7 ways to improve your mental health at work

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We spend a lot of our waking hours in the workplace so it’s no surprise that work and personal life impact each other. It’s an issue we mustn’t ignore. Many of us have been trained or at least socialised to separate our ‘professional selves’ from our ‘personal selves’. To put on our ‘worker’ hat at work, our ‘parent’ and ‘partner’ hat at home, and our ‘volunteer’ hat at weekend sports events. We juggle the different parts of ourselves, keeping our guards up and being careful not to cross boundaries. READ “HOW MANY HATS DO YOUR WEAR?”

But can we completely separate the different parts of our lives? And should we? What are the implications, both good and bad? And how can we re-integrate ourselves when we feel like we can’t keep it all together, or when there is a major change in our work or personal lives?

The real mental health issues in the workplace

Employees, managers and business owners are all in the same boat. Where do we even begin to sort out the issues? In late 2018 Bel du Bois from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies and myself surveyed our community. The results were really interesting. 54% of people said that multiple roles and responsibilities was one of the main health and wellness concerns in their workplace. Stress, unrealistic workloads and communication difficulties also rated very highly.

The struggle to keep it all together

I know first hand what it’s like to juggle family and work responsibilities, and *try* to be calm about it all. Many of us struggle with it, yet few of us talk about it openly. We feel pressure to appear to be coping, on top of things, and to have it all together. But pretending everything’s okay doesn’t make the stress go away. Work, family, home and personal health all suffer.

Whose responsibility?

There is increasing pressure on workplaces to address mental health and wellness issues. This is great because instead of sweeping it under the carpet, we’re beginning to talk about, to acknowledge it and to manage it better.

Obviously the responsibility doesn’t sit entirely with our workplaces. We also need to address industry regulations, state and national policy, and cultural norms.

As individuals we also need to take a degree of responsibility for those things within our control – that means taking a good hard look at ourselves, our reactions in stressful situations, our attitudes, our behaviours, and the supports we choose (or don’t choose) to access.

What this means is that to improve mental health we really have to take a multi-tiered Plan of Actionapproach. We must support workplaces and managers and business owners to create a mentally healthy culture. We need to advocate for industry reform, policy and legislation that reflects a mentally healthy culture. And we need to support individuals and groups in our community to develop inner skills and behaviours (that is, the things we can control!) that enhance mental health. Read on for some tips on how you can begin to put mentally healthy actions in place today.

7 ways to improve your mental health at work

1. Remember that you are a human, not a robot. Life isn’t all smooth sailing, blue skies and cheery hearts. You have thoughts and emotions. They are real. You react to the world around you. The world around you reacts to you too.

2. Find your tribe. A supportive, open, caring community around you is what we all need. If you don’t have that, take steps to create it.

3. Build your resilience – physical and mental. The best ways to begin doing this are through exercise, having active hobbies, feeding yourself nutritious food, getting good quality sleep, and developing a powerful mindset.

4. Expand your stress management skills. You can never have too many tools in your “Coping Kit”! Read books and articles on stress management. Go to workshops. Find a counsellor. Listen to podcasts. Do an online course.

5. Find constructive ways to address your workplace issues. This may mean direct communication with your employer, industry, union or association. There may also be changes you can initiate yourself that will make all the difference eg renegotiating your work hours, equipment available for you to do your job, or the length of your lunch break.

6. Make choices that nurture your mental health and physical health. Often it’s the little things that make the biggest difference, such as choosing to go for a walk at lunch time. But sometimes we need to muster up the courage to make the bigger decisions, such as changing jobs or moving locations.

7. Ask for help. If the first person doesn’t support you in the way you need, ask someone else. Keep going until you find the right person. There are so many online resources these days that you’re no longer limited to what’s available in your local area.

Ready for more?

Wellness in the Workplace

If you relate to anything in this post, I’d love you to join me for The Wellbeing Project, a collaboration between myself and Bel du Bois from Darling Downs Wellness Therapies. We’ll be delving into these topics (and more!) in detail in our dynamic, interactive workshop “Wellness in the Workplace” to be held in Warwick on Wednesday 13th March 2019. You’ll get the latest evidence-based information and proven skills and strategies to function at your best in the workplace and in your personal life. You’ll learn techniques to build your resilience, have more energy, manage your work and home stresses, and feel healthier and happier.

Creating and facilitating workshops brings me a lot of joy. I love knowing that I’m making a difference to a room full of people instead of only one person at a time. Bel and I have thoroughly enjoyed our planning meetings at the beautiful cafes around town and we’ve got so much amazingness in store for you. This workshop is definitely not a typical ‘dry’ boring training day!

So …..

Are YOU ready to re-energise, grow your coping skills, discover strategies and techniques to use at work and home, learn ways of communicating effectively with different personalities, and discover resources and supports to guide you into the future? You can have all of this when you choose to take positive action towards better health and wellness at work by investing one day of your life in “Wellness in the Workplace”.

