Ten reasons helping others is good for your health

helping-others

Some people seem to have compassion in their bones and will stop at nothing to assist a friend in need. Others find it comes less naturally, and struggle to see the opportunity to help people. We’re all wired differently, but by taking stock of the world around us, we can all show some compassion and in turn, experience the benefits this has on our own health.

Did you know that people who help other people are more attractive to the opposite sex? Plus, helping other people genuinely makes us happier and changes the mood of the people surrounding us.

Helping other people doesn’t always have to be hard. It can be as simple as offering someone a smile, paying for their coffee, or taking the time to ask a person how they are feeling. You might even consider volunteering with an organisation or charity that shares the same interests as you. If you’re passionate about the environment, you can start recycling or join a neighbourhood clean up or landscaping effort.

This infographic by Emma Seppala PhD. lists some of the scientific benefits of showing compassion. Take a look and think about a way to boost your mood by helping someone else this week.

scientific-benefits-of-compassion

Do you struggle to find the balance between helping others and helping yourself? Are you looking for a way to revitalise your life and health? 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 on our online diary.

How to speak to your child about sexuality

child-sexuality

There has always been contention about when the right time is for parents  to have the ‘birds and the bees’ talk with children. But in a day and age where technology is more advanced than ever and children are reaching puberty as early as 7, the need to talk about sexuality has become greater than ever.

These days, kids want to know about more than sex. When they’re younger questions will centre on body parts—and as they grow older the questions will become more about puberty. You will have to explain positive self-esteem, kissing, periods, erections, and all sorts of joys with them (including how often they NEED to shower).

Then comes the slightly more awkward topics—Pornography. Sexting. Contraception. Why some people are attracted to the opposite sex, others are attracted to the same, and some people, both.  Transexuality and gender fluidity. Why some marriages work and others don’t. Divorce. Cheating. What sexual abuse is. Rape. Boundaries for safe and consensual sex. STI’s. Understanding their unique sexual identity.

A parent can read all the self-help books in the world and sit their child down in front of any amount of awkward 80’s sex-ed videos, and still not have the answers to these questions. And often, the need to talk about these topics will come up before the questions even do; especially once a child grows older and starts exploring their sexuality on their own.

The need to discuss these topics in a safe and non-judgemental way is essential, because an educated child is prepared when they are confronted with all sorts of situations—especially the ones they may not tell you about. And if you’re not educating them, then you can be sure the internet, TV, magazines and their peers are.

So how do you broach the topic of your child’s sexuality and all it entails? We came across a fantastic article by Danish Psychotherapist and author Iben Sandahl. In it, she details 7 guidelines for speaking to your children about sexuality. She answers questions about how much detail you should go into and when, the language you can use, and takes away the fear factor of these conversations. Read it here and see what you can take away from it.

Does your child or teen have questions about their sexuality? Are you unsure how to approach these topics with them? Watersege has just added a child and teen specialist to our staff who would love to work with you. For more details, 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 on our online diary.

Eight ways to reduce travel anxiety

Eight-ways-to-reduce-travel-anxiety

Lots of people experience some sort of travel anxiety. Have you ever noticed how your partner gets extra ‘stressed’ when you have to drive to the airport? Or how your friend shuts their eyes tightly and prays when the plane experiences unexpected turbulence? That’s travel anxiety—and it’s completely normal.

A lot of us feel unsettled when we do unfamiliar things in new places. And while taking a holiday is great, travelling is a breeding ground for long-forgotten fears, family conflicts, and bad habits to come into play.

These things don’t have to ruin your holiday though. If you manage them well, they can help you have an even richer and more rewarding experience. From the planning stages to travel itself, here are eight ways you can reduce travel anxiety and (hopefully) a lot of the drama that goes with it.

  1. Solidify the destination

A lot of travel anxiety comes from uncertainty. Some of this can occur when you are deciding when and where you will travel to—especially if a friend, partner or your family is throwing ten different options at you! In this situation your priority is solidifying where you will go and when.

