Are second pregnancies harder than the first?

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I’ve been pregnant before, so why am I finding it more challenging this time? Can I cope with doing it all again? And is it normal to feel anxious?

Are second pregnancies harder than the first?

Pregnancy can be an anxious time. According to Kings College of London, one in four pregnant women experience mental health issues, with anxiety and depression being the most common problems among those women surveyed. And it doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s your first, second or third child. Despite having gone through it before, you might find that things are a bit more difficult this time. Of course, it might not feel this way and you may be having a positive experience – all pregnancies are unique after all - but if you’re struggling, there is help out there.

When it comes to your second pregnancy, common symptoms like pregnancy fatigue can feel worse than they did the first time around, with many people finding this the most demanding part of expecting for the second time. Running around after your first child can mean you feel more tired and have less time to cherish those lovely moments with your unborn baby. But there are some things that can help you feel better.

What can I do to resolve pregnancy fatigue?

Eat well
Eating healthily will help you in so many different ways - the more nutrient dense your diet is, the better you will feel. Gut health pretty much affects the whole body - from your hormone health to your mental health. High-sugar snacks are so handy when you are busy with life, but they will only give you a temporary boost followed by a big energy belly-flop. The last thing you want is to feel even more exhausted. Keeping well-hydrated and eating nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains, and good sources of protein will help you maintain energy levels. There are certain foods to avoid during pregnancy so just be aware of that when raiding the fridge for a quick nutritious snack.

Find out more about how nutrition can boost energy levels and how working with a qualified nutritionist can be helpful.

Pregnancy yoga
If you’re on the lookout for some gentle ways to move your body, yoga postures can stabilise energy levels and help you feel calmer. There are oodles of benefits. Not only can yoga prepare those essential muscles for delivery, but it can also improve stamina and vitality – two things you will definitely need when balancing the demands of two children. If you attend a local class, you may learn some breathwork, helping you to improve your mood and stress levels. And it’s so lovely to take yourself away from the hullabaloo of the house to create some special bonding time with your baby. Connecting with other second-time parents might help too if you are feeling a bit alone or isolated.

If you are looking for more pregnancy wellness ideas, our Read more

Can the soothing nature of craft be used to aid grief?

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Throughout history, humans have turned to craft in times of sorrow. But what is it that makes working with our hands such a force for healing?

Can the soothing nature of craft be used to aid grief?

One of my earliest memories is sitting on my gran’s knee, with two colourful plastic needles in my hands, learning to knit. I remember watching the agonisingly slow growth of a tiny square we were forming together until, suddenly, it became the size of a coaster, and I was allowed to give up. I’d been desperately impatient, but she had remained serene, calmly continuing to encourage me as though she was passing along the most important skill I could possibly acquire, which, as it turned out, she was.

Throughout history, people have turned to creativity in moments of grief. Victorian women hand-stitched brooches in their bereavement; Americans embroidered weeping willows in silk following the death of their inaugural President Washington; Missouri Pettway (1900–1981) of Gee’s Bend, made a pieced cotton quilt in mourning for her husband from his work clothes; and today nearly 50,000 panels compose the Aids Memorial Quilt, each handmade in memory of loved ones lost.

Though she had taught me to knit as a four-year-old, I would only really pick up a pair of knitting needles again after my gran had died, when I’d find myself using the leftover wool from her knitting basket to form a series of wobbly scarves. The wools were all different weights and the scarves dipped in and fattened out in a strange uneven journey towards my casting off. Yet the repetitive action of pulling each loop of wool through another seemed the only thing capable of momentarily distracting my mind from the raw edge of loss. I realised then, that she had in fact been passing along an invaluable gift, one of both survival and care, which would rescue me in the deepest periods of grief following her death, and later that of my grandad.

Craft can allow us to memorialise loved ones, but it can also provide a kind of comfort in times of grief. There is something in the act of making that can temporarily subdue life’s sorrows, helping to carry us from one moment to the next despite the weight we may be carrying.

