Tag Archives: Mental Health

Hope — the greatest motivator

ONE OF THE first things I do when I start with a new client is search for a sense of hope in them.
It doesn’t matter whether they present with anxiety, depression, lack of friendships, school problems, or family issues.
If I can find what they are hopeful about, even if it is buried down very deep, we can engage their motivation for change.
We find a preferred vision of their life and start making purposeful steps towards it together.
But what is hope?
Some people think it’s just a feel-good emotion.
Like watching a romcom that is all about Hollywood’s expectations of love.
I mean, how many people really do “that run” to the airport to stop their great love from flying away in the real world?
Hope is so much more than that.
Hope is a feeling of anticipation and craving for a particular outcome.
It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but positively pragmatic and rooted in the reality of what is possible.
That is what makes it so powerful as a motivator.
It pushes us to understand and clear obstacles, channel energy into learning, and use the approaching goal to fuel more hope and confidence.
It’s a self-generating positive energy source for change and growth.
Research shows us that hope has many positive benefits in our lives.
People with higher levels of hope have better health behaviours, physical health, less chronic disease and live longer.
The mental health and well-being aspects are evident in lower levels of anxiety and depression, less stress, better social support, and more resilience.
Studies have shown that hope was a better predictor of academic achievement than IQ and athletic success than training and confidence.
In other words, it’s the holy grail of mindsets to have.
It has been suggested that those with higher hope are more likely to set learning goals that promote personal growth and change.
Those without hope are more likely to set mastery goals that aren’t particularly challenging and give up if they hit obstacles very early.
This continues their feedback loop that having hope is pointless because they “succeed” anyway.
In being hopeful, we look for solutions to the obstacles rather than just focusing on the obstacles.
Hope is flagging for a lot of our young people right now.
If we remember that hope is pragmatic and rooted in the real world, let’s look at the types of evidence they see around them.
They will inherit climate change but currently have little power over the decisions currently being made.
Overall living costs, which we are all constantly talking about, including housing prices, make it seem like having their own house when they grow up is impossible.
The pandemic that took such a vast toll on their lives and development and the notion it could happen again, the war in Ukraine, and rising Russian threats to the West.
Bringing it closer to home, how many young people struggle with school or university because of remote learning?
How many young peoples’ grades took a nosedive?
How many young people’s social groups or families struggled over the past few years?
This is all viewed as evidence that the world has become increasingly unpredictable and frightening and their place in it cannot be relied on.
Whether it comes from us or others, doubt can also eat away at the foundation of hope.
For our young people, parents, teachers, coaches, grandparents, other extended family members, or family friends can intentionally or accidentally plant the seeds of doubt.
I’m sure all of us can remember when an adult said something that planted doubt about what we could achieve and, what it did to us, how it felt.
It literally can take the wind motivation from our sails.
It doesn’t mean we tell every young person they can be an astronaut or Prime Minister.
But, it does mean we role model and teach them how to problem solve obstacles, hopefully for things that are important to them.
We need to show them hope in action where we can.
Whether that is taking a risk in looking at a promotion for yourself or trying out that new exercise regime to deal with a health problem.
We can discuss our hopes and dreams with them and actively determine courses of action to get us there.
When given the chance, our young people want to help us achieve our hopes the same way we do for them, and many are incredibly smart at coming at things from angles we would never see for ourselves.
They can also be quite blunt in calling us out on our BS.
Equally, we want to help them identify and maintain their hopes for themselves.
This might be pointing out evidence of what they have achieved to date, when we saw them overcome previous obstacles, that we believe the doubting voice in their heads isn’t accurate.
Hope is the best motivator there is for our young people.
Have a good think about what you are hopeful for and make time to talk to your young person about their hopes and dreams.
Until next time folks!

Natalie Rinehart (B.A.Sci (Psych); Grad.Dip.App.Psych)
Young Person & Family Counsellor/Life Coach, Author
www.youthlifecoach.com.au
youthlifecoach@healthpriorities.com.au
0425 735 106

