Let’s leave 2016 behind

let-us-leave-2016-behind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you want to leave 2016 behind? Would you like to create positive change in the new year? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Your Year in Review

Your Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, I have received Facebook notifications inviting me to see my year in review. Whilst it was very brief (I’m not practiced at taking selfies), it was enjoyable and interesting to revisit both the highs and lows of 2015. I guess the personal highlight of this year would be the relocation of Watersedge Counselling to a larger, more spacious and inviting location. It symbolises the notion of change and growth, values that I pursue personally and professionally.

It appears that the need to reminisce at this time of year is typical of a majority of people, given the number of friend’s posts that invite me to witness their year in review also. In the majority of instances, their year looks interesting, happy and even enviable as I study their smiling faces and those holiday backdrops of blue oceans, golden sand and scenic mountain ranges. There may even be shots of them with their partner happily holding hands, enjoying a coffee together or off on another vacation together. However it would be naïve of me to assume that holidays and happiness was the sum total of my friend’s experiences, because life like the ocean, changes from day to day and season to season. The majority of us are careful to tell the happy story, leaving out the parts where life seemingly falls apart, where we feel afraid or depressed or enraged.

If you did include the parts of 2015 that have been ‘edited out’ what would the full story of your Facebook year look like? Mine would reveal weeks of exhaustion, anxiety about my ageing parents, the grief of saying goodbye to a sister who relocated and heightening frustration as I struggled to communicate effectively to my husband. These are not the moments I choose to reveal because they hold pain and distress however they exist.

What do you do with the bits that you have edited out of your story? There was a time when I would ignore the parts I didn’t like or caused me deep emotional pain. I would tell myself that I would feel better the next day, which worked quite well for many years. Another great way to edit the bad stuff out was to avoid the situation in an effort to minimise any negative experiences or even ‘cut –off’ certain people who I felt uncomfortable around. And of course, chocolate has always worked for me!

How do you edit out the negative stuff of your life? Perhaps you use alcohol to edit out a relationship marked by physical or emotional abuse or the grief of losing a loved one. You might be choosing work to edit out the sadness of a marriage that is marked by sarcasm and criticism. Perhaps you choose to live a life of pretence, bravely putting on ‘a mask’ each day to edit out the hopelessness that threatens to swallow you whole if you remove it. Many people use food as a way of editing out the tough stuff. The challenge with all of these strategies is that they have to be repeated time and again to ensure that our ‘edited material’ doesn’t make a come-back; so you eat more, drink more, pretend more and work more.

So how is that working for you?

I discovered that my strategies of forgetting or avoidance eventually produced a depression that completely debilitated me for a number of years. I may have convinced myself that I was editing out the distressing things, but the reality was that I was stuffing them down into the fabric of my psych where they waited until depression called my attention to them. It was by talking about and acknowledging my fears and my emotional pain that I eventually recovered, learning the value of talking with a trusted friend or counsellor. 2015 has been a tough year for me in many aspects of my life, but these days instead of editing them out, I choose to talk with a trusted mentor about the challenges I face and ways more positive to cope with them. This practice has proved to ensure that I remain resilient and optimistic about life as I experience it.

How have you dealt with the emotionally distressing times of 2015? Walking into a New Year is a great opportunity to re-write your story; a story that is honest about the hard and challenging times and yet equally hopeful and optimistic about the future.

Do you want to re-write your story in 2016? At Watersedge Counselling, Colleen is available to individuals and couples on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation to discuss your personal situation and how we can help you. Duncan is available to individuals and can be contact on 0434 331 243. Rachel Morris is now available to work with youth and young adults. If you are ready to make an appointment, you can go to out book online now and follow the prompts to make your booking.

7 Ways to Get More Done In Your Day

7 Ways to Get More DoneThe end of one year and the beginning of another and it is likely that you are feeling ‘frazzled’. The 21st century lifestyle is a juggling act for most of us. Balancing our couple relationship, family, work, community groups and also have time for yourself is a tall order. However the  Christmas/New Year break lends itself to an opportunity for you to review how you spend your time and consider some simple ideas that can reduce your stress and increase your productivity. Sounds good doesn’t it! So here are:

7 Ways to Get More Done in Your Day

1. Look After Yourself First
All those things you know you should do for yourself but somehow neglect because other things get in the way: personal exercise, healthy eating, hanging out with positive people and feeding your mind with material that builds you up.
When you take the time to care for yourself, you will actually feel better about yourself, more energized and motivated which all equals increased productivity.

