Valuing your relationships

It’s often said that a loving and caring relationship is the key to a healthy and happy life. As human beings we are social creatures and need to be in relationship with others.

There is no perfect recipe for a fulfilling relationship. Just like one size does not fit all, the recipe for the perfect relationship differs for everybody. The ground rule, however, remains the same – that you have to nurture your relationships in order to gain mutual fulfilment from them.

Secrets of a happy relationship

A healthy relationship requires your time, energy and patience. Here are a few ideas that can make your relationship a fulfilling one:-

Shared values and respect – Have a shared set of values and views about life on which to build a relationship. Explore these together; are you both on the same page?

Prioritise the relationship –. If we want our relationship to work we have to prioritise it. Be it a relationship between couples, between friends or between parents and children. Spend time with each other, do things together and most importantly value each other. Taking someone for granted is bound to create conflicts.

Effective communication – Holds the key to minimising conflicts within relationships. Talk about and communicate your thoughts and feelings to each other. Holding a grudge or keeping secrets in the long run will eventually lead to resentment and friction. Be mindful about what and how you communicate. Words spoken in anger can and do hurt.

Empathy – If those closest to you are going through a tough time, it is important to listen and to show empathy. It is not enough to say you understand, it is about showing your understanding. Listening and empathy shows you care and go a long way to building and maintaining a successful relationship.

Compassionate understanding – Being compassionate and understanding in relationships is important and so is offering forgiveness. There is no harm in saying sorry if you are wrong and made a mistake. A measure of our integrity and strength is not that we don’t or shouldn’t make mistakes; it’s that we can admit when we have and then do something about it. Similarly if forgiveness is offered, accept it and find a way to resolve the issue and move on. Talking or fighting about the same issues again and again will not help anyone. If this happens then the chances are the real issues have not been addressed.

Appreciation Tell your partner daily what you appreciate about them. It might be something from the past that touched you. It may be some small gesture of kindness towards you. Let your partner know you noticed.

Joy and passion – By focusing on the positives in your partner rather than the negatives your relationship has more chance of success. We recommend five positives for every negative. Eliminate the negativity and find the joy in your lives!

ON BEING SINGLE

The many phases of our lives can include a period or periods where we are not in a relationship and are coping with being alone or single.

It is important that we find ways to enjoy the many benefits of being single.

Enjoying Being Single

Being alone does not have to mean being miserable and unhappy. Treat being single as an opportunity to reconnect with your self and revaluate what is important for you and what you wish to do in life. Perhaps this can be a time to recalibrate and chart a new or different course.

This can be an ideal time for reflection - This time can be used to work on accepting the past, appreciate the present and move on in life. This is the time to look after yourself. Reflect on and change those parts of your life that need attention. Perhaps your self esteem is low. Check areas where you may lack confidence and work on this so you are ready to be in the relationship that reflects who you really want to be.

Understand that every cloud has a silver lining – Being single is not the end of the world and perhaps it’s better to be single than in an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship. Maybe being single is providing the space for something new to come into your life that you’d not previously considered.

Appreciate friends and family – Being single is the perfect time to focus on friendships and spending quality time with family members. It is also an opportunity to forge new friendships. If you’re recently out of a long term relationship this can be a time to learn to deal with different people and also to develop new skills.

Being an Optimist – Optimism is a key to happiness and contentment. The ability to see the glass as half full rather than half empty – look at what is rather than what isn’t. Being single gives us the option to cherish our freedom and flexibility. For example you can go on a trip on an impulse or do something spontaneously and enjoy the moment.

Explore new opportunities in life – You might have been thinking about relocating somewhere else for that wonderful new job opportunity, but the complexities of relationships might have held you back. Being single is the perfect time to explore those opportunities.

So find your courage, focus on new possibilities and look beyond what has been to what could be!

Grief and Loss – Coping Through Difficult Times

Life loss and grief

Life is a melting pot of hopes, desires, joys, disappointments, sorrows, losses, grief. The journey of life is marked with highs and lows: from the joy of welcoming in a new family member, to fulfilling a long held ambition, to the loss of a loved one through separation or death, to health issues, and various other personal and professional setbacks. And feelings of sadness, loss and grief are inevitable.

Grief may be the result of personal or professional disappointments. Everything will not always go according to plan and falling short on our life’s goals can produce feelings of grief.

The possibility of a separation or divorce is extremely stressful and can leave us wondering who to confide in and who to ask for help.

We may decide to relocate for personal or professional reasons, however this decision can also leave us feeling unsettled and a sense of loneliness is not uncommon as it can engulf us when we start missing those we care about and who are not close at hand.

Similarly losing a job or moving on to retirement can impact self esteem and confidence often resulting in a sense of isolation and grief when we lose our meaning and purpose in life.

And it is not uncommon following a diagnosis of a life threatening health condition or terminal illness to end up feeling depressed with the loss of good health and lifestyle.

The death of loved ones such as a partner, a child, a parent, a friend, or a pet, can create a deep void in our life which can not be easily filled.

Feelings of helplessness and despair can overcome us in such circumstances.

Responding to grief

Firstly, it is perfectly normal to feel sad, frightened, or lonely due to a loss. There is nothing unnatural about it and crying is not a weakness, rather it is a part of healing.

Everyone has their own way to respond to situations of loss and grief and there is no set formula for this.  We all grieve differently, whether it is done quietly within our self or more overtly. It is an individual experience and it depends on many factors, including personality, ability to cope generally, experiences in life and the nature of the loss.