Block out all the voices (quite literally if needed) and make a list of the places you want or need to go. Place the pros of cons of each destination next to them—consider who you will see, how expensive it will be, and how long it takes it travel to the destination. This will help you to narrow down the top choices for everyone, and you can discuss the best option from there.

Once you’ve decided on a destination, commit to it and set a timeframe for your trip. This helps you to avoid any uncertainty about the future and keeps you and your loved ones accountable to keep it.

  1. Make a budget

A budget is boring, but it will keep you from stressing about unnecessary purchases or the bills sitting on the table when you arrive home. Factor in the price of travel, accommodation, food, shopping and unexpected expenses.

Even with a budget, some people never seem to stop worrying about cost, so make a conscious decision to enjoy your holiday. Whenever the compulsion to worry or complain about the price of something comes up, remember your budget and see if what you’re spending fits into it. Sticking to your budget gives you permission to enjoy your travels without constantly worrying if you will have enough.

  1. Be honest with your travel partners

Are there parts of your trip that concern you? Are you on a tight budget, concerned about jet lag, or are you stressed about events going on at home? Tell your travel partners.

We often feel like we have to hide our anxiety so our travel partners can have a better holiday, but by doing this we often reflect our stress onto them. They are left feeling powerless to help you, and this can create conflict.

If you have concerns, tell your travel partners. Be it a friend, your spouse or even the kids—let them know that you are feeling stressed due to this, and you may need some extra support or understanding in particular parts of your trip. If you sense the anxiety rising up during your trip, let them know you are struggling. From here you can take steps to care for yourself while your friends continue to enjoy their trip.

  1. Pre-book everything

Some people thrive off spontaneity. They love the idea of arriving at a destination, and figuring out their accommodation and transport on the spot. If that’s not you, give yourself permission to pre-book everything. From flights, to hotels, rental cars, tours, even some meals—if pre-booking alleviates your stress when you arrive, do it. And if the thought of pre-booking still feels like too much, speak to a travel agent.

Pre-booking things also gives you the opportunity to compare prices and research the area you are visiting before you arrive. This takes into account the safety of the area, how close you are to attractions, and the time required for different activities.

This level of planning isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and fluidity and spontaneity on a holiday is a good thing. However, if you know these details will cause you more stress than enjoyment when the plane touches down, book ahead. It’s better for everyone.

  1. Identify your priorities

We all have different priorities when we travel. Some people are in it for the adventure, some for the relationships they want to cultivate, and others for the sights and sounds of a new place. Once you identify your priorities, you can figure out how to make them happen in the least stressful way possible.

For instance, if connecting with family is a priority—but you also know they cause you stress and you can only see them in increments—then you can break up your interaction with them by planning social activities. You could also schedule tours and road trips every few days to give yourself space.

If relaxing is a priority, then you may prefer lounging by the hotel pool to seeing the hidden treasures of a foreign city. And if you and your travel partners have different priorities, then give yourself permission to alternate between activities or do things on your own.

  1. Anticipate the travel experience

Anticipating how you will feel when you travel isn’t about catastrophising a situation (“The plane is definitely going to crash!” comes to mind), it’s about remedying a crisis before it may happen.

If you know turbulence causes you anxiety, or you become claustrophobic on long trips, bring some earphones, a sleep mask and speak to your chemist about over-the-counter medication.

If you’re afraid of entering a new culture, speak to someone who has travelled to the area before and research the customs, norms and values on the Internet.

If the concept of running through airports between layovers is anxiety-provoking, familiarise yourself with the layout of the airport before you arrive, and tell a flight attendant you need to make a connecting flight.

  1. Set your boundaries

Are you travelling with other people? Set your boundaries early on. This may require separate bedrooms, alone time or different itineraries.

Boundaries are a key to survival when you travel with others. The entire experience is a melting pot for heightened emotions and expectations, and due to this irritation and frustration can occur more frequently. Anticipate that this will happen, and make allowances for it.

