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.

 

A Creative Way to Combat Stress

Secret Garden An Inky Treasure Hunt & Colouring Book via presentsofmind.com.au

Secret Garden An Inky Treasure Hunt & Colouring Book via presentsofmind.com.au

Stress can creep in to every part of our lives, and even when we are at home it can be difficult to relax. The good news is there is a rather unconventional and creative way to get out all your tension: colouring in. That’s right, a simple children’s activity can affect your mood and help you to live a happier and healthier life.

In an article with the Huffington Post, psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala says it “brings out our imagination and takes us back to our childhood, a period in which we most certainly had a lot less stress.”

By taking out some pencils and colouring in, you generate wellness, peace and enhance the fine motor skills in your brain. The science of the practice shows us that the combination of creativity and logic, along with the collaboration of our sight and motor skills, makes it an excellent go to strategy next time you have a stress headache.

So where do you start? It can be as simple as taking out a blank sheet of paper and using colours and shapes that flow from your current feelings. Print some colouring sheets off, or even purchase a colouring book especially made for adults. Now the trend has taken off, especially in Europe, you’ll find colouring books especially suited to your tastes. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book (M & E Books) is a favourite, and Colleen frequently goes between this and books specifically dedicated to mandalas.

Take a look at the colouring sheets below and see what sparks your imagination. Next time you feel stressed; try returning to your childhood. You’ll be amazed at the positive affect it can have on your health.

Found on mendoans.net

Found on mendoans.net

Do you feel stressed? Are you looking for creative ways to relax and enjoy life? 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.

How To Help Your Young Person Manage Stress

As we head towards the end of the year, you may have noticed your teen or young adult feeling stressed about their studies. End of year exams are coming, final assignments are due, and they are feeling more pressure than ever to have their lives figured out. In this infographic by OnlineCollegeClasses.com, we learn about the real affect stress can have on our loved ones physical health, mental wellbeing and overall quality of life. 1 in 5 students have felt too stressed to study, and time has shown us that students are more stressed than they were three decades ago. Feelings of being overwhelmed have increased, and today only 52 per cent of freshmen say they have above average mental health.

With stress can come physical symptoms and a lower immunity. Your young person may develop rashes, experience insomnia, have headaches, develop ulcers and can even develop impotence from such high levels of stress. Stress can also have a detrimental effect on mental health, with 60% of students feeling sad and 50% feeling depressed. This in turn affects their quality of life, their studies and their wellbeing. So what can you do to help your young person through this stressful period?

Encourage them to talk about their feelings

Whether they meet with a friend for coffee, talk to a parent or see a counsellor, give them the space to vent and express their feelings. Encourage them to make time to relax and enjoy life.

Change up their routine

If sports or friendships have been put on hold for their study, encourage your young person to make time for these things again. These activities will help relieve stress and ultimately better their study experience when balanced with their work.

Encourage them to be healthy

Instead of staying up late studying (or partying), suggest your young person gets a good night sleep even if only for their exam season, so their mind is clearer. Fitting in exercise during study breaks and eating healthy will keep them alert and boost their physical and mental health.

Have a look at the infographic from OnlineCollegeClasses.com for more information on stress and how you can help your young person. Then tell us below, how do you help your young person manage their stress?

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Is your young person stressed? Is stress affecting their physical and mental health? If so 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.

76 Stress Relievers

When we are feeling stressed, our body can respond in any number of ways. Our mind may go blank, our heart beat accelerates, we might feel clammy or we may suddenly become very irritable and anxious. Whether you are at work or home, most anything can induce stress in people and if it is not managed, it can severely impact our wellbeing. Here is a list of 76 handy ways you can tackle stress next time you feel under the pump. Follow any of these creative suggestions and use them to help you relax and go back to finishing your task in a calm and healthy manner.

Stress Relievers

Do you struggle with stress? Do you feel as though it is limiting your ability to live life to your utmost potential? If so 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 tips to cultivate and enhance your daily life and well being in 2014

cultivate-and-enhance-your-daily-lifeRecently I had the very LIFEGIVING experience of visiting Disney World in Florida.

I am using the word LIFEGIVING very deliberately, because my experience was just that!

For the 2 days that I had the opportunity to explore some of the parks, I could not stop grinning such was my happiness. Being at Disney World was a catalyst for releasing my inner child: I enthusiastically hugged Goofy, the Chipmunks, one or two Disney Princesses; I jumped up and down with delight as I watched the street parades and waved to Mickey Mouse; I sang along with gusto to the beautiful orchestral music that permeated every corner of the parks; I gasped with awe as I witnessed the glorious firework display, and I experienced enormous pleasure at the unfailing willingness and enthusiastic service of every Disney employee I encountered over the two days. If I could bottle my Disney experience and bring it home, I would have the instant ‘pick me up' for every mediocre day forever after! It was a LIFEGIVING experience.

