How to stress less and find happiness

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It’s hard to get through a typical day without experiencing stress, right? From money concerns to worries about work, 7 out of 10 of us feel extremely anxious or stressed each day.

When we’re stressed, we experience physical fatigue and tend to take out our concerns on others. We see it damage relationships and create tension in ordinary situations. So how do we beat stress? The fact 85% of what we’re stressed about never happens is a great stat to comfort us when we’re agitated, but it’s not always easy to let stress ‘roll of our back’.

The great news is that there are some simple ways to reduce stress in our every-day life. Talking to a friend or colleague, seeing a counsellor—even putting a pot plant on your desk can all help to re-establish your own well-being. Add some exercise, meditation or fun activities into your schedule and you’ll also begin to feel less stressed.

Take a look at this infographic by Happify and see what methods you can use to reduce stress in your life. Let us know your favourite relaxation techniques in the comments!

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Are you stressed? Would you like to break free of your anxiety and worries? 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 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety

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The World Health Organisation declared April 7 as World Health Day focusing on mental health. This year-long campaign aims to educate, raise awareness and help people suffering from mental illness

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues now affect more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organisation, and more needs to be done to educate and inform people about what we can do to manage them, especially since they are usually also the underlying cause of many other social issues.

A great way to care for our mental health is to care for a pet. Those of us who have a dog in our life know just how important they are to help us stay fit, keep socialising and live life to the full.

My team and I at Pet Gear Lab created this infographic to highlight 12 reasons why a dog can help you cope with depression and anxiety. Take a look and make time in your day to experience the health-benefits of animals. Take your dog for a walk, cat-sit for a neighbor or go to an animal refuge and choose your own pet—not only will it improve your health, it will also give you a friend that will last a life time.

For more information about the holistic benefits of pets visit petgearlab.com.

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Do you struggle with a mental illness? Would you like to learn about day-to-day strategies you can use to soothe yourself? Call Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation. To make an appointment, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling’s online appointment diary.

Six ways to manage social anxiety

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It’s the thumping heart, the sweaty palms, and the seeming inability to communicate verbally to the person across from you.

It’s the fear that everyone is silently judging you, and if you make eye contact with them something disastrous could happen.

And it’s the isolation you feel it an overwhelmingly crowded place, when the smallest task takes all your energy to complete.

Social anxiety is a beast. Some of us experience it momentarily, like on the first day of a new job, when we enter a uber-competitive environment or see colleagues in an unexpected place. Other people experience it all the time, and a ‘simple’ activity like shopping or going out to dinner nearly feel unbearable.

As someone who still deals with social anxiety, I know what it’s like to freak out over the simplest tasks. And even though I’ve combatted a lot of my (somewhat irrational) fears over the years, I still panic when I encounter a new situation, I’ve just learned to mask it a lot better.

If you also struggle with social anxiety, here are six ways you can begin to manage it.

  1. Realise it’s normal

Feeling anxious about a situation you think ‘normal people’ are fine with only makes your fear escalate. While not everyone experiences social anxiety, we all feel some sort of awkwardness. Remember that you’re not the only one who feels uncomfortable around people. In fact, there are probably others around you at this moment experiencing a similar level of anxiety, you just can’t tell because most of us laugh it off or hide it.

  1. Pre-plan

I’m a terrible decision maker at the best of times, and when I’m in an uncomfortable situation my inability to choose between chai tea and a mocha latte becomes impossible. So when possible, plan where you’re going and what you’ll do there.

If you’re going to an event, make a time to meet up with a friend so you’re not left on your own. If being in a crowded space troubles you, go at a less-busy time, and if talking to a cashier freaks you out, have your money set aside for them before you approach the counter. These are only small steps, but they can help you to avoid an anxiety attack.

  1. Let a friend know

If you struggle in a particular situation, don’t be ashamed to let someone know. A loved one, partner, spouse or friend will likely have already picked up that you’re uncomfortable in some situations, and telling them you have social anxiety will help them to connect the dots.

