Consider This Before You Move In Together – Part 2

Consider-this-before-you-move-in-together

The prospect of moving in together can sound very exciting and alluring. Cohabiting represents a whole new stage of the relationship when we begin to share our daily lives, learning more about our partner’s ‘quirks’ and effectively committing ourselves to sharing our physical and emotional resources. In our enthusiasm though, it is easy to neglect taking the time to truely explore our compatibility. Sometimes in a ‘whirlwind’ romance our passionate and all-consuming emotions simply takes us there and before you know it, you are doing ‘house’ together.

Taking the time to explore your partner’s values, beliefs and attitudes towards life and relationship is necessary to ensure that you are not setting yourself up for disappointment or hurt or even, in some instances abuse.

Here are 9 questions to consider and explore both privately and with your partner before you take this next step:

1. Do you feel respected in the relationship?

  • Are you listened to?
  • Do you feel heard?
  • Do you feel understood?
  • Does your partner accommodate for your needs?
  • Does your partner make spend quality time with you to nurture the relationship?
  • Is your partner respectful in the way they speak to you and behave towards you?
  • Do you feel safe with them?
  • Do you feel proud and comfortable in social situations with your partner?

If you answered in the negative to any of these questions it is important that you address this before you move in together. Believing that your partner will change once you have moved in together is self-deceptive and sets you up for significant emotional pain and frustration. Talking to a counsellor will assist you to clarify this issue.

2. What expectations/assumptions do you each have for the other?

  • Does your partner have certain expectations around the roles that you will perform in the household context? Do you have your own expectations or assumptions?
  • With regard to independence in the relationship, to what degree do we give up our independence to become a team?
  • How do we each experience the others family? Do you want to stay close to family? Does your partner like your family? How will their attitude effect you?

3. How does your partner talk about the opposite sex?

  • Are they respectful or demeaning? If your answer is in the negative, it is likely that your partner will eventually treat you with equal disrespect.

4. Do you know what your partner’s short-term/ long-term goals are? How might they impact the relationship? How might they impact you?

  • Is this a long-term or short-term relationship?
  • Do they want children? If so, when?
  • Do they want to travel? If so when?
  • Do they want to be married eventually or prefer a de-facto relationship?

5. What is your partner’s relationship like with their parents and siblings?

  • Are there any unresolved issues? How are they dealt with?
  • How do their parents deal with conflict? How does your partner deal with conflict?
  • How does your partner communicate within their family context?

Getting to know your partner’s family dynamics will give significant insight into how your partner is likely to react in your relationship, how they communicate and negotiate. Why not consider a couples session with a Family Therapist to learn and understand more about each other’s family dynamics?

6. Does your partner have a religious preference? How will that impact you and your relationship?

  • Do they adhere to particular rituals?
  • Do they hold to certain beliefs?

7. What is your partner’s relationship to money?

  • Is accumulating wealth a significant driver? How might that impact you and your relationship?
  • Does your partner talk to you about their finance?
  • How will you use your financial resources in relationship? Is it a shared resource or independent of each other? What might that say about the relationship and the level of trust?

The issue of finances within the relationship is a common theme of couple counselling. Becoming familiar with your partner’s attitudes and behaviour towards money is necessary for the health of your relationship.

8. What are the ‘rules’ about our relationship?

  • Is our relationship exclusive or does one of us want a more open relationship?
  • How will we share our material resources?
  • How will we negotiate time together and time with friends, family or independently?

Questions such as these are often only assumed but never discussed and therefore have the potential to become major stresses in the relationship.

9. How does your partner react to the word ‘no’?

  • Are you allowed to say ‘no’? Do you fear repercussions if you say ‘no’? Where there is strong coercion or manipulation or physical violence is applied so that you feel like you have to move in, that you have no alternative, it is a sure sign that everything is not as it appears to be. Seeking out a Counsellor to talk about this will give you further clarification and support.

Are you thinking about moving in together’? Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW.

Consider this before you move in together – Part 1

Consider-this-before-you-move-in-together

Are you in a fairly new relationship and want to take it to the next level—are you thinking about moving in together?

There is no doubt that there are some very attractive benefits to moving in together: the convenience of having your own space to chill and relax, never having to say goodbye at the end of a great night or early the next morning, and the fact it is cheaper and highly preferable to living with your parents or a mate all come to mind.

But there are also some negative effects where a relationship is still young and untested. In our ‘I want it and I want it now’ culture, we have lost the ability to wait and need instant gratification. But what do you stand to lose if you move in to quickly?