What do I mean by LIFEGIVING? I initially encountered this term through an interest in the study of Spiritual Formation. I discovered that the term LIFEGIVING was a helpful way to recognise good spirit – that which had a calming, nurturing, grounding, centering and positive impact on my well-being. Anything that is LIFEGIVING grows, nourishes and enhances life in me. Conversely, when something depletes, minimises, drains and de-centers, it is a bad spirit and life destroying.

Whilst I cannot bring Disney home in a bottle, I can still encounter that which is LIFEGIVING in my ongoing everyday experience because I have developed the habit of noticing the things in my daily experience that enhance life and well-being in me.

Here are 4 tips to cultivate and enhance your daily life and well-being in 2014:

1. Using each of your 5 senses, take notice of the things in your everyday life that soothe, calm, centre, ground and/or bring you pleasure.
sight – a favourite object, photo or scene
smell – a flower, herb, tree, candle or particular object that calms or holds meaning for you
touch- a smoothe stone, a silk scarf, a beloved pet or a warm bubble bath
sound – the sea, rain on your roof, a favourite piece of music,
taste – a drink of hot chocolate, a glass of red wine at the end of a long day, the first cup of tea for the day, your favourite sweet

2. Take 5-10 minutes each day to journal the things that you notice are LIFEGIVING and reflect on what it is that makes it so.
Is it the colour, the size, the reminder of a pleasurable memory for instance?
Your answers will provide further insight into what it is that is particularly LIFEGIVING for you.

3. Practice DOING MORE of the things that are LIFEGIVING.
Makes sense doesn't it? I have noticed that inspite of what I know about what I NEED for well being, old habits die hard and self sabotage is my brains natural de-fault position! Making a new habit requires PRACTICE. By daily practice and journaling your discoveries you reinforce that which is LIFEGIVING.
RITUALS are a very powerful way of providing order and rhythm to your daily life. It may be as simple as going for a daily walk early morning, lighting a candle each evening or saying a prayer upon waking and going to bed.

4. Make your home/workplace environment LIFEGIVING by using decor that calms and centres you.
Be aware that your mood may well be enhanced by a certain colour or sounds.
Do you function better with more light? Do you prefer a window? Is there a particular plant or flower you would like to bring indoors? Do you require a quiet place where you can relax and find calm?
Consider how the environment you are in, impacts your mood and sense of well-being. You may well have to think creatively about how you can make the environment you are in, more LIFEGIVING for you.
Make a point of removing the things that de-energize you physically, mentally or emotionally.

By following these 4 tips you will begin to develop your own daily experience of noticing that which is LIFEGIVING for you. The benefits will include an increasing sense of calm, inner peace, and centering as you invite more of what is ‘good spirit' into your daily experience.

If you would like to explore this theme more fully within a group setting, Watersedgecounselling will be conducting a Women's Wellbeing Workshop, facilitated by Colleen Morris, on Saturday, February 22nd at 9.30am – 4.30pm, level 1, 24 Moorabool Street, Geelong. For more information, go to www.watersedgecounselling.com/events or call Colleen on 0434337245

If you would like a personal consultation on how to cultivate and enhance your daily life and well being, you can call Colleen for a FREE 10 minute consultation on 0434 337 245 or if you would like to make an appointment to see Colleen, go to BOOK NOW and you will be able to access Watersedgecounselling's online appointment diary.

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

 

6 Tips For Transitioning Into Marriage

6 Tips for transtioning Into Marriage

Introducing Guest Blogger, Anna Kosmanovski

Anna is a gifted and passionate writer and a delightful young woman. As a newly-wed, Anna is eminently qualified to write on the subject of transitioning into  married life. If you would like to read more of her work you will find it at http://www.annakosmanovski.com

 

Having just recently got married, my husband and I joke that we are “marriage babies”, happily waddling around together in our diapers. We have our own experience on how to do married life but considering we’ve just celebrated the three month mark, I feel understandably inadequate to write on that.

 

What I can give my thoughts on, however, is the transition process from being single to being engaged, and then from being engaged to being married.

 

1. Get pre-marriage counselling

We did a five week course with two other couples. This included a dazzling array of desserts and complete privacy as a couple for the group conversation time. We went over common issues like household chores – who does what – as well as gave us insight into important issues we hadn’t even thought of yet!
For us, this represented a conversation, or series of ongoing conversations, on how we were planning, and wanting, to do life together after the wedding.

