Mindfulness is a really good way to reduce anxiety and stress. This is one of my favourite activities to help keep me grounded. Grounding is happening in the here and now, when you are grounding, you are guiding your attention away from thoughts and worries about the past, and guiding it towards the present, focusing on the here and now. Why not give it a try?
Creating a mindfulness box is a great way to ground kids after a long day. If you have an old shoebox or container, you can decorate it and start filling it with different sensory items. Here is a checklist you can print and add to your box.
Our mood plays an important role in determining our levels of energy, our motivation, what we focus on and how we engage with those around us.
Lots of things can impact our mood, how much sleep we get, what we eat, if we do activities that energise and inspire us.
Tracking your mood can be a valuable way to see any patterns in your behaviour, what your do each day and the impact it has on your mood.
I have been using mood tracking apps with my clients for years. It’s great to help you see trends or patterns in your mood and then you’ll be able to work out what brings you energy, which helps you feel good, and what helps you recharge.
Click below to download a free mood tracker
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, which challenges our personal boundaries. Most people are getting ready for the holidays and many are also battling with the end of the school year.
The end of the school year has challenges for children of all ages. Some people have children who received their ATAR score and are pondering the course of their adult life–which course to choose, whether to go to university or TAFE, whether they should do a trade or take a gap year.
Other families have children going through major school transitions like moving from grade 6 to year 7 and/or changing schools. Parents may also be going through some major life changes: some parents are changing jobs in the new year and others are questioning their career and life trajectory as the new year fast approaches.
Then there are all the festivities work functions, bbq’s, family reunions, Christmas parties, and the list goes on! Some families may be preparing for trips or weekends away others are getting slammed wrapping up a busy work year. I am exhausted just thinking about it all! As our calendars fill up and start to burst at the seams, it’s important to take some time to reset/recommit to the one thing that helps keep us feeling balanced and sane: your boundaries.
Setting boundaries during this time feels incredibly difficult and yet is extremely important. If you’re not used to setting boundaries, it can be quite a challenge. But all it takes is practice.
Does this sound like you? The moment someone asks you to do something, you say YES even if you know you can’t do it or you know it will push you over the edge or maybe you didn’t even hear the question properly. It just seems easier to say you’ll do it and somehow you’ll work out how to do it later.
“It’s ok, I can finish the pavlova after work, then sew together the costume for the school presentation, sleep at 12, then get up at 5 to finish the pav, clean up and have it all ready before work…’’ sound familiar?
Why do we do this to ourselves?
The fear of letting people down
Saying no can fill us with shame. We may have an internal dialogue that says
‘’I’m not a good friend’’
‘’I’m not a good mother/father’’
‘’I can’t let the team down, what kind of team player would I be?’’
‘’Who are YOU to take a break?! ‘’
People who always say yes often base their worthiness on the approval of others. We think we need to keep them happy, it’s all about the kids, I need to do this for work. This is a sure way to empty your battery.
Setting boundaries is hard, but it will get you closer you are to being your most authentic self. It’s also brave. It takes courage to fight our internal dialogue and some deep-rooted fears about whether people will still like you or whether you will be rejected for saying no.
We need to prioritise and love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others. We need to believe we are enough and not rely on the approval of others to feel worthy. Then we can start to say ‘’enough!’’
It’s important to think about the cost of saying YES all the time. What happens when we say yes to everything?
- We run out of battery
- It feeds resentment
My 5 tips for setting boundaries
Take a moment to think about it
There are so many demands placed on us during the holiday season, so when someone asks us can we attend this bbq, could we help repair a broken item, help them move house this weekend or could we make our famous pavlova, it’s ok to say, “Let me check my schedule and get back to you.” We don’t need to say “YES!” straight away.
Have a few go-to sayings that you can use in times of stress or when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Like many things, saying no and setting boundaries takes practice. You can practice saying things like, “I can’t take that on right now.” or, “My plate is full at the moment.”
Have a personal mantra
I need something to get me through those awkward conversations when someone’s just asked me to do something I know I just can’t squeeze in. At that moment the whole world feels like it’s moving so fast and yet I can hear my thoughts with crystal clear audio, “Just say yes’’. In these moments I need a mantra to get me through it. “Lean into the discomfort, it’s ok to say no.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s crucial for my well-being.
Some other mantras you could use:
- ‘’It’s ok to say no, my self worth is more than the approval of others’’
- ‘’ I’m a great friend/mother/father etc, those who truly love me, want me to take care of myself’’
‘’You can sprint a marathon, I need to take it easy to make the distance’’
Keep track of your feelings
Whenever I’m laying in bed, with thoughts swirling in my mind, with my internal voice swearing like a sailor, I grab a post-it note from my bedside table and write down what’s going on. I’ve noticed that I’m most resentful when I haven’t looked after myself when I’m tired, overwhelmed and taking on too much i.e not setting boundaries.
