Sept./Oct. 2011 Reflections

  SPRING EDITION          


Over the last five weeks I have been in the United States visiting my daughter in New York, with side trips to Chicago, Savannah, San Francisco and a relaxing week in Turks & Caicos - a gorgeous island paradise.  Being in New York for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 was quite sobering and I was struck by the resilience of the people as they recalled the horror and shock and grief of that terrible day, which changed them and their vibrant city forever.   I thought about how lucky I was to live in Australia where we have never experienced such a blow to our safety and way of life.  Our country has also been protected from the full effect of the global financial crisis and even though many people are finding it more difficult, we do not have the extent of problems here as I saw in the United States.  The American economy is in very bad shape as is clearly evident from the numbers out of work, those who have lost their houses and the state of the mental health system which means so many of the homeless have mental health problems and cannot get access to treatment.


When I left New York it was getting cool and the leaves were starting to change colour with the fall.  How lovely to be home in Melbourne for the Spring and the new growth which represents renewal.  Spring is the traditional time to start throwing away unwanted items, sprucing things up and general decluttering.  The same approach can be useful in our personal lives too.  Think about some of the unhelpful behaviours and routine patterns which may be holding you back.  Maybe it is time to think about changing some of these in the same way we swap our winter clothes for lighter garments and step out feeling lighter and less burdened.  One way to start doing this is to ask yourself what you can do to renew yourself, your relationships, your friendships or your working life.  As the weather warms up, we all start to feel more active and now is a good time to get outside in the garden or walk, jog, ride a bike and enjoy Spring.  If you have been hibernating a bit during Winter, make sure you reconnect with friends you have not seen for a while and become more socially active.  Now may be a good time to think about your your career and where you want to be next year.  Relationships can also do with a bit of sprucing up too, so take time to look at your relationship and what you can do to ensure it is nurtured and given adequate time to thrive.




Monday, 10th October is World Mental Health Day and the commencement of Mental Health Week in Victoria.  During this time there will be a number of organisations holding activities to raise awareness of mental health and the needs of those many people affected by mental illness.   Nearly 1 in 3 Australians will experience a mental illness at some stage in their lives so it is important to remind ourselves that taking care of our mental health is as important as our physical health.   Mental health is a state of wellbeing when an individual is able to realize his/her full potential, can handle life's stresses and is able to contribute positively to society.   Anxiety, depression, loss and grief, trauma, prolonged stress, social isolation, relationship break up, bullying, health & disability issues can all affect our mental health. 


10 Tips to Improve your Mental Wellbeing                                  


1.  Exercise

Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing in numerous studies and it is the simplest thing to do.  You dont have to run marathons - a brisk walk 20 mins a day is fine.  Remember, what ever type of exercise you do, make sure you choose something you enjoy.  It can be dancing, running, cycling, swimming.  Many people hate to exercise alone, so do something with a friend if you cant motivate yourself.

2.  Sleep

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep.  Most people need between 7 - 8 hours a day.  Some lucky people can get away with a bit less - others need more.  Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time so you have a regular sleep pattern.  Never have caffeine before bed and do not exercise too late or you will be wide awake.  If you cant get to sleep after 20 mins or so, get up, have a warm drink, read a magazine or listen to music for 20 - 30 mins, then try again.  Do not lay there trying to sleep - your brain will start thinking about your busy day and wont let you turn off.

3.  Nutrition

Healthy eating helps our mental wellbeing so avoid sugars and fatty foods - eat natural fresh  foods, fruit & vegetables, grains, nuts, foods rich in omega 3 fish oils are excellent.  Try to have 3 regular meals and snack on fruit or nuts in between meals.

4.  Meditation

Try to find some time to meditate.  Mindfulness meditation is widely used these days and there are many tapes and CDs which can get you started.  By incorporating mindfulness into your daily life , you will become calmer and more aware of your environment.

5.  Recreation - have fun

Combine some relaxing activities with having fun.  Remember to not take life too seriously and laugh.  Even when things are not going the way you may want, if you can see the humour in a situation, it will be easier to handle. 

6.  Social Support

Spend time with family and friends no matter how busy you are.  If you are going through a bad time personally, talking to a friend or family member cuts down your isolation and helps put things in perspective. 

7.  Accept Yourself

Dont be too hard on yourself.  There are times when we all suffer some self doubt, but dont allow this to become an issue.  It is important to strive for improvement, but dont punish yourself if you sometimes fail to live up to your own expectations.

8.  Practice Gratitude

Remember every day the things that are going well in your life and be thankful for what you have.  Appreciating what you have will help you avoid negative thinking.  Even when things are not going as well as you would like remember when they were different and remind yourself that this difficult time will pass.  

9.  Look for Variety in Life

Keep yourself motivated by doing different and new things.  Learn a new skill, make new friends, try different foods, go to new places.  Remind yourself you have choices and don't get stuck in a rut.

10.  Value Yourself and Practice your Values

Think about what is really important to you and live your life according to your values. 


GP Mental Health Plans

Did you know that counselling for many mental health problems is availalble under the Commonwealth Government Better Access to Mental Health Program?  Under this program you can access up to 10 sessions per calendar year and receive a medicare rebate, which makes the cost of counselling very affordable.    If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, severe stress or any condition which affects your mental state, you may be eligible for counselling services under a Mental Health Plan.  Talk to your GP about this or call me to discuss how you can benefit from this service. 

If you would like assistance to enhance your mental wellbeing or to make changes in your life, I would be happy to work with you to achieve your goals.

Please contact me on 0438 855328 to discuss your needs and make an appointment.