Read more information or make a booking for “Wellness at Work”

More workshops coming soon! Subscribe so you don’t miss out!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

The Art of Creating Order Out of Chaos: Real Life Tetris

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The art of creating order out of chaos – this is my everyday life. How about you? I’m sure I’m not alone in this endeavour. Over the recent Christmas / New Year break I had a few insights into my never-ending battle to keep on top of things and what I discovered was that:

  1. Life is like a game of Tetris®. Surprising but true!
  2. We need to acknowledge and give ourselves more credit for the valuable skills we use in managing the everyday messy stuff in life.
The Art of Playing Tetris®

Whilst I’ve never been a fanatic of electronic games, Tetris® has definitely held a degree of fascination for me. There’s something mesmerising about watching the constant trickle of 4-sided blocks floating gently towards the ground, seamlessly slotting into a void, filling the gap with effortless precision to create a smooth, even landscape, so pleasing to the eye and oh so satisfying!

But just when you begin to truly relish in your sense of control and power, your skill and dexterity, the blocks begin to fall with ever increasing unpredictability, speed and frequency. The art of slotting individual pieces in to the already established landscape becomes more and more complex with greater demands on the player. The speed of the game combines with skilled technique, lightning quick reflexes and co-ordination, finely tuned problem-solving and decision-making, until it all becomes too much. The brain overloads, the fingers go on strike, the eyes stop tracking efficiently, and the body slumps over, head held in hands finding comfort in the curled up foetal position as it relinquishes its task to the too hard basket.

Dramatic maybe? Of course! But how much like everyday life is this!

order out of chaos

Real Life Tetris®

With the juggling of tasks, people, places and things over Christmas time, I had a moment of realisation that I was actually playing real life Tetris®. Calmly and smoothly orchestrating meals, bushwalks, visits, and baking sprees.

And then another lightbulb went on as I was decluttering. Ding ding! I’m playing real life Tetris® with my cupboards. Shifting A to B and sending C over there so I can bring D back, put half of E here and throw F away.

Then more lightbulb moments as I sat down to do some time planning for the coming year and give special attention to my fruitless never-ending quest to ‘do all the things I love’. Blocking time out for this, deleting that, shifting that commitment to there and allowing space for the unpredictable (there’s never enough space for the unpredictable!)

Shining the Light on the History of Tetris®

With all these lightbulbs illuminating my life, I decided to learn a bit more about Tetris® to see if it could unlock any hidden secrets for me to successfully bring order to chaos and avoid the inevitable overwhelm. Apparently Tetris® was developed by a Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov in the 1980’s (* thanks Wikipedia). The name comes from ‘tetra’ referring to 4 sides, combined with ‘tennis’ which was the designer’s favourite sport.

The Brain Benefits of Playing Tetris®

Research has suggested that playing Tetris® boosts cognitive functioning such as critical thinking, reasoning, language and processing. Studies have begun to explore the use of playing Tetris® to help people manage traumatic memories, dieting, smoking, drinking, and even treating “lazy eye”.

The Benefits of Playing Real Life Tetris®

So assuming these benefits are dinky di, how many benefits might there be when we scale Tetris® up to my real life version?

When I struggle with juggling ‘all the things’, how might I have a different experience if I focus on the skills I’m using and expanding?

What might be different if I acknowledge that the tedium of everyday life – managing a home, family, community projects and a small business – might actually be honing my skills of precision, co-ordination, mental acuity, recovery, not to mention the aspect of unexpected therapeutic intervention!

What Game Are You Playing?

Is your real life like a game of Tetris® too?

Or perhaps it’s more like another game. I’d love to know! Contact me with your thoughts and reflections.

PS Perhaps it’s no surprise that I love jig saw puzzles too!

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

I often wonder “How many hats do you wear?” It’s something that goes through my mind because I often struggle with the hats I wear. Some days I think my problem is simply that I have way too many hats, or that some of them just don’t suit me and I should give them away. But other days I’m all over it. On those days I go to bed feeling completely satisfied and know deep down in my heart that I’ve got exactly the right number of hats (and the right types of hats) that I need in life.

Multiple Roles and Responsibilities

“Hats?” you say ….. Well, I’m not talking here about the kinds of hats you wear on your head to keep the sun off or the cold out. Here I’m talking metaphorically about the different roles and responsibilities we each have in life. To list them all would take pages and pages, so here are a few of the hats that I wear and juggle every day:

  • mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin, niece
  • friend
  • bushwalker
  • mountain biker, mountain bike instructor
  • innovator, creator, writer
  • business owner, entrepreneur
  • facilitator, counsellor, consultant
  • community member
  • club / association member
  • household manager, cleaner, cook, organiser, shopper, bill payer, transporter
  • supporter, mentor, mentee
  • consumer

The Struggle is Real

Now if life went smoothly all the time, I’m sure I’d have no issue with my hats. But life’s not like that. Life is messy, and chaotic and unpredictable. Routines and plans go out the window as I work my way through Plan A, then Plan B, and Plan C, and then I wonder “Will it ever stop?” I’m juggling a business, home, and a personal life, switching between hats constantly. Sometimes I don’t have a clue which hat to put at the top, and which hat to leave at the bottom of the pile. The struggle is real people! So this leads me again to my question ““How many hats do you wear?” And “How do you juggle the different hats you wear?”

