Everyone Needs a Joy List

Everyone Needs a Joy List

The holiday season is approaching and it can be a hard time of year for some – perhaps facing the first holiday without someone special or going through a personally hard time with something in your life.  But even if all is going great right now, wherever you are at everyone needs what I call a Joy List.

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Make the Time You Have Together Count

Make the Time You Have Together Count

It never ceases to amaze me how busy people are these days.  Catch phrases like “time poor” have become part of our language. When you add it all up in a relationship where both partner’s work, or work and care for children, grandchildren or others and then add in all the other things you have to do to take care of yourself (like shower and sleep) or anything else, there really are very few hours left unallocated. 

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I don't need Valentine's Day to make it all about LOVE

I don't need Valentine's Day to make it all about LOVE

One of my favourite scientific advances in the last 20 years is the ability to take pictures of the brain and its circuitry in action and what this continues to teach us about how we are wired and therefore why we do what we do.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher is a leader in this area and has extensively studied what happens in the brain as it relates to love.  She has differentiated 3 types of love, that each have their own areas of the brain that light up.

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What's the big deal about conflict?

What's the big deal about conflict?

Conflict in any relationship between 2 different people is inevitable.  Listening to my teenage daughters this morning “negotiate” the use of the shared electric toothbrush as they both had minutes to get out the door for their ride to school, I could hear the frustration levels rise as they tried to come to an arrangement that worked for both of them.  These are the little things that couples are negotiating daily.

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Thinking about Nothing

a blue sky with white fluffy clouds I commuted to the city last week for a couple of days to attend a training course - a brilliant two days being taught by Dr John Arden, a world expert on neuropsychology - all about Brain Based Therapy - rewiring your brain.  Fascinating stuff and will be really helpful and add so much value to my work.  And he has really got me thinking - about nothing.

Watching the other commuters they were attached to phones, texting and catching up on social media, possibly reading or listening to music, an endless flow of information ready and available at the touch of a couple of buttons.  Our trains even provide wifi!

I know I am over 40 (old my teenagers say) and can remember a time the only phone I had was shared with my family and attached to the wall in the kitchen!!  Back in those days commuting was a time for daydreaming or getting lost in a good book.  Spacing out or thinking about seemingly nothing was facilitated by life.  And it turns out this is very good for us as it allows our Default Mode Network (DMN) in our brain to fire.

Our Default Mode Network is a pattern of brain activity which is involved in remembering events in our lives and is involved in imagining what others are thinking as well as our own emotional state.  Collectively this network is critical to our sense of self.  It is a place we go to make sense of our world and the source of creativity and insight. We spend about 30% of our waking hours in the DMN and our tendency to go there increases when we are bored - a state we seldom get to these days.

Of course what we do when we are in our DMN is important as negativity and obsessing are not helpful and malfunctions in the DMN are associated with various mental health issues including schizophrenia and depression.  But it could be the space where creativity abounds and dreams take shape and importantly how we make sense of our world and our role in it - a very important form of self care.

So if daily life does not naturally bring in the space for space out time perhaps we need to create it for ourselves - take some time to lie on the grass and watch the clouds with the phone on silent.  Have a go and see how much better you feel.

Catriona

What does Self Care Really Mean?

Self care fuel for the self
Self care fuel for the self

Taking the time to do something each and every day that is just for you. I don’t have time to do that I hear you say: I’m a mother of small children or I have a business to run or my schedule has no spare space. Well think about it this way - it is as optional as putting fuel in your car – you just cannot run without it. When we make things a priority (or not optional) we work out a way to make it happen. But I must confess I was really bad at this when my kids were small so I had to make some changes. The easiest way to make a change is to start small and basic and grow from there. If you also attach it to something you are already doing it can help as well. So I started shutting the bathroom door so I could shower in peace – a lovely 5 minutes of mindfulness right there. But I was the mother of young children and the morning would be a constant stream of: “mum where is this? Mum where is that? Mum I can’t find…” (and not always from the children!). At first they would stand outside the door and yell but I explained I can’t hear them and they would need to wait – they soon caught on and I had taken a 5 minute step to incorporate some more peace into my day. When I come out of the shower my head is clearer and I am ready to start the day. It doesn’t need to be complicated it just needs to happen and once you have mastered the small things you can start to add bigger things to your day. Write yourself a list of the top 10 things you consider nurturing to you. This is not something that you feel you should do, but something that is pleasurable, perhaps you look forward to it and want to do it eg for some going to the gym falls into the look forward to category for others it is a chore. Think about what it is for you. Once you have your list put it somewhere where you can see it and then you don’t need to think about it, you just pick one off the list: Today I will…

Boundaries in Relationships

Boundaries in Relationships

Boundaries protect the things we value like a fence around our house protects our home. When it comes to ourselves, in our relationships, boundaries protect our individuality, needs and sense of self from being absorbed, taken advantage of or ignored by the other in the relationship.

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