My First Overnight Hiking Adventure!

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Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Here is Episode 2 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle – GIRRAWEEN HERE WE COME!

My year of adventure

Being a year that I’ve devoted to adventure, I’ve been consciously seeking opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone and expand my inner world. A life of adventure is so much more inviting than a life of being limited by fears and self-imposed routines. So I found myself, rather surprisingly, publicly announcing my intention to have a go at overnight hiking, an activity that in the past has always brought the question to my mind “Why?” I mean, backpacking never really made much sense to me – deliberately burdening yourself with a heavy weight on your back, being completely self-reliant in every aspect, and ….. (and this is a big issue …..) not having access to showers and toilets! Honestly, why would you do this? Where is the fun factor in that?

Backpacking equipment

Looking for my next big challenge

Well, funnily enough, on my life-long journey of self-discovery I’ve come to see that it’s very often the really tough stuff that gives me that sense of being fully alive, an elated feeling that comes with achievement and pushing my limits, rising to a challenge and then reflecting on how I’ve grown because of it, and bringing about a sense of fun. Was backpacking the next big challenge I needed in life to learn to let go of the excess physical and mental stuff that I’ve become attached to, and develop independence and self-confidence in who I am? I started to realise that the stories I’d been telling myself about backpacking, were simply stories; not factual stories at all – simply fiction, made up in my mind keeping me small and stopping me from having a go at something that might turn out to be fun after all.

Don't believe everything you think

 

The value of goal-setting

And so with my public announcement of my overnight hiking goal, I began to get myself organised. I decided to share my experience here because I want people to know how valuable goal-setting can be; that we can learn so much more beyond what we expect; and that sometimes goals are uncomfortable, sometimes we lose our way, sometimes we change direction or even miss our target altogether. With goal-setting comes a fear of failure, of not being good enough, a fear of giving up – issues I’ve been working on for myself over the past few years, and now here is my perfect chance to put it all together and see what I can do!

best things in life start with a dream

1st Step – Research!

First started the research – reading and watching books, blogs, vlogs and videos. I began asking questions of others, looking in hiking stores, talking with family and friends about the idea. And pretty soon my goal began to take root and blossom. Yes there have been many doubts and worries along the way, but I knew I was doing this for me. To be the best me I can be, to learn from going through the process even if I didn’t like it and even if I decided not to go through it again. I never said I had to like overnight hiking or keep doing it. I simply said I wanted to try it on for size and see how it fitted for me.

Well actually, yes I can!

2nd Step – Skills Development!

Secondly I embarked on a project to prepare myself with skills to become more bush-savvy. I participated in an introductory and then an intermediate level navigation and trekking workshop for women. Wow, this was amazing! So many other women of all ages, immersing themselves in a lifestyle of outdoor adventure, choosing to skill themselves up and push their limits! Knowing I was not alone was as important as the actual navigation skills I gained from the workshops.

Compass, maps and navigation equipment

Girraween, here we come!

Finally, with all the right conditions in place – fine mid-season weather, a committed crew of family, a convenient vacancy at the dog boarding kennels for little Tommy, no bushfires, no sickness or injury that would prevent us from going (although it was definitely touch and go for a while!), school assignments done and dusted for the term – we set off for Girraween National Park. This is one of my favourite places to retreat to. Being not far from home it’s kind of like my other backyard.

granite formations

Planning for minimal risk

We had planned our adventure to be a gentle introduction to overnight hiking. We chose marked trails in a National Park we were familiar with so we knew we wouldn’t get lost and would have easy access to help if we needed it. With minimal travel time, low chance of rain and a fairly short distance to walk, we were pretty sure we’d survive the weekend and be home in time for dinner on the Sunday!

Backpacking in national park

What have I got myself into?

Hauling our packs onto our backs at our starting point on Saturday was pretty daunting. I was having serious doubts about my very sore foot that had been under treatment but it had flared up again. I groaned under the weight of my pack and secretly feeling nauseous at the idea of what I’d gotten myself into. But we set off, slowly plodding along the established trails stopping regularly to soak in the beauty all round us. Only a few minutes into our adventure we saw a big shiny red-bellied black snake slithering gracefully through the undergrowth – a reminder to stay alert at all times.

