This is what mental illness feels like

This is what mental illness feels like

One of the best ways to cope with mental illness is to express it creatively. Some people do this by crafting, colouring, drawing or knitting. To cope with her anxiety, illustrator (and self-proclaimed lover of pugs) Gemma Correll draws.

From witty drawings of what it means to be in a relationship, to expressions of what it feels like to be overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, her illustrations capture what life with mental illness feels like to a tee. Gemma’s work has been featured on book covers, greeting cards and was used on Mental Health America’s ‘Mental Illness Feels Like’ series. We’ve chosen some of our favourites to share with you.

View more of Gemma’s work here, and then have a go drawing yourself. What does mental illness feel like in your life? Get a pencil and you’ll find healing as you express it on paper.

gc1

gc2

gc3

gc4

Do you struggle with anxiety? Would you like support so you can manage a mental illness? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Six ways to stress less this holidays

Six-ways-to-stress-less-this-holidays

December may be full of fun parties, good food and long weekends, but the holiday season still comes with a lot of stress. Between family reunions, work functions, Christmas day preparation, decorating and shopping, the holidays can make us anxious, lethargic and reactive.

Rather than letting yourself continue the cycle of holiday stress, make the decision to revitalise the season for yourself. By changing your mindset and following these six steps, you can enjoy it a little more this year.

  1. Pre-plan

We’re mid-way through December, but you still have time to plan ahead. Instead of stressing about everything you ‘have’ to do, set yourself a schedule and delegate tasks to other family members. This might mean decorating early, asking your spouse to help with cooking, assigning seating at the table or shopping for gifts online.

By divvying up your responsibilities and setting a timeline for each, you give yourself the chance to breathe, enjoy or recover from each experience.

  1. Practice self-care

We all feel the weight of expectations during December. Parties, work break-ups and family functions are on every weekend, and it’s difficult to find ‘you’ time.

Make the conscious decision to practice self-care this year by setting a side time for yourself. Have a cup of coffee, going for a walk or read a good book.

Knowing that food and drink is plentiful this season, try to keep your every-day diet healthy as well. You can still indulge at events, but use this as a treat rather than an excuse to let your health fall by the wayside for a whole month.

  1. Don’t catastrophise relationships
    Without a doubt, the most stressful part of the holidays are seeing family members you’ve previously had conflict with. Talking to estranged spouses, ailing parents, in-laws or siblings can be difficult, especially when we hyper-focus on what ‘could’ happen instead of what will.

Rather than anticipating an argument erupting at the dinner table, imagine how you want the day to pan-out, and do everything on your part to make this come to pass.

This could mean shelving contentious issues or past grievances for the day, setting time limits on how long to spend at a function, or asking a loved-one to act as your buffer for the day.

  1. Be child-like

The holidays always had a certain ‘magic’ when we were children. The lights were brighter, the Christmas carols were sung louder, and the anticipation of receiving gifts made December the best month of the year. Unfortunately, as we grow up this wonder ceases, and it is difficult to find it again, but not impossible!

The key to finding your child-like wonder, free of stress and responsibilities, is embracing what you loved as a child. Make time to watch your favourite Christmas movie, play holiday music around the house, go Christmas light-hunting in your neighbourhood and decorate the tree as a family.

  1. Don’t do it alone

We feel a lot of responsibility during the holidays, and even the most avid party planner will feel overwhelmed by it. Despite what everyone (and your inner monologue) is telling you, Christmas festivities are not something you have to do alone.

Instead of carrying the season, spread your responsibilities around. Ask your spouse or partner for help, get the kids to make Christmas cards for the family, and ask a colleague to help organise a work function. You are allowed to be honest with the people around you, so if you feel stressed, let them know and ask for help.

  1. Be realistic

We can plan-ahead, hold back sarcastic comments and try to keep conversation light, but it’s not realistic to think the holidays will go perfectly. After a long day, old tension could arise, you might slip up, or grandma Ethel may feel compelled to say something about your current relationship or how you parent.

You can’t control everything at Christmas, but you can take responsibility for yourself. So be gracious to yourself and loved ones on the day, knowing that stress gets to all of us. Consider what ‘could’ happen, without dwelling on it, and know that when it’s over, you did the best you could.

Are you feeling stressed about the holidays? Do you need help navigating relationships this season? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

This is how porn affects the brain

this-is-how-porn-affects-the-brain-banner

After Pamela Anderson spoke up about the harmful effects of pornography in recent months, the epidemic has been given more attention by the media. The fact is though, porn has been affecting people for years. And while it is often viewed as ‘normal,’ and even ‘harmless’, research has shown that viewing porn has the exact opposite effect on people.

