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FIFO Families – Parenting Tips and Tricks

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth.  The energy in the room was high and children were very excited with all the activities that were happening.  A perfect place to share tips and tricks to support parents.

Being Separated by Work, is a minefield of stress triggers for parents and children. Approaches to keep you and your children as stress-free as possible are outlined in video and handout below.

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Here Be Dragons – Book Review

I was asked recently by Exisle Publishing to review Here Be Dragons.  It says on the cover, “A parent’s guide to discovering purpose, adventure, and the unfathomable joy of the journey.” I did think to myself, “not another parenting book!”

I got to about page three and, to my delight, couldn’t put it down.

It wasn’t like any other parenting book I had read or reviewed.  I loved what was different. It is written by Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh and Ken Harbaugh – from how they met, how they developed as people together and apart, and how they met each challenge once they became parents.  I found it to be an honest and personal insight into both parent’s experience and how they felt about it and dealt with it – and is full of humour only parent’s would appreciate!

I felt a part of Annmarie’s and Ken’s lives as I turned the pages and could relate to their many experiences; as well as how they had overcome the tough times.

What stood out for me though was how they described real issues faced by all of us once we become parents –

  • How mothers are judged differently to fathers.
  • Working through career goals and meeting the needs of your children.
  • Who does what, when.
  • How imbalanced it can be – and that is perfect.
  • Getting the right people around you.
  • Weathering each storm, knowing it will pass.

Then it is all tied nicely together at the end with a section of topics and questions for discussion as you examine your own ‘story’.

I highly recommend Here be Dragons for parents of any age children.  Whether it is for reflection, guidance or amusement – this book has it all.

Kirsty 🙂

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Beyond the Paper, Pen, and Envelope — Being Mindful Online

being-mindful-online

I think I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.” It sums up my families reliance on technology to feel close and communicate when we are separated by work.

Our FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would if we were seeing each other every day. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate. This is a wonderful thing, and I personally am very grateful for it, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media—the to do, what to be aware of, and what to avoid.

Technology itself is not a bad thing—it is how it is used that can be a cause for concern. We need to be aware that technology can completely rewrite our brain pathways. For people who spend too much time interacting through a screen, the neural pathways change and different ones are created.

A study by UCLA professor Dr Gary Small in 2007 asked three regular internet users and three neophytes to browse websites, in an attempt to point out the cognitive differences between heavy and light multi-taskers. Dr Small discovered differences in the neural activity between both parties when tasked to Google pre-assigned topics. The part of the experienced Internet users’ brains involved in decision-making and problem- solving lit up like fireworks, but the same couldn’t be said for the other half of the group.

After further testing under this study, test participants were asked to browse the web for one hour a day. Dr Gary Small discovered that the inexperienced Internet users’ brains lit up like their experienced counterparts six days later. This showed that people’s web surfing habits change their neural pathways. Online activity affects concentration, self-esteem, and people can lose empathy.

Communicating via a screen can increase a lack of empathy. This leads to people saying things electronically they’d never say directly to someone—because the person to who they are talking to isn’t physically present to display their emotional reaction. Dr Gary Small said in 2011, “I think all this online time is weakening our face-to-face human contact skills. Many people, particularly young digital natives, gain social support through their hours of texting and social networking, but does that person who averages more than 11 hours each day using technology look you in the eye when you have a conversation? I know when someone maintains eye contact, I have a greater sense that he or she is listening and interested in what I have to say. I feel a greater empathic contact.”

I think it is as if the part of our nervous system that registers the feelings of others has been paralysed or removed when we are communicating electronically. I have had times where I was talking to others electronically and they respond in a way that shows the message wasn’t received as I intended. When we discuss further they are quick to realise that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face.

Five tips to use phones and computers effectively –

  1. Don’t say anything electronically that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are speaking, texting, or typing. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you feel you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  4. Listen for tone of voice cues as to how the person is feeling or hearing what you are saying, and always check for understanding.
  5. Remember emojis are not a true expression of feelings— nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can support others if they are struggling and post about it in an online group I am in. Just remember though that in these online groups some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share difficult emotions that they would not do face-to-face.