Stone Cottage, Girraween

The first day

We walked 14 kilometres on Saturday at a leisurely pace, munching on homemade protein balls, trail mix and wraps whenever we were hungry. From Underground Creek past West Bald Rock and onto the Stone Cottage, we felt like we were in our own little world. We set up camp in the late afternoon feeling somewhat weary but cheerful. I had pre-cooked our dinner, a result of choosing not to invest just yet in a lightweight stove. It always amazes me how good the most basic food can taste when you’ve been physically active all day.

tents set up in the remote bush camp

Watching the sun set and the moon rise was a perfect end to our day as we crawled into our tents to sleep. But oh! the fun and games of getting those inflatable pillows ‘just right’!

The second day

Morning brought us slowly to our feet, still aching from the day before. With time to potter around the campsite exploring our surroundings we gradually wound ourselves up for more walking. Having consumed most of our food and much of our water, we were relieved to haul our packs on our backs again and find the weight much more agreeable. As we walked along the Peak and Creek Trails we were fascinated to see how different everything appeared compared to when we’d ridden our mountain bikes through here. We chatted with some other walkers along the way and arrived back at Underground Creek for lunch, a pretty easy 10 kilometre stroll along gently undulating terrain with spectacular views of Mt Norman, other granite structures and an array of spring wildflowers.

Mt Norman

I’d read stories about crows and currawongs pilfering bushwalkers’ backpacks, and was astonished to be caught out myself when I put my pack down to explore the marvellous formations of a granite outcrop. My trail mix was the object of its fascination, tearing into the ziplock bag through the side mesh pocket on my pack. A pretty obvious lesson learned!

The crow got my trail mix!

What! Is it already time to go home?

Our weekend adventure seemed to be over all too soon. We couldn’t bear to think we’d have to get back into the car and drive off when it felt like we had only just begun! So we sauntered down to Dr Robert’s Waterhole and gazed at the reflections in the water for some time, extending our time as long as possible. I wonder what adventures the First Nations People have had in this stunning landscape, and what adventures other hikers, landowners and picnickers have had here throughout time as well.

Dr Robert's Waterhole

A new series of adventures begins

We knew right then that our overnight hiking adventure was just the first episode in a whole new series of adventures for us. The doubts, the lack of toilets and showers, the physical and emotional challenges were not going to keep us living a small life. Bring on the next adventure I say!

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

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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. 

3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Younger

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Do you know what drives me to do the work I do with groups of women and health professionals? It’s the fact that there are so many things I wish I’d known when I was younger – things that could have made a difference to my life and to my happiness if I’d known about them, made sense of them, and felt confident implementing them in my own life.

Being stuck in anxiety, sadness or anger stops many people from living truly satisfying and fulfilling lives. With many years of working in the mental health industry as well my own personal experiences, I feel an unstoppable drive to keep moving forwards, to keep expanding my reach to build up people’s knowledge and skills, to make a difference in the world with as many people as I can. My mission is to share information and inspiration that empowers women towards a genuine and deep sense of wellness. And by doing this the ripple effect will have an even greater impact.

Wild yellow flowers

Today I’m sharing with you 3 things I wish I’d known when I was younger.

1. Exercise is the only magic pill

KW MTB selfieDaily exercise and general physical activity are crucial elements of feeling good. Just as some people might need to diligently take medication every day, I need to exercise every day. Exercise is nature’s way of stimulating the hormones which aid concentration, problem-solving, sleep, digestion, and mood. This daily dose of exercise rebalances our body’s systems resulting in wide-ranging benefits that no single medication can provide. The research is absolutely clear that regular medium to high intensity exercise can have a profound effect on health AND happiness.

What types of physical activity and exercise do you prefer? I’ve always loved bushwalking, and in more recent years I’ve become really enthusiastic about mountain biking. I call mountain biking my ‘parallel universe’ because it not only provides me with a very regular dose of fun exercise, family time and social interaction, but I’ve also learned the most amazing life lessons from it including managing fears, growing resilience, and developing mindfulness.

