How to Look After Your Own Mental Health

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Many of us have grown up believing that to be a ‘good’ person we must always put others before ourselves. Whilst it’s important to care for others and contribute to society in positive and constructive ways, it’s very unfortunate that many people stop caring for themselves and find it difficult to ask for help. We don’t want to burden our families, friends or even our doctors with our ‘problems’ so we tell ourselves that things will get better soon if we keep going, keep pushing on, put on a brave face and try to figure things out for ourselves. There can be a lot of shame and worry that stops us seeking help.

It’s okay, and in fact completely normal, to have moments of despair, anger, sadness, disappointment, grief, anxiety, frustration and confusion. When we accept this is a normal part of being human, it can be a little easier to reach out and ask for help, or share our upsets with someone else. There are different ways you can access help without feeling like you are being burden on others around you.

1. Counselling

worries and mental health

My clients often tell me they come to counselling because they want a safe, confidential, unbiased space to talk through life’s challenges and unload the heavy issues they’ve been carrying. Counselling can also help you problem-solve, prioritise, and develop new skills and strategies. There are many types of counsellors so I recommend talking to your GP who can match you up with a counsellor to meet your needs.

GP Mental Health Treatment Plan

If your GP creates a Mental Health Treatment Plan for you, they can refer you to an accredited Mental Health Worker such as an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, psychologist or other mental health worker with a Medicare Provider Number. You can then claim a rebate from Medicare for up to 10 sessions. Some Mental Health Workers bulk-bill or offer discounts for Seniors or Health Care Card holders.

Urgent Help

If you are feeling very stressed or suicidal, your GP or hospital doctor can refer you to a service that is ready to respond and support you very quickly.

Self-refer

If you prefer, you can self-refer to a counsellor but you will not be able to claim a Medicare rebate. You may be eligible to claim a rebate through your private health insurer however it is important to check before going ahead.

Public Health

Other services are available through the public health system which may be a good fit for your needs too. Your doctor can give you guidance on the best service for your needs.

2. ‘Low Intensity’ Face-to-Face Support

If you don’t think you need counselling but you’d like a bit of support, you may be able to participate in a local group or individual program such as mindfulness training or coping skills training. Once again, the best way to get connected with the right service is having a chat with your GP. Your regional PHN website may also also list these services. Many ‘Low Intensity’ services are funded or subsidised by the Federal Government or not for profit organisations which makes them more affordable.

(For example, if you live in the Darling Downs and West Moreton region you might like to have a look at a clickable map with a list of mental health services.)

3. Online Services and Supports

If you don’t think you need to see a professional, you can access online services and supports. This is not a substitute for individual counselling, but it can be a terrific way of finding information and support from the privacy of your own home. I suggest using websites that are supported or authorised by Australian government bodies or universities so that you know you are getting the best evidence-based information and support. Here are a few recommended websites to get you started:

Black Dog Institute

Black Dog Institute mental health

Black Dog Institute translates world leading research into easy-to-understand information to build a mentally healthy world. On this website you can find:

Beyond Blue

Beyone Blue mental health

Beyond Blue provides information and support to everyone regardless of age or where you live. On this website you can find:

  • Support services for yourself or someone else
  • Information about mental health including anxiety and depression
  • Online forums
  • Online web chat service (you can text or type a conversation with a support worker)
  • Phone and email support services

DV Connect and Womensline

DVConnect mental health

DV Connect Womensline is the only statewide telephone service offering 24/7 support for women who are experiencing domestic or family violence. They offer free, professional and non-judgemental telephone support wherever you live in Queensland. They can arrange practical assistance such as crisis counselling, intervention, transport and emergency accommodation for Queensland women and their children who are in danger from a violent partner or family member. Browse the website or call 1800 811 811 (free call from any public phone).

Men’s Line

Mensline mental health

Men’s Line offers telephone and online counselling for men with family and relationship concerns or mental health concerns. On this website you can find information about:

  • anger, anxiety, depression, stress, responsible drinking
  • relationship problems
  • family violence
  • how to help yourself or someone else who is having suicidal thoughts
  • telephone, online chat, and video chat counselling

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health combines research, clinical care and practical education for women and health professionals. They translate and disseminate research and medical evidence into easy to understand health information. The website includes information about a very wide range of women’s health topics and includes:

  • booklets, fact sheets, articles
  • podcasts
  • webinars
  • recipes
  • tutorials
  • workplace health
  • Women’s Health Week

Do YOU have a favourite online resource? I’d love to hear! Send me an email with your tips and hints!

