Nurturing Healthy Connections in Families …When should you seek help?

As the holiday season approaches, it is not uncommon for families to seek resolution to longstanding issues before gathering for festive celebrations. The recognition that children inevitably grow into adults is not a ground-breaking revelation; however, at times, families find themselves facing conflicts between adult children and parents. There can also be long-standing childhood sibling rivalry hanging around causing the adult relationships between siblings and parents much pain. No parent wants to see their children at war with each other over decades. This can be traumatising for all involved. If left unresolved future generations will carry the scares.

In our continuous commitment to cultivating robust family dynamics, we aim to underscore the significance of respectful communication and explore the potential role of mediation in addressing challenges within dysfunctional family relationships.

Recognising Disrespectful Communication:

Disrespectful communication, characterised by actions that undermine, disregard, or harm the well-being of individuals, can strain family relationships.

Here are some signs of such communication:

  • Disregarding Boundaries: Crossing personal boundaries, intruding into private matters, or dismissing the need for personal space.
  • Invalidation: Dismissing thoughts, feelings, or experiences, leading to a sense of being misunderstood or unimportant.
  • Interrupting and Talking Over: Demonstrating a lack of respect by consistently interrupting and preventing the other person from expressing themselves.
  • Name-Calling and Insults: Using derogatory language or insults that can be hurtful and damaging to the relationship.
  • Sarcasm and Mockery: Employing a sarcastic or mocking tone that conveys contempt and undermines the sincerity of conversations.
  • Blaming and Accusations: Placing blame without taking responsibility, leading to defensiveness and escalation.
  • Controlling Behaviour: Attempting to manipulate thoughts, actions, or decisions, disregarding autonomy and individual choices.
  • Public Humiliation: Criticising or embarrassing in public, causing feelings of shame and damaging self-esteem.
  • Stonewalling: Refusing to engage or shutting down communication, preventing resolution and understanding.
  • Manipulative Communication: Using manipulation, guilt-tripping, or emotional blackmail to achieve personal goals.
  • Failure to Acknowledge Achievements: Ignoring or downplaying accomplishments, dismissing efforts and contributions.
  • Lack of Empathy: Demonstrating a lack of understanding for the other person’s feelings or challenges, creating an emotionally distant atmosphere.

Positive communication is crucial during the holiday season.

Here are five tips for fostering positive communication with family at Christmas time:

1.     Active Listening:

  • Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker.
  • Avoid interrupting and allow the person to express themselves fully before responding.
  • Reflect on what they’ve said to demonstrate understanding and empathy.

2.     Choose Positive Language:

  • Use positive and affirming language to convey your thoughts.
  • Avoid negative or accusatory language that may escalate tensions.
  • Frame your messages in a way that promotes understanding and collaboration.
  • Ask questions, be curious not critical.

3.     Express Gratitude:

  • Take the time to express gratitude for the positive aspects of your relationships.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts others have made during the holiday season.
  • Focusing on gratitude can create a positive atmosphere and strengthen family bonds.

4.     Set Boundaries:

  • Clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations for the holiday period.
  • Respect the boundaries of others and be mindful of their comfort levels.
  • Establishing and respecting boundaries helps prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.

5.     Find Common Ground:

  • Identify shared interests or activities that family members can enjoy together.
  • Focus on common ground to build connections and foster positive interactions.
  • Steering conversations toward shared positive experiences can enhance family unity.

Remember, the key is to approach communication with openness, empathy, and a willingness to understand each other’s perspectives. By incorporating these tips, you can contribute to a positive and harmonious Christmas celebration with your family.

When should you Consider Mediation?

Mediation can be a positive intervention in dysfunctional relationships under various circumstances, however most families will not solve their long-standing issues in just one appointment with a mediator or family counsellor.

  • Communication Breakdown: Significant breakdowns leading to conflict or misunderstanding.
  • Recurring Conflicts: Persistent issues that seem impossible to resolve through regular dialogue.
  • Difficulty Expressing Feelings: Challenges in expressing emotions or needs in a healthy way.
  • Role Reversal Issues: Struggles with role expectations between parents and adult children.
  • Major Life Transitions: Changes in family dynamics during significant life events.
  • Inability to Resolve Past Issues: Unresolved issues impacting the relationship negatively.

Long standing sibling rivalry can corrode the family unit if left unresolved.

  • Family Business or Financial Disputes: Conflicts related to business matters or finances

within the family.

  • Cultural or Generational Differences: Tension arising from diverse perspectives within the family.
  • Safety Concerns: When there are emotional or physical safety concerns (Note: Safety is paramount, and mediation should only be pursued if all parties feel safe participating). The mediator will call time and will not tolerate abuse of any party attending.

Mutual Willingness to Participate:

For mediation to be effective, all involved parties should willingly participate in the process.

It’s crucial to assess the readiness and willingness of all parties before considering mediation. In cases involving abuse, ongoing safety concerns, or unwilling participants, seeking professional guidance such as therapy or counselling may be more appropriate.

Note: Some people with mental health challenges may need extra time. Counselling or mediation can be made difficult at times due to heightened emotions, emotional regulation issues, refusal to listen to others, dismissing themselves from the room, needing to be right, talking over people or not speaking at all. Mental health issues must be spoken about prior to booking a mediation.

At DIPAC, we are committed to providing a supportive and neutral space for families to navigate challenges, rebuild relationships, and foster open and respectful communication. If you have any questions or would like more information about our mediation services, please feel free to reach out.

