I’ve never thought of myself as a gym girl, not really.
I don’t go for machines or weights and have hardly sent foot into the ‘gym’ area even though I’ve had a gym membership for some time. I had some group fitness classes experience prior to having my children, but then really got hooked onto Body Balance as a way of getting back into some gentle exercise after the birth of my third daughter, some eight years ago. This has led me to get into Barre classes, some HIT workouts, but much more into yoga workouts. This year I’ve had to rely less on the motivation (and routine) from others (with gyms closed much of the year 😦 and more on myself. I’ve done workouts from apps and livestreams in the lounge-room, but it is just not as fun! And it has shown how much more challenging it is to do when there is no one around encouraging you or doing the workout with you. It reminds me of the importance of having support crew around you so they can cheer you on when motivation is low! More recently I’ve gotten into bike riding with my family, which I’m really enjoying. This morning on our ride, as it happens, my daughter wanted to show her expertise by doing some chin ups on the bars along the riverfront! And although I try to do these on our monkey bars at home occasionally, as as this photo shows you, I could probably begin to do some arm strength work as I’ve got a long way to go before I can successfully do these! (and you’re welcome for the laugh!) I love the outdoors and exercising outdoors, but I can’t wait until I can resume my group fitness classes again. But for now, I’m going to try and mix it up with all kinds of exercise a much as I can.
Music for many people inspires a mood, a memory and can capture a moment. I have playlists for sleep, for exercise, for studying, for background music, for relaxation and for singing to. In helping people to intentionally shift their mood one task I sometimes ask them to make is a playlist for the mood they are trying to create. When our mood is low, we tend to listen to music that reflect this. Which is not a bad, thing, it helps us to connect with these feelings, to ponder and listening to lyrics that reflect our own emotions helps to feel less alone.
When we feel ready to try and shift into a new mood it can be helpful to deliberately create this new mood through songs and music. So deliberately creating a playlist by selecting music or songs that are inspiring, uplifting and optimistic, that have a good beat, that get us singing out loud, can be a good simple step towards bringing more of that feeling into your life. The science tells us that just thinking about positive memories that favourite or much loved music can bring to us, can bring more of those happy chemicals into the brain (neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine), and we know music, especially if it attached to happier memories is likely to lead to more good feelings.
So if you have felt you mood being lower or more anxious than you’d like, check you playlists and get making a new one that reflects the feelings you’d like to have more of!
#contentology #wordswap We sometimes we only need to be aware of and change little things to get positive things happening. Just like we are likely to no longer take notice of information if we see it too often, with too little variation, so too does our brain if is presented with the same information day in and day out. Really easy things such as noticing and making an effort to change some of our language, can have massive changes on how others react to us and also how we ourselves perceive things. A big part of cognitive therapy is thinking about the voices in our heads! Yep we all have them chattering away, all of the time. This self talk can be helpful, supportive and positive, or it can be negative, teasing, belittling and downright depressing. So thinking about how we can begin to swap these words out is really important. The general suggesting I sometimes give, is encouraging people to think about the words we have in our head and whether we are talking to ourselves like a friend or a bully. Most people think of bullying happening from another person, but sometimes we can be really good at bullying ourselves. The other time we can do a simple but effective word swap is when we are having conflict with others. Most people might be aware of the strategy to use “I” statements. So rather than beginning with ‘you’ as in ‘you are a pain, you are too loud, you are annoying me’ etc…Begin your sentence with ‘I” which shifts the focus onto how you’re feeling about what the other person is doing. It has a much less accusing feel which can reduce tension in the conversation. “I feel like your voice is hurting my ears, I am upset by being teased” etc. This can help diffuse the situation rather than inflame it and it begins to focus our attention on what we can control (which is ourselves and our own reactions to others). The other words swaps that can be practiced is when swearing is really upsetting (usually to parents and teachers). So together with the family we try to come up other interesting and creative words that feel good to say, are easy to roll off the tongue and help get those angry feelings out, but are less jarring and offensive to the ears of family and friends who may hear them (and be having them directed at them). I’ve heard some great ones in the past and involving the family to come up with acceptable swear-word alternatives, can also help diffuse the anger and upset about insulting language being used. It also helps shift the focus from the words being used to hurt others, to the fact that saying the words may help the person dissolve and manage their anger in that moment. What word or words have you looked at changing or swapping out? Kate x
Being in flow is when I’m so totally in the moment, and time is not registering and I’m feeling joy and connection. And it’s found doing lots of my recreation actives such as yoga, painting and listening to favourite music and meditation. However, I’m really fortunate that it’s also found when I’m in session with a family and I can feel that I am on the same wavelength as they are, what I’m sharing is resonating with them and it feels as if I am doing what is my purpose. For me, supporting, guiding and validating their experiences is when I’m also in my flow. I also find flow happens when I get really focused and ideas just come onto the page with ease. I think that having practice with putting thoughts down, putting ideas down with no judgement helps to have acceptance for what is arising for me. And then whether the ideas are golden, or something to be mused on at a later date it doesn’t really matter. So I hope that you have activities in your day that you find are fulfilling and easy and give you feelings of content. Happy Tuesday, Kate x
Structure is really important in our day and in our lives. We need to know when things are beginning and when things are ending as it help us understand where we are in time and space. It also helps us to manage anxiety, when we are in a space that is really uncomfortable. Most people find that knowing when things are going to get better helps us get through hard times. This is especially true when we have external constraints on us and we need to feel that we can have some control. It’s also important to think about where this structure is coming from. For some when we perceive that it is being put upon us, it can be a little harder to deal with, but when we feel we are part of the creating this structure it is easier to manage. The same is true for children. Think about how useful it is for children to know what day it is, what activities they are going to be doing that day, how long is it until their next meal time, how long until their next birthday or holiday. Children will sometimes ask questions when they are looking for this structure, (sometimes repeatedly!!), but others don’t ask questions but may show you in unsettled behaviour that they are (possibly) needing more structure and containment. One way of giving structure or to communicate the structure in your home is to develop visuals to help them understand where they are in time and place. This is especially true when if they don’t yet have a sense of time (either in minutes, weeks or years yet). So be mindful of the importance of structure and communicating this in your family. At the same time you may find some children really rebel against imposed structure, so you may find that you have to be more collaborative in your approach to have structure in their lives and those of your families. So how does structure show up in your life and how do you communicate that structure to your family?