If you are considering moving in with your partner, I expect that you are saying, “Other people might struggle when they move in together, but it will never happen to us. We are so deeply in love. We can’t get enough of each other. Living together would make it just perfect”.

But consider this for a moment: moving in too early in a relationship shortens the ‘honeymoon’ period. Remember the excitement, counting the hours, the longing, being deliriously happy just being together and laughing at your partner’s quirks? By cohabitating sooner than later, we inevitably trade the romance for the domestic routine of daily life. Long dinners over candlelight are swapped for quick meals in front of the TV, and finding out about your partner’s excessive cleaning (or lack of) habits can leave you in a bind.

Why is this?

In the early, heady days of a relationship, the brain releases a flood of feel-good chemicals, including Dopamine, which triggers specific physical reactions including making our cheeks flush, our palms sweat and our hearts race. Dopamine is the feel good chemical that creates feelings of euphoria, a natural high—effectively making us addicted to the object of our pleasure.

While there is an element of unpredictability to the relationship—the waiting, day dreaming, love notes, long conversations over the phone, stolen moments where nothing matters other than that you are together;the brain continues to produce large amounts of Dopamine. As a relationship becomes more fully established and we become increasingly familiar with each other, the brain produces less Dopamine and what was once new and exciting has become familiar, normal and even routine.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that relationships never get beyond the excitement of those early days. In fact, it is necessary that a relationship develops beyond the honeymoon period so you face the world as a couple to establish home, family, career and the other life goals. Just don’t be too quick to get there. Our ‘honeymoons’ are  for a moment in time, when life takes on a euphoria like no other and we feel for a moment that, as long as the other is by my side, anything is possible.

So, if you are still in the early days of your relationship, don’t be too quick to take it to the next level and move in together. Enjoy the waiting and the longing, enjoy the thrill that comes just by being with the person you love, watch more sunsets together, go for more long leisurely walks along the beach holding hands, celebrate the milestones—one month, two months, six months, and savor the present.

Look out for our follow up article where we explore what else to consider before moving in together.

Are you thinking about moving in together’? Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? Do you need the support of a professional to assist you in creating a healthy relationship? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. If you are ready to book an appointment click the icon BOOK ONLINE NOW.

The real reasons kids ‘act out’

The-real-reasons-kids-act-out

A few weeks ago, Warcry magazine approached Colleen about the issue of parenting children who are acting out. Here is what she shared with them.

It takes some hefty detective work to understand why your child is ‘acting out’, writes Colleen Morris.

A parent needs to be patient, curious, observant and attentive to what their child’s behaviour is trying to call attention to. Here are seven common reasons your kids may be struggling.

Marital conflict


Negative behaviours such as bickering, criticism, sarcasm, yelling and fighting create an environment that is stressful and unpredictable. Often a child acts out to draw parents’ attention away from each other and therefore lessen the tension in the relationship.

Parental separation

The years following a parental separation can cause emotional distress for children. Sadness, guilt and anger can all drive a child to ‘act out’ because they feel their whole world has been dismantled.

Grief


A child’s grief is as keen as your own and has no set time limit or method. The loss of a parent, grandparent, close friend or a pet are life experiences that are frequently confusing, sad and, when not given expression, can be toxic to our body and our emotions.

Loneliness


Being ‘time poor’ is one of the hazards of our fast-paced lifestyle. Many parents are simply preoccupied with the challenges of daily life, so when we fail to notice that one of our children is lonely and needing our attention, they can look for ways to draw attention to themselves.

Physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse


How does a child talk to a parent about ‘the unmentionable’ without feeling shame, terror, embarrassment or fear of not being believed? There are times when the abuse is within the family context—sometimes it is a family friend or neighbour, sometimes it is someone bullying them at school, and at other times it is happening in cyberspace. Acting out may be a ‘cry for help’ in this instance.

Rigid rules and unrealistic expectations

When children are young, parents create rules and boundaries—spoken and unspoken—that define acceptable behaviour. As our children grow and develop, we must continually redefine these. When a parent’s rules remain rigid and unrealistic with regard to their child’s changing world, a child typically feels resentful, annoyed and angry.

Generational trauma


When unaddressed and unresolved, you or your parents’ past trauma continues to be alive and present in the experience of your children.

Where there has been war, abandonment, neglect and other extremely traumatic experiences, the pain and distress of the past will continue to find its echo in the present as long as it is unacknowledged and the impact unrecognised.

