How to stress less and find happiness

How-to-stress-less-and-find-happiness

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!

How-to-stress-less-and-find-happiness-infographic

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.

 

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.

10 Keys to Happiness

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Do you every stop and think, “If only I had this…” or, “Once this happens, I’ll be happy”? A lot of us live in a state of discontent, always thinking about what could be, and what needs to happen in order for us to truly be happy. While it is heathy to have goals and aspirations, things can go off kilter when we become so lost in the future that we fail to enjoy the present. Wherever you are and whatever you are experiencing, you have the potential for happiness. That’s right, in your job, as you’re preparing dinner for the kids, even as you walk through deep emotional issues, you have the capacity to live a happier and healthier life. Being happier won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you through the present moment, and you will find the journey to your hopes and aspirations far more enjoyable.

Here are 10 keys to happiness which you can implement in your life to benefit your own wellbeing.

  1. Foster your own personal growth
    Begin to question anything negative you say to yourself. By investing in your own growth through ‘me time,’ meditation, personal development and counselling, you will uncover beautiful and unchartered territory in your own life.
  1. Rest your ego
    Instead of comparing yourself to colleagues, other parents, siblings or your spouse, remind yourself what you have to offer. Next time you think “I should be a better _____ “and compare yourself to some else, put your ego aside and remind yourself that who you are is enough.
  1. Be present
    Worrying about the future won’t change its outcome, so instead make the conscious decision to enjoy the moment. Bring your thoughts back to your present circumstance, your family and what you are thankful for.
  1. Help others
    You’ll be amazed at how fulfilling it is to help someone else. When you’re able, give a helping hand. Ask a friend how they are going, smile, or buy the person behind you a cup of coffee.
  1. Focus on authenticity and integrity
    When you focus on authenticity and integrity, you know that all your actions are for the best and can remain at rest knowing you have played your part.
  1. Be ambitious enough to fail
    When we try new things, we always risk the possibility of failure. Yet if we never fail, we will never change. Be brave enough to try new things and expand your horizons.
  1. Spend time with those who inspire you
    Have people around who invest in you and inspire you to be better. When we have life giving relationships, we are nourished and are far happier.
  1. Turn your daily goals into habits
    Make the decision to turn your goals into habits. Start small, and work habits like healthy eating, exercise, spending more time with family or practicing Mindfulness into your schedule a few days a week. As you grow in confidence, implement more habits and reward yourself for your victories!
  1. Choose to push forward
    Life can be difficult, and we all go through seasons that seem to have no end. In these times, decide to push on. Believe that these moments will pass and keep going.
  1. Let go of worries and wounds
    The hurts of the past and worries of the future will drag you down. Begin to recognise these unnecessary weights and begin healing from them. Speak about them to a friend or see a counsellor and experience healing.

Look at this infographic by Calm Down Now for more details on the Keys to Happiness.

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Do you want to unlock the keys to happiness? Are you looking for a way to turn survival into a life that thrives? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

Why Exercise Really Makes You Happier

Do you struggle to be active? Maye you’re just exhausted after a long day at work and have no energy to go outside for a walk? If you find yourself feeling down, exercise may just be what you need to make you happier and give you greater satisfaction. In this infographic by Happify, we are shown that even 20 minutes of exercise can significantly impact our mood.

When we are active, our endorphins go up so we feel good, stress-related hormones like cortisol are reduced and it helps treat anxiety and depression.

So how do we get motivated to exercise?

If you struggle to get active, don’t complicate things. 30-60 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 days a week has been shown to improve mental health. But even small or shorter amounts of exercise will benefit you! Go for a walk, do Tai Chi or yoga, or focus on your strength. For an even bigger boost head outdoors and you will feel more energised and motivated.

If you need other people around to keep you motivated, join a sports team or exercise group. And if you get distracted or bored, don’t stress- simply listen to music or watch a movie! Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult, and it really does make us happier. So choose something you are interested in and give it a try. Remember, even the smallest amount of activity is good for your mental health and can make you happier.

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Do you want to be happier? Do you desire to be daring, be original and be you? Sign up for our free ‘Go 30 days Alcohol Free’ Challenge here and step into 2015 with new confidence. 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 Do I Find Happiness?

hugs_no_2_by_captivatedimages“The habit of being happy enables one to be freed, or largely freed, from the dominance of the outward conditions.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

I have noticed that I often speak of happiness as something that I receive when the focus of my happiness is attained. You might be familiar with some of these statements: ‘I will just be happy when the car is fixed’; ‘I will be happy when the kids go back to school’; ‘When I stop smoking I will be happy’; ‘Buying that house in the country will be pure happiness’; ‘Having that dress would make me so happy’.