If you partner becomes moody when they are hungry, schedule in your meal times and make them non-negotiable. If you are not a morning person, allow your friends to explore while you stay in bed, and join them later on. If a friend is a chronic planner or wants to control everything, determine what you will and won’t do ahead of time and tell them when they are going too far.

Boundaries aren’t just required between travel partners, they are also required when we visit or meet people in our travels. If you know your relatives will try to ‘fix’ you or plan your entire trip, make your schedule clear and don’t give them any leeway to change your plans or your life.

  1. Consider returning home

Arriving is one thing, but by the time you return home everyone is exhausted. Mentally, emotionally and physically, you will be drained and ready to crash in bed. Make allowances for this by asking someone to pick you up, having transport ready and accessible so you can return home as soon as possible, or even getting take-away food on the way home.

Don’t expect yourself for your travel partners to be angels on your return. Give each other grace when you are tired, and make sure everyone can eat, shower and sleep as soon as possible to diffuse any tension. Unpacking can always wait!

Does the ideal of travel make you anxious? Would you like to explore strategies that can assist you on an upcoming holiday? 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 on our online diary.

Eleven forces for good you need to follow online

forces-for-good

The Internet is full of people begging for your likes, follows and comments, and every so often we come across one that stands out from the crowd. Rather than being shallow and cynical, they are forces of good.

They balance wit and fun with thoughtful social commentary, encourage better living, depict what it means to have healthy and whole relationships, and are just general slices of good news that will leave you smiling.

From authors to Instagram influencers and charities, here are 11 forces for good you want to follow online.

Good-news

  1. GOOD GOOD GOOD

When it comes to forces for good, it’s hard to go past GOOD GOOD GOOD. Started by Nashville local Branden Harvey in 2016, they exist to celebrate, people, movements and ideas most of us normally miss in the headlines.

Between their social media presence (their Instagram stories are stellar), weekly SoundsGood podcast with influencers, newsletter and their Good News Paper (a literal paper), this company isn’t just proclaiming good news, they are actually creating it.

Facebook: /goodgoodgoodco
Instagram: @goodgoodgoodco
Twitter: @goodgoodgood
Podcast: Available on all platforms (click here)
Online: goodgoodgood.co

Branden-H

  1. Branden Harvey

Branden’s work around positivity and world change goes further than GOOD GOOD GOOD. He also helps businesses tell their stories well, interviews some of society’s most influential change makers, and is a king when it comes to Instagram stories.

From videos that detail how to call your local representative about a social issue, to adorable videos of his pup (@poptartharveyco) and hangs with his wife Sammi, his online presence will give you a dose of happiness to keep going through the day.

Facebook: /brandenharvey
Instagram: @brandenharvey
Twitter: @BrandenHarvey
Snapchat: brandenharvey
Podcast: Sounds Good
Online: brandenharvey.com

Alex-Elle

  1. Alexandra Elle

An author, mother and creative, Alex is an inspirational force from Washington DC. Beautifully honest and compellingly raw, Alex shares the highs and lows of femininity, motherhood and love. Her book Neon Soul is available now, and you can catch her on The Hey Girl Podcast as well.

Instagram: @alex_elle
Twitter: @_alexelle
Podcast: The Hey Girl Podcast
Online: alexelle.com

bob-goff

  1. Bob Goff

Bob Goff is one of those rare people who can make everyone smile—and his online presence is no different. His quotes are challenging and thought provoking as he encourages people to love well, often and always.

He is the best selling author of Love Does and founder of a non-profit human rights organisation of the same name operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia. His new book Everybody Always is out on April 17.

Facebook: /bobgoffis
Instagram: @bobgoff
Twitter: @bobgoff
Online: bobgoff.com

POTSC+book+on+wood

  1. People of the Second Chance (POTSC)

This organisation is known for their work reforming prisoners, however in recent years they have branched out to become a movement that helps people find freedom from depression, fear, addiction and shame.

