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!

How to have a positive mindset

How-to-have-a-positive-mindset

It’s easy to pour compliments on other people, but showing love to ourselves is another challenge entirely. Often we see ourselves negatively, and critically compare our ‘weaknesses’ and ‘flaws’ to the so-called perfections of the people around us.

The truth is though, that we are worthy of love. In fact, we are just as deserving as the person we perceive to have it all-together, who in reality, is probably also self-conscious too. So how do we start showing ourselves love?

By changing our mindset. In this infographic by Simply Stepping, we are given a list of common complaints we have about ourselves.

“I can’t do any better!”

”I’m so fat.”

“I look stupid.”

Does this sound familiar to you? By challenging these thoughts and reframing them to something more positive, we slowly change our mindset to one of self-love and infinite worth.

So next time you think, “I’m not as good looking as them, no one could ever love me,” grab the thought and change it to, “When I compare myself with others I waste my precious time and energy. My beauty is defined within, and the people that matter love me for me.”

Take a look at the infographic and see what negative mindsets you can change this week. Start with one and see how you go. Overtime, you’ll begin to believe what you’re saying, and will be made stronger by your own self-love.

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Do you often criticize yourself? Would you like to develop a positive mindset? 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.

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.

5 ways to manage your emotions

Are you out-of-touch with your emotions? Or do you feel a little too much, and consequently carry the world on your shoulders? Everyone has a different level of natural empathy and emotional intuitiveness, but we all need some help to regulate our emotions—whether we are aware of them or not.

Science can help us to normalise our natural emotional responses, and make them healthier. The team at Real Way of Life are frequently asked about modern science and how it can be applied to the management of emotional problems. They’ve put together this handy infographic, explaining how five key points can guide us in caring for our own emotional health.

  1. Two ways of activation: Whether we naturally respond to things by thinking them through, or acting them out. This leads to our emotional response.
  2. Modalities: Our tendency to immerse ourselves in sociality, or live in a fight, flight or freeze manner.
  3. Emotional triggers: What causes our emotions and corresponding actions.
  4. Physiology: The effect of constant stress on the body, our genetic code, how we internally respond to stimuli (e.g. exercise)
  5. Multilevel action: Understanding that different factors influence our emotional health and managing each accordingly. (e.g. Biological make up, relationships, social tendencies, diet and health, neurological factors).

Developed through their years of experience and research, each point shows the spectrum of emotional tendencies, physiological responses and factors that influence and trigger our emotions.

Take a look at the infographic below, and consider where you fall on the scale of empathy and response. If you find yourself resonating with one in particular, do some more research, and try adjusting your mindset or behaviour to better moderate your emotions.

Do you want to learn to regulate your emotions? Would you like help to adjust your mindset and behaviours? 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.

10 reasons you’re becoming burnt out

Burn out. Two words no one wants to hear but we all must succumb too eventually. Anyone who has been burnt out will tell you it occurs when you’re at the end of your rope. Your body is exhausted, your mind is exhausted, and you’re entire being refuses to get up and function. At its best we break down and it takes us out of work for a few weeks. At its worse, burn out is totally debilitating, and can cause long-term of permanent illness.

Are you becoming burnt out? Take a look at our checklist, and if you tick the box on three or more of the following indicators, you could be headed towards burn out. That means one thing: you need to stop and rest.

  1. You feel constant lethargy

If once-enjoyable activities have become chores, waking up has become an ordeal, and you just feel ‘bleh,’ you could on the road to burn out. Our bodies will often shown signs of exhaustion before we accept the reality of it ourselves. Lethargy can occur for a number of reasons, so see your GP for a diagnosis.

  1. You refuse to stop

If your schedule is full, you never take a sick day, and you’re always focused on the next thing you ‘have’ to do, your body will eventually stop functioning in protest. Start setting aside time for you, and don’t be afraid to create space in your day when you have nothing to do.

  1. You always say ‘yes’

It’s great to help out our friends and family, and wonderful to do the things we love. But if you feel pressure to say ‘yes’ every time someone asks for a favour, you’re on a one-way street to burn out. Remember, saying ‘no’ to something can mean a bigger ‘yes’ to others—including yourself.

  1. You avoid seeing a professional

If you’ve put off seeing the GP or avoid seeing a counsellor or psychologist when you have the niggling feeling you need too, there’s a good chance you’re in denial about your body or mind’s condition. Ask a friend to help you make an appointment and keep it. You may just save yourself from extreme burn out.

  1. You experience anxiety or panic attacks

If you feel anxious about situations that never used to trouble you, live in a constant state of perpetual anxiety or have panic attacks, these are indicators that your body could be getting burnt out. If this is you, talk to a counsellor about your physical, emotional and mental well-being.

  1. You eat unhealthy foods

If meal preparation is a thing of the past and you live off fast food or frozen meals, you’re time poor and probably very stressed: two indicators you’re on your way to burn out. Start making healthy eating a priority again, and your body will start to heal.