Use online communication and social media properly and mindfully. The Internet is an amazing tool and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires good judgment. Aim for a balance of online and in-person connecting and really think about what you are posting and how that affects others. Think about how it represents you and your family and keep at top of mind that a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon. Please be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Kirsty 🙂

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Become a Master Blender

blending

I would like to introduce one of my favourite parenting strategies – blending.

I have become a master blender—I can blend activities to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I can blend to create a learning or fun space for my kids while I am getting a job done or relaxing. I find blending offers many opportunities to connect with my children, hear them, and be present with them completely. As my children grow I make changes to fit in with their needs and values at their current age.

blender-576331_1280Most activities can be blended. Just be aware of the ones that require your 100 per cent focus and place those in your calendar at a time when there are no interruptions. Once you identify the blend-able ones you can work them into your weekly scheduling. I have grouped activities by age to get you started. There are many more depending on your area, family situation, and family interests. Get together with your family to create more ideas.

Six activities for five and under-

  1. Baking and cooking together. Children enjoy watching, stirring, and touching. There is something about food that brings a family together. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. You get your kitchen tasks done and have a chat and bond along the way.
  2. Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, exercise, and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds, and trees.
  3. Meet friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time.
  4. Reading a book. Don’t forget the all important tickle time.
  5. From about three years old, let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
  6. Sing and dance together.

Ten activities for primary school ages-

  1. Baking and cooking. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night.
  2. Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Good for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
  3. When at sporting practise, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your music. Remember to watch them too.
  4. Brush your daughter’s hair and style it, play make up, paint each others’ finger nails and swap foot massages— Dads can do this too.
  5. They can read to you or practise their dance rehearsal while you do the dishes.
  6. Plan holidays, meals, and weekly activities together.
  7. For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and build an indoor car tunnel and ramp out of toilet paper rolls.
  8. Play cards and board games. Join in on their video/ computer games. It can be a quick or long game—the point is to learn, laugh, and connect.
  9. Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or carpet and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together, no talking; just learning to be in a room silently with someone you care about.
  10. Watch movies with them. Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out. We have movie night every Friday and the kids love it.

Eight activities for high school ages-

  1. Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They don’t tend to move while food is there.
  2. Go out to dinner and movies date. Go to a big people’s restaurant, rather than McDonalds.
  3. Play cards and board games.
  4. Plan holidays together.
  5. Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present and withhold adult Talk to them about you and your day often. Don’t expect lots of conversation—yet be open for it.
  6. Shopping—especially for the girls.
  7. Extreme days out. Try rock-climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
  8. Offer to do pick up and drop off to their destinations, sporting events, parties, and friends houses. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. It is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show you support them.

I make time each day for all my children to have one-on-one contact time. They know that in that moment I am just with them, for them, and not distracted by anything else. I am all ears, eyes, and heart. I ask questions to get them talking. This is the time I enjoy the most, even if it is just a few minutes.

What I like is that for that few minutes I get to look through a window into their rapidly changing world, and understand a little bit more about how it is for them.

How can you become a master blender, or how are you already juggling it all?

Kirsty 🙂

 

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FIFO Life – Insight from the kids

FIFO Life Insight from the kids

This is one of my favourite chapters from my book – Separated by Work. I wanted to share it with you all.

…Excerpt from Separated by Work  – Kirsty O’Callaghan – Chapter 18

Among FIFO families who are coping well, there are some common themes—resilience, happiness, satisfaction, and a sense of purpose about the experience. Their children, as a direct result, seem more adaptable and calm. I frequently ask my children how they are doing with Dad working away. It gives me a starting point to see if Paddy and I can be doing anything more to support them or answering any questions or concerns they may have. One question I had to answer once was when Joseph asked me why the people Dad worked for were so mean and wouldn’t let him work for one week and be home for three. It was tricky to reach a point where he was satisfied with the answer, yet I am pleased he asked.