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.

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside

Calm on the outside, agitated on the inside. Does this sound like you? How is that for you? Is it working in your favour? Or is there something you’d like to change?

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Picture This

Goomburra landscape
The stunning landscape at The Grain Shed Retreat, Goomburra Valley (PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)

I’d like to invite you to picture yourself relaxed and at ease sipping a cool drink as you gaze out at the rugged mountains and the ancient valleys that surround you. A gentle breeze reminds you of the changing seasons. Thinking towards your future, your confidence rises. Your calm demeanour is a reflection of genuinely feeling calm on the inside. You’ve gained clarity about your dreams and goals, and you’ve tapped into your inner strengths. In the company of like-minded women, you’ve acknowledged the challenges that have held you back. The time for change has come. You’re ready to do things differently, to make self-care a priority, to celebrate who you are, and to take actions that align with your values and purpose.

With a clear plan for working towards your personal goals, you know just what you need to do. You no longer waste your energy stressing over things you can’t change. As you focus more and more on those things you have control over, your circle of influence expands. As you become increasingly inspired by your dream, so too you inspire others around you. Despite the inevitable challenges, you stand grounded in confidence knowing that you’re never alone, that you have the inner and outer resources to maintain your momentum.

Does this sound like you? Or perhaps something you’d like to experience in life?

Inner self, outer appearances

No matter how you appear to others, you are the only one that truly knows your inner turmoil, struggles, challenges, and disappointments. You might go through the motions of being a high functioning worker, mother and partner, but inside you could be experiencing agitation or distress. Lost dreams, worries, a lack of fulfilment – these are just some of the experiences women often keep to themselves. Stewing away inside they create a hot bubbly mess that has us feeling bitter and helpless. But still, we push on. Not happy or content. But we keep on going.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way?

It’s true ….. it doesn’t have to be this way. I know. I’ve been there. Several times. I’ve also walked alongside many women who’ve experienced something similar themselves. We all have a different story, different experiences, but there are also many common threads. By sharing these threads, we get to weave a new story. A more powerful story that builds us up, that empowers us, instead of depleting us.

Companionship, community and connection are key factors

Companionship and community are two of the keys to writing a new story. When we’re very isolated from others we have difficulty thriving. Looking back I can clearly see the turning points in my own life when I connected with the people who became my tribe. I’ve had a couple of very special relationships with other women who truly ‘got me’. They accepted me just as I was. They lifted me up and showed me there’s more to life than the narrow window I’d been looking through. They demonstrated assertiveness and values-based action. They were friends and mentors who have had a profound impact on how I saw myself.

In recent years I’ve also had the privilege of being part of a community of women who openly encourage, inspire, embrace, love and connect with each other in incredibly meaningful ways. This tribe of women reflects many of the values so important to me – independence, connection, innovation, peace, creativity, courage, companionship, community. They’ve taught me that I am enough. Just me. The way I am. No labels. No definitions. No limitations. And that’s given me the space to be even more than I ever thought I was or could be.

I’m still an introvert, I still love my time alone. But now it’s not lonely alone-time. I am deeply connected with others and I’m part of a tribe. We don’t desperately need to be with each other all the time. But the fact that we know we’re a stand for each other, that we’re part of a supportive community, makes each of us stronger and enables us to make a difference in our worlds – both inner and outer.

Women Empowered Retreats

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This is my philosophy behind the Women Empowered Retreats. I know the benefits of connecting women together in deep, rich, meaningful conversation. I know the power of sharing stories in safe spaces. The power of connection and community. The power of knowledge and information sharing. The difference that inspiration makes to our sense of happiness, contentment, and fulfilment. The feeling of being calm on the inside, not just looking calm on the outside.