Learning how to listen attentively, build trust and teach your child to name their emotions are vital for their behaviour to settle. If your child is acting out, sit down and listen to them. By addressing the real issues you can build trust with them during this difficult time.

Is your child ‘acting out’? Are you concerned about your kids’ wellbeing? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Thank you to Warcry magazine for publishing this piece in its week-to-week column. You can read it on its website here. It was originally published on Watersedge in September 2016 as ‘7 Reasons Your Child Might Be Acting Out’.

The Top 60 Mental Health Blogs in the World

The-Top-60-Mental-Health-Blogs-in-the-World

WatersedgeCouselling is thrilled to share the news that we have been selected as one of the Top 60 Mental Health Blogs in the world by Feedspot!

One of the most comprehensive lists of mental health blogs on the Internet, we are privileged to be included alongside Psych Central, Healthy Place, Active Minds and the Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association.

You can view the complete list here. Take a look through the blogs and see what interests you, From national mental illness associations and non-profits, to professional counsellors and bloggers chronicling their own recovery, you will definitely find something to encourage you. You can even sign up so the best of the 60 blogs is sent to your inbox every week.

Thank you for your continued support of WatersedgeCounselling. We look forward to sharing more informative and useful blogs with you in 2017!

My number one recommendation for couples in crisis

My-number-one-recommendation-for-couples-in-crisis

Relationships are tricky things.

There are days of sunshine, when everything is ‘right with the world’; I am feeling calm, relaxed and in control.  I have infinite patience with my darling husband, even when he says or does something that I don’t particularly find attractive.

By contrast, there are other days when I am tired, stressed and generally feeling like I could crawl back into bed and hide from the world. I just don’t ‘feel like’ making an effort with anybody. Of course I do—after all you ‘should’ put on a good, co-operative, pleasant face for the people you work, eat and play with. That’s how community works. That’s how we learn to have our own needs met. But by the time I get home, I am exhausted, moody and unresponsive. On those days, my husband cops the ‘stressed’ me, the one that is reactive and blaming instead of being loving and responsive.

Over time I have become more aware of what is going on inside of my body, making the conscious effort to challenge negative behaviour that I previously felt justified in directing towards my husband.  I believe that it is important to walk the talk and, given that I speak to numerous couples and individuals every week, I have applied the interventions I teach to my personal behaviour and my marriage relationship. Subsequently, our relationship has progressively improved throughout our 28 years of marriage.

As you would expect, I have a tool bag full of useful techniques, ideas and resources that individuals and couples can benefit from. My best one by far is Mindfulness Meditation. Why would I say this? Well, before a couple can begin to work on their relationship, it is absolutely essential that each person learn how to calm or soothe themselves. Failure to learn how to calm yourself will ultimately forfeit any chance of improving your relationship.

When we are significantly stressed and tired, we also tend to be incredibly reactive; easily frustrated and irritated, quick to jump to wrong conclusions, readily angered by the smallest thing (you will always experience it as a BIG thing at the time), defensive, cynical, blaming, judgemental and generally difficult to get along with.

Whilst we all need a bit of stress to keep us motivated, physiologically there is a point, when reached, that you are no longer able to contain and control the stress hormones and it controls you instead.  It is the ‘fight or flight’ instinct, typically activated by the flood of stress hormones coursing through your brain and body.

A couple experiencing conflict is likely to be experiencing this level of debilitating stress regularly. Learning how to communicate effectively with one another and repair your relationship first of all requires each person to take responsibility for themselves and learn how to come back to a calmer and more responsive state of mind. Only then can we do the work of learning to listen and negotiate our needs.

Mindfulness Meditation is, put simply, learning to be present to the moment, focusing on what is happening within you and/ or around you. By learning this discipline (and believe you me, it is a challenge for most of us), your brain is rested and sends the message that you are no longer under threat. Stress hormones are no longer produced and Serotonin (the calm hormone) is activated bringing you down to a calmer state.

In our sessions, I teach simple techniques that couples and individuals can apply in the moment. However, to promote a general sense of wellbeing and calm that is more resilient to stress, it is necessary to practice Mindfulness Meditation on a regular basis, even daily.

Here at Watersedge Counselling we have recently partnered with Audio Mental Training to provide our readers with easy access to fantastic Mindfulness Meditation programs that you can download and start using immediately.  My personal favourite and the program I am using on a daily basis is called Optimal Health.

Just click on this link: Audio Mental Training or the banner on our sidebar, and check it out for yourself.

In the future I will share with you how I am personally benefiting from this program. I would love to hear from others who choose to invest in one of these programs or some other Mindful Meditation that you are already using. It will make a difference to you personally and to your significant relationships.