“Your child might say, “I wish we didn’t read that book today because it really made me think about the sadness at home.”

When children have the opportunity to share their feelings, the joy and excitement, as well as the anxiety and sadness… They are developing the ability to identify the range of feelings that we all have and to learn the ways in which to respond. They are also learning that everyone might not respond like them and this will help them to get along with others.

When we limit what children can talk about and how they might respond to the world we deny them the opportunity to engage with the full range of human feelings. Everyone experiences highs and lows and sometimes we just need to know that someone is listening. How could we provide more opportunities for children to share their feelings?”– Suzette Holm

After getting permission from their FIFO parents, I invited a number of children of differing ages to share their thoughts and experiences as a member of a FIFO family. The insights are overwhelmingly impressive and allow us to take a breath and not feel that we are necessarily doing a dis-service to our children by choosing this work situation. Whether a parent works away or is home every night is not an indicator of a happier child. When reading I suggest that you do not view the child’s opinion and thoughts as good or bad—it is just how that child was feeling at the time. Children are generally quite frank.

I have used each child’s first initial and age. I have also used Mr or Miss to signify boy or girl.

Mr J—8

“My Dad works away for three weeks and is home for seven days—that is a week. I think it is good most of the time, but I miss him. I get excited when he comes home because I miss him for three weeks. I am used to it now that I am eight, I wasn’t used to it when I was three. It felt longer then, like even three months. When Dad is home, he is fun and funny. We do lots of stuff together. When he is away for three weeks I don’t like it because I can’t see him, and sometimes I get bored and miss him. I know Dad works away so we get lots of money and he can buy stuff for all of us. When he is away, it helps if I just don’t think about it or him being away. I like to talk to him on the phone, and doing my homework with Dad on Skype two times a week. When I was about four I liked Skyping Dad all the time.”

Miss M—21

“I can safely say that over the duration of Dad’s career doing FIFO my opinion and view have changed drastically. When I was old enough to understand the concept that Dad went away regularly to go to work I wasn’t too pleased with the idea. To put it in comparison to people who have not experienced growing up with your father there only half the time—it felt like my parents were divorced. We’d only see Dad every so often and when we did it would take a few days for him to adjust back to home life, he’d get the things done that he needed to get done (i.e. banking, jobs around the house, spending time with Mum etc. etc.) and then he would have time for me. I loathed my father and blamed him for a lot of things in my life because of FIFO until I was 18.

It struck me only a few years ago when, I myself, moved away from home for a period of nine months and worked in a mining town—that my Dad never did this because he loved to—he did it so that I could attend private schools, have caviar on my plate and Louis Vuitton on my back. I now appreciate how hard my father worked for me to have one of the best up-bringings you could give a child. I still struggle internally whether the sacrifice of not seeing your child grow up every day, attend birthdays and Christmas every year, is really worth the money and material things my father has given me. I sure as hell love him and appreciate him for it, because without it I wouldn’t be where I am today, but at the same time—where would I be if my father never took the FIFO job? Would it have been worth the sacrifice of money to have a better quality family life together?”

Miss D—18

“As I got older Dad working away didn’t affect me as much. I think this is because I have my own routine and it is easier to adapt. One thing that did get harder as I got older was that Dad missed some of the important stuff, like formals, graduation, birthdays, and things like that. Overall, I am ok with him working away, he has a good job and earns good money, and he has been doing it for so long it is hard to remember what it was like having him home everyday. I have a good relationship with Dad and we keep in touch by texting and phone calls. I know he is always there if I need him and Mum lets him know what is going on here. I just accept it is the way it is. I enjoy it when he is home, not so much that we do a lot together, just knowing that he is here is cool.”

