Five Steps to Better Your Mental Health today!

Welcome to mental health awareness week.  I wanted to give you some options for you to help yourself. This will be very useful for those of you who have seen the Last Resort Tehcnique – Relationship saving advice on my Blog. Here is the link just in case you missed it.Last Resort Technique.

Love in the world.
Love in the world.

If you find this helpful please pass on to friends and family who may benefit.

Depression, anxiety and many mental health conditions become isolating and hard to deal with alone. So I want you to know there is help for you, you are not alone. Here are the five tips you can start today to get yourself back to you.

1) Find your tribe

It is well known social connections are crucial for a person who is experiencing depression. Social isolation is one of the hallmarks of a depressed person as they withdraw from social connections. An Australian study’s (Cruwy’s et al., 2014) findings demonstrate that those who not only joined a local group (some did yoga, art, Professor Alexander Haslam (Cruwy’s et al., 2014), a co-author, said:

“We were able to find clear evidence that joining groups, and coming to identify with them, can alleviate depression. “Our work shows that the ‘group’ aspect of social interaction is critical.” “…a group has to matter psychologically in order to be beneficial for depression – simply “showing up” without commitment or engagement is unlikely to be sufficient.”

The authors conclude that their study suggests…

“…that tackling the challenge of depression involves not just putting the person back into the group, but also putting the group back into the person.”

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Fancy hula dancing well give ti a try!

It seems finding your tribe, mob or community is important to healing depression. It’s vital this group is a place where you feel a connection. It could be taking up a hobby, acting classes, Yoga, community classes, Laughter Yoga, dancing, sports, it could even be online.

I was on a talkback radio show for ABC 702 with Radio host Philip Clarke and Professor Katina Michael from the University of Wollongong, where we were pondering is ‘Facebook making us sad.’ A lady called in and said Facebook had helped her recover from depression and it’s isolation. She told us that when a relative put up a profile for her, at first she was unnerved but as she found her friends and family coming out to support her she felt connected. How wonderful.

Facebook can connect you to a new world of online friends.
Facebook can connect you to a new world of online friends.

Look at the resources section at the end of this chapter, to find useful links.

So find your support network to gain connection and healing in the long term. We all need a cheer squad at times to send us love, validation and affirmation.

2) The Power of Pets

The other option is to start up your own tribe. I had a car accident where I was rear ended, leading to an injury and my beautiful car being written off. Very sad loss of course. Certainly an unexpected and tough break, to say the least! This event turned out to be a turning point in my life. My days spent on the bus travelling 90 minutes each way to go to work got rather tedious. I decided to go full time in my private practice Marriage Works, and it has been a fantastic change for the better.

Another light that shone at this time was a friend suggesting I get a pet, which I did. Taneisha was 12 years of age when she came to live with me from a breeder. She was well loved but ready to retire as she could no longer have kittens. I joke, I rescued her from sex slavery – she was a champion Burmese breeding feline. I have always had animals for most of my younger life, raising lambs, fish, chickens, budgies, a duck and cats.

Tanesiha unoffical Therapy feline of Marriage Works. Animals offer uncondtional loving.
Taneisha unofficial Therapy feline of Marriage Works. Animals offer unconditional loving to many humans who need TLC.

Taneisha as you can see is a beautiful chocolate Burmese (low allergy too!) and spectacularly loving. She has a sixth sense for knowing when a person is down or upset. I was seeing a family and I was surprised when she went straight up to the girl who was agitated and upset and jumped up into her lap. Naturally the child started to stroke her as she settled down to sit. Boy did Taneisha help soothe her.

Pets such as dogs, cats, birds or any animal you personally connect with can become a wonderful and devoted part of a person’s life. The benefits are profound. The unconditional loving of an animal cannot be underestimated. I have seen people care for their pets so tenderly. They will take them for walks, feed them, talk to them and cuddle them, incredibly healing for anyone.

There is scientific evidence from studies of therapy animals visiting nursing homes; hospital units and so forth are helping healing and bringing cheer to all. Only the other day I heard the ‘baa’ of a goat. Now I live in metropolitan Sydney, so this is an unusual sound to hear when it’s not coming from the TV. None of my neighbours has a goat in their yard. I look across my balcony to see the ‘baaing’ was coming from the nursing home across the road. Evidently there was a petting zoo there for residents to touch and connect with physically. What joy I felt as I could see the residents outside in the fresh air enjoying this interaction.