Contrary to Robert Louis Stevenson’s assertion that the habit of happiness will free you from the tyranny of your needs and wants or ‘the dominance of the outward conditions’, statements like these communicate the belief that happiness IS dependent upon your outward condition, having your needs and wants met.

What makes you happy? Are you happy? Have you mastered the ‘habit of being happy’? Are you ‘largely free’ from the dominance of the outward condition? These are the questions that I have been asking myself, leading me to some interesting answers.

The Grammar of Happiness

I was fascinated by a documentary I saw recently called ‘The Grammar of Happiness’. The documentary followed the story of a missionary amongst the extraordinary ‘unconvertible' Amazonian Pirahã tribe, a group of indigenous hunter-gatherers who the missionary experienced as a ‘happy’ people. My fascination was aroused by the fact that the Pirahã have no words for ‘the ‘past’ or ‘the future’ in their language. These people live ‘in the present’; they have all they need, when they need it. They appeared to be a secure people, experiencing order and stability. It was apparent that these people had a strong sense of connection to each other, of belonging and being loved; a ‘happy and contented’ people.

I wondered how this ‘living in the present’ contributed to their happiness, after all they still have needs to be met, children to feed, a hostile environment to live in. Their outward condition is still a reality, yet they live as a people who have made peace with it, have learned how to have their basic needs met within its context and be happy. Their inner attitude is not dominated by past regrets or future desires, but by a calm acknowledgment and acceptance of what they have in the present, producing within them an internal freedom.

Part of the Pirahã’s secret to happiness is their interdependence. Living, eating, working, playing – they do it together. Unlike our own western society where individualism and self-actualization is celebrated, these people live as one, sharing their lives together. They are generative, passing on their knowledge from one generation to the next as they live and work together for the common good. The habit of happiness is a reality for the Pirahã because they accept that the collective and individual needs will be met at the time that need arises.

The Pirahã people teach us that the Habit of Happiness is possible when you:

1. Live in The Present Moment

Living in the present, often termed ‘mindfulness’ is a discipline that makes you calmer, peaceful and feeling more in control. Where your mind is often preoccupied by matters of the past or the future, even while you are actively engaged in the present, when living mindfully all your energy is conscripted into focusing on the here and now: the conversation you are having, the work you are doing, the meal you are preparing. You make fewer mistakes because anxiety is not present to distract you or rob you of energy. Relationships are potentially stronger because being fully present to the other person minimizes misunderstanding. When you encounter personal or interpersonal problems, mindfulness allows you to ground yourself, feel calm, think clearly and come to a successful outcome.

Doctor Timothy Sharp, Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute in Australia says about the pursuit of happiness; “It’s about facing up to [our problems] in a constructive way so that we can come to the best solutions.” His statement reminds me that when you choose not to face up to your problems, choosing instead to dwell on the past or dream about the future or distract yourself by the endless pursuit of your wants; then you choose to be dominated by your outward conditions. Dr Sharp implies that happiness is gained when you look within yourself to deal with the challenges of everyday life. To look within your-self is a mindfulness act. You are mentally disciplined to be present to your own inner experience, bringing a calmness and clarity that helps you find the best possible outcome at the time. In time you learn the mindfulness principle that ‘there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so’.

2. Cultivate Strong, Supportive Relationships

Human beings are interdependent creatures, needing each other for support, help, encouragement, comfort and company. The successful interdependence of the Pirahã people is based on the individual’s commitment to, and respect for the other. Parents raise their children to understand and value the collective experience, and work with each other toward the common good.

I wonder what that would look like in your daily experience if you applied that same principle. In our Western society, individualism is often celebrated over the group experience and children are raised with the belief that to have one’s own need met, you have to protect and promote yourself above other people’s needs.

Cultivating strong supportive relationships requires that you have a co-operative and compassionate attitude towards the other rather than a competitive attitude; that you become more intuitive and thoughtful towards other. To achieve these qualities, it is necessary to be more internally driven rather than externally controlled or, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s words, be less dominated by outward conditions. Cultivating inner qualities such as kindness, patience, gratitude and optimism not only make you a better person but a person internally driven and therefore a happier person.

Conclusion

The Habit of Happiness – is it possible? I believe it is if you are prepared to apply yourself to the practice of mindfully focusing on the present and consistently seeking to connect with others in ways that are kind, considerate and thoughtful. Will you take that challenge to develop the ‘habit of happiness’ with me?I look forward to hearing your feedback about it.

If you want to grow, experience happiness and wellness and reach toward your full potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you.