Every woman is drawn to our retreats for different reasons and will have a different experience from anyone else. Each retreat explores a different theme that weaves together elements of personal growth. But at each retreat we come with an open mind. We seek to be informed, inspired and empowered to be ourselves. We offer a gentle balance of information sessions, reflective activities, mindfulness practices, creative arts, movement, nature, and soul-nourishing food.

Whether you are simply looking for time and space to recharge, or if you are looking for a deeper meaning in your life, you will be inspired and empowered to live the life you love.

An invitation to discover calm on the inside

If this sounds like a slice of heaven to you, then we’d love you to join us for any of our upcoming retreats. This could be the beginning of your journey to discover what it feels like to be calm on the inside, or perhaps it’s an opportunity to connect with a community who will inspire you as you take action towards your dreams. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the region, whether you come alone or with a friend, you’ll be joining a strong, growing community of women who know the value of self-care, personal growth, and connection with others.

Our upcoming “Women Empowered’ events include:

“Yarn & Yoga in the Country”
Friday 26th July 2019 during the Jumpers and Jazz in July Festival

(PHOTO CREDIT: Darling Downs Wellness Therapies)
  • Hike Your Mountain (June 2019)
  • Yarn and Yoga in the Country (July 2019)
  • Women’s Health Retreat (September 2019)
  • Spring Retreat (October 2019)

To keep up to date with details as they are released, subscribe to my emails via my website and follow me on Facebook.

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.

Breaking and creating habits

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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. 

5 Hacks to Save Time for Busy Women

Stress management skills are invaluable, and for busy women juggling lots of hats at once, they are a necessity. So what does stress management actually look like? As with many things, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to managing stress. It’s different for everyone and everyone is different. But we can dig through the layers of stress that many busy women carry around with them and focus on a few strategies that prevent stress becoming a problem in the first place. Time is one of the most common elements that contribute to stress. Read on to learn about 5 hacks that will save you both time and stress.

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Hack #1 Be self-disciplined

Busy people are constantly on the go, moving from one task to another, often in a reactionary way. Distractions can side-line us into all sorts of things that are neither urgent nor important. Learn to discipline yourself to stay on task (unless there’s an emergency of course!) and to say ‘no’ more often. Whenever you say ‘no’ to someone, something, or yourself, it opens the space for you to say ‘yes’ to the most important things in your life. Ultimately, by avoiding time wasters you’ll save your time for the most important things in your life and feel much less stressed!

Say no so I can say yes

Hack #2 Batch your tasks

I LOVE this hack! Batching can be done in just about every area of life. Here we’re thinking about mostly routine tasks that can save you time when you use a ‘mass production’ or ‘assembly line’ approach. My favourite batching hacks include:

  • Get the ironing done and dusted all at once instead of one item at a time (and usually in the hectic rush of getting ready for the work / school day).
  • Bake multiple batches of muffins at once and freeze heaps of them for next week
  • Cook double quantity meals and either freeze or refrigerate the leftovers for another night (think savoury mince, risotto, lasagne – all delicious and can be reheated, re-purposed or dressed up for another night).
  • Work tasks can often be batched too. For myself this includes blog writing, administration tasks, making videos, and creating social media postings.

In what other ways can you save time and reduce stress by using the batching hack?

Fresh baked pie

Hack #3 Be selective

Time is a commodity that we trade for something else like money, leisure, work, travel, sleep and so on. Is there room for you to be more selective about how you trade your time? Are you unnecessarily busy? Are you trading your time for something of inferior value? If so, you can begin saving time by taking up the habit of asking yourself “Is MY time worth trading for THIS?”

time management clock

Hack #4 Delegate, let go of full control

Ouch, easier said than done! Yes I KNOW! The struggle is real when I want things done ‘the proper way’ and it seems I’m the only one who CAN or WILL do it that way. Sigh ….. let’s get real here though. When you delegate tasks you’re also giving the other person the chance to learn a skill and develop confidence in themselves. Think of the underlying message of competence vs incompetence that you send out when you’re always the one taking charge. We need our children and employees to grow skills, to become independent, responsible, competent and confident. That won’t happen if we hold onto control all the time. Think of it as an investment. The time you spend teaching them now, will have amazing payoffs in the future and definitely save you time and stress in the long term. Keep in mind the famous saying Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Letting go

Hack #5 Set your priorities

Busy people can easily get their priorities all mixed up in the hectic chaos that is life. And it becomes a vicious cycle. Set your priorities for the day and let everything else fit in around it – if it can! Stress builds up when we fight to fit things into our day (or our life) when we simply don’t have enough time for it all. And once time has gone, we can’t get it back. Be sure to fit the most important things into your day first, and anything else that stacks in is simply an added bonus!