3) You Are What You Eat

It is long known that a healthy diet plays an important part in a persons overall well-being and ability to handle stress. In a large study of 15,093 people who were followed over 10 years, the traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes eating nuts, fruits and vegetables, legumes, fish/seafood, cereals, and monounsaturated oils, had a protective effect and lowered the risk of depression (Sánchez-Villegas et al., 2015). There is a body of thinking from scientists that depression could be partly down to a lack of essential nutrients. There is an added benefit to eating healthily. Food is fuel and if we fill our ‘tank’ with nutrient rich and healthy foods, our system is likely to feel the benefits. This is something we can control in our lives. Luckily fresh vegetables are relatively cheap and easy to come by.

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The colours of love for your body. Vegetables are natures multi vitamins.

There is also tentative research into the role inflammation may play in depression. Please visit here  –Healthy place information on inflammation effects on mental health. so review you’re eating and plan for a healthy start.

4) Movement Counts

Now to our bodies. We are movement machines and much research has been done to demonstrate the effectiveness of exercise on our mind and our bodies. We release endorphins, which are neurotransmitters and powerful brain chemicals to lower stress. Research also suggests that the benefits of exercise involvement may be long lasting. Depressed adults who took part in a fitness program displayed significantly greater improvements in depression, anxiety, and self esteem (Craft and Perna, 2004).

She's on a runner's high, feeling good with endorphins flowing through her body.
She’s on a runner’s high, feeling good with endorphins flowing through her body.

The endorphins are our body’s natural pain relief substances and provide positive feelings, similar to that given by morphine. Perhaps you have heard of the ‘runner’s high’ where a person feels euphoric and energised after a workout. (Craft and Perna, 2004).

Exercise has many positive benefits these include

  • Lowering stress
  • Improving self- esteem
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Depression relief
  • Better sleeping
  • Improves heart health
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Increases strengthen and tones muscles
  • Strengthens bones
  • Helps reduce fat

And it is free. Start small at first. A walk around the block is a beginning, and then adds a bit more. Great if you can access a park or a nature reserve. There is something special about being in nature for us humans. Get your green on. The beach is another wonderful place; take a dip in the ocean and get your dose of positive ions for free. I find there is something very cleansing about being in water that is incredibly healing.

5) Nourish your Spirit

Today in Australia and most of the western world we live in a highly materialistic world, overflowing with technology. The pressure to compete and maintain expensive lifestyles may be draining our spirit. It is thought that a sense of spiritual impoverishment is a contributor in modern societies ever increasing epidemic of depression and anxiety. Perhaps we are undernourished spiritually, leading us to feel a deeper sense of dissatisfaction, disconnection and distress.

In talking about spirituality, I am referring to your belief system that informs and guides your life for it’s highest good. Spirituality is uniquely personal and can be connected with nature, animals or those beliefs espoused by organized religions. Faith can be very healing. Perhaps you grew up in a particular religious system – Judaism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam and Hinduism to name a few. You may want to revisit your local church, synagogue, temple or mosque to reconnect.

If this isn’t your thing you can find spiritual support in many forms. Music offers many people relief and has long been available for spiritual nurturance.

Sing!

Joining a choir offers us a powerful spiritual expression, support of a group and brain growth. It’s hard to be unhappy for long at a sing-along. I enjoy Salsa as a dance and the music is cheerful and uplifting. I have a Buddhist friend who loves singing in an Anglican choir, so there are many possibilities.

A Cyprus band, they could be playing your tune.
A happy band, they could be playing your tune.

Songs are often intimate and celebratory, offering you harmony- sorry for the pun. Singing lifts your spirits in all senses emotionally and physically. Your brain releases endorphins and oxytocin, powerful mood enhancers and alleviates stress. Music is soul food.

The Power of the Pen.

Writing a journal whether in paper or digitally has been a form of cantharis for centuries. There is something incredibly potent in putting pen to paper that aids in release and reflection. Oprah swears by a daily gratitude list as a supportive practice. Affirmations can be amazingly influential especially when written. I especially like Sondra Ray’s books how to write affirmations, although slightly dated, as they are from the 1970’s. Think about it, our negative thoughts are merely negative affirmations we repeat. What if we were to swap them out for good?

