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Posts Tagged health

Book Review: PUG (Philosophical Universal Guidance)

When Exisle Publishing asked me to review PUG I wondered whether it was a children’s book, a book for Pug owners (the dog breed) or, something else.

What I found was it was something else entirely!

The author (apparently, no ordinary Pug) hopes that through sharing his or her thoughts with the reader, they are inspired to be happier, more optimistic and live a more fulfilling life.  Did I find this to be true as I turned the pages and read on?

Yes, I did!  PUG’s message – translated through the wise words and delightful illustrations of Helen James – opens possibilities for the reader to take positive action in 29 encouraging and insightful short teachings.

This colourful book is perfect for a central location in your home, on the lunchroom table at work or a gift for someone who needs a boost. And, the most wonderful realisation is that this book will be enjoyed by all age groups.

If you are looking for a daily or weekly focus, know you could be doing something different or better and don’t know what that is or you want to benefit from the wisdom of one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, this book is certain to inspire and delight.

Buy Book | More Information – RRP $19.99 – Due for release October 2017 so pre-order your copy now.

 

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A Time To Relax – Program Launch

This month I am launching my first online Mindful Madhouse 4 week program.  It has been a big learning experience (helped by a team of very supportive people) to get my knowledge, expertise and experience into this format.  I am so proud of the result and grateful for the feedback coming in.  So, watch as I tell you a bit more about A Time To Relax 🙂

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The Physical Stuff – Creating the Foundations for Reducing Stress and Increasing Calm

The Physical Stuff - Creating the Foundations for Reducing Stress and Increasing Calm

Creating a strong foundation to resist stress will put you in a better position to have a great relationship with yourself and others, to be calmer and more relaxed and increase your ability to deal with the any experience life throws at you.

Good habits for eating, exercising and keeping a comfortable and clutter free environment (home/office) are crucial in supporting and sustaining great results. I research a lot in this area and talk to many people to get their views. I have learned it is never a one size fits all approach. I encourage you to do your own research to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

My top tips are:

Engage in physical exercise daily. As you work up a sweat endorphins are released, which create feelings of happiness. Working out can help manage physical and mental stress increasing concentrations of chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters) that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed.

Maintain a healthy diet. You will have fewer mental and physical health-related problems and more energy if you eat well. Lacking proper nutrition can put strain on the body, which becomes mental stress and can contribute to illness.

Two things you can do now to eat to encourage excellent results are:

  • Get off junk food—it has no nutritional value. It may satisfy an energy slump or cover up a lonely moment, but it also decays teeth, lowers self image, and heart health declines. The sugar in junk food is doing a heap of bad things to the brain—impairing memory and learning skills, and contributing to anxiety and depression. Moderation is key.
  • Drink more water. This is the most effective habit anyone can choose to improve his or her inner health, energy, life balance, and skin health.

A nutritionist once explained it like this—“When dehydrated, your cells become more like sultanas than plump healthy grapes and consequently that’s how you think and feel. Blood flow to your brain is reduced, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain cells and slows it down. Therefore, you feel tired and lack energy. When our cells are like shrivelled- up sultanas the process of nutrients flowing in and out of the cells is hugely decreased and this has ramifications throughout our entire body—our health, our moods, our thoughts, our appearance, our vitality are all below par.”

The vision of the shrivelled sultana was a definite motivator for me. A must-have is a refillable environmentally friendly water bottle. Drinking enough water each day is easier when it’s readily on hand.

De-clutter to minimize overwhelm. Studies into this topic report that clutter increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Disorganised people with cluttered lives often feel frustrated, anxious and out of control. They find it difficult to unwind and relax. In my experience de-cluttering has the ability to create energy, mental and physical space, and release negative emotions.

To begin to de-clutter and make life easier for you, consider that clutter can fall into two categories –

  1. Anything that you do not love, need or use.
  2. A disorganisation of things that you love, need, and use.

Pause for a moment to gaze around the area you’re sitting in. Note things that catch your eye that may bring to mind phrases like—

  • I need to pick that up and go through that pile.
  • I’ve never liked that ……
  • X could use that item; it is just taking up space for me.
  • That reminds me of x (person or situation), and
  • That’s a mess!