Let's sum up!

Time management is a proactive way of managing stress. The 5 hacks outlined here will save you precious time and reduce your stress when practised regularly and habitually. Here they are again!

  1. Be self-disciplined
  2. Batch your tasks
  3. Be selective
  4. Delegate, let go of full control
  5. Set your priorities

What are your biggest time wasters and your best time saving hacks?

Take a Minute for Your Mind

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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. 

Stress Management: The Bucket of Life

Managing stress is something we all need to give attention to. In this article I’ll share with you one of the techniques which many people find useful for managing stress. It’s a technique that I often demonstrate at workshops, seminars and with my individual clients. It can be used by anyone at any time, and in fact I often use it myself to review my priorities when I’m feeling stressed. It helps me to adjust my thinking and change my actions so that I focus on the most important things in my life. I hope you find it useful too!

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Life is a Bucket of Rocks

Life is like a bucket filled with rocks of all shapes, sizes, colours and weights. And just like that bucket, life can sometimes feel overloaded, lop-sided or empty. We notice our stress levels rising. When this happens, it can be helpful to have a look at what rocks you are carrying around in your bucket of life.

The Big Rocks

Think of the MOST IMPORTANT things in your life. Write them down in a list. It’s a very personal thing, so be sure to list whatever is most important to YOU. These things are the BIG ROCKS in your life. They are your priority. You need to make sure you have time, space and energy for them. For example, some of my big rocks are daily exercise and meditation, being home after school hours, home cooked food, mountain bike riding on weekends, getting to medical appointments, spending time connecting with family, spending time alone, and developing new and exciting work projects.

The Medium-Sized Rocks

Now it’s time to think of the other things in your life that are FAIRLY IMPORTANT to you, but not quite as important as the big rocks. They are special, but not as critical to your happiness and satisfaction in life as the big rocks. These are your MEDIUM-SIZED ROCKS. Write them down in a separate list. Some examples of my medium-sized rocks (at this point in time) are socialising with friends, housework, sewing, weekends away camping, completing training courses, and replacing the curtains in my office.

The Little Rocks

The LITTLE ROCKS, or pebbles, in your life are those things that have some significance, but they are NOT AS HIGH PRIORITY as the medium-sized or big rocks. They are the things that you can ‘give or take’ somewhat. It wouldn’t overly worry you if you put these things off to deal with another day. You like having them in your life, but when it comes to the crunch, they simply don’t rate as high in importance. Write your little rocks in a separate list. Some of my little rocks include going to evening meetings, going to concerts, and washing the car.

The Grains of Sand

The next list you create is of all the things that have LESS IMPORTANCE AND MEANING in your life, but they need some attention and time. There are usually lots and lots of these, and sometimes we get them mixed up with the bigger rocks without even realising! These are your GRAINS OF SAND. Some of my grains of sand include tidying the coffee table, doing the ironing, going to the post office, and selling my old tent.

Place Your Rocks in Your Bucket

Now it’s time to put your rocks into your bucket of life. It’s really important you do it in the right order because if you get it back-to-front you’ll end up with a lop-sided, top-heavy, or overflowing bucket. You’ll feel overwhelmed, stressed and pressured. You won’t have enough time and energy for the important things in your life, and you’ll find yourself racing around or stressing over the things that really don’t matter so much.

PebblesSo first of all, make sure you GET THE BIG ROCKS IN YOUR LIFE FIRST. They are your priorities so take steps to make sure you allow plenty of time and energy for them. Next put in your medium-sized rocks. Your small rocks go in after that and will be able to settle into the spaces between the bigger rocks. You can be more flexible with how they fit into your life. Next comes the sand. These things will be able to flow into the spaces that you have left. If there isn’t time and energy for them right now, that doesn’t matter. When things settle, they’ll have a place in your bucket once again.

