Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Supercharge your life!!

Do you have big dreams but never seem to have the time to make a start on them? Are you stuck in a (somewhat comfortable) rut?

Looking to advance in your career, start your own business or develop a skill?

Follow these simple steps to get off the couch and start reaching for your goals.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Charlotte Dawson - the dangers of depression

Australian's are shocked at the loss of TV personality Charlotte Dawson who took her own life yesterday.  On the outside we see someone who is beautiful, famous, successful, and we wonder how someone with all of those things could feel such a deep unhappiness inside.
This goes to show, no matter what you have, or what your achievements, depression is a real and crushing illness, and needs to be taken seriously.  

Dawson had a history of depression and anxiety, which she frequently commented about publicly on her twitter account. 
In 2012, Dawson was publicly bullied online by "Twitter Trolls", leading to a suicide attempt. Following this, according to SMH, Dawson went on to publicly advocate anti-bullying.  Nonetheless, for such callous individuals to feel they have the right to speak to another human being (online, or offline!) in such a horrible, bullying manner, absolutely disgusts me.  

For anyone thinking about making in inappropriate, rude or unfair comment, to anyone - friend, enemy, celebrity, online or offline - you need to stop and think.  The potential impact of your comment could be huge.  We've seen first hand with the sad loss of Charlotte Dawson, that such wounds are far more than skin deep.  People are people - celebrities or not - everyone has a story, a background, a personality and their own sensitivities and fears - many people in fact also suffer from mental illness.    

According to Beyond Blue, "Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In Australia, it is estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety." 
Are you suffering from depression and anxiety, and looking for help?
In Australia, you can access free 24/7 telephone counselling:
Lifeline - 13 11 13 
Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636

You can also access up to 10 sessions with a psychologist per year, through Medicare - you simply need your GP to make a referral for you.  Your GP can also give you advice on managing depression and anxiety.   Don't be afraid to speak up!

There is currently a petition through to support tougher legislation for cyber bullying.  If you would like to support this petition, please click HERE.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sleep better

Having trouble sleeping?  It could be time to redecorate your bedroom.  Soft textiles, low lighting and minimal, clutter free furnishings can help in increasing your quality zzz time.  

Here are a few of my favourite inspirations....

Make sure you consider the following factors:

  • Temperature - could you be too hot at night time - this may prevent you from falling asleep.  Is there adequate airflow coming in?  
  • Light - do you have thick curtains or blinds that can block out light from other houses/apartments/street lights
  • Colour - choose a peaceful, sleep inducing colour scheme - try neutral walls, or even dark moody wall paint for something different

Monday, 17 February 2014

Sleep well!

Is your sleep pattern leaving you feeling exhausted during the day?

Try these simple tips to get a better night's sleep!!!

1)  Make your bedroom dark.  Consider using curtains with a thick backing, or installing blinds or shutters.  Light coming in from street lights, other houses and apartments can play havoc with your sleeping patterns.  Artificial light can mess with our Melatonin levels (the chemical that helps us sleep!) and confuse our biological clocks.

2)  Keep the temperature cool.  If you are too warm (or too cold) you will have trouble sleeping.  A slight drop in body temperature facilitates sleep.  Avoid excessive layers or using heating if it isn't necessary.

3)  Eliminate electronic devices such as televisions and computers.   Avoid falling asleep with the television or radio on.  Get rid of devices with bright lights and alarm clocks with LED lighting.

4)  In the hour before you go to bed, avoid overly stimulating activities - try and minimise television and computer use as this will stimulate your brain making you feel more awake.  Try quiet activities such as reading instead.  Try dimming the lighting in your house/apartment in the hour before bedtime, to reduce artificial light and to signify to your body that sleep time in near.

5)  Avoid stressful activities before bed!! Just before bedtime is not the time to reply to emails, finish assignments or homework or engage in a discussion about finances!  Avoid discussing potentially stressful topics before bed as this is likely to leave you tossing and turning.  Keep stressful discussions for the morning when you're at your full alert level and have the resources to engage in problem solving.