Using custom-made curriculums, as well as their Rescue Academy that teaches people how to coach others, POTSC will boost your self-esteem and make you believe anything is possible.

Facebook: /peopleofthesecondchance
Instagram: @POTSC
Twitter: @POTSC
Online: secondchance.org

Mike-Foster

  1. Mike Foster

As a speaker, author and counsellor, we are big fans of Mike’s work. Aside from being the founder of People of The Second Chance, he regularly speaks on the power of grace and mercy. We also love his podcast Fun Therapy where he literally councils his friends on deep and compelling issues. His book People of the Second Chance is out now.

Facebook: /peopleofthesecondchance
Instagram: @mikefoster2000
Twitter: @MikeFoster
Podcast: Fun Therapy
Online: mikefoster.tv

abby-paulhus

  1. Abbie Paulhus

Abbie is an artist based in Las Vegas, and her work has been made into cards, pins, notebooks and prints. Her daily illustrations are whimsical and light, yet also full of profound truths. She advocates for ‘collaboration over competition,’ which makes her a powerful positive force in the creative industry as she champions the people around her and celebrates her own work.

Facebook: /AbbiePaulhusIllustrations
Instagram: @abbiepaulhus
Online: abbiepaulhus.com

brene-brown-talent-connect

  1. Brené Brown

In the world of mental health and wellness, few names are bigger than Brené Brown. This incredible woman is a best selling author, researcher and speaker, focusing on the nature of courage, shame, empathy, compassion and vulnerability. Her posts, along with her daily emails, are thought provoking and encourage you to be your most authentic self. Her latest book Braving the Wilderness is out now.

Facebook: /brenebrown
Instagram: @brenebrown
Twitter: @BreneBrown
Online: brenebrown.com

Hannah_Brencher093

  1. Hannah Brencher

Hannah Brencher is a powerhouse. She began writing anonymous love letters to strangers in 2011 and began the global More Love Letters movement which spawned her first book If You Find This Letter. Hannah’s posts are motivational and detail what it is like to live with mental illness. She also sends out a weekly Monday email encouraging you to kick butt.

Facebook: /HannahBrencherSheats
Instagram: @hannahbrencher
Twitter: @hannahbrencher
Tumblr: hannahbrencher.tumblr.com
Online: hannahbrenchercreative.com 

babeswhohustle

  1. Babes Who Hustle

Created by power house females for working women, this movement gives you awe-inspiring insight into some of the most creative and successful females in any given industry. More than just the success story, Babes who Hustle looks into the day-to-day of actions of courageous women and delves into the person behind the brand or profession.

Facebook: /BabesWhoHustle
Instagram: @babeswhohustle
Twitter: @babeswhohustle
Online: babeswhohustle.com

Tonya-I

  1. Tonya Ingram

Spoken-word poet Tonya Ingram is powerful because she is unsparingly honest. She talks and writes about her identity as a woman, a survivor of abuse, love, and someone who lives with chronic and mental illness. Aside from her brilliant Instagram posts, she also has a stellar Insta-story presence well worth your time.
Her book Another Black Girl Miracle is out now.

Facebook: /TonyaIngram1991
Instagram: @tonyainstagram
Twitter: @TonyaSIngram

Five ways to beat stress

stress-april

Around the Easter break, stress comes to the forefront of our lives. We’re rushing to finish all our work in time for vacation, or we bring it home to get on top of everything.

Then there’s the stress that we experience around the holidays—seeing family and friends, cooking and entertaining, not to mention making sure your in laws don’t start a debate about international politics. Before long you’ve got a headache, your back starts to spasm, and spending time with the kids feels like more of a chore than a privilege.

Can you relate? If stress is controlling your life this Easter break, these five tips will help you get it back under control.

  1. Stop and breathe

It may seem simple, but when we’re stressed and on a deadline, taking the time to stop and breath feels like the most difficult step of all.