Mr A—15

“For me Dad was working away quite some bit, and at first I wasn’t really used to it because with him here he manages the household and without him here it felt like something was missing. The way I coped with it was just not thinking about it, I would have the occasional moment where I needed Dad, but it doesn’t really bother me now because I’m focused on so many things, like school and my friends and hobbies have me occupied. Probably the positive of Dad working away is that we get some peace and quiet, because he would be there always and it would be annoying, but that rarely happens. Negatives are he would manage the family, without him he would assist me with things I do with him on a daily basis, I don’t get to hangout with him much and we don’t get time to spend with each other.”

Miss M—15

“For the last few years my Dad has only been home for Saturday and leaving again Sunday for work. This has impacted our family in both positive and negative ways because he is missed very much during the week but we know he does it because he loves us. It is mostly positive because not seeing him makes our time together more meaningful so it is nicer for everyone. When I was younger having both my parents around every day was great because I didn’t know any different but also because the small things that I cared about, like getting an award at school, I always had a parent there to see it happen. That doesn’t happen so much anymore because my mum is usually busy working and being a mum to three kids, but now that I’m older I understand that she does her best to be a good mum and wife for our family.”

Miss P—11

“PROS – Some positive reasons I don’t mind my Dad being away as when he comes home I am really excited to see him. When Dad is away it can also be good because Mum and Dad don’t fight during the week so I am not stressed because my parents have been fighting. It is also good because when he is not home the household is all girls so we can do the girly things that we like to do. Dad is also a lot happier when he comes home he gets to relax and he has missed his family. Dad is also more appreciative of what he has at home such as the house and his family.

“CONS – Some negative reasons I dislike my Dad being away from home all week is that I miss him a lot. He also is really good at math so he can help me with my math homework and he can’t help me when he is away. Not only does he help me with math he also helps me with my gymnastics tricks and strength but, again he can’t help me because he is away. Another con is that when we go out as a family he often doesn’t come because he is getting ready to leave again so we don’t spend a lot of time with him. I also don’t like him being away because at school everyone talks about cool things they have done with their Dad but I don’t get to spend a lot of quality time with my Dad so I am always left out of the conversation. I also don’t like to go and have sleepovers with my friends on the weekends or go to parties because I want to spend some time with my Dad and I miss out on a lot.”

Mr D—8

“When my Dad was away I felt really sad and bored because he does all the fun things with me like quad bike riding. He is my best friend. It felt really different not to be near him. It made me feel very sad and I wished he would come home soon. The only thing good about Dad not being home was him not yelling at me when I did the wrong thing.

I felt like something was missing. It felt a bit strange because you usually have a Dad and a Mum, but for one month and a half, I only had a Mum. I kept wishing he would come home. He is home now, so everything is back the way it was. I love you Dad, with all my heart.”

Miss E—14

“When my Dad was away I felt that it was a good thing, but also a bad thing. With Dad being away, Mum was struggling to keep up with everything, and she spent most of her time at work. My sister and I were finding ourselves having to look after our younger brother a lot. But there was a bright side to having Dad away, me and my sister started to get much closer in our relationship and sometimes after school, Mum would have already picked my brother up and she would take us to Redcliffe to have an afternoon snack.

When Dad came back late on Friday nights there was always a good vibe around the house. On Saturday morning, the family would have breakfast and depending on how Dad felt, we would go out on a road trip not knowing where we were going to go, but driving to a small town to have lunch and then driving to a waterfall or rainforest to stretch our legs.

Although Dad spent most of his time away, there was still such a rush of excitement when he got home. And it was always so good to see him on those early Saturday mornings.”

I also got the point of view of a now adult who reflected on her experiences and thoughts of her Dad working away when she was a child –

Mrs H—37

“Growing up with a father who worked away for months at a time was not unusual for me, because that was my reality from a very young age. Sure, there was an awareness that our household was a bit different to most, but I never considered it to be a worse-off situation in comparison to a normal household.

On reflection, I think I have benefited greatly from having a strong role model in my mother and watching her raise two children while her husband was working away for extended periods. It’s certainly instilled in me the importance of being independent and capable, and not to become reliant on another person to do the basic tasks around the house. I hope to pass these same traits on to my children.