Beautiful script writing.
Beautiful script writing.

I particularly like Emile Coue’s simple affirmative sentence – “Every day in every way I am getting better and better.” Write and say it out loud and with conviction 20 times a day for 31 days for an experiment. Let us know how it works.

Many a novel takes us on a journey of enquiry, curiosity and fulfilment. For some it may be the Bible or Kabala, or something in a fictional book we can connect with. A personal hero of mine is Rachel Naomi Remen; her books are full of stories that heal (see resources). I also enjoy fantasy novels as usually it involves the underdog rising up and completing a quest, involving their personal growth and triumph for the good guys.

A book brings the world into your life.
A book brings the world into your life.

We are so lucky to have access to the written word, whether it is on paper or in our kindle; your local library is full of them, so join up for free. While there you might even look around for a book club to join and discuss the emotional journey an author has taken you on.

Personal blogs are like online diaries, which offer a form of connection. There are blogs on every interest out there – cooking, parenting, fitness, fishing, you name it. Often people can authentically share their perils and success in an honest and intimate manner. Google and find your online community.

Meditation

Naturally I must mention meditation as a means of spiritual nourishment. Eastern traditions have been using meditation for many centuries both sitting still and in the form of movement. Mindfulness meditation in particular has been taken up by mental health professionals. You can find many groups, self help books and online forums, to access mindful meditation. (See the resources section).

Yoga, Tai Chi and martial arts offer some form of spiritual practice to explore, as well as the added benefit of physical movement in a group environment.

Yoga and Meditation are powerful healing methods from the East.
Yoga and Meditation are powerful healing methods from the East.

If you want to go for an intensive and have 10 days spare, then I would suggest a vipassana retreat, The word vipassana means “ to see things as they really are” and help you to a greater self understanding and reboot your emotions and priorities. I attended the International Centre for Mediation in Morisset, a Buddhist group from the Burmese tradition headed by Mother Sayamagyi in her life. It was both challenging and divine and all for $50 a day with the healthiest and yummiest food. Yoga weekends away can be a wonderful escape and time out from the world.

Touch and Connection

We are tactile creatures; the touch of massage is supportively intimate with a trusted professional. It can put you in touch with your humanity. Both giving and receiving massage can bring connection and energy to one’s spirit. Many of us do not have another to caress or hold us; massage can give you a safe place to feel nurtured.

The safe touch of massage can be very beneficial. Combine with essential oils to fill your senses.
The safe touch of massage can be very beneficial. Combine with essential oils to fill your senses.

I hope you found some help and inspiration in reading this. You are certainly not alone and there is help out there. Please have the courage to reach out. I say this with a heavy heart as last week; dear friends of mine have lost their son to suicide and are heartbroken and devastated. Get help and this too shall pass.

With love, light, hugs and healing,

Philipa Thornton.

Recommended Resources

Here is some helpful information to links for practical support, which I have found to be both ersonally and professionally beneficial. Of course I would love to hear from you if you found something useful, please add your own suggestions and comments you found helpful below. I will personally respond.

Buddhist Vipassana Retreat NSW and worldwide

Buddhist Vipassana Retreat NSW and worldwidel

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Buddha is always smiling it seems.

Emmerson, G. (2012) Healthy Parts Happy Self, 3 Steps to Like Yourself. http://www.resourcetherapyinternational.com/store/p2/Healthy_Parts_Happy_Self_-_By_Gordon_Emmerson_PhD_%282012%29.html available here at a 20% discount follow instructions to download.

Happy Parts, Happy Self. 3 Steps to Like Yourself. Gordon Emmerson PhD.
Happy Parts, Happy Self. 3 Steps to Like Yourself.
Gordon Emmerson PhD.

Head Space

Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25 year olds, along with assistance in promoting young peoples’ wellbeing. This covers four core areas: mental health, physical health, work and study support and alcohol and other drug services.

Information and services for young people, their families and friends as well as health professionals can be accessed through this website, headspace centres, online counselling service eheadspace, the Digital Work and Study Service and postvention suicide support program headspace School Support.