Looking back, this counselling was so important to our relationship.

It helped us both recognise how we naturally respond to situations and what our personality types were. Personally, I realised that I tended to naturally bottle some things up and needed to work on my confrontational skills. I also realised my husband-to-be was unable to read my mind. Even just recognizing these things is helpful and gives you consideration as you go into marriage, as well as areas to “work on.”

 

2. Talk about expectations

We naturally talked about our hopes and dreams but it was very useful to also directly discuss what each other’s individual expectations were for our marriage and then our collective vision for this. Doing so brought about compromise … which they say marriage is all about. So doing this exercise – and working out what’s non-negotiable and what needs to be compromised – you can meet in the middle.

Talking about this can involve expectations big and small, with no topic big or small.

For instance, would one spouse expect the other spouse to do most of the cleaning? Do you both expect to share the cooking and cleaning? What kind of expectations do you have in parenting? Even talking about how you would both like to do the holiday season with children – if you are planning on having them – is a valuable expectation to discuss.

For us, even talking about how we envisioned Christmas to look in our household was a point of differing expectations with one issue. I am so glad we found this out before we were married – and worked out a compromise – otherwise one of us may have been surprised!

Relating to having children down the track, does one spouse expect the other spouse to be a stay-at-home parent, get back to work after six months or do whatever felt right to them? These are good questions to ponder for your future together, even if the future seems very distant!

 

3. Make a plan for finances

As well as the pre-marriage counseling, we also did a three week budgeting course. We were not yet engaged at this stage but both knew that it would be a good thing individually and as a couple.

We spent late nights working on Excel spreadsheets and figuring out the structure of our finances, as well as discussing our thoughts on giving and saving. The reward for that comes into play after you are married. It saves you from having arguments when both parties naturally want to structure finances the way they’ve always done it when that may not simply work now life has changed from one to two.

So much tension in a relationship can revolve around money: how to use it, how you save it, etc. Some couples like to pay themselves a “pocket money” into their personal account and have a main joint transaction and savings account. Others like to have just the joint account. Some spouses need tight organisation in this area to feel at ease while others are just happy to go with the flow. Whatever your thoughts are on money and marriage, make sure you are both at peace with this.

 

4. Do your homework – learn from other people

We all need people to look up to and learn from; people to inspire us. In getting married, it’s no different. We need to learn from those who have strong relationships. These couples could be in their mid twenties or late sixties.

We gratefully accepted dinner dates, afternoon teas and the opportunity to meet with other couples we respected. We found these couples happy to speak into our lives and give advice and experiences and answer questions. We observed how these couples communicated, noticed how they valued their spouse in public and heard wisdom and tips on marriage. Simply speaking, we were lucky enough to see how other people, “did life together” and learnt from them.

In this way, we saw practically what we aspired to, which helped build our own unique relationship, as well as vision for it. This was a privilege to see healthy marriages and be inspired for our own relationship.

 

5.  Put up boundaries to protect your relationship

This is a really important one and will look different for every couple. It’s an exercise in both protection and safeguarding your relationship. What was good, helpful and supportive from family and friends when you were single may have the opposite effect when you are married.
For us, we put our faith in God first, then each other, then family. By identifying our priorities, we cut through some ambiguities which could have potentially lead to boundaries being crossed.

So much heartache comes from unhealthy relationships and lack of respect about boundary issues. The television show, Everyone Loves Raymond, paints a hilarious picture of this. When we were dating, my husband joked that he watched that show with the intention of learning “not to do” in our marriage.

We all need to be in community with our family and friends, but in a healthy way. Particularly in your first year of marriage, you need lots of space to well, just be with each other and be able to make mistakes and learn together how life is best for you both. Plus, it takes time to simply get used to being married and even living together for those who did not live together before being married.

Use the transition period to find out your boundary issues. Your spouses, too. Counselling will help with this. Consider if there are any minor – or major – relationship adjustments which need to happen.

If you can help it, this is not the time to move in with your inlaws or even live in a share house with other people. You are forming your own household, physically speaking, and need the freedom to do this just you too. Emotionally speaking, some – or perhaps more – relationships with friends and family need to change. The relationship is still there, it just needs to be tinkered slightly.

 

6. Learn – and celebrate – your differences

The thing is, opposites attract. You can’t tell when you’re dating and engaged because it’s so exciting but there’s a good chance your partner is opposite to you in a lot of ways!