Statements like these alert you to clutter-spots.

Ask yourself three questions to keep you focused and making good decisions as you de-clutter –

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Is it useful?
  3. Is it in full working order?

If the answer is no to any of the above questions, consider getting rid of the object, either by giving it away or throwing it away. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, then pack it away neatly in the back of a cupboard. If you do not give it a second thought for six months then it is time for it to go.

And lastly – Get enough restorative sleep to enhance performance, as poor sleep patterns and stress go hand-in-hand.

Without taking time out to rest, recover and have adequate sleep judgment, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information are weakened. Your health, mentally and physically is impacted. People who have poor sleeping habits are less productive, anxious, less safe when driving and suffer more mood swings – compared to those that have good sleeping habits live longer and have stronger immune systems; and possibly those that live with them live longer and are less stressed too!

What can you change to create a strong foundation to resist stress, feel better, have more energy and enjoy a good nights sleep?

Kirsty 🙂

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Developing self confidence and an I can do attitude in your child

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A lot of parents have concerns about their children’s self confidence and their children’s ability to not give up if something is proving a little difficult.

I often have parents come to me asking questions like:

  • “How can I get my child to stop saying they can’t do it without even trying?”
  • “My child has such a low opinion of themselves, what can I do?”
  • “How can I help my child be more outgoing and happier?”

All these questions lead to the parent’s concern that the child is showing a lack of self-confidence. The parent usually feels this isn’t right and isn’t going to be beneficial for their child in the future.

We have a saying in our house, “O’Callaghans never give up”. It arose from Joseph, our youngest child, going through a stage of saying, “I give up.” He was about four and must have picked it up from day care or his older siblings as I’m sure I never said it—well, fairly certain anyway.

Joseph would be building blocks, carefully placing one on top of the other, and then a large crash would be heard. I would enter the room to see him standing defiantly looking at the pile of blocks, angry face on, and he would be repeating, “I give up, I just give up, I give up.”

The possible enormity of the situation hit me—that if I don’t come up with something soon to change his attitude, it would turn into a life limiting habit. I wanted my son to be mentally and emotionally strong. I wanted my son’s cup to be full, not half-full, not half empty, FULL.

We started saying, over and over again, “Try again because O’Callaghans never give up.” This mantra has grown to include all of us now, and we have developed a very strong culture in our home of never giving up, thanks to those damn blocks.

I believe that self-esteem is the value one puts on them, and confidence is a self-belief that they can do it.
So one is how you feel about you, and the other is that you have practised and know you can do it. Therefore confidence is gained by doing and self-esteem is gained by knowing (or being encouraged) that you are valuable and capable. One cannot go without the other.

Children come into this world full of worth and asking for what they want. As parents it is our role to keep this sense of self worth healthy. Below I have outlined some suggestions of how we, as parents, can direct this in-built determination and persistence in tact, guiding it around appropriate boundaries and safety rules as our children grow. This then will allow your child to believe that they are capable of achieving many things as long as they show determination, practise and commitment – because they are worth it and super clever in their own way.

Modelling is the primary way to teach children good habits. They watch their parents and listen to them constantly, often when the parents are unaware. They watch and listen for verbal and non-verbal reactions to everything everyday. Children feel when situations are happy, sad, threatening, stressful and joyous. The child picks up on all the actions and reactions, even non-actions, to all situations by their parents and learns how it should be done and begins to develop certain belief systems.

Begin now and for the next week observing and listening to how you and your family:

  • Show your confidence,
  • Show your self-worth, and
  • The behaviours and reactions day to day you are showing (teaching) your children.

It is important to remember this is not for you, or anyone else, to negatively judge these behaviours or put another layer of parenting guilt on yourself.

It is for you to become the best parent possible, which is the parent your child needs – which is what most parents ultimately want. You get so many things right by practising what doesn’t work first.

I really resonate with the saying, “making mistakes is proof you are trying.”
You can then move on to supporting an affirmative belief system for your child. This is telling them often:

  • You love them
  • How important they are just the way they are
  • They matter and that their presence in your world and the world of others makes a difference
  • You have caught them out more times being great, and not less than expected, and
  • Each day how grateful you are for them and congratulating your child for big and little milestones reached or achievements.