Head Space Website

HEALTHYPLACE

Mental Health Support, Resources & Information

HealthyPlace.com is the largest consumer mental health site, providing trusted information on mental health disorders and psychiatric medications from both a consumer and expert point of view. We have online psychological tests, breaking mental health news, mental health videos, and unique tools like our “mood journal” and more. We’re glad you found us. Visit the website Healthy Place.

Ted Talks (Utube)

Ted Talks offer you an amazing place to access free educational and inspirational material starting at five minutes to view. Please find your interests here TED: Ideas worth spreading

Fine examples:

Depression, the secret we share, Andrew Solomon.

This is an excellent informational source and heartfelt personal experience of Andrews journey into depression land.

Andrew Solomon speaks on depressions impact in his life.

Lift Depression with These 3 Prescriptions without Pills by Psychologist Susan Heitler

3 Prescriptions for Depression by Susan Heitler.

Yoga Laughter

Yes you read that correctly and there is science to back up the benefits. Here is what their website says “Laughter Yoga Australia is a Social Enterprise, dedicated to providing health and wellbeing programs to organisations that are serious about the care of their staff and clients.” Click this link to visit Yoga Laughter.

Utube

Yoga Laughter on UTUBE.

A huge selection to choose from. I personally like Michael Sealey’s voice and others (find one you like) have great free mindfulness and hypnosis resources available to help.

Here is Michael Sealey’s Depression Relief Hypnosis & Meditation for 10 Days:

Michael Sealey’s Depression help in 10 days.

There are many more, please explore.

I would personally love to hear from you, what you have found helpful in boosting your self esteem, so please drop me a comment section below. I will respond, Thank you and I hope this helps. Please share too.

Love Philipa

Heal your heart with love and light.
Heal your heart with love and light.

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Welcome to 2017! Relationship Hell or Relationship Heaven?

For many  of us 2016 involved highs and lows. I am certainly glad to be in 2017.
What does 2017 have in store for you? Will it be an easy time or continuing pain?
I’m hoping you want change old patterns and restore harmony.
Too often couples who are stuck in vicious communication cycles feel helpless and desperate. Repeating the same arguments without resolution or relationship repair. You have to have the tools!

air yourr elationship bridge
Build a strong bond in your relationship to bridge your issues in 2017

Well today is January 1st the day for resolution. So what will be the change you make ?  Personally I am aiming for more praise of others and sharing this joy. People really thrive with positive encouragement.

Please let us know your wishes for this year in the comments below.

Want expert relationship counseling? You have found couple therapists providing psychology services for your benefit.

We are back on deck from 10 January, hurry appointments fill fast, so call today for your free 15 minute consult 0434 55 90 11

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Rethinking Infidelity – Esther Perel TED talk sheds light on the hurt

As a relationship therapist, infidelity is a common issue couples enter counseling for.

I’m glad I am able to say many people report a positive experience after processing the affair. While they wouldn’t want to repeat the distress and pain, the learning and growth in themselves and the relationship is a worthwhile reward.

Know affair recovery is possible – seek professional help, find your local relationship expert, a good psychologist or counselor that you feel can help you.

Esther Perel – a certified relationship therapist has some interesting insights into this marital crisis. Please click on this link : Rethinking Infidelity by Esther Perel – relationship psychotherapist.

Broken Heart mend it with counselling
Infidelity and a broken heart can be repaired with good therapy and in time.

Husbands Who Help Get More Bedroom Action Study Finds

Cloth Clips Alessandra Favetto alessandrafavetto.com
Research shows men – more chores you do, more sex you get. Photo credit: Alessandra Favetto, Spain

This morning I spoke to John Stanley and Garry Linnell of 2UE’s breakfast show on this very topic – the division of labour in the household. Interestingly Garry said he actually does most of the housework.

He is more enlightened than most, as around 70% of household duties in a partnership are still performed by women.

Research to the rescue, guys – Neil Chethik’s study VoiceMale: What husbands really think about their marriages, their wives, sex, housework and commitment found the more housework husbands did, the more sex they were having with their wives. De Facto couples do not despair, as I imagine similar correlations are apparent as men perform more household duties – please let me know if this is the case.

Curious to think what may be behind this? Perhaps as women are freed up from the kitchen sink it brings out their wild side. Or they may have more energy to offer up in the bedroom?

So guys the sum of this is the more chores you, do the more sex you will get!

