Five ways to keep your New Year’s Resolution

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A new year is a fresh start, and most of us go into it with a list of hopes, goals and plans. So have you come up with your New Year’s Resolution yet?

It may be repairing a broken relationship, bettering your physical or mental health, or getting a promotion at work. Whatever your goal for 2018 is, it will require commitment to achieve it. Because, if we’re honest, most of us fall short towards the end of January and our resolutions are long forgotten by June.

Here are five ways you can ensure you keep your New Year’s Resolution into January and beyond.

  1. Write it down

It’s simple, but once you write down your resolution it becomes permanent. Stick it on your bathroom mirror or write it in your diary so every day you’re reminded of your goal. This will keep you motivated and accountable.

  1. Get an accountability partner

Tell a friend or family member about your resolution, and have them check in about it once every few weeks. If your goal can be achieved with a partner (for instance, by going to the gym together), then choose to pursue it with their help.  This will keep you motivated on the days when it all feels too much.

  1. Set achievable goals

Take your resolution and divide it into 12 monthly goals. This isn’t just useful for health related goals—if your resolution is to restore your marriage then a goal may be attending counselling, going out for a date every week or surprising your partner with a gift.

  1. Reward yourself

Each time you meet a goal on the way to achieving your resolution, reward yourself. By yourself a gift, go for a long walk, or have a weekend getaway. Celebrate the ‘small’ things because you’ve worked hard to reach them and this will keep up your momentum through the year.

  1. Forgive yourself

Most of us throw our resolutions in the can when we fail them early on. We binge on unhealthy food, are fearful of the extensive inner work we need to do, or give up on a relationship all together.

Make your resolution with the knowledge that you will make mistakes. There will be days you don’t meet your goal—and that’s ok. What’s important is that you forgive yourself, pick up the reins and start again. The journey to your resolution doesn’t have to be perfect; you just need to get there. 

Do you want to start again in the New Year? Would you like support to achieve your New Year’s Resolution? 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 on our online diary.

10 conversation starters for awkward holiday parties

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December is prime time for awkward conversations. There are work break ups, and family reunions, catch-ups with friends and community gatherings—all which require a certain amount of social prowess.

As someone with social anxiety, these events exhaust me. Having to navigate awkward questions about my relationship status and side step political banter means I don’t have a lot to give when it comes to starting conversations.

Come January 1, lots of us feel this way. So to help you along the way, we’ve come up with 10 great conversation starters for you. Pull one out next time you’re standing next to an introvert or when your second cousin once removed is seated next to you on Christmas Day.

All going well, this will create a conversation deep enough to go beyond weather talk, but light enough to avoid the unmentionables—politics, religion and having kids.

  1. What do you do with yourself when you’re not working?

This is a fail-safe way to find out about a person’s general interests. Maybe they’ve just started Cross Fit, are taking the kids to basketball practice, or belong to a religious community. You may even have something in common!

  1. What are your plans for the New Year?

This general open-ended question gives the other person permission to talk about whatever they want—holidays, new goals in the work place, their hope to start a family, or their plans to travel.

  1. Have you seen any good movies lately?

Short of having someone say, “I’m not really a movie person,” this is bound to start a conversation about the definitive ranking of Star Wars movies, great rom-coms, historical masterpieces or your favourite superhero. 

  1. Tell me about your work.

Some people can go on about their work for ages, so this opens up a lengthy conversation that will also identify what their vocation is and how they entered the industry. Steer clear of this if you’ve heard someone is searching for work or has been unable to go due to health reasons. If they’re searching, just say, “Oh, great! What are you looking for?”

  1. Do you have any animals?

Because who DOESN’T want to talk about their fur babies, and want to show strangers the collection of adorable photos they have of them on their phone?

  1. What are your kids interested in?

Obviously this is only useful if you’re speaking to a parent, but children are a great talking point—especially if you’re a relative. You’ll hear about their school work, their extra curricular activities, their health and their favourite TV show. Some parents will be more comfortable talking about their kids than themselves!

  1. Did you see [insert name of TV show/movie here]?

If you’re talking to someone in a similar age bracket, there’s a good chance they at least know about the TV shows and movies you’re into. If not, choose a generic movie or TV event few people miss—like Carols in the Domain, the New Years Countdown or a long-awaited miniseries about an iconic person. 