Please remember DIPAC – Walk and Talk Therapy, it is called “Eco Therapy” Just write “Ecotherapy” in the notes when you book online. If you are time poor and find it hard to get your walk in, this may be for you. Therapy does not need to be in an office or can be it’s up to you.

Reminder of Christmas Holidays

Just a quick reminder we will be closing for the Christmas break Dec 18th 2023 to January 18th 2024

Those couples who are going through the 30 days to a deeper connection program, you may need to plan your sessions in advance to make sure your dates are locked in within the next fortnight.

The 5th step on the program is the most important step please try to not miss this step before Christmas.

www.dipac.com.au

Brochure and Testimonials – 

https://tinyurl.com/u9xwmj9z 

Emotional fluctuations, irrationality, and a sense of being overwhelmed Let’s Talk about it!

The onset of perimenopause may initiate in some women in their 30s, but it predominantly begins in women aged 40 to 44. This transitional phase is characterised by shifts in menstrual flow and cycle length, often accompanied by sudden surges in estrogen. Emotional fluctuations, irrationality, and a sense of being overwhelmed may arise, posing challenges in managing life’s mental load. Additionally, women may experience body aches and pains.

It’s crucial to recognise this transformation not as a failure but as a natural evolution. Personally, at the age of 59, I view this change positively, I am now on the other side living my best life. I was well managed and supported by my wonderful husband and friends along my path of transition.

A personal note to self: “I am changing, I am not failing.”

Perimenopause results from the gradual cessation of ovarian function, leading to erratic ovulation and eventual cessation. Hormonal fluctuations, especially changes in estrogen levels, contribute to symptoms. Higher estrogen levels may mirror premenstrual syndrome (PMS), while lower levels can lead to hot flashes or night sweats. These changes may coincide with regular menstrual cycles. Your body is changing and it is seeking a new normal.

Common symptoms include mood changes, alterations in sexual desire, difficulty concentrating, headaches, night sweats, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances, joint and muscle aches, sweating, increased frequency of urination, and PMS-like symptoms. Individual experiences vary, making it crucial to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis, as symptoms may resemble other conditions. However, blood tests for hormones can be inconclusive and not reliable.

Treatment is typically unnecessary unless symptoms are bothersome. Options may include hormone therapy to stabilise hormone levels or antidepressants to manage mood swings (often stabilising hormones will stabilise moods as well). Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, getting sufficient calcium, regular exercise, identifying triggers for hot flashes, and seeking counselling or cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), can be recommended. A counsellor can be particularly beneficial during this phase everyone needs a safe place to talk.

Discussing treatment options with a healthcare provider is essential. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) can alleviate symptoms but may have potential side effects and risks for some people. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may also be effective but come with potential side effects.

It’s crucial to make informed decisions based on personal health considerations, and consulting with specialists is recommended. Lifestyle modifications, though varying in effectiveness, may include maintaining a healthy weight and considering cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for improved well-being. While evidence for the efficacy of practices like breathing exercises, relaxation, yoga, and alternative therapies is varied, individual responses may differ also. Always consult healthcare professionals for personalised guidance if unsure.

How can a partner show support?

Supporting a woman going through perimenopause and menopause requires understanding, empathy, and open communication. Here are some ways men/partners can offer support during this transitional phase:

1.     Educate Yourself:

·        Take the time to educate yourself about perimenopause and menopause. Understanding the physical and emotional changes women may experience will enable you to offer informed support.

2.     Open Communication:

·        Encourage open communication. Create a safe space where the woman feels comfortable discussing her experiences, concerns, and any symptoms she may be facing.

3.     Be Patient:

·        Understand that hormonal fluctuations can impact mood and emotions. Be patient, empathetic, and avoid dismissing or minimising her feelings. Sometimes, just having someone to listen can make a significant difference.

4.     Learn About Symptoms:

·        Familiarise yourself with common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. Being aware of these symptoms can help you provide better support.

5.     Offer Emotional Support:

·        Offer emotional support during moments of frustration, anxiety, or sadness. Sometimes, a comforting presence and understanding can be more valuable than offering solutions.

6.     Assist with Practical Matters:

·        Help with practical matters, especially during days when symptoms are more challenging. This can include assisting with household chores, childcare, or anything that may alleviate her stress.

7.     Educate Others:

·        If you’re in a family or workplace setting, help educate others about perimenopause and menopause. This can create a more supportive environment for the woman and reduce any stigma or misunderstanding.

8.     Encourage Self-Care:

·        Encourage and support self-care practices. Whether it’s taking time for relaxation, exercise, or engaging in hobbies, self-care can play a crucial role in managing symptoms.

9.     Accompany to Medical Appointments:

·        Offer to accompany her to medical appointments. This shows your commitment to her well-being and allows you to be informed about any treatment plans or recommendations from healthcare professionals. Tip: Two minds are better than one when taking in clinical information sometimes.

10.  Be Understanding About Intimacy:

·        Be understanding about changes in intimacy that may occur due to hormonal shifts. Open communication about desires, concerns, and any physical changes is essential for maintaining a healthy relationship.

11.  Consider Couples Counselling:

·        If the changes impact the relationship significantly, consider couples counselling. A mental health professional can provide guidance and strategies for navigating these changes together.

12.  Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Choices:

·        Support healthy lifestyle choices, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. These factors can positively influence symptoms and overall well-being.