Can the soothing nature of craft be used to aid grief?

Creativity, whether it takes the form of a homemade loaf, a poem, or a slowly growing piece of knitwear, is a healing force. Like meditation, it can decelerate the noise of daily life by inviting us to take a moment to focus on something small, something intimate.

The meditative quality of repetitive creative acts such as weaving, knitting, sewing, or dyeing lies in the fact that they require a certain level of focus. This focus keeps our minds anchored to the present task and can temporarily provide a distraction from whatever is troubling us.

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

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When done right, distractions can help us regulate our emotions – and, with the perfect activity, you could be introducing another layer of joy into your life

1. Go for a mindful walk

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

Going for a walk is a recommendation we’ve all heard before, right? Being mindful on your walk, however, can take things up a notch. Allow yourself to be fully present during your walk; what are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are you smelling? Engaging with your senses has a grounding effect, and can distract you from swirling thoughts, all while reaping the benefits of being out in nature.

2. Write a letter to a loved one

Connecting with others has a host of benefits, and, thanks to technology, there are more ways to connect than ever before. When you need a distraction though, why not slow things down and write a letter? Taking time to hand-write your conversation can help to slow our thinking and take a beat. And, let’s be honest – who doesn’t love receiving post?

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

3. Organise something

We’re all different, but for some of us, a cluttered space can make our minds feel cluttered, too. Having a moment to tidy and organise a space gives us something physical to do (grounding us in the here and now) while taking our mind off of whatever we’re worried about. Pick a shelf, cupboard, or even a room, pop on a playlist, and get organising.

4. Read a couple of pages

Sometimes we need beautiful words as a palate cleanser for difficult times. Pick up a poetry book, a book of essays, or a short story, and read a few pages when you need it. Focusing on short-form writing can take away the overwhelm that can come with longer reads, and makes it easier to dip in and out.

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

5. Create something

Tapping into our creativity has a wonderful way of reducing stress and lifting our mood. Next time you need a distraction, create something. Try out a new recipe, play an instrument, work on a puzzle, or write a story. This reminds us of our capabilities, and gives us a great confidence boost.

6. Learn something new

Learning something new engages our minds and shifts our perspective, giving us permission to be messy beginners. Why not learn a language, and distract yourself with Duolingo lessons? Or sign up to a learning platform like Skillshare and work through a class? You’ll not only be distracted, but you’ll also be working on your personal development, and, hopefully, finding a whole heap of fulfilment along the way.

7. Play a game

Whether you prefer board games or video games, all forms of gaming offer a sense of escapism and accomplishment that can be positive. Bring out your favourite when you need a break, and allow yourself to be immersed in a new world, even if only for a while.

Are you a desk worker? Try this yoga routine designed to ease aches and pains

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Break up the day and say goodbye to aches and pains, with this exclusive yoga routine designed especially for desk workers

Are you a desk worker? Try this yoga routine designed to ease aches and pains

Backache, shoulder ache, neck ache, wrist ache – sometimes, working at a desk can be, well, a bit of a headache.

A survey conducted by Censuswide found that 81% of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours each day sitting at their desks, which adds up to an average of 67 sedentary days per person each year – a lifestyle that can land you with a range of health issues. And while workplace health and safety guidelines will encourage staff to regularly get up and move, deadlines, workload, and workplace culture can make that difficult, in practice.

“Despite being a yoga teacher, I’m also very guilty of being a desk dweller when I’m not teaching, so I know the feeling all too well,” Iain Ross says. “I have chronically tight shoulders and upper back issues, niggles in the lower back and hips, knee pain… The list could go on.”

According to the Labour Force Survey, 477,000 workers suffer from work-related musculoskeletal disorders, so you’re not alone. And while support from your workplace in the form of ergonomic equipment can go a long way, yoga makes for an effective way to manage aches, pains, soreness, and your mood.