  1. You struggle to exercise

It’s highly likely you’re an active person who is always on their feet, but if you struggle to set aside time to exercise, your body is suffering. Go running, sign up at the gym, play sport, do Pilates, try yoga or take the dog for a walk. Just set aside time three times a week to care for your body.

  1. You never see your loved ones

You may see your family every night and your friends at work, but if you haven’t spent time with them outside of these everyday scenarios in awhile, you could be too caught up in your schedule and routine—a potential route to burn out. Leisure time with the people we love is good for our emotional wellbeing, so make time for it.

  1. You’re constantly stressed

If you’re stressed about work, stressed about your relationships, stressed about your diet and stressed about feeling stressed—you’re close to burn out. A high heart rate, sweaty palms and tense muscles means your body is in fight or flight mode. This leads to frequent illness, muscle spasms and depression. Making time for meditation, a walk or a nap is a good way to start de-stressing your life.

  1. You have no time

If you’re feeling stressed about the time you need to make for self care, and tense up at the thought of re-arranging your schedule, there’s a good chance you’re close to burn out. It is difficult to stop, but it is harder to recover from burn out. And as capable as you may be, no one is exempt from it. So make the decision to stop and rest.

Are you becoming burnt out? Do you struggle to rest? 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.

Who am I? The key to understanding yourself

Who am i

We all have a moment when we’re not sure who we are anymore. The people we were closest to may have fed us lies about our identity, either putting us on a pedestal, or making us feel useless. Or perhaps you carry a different persona at work, in private, socially and with family. You feel stretched a million different ways to be what everyone else expects you to be. All the while, you have lost sight of yourself.

So how do you answer the question, ‘Who am I?’ When all your expectations, routines, loved ones and habits fade away, how do you define yourself?

When we know ourselves—truly, inexplicably understand what drives us, and who we are at our core, we are able to live more fulfilling lives. We are physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally healthier, and as a result all our relationships also become more complete.

A great place to start the journey to knowing yourself is learning about the Enneagram. We’ve previously discussed this personality theory in depth, but if you’re overwhelmed by numbers, characteristics or even the sense that you’re too lost to begin, this new infographic is for you.

We’ve listed each of the nine personality types below, along with the defining trait of each. The key is to place the phrase ‘I am the…’ at the beginning of each. So whether you resonate more with ‘I am the achiever,’ ‘I am the loyalist,’ ‘I am the challenger’ or ‘I am the peacemaker,’ you will find out which personality type you best relate to.

You won’t pinpoint your type immediately, and often we will see ourselves in a few different numbers before we identify our core. So select the ones that most sound like you, or who you think you are, and visit our Enneagram page for more details on your type. After reading through a couple of personalities, you’ll likely find yourself corresponding with one. You’ll think, ‘That’s how I communicate,’ or ‘I often feel this way’.

Look at the traits of your personality type, and see whether you are motivated by your head, heart or gut. Your fears, dreams, motivations and even relationships will become clearer when you understand this about yourself, and if you desire you can keep researching more information about how to be the healthiest version of this type possible.

Aside from our blogs about the Enneagram, we also highly recommend visiting The Enneagram Institute for more information about each personality type and a quiz.

What are you waiting for? Take a look at our list below, and see which personality type you resonate with. The journey to knowing yourself starts here.

Enneagramsummary

Find out more information on:

Type 1— The Perfectionist | Type 2 — The Helper | Type 3 — The Achiever

Type 4 — The Romantic | Type 5 — The Observer | Type 6 — The Loyalist |

Type 7 — The Optimist | Type 8 — The Challenger | Type 9— The Peacemaker

View our FREE Enneagram downloads here.

Do you want to begin the journey to knowing yourself? Would you like to learn about the Enneagram? 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

12 ways to practice self awareness

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Being self aware dramatically changes how we live. Understanding how we feel and why, what we are thinking, and how we are being perceived means we can facilitate better relationships privately and professionally.

Peter Guber, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, owner of the Golden State Warriors and best selling author, even said that self awareness is ‘the most important skill for career success’. So how do we become more self aware—especially when we’re scared about what we’ll find out?

Huffington Post and The Utopian Life put together this infographic, giving 12 steps to practice self awareness in your own life. Starting with asking yourself ‘why?’ every time to make a decision, to changing your posture, monitoring your self talk, being accountable, knowing your personality type and practicing meditation, try a couple of these practices this week and see what you learn about yourself.

12-essential-self-awareness-excercises

Do you want to become more self aware? Would you like to practice these exercises with the help of a professional? 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.

Let’s leave 2016 behind

let-us-leave-2016-behind

After speaking to my friends and loved ones about this year, the general consensus is that 2016 was very…long. People have lost loved ones, battled with physical or mental illness, and have encountered new conflicts at home and work. With the addition of global and national crises and politics, it’s fair to say that a lot of us would like to leave 2016 behind.