Check Your Bucket Now and Again

You might even find that by doing this exercise there are things consuming your time and energy that you can let go of completely – some rocks that you choose not to put back into your bucket. Perhaps you found big rocks that are actually small rocks, or maybe you’ve discovered some small rocks that you’d like to become bigger rocks in your life. Have fun experimenting to see what works for you. And don’t forget that at any time you can dig down to see what you’re carrying around, and rearrange it so that the big rocks always go into your bucket of life first!  It’s one of the most important actions you can take to manage your stresses effectively. 

Take a Minute for Your Mind

Take a Minute for Your Mind LogoHAVE YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY FREE 7 DAY CHALLENGE “TAKE A MINUTE FOR YOUR MIND”? For more information and to register, go to the OFFERS tab on my website!

 

 

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. 

 

Time Management: Stay sane when time is your enemy

Juggling the many roles and responsibilities we have can be a constant source of both satisfaction and despair. I talk to women every week about challenges like time management, and wanted to share some of the ideas that I’ve collected on how to stay sane when time seems to be your enemy.

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TIME! We never seem to have enough of it, we’re always fighting it, and it’s invisible! It seems to slip through our fingers without care. It’s like an elusive double agent, tempting us with tantalising pleasures, and then it’s gone, leaving us with nothing but a pile of to-do’s and deadlines in its wake. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll always find something to fill in a space that’s left when we are more efficient with our time – there’ll never be enough of it!

Time Management is a real thing!

Managing the time we have available to us is a learned skill and one that we can continually refine as our needs, activities and priorities change. There are a lot of self-help books on this topic, but honestly, who has the time to read them! Assuming you’re in the same boat as me, I’ve short-listed some key time management strategies and helpful mindsets that I’ve collected over the years.

time management clock

Time management strategies to stay sane when it feels like time is your enemy

1. Time is a commodity we exchange for something else

Time is a precious commodity that I give in exchange for something else. It’s a transaction; a business deal between myself and the universe. If I spend lots of money on luxury items, eating out, holidays and new clothes, I may not (ummm ….. actually I won’t) have enough left over for the basic household bills like groceries, fuel for the car, and electricity. Time is like money – think about how you can spend it wisely!

2. We have a choice

We have choices about how we spend our time, in the same way that we have choices about spending our money. What choices are you making?

3. Get your priorities straight

Time Management Matrix
Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix

With so many different things competing for our time and energy, we are constantly needing to prioritise. And I mean constantly! It’s an ongoing process. Everyday – prioritise. Every hour – prioritise. Every minute – prioritise. Every moment – prioritise. It’s a valuable skill – the more practise you get, the better you’ll become at getting your priorities straight.

If you have trouble identifying what’s most important and what’s most urgent, invest just a few minutes of your time reading about Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix here

4. Time is precious

Time can never be refunded once it’s spent. Thinking of time as precious gift to be treasured and used wisely can help us to make carefully considered choices about how we are using it.

5. What are your time vampires?

What is it that sucks the time out of your day? Where does your time go? Are you okay about this?

6. Record your actions for a day, or longer!

I’ve found this really helpful at times. You can make a note in your diary or notepad of how you are spending your day. Note down the time and what task or activity you are working on, and what time you finished. Or you could break your diary into 10 or 15 minute time blocks and make a note of what you are doing at every time interval. It only takes a teeny bit of time to do this, but the investment is well worthwhile! These actions can highlight where our time goes, and keeps us more accountable to our goals.

7. Ask yourself “What am I doing now?”

This precious moment is all we have. How are you spending your energy and time right now, in this precious moment?

8. Don’t make excuses

It’s easy to blame other people and situations for our poverty of time. Do a thorough audit and be honest with yourself. What can you take responsibility for? What change can you make?

9. Avoid distractions

Is distraction an issue for you?

  • Set a timer to go off at regular intervals to remind you to refocus your attention
  • Switch off your wi-fi
  • Close your door
  • Turn off your phone
  • Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office
  • Reward yourself when you’ve completed tasks

. whatever you need, just do it. Make it as easy as possible to keep your attention laser-focused.

Let's sum up!

Make friends with the time you have!