You might be surprised to learn that your spouse is naturally introverted. Or perhaps you’re an introvert who has been pretending to be an extrovert during the dating/engagement period. You get married, life settles down to normalcy and your secret is revealed: you don’t want to have dinner parties every weekend! Or, maybe it’s the opposite!
Whatever your natural tendencies, it’s helpful to be aware of this and share it with your spouse or spouse to be!

This will give you both more understanding about each other, not to mention yourselves. Are you energized by people or energized by the solace of reading a book by yourself? By finding out how you are naturally wired, you can save time and tension in your marriage. Again, the compromise word comes into play! I’ll add another one too: respect. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to lean towards. Extrovert spouses can learn from more introvert partners and introverts are challenged by their more outgoing partners. Celebrate your differences and respect how the other person is naturally made, although don’t put them in a box either. People change and grow all the time: expect that will happen too!

 

7. It’s not about the wedding, it’s about what comes after

Some people thinks weddings are spelt “stress” not “wedding”, and with good reason too. Anyone who has been closely involved – parent, bridesmaid, groom, bride, sister, etc. – in a wedding knows exactly how stressful weddings CAN be. Table setting planning, costs involved, not being able to invite everyone you would like, civil wars within extended families: the list goes on!
Sadly, some couples have even separated during the engagement process because of the sheer stress of wedding planning, interference from others and other wedding related issues alone.

Two new families, two sets of values, a whole lot of differing expectations coming together and all of a sudden you have a wedding which is bigger than Ben Hur and nowhere near as noble.

In the busyness of this time, it’s a good idea for you and your spouse to take a step back and ask yourselves – are you even happy with how things are going ahead?

We needed to do this. Somewhere down the track, I realised that we had fallen into the trap of planning a wedding to please other people, the expense being ourselves (and our bank accounts.)

Tip: if you find yourselves constantly “joking” about how much easier it would be if you just eloped, you need to revisit your wedding planning with a very good tip which my husband’s aunty gave me.

It’s quite catchy, really: your day, your way!

If you need assistance to to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

 

 

Transitions: The Secret Of Change

the secret of change

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new. (Socrates)

Put simply, look ahead instead of looking back if you want to change.

As I have thought about this, a Bible story that I was taught during my early years attending Sunday School came to mind. It was a story that put fear in my heart telling of a couple who lived in the city of Sodom, infamous for some of its resident’s depraved behaviour. The couple had been instructed by God to flee from the city without looking back. Failure to do so, God warned, would be grievous. I can only guess what Lot’s wife was experiencing: curiosity, confusion and uncertainty, feelings of loss, doubt? The consequence of her action was swift and dramatic: she turned to a pillar of salt there in the desert.

The story reminds me of the real challenges a person faces when confronted with any transition in their life. Some transitions such as developmental changes, workplace changes, or the loss of a loved one are forced upon you. Other transitions are a consequence of the choices you have made: living together as a committed couple, marriage, moving location, a change in employment, recovery from an addiction are just a few examples. Irrespective of the nature of the transition you are going through, it is a stressful and emotionally challenging time. The story reminds me how easily you can become ‘stuck’ and even feel like you are ‘losing yourself’ during transition because nothing is familiar or predictable anymore. The ground is shifting beneath you and the natural desire to turn back and look at the old  familiar ways can be a temptation difficult to resist. It is a human tendency to go back to the comfort of what is familiar, even if it is doing me harm; to avoid the discomfort of the unknown and unfamiliar.

Trusting the process of change; permanent change takes a long time and tests our tolerance and patience. Transition is not a linear movement but a movement back and forward, testing out new behaviours, falling back on the old, learning by trial and error.

Fighting the old reinforces the old

  • You are confronted by ‘demons’ of the past
  • You experience an ongoing struggle to resist temptation
  • You become physically and emotionally exhausted
  • You are more vulnerable to the very thing you are fighting against (‘I feel like giving up’; ‘It’s too hard’; ‘Why am I even bothering?’)

Building the new inspires hope and purpose

  •  Your back is to the old
  •  You are thinking about possibilities and dreams
  •  You are focused on finding solutions
  •  You are focusing on the goal

Whatever transition you are presently going through, be it as an individual, a couple or as a member of a community, remember Socrates advice and focus your energy on building the new.

If you need assistance to  focus your energy on the new, would like to know more about how to navigate your present transition experience or need support as you experience your own transition contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

Your 10 Tips For Good Mental Health

Hello. How are you today?

