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Loneliness 101 for you or someone you know

At this time, loneliness stands out as the social problem it's always been, even though it's been hidden. Where does loneliness come from and what are its elements?

Loneliness is different from solitude, or alone time (we sometimes crave these things). Loneliness is a discomfort about being by ourselves which is often deeply emotional, almost like intense grieving.

We might look to our human history and evolution for an answer to this intense loneliness. Humans are social animals designed to exist in large-ish groups. This is not just important for our emotional health but for our very survival.

Help stress, anxiety and depression with diet and herbal supplements

Have you had the experience where you have gone on a weight reducing diet, cutting out carbohydrates, protein and fat, only to find you feel irritable and people are accusing you of being a grump?

It’s common these days to think that fat and carbohydrates are bad for you and make you fat and in sufficiently high quantities, of course that’s a fact.

But here’s another fact.

Protein, carbohydrates and fats are absolutely essential to our mental health!

The brain is mostly made of water and fat. Omega 3 fatty acids such as those found in fish oil and flaxseed oil richly nourish the brain and keep it healthy.

Sleep hygiene - how to get a better night's sleep

Not getting to sleep (insomnia), or sleep disturbance (waking during the night) happens to around half of us at some stage.

A good night’s sleep is absolutely essential to your good health. Sleep is when your brain processes memory and when other important functions like the production of Human growth hormone happens in order to repair damaged cells, as well as many other vital processes.

This is designed to help you get a better night’s sleep.

Television, computer games and the brain

I was taking a break today and looking at TV when a U.S. entertainment show came on.

First it's a U.S. show and that's OK, in Australia most of our culture is Northern American-based – even our indigenous culture hasn't escaped. For example I was watching a show made by Australian Aborigines about the outback and there in the background was a group of Aboriginal kids doing hip hop and break dancing to a boom box – sigh.

Back to the show. I found myself being utterly overwhelmed by the barrage of sound and sight bites, and 'promos' one on top of the other, relentlessly until I finally turned it off in utter frustration and my self talk? 'I can't stand this one more second'. This was no way to have a relaxing break! I felt as though my senses had been thoroughly assaulted.

I was appalled to hear them proclaim themselves the number one show in America and here's why I was so concerned.

I have long held the belief that extremely fast-paced scene changes – flashing from one scene to another – loud noises, explosions especially - might be exciting but also that it might be just a little too exciting for our brains.

This many stimuli – sometimes of a horrific or violent nature – is assaulting to the brain and can have serious effects on our mental health, either making us very stressed as we try to take it all in and cope with it, to over-exciting us – making us 'hooked' on this kind of fast-paced entertainment found in film, television and video game media.

Cyber Bullying

The incidence of cyber bulling is increasing – one figure puts it at between around 22% of children or young adults in their teens in Australia who has been bullied via electronic communication (it's not just internet it's email and other electronic media) Communication on the electronic media is very 'text lean' and lacks emotional content – the recipient fills in the emotional content themselves' and this interpretation can be very negative and threatening. So the bully may not intend to be so mean – it's how you perceive it.In the case of cyber bullying – the behaviour is protected by:

  • Anonymity – you can bully someone and they won't know who you are – you could be on the other side of the world ( in the US case of the cyber bullying mother the victim did not realise that the bully who drove her to suicide was her next door neighbour)
  • The law doesn't protect you at the moment – our Australian legal system isn't equipped to deal with it (neither is the US legal system)

So the alternative is to take up your own power to understand it and deal with it. Try not to hand your power over to someone whether you know them or not. There are things you can do.

Ten Ways to relieve depression and cheer up

When life is ‘the pits’, there are ways to take control and help yourself work out of it. Here are 10.

1. Breathe

Conscious breathing can assist in reducing stress and anxiety. Focusing on your breathing keeps your mindfulness on the current instance and is a common integral part of reflection and meditation, an evident stress reducer. Breathe deeply and leisurely down into your stomach, noticing each breath you inhale and exhale. Make your out-breath longer than your in-breath – breathe in for 3 counts – out for 5.

2. Smile

Smile deep down into yourself and up into your mind – physically smile at the feelings of stress, anxiety or depression – smiling releases beta endorphins (natural feel good chemicals).

3. Self talk

Give yourself a good, positive self-talking to - give yourself a motivational talk – tell yourself all the good things about you – all the things you’re good at – encourage yourself by reminding yourself that this feeling will pass, nothing lasts forever and until it does pass - you CAN cope.

The hot dog man

Once upon a time there was a man who lived in a simple little village.  He was uneducated to the point where he couldn’t read the paper (but he was not unintelligent).  The village had no electricity so he couldn’t watch the news on television.  He listened to the radio sometimes but mostly he worked, enjoyed time with his wife and children and spent time in his garden or talking to the other men of the village.

The one thing this man (we’ll call him Henri), could do extremely well was make hot dogs.  From his small roadside vending stall he made the best hot dogs.  The sausages were red, juicy and tasty; the rolls were extra crusty and the mustard and tomato sauce were made from his garden.

People would go out of their way to drive past so that they could salivate over the thought of eating one of Henri’s hot dogs.

One of the reasons Henri worked so hard is because he wanted his children to have a good education.  His son did particularly well and became an economist.

Waiting for grief

On January 26th, Australia Day, at 8.15pm, my father passed away peacefully, aged 87. Because we deal with grief and loss so often in our profession you tend to think you know how you’ll handle it. Oh there might be one or two surprises but you’ll handle those too. What I wasn’t prepared for was a total absence of sadness. Quite the opposite. I feel happy for him that his suffering has ended and he is at peace.

When we counsel a client who has had a recent bereavement, I wonder how often we feel ever so slightly suspicious when they express a lack of sadness for their loved one’s passing. We see them a couple of times and they’re still not sad and yet they’re in the counselling room opposite you wanting to talk about it.

Sometimes this can mean a denial of the death itself and we need to be careful that our client understands that their loved one is actually dead and not filling up the car with petrol (sometimes grief brings a strange kind of healing humour doesn’t it?).

Of course there’s also the consideration that the person is guilty because they don’t feel sad. They should feel sad and if they don’t, perhaps it means that they didn’t really love their loved one as much as they should have, or could have.

Tackling the "S" in S.A.D.

The S.A.D. syndrome is about how the Stress of everyday life can escalate into Anxiety and eventually lead to Depression, the epidemic of the 21st century.

S.A.D. starts with stress, the ‘big news’ of the eighties that many seem to take for granted now.

The emphasis now is on depression (which is not a bad thing) but what we tend to see is a society in denial of where depression starts – with stress.

Why? Because it’s O.K. to have depression – that’s a disease.  Stress is just “the way it is”.

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