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The Benefits Of Keeping Aquariums On your Mental Health 

It may not seem like an obvious choice at first. However, keeping fish and shrimp can have a positive effect on your mental health. This article explores these benefits and how fish can improve your home or your study space. 

 

Improving your mental health

Keeping fish or shrimp falls under ‘animalassisted therapy’. In most cases either dogs or cats are used in this type of therapy. However, fish can have positive effects as well.  The biggest advantages to fish (or any animal), is that they connect you with nature. A 2005 study showed that contact with nature can provide a populationwide strategy for the prevention of mental health issues.  

 

So, what is it about fish specifically that can help us with our mental health? As well as connecting us with nature, fish live in water, and water has many therapeutic benefits. Many people find the sound and visual effect of running water very calming. In fact, you can achieve the same effect just sitting and looking at the water in the sea or a lake.

 

Owning a tank

You can have all the benefits of fish and water by owning your own tank. Fish owners all state that overall the most stressful part of owning fish, is generally the initial set up. Yet, many owners agree that the benefits outweigh any of the initial stress. However, it is not always practical to own your own fish.  If you are unable to own your own fish tank, then you can still gain all these benefits by visiting fish. Maybe you have a local fishpond or aquarium? Even just the occasional visit has been shown to greatly improve a person’s mental health.  

BHTC vision and values

Bex Harper Tutoring and Coaching pride itself in putting clients’ mental health first. I strongly believe in the therapeutic benefits of fish, shrimp and water snails, which is why there is an aquarium in the BHTC study and coaching space. These delightful, calming creatures are, therefore, incorporated into our sessions, wherever possible. For example, in coaching, the relaxing sound of water flowing can relax you enough to explore areas of your life in greater detail.

In terms of tutoring, often children can be nervous about coming to a tutor for the first session and it provides common ground and opportunities for conversation that isn’t exclusively focused on them. This can help calm tutees and make them feel relaxed. BHTC also allows clients to bring their own slippers to wear, if they want to really feel at home!

 

If you would like a calming environment to learn or to re-evaluate your life and achieve your big goals, then BHTC is for you! Drop me an email (hello@bexharper.com) to find out more!

Reach Your Potential

For students on my Reach Your Potential course, here are some useful resources to help you going forwards:

 

My Meditation Playlist.

Summary of How to Find Your Core Values.

Cheap / Free Activities For Self-care.

Encourage your Child.

My blog in full.

Hopefully see you on some other WEA courses soon and good luck for the future!

romantic dates on a budget

Romantic Dates for Lovers on a Budget

Dating can be difficult at the best of times, but when you are on a budget because you are struggling financially, it can make dating even more awkward and unromantic. The media teaches us that being rich, generous and glamourous makes us attractive and more likeable. So, dating when you are a student, in a low-paid job, unemployed or just generally struggling to make ends meet can be quite intimidating. However, there are many nice dates you can arrange to impress either your current partner or a new partner. Give these a try…

 

  1. Romantic Cinematic Dates

Film festivals and outdoor cinema events are frequently around in major cities and have a nice vibe. But even if there are not any film festival currently happening, or you live in a small town, you can select from a number of romantic films on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or on DVD / Blu-Ray. If you can’t decide, watch some of the trailers and see which two you like best. Then let your partner decide! You can often get special midweek cinema deals too, if you wanted to go out for your film date.

 

 

  1. Outdoor Adventures

On days with nice weather, you could take advantage of the assets that your local outdoors provides. Walking and hiking are popular activities that allow lots of time to talk. So, these are great activities if you are at the stage in the dating process where you want to get to know your partner better. If you have been on a few dates with him/her already and want to do something very romantic, take him/her camping overnight: watch the sunset together, spend time star-gazing with your partner and give him/her massages.

If you are fairly confident with your body and the temperature is very warm, swimming is a great option, particularly if you are far more confident about your body than the contents of your wallet! Lots of parks having boats you can hire at a reasonable cost.