This infographic by Fight The New Drug explains what pornography does to the brain. Like any other addiction, it creates a cycle of dependency in the brain and literally rewires it chemically to crave porn. The more you consume, results in less of a reaction, which means the person needs harder and more graphic porn to receive the same high they received when they started.

Aside from the detrimental affect porn has on the brain, it also dramatically impacts peoples over all health and relationships. People who view porn are often struggle with feelings of depression, stress and anxiety, and their sexual desire, levels of aggression and perceptions of the opposite sex are also impacted. This is why relationships suffer when one partner views porn, and many break down.

To find out more about porn’s affect on the brain, visit Fight the New Drug.

this-is-how-porn-affects-the-brain

Is pornography affecting your relationships or wellbeing? Is your partner or a loved one addicted to porn? 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.

7 things to consider before you enter a relationship

7-things-to-consider-before-you-enter-a-relationship

Many people are looking for “the one.” And regardless of whether they exist in such a way, the idea of entering a relationship has become so romanticized that a casual date can lead to thoughts of wedding bells.

Before you enter a relationship, in fact, before you set foot on the dating scene, you need to consider what qualities and attributes you want in a life partner. And we’re not talking physical attributes like “blond hair, blue-eyed, 6-foot-1-inch tall athlete with an attractive amount of stubble.”

We’re talking deal-breakers that will define a relationship and, should you choose to marry that person, your life.

If you’re already in a relationship, how you deal with differences in core values may vary due to the unique nature of each couple. However, if you’re single, there are some baseline non-negotiables to wrap your head around before you enter a relationship.

Respect

A healthy relationship of any sort is built on mutual respect. If someone doesn’t respect you with their words, behaviours and actions now, then chances are they won’t when you build a life together.

Be aware of your worth as a human being, and don’t be afraid to look for someone who will show this to you in a relationship. Your core beliefs around respecting yourself, others and the people you love will automatically filter out anyone who doesn’t value people or relationships in the same way.

Sex

Make your mind up about sex before you begin exploring these boundaries, otherwise the decision is made for you. You need to decide where “the line” is, and find someone who will respect this. You need to set up boundaries that will help you honour one another.

[Marriage] is no small privilege, so don’t rush yourself or compromise and move in together before you are ready to or just to meet the status quo.

There’s so much to discuss in this area including sexual history, boundaries around pornographic images, sexting. Sexuality isn’t just about the physical but everything that engages that part of who we are.

Children

In most cases, it’s best to hold off on conversations about children until you know your relationship could be headed somewhere. However, it’s still essential to know if you want children. This will determine what sort of family values a potential partner must hold.

Consider the number of children you’d like to have (if any), and be certain on your views surrounding contraception, adoption and fertility treatments as well. Details and numbers can change over time, but your family values shouldn’t.

As you become more serious, details about how you want to raise a family will also become deal breakers. Make sure you have a united front with the future parent of your children so you can direct and nurture them.

Political views

Politics can seem secondary to life-altering decisions like getting married and having kids, but it still plays a role in a healthy relationship. Ask yourself: Is it important that a potential partner shares the same political views as you? Does this translate to how they choose to vote (if at all), and how would this impact your future children?

Beyond party lines, consider your views on abortion, same-sex marriage, global warming, incarceration and global injustice. You’ll want to agree with your future spouse on most, if not all, of these issues.

If politics is a contentious issue for you, then the ideology of a potential partner must match your own. Couples can, and will, disagree on things, but it’s essential they respect each other enough to allow for their differences and still stand united. 

Gender roles

It goes without saying that you deserve to be with someone who sees you as an equal. However, knowing where you stand on gender roles will play a fundamental role in any future relationships you have.

Do your research, talk to couples you respect and read books on the subject. I recommend The Liberating Truth by Danielle Strickland.

Your stance on women’s and men’s roles in the church, home, workplace and during sex will ultimately dictate what sort of ideals and behaviours you are looking for in a partner. A couple can still function if they disagree on this, but there must be some sort of compromise as this will dictate every aspect of your life and your relationship.

Marriage

Contrary to popular belief, a date over coffee doesn’t equate to marriage.

However, your values around marriage need to be identified early on in a relationship.