  • Time is a commodity – spend it wisely!
  • You choose moment to moment how you spend you time
  • Get your priorities straight – is it important / urgent?
  • Time is precious
  • What are your time vampires?
  • Record how you spend your time
  • Ask yourself “What am I doing now?”
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Avoid distractions

I’d love to hear any other time management strategies you use to stay sane when it feels like time is your enemy. Leave your comment below, send me a message, or head on over to my Facebook!

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. 

 

Frights, Flights, and Fears: Look back to see how far you’ve come

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Life can hand us plenty of frights, flights and fears but it’s good to look back occasionally to see how far you’ve come. I’ve been reflecting on this over the weekend when I noticed some old fears resurfacing, and rather than get caught up in the stories they told me, I chose to look at how far I’ve progressed.

I was eager to get back on my mountain bike after a couple of weeks away road tripping, bushwalking and trail running which I absolutely loved, but I also love riding my bike and Kathryn on MTB riding through a gullywas missing it. When I started riding on the weekend, I noticed some of those old worries pop up that only surface when I’ve been off my bike for a while. They used to hang around me a lot. Well actually, most of the time! But I’ve worked really hard at keeping them in their place in recent years. Deciding to blog about them has been one of the most empowering actions I’ve taken. They could no longer lurk away in the dark depths of my mind, stewing and multiplying and expanding by the minute. Many of them simply lost their power when I brought them out into the light of day. Have you read my blog about how I worked through a step-by-step process to manage my fear of “the scary corner”!

So here I was on Sunday morning with an incessant barrage of inner talk going on in my head:

“That’s too slippery.”

“I can’t ride down that gully.”

I’m going to hit that tree.”

I’m hopeless at riding on ‘technical’ terrain.”

My back tyre keeps slipping out. I can’t ride up here.”

There are too many rocks.”

There are too many low hanging branches.”

I have to go slowly round this corner so I don’t fall off.”

I’d better walk this bit.”

That’s where I fell before.”

That’s another place I fell off.”

That’s where I nearly fell on the snake when I stopped too quickly and went over the handlebars.”

..and so on and so on. It was very loud in my head!

NOW I want to say that the most powerful step YOU can take if you find yourself in a similar situation is simply this: NOTICE what’s going on in your head. Simply NOTICE. The situation doesn’t’ have to be about riding a bike. It might be the thoughts you have associated with speaking to an audience, introducing yourself to someone, going out in the dark, driving in the city traffic, swimming with sharks, flying on a plane, or absolutely anything at all! Simply NOTICE what your mind says. And with the power of noticing what’s going on in your head, you can then choose what to do next.

Kathryn looking calm and happy on her rideI’ve been practising and teaching this technique for a lot of years, and yet still I sometimes forget to do it when the moment arises. The thing is that on Sunday morning I DID NOTICE those fearful thoughts bouncing round my head. And guess what? I didn’t care about them. I didn’t let them bother me. Instead of giving them the power of my attention and allowing them to expand and bully me into playing it too safe, I chose to dig up another thought from my mind vault:

This is a confidence cycle. I only worry about these things when I’ve been off my bike for a couple of weeks and out of practice. Just ride. Focus on how far you’ve come over the past few years. Don’t let those worries bully you or keep you small, or limit the fun you’ll have today. You’re sensible. You won’t do any crazy dangerous stuff. You’re safe. Just ride.”

And so I focused on how strong I felt and that all the recent running has made a positive difference to my strength and aerobic fitness. I enjoyed the feeling of sprinting up a couple "Tough Girl" socksof short hills engaging my quads in an exertion that a couple of years ago would have been painful (if not impossible)! I pedalled in a higher gear than normal and found it easier than expected. I noticed what I did well and trusted wholeheartedly that my confidence will be back real soon. I glanced down at my fabulous new “tough girl” socks reminding myself of my strengths and the stories I can tell myself about what I CAN do. And as I looked back over the past few years, I could see how far I’ve progressed in managing my fears on the bike. I’ve developed resilience and practised some of life’s most valuable skills that I’ve transferred into other areas of my life.

Yes, frights, flights and fears will always be there, but you can choose how to handle them. Practise. Persist. And occasionally look back to see how far you’ve come.