Remember that every woman’s experience with perimenopause and menopause is unique, so it’s essential to tailor your support based on her individual needs and preferences.

A support question: How can I support you daily and who do I need to be for you?

Asking the question with compassion is key: A women needs time, tenderness and for you to catch her tears.

A woman is brave- She is Independent and She may need to lean into you from time to time.

NVC – The Non Violent Communication Model

We all want to be heard… Arguments can escalate very quickly and before you know it we are out of control.

What is the purpose of NVC?

The purpose of NVC is to help all involved to sharpen their awareness of language so that they can express what really matters to them, and also hear what really matters to others. It involves empathic communication whereby we can attune ourselves to both our own and other people’s real needs.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg, aimed at fostering compassionate communication and conflict resolution. The process revolves around four key components, often referred to as the “Four Pillars” of NVC:

1.    Observation:

·         Description, not Evaluation: The first pillar involves making observations without attaching evaluations or judgments. Instead of expressing criticism or blame, focus on describing the specific actions or behaviours that are affecting you. This helps to create a shared understanding of the situation.

2.    Feelings:

·         Expressing Emotions: The second pillar involves expressing how you feel about the observed situation. It encourages individuals to connect with and communicate their emotions in a clear and specific way. Recognizing and sharing emotions can help build empathy and understanding.

3.    Needs:

·         Identifying Needs: The third pillar is about identifying the unmet needs that are contributing to your feelings. By understanding and expressing your needs, you can create a basis for finding mutually satisfying solutions. NVC emphasizes that everyone’s needs are valid and encourages cooperation in meeting those needs.

4.    Requests:

·         Making Requests, not Demands: The fourth pillar involves making clear, positive requests rather than demands. These requests should be specific, doable, and tied to meeting the identified needs. By making requests, individuals open the door for collaboration and finding solutions that meet the needs of all parties involved.

Implementation of NVC:

1.    Self-awareness:

·         Start by becoming aware of your own feelings and needs. This self-awareness is crucial for effective communication.

2.    Observation without judgment:

·         When communicating with others, focus on specific observations without attaching blame or judgment. Describe the situation objectively.

3.    Express feelings:

·         Clearly express your emotions related to the observed situation. Be honest and specific about how you feel.

4.    Identify needs:

·         Reflect on the underlying needs that are connected to your feelings. What needs of yours are not being met in the current situation?

5.    Make requests:

·         Formulate clear and positive requests that are aimed at meeting your needs. Avoid making demands, and be open to negotiation and collaboration.

6.    Empathetic listening:

·         Practice empathetic listening when others are expressing themselves. Try to hear their observations, feelings, needs, and requests without judgment.

7.    Avoiding blame and criticism:

·         NVC emphasises the importance of avoiding blame and criticism, as these can create defensiveness and hinder effective communication.

By integrating these pillars into your communication, NVC aims to create a framework for resolving conflicts, fostering understanding, and building connections based on empathy and compassion. It is important to note that NVC is a skill that requires practice, and individuals often find it beneficial to participate in Couples Counselling or Life Coaching to enhance their proficiency in applying these principles.

Emotions Make Babies and Emotions Make Wars

My objective is to educate to make the world a better place, one person at a time, the only person we will ever control is ourselves.

Emotions are the most powerful force in the human body. Forget mind /body connection, the whole body is an eco-system, it’s a whole, always has been, always will be. If your hand is not working properly, you seek a professional of your choice, your neck hurts, you see your preferred professional, your mind is not working the way you want, you seek a professional of your choice.

Whether you are driving your career, in a business, relationship, partnership, marriage or family, learning to manage and read emotions is one of the most beneficial skills ever attained.

If you find yourself reacting in a way you are not proud of in reflection, you may like to seek some guidance from a professional counsellor or phycologist to help get to the root.

Have you ever heard of the saying we often hurt the ones we love?

There may be reasons for this: You could be projecting guilt, self- loathing or shame. You may be blinded to seeing their prospective. You could have an avoidant attachment style, or you may delve into self- destructive behaviours or even self -sabotage.

Embarking on the exploration of human emotions proves to be a captivating journey, driven by our sincere desire to comprehend one another. Navigating this intricate realm, we often grapple with the challenge of deciphering emotions accurately, exemplified by the familiar yet perplexing inquiry, “What’s the matter?” Responding with a simple “Nothing, that’s just my face,” can mistakenly project a grumpy demeanour, highlighting our inherent curiosity about the intentions of those we engage with—are they friends or foes? Powerful or subservient? A potential mate or not?

This pursuit of understanding emotions naturally evolves into a profound, philosophical inquiry. Imagine a moment when someone’s reaction to an event surprise you, prompting the question: “Is that other person experiencing the same event as me?” This contemplation extends to the broader query: “Do humans share similar emotions, or are we inherently different?”

Over time, philosophy has wrestled with these questions, often concluding that our experiences are incommensurate. However, recent revelations from neuroscience challenge this notion, suggesting that, despite perceived differences, we are more alike than different.

Cutting-edge research utilising brain scans reveals a remarkable 90 percent accuracy in reading human emotions. When exposed to images of unpleasant scenarios, individuals exhibit surprisingly similar, predictable brain patterns. This aligns with findings from a university study, demonstrating synchronised brain patterns between storytellers and listeners, emphasising the universal impact of stories.

Despite diverse individual experiences, our neural signatures for emotions remain essentially the same from person to person. This underscores our shared humanity and raises the possibility that computers could master recognising emotions with unprecedented accuracy—potentially surpassing our own abilities.

