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Staying physically and mentally healthy

Our lives have changed dramatically in just a few weeks, and the future looks uncertain, hence a certain amount of anxiety is normal. Some people might have responded well to the transition, but it is important to recognise that some employees might still find this new norm difficult.

Staying sane during the lock-down is a matter of planning and caring for ourselves. For some people, self-care is simply about sitting back and treating yourself with compassion. That does not seem like much, but at a time when we are bombarded with terrifying news updates and depressing figures, sitting still might help us get rid of these negative distractions and focus on ourselves.

Self-care is about avoiding overstretching yourself and burning out by setting boundaries mentally, physically, and socially. The triangle of body, mind and soul is the core where self-care is built on. Here, I summarise a few sets of actions for the three parts of the self-care core, that should help you feel rested and more connected to yourself:


Working from home is a great opportunity to eat healthy food. Don’t let the full access to your kitchen tempt you!

Follow these top tips for guaranteed success:

* Plan your meal times – plan out when throughout the day you’re going to eat, just as you schedule the rest of your day. Planning a menu ahead of time will make it easier to avoid eating junk food, which is quick and easy but not good for you.

*Eat away from your work space – try to avoid the temptation to keep working and get as much done as possible, and have a total break from work to help you clear your mind. Being distracted during a meal can lead to over-eating and decreased meal satisfaction and fullness.

*Focus on balanced and nutritious food – it keeps us fuller longer, it helps us focus and it makes us more productive. What we eat impacts our mood and energy level. Focus on protein, fibre, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. You can and should reward yourself though with a sweet snack on Friday after a successful and productive week. 


*Drink plenty of water – dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue, which are both not good for your productivity. Keep water next to your work area at home as you did at the office, stay away from sugar-loaded drinks, and avoid getting overcaffeinated.

*Exercise for at least 30 minutes – studies have shown that doing 30 minutes of exercise in the morning can boost productivity.

*Get at least 7 hours of sleep each day – sleeping the right amount of time keeps you refreshed and energised, and your mind clear for the next day’s tasks.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) are also expecting more people to start experiencing increased levels of anxiety during this uncertain time, and this should not be ignored. On the contrary, anxieties and fears should be acknowledged and addressed by individuals, but also by governments and communities. One of the key factors of experiencing anxiety is a sense of feeling out of control, and especially now this is very likely the main factor. 

It is really important to monitor your mental health, especially if you’re prone to anxiety or depression. If you are unable to focus or feel sad or overwhelmed, and you find it hard to function, think of what has worked for you in the past. For example:

*Schedule some ‘me time’ at least twice a week – take some time where you are not focused on achieving anything at all (i.e. having a bath with candles and relaxing music).


*Practice mindfulness and/or deep breathing exercises for at least 10 minutes a day –  practising mindfulness and meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and if practised regularly, can help you feel more in control of your feelings, thoughts and emotions, and protect your immune system.

*Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes daily – it can significantly lower anxiety levels as it boosts endorphins and serotonin and fills your brain with happiness. 

*Listen to music – a recent study found that certain songs reduced listeners’ anxiety by 65 percent. It seems like specific melodies can significantly calm stress and anxiety levels. Try out various types of music to see which one calms and relaxes you or makes you more focused and productive.


Humans are social creatures by default, so being at home may feel difficult, especially for those who are extroverted by nature, and enjoy the social aspect of their job. Research has shown that loneliness is one of the world’s most significant risk factors for premature death. If that’s the case, what happens now that people’s freedom of social get-together is severely limited?

It is possible to foster connection and maintain relationships during this time; we just have to use the right tools, be patient, and get used to it!

*Connect with other people – talking to your best friends and loving members of the family is one of the best ways to feel more confident and valued. This is the best time to be thankful for social media, apps like WhatsApp, and even old-fashioned texting. If you need to, or if you feel like someone else might be in need, reach out. Send a message or have a video call and connect, with your parents, your best friend, a colleague, a neighbour. Even if it’s for a minute or two, it can make a difference.


*Invest in relationships that benefit your energy level – if certain people are difficult and drain your energy, preserve yourself and your happiness and cut them off, even if it might be uncomfortable. In case it is not possible to entirely cut off a person, find coping strategies to deal with them without damaging yourself. 


To adapt to the current situation, try to think of it not as self-isolating but as self-retreating. The ability to adapt can make us feel that, even though the current global situation is out of our control, we can always choose how to react.

Stay healthy, physically and mentally!


Oh, and if you feel you need some extra support with your academic life at a time when other colleagues or suprvisors might feel miles away, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. You can book a free 30-min slot on my calendar here. Take care!


New Online Course: Time Management & Productivity Mindset


I am very pleased to announce that my very successful Time Management and Productivity Mindset Bootcamp (TPB) is now available as a self-study online course!


If you:

  • feel unhappy about the lack of progress in your work
  • struggle to cope with the many demands on your time
  • want to create meaningful change in your work/life situation, so you can experience freedom, fulfilment and excitement

then this course is for you!

During the program you will become clear about your goals and ambitions and explore what direction you want to create in your work and life.

You will discover how to confront the negative inner voices that sabotage your progress, and how to establish a clear set of actions to move forward and get closer to what you want.

The course is delivered through a period of 7 weeks to give you time to fully absorb the content of each module and put into practice what you’ll be learning.

However, please feel free go through the course at your own time. You’ll get indefinite access to the material in this course!