In colder weather, you could go ice skating or visit a winter market to buy and drink warm soup or wine, huddled together to keep warm. There are lots of options, so be creative!

 

  1. Local Cultural Scene and Community Events

There are often local community events for free or with very cheap entry prices, such as local folk festivals, concerts, gigs, outdoor cinema nights, beer festivals, wine tasting events, book launches, poetry readings, open mic nights, theatre plays, roller derby and pride parades. Your local community centre, town hall, library or the web will undoubtedly have more information on what is going on over the next month or so. The good part about these events is you don’t have to travel very far. If you are in a long-distance relationship if your date is travelling to you, you can seem very clued up and excited about your local area and its culture.

 

  1. Intellectual Pursuits

It is not said enough, but most people are impressed by intelligence. If you think your date is going to fall into this category, take him/ her to some local art galleries, museums or botanical gardens. If your partner does seem intellectual, they are sure to be very impressed by your art or history knowledge and cultured attitude. One thing I have heard is that there is nothing more romantic than having a partner whisper something very intellectual in your ear in a museum, whilst putting their arms around you – first to point at an artefact, then to embrace you. This is perfect for that second or third date, when you want to show your partner a different side to yourself. Keep it genuine though, as there is no point taking him/her to a gallery if you hate art!

 

  1. ‘Foodie’ Indulgences

Going out for a coffee is a perfect cheap date, especially if it is a first date and you are not sure whether or not you will get on well. If you are a ‘foodie’, however, you could ask your dating partner if he/she would like to go on a picnic, or do a portable BBQ somewhere romantic. You can usually buy portable BBQs (both reusable or disposable) quite cheaply from your local supermarket or garden store. A nice walk along the beach combined with a tasty BBQ could be a great combination. Otherwise, a picnic at the beach or in your local park, woods, or botanical garden could also be a hit. You could carefully select the foods you bring on a theme, if you know your date is really into a particular cuisine or has a particular interest.

 

  1. Play games

If you are happy to have your date come to your place, then board games, chess, video games, or (if you are feeling more adventurous) poker can all make for a really nice evening. If you are too shy to show her your place, too lazy to tidy up, or are in the middle of renovating your home, there are many games that you can take to venues outside your home. Card games or easily portable board games would be fine to play in a pub or café. You could combine games with other dates I have suggested, such as hide and seek in a library, museum or park, or make up dramatic stories about what you think has happened to strangers you see to make them be in the location and situation they are in now!

 

  1. Treasure Hunts and Escape Rooms

With the rise of Geocaching, the app that makes treasure hunts easy (as you do not need to set them up yourself), treasure hunting has become very popular. You could download the app and tell your date to wear sensible shoes and that the date is mystery. Alternatively, if you want to go all-out, for an anniversary date or to really impress someone, you could create your own treasure hunt, with a prize at the end of the hunt – pick something your date really likes, or create a suggestive but witty ‘I owe you…..’ coupon!

Escape Rooms generally cost £15-20 to do, but they are an excellent one-off way to see how you and your partner work together. You might learn something interesting about each other!

 

Remember…

Whatever you choose, remember that dates are meant to be enjoyable and not break the bank. You don’t have to impress your partner with lots of cash – a thoughtfully planned date with romantic elements can often mean a lot more.

 

Your Words: Improve Your Child’s Wellbeing and Education!

I tutor English Language and am life coach. So I am very interested in language use. In particular, I am fascinated by how the language we use around children affects the way they perceive themselves and others. First, let’s explore a little some ideas I have come across recently. These are approaches that encourage your child to be resilient. Second, we’ll look at using gender-neutral language. Through this approach, you allow your children to believe in themselves, due to avoiding gender bias.