You can’t always avoid anxiety, but having someone around who understands what you’re experiencing makes a world of difference. Tell them what you need to feel calm, and let them help you to plan for and work through each situation.

  1. Write down your fears

When you’re anxious about something, you might role-play different scenarios in your head until you’re so afraid you decide not to complete the task. It’s important that you consider the event or situation you are entering, but catastrophising about what may occur if you see x or what could happen if you say x, only heightens your emotions.

Before you enter an anxiety-provoking scenario, write down your fears, hopes and expectations around the event. For each fear or problem, write down a possible solution. You may find that just by writing it down, you take away its power and feel more empowered.

Go back over the list when the event is complete, and see what actually occurred. Over time, you’ll begin to control your fear when you realise more often than not, scenarios aren’t as bad as they seem.

  1. Set a time frame

My anxiety is always worse when I am tired and stressed, and I know it’s time to go home when I become unresponsive or irritable. Over time, you’ll learn the physical and mental symptoms you show when you’ve had enough and this will be a sign that you need to have some alone time.

How intense the environment is, the level of social interaction you’ve had and how long you’re out will affect this, so set a time frame for each situation and give yourself permission to leave when its done so you can care for yourself.

  1. See a professional

If your social anxiety is all consuming and you struggle to leave the house, make a phone call or see people, then seeing a counsellor or psychologist is a great first step to managing it.

Lots of places allow you to research therapists online, and some even let you book over the Internet. Ask a friend to drive you to the appointment, and if this feels like too much, ask the therapist if you can connect over Skype or email instead.

It takes time to overcome social anxiety, and for some people (myself included), it becomes a process of learning to manage it. Wherever you’re at, know you’re not alone in these emotions. You can navigate them and with a bit of support, learn to live a happy and healthy life. It just starts with asking for help.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? Would you like some help overcoming your fears? 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 book online now.

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.

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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.

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

This is what anxiety looks like

This-is-what-anxiety-looks-like

What happens when you feel anxious? Does your heart rate rise? Do your palms get sweaty? Would you like to run away?

We all experience some form of anxiety and worry, but for people who live with an anxiety disorder, these feelings are more extreme.

In this infographic by Mental Health America, we learn that anxiety doesn’t just affect someone’s thoughts—it also affects the body and their behaviours.  People without anxiety may tell a friend to ‘get over it’, ‘it’s not as bad as it seems,’ or to simply, ‘stop worrying,’ but a person struggling knows this won’t do anything—in fact, the stress of thinking it’s ‘wrong’ to feel so anxious, may make the symptoms worse.

Anxiety is broad and can appear different for each person. Anxiety disorders range from panic disorder, to obsessive compulsive tendencies, social anxiety to post traumatic stress disorder. The cause of anxiety and it’s symptoms vary, but, as the infographic says below, it is marked by feelings of being completely overwhelmed, feeling powerless, experiencing incredibly heightened physical responses like heart palpitations, and/or living in a constant state of fear.

People who experience anxiety will often feel isolated and alone. The good news though, is they are not. In recent years, we’ve learnt that two millions Australians experience anxiety every year, and more than 21 per cent of American adults have an anxiety disorder. By talking about this mental illness, we let our friends and family know that they can get through life and not just survive, but thrive.

If you struggle with anxiety, take a look at the coping techniques listed below. Talking to someone you trust, doing exercise, practicing deep breathing and doing mindfulness are all great strategies when you feel inhibited and your body is in panic mode.

Life-with-Anxiety-infographic

Do you struggle with feelings of anxiety, fear and being isolated? Would you like to break free of your anxiety? 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.

Is Pokémon Go Good for Your Mental Health?

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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.

How your Personality Type Can Affect your Mental Health

Have you ever been called a ‘worry wart’ or an ‘overachiever’? Many of us are built with character traits that can lead us inward focused. We have personalities that excel in moments of introspection. This means we are able to achieve a lot. Ask any perfectionist or over achiever what their goals and ambitions are and many will have a ten step plan for getting there. Then there are those of us who excel in moments if intensity and pressure. We get our best work done at the last minute and the concept of a life without stress is a foreign to us. We are ‘daydreamers’ or ‘dramatists’ to our friends and family, but we each hold unique qualities that enable us to thrive in different situations.