The Screen Wars: How to stop it tearing your family apart

IT’S A WEDNESDAY night.
You have finally finished up work in the home office.
The kids have been home from school for an hour.
You stick your head in on teen number one; he’s in front of his computer with Discord chats on one screen and a fast-moving game he’s yelling at on another.
You check on teen number two, and it’s pretty much a mirror image, except she’s laughing at Tik Tok.
Your next shift has started without you, and you already feel like you’re on the losing side.
The Screen Wars: phones, tablets, laptops, PCs playing all the games, social media, funny videos, messaging services, school requirements and work access all in one.
The war started well before COVID, but let’s face it, COVID has bought it into starker focus.
The screens that allowed us to connect became our lifeline to work, school, friends, and entertainment.
We have all become so reliant on them that we have forgotten how to function with less.
So, how can we reduce their overuse without an all-out war?
This is a question I am so often asked by the parents of young people I see.
Our need for up-to-date information, especially during the lockdowns, was intense in recent years.
There were daily press briefings on rules, numbers, and the heartbreaking toll of deaths.
Each time we picked up the screen, there was a sense of “I know what I need to”.
We still need information but not as frequently.
Letting our icy grip loosen on the screens will take time and conscious choices by our families and us.
Don’t blame the kids, ourselves, or the screens.
They did the job, and they kept us going.
We were all so sick of seeing each other or pretending to be ok over lockdowns that it was easier to say, “ah, let them do it,” while we cosied up with Netflix or our friends on Facebook.
But now, like that partner you want to break up with and go back to being friends, our focus needs to change.
A big step is a family plan/contract that is built with input from everyone whilst calm.
It needs to be clear how long screens can be used over weekdays/weekends and maybe a day a month with no rules.
Where possible, get your young people to decide when they will use their allotted time.
You cannot ask anyone to go from eight hours a day to 30 mins.
There will be a complete family revolt.
Most importantly, you as the parents need to lead this by role modelling it.
Young people will quickly shut down if there is one rule for the grownups and one for them.
So, if there are no phones at the table, get a phone basket, and everyone pops theirs in.
If its no screens before school, then everyone needs to.
If rules get broken, the contract needs to have agreed consequences.
If people start slipping screens before school, turn Wi-Fi off for that period.
But don’t pull out heavy-handed consequences straight away.
We want to bring about the change gently, with love, with humour and with an understanding that this is not easy.
Decide on other things to help fill the time.
You can’t take away and leave a gaping time hole.
If your kids like a bit of sport, head down to the local basketball courts or football ground, get some exercise equipment or do yoga.
If your kids are more creative — get the art stuff out.
Get the cameras out and print out the best ones for the walls.
Music or podcasts — the non-screen silence can be unnerving for some at first.
Do home mani-pedis, facials, or hair treatments together.
Or solo ones like scented baths, et cetera.
Each person learns how to cook a new meal that they love.
Get them with their friends in person.
Make a firepit for fires with marshmallows.
If there are extra jobs around the house, they could make a few extra bucks out of — get them on those.
Ask your kids if there is a new skill they’d like to learn — car maintenance, carpentry, cake decoration; find a short course together.
Finally, we need to reteach ourselves and our kids how to be without constant screen attention.
This isn’t an overnight venture; it will take time and conscious awareness.
Talk to your young people over time about how they are going with it.
If they say it’s hard, then validate that it IS hard.
Share your experiences of what has and hasn’t worked for you.
It’s incredibly important to remain calm, collegial, and full of praise for the steps your family make in overcoming this issue.
Until next time folks!
Natalie Rinehart (B.A.Sci (Psych); Grad.Dip.App.Psych) is a Young Person & Family Counsellor/Life Coach
0425 735 106

Image: Pixabay

Mental Health

VALUES are at the core of self.
Understanding your values helps a person decide what is most important in their life.
Being able to identify those values is a little bit trickier, because values can be influenced by so many different things and it can be hard to recognise which are our values or those of someone else.
In general, values are related to the way in which we decide to live and work.
Our values should determine our deepest priorities, without any outside influence.
However, being influenced by outside sources happens whether we like it or not and these can impact our actions, unintentionally or intentionally, changing the way we behave or the way we live or the way we work.
When we live by our own values, we tend to be happy, content and relaxed.
Satisfied even.
When we move away from our values, by outside influences perhaps, we become unhappy, anxious and stressed.
We feel uneasy.
Living by our values is very important for our mental health, once we understand what our deepest personal values are, we are able to assess if we are living by them, or if we need to change the way we are functioning.
It is also important to understand that over time, our values may also change, depending on our life circumstances, but core values never leave us.
If you are thinking that that sounds like a contradiction in terms, you are right.
The point is, we have a set of core values that are at the centre of our being that are usually pretty sound, and yet some of our other values don’t have such strict boundaries and may alter as life develops, as we enter relationships, have children, develop our careers and so on.
What was important in the past, may not be so important now.
Values are the principles by which we live our lives.
Our earliest values are dictated by family, friends and relationships.
But as we grow and mature, we are able to fully identify and develop our own set of values.
Take a moment to think about your own values, perhaps make a list of them.
Where did those values come from, who influenced them and more importantly what influenced them?
Determining your values can be as simple as thinking about the things that have had a positive influence on your life, things that have made you happy, that make you feel safe, that you are proud of, et cetera.
Once you start thinking about your values, it is easier to understand your core values, the things that matter most, that are unwavering.
Sometimes it is hard to live by our values, because life throws curveballs at us that might try to knock us off track.
This is normal, it is how we react to these curveballs that is important — once we have identified our core values, handling difficult situations becomes less stressful.
For instance, identifying the direction in life we wish to take, making important or life changing decisions or knowing how to act in awkward situations becomes easier.
Being true to yourself is living by your core values.
These core values are the foundation for a strong and healthy, happy life.
If you cannot or have not identified your values, then how do you know when you have violated one of them?
Usually, it is because you have a deep sense of unease, you feel sick in the stomach, you become anxious or feel guilty or even shame.
Essentially, when we have identified with our values and live by them, we experience a deeper sense of happiness and peace of mind, we function better and become more productive, creative and respected.
It is important to remember however, that not everyone shares the same values.
Respecting your own values as well as other people’s values is important.
Remaining non-judgemental and respectful to other people’s values is an attribute that is worthy of being on everyone’s list of values for a more harmonious existence.