This revelation humbly acknowledges that our accuracy in understanding emotions falls short compared to the precision achievable by artificial intelligence. As we navigate effective communication and public speaking, enhancing our ability to read emotions can significantly improve our connections with others.

In essence, the research posits that, contrary to assumptions, we are more alike than different. The implications are profound, hinting at the potential for improved communication and interpersonal understanding for those willing to explore the shared emotional landscape that unites us all. The journey to unravel the mysteries of human emotions continues, promising insights that could reshape the way we connect and communicate.

Transitioning to the emotion of anger: Anger is on the rise in today’s world, it often stems from a foundation of sadness. Seeking help from a counsellor or psychologist is advisable for those struggling to control anger, as it can have destructive consequences for oneself and others.

Let’s delve into the effects of “yelling” on the body for you and other when angry. Examining the physiological and psychological changes that occur in the body when someone expresses anger loudly. When someone yells in an angry manner, the human body undergoes various responses associated with the “fight or flight” stress response:  It’s scary right!

·        The body experiences an increase in heart rate, preparing for action.

·        Blood pressure temporarily rises, supplying more oxygen to muscles for potential physical action.

·        Stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released, energising the body and sharpening the senses.

·        Muscles, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, tense up as part of the body’s readiness for physical exertion.

·        Stress-induced rapid, shallow breathing limits oxygen reaching the brain, contributing to breathlessness or tension.

·        Pupils dilate, enhancing visual acuity and alertness to surroundings. Note: In people with prolonged stress, vision can be impaired leaving you with burred sight.

·        The prefrontal cortex, responsible for thoughts actions and emotions may be temporarily impaired during high-stress situations.

·        Anger triggers the release of neurotransmitters, heightening emotional responses like irritability or impatience. Leaving little room for rational negotiation.

·        The stress response redirects blood flow from non-essential functions, leading to digestive changes such as a queasy stomach or decreased appetite. “I feel physically sick”

These responses are natural defence mechanisms designed to help individuals respond to perceived threats. However, frequent or prolonged activation of the stress response can have negative implications for both physical and mental health. Learning effective coping mechanisms and communication skills is crucial for cultivating a healthier response to anger and stress.

Note to parents and teachers:  ACE’s Adverse Childhood Experiences- prolonged activation of a child’s nervous system can have negative lifelong health effects on a child. Here is additional information for your further interest Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Impact on brain, body and behaviour – YouTube Dr Felitti  Dr. Vincent J. Felitti – Medical Services (drvincentfelitti.com) Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adult Criminality: How Long Must We Live before We Possess Our Own Lives? – PMC (nih.gov)

Prevention is always better than cure!

How can we have uncomfortable conversations better?

Couples engage in conflicts or disagreements for various reasons, and it’s a natural part of any relationship. The causes of these disagreements can be complex and multifaceted. Here are some common reasons why couples may face challenges:

Communication Issues: Misunderstandings, poor communication, or a lack of effective communication skills can lead to conflicts. Differences in communication styles may contribute to misunderstandings.

Unmet Expectations: Partners having different expectations about roles, responsibilities, or the trajectory of the relationship can lead to frustration and conflict. Unspoken or unmet expectations can result in feelings of disappointment.

Stress and External Pressures: External factors, such as work-related stress, financial difficulties, or family issues, can spill over into the relationship. Couples may find themselves arguing more when faced with external pressures, and stressors can exacerbate existing tensions.

Lack of Quality Time: Busy schedules and competing priorities can lead to a lack of quality time spent together. Feeling neglected or disconnected may result in conflicts as partners express their desire for more attention and intimacy.

Personal Differences: Individuals in a relationship may have different values, beliefs, or interests, leading to clashes if there is a lack of acceptance and understanding.

Unresolved Issues: Past conflicts or unresolved issues that linger can resurface and contribute to ongoing tension. Avoiding discussions about important matters may lead to a buildup of resentment and result in future arguments.

Jealousy and Insecurity: Feelings of jealousy or insecurity can arise due to perceived threats, whether real or imagined. Lack of trust or perceived neglect may trigger arguments as partners attempt to address these emotional concerns.

Power Struggles: In some relationships, there may be a struggle for dominance or control, leading to conflicts as partners seek to assert themselves.

Differences in Values or Priorities: Fundamental differences in values, goals, or priorities may lead to disagreements about important life decisions.

Unresolved Emotional Issues: Individual emotional issues, such as unresolved trauma or personal problems, can affect the dynamics of a relationship and may surface in arguments if not addressed separately.

It’s important to note that occasional disagreements are a normal part of any relationship. What matters is how couples navigate and resolve conflicts. Healthy communication, empathy, and a willingness to compromise are crucial for maintaining a strong and resilient relationship. Seeking professional help, such as couples counselling, can be beneficial for addressing underlying issues and improving communication skills.

The DIPAC program to help couples get to the root of the problem and reset:

5 Steps to a better more connected relationship over 30days

Resolving conflicts in a marriage requires effective communication, empathy, and a commitment to finding mutually beneficial solutions

 #mediation not #negotiation

Mediation is where we focus on the problem/issue not the person. I am sure you would agree, wonderful people can have poor behaviours at times, focus on the issue NOT the person.

Here are some strategies to help navigate and resolve conflicts in a marriage:

Open and Honest Communication: Express your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. Use “I” statements to avoid blame and accusations. Be an active listener and strive to understand your partner’s perspective.