My Crazy Hat Lady Examples

Let me explain my dilemma a bit more with some real life crazy hat lady examples:

  • I hastily throw my ‘entrepreneur hat’ off and grab my ‘mother hat’ as I rush to meet the ambulance that’s taking my son from school to hospital after a playground accident. In A&E I’m balancing my hats on top of each other as I flit between support person, consumer, organiser, business owner, wife and household manager.
  • In my home office I put my ‘writer hat’ on but I’m wearing the ‘organiser hat’ underneath and that’s the one that everyone recognises and gravitates towards. It’s like a beacon that attracts moths on a hot summer night.
  • Sometimes when I’m wearing my ‘mountain biker hat’ or my ‘bushwalker hat’, I unconsciously slip my ‘innovator hat’ on as well. Then off I go with the fairies, blissfully dreaming and creating as I wind my way mindlessly along the bush trails which I know and love.

From Struggle to Juggle

It’s true that I find myself struggling from time to time with the multiple roles and responsibilities I have. But one thing is certain – it definitely pays to check up on the hats you are wearing very regularly. Do they still fit? Are they comfortable? Do you still need all of them, or want all of them? Is there a hat you could happily pass onto someone else who could make better use of it? Is there a new hat you’d like to try on for size? Are you basically happy with the hats you’re wearing and content to keep juggling them as needed? Or would you like to change something? Perhaps improve your juggling skills, or drop a few hats and not bother picking them up, or maybe you’ve got your eye on a new hat you’d like to wear?

Going from ‘struggle’ to ‘juggle’ is a two-part process. Firstly, you need to review the logistical side of the hats you wear. This includes weighing up your priorities, assessing how valuable and feasible each hat is, doing a cost / benefit analysis of each hat, investigating clashes between the hats, and checking how much each hat weighs. Secondly, you need to create a mindset that best serves your health and wellbeing. Are you focusing solely on the heavy weight of one of your hats and neglecting the joy it brings to your life? Or conversely, have you been blinded to the problems your hat brings because you have an unhealthy attachment to it? Think about why you wear the hats you do. If it’s out of habit, unrealistic expectations or fear of letting it go, then it might be time to swap that hat out of your collection and try on something else for size. What other changes could you make to move from ‘struggle’ to ‘juggle’?

What Hats Do You Really Want to Wear?

Doing an audit of the hats you wear can be incredibly freeing and satisfying. You will feel less stressed, more resilient and happier in all areas of your life.

  • So, what hats do you really want to wear?
  • How can you prioritise them?
  • How can you improve your juggling skills and minimise the struggling?

I’d love to hear! SEND ME A MESSAGE

Are you ready to have inspiring conversations, discover the latest and greatest proven techniques to juggle your workload, improve your sleep and manage life’s stresses?

REGISTER FOR “The Wellbeing Project: Wellness in the Workplace”

Wednesday 13th March 2019
Warwick, Queensland, Australia

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

How do you spring clean your mind?

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Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year

It’s spring at the moment in Australia where I’m sitting at my computer writing this blog post. As I reflect on the very warm day we’ve had, and the cool breeze wafting in through the window, thoughts of spring cleaning come to mind. But, why wait for spring??? Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year!

Let go of what is no longer needed

Let go, spring cleaningWhat a great feeling it is to clean out the house, office or car; throw away, recycle or give away the excess that has accumulated over the past months, year, or more. Spring cleaning offers us a sense of lightness, organisation and order. It gives us renewed energy, like a gentle breeze after a hot day. We’ve swept out the cobwebs and feel fresh and clean again.

Our minds can do with a spring clean too

It’s not just our houses, offices and cars that need regular spring cleaning. Our minds need de-cluttering too, and in my opinion we can all benefit from a little de-cluttering every day. When we organise our thoughts and simplify our lives, our lives run smoother.

You can choose how to de-clutter your mind

Spring clean your mind on MTBSpring cleaning our houses is one thing, but how on earth do we go about de-cluttering our minds? One of the best ways to do this is by going for a walk, especially in a green zone. But you might prefer to spend some quiet time in the garden, listen to music, or do some painting. Perhaps you prefer more energetic methods of de-cluttering your mind like running, boxing, swimming or mountain bike riding (a personal favourite!).

Consistency and regularity are key!

Whatever your choice, remember to be consistent and regular with your actions so that things don’t get on top of you. Caring for your mind is just like housework and yard work. When you take regular small steps to clean up and clear out, life seems a whole lot less messy and there is space and energy for the things you value most.

Remember …. no matter the season, no matter the weather, you don’t need to wait till spring. Jump into spring cleaning today!

What works for you?

How do you de-clutter your mind and organise your thoughts?

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

8 Reasons to Get Back to Nature

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In a world that expects us to be efficient, effective and resourceful, we risk letting go of those things that sustain our energy, health and creativity. One of these things is time spent in nature. Here are 8 reasons why time spent in nature is never a waste of time.

1. Nature is a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life

We live in a world that expects us to deliver outcomes and meet deadlines. We have constant pressure to be productive and to not waste time, energy or resources. Many people feel increasingly stretched and strung out with our outcomes-based society. Nature provides a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life. When we step outdoors into the forests, mountains, deserts, beaches and waterways, we immerse ourselves in a bigger world. We are at play, not at work.