Is your relationship in crisis? Would you like to learn more Mindfulness Meditation? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Eight strategies for daily resilience

Eight-strategies-for-daily-resilience

Resilience, the ability to ‘bounce back’, is essential to our health, happiness and well being. However, it can be eroded when we become overwhelmed by the unpredictable events that intrude into our lives.

Where the crisis is short lived and/or we find the resources to contain it and find a solution, people typically recover their resilience. Along the way, we learn vital lessons about our competence and resourcefulness. But how do we survive the events that are beyond our control?

Remaining resilient in an increasingly unpredictable and chaotic world is a challenge for all of us. The answer lies in your daily determination to be intentional about cultivating a positive, and therefore more resilient, state of mind. Here are eight strategies that when practiced consistently, will help you to build resilience.

  1. Limit your use of social media and news

Social media and other news outlets are often an unrelenting source of bad news, yet we find them addictive to consume. We have a constant need to know what is ‘happening next,’ and find ourselves going back to the next source for more information.

Our fascination and curiosity makes us a prisoner to the latest news, which can elevate our anxiety. Setting a time limit on how long to use social media and read the news will diminish the impact this has on your resilience.

  1. Stretch each day

Anxiety and stress are stored in our body—tightening muscles, headaches, nausea, stomach aches, diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion can all be side effects of this.

If you have a dog or cat, you will have noticed how often they do a long, deep stretch. Animals instinctively know what we so often fail to acknowledge—that a long stretch keeps the body limber and helps our blood to circulate efficiently, reversing the effects of stress on the body.

Whether you choose to do yoga, Pilates or your own set of stretches, the important thing is to keep stretching daily to prevent stress shutting down your body.

  1. Focus on the positive

At the beginning of each day, take five minutes to intentionally focus your mind towards seeking out the positive. Still be level headed, aware of conflicting and difficult experiences, but choose to take a positive outlook, learning to acknowledge how you feel without letting it move in and set up house.

Refocus your mind on the positive even if you aren’t feeling it. After all, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it!

  1. Pay attention to nature

Nature is a natural stress-reducer, so take the time to absorb colour, pattern, movement and whatever catches your eye. If you live and work in a concrete jungle, look at the sky and observe cloud formations, or an isolated tree or plant. Take the time to breathe in its life giving energy and recognise how it makes you feel.

  1. Repeat a positive affirmation

By choosing a positive affirmation like, ‘I am worthy,’ or ‘I will have a good day,’ and repeating this to yourself through the day, your mind will begin to believe it.  You may not be convinced of the truth of the affirmation immediately, but after awhile it will become second nature to you and build your resilience.

  1. Expect to be surprised

Surprises come to us every day, but we often fail to notice or fully appreciate them. They bring delight, happiness and remind us that we are not alone. Make a point each morning to anticipate a surprise in your day—you may be surprised about what you notice!

  1. Smile a lot

Have you noticed how you feel when someone smiles at you? We feel warmer, less fearful and anxious, and welcomed. On the other hand, a frown sends the message that we are intrusive, irritating or unwelcome. We feel lighter when we smile and also extend this happiness to others by inviting them to smile back.

  1. Make a Grateful Journal

Write what you are grateful for at the end of each day in a journal, and your resilience will increase. Grateful people are happier and easier to be around. By expressing your gratitude, you focus on what is good and positive in your life. This will only take a couple of minutes each day, and it will reduce your stress and create a positive mindset.

Which of these suggestions do you want to implement? Start each week with one, try something different each day, or commit yourself to trying one. Comment below to let us know what you are doing to build your personal resilience.

Are you stressed and worn out? Would you like to build your resilience? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

25 Thoughts for Better Living

25 Thoughts for Better Living

It’s easy to find one inspiring quote on the internet, but a lot more difficult to come across a collection of compelling and relevant thoughts that allow you to instigate wellness in your own life.

HR Tech Weekly approached 25 wellbeing professionals and asked them to share their thoughts on better living. From relationships to self-acceptance and mental illness, their quotes give a well-rounded and positive perspective on what it means to be happy and healthy.

Colleen was also approached by HR Tech and asked about parenting. The stunning quote she provided is here:

colleen-morris-quote

We encourage you to read through each quote, and meditate on how it affects your life. While reading a quote is a small step towards a brighter future, it is no less significant when you put it into action.