If everything feels like too much and pausing feels impossible, give yourself permission to stop for a minute. Exit to the bathroom or the hallway, and take five deep breaths in and out. This will clear your head and ease the tension in our body before you go back to your task. You will be more productive, and your stress will lessen significantly.

  1. Make a list 

Some people have so much to do that they spend more time leaping from one task to another rather than actually finishing a task! If that’s you, then make a list. Prioritise your tasks from what is most important or time sensitive, to what can be put on the back burner. Once you’ve made the list, follow it and complete each task one at a time. This will give you a sense of clarity and control. Plus, crossing an item off your list is a great ego boost!

  1. Take a walk

Spending time outside and exercising are natural stress reducers and will lift your mood. Take half an hour to walk around the block or grab a coffee, and use the time to centre yourself. Focus on nature, the taste of your drink, or the wind on your face. This will settle you before you go back to the grind.

  1. Set aside time for rest

Working non-stop is a natural response to stress, but it actually perpetuates the cycle and hinders your heath. Designate a set time for your work, rest and fun. That may mean not taking work home with you, or not working on weekends. It may even be as simple as not checking your email before you get to work!

  1. Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness will still your mind, and in turn, relax your body. Our friends at Audio Mental Training provide you with a number of Mindfulness Meditation programs that you can download and start using immediately (our favourite is Optimal Health). You can find out more by visiting their website HERE.

Are you stressed to the max? Are you scared that if you stop, everything will fall apart? 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.

How to find love (and keep it) with Adam LoDolce of Sexy Confidence

When it comes to romantic relationships, everyone seems to have more questions than answers—except for Adam LoDolce. For the last several years, he has been coaching women on how to find the love they deserve through his brand Sexy Confidence. He has been featured on CNN, MTV and Women’s Health, and has helped 83 million women find their own sexy confidence.

Adam was kind enough to answer some questions for us about dating myths, why self-confidence is the key to sexiness, and how he took the path to become one of the top dating experts in the world

WE: How and why did Sexy Confidence start?

AL: I actually used to teach men how to go out and date women—confidence techniques and how to be more sociable, how to have great body language and what to say when going out and meeting women. I was featured in CNN and a ton of other websites, and randomly I had one article that was featured in Glamour.

I had so many women reaching out to me for advice about men. And I found out that, as I was getting these questions, I actually know more about attraction for women than I do about attraction for men.

At that point I decided I was going to start a new brand called Sexy Confidence purely giving advice to women on my YouTube channel. Within about 6 months it absolutely blew up, and I stopped coaching men and focused all my attention there.

WE: What is the number one concern women come to you with?

AL: Ultimately, it really is that the guy that they want or are attracted to doesn’t want to commit to them. It is generally an issue of commitment. They started seeing a guy and he’s great, and he’s fun—great chemistry, great sex, all that stuff. But he doesn’t actually want a relationship. Then what do they do? That is a concern.

WE: What are the biggest myths women believe about relationships?

AL: One of the biggest myths is that you should wait for love to come to you. Just sit back, and it will come when you least expect it. I think that’s a huge myth. I think it’s key to get out there and push yourself.

I always coach and suggest that my clients go out and be confident in themselves and go out and meet people. It doesn’t mean you should just straight up go and hit on a guy, but definitely out yourself in scenarios where you can be social and meet lots of new people.

WE: Why is it so important women fully understand and appreciate their self worth before they enter a relationship?

AL: Because ultimately you set the standard for how people treat you. If you find yourself in a bad relationship with a guy who doesn’t treat you well, and you just take it, don’t do anything about it, and don’t set a standard, then he’s just going to keep treating you that way. I find that’s true in life with any relationships—not just romantic.

WE: What is the first step a woman should take who wants to re-enter the dating scene after a big break up?

AL: The biggest thing is to take time to rediscover your identity and enjoy just being single again. Don’t feel like you just have to jump right back into the singles scene right after a breakup.

WE: How has understanding the female mindset and empowering women helped you in your own life?