It is a familiar greeting that I hear almost every time I communicate with another person, be it friend or stranger. We use this greeting when we meet with friends, on the phone, at the supermarket, even on the doorstep when that ‘random' person comes knocking to sell you their product, I use it myself. It seems we need some standard form of introduction for further conversation or interaction.

My question is how often do you respond with the truth? For the majority of us, acknowledging that you are not okay is difficult to do, even when we have been offered the opportunity to do so! If you have been brave enough to tell that girl at the checkout about the migraine you can't get rid of and how exhausted you feel, that you can't stop crying and have even had thoughts of suicide…..well, you soon notice the glazed look on her face and the ‘have a nice day' as she moves on to the next person! Now, I am not saying that this is always the case, in fact as our communities become more aware of the prevalence of poor mental health, employers are making sure that their employees are trained to respond appropriately, however we have a long way to go and often it feels ‘safer' to respond with the standard form of etiquette of  ‘I'm fine, thankyou.'

Many of us go about our daily lives ‘pretending' you are okay. If you identify with that, I encourage you to seek out the help you need. As social beings, we all need the encouragement, reassurance and comfort of friends. This is one of the essentials for good mental health. If you do not have that support or you recognise that they do not have the expertise that you need to recover good mental health, I encourage you to seek out the appropriate health professional – talk to your doctor or a Professional Counsellor about what you are experiencing.

You can also take positive steps towards recovering good mental health by taking responsibility for your own self care. These 10 tips, sourced from http://sujenman.wordpress.com/tag/world-mental-health-day/ provide the essentials for self-care:

positive steps for good mental health

If you are not okay and need the support of a Counselling Professional  contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

5 D’s to De-Stress

What_are_you_thinking__by_captivatedimagesMy least favourite time of the day is when I wake up in the morning. I always set my alarm the night before to ensure that I wake up with enough time to prepare for the day ahead. Inevitably, I convince my self that I can ‘crib' another half hour in bed before I finally crawl out and go to the kitchen. I make my breakfast (always tea and 2 pieces of toast), turn the morning news on T.V. and sit in my arm-chair to eat my breakfast and attend to my social media status updates. Next task is to shower and dress, feed the animals, make my lunch, hop in my car, go through a drive-through coffee for my daily take-away, park the car and walk a block to my office in the CBD.

This ‘typical morning in the life of Colleen Morris' is most often enacted automatically and unconsciously, just as your own typical morning is likely to be. Our brain is a highly efficient organ that is capable of  performing  many familiar tasks repeatedly without having to rely on a conscious reminder.  The brain then has the space to take in new information even as we are enacting familiar tasks, so that we can be focused and adaptive.

Recently, with the death of my father, I noticed that my usual normal routine was interrupted. Instead of moving through the motions of my routine quickly and efficiently, I went first to my arm-chair, switched on the T.V. and sat…not thinking anything, not doing anything, just sitting. With the stress that the experience of bereavement brings, my ‘poly-vagal nervous  system' was interrupted so that I was having a ‘freeze' response.  Neural pathways were triggered in my unconscious mind, giving expression to real thoughts and feelings that live in my body and brain that I  don't have words for. The freeze response is a reflexive, adaptive response to feelings of sadness and loss that served to put me into a dissociative state, raising my pain threshold.

Experiences of trauma and heightened stress events can literally ‘derail' your brain in such a way that it becomes stuck and unable to do the task of emotional regulation. When this happens, a person may find themselves reacting to environmental and relational stimuli, often unconsciously, with the same heightened response, that creates ongoing emotional distress.  A person will automatically look for a strategy that they believe, will calm them. Often the strategies that a person applies appear to work in the short-term but have long-term risks: alcohol and drugs, gambling, cutting and pornography are just a few of the ways a person tries to de-stress. These behaviours are also addictive and produce other negative impacts.

If you identify with this, here are 5 D's to De-stress:

1. Drink water.

This is the quickest way to calm down your poly-vagal nervous system  that has been activated by the trigger event.

2. Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing slows down your heart rate which will have a calming effect. If you associate your trauma with the mouth or you have asthma, try humming as an alternative.

3. Delay

Saying to yourself, “I am going to (addictive behaviour) in an hour” may delay long enough for your symptoms to settle, so that you do not need it.

4. Distract

Dancing to some happy music, jogging on the spot, ringing a friend, or cooking are all examples of the distract tactic.

5. Do something Different

Focusing on doing something different immediately turns your mind to focus on this new task or experience.

If you are experiencing trauma or heightened stress and would like further support you can contact Colleen on 0434337245 or go to her online diary at www.watersedgecounselling.com