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

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.

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

The Enneagram: Understanding Wings

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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.

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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

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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

 

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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.

Meet Joy, the new chat-bot that tracks your mental health

Meet-Joy

Earlier this year we did a countdown of the best mindfulness apps on the market. Now a new app, or technically a ‘chat-bot’, is on the scene, and it’s got everyone’s attention.

Named Joy, the bot is downloaded as an extension to your Facebook Messenger, enabling you to communication with the app like you would a friend. Not only does Joy track your mood, it also assesses how you are feeling, monitors your daily activities and suggests meditation and self-care techniques to benefit your health. Think of it as a built in best friend, who asks you about the nitty-gritty details of your life once a day.

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It’s important to note that Joy is still in the beginning stages. While the app gives you weekly reports on your mood and can ‘chat’ with you, it can’t yet understand everything you say. Created for people who aren’t seeing a professional therapist or counsellor, or who don’t regularly monitor their mental health, in the future it will encourage users to seek professional support.

This new take on self-care and suicide prevention has received attention from numerous outlets, such as The Mighty and Hello Giggles. According to Venture Beat, app creator Danny Freed created the bot after he lost a friend to suicide.

“My goal is not to replace therapists but rather to get more people who are in need to see a trained professional,” he said. “Right now, it’s pretty simple, but in the future, it could connect you with a trained human therapist or even perform basic reminders and routine check-ins automatically”.

You can find out more by visiting hellojoy.ai online. Due to an onslaught of traffic its servers have struggled, so visit Joy on Twitter as well.

Do you feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed? Do you need some support monitoring your mental heath? Then 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 she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

10 Ways to Break Negative Thinking

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We all have negative thoughts every now and then, but there are times when they rule our lives. For people who are depressed, having a negative mindset can be both a symptom and a contributing factor to the illness.

In his book, ‘Feeling Better,’ Dr Antony Kidman identifies three thought processes that are common in depression-prone people. They are

  • a negative view of self,
  • a negative view of the world and
  • a negative view of the future.

Can you identify these mindsets in your own life? If you find yourself spiralling into negative thoughts, there is a way to break the cycle. Here are ten ways to break your negative thinking.

  1. Challenge your perception of ‘all or nothing’

Life isn’t black and white, so when we define ourselves by categories or achievements, we perpetuate negative thinking. Consider an A or A+ student. When they just pass, they can fall into the mindset of ‘I am a failure’.

You can challenge this all or nothing paradigm by considering your situation from another person’s point-of-view. Think about the best and worst of the situation, and recognise that this categorical thought process is a distorted and unrealistic way of thinking.

  1. Stop catastrophising a situation

When we are uncertain about the future, we tend to exaggerate the circumstances around upcoming events. This means that instead of expecting the best, we automatically jump to the worst conclusion possible.

For example, if your boss calls you into a meeting, you might exaggerate how they spoke to you that morning, imagining they are about to fire you. However, this is extremely unlikely, and in fact, they are about to praise you for your work. You can stop catastrophising by listing all the possible outcomes of an event (good and bad), and asking a friend for their perspective.

  1. Remember it’s not all about you

There’s nothing worse than seeing someone frown or give you a snide side-glance. You imagine that every negative comment is a passive attack on you, and the people are perpetually annoyed by your presence. This is a personalisation thought process.

Challenge this thinking by remembering this simple fact: you are not the centre of their universe, and that’s ok. It is extremely unlikely people are responding to you in these cases, and even if they did have a problem, it is their responsibility to approach you about it.

  1. Don’t predict the future

Misfortune telling occurs when we imagine the future in a totally negative light. This thought process prevents you from having a balanced and realistic view of the world and the opportunities ahead of you.

Challenge this thought process by considering the best possible outcome in a situation. Remember the good things you have experienced in the past, and use this as a shield to stop your negative predictions of the future.

  1. Try not to overgeneralise

Over-generalisation inhibits our confidence by suggesting a negative experience will always happen in certain situations. Like when a person is rejected for a date—they may then assume they will never fall in love, there is something wrong with them, and people find them repulsive.

When you start down this rabbit hole, challenge your over-generalisations with rationality. One rejection or failure is not a map for the future; it is a single event that has the potential to pan out differently in another place or time.

  1. Pay attention to the positive details

If you ignore positivity, you will get caught in negative thoughts and feelings of sadness. Even the good becomes bland, and we can become cynical and bored.

You can challenge your negative thoughts by looking for positive details—a delicious meal, a warm hug, or the sun peaking through the clouds. Write in a diary every day, and you will be surprised by how many wonderful things occur for you in a week!

  1. Stop jumping to conclusions

False conclusions are just that—false. But when we jump to them in the heat of the moment, they seem real and plausible. Our own insecurities cause us to misread people and circumstances, and bring us to negative conclusions.

You can challenge this thought process by identifying other factors happening around you. For instance, your friend may not have responded to your text straight away, but it’s unlikely they are annoyed with you. In fact, they’re probably just busy or have run out of credit.