Stephanie Foxley has lived and worked in the Manningham district for over 20 years.
Now relocated to Queensland she offers online counselling services via Zoom.
Medibank, Bupa, Police Health Fund and Doctor’s Health fund accredited.
Member of ACA and CCAA and PACFA
Mobile: 0407 921 122
Email: newlifehealingspace@gmail.com
Website: www.newlifehealing.com.au

Beyondblue Australia: 1300 22 4636
Lifeline: (Crisis Support) 13 11 14
Headspace: (12-25 years) 1800 650 890
Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080
Health and Human Services: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Emotional Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic

AS WE ARE FACED with increasing boundaries in our normal day to day life and as isolation and social distancing are required to flatten the growth rate of COVID-19 many people will find themselves struggling with their emotions.

It is really important that we, as a community, look out for each other; especially the elderly, the vulnerable, those with asthma, compromised lung capacity or auto immune problems.

But it is equally important to be considerate to other members of our community too, those who live alone or have no family.

There are many people out there who already struggle with isolation from their families and friends; especially those who live with depression, anxiety and stress.

If you know someone who is struggling, reach out to them; if you know someone who lives on their own, no matter what age, reach out to them; if you need to make a trip to the shops, offer to help do the shopping for them; check in with them, make a phone call or a video call, give them a “virtual” hug, you might be their life saver.

Anxiety is a normal response to stressful situations or perceived threat, and currently Australians and other nationalities around the world are under threat from the COVID-19 virus.

This anxiety ranges from the sense of uneasiness to increased worry or fear, to severe panic.

It is important that if you are feeling heightened feelings of anxiety to seek help; to talk to a friend or a member of your family, ring a counsellor or call a hotline.

These feelings may include “fear of this situation”, that “this situation is really bad” or that you “can’t cope with this”.

In extreme cases your behaviour may become uncharacteristic, like being aggressive, restless or irrational.

We have all seen some of these responses on television where people have been fighting in the supermarkets.

Your counsellor will be able to help you manage your thoughts, assist you with some relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.

Families who find themselves in isolation will inevitably struggle with the close proximity in which they are having to live.

Extended periods within the same four walls will no doubt lead to some form of conflict.

“Effective coping strategies can transform a conflict into a problem that can be solved mutually” (from Learning to cope with conflict and violence: how schools can help youth by Susan Opotow and Morton Deutsch, inLearning to Cope: Developing as a Person in Complex Societies, edited by Erica Frydenberg).

So, it is time to be even more considerate to one another, give each other some space and if possible, come up with constructive systems that promote positive outcomes.

Avoid situations that might increase tensions and anger.

While getting angry is a normal human emotion, so long as it is managed well, it should not cause a problem.

Anger can range from slight annoyance to severe rage, and it is these heightened feelings of anger that need careful consideration especially when having to live in close proximity, confined to your home.

Anger, in extreme cases, can lead to violence and if you are at all concerned about your own anger or that of someone close to you, it is important to reach out and get help.

Isolation can lead to other mental health issues, and prolonged isolation can lead to feelings of being “trapped” or “cabin fever”.

When you are confined to a small space or restricted against your will in your own home it is possible that you can begin to feel irritable and restless.

These are claustrophobic reactions to being confined and may occur if you are faced with self-isolation or if there is a total quarantine lockdown.

Keeping yourself motivated is important, finding constructive things to do is helpful and reading a good book or playing an engaging game will also be advantageous.

Contact a friend for a video chat, or simply pick up the phone and talk to someone; tell them how you feel, that you feel like you are going to go crazy, reach out and share these emotions, once shared, they are halved.

We live in a community that cares, be there for one another, it might be your turn to need help next time.

Stephanie Foxley is a Warrandyte based counsellor who offers face to face and online counselling services. Medibank, Bupa, Police Health Fund and Doctor’s Health fund accredited. Member of ACA and CCAA, Provisional member of PACFA

Mobile: 0407 921 122

Email: newlifehealingspace@gmail.com

 

Coronavirus Health Information Line: 1800 020 080

Beyondblue Australia: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline: (Crisis Support) 13 11 14

Headspace: (12-25 years) 1800 650 890

Health and Human Services: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au