Here is what a participant said for their bootcamp experience:

My stress level decreased, my health condition and my mood changed dramatically; I managed to successfully complete my studies on time, as well as work on other projects, while also having a part-time job.

Additionally, Marialuisa helped me identify better my skills to help and share with people, which is something I really enjoy doing.

Being a participant of the boot camp was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn new tools and ways to be more productive, as well as to share my experience and hopefully help others with similar struggles.

Do you wish you got the same level of support and guidance to help you achieve your greater desire and goals?

Buy the course NOW at the promotional offer of ONLY £97 £47:

If you are still not sure if this is the right course for you, you can book a free consultation call with me here:

Every great achievement begins with a first step. Ready to take yours?



Productivity during a pandemic


Image credits: Getty Images

The lock down has been eased here in Scotland, but we are still going through an overwhelming situation trying to adapt to the “new normal”. If you don’t feel especially productive while you are social distancing or in quarantine, that’s absolutely OK. In this post, I will try to give some tips to facilitate productivity during this mandatory ‘working from home’ period. And who knows, they might be useful even later, when life goes back to as we knew it!

Everybody is different; regardless of your personal style, though, it really helps to create a working routine, that also includes breaks to regain energy in order to complete your daily tasks. Just make sure not to let a break turn into a day-long procrastination spree! Alternatively, you can just include your procrastination time in your schedule! 🙂

Setting up a daily schedule and goals is necessary for working effectively; however, the practice of setting daily intentions, especially in these tough times, can change your life.

Setting intentions allows you to focus on who you are, recognise your values and live within the interpretation of them. Intentions give you purpose, and motivation to achieve this purpose.

Over-consumption of news and social media, especially regarding the pandemic, can lead you to feel depressed and overwhelmed. Also, comparing yourself to others and the way they are spending their quarantine time is not a good idea right now.

Instead, try to focus on yourself and the things you want to achieve. So, turn off all the unnecessary notifications and use technology in your favour. For example, there are a lot of free online courses out there that might help you gain a new skill or develop your existing skills, learn a new hobby or expand your knowledge on a specific topic. You can even get certification that might boost your motivation and your CV, or just have fun with something not work-related. Also, using the right online tools can make a huge difference for working remotely.  These tools, together with a positive mindset, lay the foundations for success. If you haven’t used these tools before and feel confused, set aside an hour to go through tutorials and videos to learn.

That magic hour of learning the right tools will save you many hours of lost productivity later.


Image credit: Vulcan Post

As humans are social creatures by default, being at home may feel difficult, especially for those who are extroverted by nature, and enjoy the social aspect of their job. However, it is possible to foster connection and maintain relationships during this time; we just have to use the right tools, be patient, and get used to it!

Regular phone calls, video calls and virtual meetings help maintain communication, and help employees to continue to feel engaged and part of the team. Choose the right communication platform to get in contact with you, and keep your team informed about your work-at-home schedule.

Setting an agenda, giving the opportunity to speak to everyone, providing structure and clarity are important to ease anxiety, keep healthy collaborations and relationships and the meetings at a professional level. 

Also, when we work remotely, we miss out on all the impromptu chatting with our colleagues (i.e. before and after meetings, catching up in the hallway, and stopping by each other’s desks). In a virtual environment there is a tendency to focus more on tasks than on relationships. Make sure you schedule time for informal conversation at the beginning and end of meetings or arrange calls specifically for catching up. This will hugely help your mental and social health.

Of course, during these tough times, everyone needs to think about what makes them productive and happy in everyday life (i.e. taking a walk at lunch time), and work around their schedules. Managers, leaders, and supervisors should take this into consideration, show empathy, and make themselves available to talk about fears, and answer questions in order to reassure their staff or students.

It is important for everyone to be aware of significant changes you may see in the personality or performance of a colleague because it may be a sign that a person is struggling due to isolation or loneliness.

This situation has been hard, and the longer it continues, the more we will feel isolated and alone. But the truth is we are not alone. We are in this together.

Take good care.

tactics for proof-reading

Practical tips for effective proof-reading – by Pat Thomson


I am one of the world’s worst at proof-reading my own work. I’m quite good at revising, but not so good at the final checks. Regular readers of this blog will sometimes spot the odd proofreading omission  – the good news is that I usually pick it up, albeit often after a few days 😦 .

Proof-reading isn’t an easy thing to do – most writers are inclined to see what we thought we’d written, rather than what we actually have. We miss the odd spelling mistake, missing comma, over long sentence, the too often repeated word. It’s hardly surprising we miss these slip ups as most pieces of writing that are ready for proof-reading have been through multiple drafts and revisions. The proof-reading trick is to try to make the text appear unfamiliar and strange, almost as if someone else had written it.

So here’s a few tactics that can help:

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good academic writing – it’s about revision not editing


Creative writers are accustomed to the idea that their writing must go through several drafts. However, much of the advice on offer to academic writers proceeds as if all they have to do is produce a draft which is then edited, tidied up, everything made neat and clean. I have seen many a thesis completion timetable come unstuck because doctoral researchers do not grasp the fact that by and large this is not what happens. Most of us have to do more than one draft of a piece of academic writing. In reality, very few of us write the scintillating introduction, the elegant conclusion, the persuasive argument right from the start. It takes several iterations.

A few people do of course produce brilliant prose early, and consistently. Prolific writers and those who just happen to be good with words do seem to be able to just gallop off a chapter…

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