  1. Don’t expect people to read your mind

Couples can tell you first-hand how dangerous this thought process is. When we expect people to read our minds and ‘just know’ what we need and how we feel, we will nearly always be disappointed. In turn, we jump to false conclusions and become unhappy with the people around us.

You can challenge this mindset by voicing your concerns and needs. Next time you get annoyed because your spouse isn’t doing the ‘right thing’, consider this question: ‘Have I actually asked them for help, or do I just expect them to know I need it’?

  1. Challenge irrational beliefs

Most people have beliefs that are unfounded. We believe that we ‘should’ do things, and that we ‘must’ fulfil certain expectations. These irrational beliefs make us feel isolated, burn out and cynical.

Challenge your irrational beliefs by changing your mindsets. Instead of ‘I must’ or ‘I never’, think, ‘I would prefer to do this’. Dare to sit-out an activity your irrational belief compels you to do. When you break these beliefs, you stop striving for an unattainable perfection.

  1. Practice self-talk

When we feel depressed or are consumed by negative thoughts, we get upset of a secondary disturbance. This thought process means that we get more upset about our negative feelings. For instance, someone who is depressed may think, ‘I should not be depressed’, and so feel even worse.

You can challenge this belief by practicing positive self-talk. Say to yourself, ‘It is okay to feel this way,’ ‘This feeling will pass,’ and ‘Positive things are ahead’. You might even try meditation or mindfulness to overcome this negative mindset.

Do you struggle with negative thought patterns? Would you like to break free? 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.

This blog was written with the assistance of Dr Antony Kidman’s book ‘Feeling Better: A Guide to Mood Management’.

Is Pokémon Go Good for Your Mental Health?

Is-Pokemon-Go-Good-for-Your-Mental-Health

When Pokémon Go launched two weeks ago, it took the world seconds to become obsessed with the game. Based on the manga characters that spawned card games, movies and TV shows in the 90s, the new game allows phone users to catch monsters (known as Pokémon) in real time.

This means that wherever you live, you will find colourful creatures popping up on your phone screen, giving you the chance to add them to your inventory, train them up and battle against other users.

Video games have generally been frowned upon in the past, and are acknowledged as a factor in declining mental and physical health, but this could change with Pokémon Go. If someone you know is addicted to the game, here are the pros and cons of their new obsession.

  1. Physical activity

Unlike most video games, Pokémon Go requires players to get outside and move around. As a result, closet gamers are leaving the house and exercising. Walking, skateboarding or bike riding are all great options for covering more ground in an effort to ‘catch them all’.

Pokémon Go is a great compromise for people who struggle with exercise but love virtual reality. This in turn benefits their physical health and over all wellbeing. Just take a look at what people are saying on social media.

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That being said, it’s difficult to be aware of your surroundings when you’re playing, and people can (literally and figuratively) run into all sorts of trouble.

  1. Socialising

Gaming can be a solitary activity, but this app is prompting people head outside in groups to spend hours tracking down Pokémon. This makes it easy for people to make new friends, because players will congregate in the same areas.

James Gibson, who trialed the game for Niantic (the maker of Pokémon Go), even said socialising is built-in to the game.

“The individual gets a certain amount of enjoyment playing by themselves, but only really benefit by teaming up with others and playing in same area at same time…You're forced into a social aspect to unlock the full richness of the game.”

There is a red flag to this socialisation—after all, people have their heads stuck behind their phones. But if this is balanced with conversation and general camaraderie, Pokémon Go could be a gateway to healthier community for lots of people.

  1. Relationships

Who knew a video game could bring people closer together? That’s right; couples are going out together and catching Pokémon. For couples who lack similar interests, this could be a great solution to spending quality time together

Naturally there are also negative consequences to this. Playing a video game is no substitute for real, meaningful conversation—especially if it is impeding on the time you spend together. If you and your partner like Pokémon Go, schedule time to play together after you’ve had dinner or done something that requires you to focus entirely on one another.

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Niantic via Facebook

  1. Creativity

As soon as you log into Pokémon Go, you create a character for yourself. This allows you to exercise your creativity and give yourself an identity. The bright colours, alternate reality and real-time of the game means that you are constantly stimulated and your creative juices are flowing.

There are limits to the creativity of Pokémon Go. If you’re dreaming of Pikachu’s or looking for Pidgies behind every tree, it’s gotten a little out of hand. Take a break and focus on natural beauty around you instead.

  1. Discipline

It may be a simple video game, but Pokémon Go pushes people to reach new levels and become a better ‘trainer’. Someone who has lacked discipline in the past could find the motivation to set goals with this game, and the rewards of meeting these goals are built in when you win a battle, upgrade a level or train a Pokémon.

The flip side of discipline is addiction, and it’s easy to become addicted to Pokémon Go. The urgency to continually look for Pokémon and make the next level means users can ignore appointments, enter dangerous situations, take risks and forget about real life. If this is happening to you, take a sabbatical from the game so you can focus on real life.

Are you concerned about your mental health? Does technology negatively affect your life? 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.