When Dad returned home for leave, there was always a period of adjustment in the house, particularly for Mum who had to reassign some of the household responsibilities, and for Dad who was keen to get involved in everything and contribute as much as he could while he was there. It was wonderful to have a Dad who, unlike many of my friend’s fathers, when he was home was really involved in the day-to-day; dropping us to school, taking us shopping, arranging play dates and getting involved in our sport. When he was home, time together as a family became more important. He was truly present. Some parents never go away for work, and yet they are never really present in their children’s lives.”

Children are naturally equipped to cope with most challenges and struggles—they just need to feel heard and their point of view accepted. When I spoke to these children and young adults, I took away that FIFO is never a one size fits all. Each family has its own unique experience—just as each child will have their own views and responses dependent on what is going on at the time for them. Which leads into the next section of the book—dealing with what you least expect…..

– Kirsty 🙂

 

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The ADHD Handbook

ADHD_final front cover 600pixBook Review – The ADHD Handbook by Stuart Passmore

I was recently asked to review this book by Exisle Publishing. I must admit from the first page I ‘ate’ it up.

Living with a child who is ‘special’, ‘difficult’, impulsive, hyperactive, anxious, and/or just plain ‘naughty’; can leave many parents feeling judged, distressed, exhausted and overwhelmed. I know, as I have one of these children.

This handbook presents an up to date understanding of current findings, past findings, supporting research and a holistic genuine view you can’t go past. It allows the parent/caregiver/teacher an opportunity to recognise that it is no-ones fault yet there are specific groups of strategies that can alleviate the pain you and the child are experiencing. Stuart has a way of explaining quite complex data and reasoning in a way we can all comprehend no matter what level of understanding you have on medications, alternative therapies or brain research. Whilst reading I felt his compassion for this topic, for the parents, as well as the sufferers of this disorder.

The main points that jumped out to me and I found well described were:-

  • How complex ADHD is
  • Misdiagnosis and why
  • ADHD in adulthood
  • ADHD is not a cause of parenting it is a neurological disorder
  • The neuro-anatomy of ADHD
  • Co-existing conditions with ADHD
  • The positive aspects of a person who has ADHD and how to build on those
  • Parenting/Caregiver support and suggested management techniques

I believe that this book will hearten and inform those caring for or with ADHD, it will also support you before and after you seek professional help. It enlightens you to questions to ask, and especially allows you to make informed choices and confidence to ask ‘those questions’ from your or your child’s health team and specialists.

My advise would be to read as a current guide to the most up to date data, and you will feel encouraged to amalgamate this information with your parenting/caregiver instincts and be more empowered in your chosen next steps. Book is $34.99

About the author: Stuart Passmore is a psychologist in private practice. He has developed an evidenced-based Parent Management Training program for parents of children with behavioural disorders ranging from ADHD to Oppositional Defiance Disorder to Conduct Disorder and children with explosive and non-compliant behaviours. Stuart also conducts professional development training workshops on Parent Management Training for behavioural and anxiety disorders.

Kirsty O’Callaghan 🙂

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Cruising the South Pacific

IMG_1639My family and I have just got back from a glorious holiday cruising the South Pacific.  We went with my closest friend of 25 years, Gail, and her boys.

It was such an amazing time, and I had the intention of enjoying myself to the fullest and making the most of time away from the day to day responsibilities and expectations.

What I wanted to share with you was what I got most out of my holiday, the moments of ahha!

