5 May 2018
Mindfulness is a term that is thrown around a lot these days, but do you actually know what it means?
Mindfulness originated from Buddhist principles. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness was used to develop the knowledge and wisdom that would lead the person towards enlightenment. Mindfulness has since been integrated into many modern-day theories and practices.
When we talk about mindfulness in psychology, we encourage a person to focus on the present. As humans, this is not something we are typically very good at! We are generally either replaying things that have happened in the past, or thinking about what will happen in the future. Mindfulness involves focusing our attention on what is happening inside us and around us, in that moment, without judgement. We are slowing down and focusing on one thing at a time. We are using our senses to notice the environment around us, and how our body feels, at that very moment. As thoughts and worries come into our mind, we notice them, and them let them go, taking our focus back to the here and now.
Mindfulness has been found to help us in so many ways. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety. It helps to improve relationships by keeping us engaged with our loved ones in the present moment, rather than being absorbed by distractions. Being mindful at work and focusing on one task at a time actually increases our productivity. Multi-tasking helps less than we think! Research also shows that mindfulness has many health benefits, including chronic disease management, and helping to reducing pain.
Join us this month, as our team participates in “Mindful May”, aiming to be more mindful every day. Some ways you might like to build mindfulness into your day include:
- Going for a mindful walk. Notice what the ground feels like below you as you take each step. Notice what the weather is like. Is it a sunny, blue sky day? Is there a breeze or an Autumn chill in the air? What colour are the trees and the grass? Are there flowers in the garden beds? Can you hear any birds around you?
- Eating mindfully. My favourite thing to eat mindfully is chocolate! What does the chocolate feel like as you pick it up? How does it smell? How does it feel against your lip? As you place it on your tongue, let it sit, don’t chew immediately. How does it feel on your tongue? What does it taste like. Slowly allow it to melt and notice the flavours and the texture. As you slowly start to chew, continue to notice the flavours and textures inside your mouth.
- Drink your tea or coffee mindfully. Notice what the cup feels like in your hand. How heavy is it? What texture does the mug have? How hot or cold is it? What does the drink smell like? Take a sip, but don’t immediately swallow. Let it sit on your tongue. Notice what it feels like. What is the temperature? How does it taste? As you slowly begin to swallow, continue to notice these sensations.
What can you do mindfully this month?
27 April 2018
With our campaign this month being ‘Active April’, I decided it was time for me to have a closer look at how active I am (or am not!). One of the things that I need to get a handle on is my screen time, which I know sucks up so much of my down time, especially during the work week, with very little reward and no movement opportunities (unless you count my thumbs!)
To kickstart the process I downloaded an app onto my phone to track my screen time. I know that I use my phone for many things, mostly keeping me entertained if I’m waiting for something like an appointment (when did we forget how to just wait without having to be constantly occupied?), and especially unwinding after a long day. Sadly, like many of us I suspect, browsing social media and playing mindless games have become my way of ‘relaxing’ at the end of the day.
It was pretty confronting to look at the stats on my screen time. I’ve put a screen shot up here to out myself and to keep me accountable for the changes I want to make.
For me, most of my screen time comes at the end of the day, which is the same as what I hear from clients as well. So I’ve come up with a list of things that I can do instead of sitting on the couch, glued to my phone screen. Here goes –
- Go for a 20-minute walk after work
- Do the ironing
- Ask each family member about their day
- Get school lunches ready for the next day
- Call a friend for a chat (or better still, see one in person!)
- Listen to music
- Get some housework done whilst listening to above music
- Read a book (turns out just buying them isn’t the same as reading them)
- Play a board game
- Do some baking/cooking for nights that I know are going to be busy
- Do that yoga DVD that’s been on the shelf forever (take the plastic wrap off first)
- Give 100% of my attention to my family, and not my phone!
I could keep going – writing this list has made me realise so much - what I’m missing out on, how much I could actually get, how much easier it would make my life in general and probably most importantly how my devotion to my phone takes me away from the people I love the most. The benefit that I get from Candy Crush pales in comparison.
So feel free to join me in putting the phone down and moving through the real world instead!
20 April 2018
Everyone knows that being active is good for them, but do you know just how much good it can do? Regular activity, including everything from a casual evening walk through to running a marathon can reduce stress, prevent the onset of disease and help us live longer.