In order to thrive we need to care for our mental health, and in this interesting infographic from Health Central, we are shown which particular personality types struggle with mental health conditions. If you identify with any of these personality types, you may be more prone to feelings of anxiety, stress and depression. This can occur due to a combination of our personality traits as well as our lifestyle.

As well as identifying what mental health conditions we are more likely to experience, this infographic also gives practical tips on how each personality type can care for their mental health. It notes that introverts can find therapy useful due to its focus on communication, perfectionists will find it beneficial to reassess their goals, and over achievers may need to forgive themselves.

Obviously these tips can be hard to follow through in. Any habit is hard to break, and when we are naturally inclined to think or act in a specific way, it can be challenging to alter how we operate. Yet no matter what our predisposed personality is, we are all able to live in a healthy and fulfilling way. Look at your own life and think about how you react in certain situations. Every person is unique, and you have some wonderful traits to share with the world. But you deserve to live them out in a healthy and happy lifestyle, so embrace you and look at how you can care for yourself.

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For a high res look at this infographic, view the PDF here.

Do you want to live a healthier and happier life? Are you struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or burnout? 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.

 

Understanding Anxiety

We all feel anxious at different times in our lives. Whether we are stressed about bills, relationships or work, it is a physical and mental sensation we all must work through. For many of us, anxiety can be far more than a momentary feeling, and we live with an anxiety disorder which causes unnecessary and unhealthy worry about many aspects of our lives. This can also negatively affect our physical health.

This infographic by Global Medical Education shows us some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety, and reveals how it affects our society. Have you ever felt your chest tighten up, your breathing become faster, and simultaneously felt panicky and stressed? Chances are you’ve experienced anxiety. It can be hard to define anxiety, simply because it can come in many different forms. Some people will feel social anxiety, others will find it expressed in Obsessive Compulsive tendencies, and still other people will have phobias. There is no one definite cause for why we experience these feelings and physical symptoms, but those of us who struggle with Depression and other medical conditions can find that we also experience anxiety.

So what can we do to alleviate this and care for our mental and physical wellbeing? Just because we experience anxiety or an anxiety disorder, does not mean we are left alone to struggle. There are many ways to treat and cope with anxiety. From medical remedies, to psychotherapy and counselling or natural techniques like meditation, many of us are able to go on living fulfilling and happy lives. If you or a friend is showing signs of anxiety, be kind to yourself and ask for help. Nearly 29% of us will experience an anxiety disorder during our life time, and it is important we know that we don’t have to do this alone.

Understanding Anxiety

If you continue to struggle with feelings of anxiety, sadness, despair or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Talking to your G.P. and/or a counsellor can give you the additional support you need to help you. If you would like to speak to Colleen for additional support you can contact her on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.

Fun Tactics to Tame Your Anxiety

Talking with artist Toby Allen

Recently Watersedge posted a blog about managing anxiety. One of the techniques listed was drawing, or expressing what your anxiety looks like on paper. In our research we came across the artwork of Toby Allen, a young artist from the UK popular for his depiction of mental illness in his series ‘Real Monsters’. We hope you enjoy our interview with Toby as he reminds us of the power of creativity in managing our own anxiety.

Why did you initially decide to draw mental illness and ‘monsters’ and how did this idea come about?

The Real Monsters project originated from imagining my own anxieties as monsters and finding it to be a really therapeutic process to draw them. It made them feel weaker and I was able to look at my own anxiety in an almost comical way. I wanted to expand upon this idea and draw other representations of mental illnesses that could help people in the same way it helped me.

I was hoping that the project would remind people struggling with their own ‘monsters’ that they are not alone and that some of these illnesses can be beaten or at least managed, as I think it is much easier to imagine containing or controlling something that is physical entity. I wanted people to laugh and smile when they see my work and feel a little less negative about themselves or their condition.

