into your eyes, or sit and have a coffee outside (no sunglasses). You don’t have to look directly at the sun – just sit and enjoy a peaceful moment or two with open eyes. This helps with the production of our happy hormone, serotonin

How To Get Better Sleep After 40

Sleep Support

I am a big fan of measuring things, and love this quote: “You can’t change what you don’t measure.” If you are having trouble sleeping, here is a tool you can use to monitor your sleep

There are plenty of wearable trackers and smartwatches that you can use to monitor your sleep. I personally use Whoop because it helps me understand the recovery and sleep needed for training. I also found it got me into a daily routine of going to bed to get the right amount of sleep that I need to perform well, and it taps into my physiology. I also find that these work well and allow you to monitor and see the results of the significant changes you make.  

Elsewhere, montmorency cherry tart juice concentrated is high in sleep-promoting chemical melatonin and enhances your melatonin production. It is also rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Drink a nice ice-cold glass 30 minutes before bed. Additionally, there are plenty of supplements on the market. I suggest you research them or chat with your GP before taking them. I can only recommend the ones I take, which are the good old magnesium.  

Remember, adopting new healthy sleeping habits and kicking out the old ones can be hard, but don’t stress about it. Go at your own pace. Don’t be too tough on yourself as you work towards your goal of better sleep health. Changing habits requires taking small steps and repeating them many times over until they feel second nature. If you try changing everything all at once, you’ll probably have a lower chance of success. If you only adopt or improve two of the healthy sleep habits listed above, that’s a big step to better sleep – and with time, you will get there and sleep tight!

Sharon James is a woman’s health and well-being coach, specialising in menopause wellness. Connect with her via Instagram, Facebook, or email.

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