Nature setting - beach

2. Nature gives your brain a break

Brains are like busy factories mass producing thoughts, decisions, predictions, reflections, assessments, judgements, assumptions and beliefs all whilst keeping our hearts beating and our lungs breathing. There’s a lot going on inside our heads whether we realise it or not. Getting outside into some green space gives your brain a much needed break from the type of thinking it does all day. Nature is a trigger for your brain to switch modes and operate on a different level – a bit like a mini holiday!

3. Nature restores and re-energises

When we’re busy we tend to cut back on things that seem less important or urgent at the time. Usually this means we cut ourselves short on self-care. We run ourselves into the ground working harder and faster whilst putting less priority on how we are going to sustain the pace. Half an hour outdoors can be enough time for your mind to begin to reset and for your body to feel re-energised. It’s an investment you can’t afford to miss.

Nature - mountain view

4. Nature refocuses your attention

Modern life runs at a pace requiring us to be thinking and doing multiple things at once. Research shows this isn’t necessarily the most efficient (or joyful) way of living. When we focus on one thing at a time, we tend to operate more efficiently and effectively. Although it might feel slower because you’re used to being in the fast lane, it’s actually more productive in many situations! Regular time in nature can teach you to bring your attention to your immediate surroundings. This helps you to let go of your stresses, gently engage all your senses, and refocus your attention when you’re back in your everyday routine.

5. Nature shows you how to slow down

Do you find yourself reacting to a pressured lifestyle by working even harder, hoping that when you get to the bottom of your ‘to do’ list you’ll be able to relax? Sorry folks that isn’t a strategy that is sustainable over the long-term unless you give yourself regular breaks to slow down and switch off. Your ‘to-do’ list will never go away. There will always be something else that demands your attention. When you prioritise time in nature, you learn to slow down – in a good way. Your brain has a much needed rest and you come back to your ‘to-do’ list with a fresh perspective and new energy.

6. Nature stimulates creativity and innovation

You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the special gifts that nature has on offer. Any one of us can savour the creativity and innovation that often comes with time spent in nature. Perhaps it’s associated with the opportunity to slow down and refocus, I don’t know for sure. But what I do know is that some of my best and most successful ideas have come to me when I’ve been out walking or riding.

7. Nature gets you active

A major contributing factor to chronic disease, including depression, is inactivity. Nature is the natural antidote to a sedentary lifestyle. With so much space to stretch out and explore, so many wonders to be discovered, so much fresh air to breathe and trees to hug (well, maybe that’s just me), what more incentive do you need to get out and get active.

Natur

8. Nature improves efficiency and effectiveness

Have you ever gone in search of the perfect time management technique, tool or app hoping to be rescued from the stress of managing multiple roles and responsibilities? Despite the numerous time management tools available to us, time management is actually all about managing YOURSELF, not time. If you really want to improve efficiency and effectiveness, invest part of your day, everyday, outside in nature. If you’ve read all the other reasons why time spent in nature is not a waste, then it will be obvious to you that it’s one of the best investments you can make to improve your effectiveness and efficiency at work, home and in your relationships with other people.

Let's sum up!

Time spent in nature is NEVER a waste! Oh let me count the ways ….. (well, at least 8 of them anyway!)

1. Nature is a sanctuary from the pressures of modern life

2. Nature gives your brain a break

3. Nature restores and re-energises

4. Nature refocuses your attention

5. Nature shows you how to slow down

6. Nature stimulates creativity and innovation

7. Nature gets you active

8. Nature improves efficiency and effectiveness

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

Top Ten Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

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A good laugh and a good sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book” (Irish Proverb)

There’s no doubt about it, a good night’s sleep can make all the difference to how we feel and how well we function. In this article I share my top ten tips for a better sleep.

Sleep affects mental and physical health

Sleep is a vital ingredient for physical and mental wellbeing, yet 33-45% of adults report having inadequate sleep*. The consequences of poor sleep are not just cosmetic (“Oh gawd, look at the dark circles under my eyes!”). Of more serious concern to the individual and the whole community are health problems, worker safety and performance, and risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Sleep is complicated!

The research tells us there are many factors that affect sleep quality and quantity. Now everyone’s different and some of us are more sensitive to some of these factors than other people. It’s not a black and white science that we’re dealing with – many of the studies have been done in clinical settings (not in the home) and have tested for more extreme conditions of one factor at a time, rather than a mixture of different factors that we’re more likely to experience in our everyday lives. Sleep is a complicated process. The cause and effect is not always direct and clear, so what seems helpful at first glance (for example drinking alcohol or smoking before bed), may actually be masking the issue (such as stress and anxiety).

Find out what works for YOU

So part of the trick to getting a good sleep is getting to know yourself first including what’s most likely to help and hinder your own situation. The research base is a great place to start experimenting to see what conditions work best to give you a refreshing night’s sleep.

Plan of Action

Here are my top ten tips to improve your chances of a fabulous sleep:

1. Feelings of safety

If you don’t feel safe, have a chat with someone you trust, or your doctor or a counsellor to develop a plan to feel safer.

2. Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs … and food

Substances such as caffeine (think coffee, chocolate and energy drinks), alcohol, tobacco and other drugs may bring a temporary feeling of relaxation, but they can also disrupt hormone production, sleeping rhythms and other health issues. Likewise, your eating habits may have an impact on your sleep. Avoid spicy foods if this causes discomfort and avoid large meals and drinks at bedtime. There is some evidence that certain foods might help you sleep better – wholegrains; some nuts, fruits and dairy foods; and caffeine-free tea.

3. Pain levels

Chat with your doctor or health practitioner if pain is preventing a good night’s sleep. Pain is a complex phenomenon with a wide range of causes. There are many different pain management techniques to choose from – find out what works best for your overall health and wellbeing.

4. Medication

Some medications can make you feel drowsy, and others can make you feel more alert. Check in with your doctor or pharmacist for advice on anything to do with medication.

5. Exercise and napping

Benefits of exerciseIn my professional (and personal) experience, one of the most effective ways to improve sleep is to increase your exercise, especially in the morning. Moving around throughout the day and reducing how long you are sedentary for is also helpful. Some people find it helpful to have a short nap during the day, but later in the afternoon may disrupt your night time sleep.

6. Light and dark

Get yourself some morning light. This triggers the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for your inner body clock – you’ll feel sleepy when it gets dark in the evening. Despite many people using TV and devices just before bed or even while they are in bed, the type of light they emit and the stimulation they provide can really impact your sleep. The recommendation is to turn devices off an hour or so before bed and don’t take them into your room.

7. Stress Management

Stress quote Dr Kerryn PhelpsManage your daytime stresses so that you’re not holding that tension when you go to bed. Learn body relaxation techniques as well as mind relaxation techniques. Mindfulness training is particularly useful. If you’re locked into a vicious cycle of insomnia, it can be helpful to have some cognitive behavioural therapy sessions to power up your thinking and make positive changes to your sleep.

8. Routine

Find an evening routine that’s helpful and then follow it. This might take some experimenting to see what soothes you and what stimulates you. Make your routine a habit, and remember that it can takes weeks of adjusting to a new habit or routine before you see the full results.

9. Environment

Are you comfortable in bed? Is it too hot or cold? Too soft or hard? Noisy? Smelly? Too light or too dark? Is it relaxing and comforting? Avoid doing work or studying in your bedroom as this can build an association with a wakeful or stressed state.

10. Caring Responsibilities

Are you responsible for the care or wellbeing of other people, livestock or pets through the night? If possible share your caring responsibilities with someone else so you can take turns at sleeping a bit longer, or a bit better.

Let's sum up!

So there you have it – my top ten tips to improve your sleep, and the best thing about it is you can start experimenting right away! If your sleep doesn’t improve after trying these strategies, make sure you have a chat with your doctor. There are some medical and psychological conditions that may need more specialised interventions to get you the super sleep you deserve!

*”Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults” Robert Adams, Sarah Appleton, Anne Taylor, Doug McEvoy, and Nick Antic (The University of Adelaide, The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health) Read the report 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

What does self-care mean for women?

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Do you feel pressure from the fast-paced world, juggling your responsibilities and striving to fit self-care into your already busy life? If so, you’re not alone! Women often report that the biggest obstacles to self-care are lack of time and competing priorities. The consequences are far-reaching. This article brings new light to these obstacles, offers you some practical self-care ideas to incorporate into your day without adding any more pressure, and invites you to a delightful morning of retreat!

What is self-care?

“Self-care” has become a trendy cliché in recent years, but it’s so much more than simply another activity to fit in your day, or a luxurious treat you might have occasionally. We’re bombarded with images and advertisements that suggest self-care is all about pampering, looking good, and spending money on yourself. These experiences and products may be an important part of your personal routine, but genuine self-care runs much deeper.

Love is CaringSelf-care is literally all about caring for yourself, possibly in similar ways that you care for other people in your life. This includes caring for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Sometimes this includes doing things that feel good such as a relaxing bath or an outing with friends. It also means making choices for ourselves that might feel uncomfortable in the short-term, because we know this is what’s best for our longer-term wellbeing.

Sometimes self-care is uncomfortable

We barely think twice when we take firm action with others we care about. For example, as parents we know it’s in the best interests of our children to place limits on the TV they watch. Our children might not like it but we know how important it is for their overall wellbeing, and so we stand firm. When it comes to standing firm on our own self-care, it can be easy to give in to our feelings in that moment. It’s easy to ignore the long-term health benefits of daily exercise when it’s so much cosier sleeping-in instead. Where is our internal parent when we need them?!

What’s getting in the way of self-care?

There are infinite obstacles to self-care but most of them fall under one of these headings:

External Pressures

Women in our society have unconsciously been conditioned to take on multiple Wise words from my future selfroles, and to perform them with excellence, and with a smile on their face. More often than not women carry the bulk of the emotional load in both family and work life – organising, planning, predicting, comforting, parenting, caring, pleasing, time-managing, problem-solving, rescuing and so on. The many competing priorities present dilemmas on a daily basis. Who’s got time or energy to stack self-care into a life that’s built around serving other people’s needs?