  • Friendship without judgment and those friends that join you in letting your hair down and being there in the moment with you are GOLD
  • Never let the day to day grind let you forget why you love your partner
  • It is so good to have a break from technology and all its alerts
  • There are people out there who are happier and have less – there’s a thought
  • Most people are lovely and have valuable things to share, just stop and chat to strangers once in a while
  • The teenage mind on a cruise ship in the middle of no-where is an interesting thing
  • The resilience of children never ceases to amaze me
  • When your 6 year old is performing on a huge stage and he sees you in the crowd and his face lights up it is a moment like no other
  • I love my every need being anticipated and taken care of
  • Make more time to be entertained by live shows
  • Dance till your feet, knees and calf muscles hurt more often
  • Take more photos next time
  • If you want to have fun you will
  • Really revel in what is right, and let the wrongs take care of themselves
  • There are always consequences, like eating, drinking and being merry has given me a few kilos of memories
  • You can stop worrying for a week and it is all there when you get back

I make sure my family has a big holiday every year and during that holiday it is at a destination to get us all seeing and experiencing something new and different.  The value in this is amazing for us all.  The world is full of moments just waiting for your expansion.

Have a wonderful week, and get planning your next getaway.

Kirsty 🙂

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THE 6 P’s TO OVERCOME PROCRASTINATION

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=_mFuZncR734

If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. Most people procrastinate to some degree.  Is procrastination stopping you fulfilling your potential and unsettling your life?

You procrastinate when you put off things that you could be, or know you should be, focusing on right now, usually in favour of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.

Putting off an unimportant task isn’t necessarily procrastination; it may just be good prioritization! If you have a good reason for rescheduling something important, then you’re not necessarily procrastinating. However, if you’re just “making an excuse” because you really just don’t want to do it, then you are.

The key to taking back control is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better. To have a good chance of conquering procrastination, you need to be aware straight away that you’re doing it. Then you can identify why you’re procrastinating and take appropriate steps to overcome the block.

Here are my 6 P’s for creating a new habit of action rather than non-action or avoidance:-

  1. PAY OFF – Establish and brainstorm what are the great things      that you will get once this is done.       WHY is it important to you?
  2. PEOPLE TO TELL AND PROMISE – Name your task and put a deadline      on it, then tell someone or a group of people and promise to have it      finished and ask for their support.       This creates an atmosphere of accountability and is a psychological      incentive for you to complete what you have been putting off.
  3. PREPARE AND HAVE A PROCESS – Prepare all that you need to get      this task done and have a list, diary and a process.  Are you going to do it all, in what      order, or are you going to break it down into smaller tasks?
  4. PAY ATTENTION – Be completely present with this task, no      breaks, no interruptions, and no distractions.
  5. PRACTISE – just keep following this guide on all tasks you      feel overwhelmed by or struggle to complete.  You don’t have to get it perfect,      practise will allow you to just do it and create a new habit of work/task      completion.
  6. PRAISE & CELEBRATE – Give yourself a big pat on the back      and reward each time you achieve your goal.  This will encourage you to keep going      forward.

One of my most favourite action steps is to aim to “eat an elephant beetle” first thing, every day; which means conquering your hardest, least desirable task first thing in the morning so you don’t have to carry the load in your mind around with you all day.

Get started today and kick procrastination to the kerb! Kirsty 🙂

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In the Pursuit of Happiness & Health have we forgotten the most important Relationship?

Emerging research suggests a strong peer network in the workplace and having close and supportive relationships personally and intimately helps individuals live longer and can increase happiness and health by 80%.

Researchers from Flinders University, found that people with the highest number of close friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 % – on average, living to the age of 79, compared to 65.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on death rates shows people living in intimate relationships (including those in married and de facto relationships); – both men and women – have lower death rates than single people in almost all age groups. A 2009 study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends’ women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead joyful lives.

I am seeing more and more clients suffering from stress, emotional issues, and physical illness and overwhelm than ever before.  The surprising link I am finding is the increase in the breakdown in having close and trusted relationships in our society today from home to workplace is a huge contributing factor. Most people who are finding difficulty creating healthy relationships with others admit to not knowing or even liking themselves and continuously put themselves in a position of being put down and criticized, which is having a dramatic impact on their health, happiness and success.

Having a hand to hold as you go through life makes the difficulties we all experience easier to deal with. When things go awry, knowing that your friends, partners, family members and co-workers have your back allows you to go through whatever you have to and come out the other side a more positive person.

