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.

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

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

27 bloggers who overcame tragedy to inspire the world

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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.

25 Thoughts for Better Living

25 Thoughts for Better Living

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing When Hope Speaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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