Internally Generated Excuses

These issues focus on the way women think about themselves and their roles.  I am a friend to myselfThe way we think is closely related to the way we have been socialised when were younger, with the added layer of personality thrown in. So it’s no surprise that women often share certain beliefs, assumptions and thinking patterns related to self-care – it’s selfish to do something for myself; people will think I’m selfish / not coping; time and money should be spent on something or someone else who needs it more than me; I don’t have enough time or energy; I should just soldier on like everyone else does …..

What’s the big deal with self-care anyway?

Self-care is not selfish. Think about what values are most important to you – perhaps compassion, kindness, generosity? Many of us readily live out these values towards other people yet struggle when it comes to ourselves. How can we truly be compassionate, kind and generous beings when we select who we are compassionate, kind and generous towards? Are you being consistent with your values? How does this affect your self-care?

Consequences of poor self-care

The consequences of poor self-care include reduced physical and mental health, strained relationships, under-performance and increased of risk of compassion fatigue and burnout. Consider also how you are modelling self-care practices (or lack of them) for the next generation. Unwittingly we often enable unhealthy and unsustainable practices to continue to the next generation, reinforcing gender inequity along the way.

Self-care without the pressure

Here are some self-care actions that don’t add extra pressure into your day:

  • say ‘no’ to something so you can say ‘yes’ to something more important

  • set boundaries in your relationships

  • mute your phone at meal times

  • take time to enjoy preparing a nutritious meal

  • delegate some responsibilities

  • have some ‘go-slow’ time each day

  • change your morning routine so you feel less rushed

Saying no

What does self-care look like for you?
What are some actions you could take every day that show compassion, kindness and caring towards yourself?

Women Empowered Morning of Retreat

Discover the possibilities that arise when you prioritise your own health and self-care!

Women Empowered Morning of Retreat

Come along to my next Women Empowered Morning of Retreat in Warwick on Tuesday 4th September 2018. This will be a gentle-paced morning of reflection, discussion and creative activities.

MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION

Read about my last retreat “Women Empowered: Framing My Future with Financial Confidence”

….. and some of the insights gained by the women who participated.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.

 

THRIVE for Women Online Group

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” — Maya AngelouDaisy Spoke Banner

I’m so incredibly excited to announce that registrations are now open for my online group program THRIVE for Women! Dozens of women have participated in the face-to-face version of this group over the last 6 years and now at last I’m able to offer it online so you can participate in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else)!

THRIVE for WomenWho is it for?

Women often have many roles to fill at work, home and in the community. Self-care often comes last on our list of things to do. Yet there are many actions we can incorporate into our day to strengthen us, help us to be more efficient and effective, enable us to think more clearly and make better choices. When we routinely use these actions, we begin to THRIVE – not just survive!

Are YOU ready to take action? To be consistent with the habits that help you to feel strong and capable? To function at your highest level? To get on top of your stresses? To achieve your goals? To develop mind and body strength? To think like a winner? If so, THRIVE for Women is for you!

What topics are covered?

After many years of working with people one-on-one, I’ve created this group program addressing the issues women often share:

  • How can I sleep better?
  • How can I maintain a routine of exercise and nutrition that I love, and that is good for my mental health?
  • How can I choose and stick to goals?
  • How can I get unstuck when things don’t go to plan?
  • How can I juggle the priorities in my life?
  • How can I best manage the stresses in my life?

THRIVE for WomenHow does THRIVE for Women work?

THRIVE for Women includes a weekly group video call on different wellness / mental health topics, handouts on everything we cover in the calls (plus more!), a private discussion page, and a BONUS one-on-one session for participants at the end of the program!

** The live group video calls will be held weekly for 6 weeks commencing Monday 23rd July 2018 from 7:30pm to 8:30pm (AEST). You’ll need a device with a web cam or inbuilt camera connected to a reliable Internet connection (eg tablet, IPAD, computer). We’ll be using a safe video conference platform called Zoom for the video meetings – it’s easy to use and all instructions will be given to you before THRIVE starts!

Why join an online group?

I’ve run face-to-face women’s groups for many years now, and they’ve been so successful that it’s time to take them online! This way you can join in from the comfort of your own home. No more child care issues. No more transport or parking hassles. No more juggling work responsibilities to get to the group.

What are the benefits for me?

There are so many benefits when you join THRIVE for Women:

  • discover the latest PROVEN strategies for MIND and BODY health
  • CONNECT with other women and learn from each other in a CONFIDENTIAL and FRIENDLY atmosphere
  • grow RESILIENCE, INNER STRENGTH, SELF-COMPASSION and WELLNESS
  • develop a range of SKILLS for living a life that THRIVES
  • explore a different topic each week through LIVE ONLINE VIDEO meetings (a recording will be available if you are not able to make it to a live session)
  • PROBLEM-SOLVE the real issues that get in the way of self-care routines
  • access INFORMATION SHEETS, CHECKLISTS and a PRIVATE DISCUSSION GROUP
  • OVER 6 HOURS of access and support in a group that would cost you hundreds of dollars one-on-one
  • guidance by an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker using EVIDENCE-BASED approaches
  • participate in a BONUS one-on-one session to really make the biggest difference in your life!

THRIVE for WomenHow much does THRIVE for Women cost?