Choose the Right Time and Place: Find a suitable time and place to discuss issues, avoiding heated moments. Ensure you both have enough time to talk without interruptions.

Stay Calm: Keep your emotions in check and avoid escalating the situation. Take a break if needed to cool down before returning to the conversation.

Focus on the Issue, Not the Person: Address the specific problem at hand rather than attacking your partner personally. Avoid generalisations swearing and name-calling. Name calling and swearing at your partner is “contemptuous” behaviour

Use Non-Defensive Language: Avoid becoming defensive or deflecting blame. Take responsibility for your actions and acknowledge your partner’s concerns.

Find Common Ground: Identify shared goals and values to create a foundation for compromise. Look for areas where your interests align to build understanding.

Seek to Understand: Practice empathy by trying to understand your partner’s perspective. Validate their feelings even if you don’t agree with their viewpoint.

Be Solution-Oriented: Focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the problem. Brainstorm together to generate potential compromises.

Compromise: Be willing to give and take. Find middle ground that both partners can accept. Prioritise the overall health and happiness of the relationship.

Take a Break if Needed: If emotions are running high and the conversation is unproductive, take a break. Step away to collect your thoughts and return when you both feel calmer.

Use Humour: Humour can diffuse tension and lighten the mood. Use it judiciously to avoid minimising the importance of the issue. Humour should not include making a joke at your partner’s expense.

Seek Professional Help: If conflicts persist or become more complex, consider seeking the help of a couples therapist or counsellor. A neutral third party can provide guidance and facilitate productive discussions. Counselling can take some time to resolve deep rooted issues. Many cross-cultural marriages do not have many issues until they have a family. “How do we come together as a family?” when we are both wanting to raise our family similar to our own experiences as a child?

Establish Clear Communication Patterns: Establish healthy communication patterns by regularly checking in with each other. Create an environment where both partners feel safe expressing their needs and concerns.

Apologise and Forgive: Apologise sincerely when you’ve made a mistake or hurt your partner. Practice forgiveness to let go of past grievances and move forward.

Work on Continuous Improvement: Commit to ongoing personal and relationship growth. Learn from past conflicts and apply those lessons to future interactions.

Remember that conflict is a natural part of any relationship, and the goal is not to eliminate it entirely but to manage it constructively. By using these strategies, couples can build a foundation of trust, understanding, and effective communication that contributes to a healthier and more resilient marriage. Note: It is important not to us inflammatory vocabulary. E.g. “we are fighting” is inflammatory, the word FIGHT tells you and the other person “we are at war” and we know in a war, there is one winner. Also swearing, when you are experiencing a difference of opinion swearing may exacerbate the situation.

There are some significant changes that will need to take place in an individual when they get married.  Note: You have never been married before and you have never had children before, you’re not expected to know everything; it is progressive learning over a lifetime.

Identifying and Understanding the Impact of Stress

Understanding the Impact of Stress on Emotions, Physical Well-being, and Behaviour

Stress can trigger a wide range of emotions and physical reactions. When you are under stress, you may experience:

Emotional Responses:

  • Irritability, anger, impatience, or feeling wound up.
  • A sense of being overburdened or overwhelmed.
  • Anxiety, nervousness, or fear.
  • Racing thoughts and an inability to switch off.
  • An inability to enjoy yourself.
  • Feelings of depression.
  • A lack of interest in life.
  • The loss of your sense of humour.
  • A pervasive sense of dread.
  • Worry or tension.
  • A feeling of neglect or loneliness.
  • Exacerbation of pre-existing mental health issues.
  • Suicidal feelings in extreme cases, which can be highly distressing.

Physical Signs of Stress:

The body’s stress response can manifest in various physical symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Blurred vision or sore eyes.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle aches and headaches.
  • Chest pains and elevated blood pressure.
  • Indigestion or heartburn.
  • Gastrointestinal issues like constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Sudden weight fluctuations.
  • Skin problems such as rashes or itching.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Changes in your menstrual cycle.
  • Aggravation of pre-existing physical health conditions.

High levels of stress can intensify these physical effects, especially when stress persists over an extended period. In some cases, chronic stress may lead to more severe and long-term physical health problems, such as Takotsubo cardiomyopathy (often referred to as ‘broken heart’ syndrome), which mimics the symptoms of a heart attack.

Behavioural Responses:

Stress can significantly affect your behaviour, causing you to:

  •  Struggle with decision-making.
  • Experience difficulty in concentrating.
  • Encounter memory issues or slower recall.
  • Engage in constant worrying or feelings of dread.
  • Exhibit irritability and snap at others.
  • Engage in habits like nail-biting or skin-picking.
  • Grind your teeth or clench your jaw.
  • Encounter sexual problems, including a loss of interest or an inability to enjoy intimacy  or ED
  • Develop irregular eating habits, either overeating or undereating.
  • Increase substance use, such as smoking, recreational drug use, or alcohol consumption.
  • Feel restless and unable to sit still.
  • Cry or become tearful.
  • Overspend or engage in excessive shopping.
  • Reduce or increase exercise levels.
  • Withdraw from social interactions.
  • Using Alcohol, Sex, Gambling or Porn to self sooth

Stress can make you feel as though the world is closing in on you, causing a sense of suffocation and impending doom.

Causes of Stress: Numerous factors can contribute to stress, including:

·        High-pressure situations.