2. Clean out the Clutter
I have noticed that where an individual complains of feeling a lack of control, their environment generally reflects the same. Typically by years end, your office and/or home environment has accumulated paperwork, books, old equipment and other unnecessary items. Now is the time to do a de-clutter and prepare the space for the year ahead. I promise you that it will save time, energy and money – you will recover what has gone missing, be able to find things in the future and feel less stress.

3. Use The Right Tools
How long have you been putting up with an office chair with poor back support? (That one is a message for me!) Is your lighting adequate? Does all your office/household equipment work properly? How often have you heard someone ‘blow their stack’ because of that office printer that never works! It’s time to do a stocktake and invest in the right equipment for your physical and mental health sake!

4. Use a Diary or Digital Organiser
Recording appointments, things to do and goals is absolutely necessary to feel in control of your busy life. Use a diary or digital organiser that you can carry with you. This is the most effective way to get things done, plan your work and your life.

5. Learn to say “No”
Do you have trouble saying “no”? You are not alone. Howeveryou pay a heavy cost when you say “yes” to those additional requests that well-meaning friends/colleagues ask of you. So make it a personal goal to be more self-assertive and say “no”. If this feels uncomfortable, try responding with “Let me think about itand I’ll get back to you”. This gives you the opportunity to decide whether it is something you truly want to do as opposed to doing it to please someone.

6. Do What You Do The Best and Delegate the Rest
This is something I am working on for the New Year. What do you spend time doing that is not your forte or you really cannot afford to spend your precious time on? If you are in a financial position to do it, consider investing in a gardener, that house cleaner you have been talking about or that administration assistant. It’s worth investing a few extra dollars if you have more free time to do what you want to.

7. Avoid Unnecessary Meetings
Before agreeing to attend a meeting, check if you need to be there. Maybe a phone call or email will be just as effective.

By following these simple yet very effective ideas you will have more control over your work and your life, experience less stress and be more productive. All of these factors affect your general well-being and confidence.

If you are experiencing stress and would like further support to gain control of your life, experience growth, wellness and reach your potential you can contact Colleen on 0434337245 or go to her online diary at www.watersedgecounselling.com

 

New Year Resolutions: 365 Days of New Possibilities

Man holding soil and plant in open handI am struck by the thought that with the beginning of a new year I am on the brink of new possibilities, new adventures, new opportunities. I feel optimistic because the next 365 days are a blank cheque. How will I choose to spend them?

I don't see much sense in spending that time wishing my lot was different or going over and over past regrets. By doing so, I miss what is going on in the here and now. It is like going on a trip to a place i have never been and failing to absorb the experience because I am too preoccupied with my problems back home. A senseless and costly exercise!So back to the present. How to spend my 365 blank cheques?

I have never been good with new year resolutions. For many people(someone must be reading all those ‘how to' blogs) the exercise is a very helpful and practical way of setting and achieving goals for success. For me, I learnt long ago that I am a person who constantly sets internal expectations for myself. I get bored easily, so I am always looking for the next new thing I can direct my energies towards. However, as soon as I make it a ‘goal' I panic! The way my personality functions, goals become expectations that have the potential to crush me if I am not constantly monitoring their weight! Expectations, be they external or internal, have to be held at arms length. I have learnt that to function well, I need a healthy balance between what I hope to achieve and my over all sense of wellness. I am not prepared to sacrifice my wellness for personal achievement – been there and done that!So it is a balancing act. It means that I don't always achieve everything on my list but because my ”internal driver' is always barking at me, neither do I entirely forget them. 

So I am thinking that I need to reframe the word ‘goal' to a more ‘user friendly' option for the benefit of we ‘goal-challenged' folk. How about ‘ future hopes' or ‘projects for 2013' or ‘new possibilities for 2013'. Now for you goal- driven people I am aware that these are poor substitutes but it works for me. I can ‘breath' a bit and give myself time and space to do the task at my own pace. 

Procrastination? Yes, I am given to procrastination – sometimes out of fear but other times out of a need to go gently on myself and understand that I can become easily overwhelmed. What I do find is that by holding my goals at arms length, I am give myself ‘grace' – permission to be human, to back off, reflect and rest.

Mmm – this blank cheque? Well I hope to continue to grow my business and I have strategies to help facilitate this. More importantly, I want to enjoy the journey on the way. I want to nurture my relationships, I want to be happy and enjoy a level of wellness.

So that blank cheque of mine? I will spend them purposely. I have ‘possibilities' that will come to reality and they are tempered by the larger goal to experience and absorb each day's joys and value my own health and well being. 

365 days full of new possibilities. What do you hope to do with them? How do you go about deciding that? I would love to hear from you if you wold like to leave a comment below this blog.

If you want to grow, experience 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.