I like to also make sure that there is a habit of paying it forward to others. My children hear me, and are encouraged to, praise others or speak of them in a positive and supportive way. It really does come back to the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.”

Next is putting it all into practise with an I Can Do It attitude.

I Cant’s just need proof that this is not true. How do you get this proof? Just do it – with guidance, encouragement, a bit of patience and support, then repeat, and repeat again. Let your child do as much as age appropriately possible:

  • Packing up toys
  • Helping in the kitchen
  • Packing bags
  • Making beds
  • Getting dressed
  • Creating, making, playing, building blocks, dressing dolls, writing
  • Cleaning teeth, brushing hair, tying shoelaces

There are many things they can do things even though it may be quicker for you to do it. However, if you can be patient and encouraging, the smiles, celebrations and hugs are so worth it when they get it. Praise each time they get it right, redirect and start again with enthusiasm each time they make a mistake. Mistakes don’t call for punishment; they are the opportunities for improvement and building a determined attitude – the attitude of winners.

On a final note – It is not being able to do everything right or perfect; it is doing our best and doing what brings joy and laughter to our hearts that insights greatness. Listen to your child with your ears, eyes and heart, just as they do to you. Find what brings light to their eyes and excitement to their voices – then practise, practise and praise, and repeat.

Kirsty 🙂

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Looking after yourself – Guilt free!

Looking after yourself

“I don’t have enough time to look after myself, and anyway, it is selfish to take time out for me when I have a family to look after – isn’t it?” A statement I hear often from many of my clients and friends. There was a time I even said this.

I realised a long time ago through my own parenting experience, my business and the many parents I come across, there is one major factor that gets overlooked – if you are not okay, how can anything else be okay. If you are feeling run down, overwhelmed or undervalued why not try something new? I am going to share with you how you can get out of the old belief systems of selflessness and move into looking after self – being self -full.

What does self-full mean? A few years ago I watched a You Tube video that featured Iyanla Vanzant, who is a best-selling author. The question was asked, “Is your cup full?” She spoke about putting yourself first and being strong in life. She said that doing this is not selfish it is self-full. Iyanla said, “It’s self- full to be first, to be as good as possible to you. To take care of you, keep you whole and healthy. That doesn’t mean you disregard everything and everyone. But you want to come with your cup full. You know: My cup runneth over. What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine. But I’ve got to keep my cup full.” Hearing this was a light bulb moment for me – it changed the way I parented, gave to others, and especially how I looked after me.

From my years of experience personally and professionally, I have found that if you are not okay, nothing else will be, no matter what skill you adopt or distraction you create. The relationship you have with yourself will determine how you think and feel, how you deal with challenges, as well as the relationship you have with everyone else in your life. Your level of self-esteem and the value you put on yourself will determine your performance and productivity. This is the first area to renew and polish up to fill your cup.

I like to use the metaphor of vehicles, as I believe life is a journey and people generally feel the silent and invisible push to move forward in their lives. Let’s look at the family car. Most people feel a responsibility to keep their car in good condition, up to a safe standard, using the right fuel and properly serviced so that they, and their family, can get from A – B in comfort and safety. The car expenses and upkeep are put in the budget and scheduled, because this is important to have this asset in top condition.

You can view yourself as important as your mode of transport. You are in charge of getting you and your family safely from A – B (mentally, emotionally and physically). To do this you need to be in good condition, getting the right fuel and services. You need to view yourself as an asset to the family unit and most importantly have resources of time and energy to move yourself and family forward.

I will share with you my top nine ways I keep in top condition, and enjoy the ride.