We all hold out for the moment the clock hits midnight on January 1, hoping it will usher in a new season of hope, change, growth and beauty. But that doesn’t necessarily happen—especially when we hold on to old habits, relationships and beliefs that weigh us down.

To move on from 2016, we have to do more than scream and cheer at midnight. We need to make the decision that 2017 is going to be our year, no matter what we’re faced with. And that starts with being grateful for what went right this year.

Make a list of everything that went right this year. It may be short, but these moments reflect what to hold onto in the new year. Things like healthy relationships, going to counselling, taking up a new exercise regime or proactively dealing with conflict could all make the list.

From here, it’s time to make a list of everything that you want to leave in 2016. It could be illness, anxiety, an unhealthy or broken relationship, negative thought patterns, unhealthy eating habits, a broken heart, an abusive work place or fear of the future.

It’s one thing to list what you dislike about this year, it’s another to make sure you don’t carry this into 2017. So start at the top, and work your way down. Most, if not all of these issues will take a lot of work and you will see patterns re-emerging in the new year. However, once you’re aware of them, you have the power to change each situation.

Instead of resolving to change one thing in the new year, make a commitment to keep working on yourself over the 52 weeks to come. This could mean going to see a doctor and talking about strategies for managing your health. It may involve weekly date nights with your spouse, finding a new job, practicing mindfulness each day, or booking an appointment to see a counsellor.

2017 won’t be perfect, but it will be different to 2016 because you have made the choice to let go of the past and make significant changes in your life.

Happy new year friends. May 2017 be the most hope-filled year yet.

Do you want to leave 2016 behind? Would you like to create positive change in the new year? 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.

When the holidays aren’t the happiest time of the year

when-the-holidays-are-not-the-happiest-time-of-the-year

During the holidays, there’s an overwhelming sense that we should be happy. Christmas carols are sung, decorations are put up, family and friends reunite and people swap gifts. All of these activities can be wonderful, joyous things. But for many of us, they’re not—and that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons the holidays can be difficult, notably the fact that it feels like everyone expects you to be ‘happy’ and have the Christmas spirit.  But if we’re honest, that’s not always possible.

The holidays are a time when grief comes to the forefront. If we have lost a loved one, recently or in years past, we remember them all the more clearly when they’re not celebrating with us.

If a relationship has broken down with our spouse or significant other, Christmas can be an awkward time. We feel lonely, and disappointed that our life isn’t going the way we planned. If the relationship has affected children or extended family, this becomes even more paramount, as they try to maintain a congenial relationship with both parties.

Having to see an ex over the holidays, or feeling like you must ‘share’ your family with them makes the season fraught with tension.

If a loved one is experiencing a debilitating illness like dementia, depression or chronic fatigue, the need to care for them can take over any festive spirit we have. We wrestle with anxiety, frustration and anger, desperately trying to give them a wonderful Christmas experience at the expense of our own.

Or if we are ill, we are simply unable to join in the celebrations or enjoy them in any capacity. Whether we’re stuck at home, are in hospital, or are consumed by thoughts or feelings of anxiety, we feel isolated and lonely.

Throw in elements such as distance, monetary stress, estranged relationships with the family, trauma and work pressure, and this season can fall well short of the ‘happiest time of the year’ everyone boasts about.

So where does this leave those of us who don’t feel festive, but are expected to celebrate anyway?

It’s important you know it’s okay to feel broken this season. If you feel pressure to ‘get over it’ and your loved ones don’t understand your struggle, you don’t have to justify it to them. Recognise that your experience is just as valid as the friend who sings Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. Accept that your holiday season looks different to theirs, and know it’s okay.

When we accept our own brokenness and pain, we are able to work through it.

If you are grieving, use the holidays as a tribute to a loved one you miss. Visit their grave, or do their favourite activity in remembrance of them.

If you are heartbroken, allow yourself to cry, and then feel the love of your friends and family.

If your loved one is ill, give yourself permission to rest for a moment before you continue caring for them.

If conflict arises and there is no easy resolution, table the issue and give yourself permission to tackle it in the new year.

If you are alone, volunteer, attend a local church service, or a find a community group to belong to for the day.

If you are sick, love your mind and your body for what it does bring to Christmas Day—you. And despite the confines illness puts you in, give yourself permission to smile if you feel like it.

If the holidays are difficult time for you, tell a friend why. You don’t have to explain your feelings to the whole family or friendship group, but by opening up to a person you trust—someone who is empathetic and understands—you will find strength to get through the season.

If you find yourself in a crisis during the day, call a 24/7 hotline (find a list of international hotlines here).

It is okay to feel broken this holiday season, so be gracious with yourself. You can survive this Christmas, and you will.

Are you dreading the holidays? Do you want to begin the new year afresh? 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.