2. Get sleep savvy

Awake owl
Credit: source unknown

Sleep is vital for optimal brain function including mood management. Quality sleep restores the mind and body. It improves concentration, problem-solving, reaction time, capacity to think clearly, organise ourselves, plan, learn … and the list just goes on. But getting a good sleep is easier said than done for some of us. There are many skills to getting a good sleep and there are many things you can control when you understand how sleep works. So, the lesson here is to educate yourself about sleep – sleep cycles, circadian rhythms, body clocks, and sleep hygiene. The most common helpful strategies include exercise (especially in the morning), exposure to early morning light (this resets the body clock so you start to feel sleepy in the evening), reduce caffeine (especially in the afternoon) and learn relaxation and stress management skills. Another vital strategy here is to learn about AND practice mindfulness – every day (not just when you have trouble sleeping). Which leads straight into my 3rd tip!

3. Mind your mind

Don't believe everything you thinkMinds are such complex things! They wield a lot of power over our emotions and our actions (including sleep). But unless you notice what’s going on in your mind, and choose how much power to give it, your thoughts, assumptions and beliefs will control you instead of the other way around. The habit of being hooked by thoughts or strongly attached to them is limiting and anxiety-provoking. The key here is to begin by simply noticing what is happening in your mind, and by doing this with curiosity and without judgement. The power is in the noticing. You’ll collect all sorts of interesting bits of information about how your mind works, what thinking patterns it gets locked into, what beliefs and assumptions are behind it all, and how all of this impacts your physiology, your behaviours and your emotions. One of my favourite sayings is “Don’t believe everything you think!” because we can learn to stand back, notice the thought and choose whether to believe it, or not.

Let's sum up!

So there you have it. The 3 key pieces of information I wish I’d known (and understood, and implemented) when I was younger!

1. Exercise is the only magic pill

2. Get sleep savvy

3. Mind your mind

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.

6 Simple Steps to Smash Your Goals: Bring on the problem-solving train!

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Today it’s all about smashing your goals in 6 simple steps using what I call “The Creative Problem-solving Train” model.  My last blog post outlined the steps you need to take to successfully plan your goals, no matter how big or small. And today’s blog will help you to overcome the obstacles that can get in the way.

Human brains have evolved to focus more attention and energy on the problems of life than the things that are going well. So it’s no surprise that when we start to detail the specifics of our goals, our brains start thinking about all the things that will get in the way of success. Our inner chatter gets louder and louder. It itemises the multitude of reasons why we’ll never achieve our goal. And it all too often convinces us that it’s a waste of time even trying.

Don't believe everything you think!The key to managing this is to NOTICE that it’s happening. If you are are not aware of your inner chatter, you will unconsciously believe it and go along with it instead of challenging it.

Use your powers of observation to notice what’s going on inside your head, and then consciously choose how to respond to your inner chatter. This is your window of opportunity for getting on board “The Creative Problem-solving Train” that will deliver you to your destination – your goal!

So, let me introduce you to …

The Creative Problem-solving Train! Each carriage has a task to perform but remember to always drive the train from the driver’s carriage! This is where you get really clear about what the problem actually is so that you stay on track from the very beginning! The Creative Problem-solving Train is explained below in 6 simple steps so that you’ll smash your goals despite any obstacles, problems, barriers, issues or hurdles that arise.

The creative problem-solving train

Is it probable? Is it possible" Is it unlikely?The Carriages (or steps, if you prefer!)

1. Always start from the driver’s seat no matter how tempting it is to jump straight into one of the other carriages!! List all the ‘possible’, ‘probable’ and ‘unlikely’ problems, barriers and obstacles that might get in between you and your goal. Be honest and open with yourself and about your situation. It might seem counter-intuitive but don’t hold back. Bringing the issues out into the light of day and writing them down will DISEMPOWER THEM, and EMPOWER YOU towards your goal. If you notice an urge to deny or avoid the issues, write that down too. Shame, perceived laziness and fear are all barriers that can rob us of the opportunity as well as the joy of achieving goals.

2. Choose ONE of your ‘probable’ obstacles and brainstorm solutions to it. You’re not Let your ideas flow ...analysing your ideas at this stage so let go of the urge to find reasons why they won’t work. Remember to keep the CREATIVE in your creative problem-solving. Let the ideas flow no matter how crazy, impossible, or ridiculous they might seem. It’s often the ‘way out’ ideas that create a pathway to a solution, so get them all out there. Write them all down!

3. Now it’s time to do a quick analysis of the ideas you’ve thought of. Write down the pros and cons of each option.

4. Select the option that seems to be the best one, but don’t be overly focused on making the ‘right’ choice. Simply go with the one that seems the best in this moment.

What's my plan of action to deal with this issue?5. Write down your Plan of Action so that you have a clear and concise guide to implementing your selected option.

6. Review the process. Has your selected option helped to solve the problem? Does it need Patiently persist!more time? More resources? Do you need to modify it? It’s important at this point to persist with your problem-solving rather than giving up with your goal. Persistence is a valuable skill that everyone can learn. It can make the difference between throwing your goal away, and celebrating success. If it’s clear that your selected option is not going to work, you can discard it and select a different one. Go back to Step Number 4 to choose a different idea and work your way through again. You might need to repeat these steps multiple times to find the best way forward. Combining two or more solutions might even be the most effective approach.

You can use the Creative Problem-solving Train process to work your way through all or any of the problems you’ve identified. Before you know it you’ll have a well-rounded strategy to manage everything that stands between you and your goal. If any new obstacles surface, use the same process to deal with them.

Well actually, yes I can!Blending creativity and logic is a powerful way to achieve success. Don’t allow your inner chatter stop you from getting started with your goals. And don’t let the obstacles limit you or your achievements. Follow the Creative Problem-solving Train to develop persistence and propel you forwards. Your mental health will thank you with improved self-confidence, resilience and unstoppability.

Next week I’ll share a goal with you that I’m working on for myself. Something I’ve been considering taking on for some time but haven’t because I’ve been playing it safe! But in my heart I know that I’m holding back on myself and will be disappointed if I don’t at least give it a try. I’ll lay all the obstacles out on the table (and there are plenty of them!) and I’ll use the Creative Problem-solving Train to help me develop a strategy to deal with them so that I’ll experience that sweet taste of success that comes with achieving a goal.

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.

Thinking About Thinking: joining the dots between senses and thoughts

We all think in different ways. Each of us has a unique mind with different ideas, beliefs and opinions ….. and the way we PERCEIVE our own thoughts is fairly unique too. Many of us connect the PERCEPTION of our thoughts with our senses.

Thinking about YOUR thinking ….. how do YOU think?

Pictures, images, visual symbols – Do your thoughts seem to be constructed of things you can see in the external world around you? When you think about a situation, do you have a mental image of what that looks like? Faces? Places? Objects? Do you see a ‘mental’ or internal movie playing scenarios from the past or future?

Voices, sounds, words – Do you hear your thoughts, almost as if there’s another person in your mind, or perhaps your own voice chattering away. Maybe you hear several voices chattering or arguing, a voice from your childhood of yourself or someone else, or maybe unfamiliar voices. These voices speak out the thoughts that go through your mind.

Feelings, sensations, movements of the body – Do you ‘feel’ your thoughts inside your head or your body? When you think about situations or recall events, do you feel the movements or sensations associated with them?

Smell and taste – The sense of smell is often deeply connected with memories. Certain smells can trigger memories, experiences and flashbacks without warning, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The sense of taste can be similar. We use phrases such as “That left a bad taste in my mouth” and “I smell something fishy here”, all of which suggest the use of these senses in the way we perceive our thoughts.

A lot of us will find that our thinking relies on all the senses at different times or in different ways, although one sense may be more dominant than the others. For example, you might notice that your thoughts often present as images – as if you can see them and almost reach out and touch them. But this might be combined with movement and sound, as if you are watching a movie playing out in your mind.

So my question for you is …..

Thinking about YOUR thinking ….. how do YOU think?

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.

The 4 Foundation Stones of WELLNESS

This blog post summarises some of the information shared in a recent ROUND THE TABLE mini-workshop. To sign up for information about future workshops, click here: https://www.condamineassist.com.au/wp/mailing-list-sign-up/ 

Buildings don’t stand up for long without a strong foundation. Mental health and wellness are no different. By strengthening the foundation stones, we create greater resilience so that when life gets tough, we’re better able to weather the storms without crashing down.

So, what are these foundation stones of wellness? There are four main foundation stones that I work on with my clients as well as in my own personal life. Each of the stones support each other – they are interlinked – and they are a fabulous place to start building or renovating wellness at any time! The foundations are based on solid evidence that is routinely used in the mental health sector.

1. Movement

The latest Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines can be found here:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

Basically, people are designed to move … a lot. When we don’t move enough, we are at greater risk of switching into a depressed or anxious state. It’s simple biology. Get moving, get active, get off the sofa, and move as much as you can and often as you can. For most of us it’s recommended to aim for about an hour of moderate intensity exercise or activity each day, and limit our screen time to 2 hours per day. The combined mental and physical health benefits of exercise / activity cannot be replaced by any medication. If you are in pain, or have limited movement, injuries, or chronic disease, the best idea is to do what you can. Remember always check with your doctor or health professional if you have any concerns about your health, exercise, and resting needs.

2. Sleep

Sleep is often a problem that arises when something else (in fact, anything else!) isn’t quite right. Good quality sleep is needed for restoration of our minds and bodies. Sleep problems include too much, too little, and interrupted sleep, as well as feeling fatigued on waking. There are plenty of things you can do to try to improve your sleep, but remember that there is a huge variation of what is considered ‘normal’. First of all, there are some health issues which may be contributing such as sleep apnoea, snoring and medication. If you suspect these to be problems, check with your doctor. How much caffeine, alcohol and tobacco are you using? How are you managing your everyday stresses? Your relationships? Issues with pain management or other health issues? Is you mind staying awake when your body is trying to sleep? Are you able to rest peacefully even if you can’t sleep? What routine do you use to prepare for sleep? Are you relaxing and de-stressing during the day? The list is almost endless!

3. Nutrition

There’s some value in the old sayings “You are what you eat” and “Healthy body, healthy mind”, although I acknowledge it’s not quite as simple as that! When it comes to nutrition in the media, it can be very confusing. So, let’s cut to the evidence-based framework that’s used by dieticians in Australia. These guidelines provide clear direction about what and how much we need to eat to reduce the risk of disease and illness. Many people I work with are surprised when they realise how much 1 serve of vegetables looks like, and the proportions of the different food groups we need to aim for each day. A dietician once said to me that we should all aim to eat a rainbow everyday, if not at every meal, so this is another tip I often share to encourage people to eat a wide variety of foods. Some nutrients are thought to assist with mood management and sleep, but for most of us, we’ll be getting these simply by eating a well balanced diet. Oh, and don’t forget to limit your alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water! And check the guidelines here: https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au

4. Mind

Mind health encompasses basically everything about life and living that is not visible – thoughts, feelings, spirituality, beliefs, assumptions, self-awareness, attachments to things / people / places, and inner skills to manage our mood and behaviours. And that’s just to name a few! Mindfulness skills training is a valuable component of mind health. This is something that everyone can practise either formally (eg using mindfulness meditation) or informally (eg noticing with curiosity and without judgement what you see, hear, feel, taste, smell while eating lunch). Practices such as these train our minds to pay attention to what is happening internally and externally. We come to notice the patterns of thinking and behaving that we automatically engage in. And with this knowledge comes the power of choosing something else.

So, the next time you notice you’re feeling down or anxious, check your foundation stones and make the adjustment you need. Strengthening one foundation stone will strengthen the whole structure, but to maximise resilience overall, you’ll need to work on all four of them. If you don’t have the skills to do this yourself, ask for help. Team up with your doctor or health professional to build the best YOU that’s possible!