Growth Mindset Language

Growth Mindset is a theory from educational practice that states that children should not be praised for what they achieve, but how hard they work. Some people think this is impractical. They believe giving praise to children who never achieve high grades is creating an unrealistic view of the world for those children. However, my response to this view is twofold. Firstly, I believe strongly that the people making these claims do not understand growth mindset theory. Secondly, they also do not understand the potential damage done to the children’s confidence. If children get consistently low grades and also see others being praised instead of them, this increasingly makes them feel worse about themselves. 

Growth Mindset is saying “Well done for completing all the questions” when a child works slowly and doesn’t normally finish. It’s saying “Excellent! You remembered your folder today!” when a child manages to get organised, who doesn’t normally manage this. Growth Mindset literally makes kids want to keep doing the things you are praising them for. Then it starts to become automatic and you can start to set them new goals. “George, well done for remembering your folder today. Tomorrow I’d like to see you remember your homework!”

 

How Can Parents Use Growth Mindset Language?

Praise your kids who don’t normally do their chores, when they do them. Growth mindset is almost like the opposite of nagging. Children love praise. Nobody likes to be told off, but it is necessary sometimes. However, try to limit your nagging or telling off to a ratio of 1:5 – with 5 lots of praise for every nag! Use language like: “Well done for being kind to your sister and sharing with her” or “Great job that you wiped your feet before coming in today!” In particular, with education, you can praise children for completing their homework and taking an interest in their after-school clubs. 

A little goes a long way! They will start to believe in themselves!

 

How You Can be a Language Role Model

Don’t say to your kids “I wasn’t any good at maths, ask ____”. Studies have shown that kids can interpret this as “Well if Mum / Dad isn’t good at this, how will I be?” You can be a language role model by saying to your kids: “Okay, shall we research this online and see what we can find?” or “Do you find maths harder than other subjects? Do you want a tutor to support you and make you really confident?” This way, you are actively helping to find a solution without putting yourself down. You are not telling your child “I feel anxious about this and can’t help”.

 

Avoiding Gender Bias

Many studies have shown how little girls mostly get compliments that reflect their appearance. For example: “you’re so pretty” or “your dress is beautiful”. Boys, on the other hand, get complimented on how well they do things, rather than expressing their emotions or how they look. To improve your daughter’s chances of doing well, praise her for things that she accomplishes as well as how she looks! Likewise, boost your son’s confidence by commented on both his great achievements and decisions, but also how well he expressed his feelings. 

 

Moving Forward

This is just a whistle-stop tour of how language can help your child. If you are looking for coaching or a tutor to help boost your child’s confidence, then drop me a message to see if I can help! Email hello@bexharper.com for more information.

Why Your Business Needs A VA!

As a business coach, I have helped numerous people set up small businesses. At the start, you have the exciting thrill of setting up your project. But as time goes on, the workload can become overwhelming and it is harder to get a desirable work-life balance.

One solution can be hiring someone to do your admin, but employing staff can be extremely expensive. So, more and more businesses are contracting VAs to do their admin work for them, because, as VAs are self-employed, they pay for their own taxes, insurance, equipment and CPD themselves.

VAs can manage your invoicing, taxes, email inbox and blogs for you, but they can do so much more than that! Everything from arranging your business trip, to creating twitter posts, and from formatting documents, to scheduling meetings with clients, they are the jack of all admin trades and the master of many!

Passing on admin to a VA can give you a better work-life balance. Business coach Bex Harper explains how hiring a VA can help your work-life balance. Passing on admin to a VA can give you a better work-life balance. Image: photo of two women, relaxing on a wooden deck, instead of working.