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 Strategies for Handling Unease During an Adventure

Daisy Spoke BannerHaving been on the road with my daughter now for over a week on my April Adventure road trip throughout central, northern and western Queensland, and heading north through the Northern Territory to Darwin, I’ve managed to settle in and really enjoy myself despite feeling unprepared and unorganised when we started. I’ve fairly easily challenged some of my underlying fears and assumptions about travel including leaving half my family behind, not researching details about the route and destinations, not planning my return flight home when I leave my daughter in the tropical north to start her new job, being female and camping in out-of-the-way places and driving on remote roads, and the list goes on. 

View from car windscreen

My latest challenge came only last night. Arriving at Elsey National Park near Mataranka I felt somewhat unsettled. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was about. The environment was not like any I’d spent time in before. It looked like a combination of wetlands and dry scrub with earth that appeared to be recently wet with rain but had since dried to a fine powder as silt does after a flood. There was a plethora of wildlife. The insects were very diverse, big and plentiful. I saw some grasshoppers that reminded me of the vivid yellow plastic toy grasshoppers you can buy in cheap toy packs from the dollar stores. The sounds of the bush here also seemed strange and haunting. I couldn’t tell the difference between bird and insect calls, or perhaps even other animals yet unseen. It was eerily quiet with only one other campsite inhabited by humans and the campgrounds extended well beyond sight in every direction. The facilities buildings were half fenced off and I was curious about this but couldn’t think of any rational reason why they would be fenced in this unusual way. 

We decided on a campsite with some shade, green grass and a picnic table, andCampsite at Elsey NP before we even set up camp we had a short walk around the area. A sudden loud rustle in the bushes next to us startled me. Turning around and expecting to see a wallaby, my daughter tells me I wouldn’t want to know what made that noise. On further enquiry she tells me it was a rather large snake, and I began to seriously wonder about moving our campsite further away from said snake. 

Roper River, Elsey NPMy uneasiness only increased as the evening rolled on and in particular when we came face to face with another snake only a few metres from our tents. Still, I wandered why the uneasiness was there in the first place. Was I sensing a spiritual presence? Was it simply that everything seemed strange and unfamiliar? Or perhaps the absence of other humans? Was I simply tired and misreading my intuition? Was it FEAR welling up and testing my inner strength? 

But how to handle this uneasiness? I decided to take some of my own advice and implemented these strategies:

  1. I chose to “be” with my uneasiness. I acknowledged how I truly felt instead of denying or avoiding it. 
  2. I shared my feelings and concerns with my daughter, getting them out into the open instead of hiding them away and pretending they didn’t exist as I would have in the past. 
  3. I listened and looked, tuning into my surroundings in the present time, focusing on grounding myself to the moment rather than flying off into a fantastical and irrational anxiety about what might happen. 
  4. I set an intention to be open to possibilities and new experiences. Instead of being closed-minded and putting up barriers to enjoying myself, I chose to embrace the experience and adopt an adventurous mindset. 
  5. I intentionally invoked a relaxation response when I noticed my anxiety rising. I brought my attention to my breath and let go of the physical tension that I felt. 
  6. I used rational and logical self-talk such as “Just because I’ve seen a snake (or two) close to camp doesn’t mean I’m in any greater danger than if I hadn’t seen them”; “Not all snakes are deadly”; “We have a snake bandage on us at all times and an emergency signalling system if we need to use it”; 
  7. I immersed myself in the sounds of the night as I went to sleep, setting an intention of getting to know them better; an intention of curiosity, wonder and awe. 
  8. I also created an action to take during the night that however irrational it was, it really helped! It may seem funny to anyone else, and in fact it does to me now too! Whenever I stirred during the night and noticed that I’d rolled off my camping mattress or that I was touching the sides of the tent, I rolled back onto the mattress telling myself I can go to sleep safely now because no snake can bite me through the mattress even if does manage to slither its way under my tent!

Kathryn at Elsey NPAnd so I survived. In fact I thrived and had possibly the best sleep so far on my April Adventure. I awoke before dawn, spent a couple of hours silently meditating, embracing my surroundings and feeling entirely captivated by what seemed so haunting and difficult the day before. I feel an immense sense of satisfaction that I didn’t allow my anxiety to rule and limit me. I chose to respect it but also to stand up to it. In doing so I’ve come to know an amazing spiritual aspect of this sacred land which I may not ever understand, but I can accept it and embrace it. And when I do that, I also accept and embrace myself. 