·        Significant life changes.

·        Worries or concerns.

·        A lack of control over outcomes.

·        Overwhelming responsibilities.

·        Monotony or insufficient stimulation in life.

·        Experiencing discrimination, hatred, or abuse.

·        Periods of uncertainty.

·        Loss of control

.        The news and social media

Stress can result from both major life events and the accumulation of minor stressors. Identifying the sources of stress can be challenging, and their impact may vary from person to person.

Factors Influencing Stress Reactions:

Your response to different stressors can depend on various factors, including:

·        Your comfort level in particular situations.

·        Concurrent life circumstances.

·        Past experiences and their impact on self-perception.

·        Available resources, including time and financial support.

·        The level of support from others.

. Triggers from the past

It’s important to note that what might cause stress for one person may not affect another in the same way. Some situations may induce stress intermittently rather than consistently.

Common Stress-Causing Situations:

Stress can stem from various areas of your life, such as:

Personal Life:

·        Illness or injury.

·        Pregnancy and becoming a parent.

·        Infertility or fertility challenges.

·        Bereavement.

·        Experiencing abuse.

·        Encounters with crime and the justice system.

·        Organising complex events like holidays.

·        Mundane tasks like household chores or commuting

Family and Social Relationships:

·        Marriage or civil partnerships.

·        Break-ups or divorces.

·        Challenging relationships with family or friends.

. Living in an unhappy relationship

·        Becoming a blended family

·        Acting as a caregiver.

. Excessive Mental load

Employment and Education:

·        Job loss.

·        Prolonged unemployment.

·        Retirement.

·        Examinations and deadlines.

·        Workplace stressors, difficult colleagues or boss

·        Transitioning to a new job.

Housing and Financial Issues:

·        Housing problems, including poor living conditions, insecurity, or homelessness.

·        Relocating.

·        Neighbourhood disputes.

Financial Stress:

·        Financial concerns or worries about benefits.

·        Living in poverty.

·        Managing debt.

. Financial abuse in a relationship.

. Carrying the financial load for a family

. Aging parental care

Social Factors:

·        Limited access to essential services like healthcare or transportation.

·        Navigating community-wide, national, or global stressful events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: Health stress has been an ongoing issue for many after Covid

·        Facing stigma or discrimination, including racism, homophobia, biphobia, or transphobia.

Even happy events, like weddings or having a baby, can introduce new and unique stressors due to the significant changes and increased demands associated with them. This can be especially challenging when societal expectations dictate that you should feel positive and excited during such moments.

Stress is a complex and individualised experience, and understanding its various triggers and effects is essential for managing and mitigating its impact on mental and physical well-being.

THE BREATH

The breath is the most important place to start when you are feeling stressed, who would have thought that most of us would not know how to breathe properly.

Shallow breathing is not going to be your friend if you are a stressed or an anxious person.

There is always a root to a problem, if you find yourself anxious or stressed, you may need to seek out a professional therapist to help identify the root. A professional will provide you with strategies and tools for self-management and prevention. Your Quality of Life is important!

Here is a tip to help calm your body:

Deep breathing

One of the simplest and most effective ways to calm the nervous system is through deep breathing (Harvard 2020).

There are no set rules, but one of the most popular techniques is the “4-7-8” technique.

How To Perform the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise | Andrew Weil, M.D. – YouTube

This involves:

1.     inhaling for four counts

2.     holding for seven counts, and

3.     exhaling for eight counts.

There are many other ways to promote relaxation and reduce stress that work together with these techniques. These include:

  • spending time in nature
  • getting regular exercise
  • practising gratitude
  • engaging in creative activities such as art or music.

Overall, it is important to find strategies that work for you. Incorporate these strategies into your daily routine to best support your health.

Please remember DIPAC – Walk and Talk Therapy, it is called “Eco Therapy” Just write “Ecotherapy” in the notes when you book online. If you are time poor and find it hard to get your walk in, this may be for you.

Navigating Anxiety within Marriage: A Journey to Emotional Safety

Welcome to another edition of “Fight or Flight” where we explore essential topics related to personal and relational well-being. In this instalment, we delve into the complex and sensitive issue of managing anxiety within the context of a marriage. Anxiety is a common human experience that can affect individuals in various ways, and when it touches the lives of married couples, it requires understanding, open communication, and mutual support.

Normalising Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to life’s stressors and challenges. It’s vital to normalise this experience, both in our own lives and within our relationships. The first step in addressing anxiety within a marriage is recognising that it is a shared human experience, and it should not be stigmatised or seen as a sign of weakness. Instead, it can be an opportunity for couples to grow stronger together.

Open Communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a healthy marriage, especially when anxiety enters the equation. Partners should create a safe and non-judgmental space for open and honest discussions about their feelings, concerns, and the triggers that contribute to anxiety. It’s essential to actively listen to one another, express empathy, and validate each other’s experiences.

Seeking Professional Help

When anxiety significantly impacts one or both partners in a marriage, seeking the guidance of a mental health professional or Couples therapist can be a crucial step in managing it effectively. These professionals can provide strategies and coping mechanisms tailored to the unique needs and dynamics of the individuals involved. They offer a safe and impartial environment where couples can explore the root causes of anxiety and develop practical tools to address them.

I like 1st to educate you, to help give you an understanding of what exactly is happening to your body and offer guidance around other areas that may be contributing to the problem. “Distraction” is not the best path to take to healing.