Do you want to get married? Is this something you want in your immediate future, or do you have plans to fly solo for a few years? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, someone else will answer them for you. This could lead to an environment of distrust, doubt and frustration that won’t just hurt you but also the person you’re dating.

Ultimately, marriage is about serving your spouse.

This is no small privilege, so don’t rush yourself or compromise and rush into a relationship before you are ready to or just to meet the status quo.

Religious beliefs

It’s not as simple as finding out whether someone shares the same religious views as you. It’s about how this is expressed in their life.  You need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable having a partner who has a different belief system to you, and how strong a role you want this to play in their life. Because ultimately, it will impact you and any children you may have.

These may be hard questions to answer—especially when you’re interested in someone—but it’s best to determine what faith and religion means to you before you are swept up in romance and a deal-breaker becomes a “maybe.” 

This article was adapted from RELEVANT magazine’s ‘7 non-negotiables in every relationship’ by the same author.

Are you looking for ‘the 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.

It’s time to take a break from social media

It’s time to take a break from social media

I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I read the comments. Yet I compulsively kept scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking back to see if anybody else had responded.

It was the morning after the US election, and my news feed had lit up with over-arching statements, generalities and sharp, personal attacks. Like most millennials, I spend a disproportionate time in front of my phone screen, often to the detriment of my own health. The social commentary around the election had only elevated this, and over a period of three days I felt increasingly anxious, lethargic and unwell.

Technically, I should have stepped back from social media as soon as I became unsettled: but it’s like a drug. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, and the last thing I see at night. And even when I feel the negative side effects, it only takes one ‘like’ to receive the hit of gratification I need to keep going through the day.

I know it’s unhealthy, but as someone who works in communications, using social media is part and the parcel of my life. Yet after those few days of feeling depressed, I finally realised just how dangerous my social media obsession was, and I had to stop.

After I deleted Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snap Chat off my phone I didn’t feel incredibly different. But over the few days I spent on ‘sabbatical’ from my personal social media, I detoxed. The negativity, anxiety and anger ebbed away, and I regained some control of my emotional wellbeing.

I don’t have a perfect remedy to the negative side effects of social media, largely because I do enjoy using it. Facebook gives me the ability to connect with friends on the other side of the world, stay up-to-date with news, and do business. But now I’m back on, I realise I need to control it, rather than every comment, smiley face or emoji controlling me.

It’s not easy to step back from social media, but sometimes your own wellbeing requires you to put up boundaries in cyberspace as well as in real life. Here’s some indicators you may need your own social media sabbatical.

  1. You check it compulsively

It’s normal to check your social media regularly, but if you’re struggling to get through the hour without scrolling through your news feed, it’s time to stop. Social media should add value to your life, not detract from you actually living it.

  1. You have FOMO

FOMO (Fear of missing out) comes from a place of deep insecurity and a need for acceptance. Checking Twitter to stay ‘in the loop’ and finding value in the conversations, events and photos you’re in only adds to this mindset and will leave you unhappy.

  1. It’s compromising your real-life relationships

Online relationships are never a substitute for real life relationships. If your social media is detracting from time spent investing in your marriage, couple relationship, family time or friendships, you need to reprioritise.

  1. It’s distracting you

If you’re taking a Snap Chat while a friend is talking to you, you’re ignoring them. And while it’s become increasingly acceptable to be on social media while we’re with our friends and family, its essential we draw boundaries to keep our face-to-face interactions sacred.

The same goes for the work place. If you’re spending more time on your own social media than doing paid work, either behind a desk or with clients, it’s time to readjust your habits.

  1. You’ve created a pseudo identity

Some people create a false identity online with a different name and life for themselves. More often than not though, we keep our name but embellish our identity.

That means we only share ‘impressive’ images, great selfies, speak a certain way, or create hidden relationships in cyberspace. People online aren’t seeing a true representation us, and basing our identity on this is unhealthy and can be damaging.

  1. It negatively impacts your emotions

If being online causes to feel anxious, angry, agitated, depressed or nauseous, it’s time for a break. You may not even realise social media is cause of these feelings (and often the physical symptoms accompanying them), especially if this is a regular occurrence.

To test this, write down how you are feeling immediately after you check your social media. Then spend half a day free of it, and write down how you are feeling. Compare your lists: is there any difference? Before you check it again, write down any feelings you have. If you feel anxious or agitated by compulsion to use social media you’ll notice and can adjust your habits accordingly.

Are you addicted to social media? Does the idea of not being online make you feel anxious? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now to book on the online diary.