Professional help is recommended when the grief is unyielding.

Coping with grief

We know that coping with grief and loss is never easy. The following steps are recommended as ways to work through grief -

Sharing – Sometimes sharing your story with loved ones like friends or family members may bring out a sense of relief and comfort. It is important for us to connect with others at these times to minimise further detachment.

Caring for yourself - People experience different emotions at different times while trying to cope with grief.  Sometimes this can take a toll on overall physical and mental health and wellbeing. This is a time to take time out for yourself and to connect with your inner self:

Reading a book

Listening to music

Expressing yourself creatively by writing and drawing

Exercising when there is too much pent up energy

Travelling

Meditating

Drawing from your spiritual beliefs

This can be an opportunity to take up new hobbies like walking, swimming or gardening.

Try to limit alcohol intake, eat well before sleeping and try to have a routine in place. Having a daily structure can be very supportive.

These activities can be very healing and can help significantly while coping with life after a personal or professional loss.

Joining a Support Group – Joining a support group to build up a network with people undergoing similar situations in life may help with coping and being resilient.

Seeking Help – Don’t hesitate to reach out and seek professional support if it all feels too much. An experienced therapist or counsellor will understand your specific needs and will help you in working through grief and loss.

With proper self care and support you can overcome your grief.


5 things to do when you are depressed

1. Get active – go and do something. This feels contrary to how you maybe feeling, yet research suggests that exercise is great to beat depression.

2. Connect - Ring a friend and make contact with someone you feel safe with

3. Laugh – go to a movie and have a good laugh. Research shows that laughing is great to beat the blues. It’s hard to be down when you’re laughing!

4. Do something for someone – helping someone else takes your mind off what is making you depressed now.

5. Make healthy choices - Make sure you are eating and sleeping well. Good sleep and diet and exercise will help you feel better about yourself. 

Check out these websites for more information if you have a more serious depression that requires professional intervention. 

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

Top 7 activities for reducing stress

Get a good balance between work, love and play. 

1. One of the things that contribute to stress is not looking after yourself. It’s easy to drop everything that isn’t the cause of the stress but may be the very thing you need to de-stress. Like spending time with people who you care about and who care about you. 

2. Exercise

3. Work out what the cause of your stress might be and see if you can find a way to resolve it.

4. Get away from the stressors for a time to get a bit of a breather and a new perspective. By staying with the stressors will probably only exacerbate how you’re feeling and make it more difficult to resolve. 

5. Breathe - be sure to relax when confronting stressful situations. Concentrating on your breath is always a good idea. 

6. Be like Adam Sandler and find a happy place to think about and transport yourself to even if it’s for 5 minutes.

7. Avoid alcohol and other stimulants.

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5 things to look for in your psychologist

Choosing the right psychologist for you is like choosing anyone you want to have a relationship with. It’s personal and unique. Therefore there is no one person who is right for everyone and it may take some time before you find the right person for you. 

But what you can use as a guide is to get the easy bit in place first. 

1. Make sure the person you look for is qualified and registered. In Australia psychologists are registered with the Psychology Board of Australia and you can go to their website to check if the person you have in mind is registered there. 

 http://www.psychologyboard.gov.au/

2. They know what they’re talking about – got knowledge and experience of the area you need help with.

3. The person is a good listener and can understand where you’re coming from.

Now for the more intangibles.

4. You like them. Like any relationship, whether it is a personal one or a professional one you need to like them.

5. You feel safe with this person and feel you can tell them everything you need to tell them, that it is a confidential service. Having said that there are some circumstances under which psychologists will have to report. Talk to your psychologist about this if you have any concerns.

10 things to do to get a good nights sleep

A key to a good nights sleep is having a good rhythm in your day. Ensure your day is roughly divided into 3 – 8 hours of rest/ sleep, 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play – family life, children, friends other activities such a creative pursuits. Then have this checklist in mind:

1. Go to bed at roughly the same time each night and get up at the same time each day.

2. Get regular exercise.

3. Avoid any stimulants a couple of hours before you want to fall asleep. So cut down on alcohol, caffeine, non prescriptive drugs – preferably none at all if you’re after a truly good night’s sleep.

4. Make sure your bedroom is a safe and comfortable place to be - a place for sleep and play. If you are in a relationship avoid any serious discussions or fighting in the bedroom.

5. Avoid napping during the day and try to “reset” your inner clock by following the above 3 steps and the following 6 steps if they apply.

6. Turn off all technology a couple of hours before you want to sleep and don’t have any in your bedroom to avoid over stimulating yourself.

7. Check with yourself that the day is behind you and you are ready to sleep. If you find you are ruminating or stressing about something, do something about it. Try writing it down and make an agreement with yourself that you’ll attend to that issue the next day – and work out ahead of time when that will be.

8. When in bed ‘let go’ by either reading something “light” or trying some relaxation exercises.

9. Give yourself a footbath with hot water and lavender oil before bed.

10. Work out if you have any negative self beliefs about sleep eg. I’m a bad sleeper, I stopped being a good sleeper after the children were born, I’m easily disturbed at night. Try changing these negative self beliefs to more positive ones eg. I am a good sleeper, I deserve to sleep well. 

If you have difficulty here you may need to get some professional help from a psychologist who can help you tailor a sleep regime that will work for you particularly if it has been going on for a long time.

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