AL: It has certainly helped me in my own relationship. I’ve been with Jessica for over three years now, and every single day I hear something new from women and I always take in that knowledge and try and be more empathetic and more understanding with my own interpersonal relationship, because relationships are always hard in some way.

In some way, all relationships are a bit messy in life; so don’t assume that it’s got to be absolutely perfect. Every dating and relationship coach I’ve ever met has their own troubles in their own relationships. Not always major troubles, I don’t myself. But it’s never perfect. 

WE: Why have you dedicated your life to helping women become sexy confident?

AL: My whole goal with Sexy Confidence is to help women be more confident and help them love themselves for who they are, and that is the key to being happy with your life. Because no matter what—even if you are single or are in a relationship, you can still be happy with who you are.

To find more out about Adam and Sexy Confidence, visit SexyConfidence.com.

If you have recently experienced a break up and believe that your relationship can and should be saved, you can also see his new Winning Him Back program about recovering from heartbreak. 

Are you looking for love? Is there conflict in your romantic relationship you can’t resolve, or have you gone through a recent heartbreak? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243, or BOOK ONLINE NOW to book in our online diary.

 

The Power of Vulnerability

The-Power-of-Vulnerability

When it comes to relationship and human connection, the common fears many of us share are around our worthiness. Am I worthy of love? Am I allowed to ask for this? Am I good enough for this position? Am I qualified enough to raise my children?

When we don’t express these concerns, we aren’t ‘real’ and intimate with those we love, and it’s accompanying shame keeps us from living authentic and fulfilled lives.

Social researcher and storyteller Brené Brown undertook a six-year study to better understand the nature of shame, courage, empathy, love and belonging. Throughout her focus groups and data, she found that she, like so many of her subjects, also struggled with vulnerability and the belief that she was worthy of being genuine and flawed.

In this Ted Talk, she shares her incredible journey and leaves us with some gems that can revolutionise our own relationships and inner walk. We’d encourage you to watch the whole video. At 20 minutes it’s a little longer, but worth the time and effort. She is smart, disarming and funny, and you finish it feeling a little more ready to show yourself the same love you long to receive from others.

“This is what I have found: To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen…to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee—and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult—to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive.”

And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I'm enough”…then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Read the entire transcript on the Ted Talk site here.

Do you want to learn more about vulnerability? Do you experience shame or live in fear that you’re not worthy of love? 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 on our online diary.

Redefining Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD

It is a single thought, triggering feelings of anxiety in my stomach that gravitate upwards towards my brain, and down towards my feet.​

It sweeps in, its dark cloak hiding the light of reality, shrouding my mind in confusion that will circle until I distract it, or until it becomes exhausted from repetition. In any case, it will eventually fly away, waiting for the next opportunity to come and consume my mind and body.​

My obsessive-compulsive tendencies do not appear like they say in the books. In them, they show pictures of people washing hands and meticulously lining up objects in order of colour and size. I have been known to do these things, but they are not the compulsions that threaten to break me.

​It is the thoughts.

It is the constant cycle as they spin round and round and round and round—like a death march pulling me closer towards an abyss that doesn’t even exist. They create a maze, which, if I am not careful, I begin to believe I am trapped in.

A maze of never-ending thoughts, feelings and uncontrollable behaviours.

I hate my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I do not even like to call it mine; after all, it does not define me. It is but a collection of chemicals and synapses. But in those moments, when I can’t see or think of anything but that which I fear, I start to believe that we are one and the same.​

In the seconds the thought begins, it traces its way through my body towards a reaction. I have learnt to recognize it almost immediately. Once it would keep me up—minutes and hours and days spent obsessing over the same incident. Through time, however, I have become accustomed to OCD’s plans and schemes. How it latches onto words and names, faces and memories. How it likes to catch me off guard when I am tired and burnt out, delivering unfounded threats, saying it will topple my years in recovery and the many times I have conquered it.