6)  Establish a "before sleep" routine.  By performing a routine before bed each night, your mind will begin to associate this routine with sleep.  For example, this might be having a cup of herbal tea, putting on your pyjamas, reading for 20 minutes, washing your face, brushing your teeth, dimming the lights etc.  Establish a "bed time" and waking time.  If you go to sleep at 10:30pm every night and wake up at 6:30am every morning, your body will become used to this sleep pattern.

7)  Reduce caffeine from the afternoon.  Avoid coffee, black tea and cola after about 3pm as these stimulants may affect your ability to get to sleep at night.

8)  Reflect on your alcohol use.  Excessive drinking can disrupt your sleep patterns.  Whilst alcohol can make you feel tired, it produces both stimulant and depressive effects.  If you're drinking on a nightly basis, considering having alcohol free nights during the week.

9)  Ensure you have exposure to natural light during the daytime.  Exposure to natural light during the day ceases the production of melatonin, a chemical produced by the body which facilitates sleep.  During the darkness, the body then produces melatonin which causes drowsiness and sleep.

10)  Keep the bedroom for sleep and sex only.  Avoid other activities such as working in bed, doing homework in bed, watching tv, studying etc for other rooms.  Otherwise you may begin to associate bed with work/stress etc!!

11)  Keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter and distractions.  Take the time to create a peaceful and serene environment that facilitates rest.  Try decordating with soft textiles, warm blankets, lots of cushions and scented candles!!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Day Blues?

Some of us despise valentines day, some of us love it... whether you're sitting at home watching Bridget Jones and eating a whole tub of Ben and Jerry's or you're out on a romantic date, why not change your perspective this valentines day and pay it forward with a gift to a friend or family member.  

If you happened to read my post on learning to spend more wisely, you'll recall that spending money on others can increase your satisfaction, more so than purchasing items for yourself!!

Why not make someone else's day on Valentines Day?  

This valentines day, we had a "secret valentine" at work - we drew names from a hat to exchange gifts amongst staff members (much like secret santa or Kris Kringle).  

I decided to make these Donna Hay Vanilla Snap Cookies, with a love theme!!!  These cookies taste fantastic and are really easy to make!  They're perfect for cutting into all sorts of fun shapes.

 I packed them up into a cute jar with some ribbon to turn them into a cost effective gift, made with love!

I hope my secret valentine enjoys their surprise!

Gifts don't have to be expensive to make someone's a bonus, there's leftover cookies at home too!! 

Monday, 10 February 2014

Stuck in holiday indulgence mode?

So it's February.....after making several new years resolutions about sticking to a healthy eating plan, you find yourself reaching for glass of wine number two and going to town on a cheese platter....and it's only Tuesday night!!

Let me share with you my usual yearly pattern!!  So usually by December, I'm in the swing of healthy eating and regular exercise...then comes the party season..Christmas parties, alcohol, horderves, dinner catch ups....Christmas day....lots of eating, post Christmas...lots of eating/drinking all the chocolates and wine I received... lots of finishing off those extra snacks I bought for entertaining but didn't use.....etc etc etc.... by the time I put down my glass of Pinot Gris, all of a sudden it's August before I'm back on track with healthy eating. Amazing how easy it is to start a habit!  Amazing how hard it is to change it!!

What are some quick tips to get back on track with healthy eating post party season!?

Eat mindfully!!
What is Mindfullness!?  Russ Harris, in his bestselling book, The Happiness Trap, defines Mindfulness as "Consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience, with openness, interest and receptiveness."
By eating mindfully, we're present and engaged in the process of eating.  In order to do this, I suggest taking the time to eat away from the television or the computer.  Often we eat mindlessly, out of boredom or frustration, and before we know it, we've eaten a whole bag of Maltesers by the second ad break.   Does this process bring you satisfaction?  Probably not!  Does it cause you guilt?  It probably does!
Try eating at the dinner table, or taking time away from your desk for 10 minutes to eat your lunch.  I guarantee you'll gain more satisfaction.  
Eat slowly, and try and engage your senses in the process.  Practice mindful eating with the following delicious exercise:
1)  Put a small piece of chocolate in your mouth.
2)  Notice the taste, the aroma, the feel of the chocolate as it melts in your mouth - try and bring your whole awareness into focusing on the experience of eating the chocolate!!