To celebrate the launch of THRIVE for Women online, you can currently register at the SUPER-SPECIAL PRICE of $175 with the added BONUS of a one-on-one session at no extra cost. (The total value of this program is over $1000, so it really is amazing value for everyone who registers for this first launch! That’s over 7 hours of contact with an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker guiding you towards a life that THRIVES, plus all the written material and resources for future reference, plus the connections made with the other group members!)

How do I register?

Registrations are easy! Simply click here to go to the booking site where you can make a secure payment online and provide your contact details. Once registered, you’ll receive an email from me with more details about how we will connect together.

What women are saying about Kathryn’s face-to-face groups

100% of past participants have strongly agreed that the group assisted them to develop new knowledge and / or skills in managing their mental health.

The best part of the group was “…..meeting new ladies and realising I wasn’t alone in my feelings or shortcomings, but then learning there are ways I can improve my life.”

“To feel comfortable with the group in a non judgemental way. Learning new ways to think and put into practice stress management. And let go of things out of my control.”

“Realising there are other ways of thinking. There are some things you just can’t control…..no matter how much you worry about them.”


THRIVE for WomenI have some questions ……..

 

If you have any questions, simply send me a message or give me a call on 0455 992 419. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

Breaking and creating habits

Daisy Spoke Banner

Have you ever tried to break a habit or create a new one? That’s probably all of us! There are some habits that are clearly unhelpful, and these are the ones we most often focus on – the ‘doing’ habits like smoking, sedentary behaviour, eating junk food, and going to bed late. But what about those less obvious ‘thinking’ habits. The ones that have us locked into a bad mood, overreacting, overthinking, leaving things to the last minute, being defensive, using avoidance tactics, personalising, blaming and so on. The way we habitually think forms part of everything we do and we’re often not conscious of it. But when we want to create long-lasting change, it’s vital to look at changing the way we think, and not only focus on the way we are ‘doing’ things.

Here are four tips to help you break an old habit and create a new one by focusing on new actions, and new ways of thinking.

1. You are never too old to change

No matter your age, you an always make a change. Don’t accept excuses such as “I’m too old”. Your mind’s attitude to learning plays a large part in how capable you are of breaking and creating habits. With an open attitude and willingness to try, learning a new trick is always possible. For example, even though I’d been riding bicycles since I was a young child, it wasn’t till I was in my middle age that I decided to have a go at mountain biking. What I discovered is that you need a whole new set of skills to ride mountain bikes compared to The Brain that Changes Itselfriding on paved surfaces. Not only did my body have to work differently, but my mind as well. Mountain biking has been one of the biggest learning curves in my life. I’ve been confronted with physical and mental and emotional challenges that would have been so easy to walk away from. But I kept going and little by little my skills have progressed and I’ve learned to handle some pretty big fears along the way. I’m living proof that it’s definitely possible for an oldie to learn new tricks. For some remarkable examples of how the brain can change and adapt to new challenges, have a read of Norman Doidge’s book “The Brain That Changes Itself”.

2. Change can take its time – often a long time!

In a world that encourages immediate gratification and demands fast results, focusing on change habits takes timelonger term goals can be seen as rebellious. Quick-fix solutions are promoted all around us – get a toned body in only 10 minutes a day, lose your baby weight in 30 days, go from a $0 to 7 figure business in less than 12 months. But the reality is that sustainable, healthy change usually takes place over a longer period of time. Quit expecting immediate results when you take up a new habit or give up an old one. Real change takes time! Research shows that when we take up a new habit we need to practise it regularly for at least three weeks, and in many cases we need to allow two to three months or more to feel the benefits, or at least to feel at ease with our new way of doing things.

3. Patience, practice and persistence – not perfectionism!

If you’re anything like me, you just want to be able to do everything perfectly straight away. And if that doesn’t happen it’s so easy to give up. We can make all the excuses under the sun about why we’re not having success, but the reality is often that if we’re patient,Patiently persist to change habits practise a lot, persist with the discomfort, and let go of our need for perfectionism, we’re much more likely to have success. Personally I’ve find it very helpful to listen to what my inner voice is telling me when I get the urge to throw in the towel. That leads me to question why giving up is so important at that moment, and what would be the value of persisting. Then I look at what skills and strategies I need to use to achieve success. Read about how I used practice and persistence to rediscover my joys of mountain biking in one of my  past blogs.  Patience, practice and persistence are definite winners!

4. Focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t want

Focus on what you DO want to change habitsOne of the trickiest things about reducing or quitting a habit (like cigarettes, chocolate, or social media) is that we focus our minds on what we’re missing out on. To demonstrate the power of this focusing technique I tell my clientsFor the next 2 minutes you are NOT to think about the green dragon behind you.” I set the timer and give them occasional reminders to NOT think about the green dragon. The same thing happens when we keep telling ourselves “Don’t think about cigarettes / chocolate / Facebook …..” It’s really, really hard to achieve success unless we focus on what we DO want – the NEW habit or behaviour that we want to develop. You could try saying Time for a walk round the block … time for my fresh fruit and yoghurt … let’s give Mum a call …” Focusing on what you don’t want is counterproductive. Focusing on what you DO want is a winning style of thinking. You can read more about looking where you want to go in my very first blog from 2 years ago.