The moments it strikes are hard to overcome, because it is difficult to prevent your body from reacting to something it is programmed to respond to. It’s like having something wrestle you to the ground, but when you try to fight back, it increases its grip. Only by waiting out the moment does the thought and sensation lose its power.

And ever so slowly, it leaves you alone and the chemicals in your brain make a new, healthier path, allowing you to see that the attacker wasn’t even really there. It was all just thoughts and chemicals, pulling you into a parallel reality. Sending you into panic mode.​

I know that I am stronger than these thoughts and compulsions.​

As a teenager I would visualize my fears, and they kept me shut inside my bedroom, afraid of myself and the world around me.

I found freedom when I told my parents about these thoughts—about how I was scared they were real, and that I was living a lie.

I found freedom when, with the support of my psychiatric nurse, I took short walks in the daylight, slowly decreasing my irrational fear of being attacked outside of the home.

I found freedom when I realized that I didn’t want to die, even when the thoughts and compulsions told me I did.

The truth is, OCD has robbed me of a lot. Sometimes it still tries to steal precious minutes of my days. But I have realized that who I am today—the strong, resilient woman I have become—would not exist without it.

By facing OCD and anxiety, I have learned that small steps lead to grand adventures, and short walks outside bolster courage within me to explore new lands.

By struggling with OCD and anxiety, I have learned to have empathy and compassion towards people who are different to me, because I have questioned my own identity too.​

By questioning OCD and anxiety, I have redefined and re-evaluated what I believe, and why I want to be alive.​

And by overcoming OCD and anxiety, I have learnt that this all-encompassing illness does not define me. I am not the thoughts it places in my head, or the panic that sets in about something I am in control of. I am not the insomnia, or the chemicals and hormones racing around my body, triggered by a lingering doubt in my mind. ​

I am so much more than this.

I am brave and bold, fearless and courageous. Yet I would not possess these in such great quantities if I did not battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I have hope that one day the OCD will pass forever. That the triggers of this season will cease, as did those of past years. That the fears they bring will be overcome with love and patience and trust. That I will become so confident and certain of my own worth and identity that the moment a thought attempts to trigger a compulsion it will be blocked by my own self-love.

Until then, I ride it out. I take the moments OCD strikes as an indicator that I need rest, and I revel in the victory awaiting me on the other side of it.

I redefine OCD as an illness, not an identity—a moment, rather than a lifetime. I am not my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but because of it I have become me. And that is why I will overcome it, every single time.​

This excerpt comes from Jessica’s memoir, When Hope Speaks: Thoughts on faith, hope, love (and depression). Pre-order the Expanded Edition on Kindle HERE before March 5 and $1 will be donated to To Write Love On Her Arms. 

Do you struggle with obsessive compulsive behaviours or thoughts? Are you concerned about the mental health of a loved one? 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 on our online diary.

How to find common ground in your relationships when you have different political values

politics-relationships

Politics has always been somewhat taboo in society. While we discuss the pros and cons of different laws and events, no one ever stated how they voted, at least until the events of the past few years occurred.

Since different Prime Ministers and Presidents have been inaugurated, it has become increasingly clear that society is more divided than ever. Hot topics such as same sex marriage, women’s rights, border control, gun control and health care have risen to such prominence that relationships are breaking because we hold different values and adamantly fight for them.

It’s not bad to disagree with people, or to speak up for what be believe in (that’s the basis of a democratic society after all), but when these issues start to break families, romantic relationships, friendships and community groups, we need to address the rift they’re causing. Why? Because if we’re not careful, they’ll destroy the relationships we value most in life and cause us bitterness, anxiety and grief.

This is not a blog about changing your political values or even how you express them—rather, it’s about how to meet the people you love and value where they’re at, so you can learn from each other and find common ground.

It can all feel a bit overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down to five steps. This is how to find common ground in your relationships when you have different political values:

  1. Figure out your common values

Any relationship is built on common values.  Political differences may currently cause a rift in your relationship, but your commonalities can help you build a bridge to meet each other in the middle. Figure out what you both value and go from there: it could be family values, a healthy economy, faith, health care or justice.