You cannot drink, watch porn or sleep your way out of anxiety. Having a vulnerable conversation with a profession will help you feel lighter. Note: We have constructed the loneliest generation in history. Feeling alone in life, even in a room of many is not an uncommon discussion in my practice.

Mutual Support

Supporting each other through anxiety challenges is a fundamental aspect of a strong and healthy marriage. Both partners should actively engage in understanding and empathising with each other’s experiences. This may involve reassuring one another, offering physical comfort, and being patient during anxious moments. Mutual support can strengthen the bond between partners and help them navigate anxiety more effectively.

Self-Care

In addition to mutual support, self-care plays a pivotal role in managing anxiety within a marriage. Encouraging one another to engage in self-care practices can be beneficial. These practices may include mindfulness techniques, relaxation exercises, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Prioritising self-care ensures that each partner has the emotional resilience needed to cope with their own anxiety and support their spouse effectively. Note: You can show up more for your partner and family when you look after yourself

Building Resilience

Anxiety can be particularly challenging, but building emotional resilience is a valuable skill that can help individuals and couples navigate life’s ups and downs. Together, partners can develop healthy coping strategies and problem-solving skills that empower them to face anxiety and stressful situations head-on. These strategies can range from deep breathing exercises to setting realistic goals for managing anxiety triggers.

Boundaries and Space

In marriage, setting healthy boundaries and providing personal space can be vital when managing anxiety. Sometimes, individuals need space to process their emotions or engage in self-soothing activities. Partners should respect and communicate their need for these boundaries while also ensuring that they maintain a sense of connection and intimacy within the relationship.

Support Network

Maintaining connections with a support network of friends and family is essential when dealing with anxiety in a marriage. This external support system can provide additional emotional reinforcement during challenging times. It’s crucial for couples to encourage and participate in each other’s support networks, recognising the value of diverse perspectives and sources of strength.

Take ways

In conclusion, managing anxiety within a marriage is a journey towards emotional well-being that requires understanding, communication, and mutual support. By normalising anxiety, fostering open communication, seeking professional help when necessary, and prioritising self-care, couples can strengthen their bond and better address anxiety’s impact on their lives. Building emotional resilience, respecting boundaries, and engaging with a support network all contribute to a comprehensive strategy for managing anxiety within a marriage.

Remember that every marriage is unique, and the approach to addressing anxiety may vary based on individual circumstances. Seeking professional guidance can provide valuable insights and tools tailored to specific needs. By working together, couples can transform anxiety from a challenge into an opportunity for growth and deeper connection.

Thank you for joining weekly in exploring life. I sincerely hope that the insights shared weekly can contribute to your well-being and harmony of your relationships. Stay tuned for more valuable content in our future newsletters.

Additional information:

Understanding the training and accountability of the professionals who are in a position to help you.

Why are Counsellors and Phycologist required to undertake mandatory supervision consistently throughout the calendar year?

Ultimately, Clinical Supervision is a critical component of good Clinical Governance aiming to protect the service users and improve the knowledge and skills of the practitioners, ensuring that the service provided is safe, efficient, and effective.

The main purpose of supervision is to ensure the efficacy of the therapist’s psychotherapy practice which, in turn, will enable a therapist to work towards the best possible psychotherapy practice for their clients. Supervision is conducted within a formal working relationship.

What is Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT)

Recognise the power of your thoughts: I will emphasise that our thoughts have a significant impact on our emotions, behaviour, and overall well-being. Individual need to understand that they have control over their thoughts and can actively work to change them.

Challenge negative thoughts: I advocate for challenging negative thoughts by questioning their validity and replacing them with positive affirmations. Negative thoughts are often distorted and not based on objective reality.

Use positive affirmations: Affirmations are positive statements that can help counteract negative thoughts. I will encourage individuals to repeat positive affirmations regularly, as this can rewire the brain and help create more positive thought patterns.

Focus on gratitude: Now, the importance of gratitude in shifting negative thinking. By focusing on what you are grateful for in your life, you can cultivate a more positive mindset and reduce the influence of negative thoughts. It’s important to have someone challenge your fix mindset and teach you strategies for developing an open mindset.

Practice self-acceptance and self-love: Even in 2023 I have push back on this practice, self-acceptance and self-love are essential for overcoming negative thoughts. By acknowledging your worth and embracing yourself, flaws and all, you can develop a more positive and compassionate mindset toward you and others. Note: If you have little to no love, forgiveness and acceptance for you, you will have very little to give to others. This may present as Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Jealousy etc…you may display no empathy for others perhaps! On the flip side you may become highly agreeable, a people pleaser leaving no room or time for you.

Self- development starts with acknowledgement. Tip: You have two choices the pain of staying the same or the pain of change. That you resist will persist…

How were you parented? If you are struggling with your childhood, you may have been parented by parents who have their own story and mental health issues and as a result you feel physically and mentally unsettled:

A snapshot from where your parents may have come from in the mental health system:

How mental health was treated in the 80’s? It was in the 80’s when PTSD was recognised as a mental health diagnoses. Prior to this revelation people suffered terribly not only from the medical profession but also socially people were shamed and outcast.

There were no wellbeing hours in school; few conversations on what to do or who to reach out to if you are struggling; no lessons around depression, anxiety, or eating disorders without the suggestion of a stigma being present; no education on conditions or experiences such as psychosis or schizophrenia. There were few practitioners who knew a lot about mental health.