Read on for help if you are stuck in a hopeless battle in the chore wars in your relationship.  Continue reading Husbands Who Help Get More Bedroom Action Study Finds

Want to know what to buy for your partner this Christmas?

I was inspired to write this article after a conversation with Karl my hairdresser, where he was telling me of all the goodies he had bought for his girlfriend and the thought he had put into it.

Some folk find getting the right gift is tough, so I want to help you with some handy hints that will apply to any time a present is needed – Christmas, birthday or wedding anniversary. Please click here to read on… Continue reading Want to know what to buy for your partner this Christmas?

Will you make this the Silly Season?

I write that question as a challenge and want to know how you might answer.

It is December 2014 – Christmas time. Many parties and celebrations are planned.

They do call it the silly season. Office drinks can turn into impromptu embraces and stolen kisses under the influence and more (read between the sheets!).

What I want to know is how will you protect your marriage from a whoops moment that felt good at the time but now fills you with regret or worse confusion.

Be aware and hold onto your integrity. Read on for ideas on how to do this please click here… Continue reading Will you make this the Silly Season?

Is blame helping you deal with the affair or your relationship?

It’s not unusual to feel a need to blame your ex-partner for a relationship that ended or your current spouse if there has been a breach in the relationship say in the case of an affair.

The problem with taking this position is it keeps you stuck and unable to move forward.

Blame is a negative, heavy emotion that will sink your happiness and block possibilities for recovery.

Blame keeps you connected to either the past marriage or the current hurt. It blocks healthy healing and learning.

Maybe this is sounding a little like where you are right now or you know of a good friend, your sister who’s only focus is on their partner’s wrongs ?
While they may have a good point you are past hearing about it and feel stuck and powerless also.

So what if you are ready to change and move beyond the blame cycle? Please read on by clicking here… Continue reading Is blame helping you deal with the affair or your relationship?

The Three Choices in Relationship Distress – Which will you choose?

Dan Wile suggests couples typically use three choices of action when faced with relational conflict:

  1. Attack and Defend a most hurtful way of handling things. This is where one party lashes out criticising their significant others character by finding fault and inadequacy and attacking them personally. This drives their mate away. When a person feels attacked they get defensive which also further distances and harms the relationship.
  2. Avoid or Deny. This is when you ignore or minimise your unhappy feelings about the issue at hand.  Self talk might sound like “It’s stupid to feel this way,” or “I just won’t think about it (say anything, ignore it or pretend it’s ok) and maybe it will go away.” “It’s no big deal.” This sort of downplaying really disheartens the partnership. When the issue continues it gets harder to maintain this avoidance.
  3. SelfDisclose and Connect. You can talk about how you feel about the issue and work on common understanding – this doesn’t mean you have to agree. You may not find the perfect solution or compromise but you have allowed for emotional connection and intimacy building.

Is there a particular style you identify yourself as using from the list? Be honest now. Here is your challenge – move beyond attack and defend, avoid and deny and use the only workable option self disclose and connect.

This will require courage and self-confrontation.

Read on for suggestions as to how to start to rebuild the intimacy with sharing yourself and reconnecting here: Continue reading The Three Choices in Relationship Distress – Which will you choose?

Are you in Stuck in the Avoidance Trap?

Many couples coming to marital therapy at Marriage Works relationship practice are suffering from disappointment and resentments in their relationships. In part this is due to their inaction with dealing with the issues head on.

This holding pattern can go on for many years, simmering below the surface, fracturing the relationship. The occasional explosion will occur and some problems might be discussed resulting in a honeymoon period of closeness and intimacy before the old avoidance pattern resurfaces and the resentment cycle kicks in.

Sometimes this crisis will take the form of an extra-marital affair or it may be embedded in workaholism, chronic busy-ness, gambling, alcohol use, or other third party preferences to the relationship. It is not uncommon for a couple to be in my office two years out from the infidelity with cycles of hurt and remorse playing out for both parties but no resolution.

Often I see a fixed pattern and story of a marriage in heart failure that builds to a breach rising into conscious awareness for the pair. Even after the reconciliation phase many relationships fail due to not dealing with the deeper issues that lead to the crisis in the partnership.

The real culprit here is the Avoidance Trap not confronting or being vulnerable with each other.

Please click text to continue reading… Continue reading Are you in Stuck in the Avoidance Trap?