Recent studies are showing that there is a link between the increase in depression, social isolation, stress and hostility in our society and the breakdown of supportive relationships.

The road has been bumpy and long to get to the point of this social and relationship crisis, and with more people reaching out and searching for answers I have been driven for over a decade to create awareness and educate people to be able to create excellent relationships that support them to excel personally and professionally.

The system and process I have created and teach to others incorporates wisdom from my own experiences and the Blue Zones by writer and explorer Dan Buettner, who has spent his life traveling the world in search of answers. Buettner argues that relationships are really the key to lifelong happiness, noting that “the happiest people socialize about seven hours a day,” and that “you’re three times more likely to be happy if you are married … and each new friend will boost your happiness about 10 percent.” He also states how important good relationships can be in the workplace, adding that “the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll like your job is if you have a best friend there, more so than how much you’re paid.”

It has been said that you are the average of the 5 people you are around the most.  Your results will reflect this average from career, lifestyle, health, happiness, home, beliefs and even holidays.  I have seen people achieve the most extraordinary results in all these areas from becoming aware of this, making changes and consciously creating and embracing more meaningful and supportive relationships personally and professionally.

Surround yourself in people who uplift you and inspire you, search for those people, be your own best friend and be open to being loved and showing how much you care for others.  Your health and happiness is determined by these connections, so make it a priority for you today.

Kirsty 🙂

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Are you Mindful to practise Mindfulness?

 


Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness that focuses our attention on the task at hand. – A moment by moment awareness. When we are mindful, our attention is not caught up in the past or future, and we are not judging or rejecting what is occurring at the moment. –  We are present.

This kind of attention creates acceptance, energy, clear-headedness and a feeling of joy.  I have found it is a skill that can be learned and cultivated by anyone.

When you have a mindfulness practise in place some examples of what you will experience are:

  • Having a better relationship with stuff that is happening
  • Being aware
  • Being more flexible
  • Experience a Relaxed state more
  • Not being stuck in the past, fear or worries
  • A Stronger immune system
  • More energy
  • More happiness
  • Management of anxiety and depression
  • Have the skills to overcome overwhelm
  • Creating a positive and calm experience of daily life
  • Paying close attention, on purpose, right now, without judgement in your life.
  • Being in the moment for what it is, not a reaction or prediction.
  • Body Regulation & Better Health
  • Better Communication
  • Emotional Balance
  • Insight
  • Empathy
  • Creativity & Intuition enhanced
  • Resilience
  • Feelings of Stability
  • Kindness & Compassion
  • Non-Reactivity or you Act and not React

Mindfulness has been adapted for use in treatment of depression, especially preventing relapse, anxiety disorders, stress, behaviour problems, interpersonal conflict, confusion, despair and for assisting with mood regulation.

The potential of these mindfulness and acceptance based approaches have bought in a new wave of cognitive behavioural treatments for familiar problems.

Everyday do a mindful ‘self-check’. You only have right now. Use it to its best advantage. Mindfulness trains you to become aware of what is going on inside you and how your inner world of thoughts and feelings are reacting to the events that are taking place in the world around you.

When you develop this kind of awareness, you will be more aware of inner disturbances if they arise, and therefore more able to take steps to maintain a positive outlook if they do.

Often, stress and anxiety build up over a period of time because we are not paying attention to what is going on inside us.

How do your thoughts and words impact how you feel?

How do your emotions unconsciously drive your behaviours?

Without conscious awareness of these subtleties we have very little chance of changing them. With awareness and mindfulness we have the opportunity to determine the amount of happiness and joy in our life. As we become self-aware we have the opportunity to make choices instead of just react from habit or negative emotions.

A quick mindfulness exercise is S.T.O.P.

  • Stop,
  • Take a Breath,
  • Observe what you are feeling and thinking,
  • Proceed and Participate in what is most important.

Be mindful and watch your life expand to become extraordinary.  Kirsty

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