Are you unsure what the next step to a brighter future is? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

How hospitality workers can maintain healthy relationships

how-hospitality-workers-can-maintain-healthy-relationships

Work can directly effect any couple, or family, relationship. Long work days, stress filled meetings and exhaustion will carry into the home, damaging not just the employee’s health, but also their loved ones. We see this nowhere more clearly than in the hospitality sector.

In a recent podcast with Ken Burgin of ProfitableHospitality.com, Colleen spoke about how to maintain work-life balance and reduce pressure. Shedding light on the warning-signs that tell you a relationship is on the rocks, she also explores different communication methods and ways to cultivate personal, as well as professional, success.

You can listen to Colleen’s conversation with Ken about ‘Stronger, More Loving Relationships for Hospitality Workers’ here.

Do you work in the hospitality sector? Are you concerned about your personal or professional relationships? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects more people than you think

post-traumatic-stress-disorder-affects-more-people-than-you-think

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known to affect veterans and people who have been in combat, but did you know it could also come about through other experiences?

A life-threatening situation or traumatic event can occur in numerous ways—physical or sexual assault, being sexually abused as a child, an accident, witnessing death or injury, or a natural disaster can all cause a person to develop PTSD.

This infographic by Upworthy and the Psychological Care and Treatment Centre reveals just how vast the net of PTSD is over the community. It affects 5.2 million people each year, and while it can go undiagnosed or is known by different names, it dramatically affects a person’s wellbeing and their quality of life.

PTSD is more than just the stress of a traumatic event; it is the brain trying to cope with an experience that it feels it is still living out. So, while a person may be at home and safe, a trigger (such as a sound, light, memory, image or feeling) can engage the fight-or-flight response in their brain, which initiates the same feelings, emotions and physical symptoms felt during the event.

Due to this, shame, anger and irritability are all symptoms, and insomnia and nightmares can affect people with PTSD. They may also have flashbacks, causing their body and mind to respond in distress. They may act violently, becoming lethargic and rigid, or unresponsive.  Many people with PTSD will also experience depression.

Psychical symptoms are a key aspect of PTSD, and you will find that people experiencing this can feel numbness, stabbing pains, pins and needles, spasming, aching muscles, dizziness and even fainting. Due to this, treatment for PTSD can be aided by massage and care of the physical body as well as the mind.

As this infographic shows, PTSD is a complex illness that occurs uniquely for each person. However, there are many ways you can support a loved one, friend, colleague or member of your community who is experiencing this.

By encouraging people to seek counselling and psychological support, they will find the support they need to work through their trauma. Seeing a GP is also beneficial as medication can assist a person with PTSD. Aside from this, be gracious and patient with your loved ones. Nurse them through their episodes, and when they are ready to talk, listen.

post-traumatic-stress-disorder-infographic

Have you experienced trauma? Does your loved one have PTSD? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

Introducing When Hope Speaks

introducing-when-hope-speaks

Regular readers of Watersedge will recognise the name Jessica Morris. Aside from contributing to the blog, she also oversees the social media and editorial content on our website. She has been open and honest about her own struggles with mental illness, giving us an insight into her experiences of therapy, teen to adulthood transition, and moving away from home.

Today we are excited to share Jessica’s new book with you all. Titled When Hope Speaks, it is a memoir about her diagnosis with depression and an anxiety disorder. Using essays, letters, blog posts and poems, she unravels the story of her mental illness and how it shaped her from diagnosis as a 13 year old, to her life today as an international journalist.

Available on October 10—World Mental Health Day, this is an inspiring story reminding people who live with mental illness that they never walk the journey alone. Carers and loved ones will be encouraged, and professionals can use it as a tool to educate and support their clients.

You can read an excerpt from When Hope Speaks by visiting Jessica’s website. Available October 10 through Salvo Publishing, order your copy now at jessicamorris.net.

“I’m so proud of my friend Jessica. She continues to impress me, not only with her writing but with how she lives her life. You get to see both in this book—Jessica’s talent for telling stories and for living them as well. She does both with compassion, with honesty, and with grace.”

~ JAMIE TWORKOWSKI,
founder, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS
New York Times Best-selling Author, If You Feel Too Much

Locals are invited to attend the When Hope Speaks book launch this Saturday October 8. I will be representing WatersedgeCounselling on a mental health panel to follow a reading and Q & A by the author. Starting at 7pm at the Mule Shed Café at 64 Separation Street, North Geelong, entry is by donation to Hope Movement. Click here for more details.

Do struggle with depression or anxiety? Are you concerned about the mental health of a friend or loved one? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary