Winter Blues

It’s still winter. Well for another week anyway. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s still quite dark early in the evening.

Getting out of bed is hard. The idea of exercising in the morning is not that appealing. Comfort food like chocolate, hot chips, anything with lots of carbs, and a roast meal with lots of gravy, are very appealing.

You’re not that motivated. The couch is a lovely place to spend the day. You’ll get around to doing all those things you should do later. Your patience and tolerance isn’t at it’s best.

Welcome to “the winter blues.”

Now let’s be clear what we mean by that.

In 1984, The National Institute of Mental Health in the USA found that some people have serious seasonal mood and behaviour changes. The term Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) came into existence.

One theory why this occurs is that with less sunlight, the chemicals produced by the brain alter, and this can affect mood. People with SAD typically have low levels of serotonin and high levels of melatonin.  Serotonin helps reduce anxiety and depression. Melatonin helps you sleep.

In many parts of the world that experience “real” cold and long grey days, not the Australian version of cold, devices like light boxes are in high demand. You place them on your desk or in your room to get artificial light to help change your mood. They’re even called SAD light boxes!

Now before you decide that you suffer from SAD, and rush out to buy a SAD light box, you need to realise that it affects less than 5% of the population in the USA and Europe. In Australia, it’s estimated to be less than 1%.

So most of us don’t suffer from SAD; we just get a little more “blahh” during winter. 

Well what should we go when we become lethargic and want to indulge in all the things we know are bad for us?

A lot of it is self - discipline. There are some other things as well.

Vitamin D
You can get it from a capsule at the shop, or by going outside into sunlight. We are very fortunate in Australia that even in the depth of winter, we have quite a deal of sunlight. So go outside for a walk. Not only will you get vitamin D, you’ll also get fresh air and exercise.

Fish Oil

Omega 3 has many benefits, including reducing the effects of depression. Fish high in omega 3 include salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines.
If you’re going to get it in capsule form, look for good quality supplements.

Your diet
You have to learn to say “no.” It doesn’t mean that you can never have a pizza, or a mug of hot chocolate, or battered fish. It’s just about a balanced diet. It you don’t feel like cold salad, then steam some vegetables. Steaming keeps in the nutrients more than boiling. Make a healthy vegetable soup. Add some lentils for protein.

Exercise
Get outside and go for a brisk walk. You can do that with a jacket, scarf and hat. You don’t have to be in shorts and a tee shirt.

For those who don’t want to exercise outside, there are plenty of gyms, yoga and pilate studios around. 

Your mindset is critical though. It you see this as a hassle, as a chore you really don’t want to do but have to do, then there’s a really good chance you’ll find all sorts of excuses not to do it. So work out why it could be fun, why it could be something to look forward to, why it’s going to benefit you, and focus on that.

Embrace the benefits of winter
Winter isn’t all bad. There are some great things you can experience in winter that you can’t when it’s warm. You can put on your puffy jacket, colourful scarf, and stripy beanie and go to a cafe, sit outside and enjoy a hot mug of coffee. 

Maybe you can go skiing for a few days. 

Or enjoy being indoors by finally reading that book that you promised yourself you’d read when you had time.

The key is to plan to do things.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you eat something that’s fatty, or you can’t be bothered going out, or don’t feel like catching up with friend, don’t beat yourself up. So long as you don’t behave like that all the time, and start getting miserable, there’s nothing wrong. We can’t be good all the time.

So enjoy the last remaining days winter. The winter blues? Blue can be a nice peaceful colour.

Why Work with an RTT Therapist and What You Can Expect From a Session

Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) is a pioneering therapy based on neuroscience, that offers fast, effective results by combining the most beneficial principles of Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP and CBT.

Marissa Peer developed this new therapy that rapidly rewires the neural pathways of the brain. You can find out more information at www.rapidtransformationaltherapy.com including:

  • Why Work With an RTT Therapist?

  • What You Can Expect From a Session

  • What sets RTT apart from other therapies?

RTT can be used for:

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Fears
  • Weight Issue
  • Nerves
  • Public Speaking
  • Concentration
  • Exams
  • Memory
  • Driving Skills
  • Relationships
  • Hair Growth
  • Insomnia
  • And More...

Some people are turning to hypnosis to help cure stomach problems

Hypnosis can be used to treat a whole variety of health problems. Here's a report on doctors who are using hypnosis to treat stomach problems.

John Martin was having stomach problems that wouldn't go away.

"Some of the symptoms that I was experiencing were abdominal pain, diarrhea," Martin said.

After trying medical treatments and talk therapy, Martin decided to get hypnotherapy as a last resort.

 

Hypnotherapy is now being used to treat many digestive problems, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn's disease and heartburn.

At least one study involving IBS reported an 80 percent success rate.

"There really is a nervous system in the gut so if we're anxious, if we're worried about something, if we're stressed (and who isn't), you're prone to having stomach problems," said Dr. Carolyn Daitch.

While some people might be hesitant to be hypnotized because of what they've seen in movies or on TV, Martin says he was willing to try.

"You are truly just in a state, a completely normal state, but you feel different and you lose track of time. I feel very safe," said Martin.

Hypnotherapy is still considered alternative medicine. Experts say it isn't for everyone.

Hypnotherapy also may not last. Some treatment success may only last for a year before another hypnotherapy is needed.

Sometimes you have to say “no.”

“No” is one of the most powerful words in any language. It can evoke all sorts of emotions including anger, disappointment, resentment, despair, anxiety, and so much more.

We don’t like to be on the receiving end of a “no.” And for many people, saying “no” is hard to do.

Why are we afraid of saying “no”? Perhaps we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Maybe it’s because we want to be liked. Maybe we don’t want to be seen as someone who is selfish, negative and uncooperative. Perhaps it’s because we think it’s important for our career, the relationship or to the deal not to say “no.”

One of the major causes of stress at work, at home, and in the social environment, is saying “yes” when you know you should have said “no.” It may result in you taking on increased workload when you’re already stretched to the limit, agreeing to something you really have concerns about, compromising your principles and values, and many more repercussions of saying “yes” when you should have said “no”.

In his book, The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes,William Ury looks at the three most common ways we say “no.”

People may say “no” but in a way that is so weak and non - committal, that they end up accommodating. “In other words, we turn our no into a yes,” Uri says.

“No” is said in an aggressive or angry manner. As Ury puts it, ‘in such a way that blocks agreement and destroys relationships’.

Nothing is said so as to avoid conflict…neither yes nor no. “We leave people hanging, which doesn’t do a service to either us or them,” he says.

“No” is an essential word in our vocabulary that we must use. It helps protect us.

The challenge for us all is to have the courage and effective communication skills to say “no” in a way that will not damage the relationship.

Bouncing Back from Adversity... And Then Some!

The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last week were hailed as an example of inclusiveness with more para-athletes competing for medals than in any other previous Games.

The story behind many para-athletes is often one of resilience. When the chips are down many of these athletes show the steely resolve to bounce back. That could be bouncing back from injury, setback, heartbreaking loss or in some cases near fatality.

One example is the story of Eliza Ault-Connell who won silver in the wheelchair marathon, twelve years after last wearing the green and gold for Australia in Melbourne in 2006.

Eliza’s story of resilience started way back when she was 16 years of age. Up to that point, she was an active teenager participating in netball and basketball. Her world was turned upside down when her mother discovered a rash all over her body when she was curled up in bed with a fever that wouldn’t subside.

Her mother identified the rash as meningococcal immediately and Eliza was rushed to the hospital. When Eliza woke up in hospital, her parents told her that her legs had been amputated.

Recently in an interview with the ABC Eliza reflected on that moment. She said,

"People look at the outcome that I had both my legs and some of my fingers amputated but I was very fortunate to be quickly diagnosed.”

That’s resilience. Under extreme duress, she was already bouncing back from a monumental setback.

The decision to amputate her fingers was her own as she weighed up the doctor's advice about the risk of reinfection. This all at the tender age of 16 years.  

One moment you’re a healthy young teenager, then the next minute you are fighting for your life and coping with a double-leg amputation and some fingers to boot.

Eliza decided to turn her focus towards a goal and found para-sports. She found instant success and within a year she was breaking records in athletics, running on prosthetic limbs. Some of those records still stand today.

Another setback was to come through as her new-found pursuit would cause intense swelling where her leg was amputated because of the extreme pressure on a bone in her stump and the prosthesis when running.

Instead of throwing in the towel, Eliza chose a new path in athletics, this time, racing in a wheelchair. Of course, it’s no surprise that for this overachiever, instant success followed and within a few years she was representing Australia at the Paralympics setting more records.

What a way to turn the corner!

Her early career culminated in winning silver in the 800m at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games after which was she retired and started a family.

That’s a sure sign of resilience. Changing course and soldering on when things don't go your way.

Two years ago, with another home Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Eliza who is director of Meningococcal Australia, decided to come out of retirement and race in the green and gold once again.

After juggling work, raising two children with her husband, and training at home on rollers for the Games Eliza won another Commonwealth silver medal, this time in the wheelchair marathon.

Something Eliza said early in her career shows the mindset of someone who is equipped to deal with a change of this magnitude. Back in 2000 when she first tasted success she said she would “never had a chance to represent my country in sport except for this.". No doubt she was thinking the same last Sunday when she crossed the finish line on Gold Coast.

Now that’s a story that when you’re down, get up again.

Throughout Eliza’s life she has shown a positive attitude, that she is optimistic about the future, and the ability to see failure as a way on informing where her next path will be. All signs of being resilient.

When your chips are down will you do?

Depression and anxiety not far below the surface for LGBTI youth

Fair Day is an annual day of celebration for the LGBTI community to mark the beginning of the iconic Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Every year, a melting pot of tens of thousands of people gather together in Victoria Park to celebrate diversity.

As part of this year’s activities, the community was asked to share their top health priorities. Overwhelmingly, mental health was at the core of their struggles. Depression and anxiety are a constant cloud that hangs over many young Australians, particularly LGBTI youth.

 Overwhelmingly, mental health, depression and anxiety are the biggest health concerns for LGBTI community

Overwhelmingly, mental health, depression and anxiety are the biggest health concerns for LGBTI community

Research suggests that when compared to heterosexual people, homosexual and bisexual people are much more likely to experience anxiety (31.5% vs 14.1%) and more than three times more likely to experience depression and related disorders (19% vs 6 %).

For many, it is the result of bullying and harassment which can have a devastating effect on mental and physical health. 

A nationwide study of same-sex attracted (SSA) youth found that nearly 38% of SSA young people had experienced discrimination, while nearly 50% reported experiencing verbal abuse because of their sexuality. Worst of all, 74% of this abuse had occurred at school.

LGBTI youth are not the only victims of bullying at school. Often the bullying relates to the student's personal attributes and how different they are from other students. The list includes, gender, sex, ability (yes that's right, being particularly good at something does not give you immunity to bullying), disability, appearance and culture and religion. That's just about everyone on the entire planet. That's why bullying has got to stop.

On Friday 16 March 2018, Australian schools will stand united in their communities to celebrate the eighth National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence (NDA).

The Bullying No Way website has a huge amount of resources to combat bullying for kids, teachers, and parents.

They encourage kids to speak out, advising that you never need to be alone with bullying and suggest that kids tell someone about what's happening, such as

  • a teacher, guidance counsellor, or your school principal
  • a family member - like your uncle, aunt or grandfather/grandmother.
  • a friend who could help you.

There are also some great organisations helping mental health issues in the community including:

  • MindOUT develops and delivers national suicide prevention initiatives aimed at building the capacity of the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to meet the support and wellbeing needs of LGBTI populations
  • Kids Helpline is a free counselling service specifically for young people
  • Beyond Blue help create mentally healthy environments and support people across Australia – whatever their age and wherever they live.  
  • ReachOut.com provides an online youth mental health service and information, stories and a support network of other young people who have been through tough personal situations.

References

Nigel, the loneliest bird in the world

What a heartbreaking tale of loneliness. Nigel the gannet, an Australasian seabird, lived in solitude for several years courting a concrete replica of himself. He became a social media darling, winning hearts from admirers from all over the world who sympathised with his plight.

Day in, day out, on Mana Island about 25km northwest of Wellington, New Zealand, Nigel would preen his mate, with conservationists hoping that this oddly manufactured colony would entice others to join and help revitalise the surrounding environment.

It worked. In December, some mates arrived to join "Nigel No Mates", as a regular observer affectionately dubbed him. Nigel, however, remained aloof from the new group and three weeks later he passed away.

Maybe Nigel wasn't lonely at all. He may have been perfectly happy with his lifeless companion. Loneliness is very subjective.

In the human world, we all have our own level of tolerance of social connectedness. Sometimes we enjoy having lots of people around us, sometimes we just want to be alone. That's OK and that's normal.

Sometimes we're forced into feelings of loneliness, like when we've got a cold and, like it or not, we're placed in quarantine by friends and family who don't want us passing on our germs. That's very normal too and passes quickly when we're back up and running at full steam again.

When feelings of loneliness move beyond a temporary state and we feel lonely no matter if we're alone or in a social situation then that can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and social health.

There are so many reasons we can feel lonely and everyone is different. It's important to remember that loneliness can be overcome.

There are things to try...

  • Taking control is one step. Your health and fitness is a great place to start. Go for a walk, get some fresh air. It doesn't have to be with someone else. Maybe that can come later when you're ready. But setting a regular schedule and sticking to it, is a great foundation for showing yourself that you have the ability to take charge and make changes in your life.
  • Replace negative self talk with more positive thoughts. Instead of saying to yourself, "I'm such an idiot" when you arrived at work 10 minutes late because you missed the news about the rail strike, try saying "Well, that didn't turn out how I thought. Next time I'm going to check the timetable before I have breakfast, just to be safe". Negative self-talk can send us in a downward spiral, leading to more feelings of isolation.
  • Book yourself into a course to learn something new. That can be a great way of meeting new friends, or just participating in something in the company of others with no commitment to take it further until you're ready.
  • Get support. Reach out to someone you trust about your feelings, or see a GP, or a counsellor.

Feelings of loneliness don't have to last forever. Be confident that you can make changes and get back on track.

Boost to funding for mental health issues in youth is welcome news

Now there’s some news that's worth celebrating. The federal government is set to announce a $110 million package to tackle anxiety and depression in Australian youth. 

A huge $46 million will go towards equipping teachers with resources to identify mental health issues in the classroom.

The statistics regarding mental health from Beyond Blue are astounding, with one in seven young Australians experiencing a mental health condition, so this funding is much needed. 

 Around one in 35 young Australians aged 4-17 experience a depressive disorder. Breakdown: 2.8% of Australians aged 4-17 have experienced an affective disorder.* This is equivalent to 112,000 young people. One in seven young Australians experience a mental health condition. Youth Beyond Blue

In my practice, I have counselled youth who have taken a step in the right direction to seek help. A common theme amongst them, is that the main barrier to seeking help is that there is a stigma attached to mental health. My hope is that this funding boost will equip our youth with the confidence to seek help from friends, family or a professional.

Beyond Blue has an excellent resource for supporting someone with anxiety or depression. I really like their advice that having a conversation can make a difference in helping someone feel less alone and more supported in recovering from anxiety and depression. We can never underestimate the value of just ‘being there’ for someone who is facing these challenges.

On a related note, at the end of 2017, my business partner Janine Rod, and I, launched a new program called The Keys for Kids. We recognised a real need to provide equip kids with skills that help them:

  • Build resiliency to stress
  • Maximize focus and concentration
  • Increase motivation
  • Set themselves up for success

So you can imagine how happy we are that Australian government is also taking the issue seriously.

Healing illness with the subconscious mind by Neurolinguistic Hypnotherapist Danna Pycher

This is a wonderful presentation by Danna Pycher, who is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Hypnotherapist specialising in chronic illness and trauma.

Danna shares her story about trauma and the transformative insight she gained that allowed her to harness the healing power of the subconscious mind. 

This talk was given at a TEDx event in 2015 and is a wonderful day example of the power of our minds. 

If you would like to know how you can harness the healing power of hypnosis contact me today.