Benefits of having a VA

The many benefits that outsourcing your work to an VA include:

  1. creating more time for yourself (to spend relaxing) and your business (to invest in increasing your turnover)!
  2. efficiency by outsourcing work to someone who is an expert in administration and organisational systems.
  3. giving yourself the mental space concentrate on tasks that attract the greatest revenue for your business.
  4. know that someone is on-hand and having someone to psychologically be present to support you. This can combat the feeling of being alone if you are a sole trader.
  5. having peace of mind that someone is dedicating themselves to the tasks you find time-consuming, boring, or just aren’t so good at!
  6. to decrease the amount of tasks you are juggling and having to remember: the more you have to remember, the more likely you are to be stressed!
  7. knowing that you can earn more money in the time you would be up to your neck in paperwork, as a VA can often do admin tasks far faster than us non-admin types!

When you outsource a task to someone, it is important to make sure you are comfortable handing the work over to someone and that you are happy to leave your business in the hands of someone who is trustworthy. It is also important to make sure you contract around what you want and what your expectations are for your VA. As, every business has different needs and if you are investing in getting a VA, it is important to make sure your VA is able to handle your needs.

My Recommendation

Lots of people ask me who handles my business admin and, for other small UK-based businesses, I’m very proud to recommend HMR VA Services. They provide a professional and friendly service, and have excellent contracting and clear communication. To find out how they can help, drop them a line today, on 07375119311, or email: hmr@hmrvaservices.com.

maths algebra practice

Group Coaching Workshops

Bex Harper Tutoring and Coaching is launching some new group coaching workshops for this summer – one is aimed at children going into Years 5-7 and the other is aimed at parents who have children of all ages. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions you might have. See below for full details!

 

Stretching for Secondary: Success Workshop

Studying for the 11+, doing SATS and starting secondary school can be immensely stressful for many children. This workshop looks at the key skills children going into Years 5-7 must develop to be able to increase their chances of success at secondary level. I have closely observed both the relationship between language, beliefs and actions in my coaching practice and the patterns of achievement being closely linked positive mindsets as a private tutor, school teacher and lecturer.

 

This coaching programme, aimed at students about to go into Years 5-7, is suitable for those high flyers who suffer from feeling anxious or worried about their performance and making mistakes, as well as those who feel that they are unprepared to begin their secondary adventure.

The workshop will:

  • help them to understand how to prepare for exams.
  • help them to understand how to cope with exam stress and anxiety.
  • provide them with a mindfulness tool kit.
  • give them experience of being coached in a group setting.
  • develop skills such as teamwork and critical thinking.
  • teach them life skills to make friends in new settings.

This workshop only has a very limited number of places, so make sure to book well in advance.

Dates and times: Wednesday 29th August 2018 (2.00pm -5.00pm)

 

 

Unlocking Potential: Parents’ Coaching Workshop

This workshop is designed specifically for parents who want to know how best to encourage and assist with their child’s learning and educational growth. I have closely observed both the relationship between language, beliefs and actions in my coaching practice and the patterns of achievement being closely linked positive mindsets as a private tutor, school teacher and lecturer. Because of this, and because no-one is too old to learn and grow, I have constructed this workshop specifically for parents who wish to aid their children.

We will:

  • learn about language patterns and how they affect the way we think and perceive ourselves.
  • learn how values, self-talk and self-confidence develop from a young age and the impact these have on progress in school.
  • discuss current problems and solutions children and teens face in school today.
  • how you can support your children and teens in building their confidence.
  • how you can foster reflective behaviour patterns in your children and teens, so that they self-reflect on their progress.
  • discuss praising for effort rather than for achievement and the benefits of this.

This workshop only has a very limited number of places, so make sure to book well in advance.

Dates and times: Wednesday 29th August 2018 (6.00pm -9.00pm)

 

More information about the workshops

Location: The Tuition Pod, at The Holy Trinity Church Hall in Southchurch

Investment: £35.00 for each workshop

For enquiries or to book your place, please email: workshops@bexharper.com

Please also check out my workshop for students in Years 10-13!

N.B. For the workshops to go ahead, there must be at least 4 people registered on each one.

What are your big dreams?