27 bloggers who overcame tragedy to inspire the world

27-bloggers-who-overcame-tragedy-to-inspire-the-world

When we’re faced with a crisis or a shock diagnosis, we’ll often feel isolated and alone. Financial hardship, relationship issues, chronic illness and bullying can throw a definitive punch, and we’re left reeling. Never mind making plans for the future, it can be difficult enough taking it a day-at-a-time.

When we go through hard times, they’re made a little easier when we realise we’re not alone. Friends, family and professional help can help us to dig our way out and find new purpose for living.

Hearing inspiring stories by people who have been there before can also give us the gusto to keep fighting. Laura Tong of PositivelyHappy.me put together this list of 27 bloggers who have overcome great adversity and now share their wisdom with the world.

Ranging in nationality, occupation and experience, this phenomenal group of people all have something unique to offer if you are going through a hard time. Take a look at the list here, and scroll through until you find a topic that resonates with you.

There’s no easy solution to our struggles, but a little inspiration goes a long way. Thanks for sharing this fabulous list with us Laura!

Have you experienced a crises or tragedy? Do you need help navigating the future? 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.

20 inspiring quotes to kickstart your day

20-inspiring-quotes-to-kickstart-your-day

I am not a morning person. In fact, when my alarm goes off, I’d much rather turn over and sleep the day away. Eventually, a long to-do list and responsibilities get me out of bed, but it takes me a few hours to fully wake up and be productive.

People struggle to ‘get up’ for many reasons—fear, stress, depression, anxiety or laziness are all issues we deal with at one time or another. So what keeps you from getting out of bed and facing the day?

There’s no easy solution to waking up (we’ll leave that for another blog), but if need some motivation to get up with your alarm, then these inspiring quotes could give you the kickstart you need.

Write them out and place them by your bed. When the alarm goes off in the morning, repeat these to yourself and be empowered to start your day positively.

When you wake up anxious

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

—Corrie ten Boom

“Write it on your heart

that every day is the best day in the year.

He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day

who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety. “

—Ralph Waldo Emmerson

“Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

—T.S. Eliot

“Anxiety's like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far.”

Jodi Picoult

 

When you need motivation

“I want to live my life in such a way that when I get out of bed in the morning, the devil says, “aw shit, he's up!”

Steve Maraboli

“Life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly…but merely to be LIVED. Boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically LIVED.”

Mandy Hale

“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

—Kurt Vonnegut

“What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?”

—John Green

When you wake up afraid

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do your thing and don't care if they like it.”

Tina Fey

“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.”

— Donald Miller

“Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

Veronica Roth

 

When you wake up feeling stressed

“Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.”

—Howard Thurman

“You don't need a plan; you just need to be present.”

—Bob Goff

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

—William James

“We cannot change anything unless we accept it.”

C.G. Jung

 

If you struggle with depression

“Don’t give up. Don’t give up on your story. Don’t give up on the people you love. Hope is real. Love is real. It’s all worth fighting for.”

Jamie Tworkowski

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

Albert Camus

“I am stronger than depression and I am braver than loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

C.S. Lewis

Are mornings difficult for you? Do you feel stressed, anxious or depressed? 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

 

The Enneagram: Understanding Wings

the-enneagram-understanding-wings

Just like every person is different, each personality type has its nuances. On the Enneagram, we can understand this better by looking at the idea of ‘wings’. This principle says that each of us lean towards the personality types next door to us, and show characteristics of these numbers.

For instance, at its core, a Type 6 is a Loyalist. But those who have a strong inclination towards the cerebral nature of the 5 will be characterised as a Defender, where as those who are more free-spirited like the 7, will be characterised as a Buddy.

Take a look at our newest Enneagram infographic and learn what the wings looks like for all nine personality types. You can also go to our Enneagram page for free downloads of every personality type.

enneagram-wings

Do you want to know more about the Enneagram? Would you like to better understand yourself and the people around you? 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.

 

5 ways to practice positive self talk

5-ways-to-practice-positive-self-talk

One of the first strategies I ever learnt in counselling was self talk. Initially it sounded strange—who talks to themselves? But I soon found it was one of the simplest ways to overcome fear and anxiety in my own life.

Though we don’t talk about it, we all have our own inner monologue. Whether we think, “I looked stupid,” “I hope they like me,” or “I feel confident today,” it’s what goes through our heads each day. And the monologue you have will depend on the truths and lies you have believed about yourself.

Self-talk challenges this monologue and enables us to change our thinking and our behaviour. Here are five ways you can practice it in your own life.