How mental health was treated in the 50’s

In the 50s, mental health was extremely stigmatised, and people with mental health problems were thought of as ‘defective’ and sent off to asylums. We actively tackle the problematic thinking around this today. I have a great deal of compassion for these people many live with terrible shame and guilt.

In the 50’s they had nowhere to turn in fear of being sent away from their family.

During the early 1950s, the treatment of mental health disorders consisted of inhumane and barbaric therapies. This includes lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy. A lobotomy is a surgical procedure where a metal instrument is inserted into the brain and a portion of the frontal lobe was either removed or manipulated. Lobotomies were utilised because it was believed that this type of procedure would cure people of visual and auditory hallucinations, which are symptoms of psychosis. Psychosis is commonly associated with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

“Toxic parenting” it is not my intention to blame anyone, we all have a story. If you are living with a mental health challenge, it is not easy. I would hope that the people around you show compassion and support and that you seek help from a practitioner who is a good fit for you.

Most people do not set out to hurt people.

What is Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT)

It combines techniques from various disciplines such as Deep relaxation, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and Psychotherapy. RTT aims to bring about rapid and lasting change by identifying and addressing the root causes of issues, rather than just managing symptoms.

There is a degree of inner child work in this therapy due to sometimes the root cause could go back to your memory as childhood

Note to parents: Your children have a revision mirror, what will they be saying and feeling about their childhood as an adult?

The main principles of RTT include:

Uncovering the root cause: RTT seeks to uncover the underlying beliefs and experiences that contribute to current challenges or issues. By understanding and addressing the root cause, it aims to facilitate healing and transformation.

Utilising deep relaxation: Relaxation is a key component of RTT. It is a guided and focused relaxation, helping the mind to open and close mental folders gently. Individuals access their subconscious mind, where deeply ingrained beliefs and patterns are stored. Through guided relaxation and focused attention, we then can start on reprograming negative beliefs and replace them with positive and empowering ones.

Restructuring thought patterns: RTT focuses on changing thought patterns and beliefs that no longer serve individuals. By identifying and reframing negative beliefs, RTT aims to create new neural pathways and thought patterns that support positive change.

Empowering language and affirmations: Language is an important aspect of RTT. It emphasises the use of positive and empowering language both during therapy sessions and in daily life. Affirmations are commonly used to reinforce positive beliefs and overcome negative self-talk.

Follow-up reinforcement: RTT recognises the importance of ongoing reinforcement and support after therapy sessions.

It’s important to note that while RTT has gained popularity and positive reviews from many individuals, it is always recommended to consult your doctor if you are thinking of self-harming. If you are in dark place mentally calling 000 immediately

Sometimes people need medication to settle enough in their body and mind to be able to take on therapy. Those patients who require medical intervention prior to entering therapy, should not feel ashamed or feel they are not enough. One thing I have learned over my many years of working with people, is the body really does keep the score and we are all very different. What happened to you in your life, is very different to what happened to another person in their life.

How does Trauma effect negative thinking?

Trauma can have a significant impact on negative thoughts. When someone experiences a traumatic event/events, it can disrupt their sense of safety, well-being, and trust in the world. This disruption often leads to various cognitive and emotional changes, including negative thoughts.

Trauma can affect your thoughts and actions, here are some areas to consider:

Negative beliefs about oneself: Trauma can lead to a distorted and negative self-perception. Individuals who have experienced trauma may develop beliefs such as being unworthy, powerless, or deserving of harm. These negative beliefs can manifest as self-critical thoughts and feelings of guilt or shame.

Negative beliefs about others: Trauma can also impact how individuals perceive and trust others. They may develop negative beliefs about people’s intentions, expecting others to be harmful, untrustworthy, or unreliable. These beliefs can contribute to negative thoughts about relationships and social interactions.

Note: This one is very common in relationships, past trauma can play a big part on how we see and react to our partners in times of stress and overwhelm…

eg: having children, you have not been a parent before. Trauma can also resurface after a death of a parent… Note: Because we are having children later in life, couples are finding themselves in a “sandwich” position, looking after children and parents at the same time. Life is a lot! But with a little knowledge and nurturing, all will be ok 🙂

Negative beliefs about the world: Traumatic events can shatter a person’s belief in the world as a safe and predictable place. They may develop negative beliefs about the world being dangerous, unfair, or unpredictable. These beliefs can lead to feelings of anxiety, hypervigilance, and pessimism. Note: A child being abandoned or perceived to be abandoned by a parent can set off this trauma and can last over a lifetime if not treated.

Intrusive thoughts and memories: Trauma can result in intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or vivid memories of the traumatic event. These intrusive thoughts can be distressing and contribute to negative thought patterns, as individuals may constantly relive the traumatic experience or feel overwhelmed by intrusive images, body sensations, or emotions associated with it.

Hyperarousal and negative thinking: Trauma can dysregulate the nervous system, leading to a state of hyperarousal or chronic stress. In this state, negative thinking can become more prevalent, as the mind is constantly scanning for threats and interpreting situations in a negative or catastrophic manner. Note: The body keeps the score, we need to learn to listen to our body sensations.

It’s important to note that the effects of trauma on negative thoughts can vary among individuals and depend on factors such as the nature of the trauma, personal resilience, and available support systems. Healing from trauma often involves a comprehensive approach that may include therapy, support groups, medication, self-care, and developing coping strategies to address negative thoughts and their impact. Note: RTT is very effective for when addressing trauma