Reflect on your values!
Do you value looking after your health?  Do you value nourishing your body through a healthy diet?  Do you value staying slim through a sensible diet and exercise?  Think about your values around health, diet and eating.  Connecting with these values may help you to make better food choices!  

Set yourself attainable goals
After eight weeks of skipping the gym, and eating junk, do you think it's realistic to set yourself a goal of eating a carb free, no sugar, no fat diet, with going to the gym 5 days per week?  
If you do maintain this goal for a few days, you may find you slip up worse than ever!
Small wins will empower you to take on greater challenges!!  Why not try setting small goals, like replacing desert with peppermint tea, or going for a short walk after work each day.  You'll feel all the better when you succeed!!!

Keep a food diary
Mindful eaters are aware of how many calories they are consuming each day.  Keep a log of what you're eating and review it at the end of each week.  As well as recording what you eat, why not add some notes about the situation and your mood/feelings at the time.  Do you notice certain patterns?  Are your moods or environmental changes related to over or under eating?

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Reading literary fiction helps increase social skills

Looking to increase your social skills?  Put down that copy of Twilight/50 Shades of Grey/whatever random Dan Brown novel immediately, and pick up some Salinger, Joyce, Austin or Carver!!  It may help you to better understand and identify the emotions of others and improve your interpersonal relationships!

A study by Kidd and Castano (2013) measured the effects of reading literary fiction on increasing social skills, or "theory of mind skills."Theory of Mind skills include the ability to identify and understand the emotional states of others.  Such skills help us to build interpersonal relationships.  

Shift Dress - Stellino Designs
Lipstick - Mac, Snob
Glasses - Burberry

The authors state "The capacity to identify and understand others’ subjective states is one of the most stunning products of human evolution. It allows successful navigation of complex social relationships and helps to support the empathic responses that maintain them. Deficits in this set of abilities, commonly referred to as Theory of Mind (ToM), are associated with psychopathologies marked by interpersonal difficulties. Even when the ability is intact, disengagement of ToM has been linked to the breakdown of positive interpersonal and intergroup relationships"

The authors conducted five experiments which compared reading a few pages of literary fiction, against non-fiction or popular fiction.  The results showed that the readers of literary fiction passages vs the other groups, displayed  the immediate ability to discern people's emotions from pictures of their faces.  

More reason than ever to burn your Twilight novels!!  

What are some of your favourite literary fiction novels?

Here are a few of mine!!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Self Employed are More Satisfied With Their Work Than the Employed!!

A study by Benz and Frey (2004) showed that self employed people are substantially more satisfied with their work than people who are employed.  The study  further shows that regardless of differences in income and amount of hours worked, the self employed were still more satisfied with their employment.

WHY are self employed people happier with their jobs!?
The authors of the study were able to directly attribute the self employed's job satisfaction to the independence and autonomy their work permits them.
"Being your own boss" and breaking free from a typical hierarchical work structure could bring you the work satisfaction you're looking for!!

With this in mind - does your current role allow you autonomy?
What factors in your current role bring you the most satisfaction?

Monday, 3 February 2014

Pop Therapy - January Recap!!

Thanks for tuning in for the first two months of Pop Therapy!!  I hope you've enjoyed reading my blog so far!!  Stay tuned for another massive month in February.

Just to are a few of my fav posts from January.

1.  Baking Therapy
2.  The Psychological Benefits of Playing Music
3.  Living in Green Spaces Improves Mental Health
4.  Baking Therapy Part 2 - Impromptu Tea Party

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Baking Therapy Part 2 - Impromptu Tea Party!!

There is nothing more delightful on a Sunday afternoon then an impromptu tea party!!  This afternoon I decided to bake some scones, following this recipe.

They turned out to be delicious, especially with a very large serve of jam and cream.

Baking is far more fun when you have someone to share it with.  Today I invited a friend over for a good cup of tea, some gossip and scones!!  

In a study by Diener and Seligman (2002), groups of happy people and unhappy people were compared.  The group of happy people were showed to have good social relations, including socialising regularly and having strong social relationships.  

Want to be more happy?  Start with a good catch up with a friend!!  

Can Daleks be happy too!?


Dress - Witchery