What does being able to focus mean to you? To me it means being able to get clarity on my thoughts, it means I’m not getting distracted every few seconds or minutes. It means that I can follow a thought through to completion and not have 100 more clamouring for my attention. Focus for me comes when I’m calm and it comes when I have a purpose. It also comes when I’ve had enough sleep, exercise and mental space! Mindfulness meditation really helps with being able to develop my focus. I really believe that it is useful to build the muscle of being able to focus (get distracted) and then pull our attention back onto what we were initially paying attention to. Like any skill, we can have varying abilities in this skill and regular practice helps improve it.And it’s not only mindfulness in the traditional sense of meditation (sitting still, listing to our breaths, sounds or a formal meditation recording), that can build this skill of focus, but being in nature, we naturally become mindful, we pay attention to the sky, to the sounds around us, the smells and the wide expansive views. So if formal mindfulness meditation is not for you, be sure to get out into nature and just notice for 30 seconds or a minute and help your mind get into this practice. This will improve your ability to focus, which helps us to find calm and clarity. If you’d like to learn more about different kinds of mindfulness because you find it hard to focus, be sure to check out my mindfulness videos or list of mindfulness apps. Head to http://www.thekatefrench.com.au to request these.
The holiday with my sister joining together our two families last year (was it only then?!) was wonderful. The South Pacific is magical and a cruise was very family friendly- especially as a cruise is likely off the cards for the foreseeable future.
But my favourite trip is still when my husband and I went to Europe for 6 weeks before we had children. We saw some amazing cities and also drove around France exploring for two weeks. But seeing Paris and the Eiffel Tower light up, was a long held dream come true. I think the only thing that will top this trip, is when we take our children to Europe and Paris too.
So until I can tell you about that trip, my memories from the past will just have to do!
What is it about a black and white image that makes things so much clearer? The edges stand out and there seems to be less noise and less distraction. I’m wondering if this is akin to being able to think in ‘black and white’…… That there is a sense of being definite, or there is not being another way to view things.I don’t really think like that, whether it’s my nature, or whether it’s because of my training to think about the other person’s perspective trying to attune my understanding further, but sometimes I think it would be a good thing to feel a bit more definite, a little more certain. But I’m learning that we need all kinds of ways of thinking and processing and that all kids of styles are wonderful in their own unique way.
Previously I wrote about overcoming obstacles and the importance of having people around you that build you up, encourage you and help you stay on track in life. It is so important that you have friends, family or professionals in your life that you feel understand what you are trying to achieve and help you towards this.
These humans are the ones that help you tune out the noise from naysayers, that help you when you are unsure, that celebrate the small or big wins with you and remind you of what an amazing person you are. They help you manage your fears and encourage you to keep your head up.
Human beings are very social creatures and we need one another for connection, company and collaboration. If the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions of us socialising face to face this year has taught us anything is that having regular connection (no matter how we do it) is so important for our mental health and wellbeing.
So have you been keeping closely in touch with those people who have your back or is it time to reconnect so you can be reminded of this? At the same time, who could hear message of support from you and is there someone that you could reach out to?
What have you had to overcome? I’ve had many privileges in my life including my supportive loving family, enjoying school and learning, that led to being able to leave home to move to the city, enter into university straight after high-school, train as a psychologist, then work in great organisations, meet great colleagues (some whom became great friends) and then find amazing mentors that have encouraged me to dream big and keep growing. I’ve had a supportive family, friends and partner that have also allowed these things to be possible.
Unlike many, many individuals I’ve met along the way, my obstacles have not been as numerous or as challenging. And although there have been obstacles, mine have been modest. Knowing the massive challenges that many amazing humans have had to overcome, only sharpens my gratitude for the fortune in my life and for the work I get to do with others.
What I have noticed over time though is that no matter what obstacle we are trying to get over, if we can develop a strong mindset, can defeat the anxious, short-sighted thoughts and beliefs that often arise, then there is nothing we cannot overcome.
So if you are faced with obstacles, firstly choose your support wisely. Invite those that will lift you up and cheer you on to come closer to you and be in your life. Also take a look at your own mindset, your beliefs and self-talk and develop those that will strengthen your optimism and resolve.
When you can do these two things there will be nothing you cannot overcome.