1. Relieves Stress & Anxiety
Virtually any form of exercise, from aerobics to yoga, can act as a stress reliever. No matter your fitness level, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. After a walk in the park or a few laps in the pool, you'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.
2. Improves Learning & Memory
Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly by improving the health of brain cells and the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep and stress and anxiety. All of which can cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.
3. Strengthens the Heart
Our cardiovascular system contains one of the most important muscles in the body, the heart. Just like the other muscles in the body, exercise improves the heart’s overall function and efficacy. When the cardiovascular system works efficiently, it provides more oxygen, nutrients and energy to your body throughout the day. If you’re feeling low in the middle of the workday, take a brief walk to get the heart pumping and blood flowing to boost your energy and performance.
4. Builds Stronger Bones
Our bones thin as we age, putting us at greater risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures that can reduce our quality of life. Weight-bearing (high- or low-impact) and muscle-strengthening exercises build and strengthen the bones as well as the muscles that surround them. Nonimpact exercises like yoga can improve balance, posture and flexibility, which may reduce exercise-related injuries.
5. Promotes Sleep
After a workout, the body’s internal temperature returns to baseline and signals the brain that it’s time for sleep. Try to give yourself at least an hour or two to wind down post-exercise, otherwise those endorphins can keep you going!
6. Social Interaction
With everyone buried in technology these days, it’s nice to have a reason to get out and enjoy the real world with friends and family. Take a class, walk your dogs, play a sport or go for a jog with your workout partner. Having a network of friends also helps keep you on track.
7. Improves Mood.
Exercising outdoors can help ensure adequate production of vitamin D. This vitamin has been linked to cognitive function, and inadequate levels have been linked to mood swings. Catching a few rays while exercising may actually boost your mood.
8. Improves Digestion.
Exercise can relieve constipation and help those with digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and liver disease. It can also decrease the risk for colon cancer and ulcers. Stress is another contributor to digestive issues, which can be reduced with regular exercise.
9. Reduces Disease Risk.
Exercise can actually help prevent diseases like prevent Type 2 diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome and even some forms of cancer. Because exercise burns energy, it makes the body more efficient at using glucose and clearing it from the blood. If you already have diabetes or prediabetes, exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels. It’s just another benefit of taking a stroll after dinner!
10.Because it’s fun!
Physical activity doesn’t have to be all about strict fitness exercises to reduce blood pressure or lose weight. It can also be a time to catch up with friends, unwind or enjoy the outdoors. Go bushwalking, join a sports team or take a dance class. Physical activity will help you maintain a healthy, happy life.
13 April 2018
Welcome to first edition of the Collective blog.
I have to say that this blog has been a long time coming. For years I have had people encouraging me to start one (I finally did it Jac!) but it took a little while for me to get there.
For the first edition, I really wanted to start by explaining my “why” for the blog. As a local girl, I grew up with the same problems of stigma and poor access to services that so many of you reading this would also face. As teenagers, we all tend to dream of making a difference. For me this meant breaking down barriers in rural health care. And so my journey began.. I moved to “the big smoke” to study, before coming back to the land. Again, probably like most teenage dreams, my goals were harder to action than I imagined (probably like that dream of marrying Freddie Prince Jr). Never one to step back from a challenge, I have spent most of my adult life determinedly fighting for this dream (health care, not Freddie). After completing my internship under some wonderful mentors in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, I felt I could support more families, and had a better chance of bringing about change, venturing out on my own. This is where the Collective journey began. Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to have some equally passionate colleagues join the Collective team. Our goal continues to be about raising awareness, and bridging the gap to allied health services in Dubbo and the rest of the west.
I have to say, this is not an easy thing to achieve. Rural NSW is BIG. Thankfully my team are an incredibly passionate and inspired group of women. We are constantly brain storming ways to provide services in creative ways. Firstly, this was through our outreach clinics. More recently we launched our telehealth program. Now our blog finally comes to life. Our blog and social media platforms are wonderful ways for us to be able to connect with more people. They allow us to stay in touch, and provide support and education, whether you are reading along from your couch in Dubbo, or your coffee table in Collarenebri. We want you to know that we know you deserve support too, and we are listening.
I hope you will continue to follow along with myself and the rest of the Collective team each week, as we share information, updates, and stories of our adventures. We would also love to hear from you about your own experiences, and the ways we can better support you, so feel free to touch base with us across one of our platforms.
Thanks for following!
Ps. Pic is of course courtesy of the wonderful Clancy Job Photography.