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Kirsty writes regularly here

Posts Tagged positive habits

The Seven Circles – Relationships

Many people go in and out of our lives. Some stay for a while and some are gone in a blink of an eye. Some raise hell and others raise our spirits. Many teach us what we need to learn at the time, whilst others seem to be of little consequence.

Have you ever wondered who fits where? Have you ever struggled with people’s changing attitudes and behaviours? Have you ever hung on to a toxic relationship or friendship for too long? Are your thoughts cluttered with trying to ‘work out’ where others are at, or why they made ‘that’ comment in ‘that’ tone? Have you trusted someone you wish you hadn’t? Are you unsure who is ‘your tribe’? I may have the solution.

Over two decades ago a teacher of mine shared with me The Seven Circles. At the time, I was struggling in a deteriorating marriage and had some toxic friendships to compliment it; and to top it all off, a couple of family members where behaving badly. This exercise changed my perspective and lifted me out of the draining situations, gave me clarity, and allowed me to make better choices with my time and energy. Since then I sit down and fill in my circles every year, or when I feel I am beginning to get drawn into others dramas.

Here is a graphic of the seven circles explaining what each circle represents:

 

You can print The Seven Circles up here, including a blank one for you complete.

I would love to hear your findings, and how The Seven Circles supported you to create more clarity around those you choose to share time and energy with. After all, “We become who we hang around.”

Kirsty 🙂

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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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100% presence will improve performance and health

Mindfulness and stillness have been adapted from Buddhism. The field of psychotherapy has been interested in Buddhist psychology for some time because of the noted impressive results.

The potential of these mindfulness and acceptance based approaches have bought in a new wave of cognitive behavioural treatments and support for many emotional and mental issues, including:

  • Depression, especially preventing relapse
  • Anxiety disorders,
  • Stress,
  • Behaviour problems,
  • Interpersonal conflict,
  • Confusion,
  • Despair, and
  • Assistance with mood regulation.

I describe mindfulness or stillness as giving something 100% of my attention in that moment. Three simple ways you can begin to practice the art of being 100% present are –

  1. Be 100% aware of every flavour that is released as you eat your next snack or meal; or what it feels like right now as you sit on the chair and feel the clothes against your skin.
  2. Just sit and be aware of your breathing for a few minutes. This will still your busy mind.
  3. Consciously soften each muscle in your body, from the tips of the toes to the top of your head. Feel the tension oozing out and disappearing.

When doing any of these activities, if thoughts pop up imagine them floating past as you would a bubble, you don’t have to catch it, it floats by and then vanishes.

Learning and mastering how to make every second count and being 100% present will improve your life, reduce stress-related disorders, increase feelings of stability, and give you more energy and focus – who wouldn’t want a bit more of that?

I have learned the value and benefits of mindfulness and stillness exercises on my mental, emotional, and biological health. Once I could develop a regular mindfulness practise successfully, (quite a few attempts failed miserably), I found that life got a bit easier, my thinking was clearer, and the things that seemed so big became inconsequential. This in turn had a dramatic effect on my productivity and performance.

A quote from Buddha explains this nicely— “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

Activity

Stop, and pause for a moment right now.  Consider just how valuable this present moment is. This moment is all there truly is, and it is your only point of power and the only place you choose to act or do nothing.

Kirsty 🙂

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

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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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S.T.O.P – Begin to disentangle yourself from negative thoughts, reactions and judgments.

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On of my favourite mindful practices is S.T.O.P.  It is easy, quick and effective. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years and it is an essential to keep your calm – or return to your calm space – when moments of overwhelm, frustration, chaos, madness and confusion take over.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe

P = Proceed

To be able to consciously pause and stop is a very powerful state. When you pause you give yourself permission to not have to be anything or do anything in that moment – you give yourself a mini break to reflect and become aware of the present where there are only choices.

Following this with a couple of deep breathes in and out to release tension will clear uneasy feelings in your body and reduce anxiety levels. You may then begin to notice that you have more clarity and insight into the situation that got you so wound up.

From this vantage point of calm and possible clarity you can just observe what is actually going on around you and within you, and a new awareness will be gained. You can begin to ask questions at this time. What is this really about? What would be a way to deal with this that would be okay to all involved? Do I need more information? What could I be doing differently? How do I really want to handle this?

Then you are much better able to proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you. You will be more in control and accepting, and better equipped to deal with the situation in a way you feel comfortable with and that will get better results for all involved.

Today take time to S.T.O.P and then move forward more confidently, clearly and calmly.

Kirsty 🙂

 

 

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What is it you decide to create?

IMG_0111A verse by Kirsty to inspire you to overcome setbacks, leap over overwhelm and feel encouraged to turn the unfortunate situations into fortunes.

Resilience, to some, what a big, big word,
Some even shiver each time it is heard.
It may remind them of those who win,
And how they don’t have what it takes and are failing.

They say, “those people are just luckier than me,”
Or, “they have no idea what hardship I endure and see.”
Their motto is “I can’t do that” or “that is impossible”
Or “you just don’t understand, I’m not like you – unstoppable.”

Well let me tell you right here and right now,
Resilient people don’t run with the crowd.
They don’t buy into what is possible and not,
They don’t even accept that this is their lot.

Resilient people endure failure, setbacks and traumatic events,
Then they get up and just take the next steps.
They hurt just like you, and even have thoughts of unfairness,
They just don’t let it stop them; they lift their pain tolerance.

Resilient people don’t say “this is because of you,”
They say instead, “it is up to me to see this through.”
They keep a smile on their face,
Even though, to others, it may seem out of place.

Resilience is to be well, to be happy, and to be better,
So how can this happen without a bit of pressure?
So next time you think you can’t or you won’t,
How about deciding that you can definitely cope.

Maybe, just maybe, this terrible thing is teaching you,
How amazing and capable you are too.
That if you could, for a moment, be positive and regulate that emotion,
You will find a way to grow, learn, create change and forward motion.

So now it is up to you,
You can stand on the sidelines, or you can participate too.
You can play the game, the game that is life,
Love it or hate, it is the only choice that causes winning or strife.

Give yourself meaning, purpose and permission,
That never again will you live in submission.
You will never give up, be resigned to a fate,
It is all up to you, what is it you decide to create?

– by Kirsty O’Callaghan

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Recognising and overcoming children’s stress and anxiety

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It is important to acknowledge when your children are not coping and to offer tools to support them. There are tools to help with children’s stress and anxiety.
Approaches to keep your children as stress free as possible are outlined below to support you.

Firstly be aware of and recognise these six signs of stress and anxiety in children:

  • Tears for seemingly minor reasons.
  • Nervous behaviours such as nail biting and hair twirling.
  • Physical complaints, such as stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Regression to younger behaviours; bed wetting, eating with hands.
  • Withdrawal from school friends or siblings.
  • Any behaviour that your child doesn’t normally do could be a sign of anxiety.

My top eight suggested stress management tips for children are:

  1. Take the pressure and expectations off children if they are feeling uncomfortable. Helping children cope with stress involves knowing their personalities and limits. Listen to and acknowledge how they are feeling and give them time and space with it.
  2. Stick with the routine as much as possible.
  3. Ask your children what makes them feel better. Do they wind down with music, reading, spending time with you, or playing with their friends, brothers, or sisters? Encourage them to do what helps them calm down and relax.
  4. Make sure your children eat nutritious foods, drink lots of water, and get exercise. Reducing children’s physical stress looks similar to minimising your own anxiety.
  5. Have tokens of support for your child. For example something little that Dad or Mum gives the child to have while they are away that is filled with magical happy energy that passes to them when they hold it. It could be anything, a rock, a photo, a small toy. My youngest son slept with an old ID card under his pillow that my husband had given him, for about six months. He said it made him feel close to Daddy. One dad I spoke to set fun challenges for his boys to focus on and achieve while he was working away. He followed up on them during phone and Skype calls.
  6. Have strategies in place to cope with your own stress. The less stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be.
  7. Find ways to be involved in your community. Volunteering and contributing relieves feelings of stress and isolation. It is something that the whole family can be involved in and you will meet some lovely people. Your children will feel a sense of belonging and purpose, and so will you.
  8. Lighten the mood with fun activities; comedy movies, park afternoons, and cosy chats with hot chocolate or ice cream treats, going out, staying in, and laughing.

I have found that one of the most effective ways to reduce stress in the home is to foster a team environment and share how you are feeling in a positive way and how you cope in age-appropriate language. This will encourage everyone to talk about his or her feelings more, no judgment, no direction, just sharing and off loading the emotional burden that can build up.

When children have the opportunity to discuss the realities of life as they see it, they are developing understandings about choices and consequences and can begin to develop habits, resilience and skills that will enable them to make informed decisions about their own resources in the future.

While adults don’t need to share information about all our decisions with children, when we limit what they are allowed to talk about we deny them the opportunity to understand some of the choices we have made that directly impact upon their daily lives.

Everyone is doing the best they can with the choices they have made and children need to know this applies to the adults in their lives as well. How could we provide more opportunities to discuss our life choices with children?

Listening to children, and responding age appropriately, is sometimes hard. It requires time and patience but the insights gained are usually worth the effort. Considering what they have to say means that we can also consider what else they need and have a better chance to reduce the stressors in their lives.

If you were to pick 3 de-stressing techniques from the information above that you could start using now to support your stress-free household, what would they be?

Kirsty 🙂

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Parenting – A team effort

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I am an advocate for building helping teams, villages around people, especially children. The traditional African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ has been widely quoted when examining the support needed for our children as they grow.
Parenting requires we create that village for our children and ourselves — a supportive network of people who are committed to fostering the children’s happiness and growth. Navigating the challenges and opportunities of parenting can be daunting — a team effort is necessary to ensure the children, and the parents, have feelings of worth, connection, and safety.

The street I live in is great. Generally there are children out playing most afternoons and weekends. On this street, you know that someone is keeping an eye out when the children are playing outside. I have built friendships and relationships with my neighbours, even if it is just a wave from the front yard friendship. I want to teach my children that neighbours, overall, are there to help. I also encourage my children to be aware and compassionate to the needs of those that live around us. At Christmas time I give small presents to neighbours I see regularly, like a Lions Club Christmas Cake, as I am part of the local Lions Club. This serves my club, my community, as well as my neighbourhood. If you don’t know anyone in your street or apartment building, take the initiative. Bake a cake, take it to your neighbours, and introduce yourself. Invite them over for a cuppa or just have a chat in the front yard.

To raise a child and weather the storms of life, parents must embrace supportive alliances. A supportive team for a child can include:

Neighbours
Parent groups
Volunteer groups
Sporting clubs
Friends and family
Health care professionals
Teachers
Day care workers
Church groups
Local social groups — like walking, exercising, bird watching
School parent groups
Special interest groups
Local council and library events

What has been my saving grace many times is the collaborative relationship I have with my children’s school or day care centre — namely their teachers and carers. For over 15 years, I have seen the benefit of fostering and nurturing relationships with teachers and schooling professionals. I legally hand over the care of my children and the responsibilities of social and academic development to these very special individuals for approximately 1,500 hours per year. I believe that my participation and support is vital.

The top 11 benefits I have found by getting to know, support and be in regular contact with teachers are:

  1. The teachers/carers have more understanding of my child, as they know what is going on in their whole life.
  2. I don’t jump to any conclusions based on my child’s opinion of the teacher as I have gotten to know them and their style of teaching.
  3. I have a greater understanding and empathy, individually and as an industry, of teachers and the massive job they do.
  4. I can follow through with routines and consequences at home that are working at school, which creates more consistency for my child and less stress for me.
  5. My children are able to own their positive and undesirable behaviour and there is follow up at both ends.
  6. The teachers and I support each other in a common cause—the best outcomes for my children.
  7. I can easily ask for help and understanding when parenting overwhelm hits.
  8. I know when my child is struggling in time to redirect, before it is too late or habitual.
  9. I get to meet and know some amazing people whose passion is to see my child succeed.
  10. My children see that I am proactive in their lives and when I need to, I will rally their team together to overcome perceived obstacles.
  11. I always find out what is going on and can share all this with my husband, who works away, so he feels connected too.

Whether you work, or are a stay at home parent, you can build your child’s team. Creating these relationships and building rapport with others comes in many forms — phone, email, and in person. In my most trying times, I have found the support of most teachers a blessing and having a supportive team around me lifts me up when I would rather run away and hide.

Here is an activity for you: ?Take a moment to consider who you could enlist to help you and be on your child’s team? How could you create a network of supportive people in your families life?

Kirsty 🙂

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Transform your workplace stress into success

Transform your workplace stress into success-2

Workplace stress complaints are becoming more common. Whether an employee of a large organisation or a sole-preneur, the effects of workplace stress can result in more than a reduction in your productivity.

When the effects of workplace stress begin to take hold you generally feel irritable and anxious, fatigued and lacking the energy needed to get through the day-to-day responsibilities. Next stress will attack your ability to concentrate and remember things, which can lead to a loss of interest in work and boredom. This moves on to frequent muscle tension, headaches, illness and problems sleeping. After a while social withdrawal will be evident and some use alcohol or drugs to cope. I am getting stressed just reading that – and I can associate it with some of my past workplace experiences and those of my colleagues. Can you?

In workplaces where stress is an issue there are higher rates of absenteeism and staff turnover, reduced productivity, increased customer dissatisfaction and increased health compensation claims.

Common workplace stressors are: –

  • How secure you feel in your job or business.
  • Your workload is too much or there are constant distractions.
  • You have no say in your workload and the work you are asked to do – or there is confusion over priorities and deadlines.
  • Your job does not offer you flexibility and you cannot balance work and home life.
  • Your work is boring or not stimulating you – you have lost your passion or purpose.
  • You have too little or too much contact with people.
  • You don’t have supportive relationships with co-workers, supervisors and/or clients. You may feel the victim of bullying, intimidation or inappropriate ‘humour’.
  • You don’t have a clear understanding of what is expected of you. There is minimum praise, feedback and positive conversations about areas of improvement.
  • Any changes are not communicated clearly, effectively and encouragingly.
  • There are no or little opportunities and support for training, learning and professional development.

The causes of stress can be many and varied and each person will experience and deal with situations differently. The key is to acknowledge that unless you take action any stress over a extended period of time will adversely impact your productivity, relationships, health and wellbeing.

My top five tips for dealing with, managing and reducing stress:-

  1. Take care of yourself so that you are more resilient and stress resistant.
    • Be mindful of eating to promote your health, strength and energy.
    • Drink enough water each day to keep hydrated.
    • Exercise regularly; even a short walk in a park at lunchtime will be of benefit.
    • Get enough quality sleep, so that you can recover from the pressures of the day and feel more energised each morning.
    • Have a relaxation practise where you can relax your whole body and release any tension in your muscles.
    • Take time during your day to take some deep breaths. Shallow breathing tells your body it is stressed where as deep breathing sends the message that you are calm.
  2. Be organised and focused to minimise overwhelm.
    • Have a diary and lists of priorities.
    • Don’t over commit yourself or attempt to multi task.
    • Include regular breaks/downtime. This time is important; it does not take away from your productivity, you will find this time increases your output at work and in your personal life.
    • If you are unable to complete a task, ask for help, delegate or approach your supervisor or client and suggest another way to get task completed. Don’t leave it till it is too late.
    • Take the ‘elephant beetle’ approach – if you are feeling a task is unpleasant or concerning you, get it out of the way first thing – minimise procrastination.
  3. Cultivate and encourage a good relationship with yourself and others.
    • Recognise your stressors and your emotions. The trick to managing stress is identifying triggers before they have a chance to affect your results.
    • Have a positive attitude and laugh regularly, a sure fire way to reduce the pressure build up.
    • Share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. Keep specific rather than generalise about the issues and situations you find challenging.
    • If you are unsure, ask. If you think you have missed something, clarify. If you need help…. Ask.
    • Notice and give praise for good work performance, to yourself and others in your workplace. There are always opportunities to recognise a job well done.
    • If you would like opportunities for professional development, actively seek workplace policy on this. If there is none, find out if one could be developed, and point out the benefit to the business and yourself. If you are self employed regular professional development is a must –not a maybe.
    • Be a part of social interaction in the workplace and business circles. Keep it appropriate, positive and frequent.
  4. Be clear on the values and direction of your workplace or business, and how working in it and on it benefits you. There is a reason you are there, focus on that rather than the things that drain you.
  5. Always take a balanced approach to your work and your life – time for your health, your family, your home, your friends, your work, your interests, your community and yourself!

What could you be doing differently this week to reduce your workplace stress – or the stress of a colleague, friend or family member?

Kirsty 🙂

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