  1. Every morning before I get out of bed, I affirm myself and my family, I see my daily plan play out in my mind the way I would like it to go, make any adjustments, take a deep breath and get out of bed to start my day.
  2. I communicate regularly with my family and friends on what is going on for me, and ask for support when I need it.
  3. I make sure I am properly fuelled! I drink enough water, I eat healthy food and I exercise in a way that is right for me. I find yoga and meditation keeps me mentally, emotionally and physically strong.
  4. I have regular activities and interests that are just for me. I pamper myself quarterly. I benefit so much from acupuncture and massage treatments that help with tension build up and tightness.
  5. I catch up with friends regularly who inspire me, make me laugh, support me and align with my life values.
  6. I make learning a priority. I find keeping my mind active and expanding, either through formal or informal education, keeps me happier, healthier and feeling more resourceful when challenges show up. I love the saying by Charlie Tremendous Jones – “You will be the same person in five years time that you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
  7. I have learnt I don’t have to be Super Mum – I instead get Super Support! Whether it is paid help, help from friends or within the community – I think about the best thing I can do to leverage my time or support myself and my children through certain issues, and then I ask.
  8. I am constantly checking in with myself, and asking, “what is the best use of my time right now.”
  9. I take time each week to celebrate my achievements, discoveries, my trials and my ability to overcome them. I acknowledge that through my mistakes I get closer to getting it right. I appreciate the lessons from life and my family. By doing this I can readjust and move forward easier.

Many years ago, while I was watching TV feeding one of my babies, I heard a celebrity who was being interviewed say that what he remembered and treasured most about his mother, and what he believed contributed to his massive success, wasn’t how much she loved him; it was how much she loved life. This simple statement struck a cord in me at the time. So much so, that since then I have strived to live my life in a way that shows abundance, resourcefulness and moments filled with joy and laughter – and that I am here to get the most out of each and every moment. In doing this, I have seen that it has passed on certain attitudes and beliefs to my children, family and friends.

My sincere wish is that your cup is always full, you can love life, and you can make looking after you a guilt free priority.

Kirsty 🙂

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Book Review – Mindfulness on the Run

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Mindfulness on the Run – Dr Chantal Hofstee

The power of mindfulness is something I have lived, learnt and taught over the past two decades – so when the opportunity presented itself from Exisle Publishing to review this book I jumped at the chance. My first thought was, “what a brilliant title, promising to allow even more people to feel the benefits of living a mindful life.”

I opened the book and by page 10 I was hooked. The way Dr Hofstee relates key topics like understanding your brain, processing emotions, changing stressful thoughts, the mind-body connection and overcoming blocks is outstanding.

As the pages flowed and an understanding and practice was established for your own life, she then moved onto showing how you could expand into Mindful communication, relationships and conflict resolution.

Each chapter is supported by very real examples and exercises that are explained simply to encourage the reader to practice immediately. My personal favourites were the on-the-run tips. As the book progressed learning’s flowed from previous section and expanded into the next.

I will definitely be recommending this well written and researched practical handbook to others who are seeking a resource that is easy to read, informative and supports their busy lifestyles.

Kirsty 🙂

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Feel Better and Have More Energy – It Begins With a Good Nights Sleep.

I am a FIFO wife, which means that my husband works away – fly in, fly out. His current roster is six weeks away and two weeks home. What has this got to do with a blog on sleeping you may ask?

Yesterday he flew back to the site where he works, and I slept right through and woke up this morning feeling refreshed. After I bumped into a friend at school drop off and she commented on how ‘sparkly’ I was looking today I knew that a good nights sleep would be the topic of my blog today.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love having my husband home. Yet over the eight years we have been separated by work, I have noticed the difference a good nights sleep versus a broken nights sleep can make on how I function during the day.

During the two weeks he is home there are nights where I do not get a restful and peaceful nights sleep. This is mainly because I am not used to extra body warmth, snoring, sleeping noises, and I have my mothers’ ears on at night (you know, that part of your brain that never quite shuts off when you are a Mum and jumps to attention at any uncommon sounds). After one of these nights I often wake up cranky, depleted, flat, exhausted, and my brain seems to take longer to get with the program of the day.

Stressful times, change, jet lag, babies, menopause, illness, or the like, will also have you waking up during the night more frequently and have you staring at the clock at midnight or 2am wishing for sleep.

At this point I would advise to turn the clock away from you in the bedroom because staring at the clock when you can’t sleep actually increases the stress hormone known as cortisol in your body, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Professor David Hillman, Chair of the Sleep Health Foundation, says that approx. 25% of Australians complain of difficulty with sleep. He also says that around half of those, (1 in 10 people), have a disorder of sleep that may need medical attention. The remainder suffers from poor sleep habits, including failure to make enough time for sleep in their busy lives.

Without taking time out to rest, recover and have adequate sleep judgment, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information are weakened. Your health, mentally and physically is impacted. People who have poor sleeping habits are less productive, anxious, less safe when driving and suffer more mood swings – compared to those that have good sleeping habits live longer and have stronger immune systems; and possibly those that live with them live longer and are less stressed too!

There are good reasons why lack of quality sleep affects you so adversely. Sleep allows your mind and body to recover from the day’s events, stresses and wear and tear. When we sleep the body goes through six processes that include:

  1. Toxic waste management
  2. Healing/Repair/Immune
  3. Growth
  4. Anti stress and emotional consolidation
  5. Memory consolidation
  6. Learning

There are many things you can do to get a better nights sleep. Begin by making proper rest, recovery time and sleep a priority for you and your family.

My husband and I know that we only have a short time together and we don’t want it interrupted by the result of being tired or run down. We want to make the most of our time together, and apart, so we have developed good habits for quality rest and sleep. We are mindful to avoid stimulants like caffeine and alcohol for at least an hour before bed and finish eating at least two hours before sleep time. We make sure, overall, what we eat in the evening is easily digested and isn’t high in sugar as to support a calmer ‘rest-ready’ body. We keep a consistent sleep routine where possible and create a home and bedroom environment (including a comfortable bed) that promotes relaxation.

There is no right amount of sleep hours or a perfect wind down routine – the trick is to work out what is right for you that has you feeling refreshed, mentally sharp and productive each day.

What can you change to feel better, have more energy and enjoy a good nights sleep?

Sweet dreams all, Kirsty 🙂

 

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Is Your Cup Full? Boosting Mental Health for FIFO Families

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Excerpt from Separated by Work – Kirsty O’Callaghan – Chapter 5

…Some people still think that it’s shameful if they have a mental illness, are experiencing a loss of control emotionally or irrational and dark thinking. There are those that assume it shows personal weakness or a failing. If it’s children who have a mental illness, some conclude it reflects the failings of the parents. Stigma and discrimination are the two biggest obstacles to a productive solution-based conversation about mental health in a FIFO environment and at home.

I have had more people thank me than judge me because I have been so open about my stuff. I have had more people begin to cope again and even love life again, because I and others like me, have shared our stuff and not hidden it behind the idea of right and wrong.

Mental health and suicide are becoming more recognised and discussed within FIFO communities and on-site camps. There is still some intolerance and small mindedness, there always will be those people who cannot get out of their own way, but acceptance is growing.

One of the programs from an Australian site included as part of their orientation something called the 4C’s. The third C was Caring and the fourth C was Courageous.

  • It stated in the part for caring—“I am accountable for my actions and actively care for the safety of myself and others—Care about the welfare of my neighbours in the camp—the FIFO lifestyle comes at a cost to all of us and our families. Please keep an eye on your workmates and if someone is acting out of character, or saying things like I don’t see the point anymore, or there is no hope, please reach out to them and discreetly ask them if they’re okay, and if they’re not, help them get in contact with professional resources.”
  • Courage included the actions of—“I will speak up, provide positive feedback to my peers, and prevent incidents by utilising stop work authority and coaching. This also includes the courage to reach out to a work mate and ask them if they’re ok.”

If you find yourself in the gut wrenching or numb place of despair and your cup is empty, approach your mates, your family and even have a chat to a professional. Everyone at some time is running on empty and it takes courage to ask for help, to make the changes you need to make it to the next day. Keep your cup full and keep filling the cups of those you care about.

From my years of experience personally and professionally, I have found that if you are not okay, nothing else will be, no matter what skill you adopt or distraction you create. The relationship you have with yourself will determine how you think and feel, how you deal with challenges, as well as the relationship you have with everyone else in your life. Your level of self-esteem and the value you put on yourself will determine your performance and productivity. This is the first area to renew and polish up to fill your cup.

Activity

Just check in right now. Firstly, take a long slow deep breath. Feel the breath go in through your nose, travel down your throat, fill your lungs, and expand in your belly. Let it sit there for just a moment then exhale, blowing all the air out and as you do feeling a sense of release and calm. Do this a couple more times. Slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how you are already much more relaxed.

Now that you are more calm and centred, ask a few self check-in questions—

  • How are you feeling?
  • How much do you like yourself?
  • How much do you understand yourself?
  • What are you good at? What do you love doing?
  • What are your favourite things?
  • Do you reward yourself?
  • What do you dislike?
  • Are you a friend to you, or are you your own enemy?
  • Close your eyes and imagine you can see your cup, is it full, empty or half way?
  • Are you aware of your thoughts and the way you think most of the time? What about now?

Take a few minutes to make some notes on your thoughts and findings.

Your mind and thinking can be your friend or your own worst enemy. I read an article recently where William James, an American philosopher and psychologist, said, “The greatest weapon we have against stress is to choose one thought over another.” This sounds easy, yet let me make it clear right up front. It takes time, patience, and persistence to do this effectively.

Your mind has had free reign for so long it has developed its own way of viewing the world. When you start taking notice, you are going to find thoughts that create feelings that create beliefs that are either outdated or downright stupid. Some thoughts and beliefs that used to fit in your life when you were working 9—5 and coming home every evening, are not going to fit during a FIFO roster…

Kirsty 🙂

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Be Well – Healthy ‘FIFO Life’ Habits

Be Well – Healthy FIFO Life Habits

An Excerpt from Separated by Work by Kirsty O’Callaghan

…In the beginning of our FIFO journey, there were a lot of frustrating moments for me. I was at home cooking meals and cleaning up afterwards and Paddy was at work being waited on hand and foot. I had a vision of a five star hotel restaurant service and buffet. The only burden for him seemed to be that there was a time restriction on when to eat. He had to fall in with their serving times or go without.

The frustration soon became an area of concern as I watched Paddy’s waist balloon and his energy drop. Paddy was generally fit and enjoyed regular exercise, and this was decreasing at a rapid rate. The turning point for us was when he ended up in hospital for stomach blockages twice whilst being in the FIFO employ—one of the operations included removing his gall bladder. The doctors were vague as to causes and preventions; however, I often wondered whether these were bought on because of the stress and diet of a person who works away.

Workers and health practitioners I have interviewed on this topic said that FIFO employees were more likely to be overweight, drink to excess, and smoke. The reasons given for this included diet, boredom, limited opportunities to maintain fitness, and the disruptive nature of the shifts.

Paddy’s body would have been ill prepared to deal with some of the on-site food selections because in our home we are careful with our food choices, avoid preservatives, and additives, and are aware that nutrition plays an important role in promoting our health.

After the illness scares Paddy took charge of managing his health, thought more about the food he ate, exercised more, and managed stress better. Since then his mood improved, he rarely suffers from seasonal illnesses and has more energy.

There are extra demands on FIFO families—physically, mentally, and emotionally—so healthy habits are crucial in supporting and sustaining great results. I research a lot in this area and talk to many people to get their views. I have learned it is never a one size fits all approach. To keep your cup full you have to—

  1. Think well to be well,
  2. Exercise to reduce stress and weight, and
  3. Eat to encourage excellent results.

Lacking proper nutrition can put strain on the body, which becomes mental stress and can contribute to illness. I encourage you to do your own research to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

Two things you can do now to begin healthier habits –

  1. Get off junk food—it has no nutritional value. It may satisfy an energy slump or cover up a lonely moment, but it also decays teeth, lowers self image, and heart health declines. The sugar in junk food is doing a heap of bad things to the brain—impairing memory and learning skills, and contributing to anxiety and depression. Moderation is key.
  2. Drink more water. This is the most effective habit anyone can choose to improve his or her inner health, energy, life balance, and skin health.

A nutritionist once explained it like this—“When dehydrated, your cells become more like sultanas than plump healthy grapes and consequently that’s how you think and feel. Blood flow to your brain is reduced, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain cells and slows it down. Therefore, you feel tired and lack energy. When our cells are like shrivelled- up sultanas the process of nutrients flowing in and out of the cells is hugely decreased and this has ramifications throughout our entire body—our health, our moods, our thoughts, our appearance, our vitality are all below par.”

The vision of the shrivelled sultana was a definite motivator for me. A must-have is a refillable environmentally friendly water bottle—such as stainless steel that many sites provide in abundance. Drinking enough water each day is easier when it’s readily on hand…..

Kirsty 🙂

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2016 is Your Year to Be Kind

IMG_4602Kindness is being compassionate, thoughtful, considerate, and caring- and is a valuable tool in our ‘living life’ toolboxes.

Kindness will create a healthier you; a healthier and happier family unit and you will gain more smiles, laughs and thankyous from those around you than you ever thought possible. You will stop expecting and start participating in being the best you can be. Who wouldn’t want a bit more of that?

I have practised kindness for many years and have found similar results that numerous scientific studies have shown – that acts of kindness result in significant health benefits, both physical and mental. For instance –

  • “Helping” contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders serious and minor, psychological and physical.
  • A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act is often referred to as a “helper’s high,” involving physical sensations and the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well-being.
  • Stress-related health problems improve after performing kind acts. “Helping” reverses feelings of depression, supplies social contact, and decreases feelings of hostility and isolation that can cause stress, overeating, ulcers, etc. A drop in stress may decrease the constriction within the lungs that leads to asthma attacks.
  • “Helping” can enhance feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience, and vigour, and can reduce the unhealthy sense of isolation.
  • A decrease in both the intensity and the awareness of physical pain can occur.
  • The health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours or even days whenever the helping act is remembered.
  • An increased sense of self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism, as well as a decrease in feelings of helplessness and depression, is achieved.
  • Once a “connection” is established with someone – a relationship of friendship, love, or some sort of positive bonding- we feel emotions that can strengthen the immune system.
  • Adopting an altruistic lifestyle is a critical component of mental health.
  • The practice of caring for strangers translates to immense immune and healing benefits.
  • The beneficial effects of increased production of serotonin and oxytocin.

There have been many moments in my life where kindness from others has saved the day for me. I remember one situation like it was yesterday. I was about 7 years old and we had a substitute teacher at school. I was a very quiet and unassuming student, preferring to stay invisible to avoid bullying and being singled out. I look back and also realise it was a survival mechanism born of my home situation. The male substitute teacher came in to the classroom with his guitar. He played his guitar the whole class had fun that day. There was a storm coming over during the day and he showed us how to work out how many miles away the storm was by counting between lightning and thunder. The simple things he shared that day fascinated and engaged me. The biggest impact on me though was that through his ability to be present and kind, I, for what felt like the first time in my short life, was acknowledge and accepted. I was noticed as an individual for no particular reason at all. He spoke to me not at me.

On this day something inside of me was opened that helped me begin to feel stronger, and that there was another way to be. It is sometimes the simplest acts of kindness, even by a complete stranger, that can change a person’s life, would you agree?

My suggested activities for you to make 2016 a year to Be Kind:

Be kind to your children. If you conduct yourself in a kind, respectful way, children learn what it feels like to be treated kindly, and are more likely to pay it forward. You can still be firm, have consequences and guide and protect your children; you just do it with a kind tone and intention.

Kindness is never judging or demeaning. Kindness acknowledges differences and behaviour, yet isn’t ever a personal put down. In the Oxford dictionary the meaning of kindness is – The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Ask yourself how could you implement more friendliness, generosity and consideration into your parenting style each day?

To get you started, check out this popular post on Creative With Kids called 100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child. http://creativewithkids.com/100-ways-to-be-kind-to-your-child/

Be kind to your partner. The most important act of kindness your children, or anyone, can see is the way you treat your partner. Children are watching you absorbing beliefs of how a relationship works and learning how you treat those you love. Others may be looking to you for guidance on the do’s and don’ts of a successful relationship.

Kindness is a powerful antidote for anger and resentment in a relationship. It is the great re-connector.

An excellent guide I use to keep the kindness balance in your relationships is for one negative statement or action there are five positive ones. Both parties will be left with ripples of warm and fuzzy feelings after sharing moments and acts of kindness.

How could you be more kind to your partner? How could you show you love your partner each day?

Make friends. Friendship is a lasting way we can show kindness to another person. It is life affirming to have close friends that love you no matter what and that are there for you and you for them during the ups and downs.

Encourage your whole family to be kind to someone, appropriately, who is lonely or left out. Smile at people you walk past as if they are friends and if someone is struggling lend them a hand. Stop and ask, “how is your day going,” to the shop assistant, parent waiting at school pick up, person waiting at the same bus stop, and really want to hear the answer.

Communicate why kindness is important. Words and phrases said enough times, positive or negative, can permeate your thinking to create habits of inner dialogue which then affect your choices, decisions and actions. Wouldn’t you like to be able to change people’s thinking for the better and kinder? Why not infuse kindness thoughts?

Talk to your family often about why it is essential to be kind and to witness kind acts. Tell stories about kind things you did or saw that day. Tell them about the health benefits, the benefits to others and the philosophy behind it. Talk to your friend group about kindness too and things you are planning to do. Why not create a wave of kindness? You know what they say about a drop in the ocean!

Reward kind acts. Anybody loves attention and being noticed, so shower them with it when they’ve done kind things. Instead of just re-directing and criticising children for not sharing or being rough or rude with another, make a fuss when they do share or give. When somebody is kind to you, thank him or her or return an act of kindness. Be present in the moment and share the joy of acknowledgement as this, I believe, is the best gift of all.

Help others. Organisations such as the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and the Pay it Forward Foundation all suggest participating in kindness by:

  • Participate in a walk or run that raises money for a good cause.
  • Donate regularly to lifeline, Salvation Army or the like.
  • Let your child think of ways to help out victims of natural disasters.
  • If you have money to give to charity, ask your children to help you decide whom to give to.
  • Initiate a fundraiser through school to help people in need.
  • If you notice someone needs a hand, reach out without a second thought or expectation.

Model it. The best way to teach kindness and create ripples in your community or group of friends and family is not by telling but doing it yourself.

Firstly be kind to yourself always. Psychologists are finding that self-compassion may be the most important life skill – imparting resilience, courage, energy and creativity. Then show kindness often to others, whether you do volunteer work, help friends when needed, mow a neighbour’s lawn or just treat others with dignity and respect, those around you will pick up on this and want to copy it.

My daughter often tells me that I am too nice. I don’t think so! I respond by saying either, ‘why not be nice to people?’ or ‘what is the point of meeting negativity or anger with the same?’ I always attempt to take a higher path, remembering the saying you catch more flies with honey that you do vinegar. It doesn’t mean I don’t get mad or frustrated at times, and my little life witnesses see that too, it is just that I make a choice to be kind and calm down most of the time.

Your actions have to match your words, which means looking after yourself and honouring your needs and behaving in a manner that shows respect for others no matter what their financial situation, religion or even personality. Avoid being nice to someone in person and then talking about them behind their back, even if someone is not a great person and you dislike him or her for good reason, you can still be polite about it and let it go to move on with your life.

Watch what you say. Words have enormous power. Work on taking away words such as stupid, hate, shut up, idiot and any racist or biased terms. We call them ‘put downs’ in our home.

 When any member of your family, or even those you spend time with, says such words tell them that those words hurt others and ask them to rephrase what they want to say around you. Let others know that you would rather not hear gossip, put downs, nastiness or mean comments.

I love the meaning behind words that is given in the book The Four Agreements by Miguel Angel Ruiz –

“Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”

Enjoy kindness. Finally, the whole point of being kind is to make the world a more fun, safe and happy place. It is in our nature to show caring, compassion and empathy. Why spend so much energy blocking these human natural functions? Why not just let it flow?

So when your family member engages in kind acts, when you witness something kind, or even when you’re the recipient of kindness – show your joy. Keep an open discussion about your feelings around kind acts and encourage everyone to feel how wonderful it is to give and receive from others. It is a wonderful thing, a game changer and an energy enhancer.

World Kindness Australia’s motto is – “because it is cool to be kind.” I think 2016 could be your coolest year ever.

Kirsty 🙂

 

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