 

There are many more tips and tricks for helping you to break a habit or create a new one, but these four strategies will get you started with a powerful attitude that will guide the behaviour choices you make, and increase your chances of success!

Let's sum up habit

1. You are never too old to change
2. Change can take its time – often a long time!
3. Patience, practice and persistence – not perfectionism!
4. Focus on what you DO want, not what you don’t want

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full. 

How to Manage Habits That Creep Into Your Life

Daisy Spoke Banner

There are so many life lessons I’ve learned from nature – pest management (aka “managing the habits that creep into your life”) is the latest one. This year we’ve been making a concerted effort to manage some of the unwanted weeds on our property, in particular tree pears. It’s taken a considerable investment of time, hard work, money and resources to uncover the best way to deal with them. It’s also got me thinking about personal habits that creep into our lives, and what we can do to manage those sorts of weeds and pests.

Pests have always been around

We’ve lived on our small bush property for many years. We’ve always had a few pests here and there but haven’t been overly concerned about them. They’ve had little impact on everything else so we haven’t considered them a problem. In the past we had a few cows and sheep grazing the grass. We’ve had no grazing stock for nearly 10 years now due to ongoing drought conditions. Even though I miss seeing those big beautiful cow eyes looking back at me, we’ve actually gained a lot of satisfaction from watching the native plants regenerate as a result. We’ve also relished the opportunity to make use of the land in other ways such as building mountain bike trails throughout the property.

MTB Trail

The problem pest at my place

Apart from reduced stock, altered land use and drought conditions, other changes haveCactus Tree Pear also gradually taken place – changes that we were blinded to until they became quite obvious and problematic. Tree pear is one of these changes. It has rapidly multiplied in the recent conditions. Not long ago it was a fairly insignificant pest, kept in balance by naturally occurring biological controls. Now it’s dominating the landscape. It very easily and quickly multiplies, so we now have a dense covering of tree pear of all sizes. Its growth rate is amazing and it thrives in the harsh conditions.

Managing the pest

Mature Tree PearUncovering how best to manage this pest has been exhausting, taking lots of hours, energy, research and trial and error. We’ve learned how critical it is to choose the ‘right’ strategy – the difference between getting numbers of tree pear manageable again, or increasing their numbers even more! They’re incredibly tough and resilient – I’ve got to admire them for that! We’ve persisted with our management strategy because we want to live in a balanced way, minimising the impact of our own lifestyle, and supporting environmental sustainability. It’s taken nearly 12 months to reach the point where we can see a positive outcome ahead. And we’ve learned lessons about keeping a closer eye on the pests out there and intervening earlier rather than later.

Habits can be like weeds and pests

Noticing what isUnwanted habits can silently creep into our lives in the same way that the tree pear and other weeds and pests gradually take over tracts of land and impact the overall health of the environment. The habits can slowly, quietly and destructively begin to dominate your life in various ways. The damage shows up as it impacts your relationships, health and confidence. Reestablishing healthier habits requires a hard sustained effort over time, but the secret is in actually noticing that there is a problem in the first place.

Audit your life

In the same way that it can be helpful to regularly have a good look around your propertyReflect to check for pests and unwanted changes, it’s also vital that we review our personal habits from time to time. It’s often only when a crisis takes place that we take the time to do this, but it’s a healthy practice for any of us even when things seem to be going smoothly. When we take the time to reflect, notice and make adjustments, we are better able to keep on top of the pesky habits that impact negatively on ourselves, our relationships and the world around us.

Questions to ask yourself

You don’t have to run away to the quiet of the desert or the tranquility of the mountains to review your life (although if you have the opportunity that could be amazing!) A more practical way for most of us is to simply take a few moments, or even a couple of hours, to ask ourselves a few questions. You might find it helpful to write your reflections down in a journal, make some art work about the topic, or have a conversation about these issues with a trusted person.

1. What have I got in my life that’s working for me?

2. What is not working so well in my life?

3. What is one action I could take that would make the biggest difference?

4. How can I make sure I follow through on that action?

5. What can I let go of?

6. What do I need to keep?

Change can be challenging

Even desired change can be very challenging and unsettling. We can experience a conflict of values, a simultaneous push and pull towards and away from the change. We might sense resistance from people and situations around us, as well as our own internal resistance. Be prepared for this, and push past the prickly bits!

Early intervention is best

Small cactusAnd so as I walk and run my home trails, I’ve been much more aware of the little cactus popping up. I’ve been investing a little bit of time and energy to carefully prise them out when I see them, right there and then. I’ve learned the hard way that this is a much easier and more effective way of dealing with the problem. Burying your head in the sand and avoiding seeing the issue for what it really is, only makes the problem bigger and more difficult over time. Sometimes those unhealthy unhelpful habits just seem to creep into our lives but with greater diligence and readiness to take action, we can keep them in their place, and maintain a more balanced life.

VLOG (Video Blog)

Did you know that I have a You Tube channel? Over the coming months I’ll be regularly posting videos and VLOGS over there. You can watch my latest VLOG on managing the pesky habits in your life  by clicking here!

 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.