“When it comes to the upper back and shoulders, much of the issue comes from overstretched back muscles and over-contracted chest muscles, usually caused by long periods of time spent hunched over,” Iain explains. “Moving downward through the body, a hunched spine (too much spinal flexion) is a recipe for all kinds of back issues, while underactive and overstretched glutes, plus constant flexion in the hip flexors (the front of the hip and thigh) will definitely cause discomfort and injuries over time.

“So, the key is to open the chest and heart space while strengthening the back, and to activate the glutes while lengthening the hip flexors,” Iain says. “This is somewhat oversimplifying things of course, but stick to this as a guideline and you won’t go far wrong.”

Over to you

When working at a desk, try this five-minute sequence, created for you by Iain Ross:

1. Seated breathing (pranayama)

One super effective yet extremely simple way to open up space around the chest and the ribs is through deep breathing. There’s more to this than simply taking a couple of breaths, though! Breathe consciously and with awareness for at least one minute.

Start by sitting up straight in your chair, without leaning back or hunching over. Imagine trying to align your head at the very top of your spine while someone pulls a long thread out through the crown of your head. Ever so slightly tuck your chin towards your chest to lengthen the back of the neck. From here focus solely on your breath, allowing each inhale to become deeper. Imagine you’re trying to fill the lungs from the bottom to the top, front to back, and side to side.

It can help to place one hand on the heart space and one on the belly, so you can physically feel your hands move away from you as your breath deepens.

2. Heart chakra kriya

Kriya roughly translates as ‘cleansing’, and this is a gorgeous, traditional

What is cognitive bias? The halo effect and horn effect

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How often do you go on first impressions? Have you ever made a snap judgement about someone? You could be falling victim to cognitive bias

What is cognitive bias? The halo effect and horn effect

You might have heard the expression, ‘the first impression is the last impression’, meaning it’s hard to change an opinion of someone once it’s formed. Sometimes, we make quick decisions about people and without realising we rely on biases to do this.

The ‘halo or horn effect’ is a cognitive bias where our impression of someone influences how we feel about their overall character. Our brains are trying to categorise copious amounts of information based on previous experiences and memories. But sometimes this isn’t so reliable and we make a biased positive or negative opinion of someone. An easy example to highlight how we might do this is by putting more trust in someone who is an authority figure than someone who is not.

What is the ‘halo effect’?

The ‘halo effect’ is an unconscious bias in which our impression of a person influences how we feel and think about their character. It says that a positive impression of someone in a single area positively influences our feelings of that person in other areas. Kathryn Wheeler at Happiful explains the origins of the halo effect in her article, What is the halo or horn effect and how does it affect workplace culture?

“The concept has its origins in the work of 1920s American psychologist Edward Thorndike. In an experiment, Thorndike asked commanding officers to rate the physique, intelligence, leadership, and character traits of soldiers, before having any interactions with them. What he saw was that when the officer gave a soldier a high rating in one category, they tended to also give them high ratings in the others, too. He named this the ‘halo effect’.”

The expression ‘halo’ refers to the concept sometimes found in religious art, meaning we see that person in an overly positive light. Once the ‘halo effect’ has a good grip on us, it’s difficult to think in a neutral way when evaluating others. One common example of this is when we judge someone’s character based on how attractive we find them. Some people believe that attractiveness affects how we perceive that person’s personality. Certain marketing campaigns use this idea to help sell products. The opposite of this is making negative assumptions about someone’s personality based on how unattractive you may find them. This is known as the ‘horn effect’.

What is the ‘horn effect’?

The ‘horn effect’ is the other side of the coin, when a negative impression of someone in a single area, negatively influences our feelings of that person in all other areas. As with the ‘halo effect’, our brains can go into time-saving mode, making snap judgements based on experiences and memories. Even what mood we are in that day can influence the way we unconsciously categorise someone. It can show up in many ways: when choosing which products to buy, who to vote for, who you want to be friends with, who to date, and where to liv