For a long time, one of the biggest dreams for me was to hold a book in my hands that I had helped create. When I received my copy of Domestic Imaginaries: Navigating the Home in Global Literary and Visual Cultures in the mail and held it in my hands, it was the greatest feeling of completion, and like a goal I had been working towards for years had finally reached fruition. But getting started was difficult, as I had never published a book before and neither had my co-editor, Hollie. Nevertheless, we really went for it!

Although I believe in regular goal setting and reviewing, I feel it is also important to prioritise your top goals. This is because we often start something difficult, and when we hit a difficult point, it can feel natural to give up and go onto something else that is easier and less daunting. Something safe. If you are someone with a lot of goals this can be dangerous because you could get deflated as you chip away at several dozen goals, but never really achieving any real milestones or completing any goals. This is why focusing on a maximum of 5 goals at a time is important. If  you are unsure on how to pick, it might be that you try to get balance by attempting to pick one goal for a different area of your life, such as:

  • relationships, friends and family
  • finances
  • career, work and business
  • well-being, health and fitness
  • hobbies, creative projects and travelling
  • personal and spiritual growth

Alternatively, you might find that most of these areas are going well, except for one and you want to set 4 or 5 goals that will get this area back on track.

Or you could pick according to urgency and need. If you could list all your goals and pick the top 5 most important, which would you pick? What could you do right now to get started on making small steps towards these big dreams? Who can you ask to help you? Often, once we break it down into sizeable chunks the big dream just looks like lots of little steps towards a bigger goal. And that is because it is!

If you are interested in finding out more and want to explore coaching with me, book a discovery call with me and find out how to achieve your dreams! Email me at hello@bexharper.com

Coaching Packages

I have just launched my five tailor-made coaching packages! Once you have completed your complimentary session, you can continue by booking blocks of sessions up front. I have provided a number of options, as clients have different income levels and various business or personal life needs:

 

Coaching Packages

Purple: The One Month-er 

  • Two pre-coaching tasks so I know in advance what you are dreaming about, aiming for and worrying about, so we can make the most of our time together.
  • 2 x 1 hour coaching sessions – over a month.

Investment: £99

 

 

Bronze: The Seeker

  • A pre-coaching workbook so I know in advance what you are dreaming about,  aiming for and worrying about, so we can make the most of our time together.
  • 4 x 1 hour coaching sessions – over 2 to 3 months.
  • 1 x 30 min follow up sessions to be used within 6 weeks.

Investment: £199

 

 

Silver: The Dreamer

  • A pre-coaching workbook so I know in advance what you are dreaming about, aiming for and worrying about, so we can make the most of our time together.
  • 6 x 1 hour coaching sessions – over 2 to 3 months.
  • 2 x 30 min follow up sessions to be used within 6 weeks.
  • 3 months of email support to make sure you’ve got an accountability partner, as well as the support and momentum to make the changes you want and to reap the rewards.

Investment: £399

 

 

Gold: The Believer

  • A pre-coaching workbook so I know in advance what you are dreaming about, aiming for and worrying about, so we can make the most of our time together.
  • 12 x 1 hour coaching sessions – over 4 to 8 months.
  • 2 x 30 min follow up sessions to be used within 8 weeks.
  • 8 months of email support to make sure you’ve got an accountability partner, as well as the support and momentum to make the changes you want and to reap the rewards.

Investment: £799

 

 

Platinum: The Achiever

  • A pre-coaching workbook so I know in advance what you are dreaming about, aiming for and worrying about, so we can make the most of our time together.
  • 24 x 1 hour coaching sessions – over 9 to 12 months.
  • 3 x 30 min follow up sessions to be used within 12 weeks.
  • Free invites to all online workshops and seminars that I run.
  • 12 months of email support to make sure you’ve got an accountability partner, as well as the support and momentum to make the changes you want and to reap the rewards.

Investment: £1999

 

You can email me at coachme@bexharper.com to highlight your interest in being one of my coaching clients and to book your first free one-hour session.