Use this as a springboard to empathise with your loved one or colleague. When they say or do things you disagree with, remember the core values they hold and where these actions come from.

  1. Create a safe place

To sustain your relationship, you need to create a safe place (either literally or metaphorically) where you can do life together without politics. This might sound impossible, especially when your political values are so personal, but it will enable your relationship to grow instead of die in bitterness and contempt.

Meet together for coffee, or play a team sport together.  Do something you both enjoy, and make it a ‘politics free zone’. This doesn’t devalue your political stance or assume you defer to theirs, it just means you value the relationship above your need to win them over.

  1. Be honest

If you have a problem with what your friend or colleague is saying, let them know, but keep is positive and avoid passive aggressive social media posts or gossip. Be aware that they may not understand your point of view, and come to peace with this. Respect their right to have a different opinion to your own.

Some people will be open to having discussions about political differences, and this can create a life-giving environment where you both learn and grow from each other. However, if discussion turns into an argument or slander, you need to exit. This is not deferring to their point of view, but valuing your time and dignity because you know the conversation is fruitless.

  1. Avoid it

Let’s be clear, avoidance is rarely ever a healthy strategy, but occasionally it is needed after you have established a difference of opinion.

For instance, if a family dinner or holiday is coming around and you know a relative will be there who has some radical opinions, it’s probably best you don’t start a conversation about that week’s hot topic. Choose to keep the peace and retain the relationship over changing their mind.

Some people love to argue. They will provoke you and bait you with their words and snide remarks. Make a conscious decision not to enter their game. Change the topic and ask about the family or talk about something less contentious—like the weather.

  1. Be wise

It is possible to have healthy, thriving relationships with people who have different political values from you, even in an intimate relationship. However, there comes a point for many of us where these differences show a dramatic division in our values that prohibit us from getting any closer.

It might be a deal breaker in a romantic relationship, or influence the decision to keep a friend as an acquaintance rather than a confidant.

This is okay. Allow the grief process to happen, and be wise about the boundaries you have around that relationship. The closer someone is to you, the more important it is they have similar values to you. And when you do disagree, remember to have grace—we are all just people after all.

Are you experiencing division in a relationship due to your political values? Are political issues and their prominence causing you anxiety or feelings of intense anger? 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 on our online diary.

Three Myths About Grief

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However you describe grief, it’s fair to say that it isn’t neat. We experience it when we lose a loved one or a family member, but there are also more ‘taboo’ forms of grief few people talk about: the loss of an unborn child, the loss of children, the loss of a relationship, the death of a pet, or estrangement in an important relationship—perhaps even from a parent you’ve never met.

Many of us have heard about the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. And these are all valid. You will wade through them as you remember what you’ve lost, and by taking the journey through them you will find healing. The deep ache will still be there, but the acceptance of what was lost won’t cloud your days as much.

Yet, we don’t all navigate grief that ‘easily’. In fact, none of us ever grieve in the cookie cutter mould of what is often described. This can leave us feeling like a failure months and years after a loss, and can make us depressed and feel perpetually numb and isolated.

This infographic by Happify disproves three common myths about grief.

  1. That grief happens in sequence.
  2. That the only way to work through grief is to express every negative emotion (even the ones that harm you, or the people around you).
  3. Women suffer more in grief.

Take a look at the infographic and learn more about what grief looks like in reality. Happify also include some tips for getting through the early, middle and late stages of grief.

Remember, your grief is valid whether your loss happened days, months or years ago. We hope that by breaking these myths and taboos you are reminded you aren’t alone in this process, and you can get through it.

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Are you grieving a loss? Do you know someone who is grieving a loss and you don’t know how to help them? Talking to a Counselling Professional about your experience in a safe and nurturing space may be the support you need to navigate your grief experience. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or press book now to book on the online diary.