Make self-care a priority
The word self-care has been capitalised and labelled as a luxury item and people think it means a fancy day spa or a meditation retreat. If you do those things, that’s totally fine. But true self-care is not a luxury item or package, think of it as recharging your phone battery, restocking your fridge or filling your car up with petrol. You NEED it to keep going or your phone will switch off, your fridge will be empty and your car will probably stop on a busy freeway when you’re already running late and rushing. Check out my self-care tips here
You can see that having good personal boundaries are really important for our sanity and surviving these busy times of the year. I hope these tips help guide you towards a more balanced holiday season. If you’re finding it hard to set strong boundaries to get in touch with me for a consult.
Here are some of my best self care tips. Self care is really important, whether you only have 5 minutes or a whole day, there are lots of different things you can try.
Going through a separation or divorce in your family is hard enough, then you have to try to work out how to tell your children. How do you tell your children that you’re separating?
Children develop different ideas as to why their parents are separating and may blame themselves. It’s important to tell the children it’s not their fault – even if they haven’t verbalised it. You may need to say this a few times. They may not mention it because it’s a shameful feeling – so they will keep it very well hidden
Try to keep the conversation
- Non-blaming of the other parent
- Tell the children it’s not their fault.
Try to avoid
- Playing blame on the other parents in front of the children.
- Don’t say things like mum/dads had an affair
- Don’t need to tell them the reasons why
3 points that are essential for telling children about parents separating
- Keeping the language unified – we still love you.
- Telling them that even though you may not love each other (the other parent) anymore, we can never stop loving you.
- It’s not your fault
What to look out for in your child.
Sometimes they may behave in a way that’s different from usual, avoiding things they never avoided, having trouble at school. Some may be very well behaved because they don’t want to upset the parents. Parents might think they’re doing really well, sometimes they’re trying to protect each parent and internalise the pain. If you notice something out of the ordinary chose a time and place that’s comfortable for you both and mentioned the things you’ve noticed. “I’ve noticed that ….(you have been avoiding school, talking to this friend, etc).’
Children can find it difficult to name their feelings – so giving them that open-ended question so they are invited to talk about it. Remind them you love them, it’s not their fault and you will always be there for them.’ Let them voice their concerns and ask questions.
If they come to you with questions, you can say simple things like ‘ we are working on it’ take the pressure and responsibility off them. As parents, it’s ok to say ‘’we’re finding it very confusing too but we’re working on it.’’
It’s ok to be scared and anxious during this difficult time. Make sure to take care of yourself too. If you need some additional support you can go to your GP and discuss a referral to a mental health specialist. Family therapy can also be helpful to support you to have some of those difficult conversations and find ways to better support each other and resolve conflict.
https://mensline.org.au/ Call 1300 78 99 78
MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with family and relationship concerns.
https://www.panda.org.au/ Call 1300 726 306 PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood.
This podcast was written following an interview conducted on the Inside Social Work podcast interview Verity Best and Josette Gardiner from focus counselling
To listen to the episode check out the Inside Social Work podcast page https://insidesocialwork.com/2019/06/10/episode4/
Click here for the episode’s show notes
Listen to the podcast
- You seem to be arguing over and over again about the same things, it feels like its getting worse.
- You find it difficult to connect and find it difficult or uncomfortable talking about your feelings or concerns about the relationship.
- You’re not really talking, you may be living parallel lives with minimal interaction or silence has become the norm.
- You’re intimacy is suffering and your sex life has slowed or stopped.
- You may be considering pursuing another outside of your relationship.
- Balancing work and looking after children has taken priority over your partner.
- You feel exacerbated and defeated.
If any of these points sound familiar to you, we urge you to consider seeking relationship counselling so that your relationship doesn’t deteriorate further.
The Inside Social Work podcast, hosted by Marie Vakakis provides information on are range of things related to social work. The information will be useful to anyone in a helping profession (including psychology, nursing, psychiatry, counselling, and education). The purpose of this series is to engage and inspire practitioners and encourage lifelong learning and to promote research and theories to practice.
Today I attended a national social work day event, this years theme was ‘Promoting the Importance of Human Relationships’. A topic so relevant today in our current climate of fear, hostility and political turbulence. The keynote speaker was founder and CEO of the ASRC, distinguished social worker and human rights advocate Kon Karapanagiotidis. This quote I scribbled down during Kon’s speech stood out to me. His speech was moving and inspiring, calling us into action, to systematically advocate for structural change and to challenge the political and social frameworks that keep people ‘small’. He acknowledged the challenges we may face as social workers advocating for clients and the systematic barriers and the fear we must overcome and encouraged us to work together to survive the broken system , that has tried to keep up small and quiet. He remind me of my social work values and idealistic dreams that got me into the profession. I echo his sentiments of wishing the world was a place where my job didn’t have to exist