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. 

 

 

 

The Fearful Adventurer: 5 hacks to turn fear into adventure

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I’ve always believed I operate best when I can plan ahead and organise or control the situation around me so it was with a deep breath that I set off on my current journey with barely a glance at a map. In fact I didn’t even pack my bag till the morning I left, and had so much on my mind and so many work tasks to complete that I hadn’t given the two week “April Adventure” road trip covering approximately 4200kms much thought at all. 

RainforestMy Year of Adventure in fact began on New Year’s Eve as I set off on a week long road trip with my family to Melbourne and back home again traversing half the eastern side of Australia. With one daughter now settled in Victoria, I refocused my attention on developing new online programs and resources for women. I was thrilled to take my “February Adventure” to Hahndorf in South Australia to participate in and present at the Thriving Women 2018 conference. My “March Adventure” was closer to home with weekends and day trips to several magnificent National Parks, immersing myself in one of my great loves – bushwalking. 

So here I am on my “April Adventure”. This journey has snuck up very quickly on me, and if I had paused for a moment to think about it, I’m sure I would have had2 single tents a lot of “what if’s” and identified as a fearful and hesitant adventurer rather than a brave one. My April Adventure has brought up a number of ‘firsts’ for me – I’ve left half my family behind, I’m travelling with only one companion (my younger daughter) through some fairly remote parts of Australia, I’m camping in a tent by myself, I’m having to step up and make decisions I’ve not been responsible for previously, and I’m operating a business far from home and frequently without mobile reception or internet connection. 

With a firm belief in stepping outside my comfort zone in order to learn and grow as a person, I chose to embrace the opportunities that my April Adventure has gifted me. And to satisfy my need for structure and predictability, I’ve created 5 hacks to manage potential feelings of overwhelm and anxiety about the ‘bigness’ of this adventure. I know you’ll find them useful too if you ever experience a sense of trepidation when stepping outside your comfort zone. 

5 Hacks To Turn Fear Into Adventure

1. Break the task up into smaller tasks (or adventures) and focus on one at a time. 

For me, I’ve been focusing on the day and night ahead – my next destination, my next meals, my next fuel stops – instead of worrying so much about the camp site and weather conditions at my final destination. Each day is a mini adventure in itself. Don’t miss out on these little adventures because you’re looking too far ahead. 

View from car windscreen

2. Look around you, focus on the moment.

I never tire of looking out the window on road trips. The subtle changes in scenery, weather, road conditions, flora and fauna, lifestyle, language, and local industries. I absolutely love it. I wonder what it would be like to live here, to have been here hundreds of years ago, the stories of the First Nation’s people in this area, I wonder who built these roads and when and how,  what do the local people do in their everyday lives…… Captivated by my immediate surroundings, I’ve found my wandering mind is creative and free, and not constrained by my fear mongering reptilian brain. 

View of landscape

3. Maintain a routine

My social media posts on Facebook and Instagram during my trip have reflected a very important part of my routine that keeps my mind, body and spirit healthy – morning exercise! It’s not always possible to complete my entire routine but by taking a flexible approach I’ve kept my head and heart on an even keel. 

Bushwalking

4. Listen to podcasts, Commonwealth Games news, audio books, music, anything of interest!

How lucky was it that my trip coincided with the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Never a dull moment on the radio when we can pick up the commentary, and always opportunities to listen to pre-downloaded podcasts, training videos or catch up on a bit of blogging! Giving your attention something to hook onto prevents it from wandering away into the land of the most feared!

Reading at camp

5. Chat to people around you. 

You never know your connections until you have a conversation with someone. Connections bring the world closer together, enhance empathy, and create opportunities for sharing stories and understanding. Looking outwardly minimises anxiety about our own situations and relaxes our mindsets. 

Person standing on viewing platform

NOW, has anyone got any hacks to help me deal with the outback flies????!

What hacks do you have for managing the discomfort you feel when stepping outside your comfort zone?

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.