  1. What are you reading/watching at the moment?

The perfect question for avid readers or Netflix fans—this gives people the opportunity to talk about what they love and why. You’re giving them an outlet for their obsession. Trust me, they love it.

  1. Take a look at this video!

Find a hilarious video on Facebook and share it with your long-suffering compatriot. Animal videos are always worthwhile, although you can find some holiday-themed gems as well.

  1. What surprised you about this year?

This is an out of the box question that is sure to get the wheels turning in their head. While they’re considering their answer, come up with your own. This will lengthen the conversation and give you a chance to really get to know someone else.

Do you feel anxiety around the holiday season? Would you like support as you navigate difficult relationships or awkward conversations? 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 on our 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.

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.

10 Fun Ideas for the Holidays

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While Christmas is often called the ‘Happiest time of the year,’ for many people who are doing the holiday season alone, it actually leaves them feeling isolated and lonely. Maybe you don’t have any friends or family to celebrate with, you may not celebrate Christmas, or perhaps the stress of the season is all getting a bit too much? We thought we'd put together a list of 10 great ideas and activities that you might be interested in. Hopefully this will make the coming weeks all the more enjoyable, and something you’ll remember for years to come.

  1. Join in the SANE for their Virtual Christmas

If you love Christmas dinner but don’t have anyone to share it with, then check out SANE’s Virtual Christmas as they invite people to sit down with their own meal, and join in a festive online chat so they can share the experience with other people. SANE holds a weekly Friday Feast online, so this is something to pencil in for the New Year as well. Visit the official SANE website here for more details.

  1. Volunteer

There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer over the holiday season. If you’re lonely, go and help people and not only will you be in community, but you’ll feel great as well! If you just want a shake up or feel like you’ve lost the true meaning of the season, then contact your local church, charity or community centre and ask them if you can help out with a food drive, community dinner, or other activity.

  1. Become a tourist in your hometown

Mix up your day and become a tourist in your hometown. Go and see the major attractions, visit a shopping hot spot, take a historical tour or splurge and go on a coffee crawl for the day. You’ll distract yourself and have a wonderful time becoming reacquainted with your own city.

  1. Go to a carols service or New Years Party

If you’d like to feel festive on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, going along to a community carols event is the perfect solution! Listen to your community radio station, read your local newspaper or call a near by church and see what they have on offer. There may also be New Years’ festivities open to the public that are being advertised. Check out what’s available and get along to see the fireworks.

  1. Call an old friend

This time of year is perfect for becoming reacquainted with old friends and making peace with those you’ve had a falling out with. Call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while and wish them a Merry Christmas. Ask them about their year, their family and what 2016 holds.

  1. Visit your local library, museum or art gallery

If you’re bored, head out and create an adventure for yourself by visiting the library, museum or art gallery. Take your time and enjoy the experience by visiting each section and appreciating what it has to offer. If there’s a café attached, bring a good book or buy one there and allow yourself to become engulfed in the environment after you’ve looked around for a few hours. 

  1. Make a Happy Box

The folks at Resilient App have come up with the great idea of putting together a Happy Box to soothe you when you are feeling down. Selecting objects like hand cream, a good book, M&M’s, bubble wrap (because who doesn’t like to pop bubbles?) or a scented candle and putting them in a box are all useful when you are feeling low or stressed. Make yourself a Happy Box over the holiday period and enjoy the long-term benefits of it in 2016.

  1. Treat yourself

Treat yourself to a nice meal and a movie. Sometime it’s more fun going and doing these activities by yourself, so go and choose a restaurant you’ve been bursting to eat at and see a movie you know you’ll love. It could be a chick flick, or it could be Star Wars- it doesn’t matter. Just treat yourself to an evening of pampering.

  1. Have coffee with a friend

We’re all busy this time of year, but you’ll find people are happy to catch up for an hour over coffee. Choose a near by café and take the chance to catch up with your friend while enjoying some yummy food. You’ll leave feeling happy and contented knowing you’ve truly invested in an important relationship.

  1. Learn something new

Pick up that cross stitch you gave up on, research a course you can join in the new year, or watch YouTube tutorials on how to become a photographer. The sky is the limit when it comes to learning something new, so take the time to read, watch, learn and practice a new skill. In the New Year you’ll blow everyone away with your brilliant new talent!

Are you lonely? Do you feel down? 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.