What is the process you go through when designing a new ‘monster’?

Anxiety - Toby Allen

Anxiety – Toby Allen

I began each monster design by researching the condition or disorder extensively, often relying on real life case studies or first person accounts of dealing with each disorder. I doodle throughout the researching process and try out many different ideas until I get something that works.

The main focus throughout my research is to try and get a sense of what it’s like to live with these conditions and do away with all the stigma or preconceptions I may already aware of.

When drawing, I will look up reference material of animals that share similar traits to the monster I want to create and use those influences to enhance the design. I then work digitally to create the final artwork, incorporating self made watercolour textures to add a whimsical touch.

How does drawing assist you in coping with your own anxiety?

Schizophrenia - Toby Allen

Schizophrenia – Toby Allen

The creative side of my life is hugely helpful in my day to day struggle with anxiety. Creating a piece of work based on my own anxiety in particular has helped me to view it in a different and more positive light. I have been able to turn something negative in my life into a positive and helpful piece of work that has managed to help people other than myself.

When I am creating artwork I don’t feel anxious or worried about anything. I think about fantastical and amazing worlds filled with amazing characters that could only exist in my mind and in this world I can do anything or be anyone. I feel liberated from my anxiety and free from the pressures of the real world. It’s very much a form of escapism from the everyday worries and troubles.

What has the public response been to your ‘Real Monsters’ series? Has this surprised you?

Social Anxiety - Toby Allen

Social Anxiety – Toby Allen

I was completely taken aback by the public response to the work. It gained a hugely positive response from the Tumblr community in particular and the project went viral within a week of it being published on my blog. I have received so many meaningful messages from people who have one or many of the disorders I have drawn, each message telling me how much the work means to them and how it has helped them to think about their condition in a different or more positive way. I regularly receive heartfelt and sincere emails from people who wish to thank me for creating the work as if I created it especially for them.

Reading articles about the project in national and global newspapers and websites was amazing and humbling. It is also very lovely to be recognised by mental health professionals via articles on their blogs or websites and reading praising emails from professionals within this field of work is hugely gratifying.

Why do you think people relate to it so much?

People seem to appreciate the artwork as well as the unique presentation and stories behind the monster characters. They can relate to the monsters and imagine their condition in a different way than they thought previous, sometimes making them laugh or simply feel a little bit better about their condition.

Art is such a subjective medium and open to interpretation. I think I left the designs open enough for people to make sense of it themselves and therefore make each monster feel more personal to them.

As someone who lives with anxiety, how would you suggest someone reading this can best support a loved one experiencing the same condition?

I recommend talking, or rather, being a good listener. I always find that it helps me, to talk with someone about my worries or fears. I try talk to my parents about what is bothering me or getting me down, talk and joke with a good friend to lighten the mood or even have a heartfelt and honest chat with a pet. I really think that talking about your feelings to someone you trust is a great tool for when it all gets a bit too much or you can’t get something out of your mind. Don’t force someone to talk about it with you, just be there for them should they ‘fall’ and let them know that. Sometimes that can be enough to put their mind at ease.

I would advise people with anxiety or another other condition, to try and do something every day that you really love and that makes you feel happy. Try to make time for yourself. When I am creating artwork I don’t feel anxious or worried about anything. I feel liberated from my anxiety and free from the pressures of the real world- even if just for an hour or two.

Which ‘monster’ is your favourite and why?

I think the anxiety monster is my favourite, as it is a very personal piece of work and reflects my own experience with anxiety well. It has a good mix of cute and creepy and the light and dark colour combination was very fun to play around with. I also really liked working on the depression monster. It’s so round and squishy (its design is based on a manatee, which is one of my favourite animals) and the waterfall like tail was particularly fun to draw.

If you continue to struggle with feelings of anxiety, sadness, despair or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Talking to your G.P. and/or a counsellor can give you the additional support you need to help you.

If you would like to speak to Colleen for additional support, you can contact her on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute discussion or go to BOOK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts to make an appointment.

Images published with permission by Artist Toby Allen.