  1. “I am enough”

Many people struggle with feelings of inferiority and have a fear of rejection. You may have grown up feeling like you had to compete for attention, or had words spoken to you by significant figures, stating that you were worthless, a failure or would amount to nothing in life.

When you feel this anxiety and loneliness, repeat these words to yourself: “I am enough”. You won’t believe them straight away, but use these words to give you confidence that you will get through your circumstances. As you keep saying these words and outliving them, eventually you will believe them about yourself.

  1. “I am brave”

Are you afraid of a certain person, an activity or an environment? Repeat the words, “I am brave,” to yourself, and challenge your inner monologue that says you are fearful, inconsequential and should be taken  advantage of.

Follow these words by doing what you are afraid of—speaking up for yourself, leaving a poisonous relationship, or trying something new. You will enforce your self talk and soon, you will realise that you are incredibly brave and do not have to let fear control you.

  1. “I am worthy”

Do people take advantage of you, speak down to you or say that everything they do wrong is your fault? Repeat the phrase, “I am worthy,” so you begin to believe that you deserve better than this. By simply existing, you are worthy of love, respect, value and feeling safe.

Next time someone challenges this belief, stand up for yourself. You don’t have to waiver or be fearful that you are ‘wrong’ to speak up. You are worthy of having a voice and being heard.

  1. “I am responsible for my actions and feelings”

If you struggle to take responsibility for your actions or words, begin to repeat this phrase to yourself: “I am responsible for my actions and feelings ”. By saying this, you break the cycle of blame and empower yourself to change your circumstances.

Saying these words does not make you entirely responsible for a situation or excuse the behaviour of another; it just allows you to take control of what you can change. When you take responsibility for yourself, you can begin a new chapter in your life.

  1. “I can do this”

These are simple words, but if you doubt yourself or are unconvinced you can overcome a situation, addiction or behaviour, then saying, “I can do this,” will compel you to move forward.

Challenge your inner belief that says you are a failure, and repeat this phrase to yourself before you go to a significant appointment, have cravings, or are ready to run away and live in denial.

Do you struggle with your inner monologue? Would you like to learn more about positive self talk? 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.

4 Steps to Manage Conflict

 

4-Steps-to-Manage-Conflict

People either embrace conflict or run from it. How we deal with it shapes our relationships and wellbeing, and if an issue is left unresolved, it can damage our couple relationship, the family unit, friendships and our work environment.

If conflict is avoided, left unresolved or approached unhealthily, it can cause people to become hurt and angry. It adds to confusion and can keep us from taking advantage of new opportunities.

However, it does have advantages. Conflict is a natural part of life, and provokes things to change. Some life lessons can only be learned through conflict, and these scenarios can also give us a greater capacity to become flexible, patient and understanding people.

Next time conflict arises, follow these steps and make it a positive experience.

Step 1: Treat the person with respect
Whether you have a problem with your spouse or a stranger, remember that the person isn’t the issue—their behaviour is. Avoid using language that insinuates they are ‘bad,’ ‘wrong,’ or ‘stupid,’ and instead use inclusive words, which allow you to empathise with them.

Step 2: Listen until you experience the other side
When you enter conflict, remove the mindset that you must ‘win’ or prove that you are ‘right’. Instead, make it your goal to understand the other person’s thoughts and ideas. Actively listen to what they are saying, and appreciate what their words mean to them. Put yourself in their shoes by asking yourself how they are feeling and what prompted their actions.

Step 3: State your feelings, needs and views briefly
It is important that you express your point of view and concerns, but do so with empathy. Avoid loaded questions that will startle them or put them on the offensive, and be honest about your feelings. Take ownership of the fact that while their behaviour impacts you; you choose to feel a certain way. Don’t skirt around the edges, insinuating what you mean. Speak honestly and mean what you say.

Step 4: Move on to problem solving if needed

If your conflict requires an active solution, rather than just a mutual respect of each other’s opinions, begin problem solving together. Depending on the quality of your relationship, you may need a mediator or counsellor to help you through this process. Problem solving will help you to define the problem, identify possible solutions and evaluate the possibilities that come from these. Once you have decided on a solution together, begin to initiate it.

This blog was put together using information from the Victorian Youth Mental Health Alliance, the Gippsland Mentoring Alliance and the book ‘People Skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others and resolve conflicts’ by R Bolton (1986).

Do you struggle with conflict? Would you like a mediator to help you manage this in your couple, family or work-related relationships? Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.