Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Remember To Breathe

It may sound completely obvious - ‘remember to breathe’ - but the fast pace of modern living means that often the first thing to suffer is the depth and quality of our breathing. 

And so much depends on it.

Breathe deeply right now and notice how you feel.

A common experience of day-to-day living for many women I know is one of overwhelm, anxiety, difficulty focusing, concentrating, being forgetful, difficulty being efficient and productive, racing from one task, activity and demand to the next.

Any wonder we’re shallow breathing!

So, how do we change this? To change anything in our lives, the first step is bringing awareness to what we’re doing.

Try it now, bring your awareness to your breath, sit up straight, relax your shoulders, put your hands gently on your belly and breathe deeply.

How good does that feel?

Benefits of Deep Breathing

The benefits of breathing deeply make for a long list and improve your physical, mental AND emotional health.

Practising deep breathing has been known to:

- improve digestion
- quality of sleep
- relieve anxiety
- increase mental clarity
- reduce symptoms of chronic pain

You can read in more detail here and here.

Make Deep Breathing A Daily Habit

One of the best ways to start and end the day is by taking a few deep breaths.

An easy and effective breathing exercise I learnt years ago is to gently close your eyes sitting in a relaxed position and take 24 focused breaths, one for each hour of the day.

Some people like to set a timer on their phone to remind them to drink a glass of water, you can do that with deep breathing too.

Anytime throughout the day if you are feeling stressed, low on patience or tired taking some deep breaths really does work!

Try it for yourself and let me know how you feel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Just A Few Drinks

'Hi, Sobriety: Our Changing Relationship with Alcohol' was the title of a feature article in the Good Weekend liftout in The Age newspaper here on the weekend.

The article included personal stories of "grey-area drinkers", people who aren't fully fledged alcoholics rather they're drinkers who don't like their relationship with booze and what it's doing to their body, mind and lives.

I've never been a heavy drinker but genetically speaking I probably should be.

I grew up in a family who like a wine or beer or 10, so drinking daily and drinking heavily on the weekend was a normal way to live.

I've worked in the hospitality industry on and off for over twenty years and woven into that a decade in food media. There's plenty to drink in those worlds and the lines between healthy and problematic drinking are very blurry.

It was great to see the article in The Age raising the profile of this all too common problem, a problem that I think is the elephant in Australia's living room.

The expectation to drink in Australia feels so embedded that to not drink is viewed by some as downright unAustralian. According to the article that tide of expectation is turning and sobriety is becoming the new black but in my immediate world there is still plenty of evidence of booze causing problems in people's lives.

I'm in my mid forties, with a number of women friends for whom wine has become something they wish they could moderate or give up but on which they rely to 'de-stress' only to find it ends in a hangover, anxiety and sometimes a drunken argument thrown in.

And what scares me is I know first hand from witnessing friends and family battle the harder realities of problem drinking - the accidents, the rock-bottom, rehab, recovery and sadly people dying - that these things can and do happen all too easily.

If you're concerned - even in the slightest - about your relationship with alcohol don't ignore that quiet niggling feeling or that loud voice that yells inside your head and heart.

Listen to your thoughts and feelings, write them down, talk to a friend, talk to a counsellor,
your GP, or check out online resources such as Hello Sunday Morning that features a tailored program to support people to change their relationship with alcohol.

And if you're watching someone you love battle with booze, it's a big step to talk to them about it but for some it can be a turning point. For others your words of concern will fall on deaf ears and that's hard but if you don't try you'll never know and you don't want to be left wishing you'd said something. Believe me.

If you are going to say something, choose your moment well. Choose a time free of interruption and a time when your loved one is sober. Also choose your words well. This conversation is not about shaming or blaming, the person you love will be doing a very good job internally of that. The words can go along the lines of this, "I've been wanting to talk to you about something, it might be a hard thing to talk about but I'm concerned about you and just want to check in and see if you're ok. I'm concerned about the amount you're drinking, how are you feeling about it?"

The aim of the conversation is to show you care and to provide an opportunity for an open, honest discussion. Your friend or family may not be at all ready or interested in having the conversation and there are risks involved - your friend or family member may become angry and not want to talk to you for a while - but talking is the place to start moving us towards an Australia where drinking isn't expected, where we rethink our collective attitude to alcohol. And where people are actually happier and healthier for it.

*disclaimer I'm not an expert in counselling and every situation will be different if you are concerned about your own drinking habits or that of a loved one seek professional advice, if you have a good local doctor they can be a good starting point. And if they're not, don't give up, keep trying until you find someone you like who is helpful.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Start Where You Are

photo credit: Peter McConchie

And just like that I'm back.

I've had a great break from blogging but the truth is I've missed it.

I've missed the rhythm and flow of writing too. I call myself a writer but I haven't really been writing!

I'm hoping to get into a steady rhythm of writing and posting here.

I still haven't written that book - finished that book. But I'm not being hard on myself I've had a lot of other things going on and I just haven't prioritised finishing the book.

And of course I've had a new idea for a different book. That's how the brain and creativity works isn't it? It is a constant process of managing our distractions, prioritising and then working to stay focused.

In other news we've been pondering a bit of a treechange / seachange. We already live by the sea but we're considering making a move to a quieter part of Victoria.

The Mornington Peninsula where we live now has become a popular place for people tired of city living to relocate to, which is what we did thirteen years ago. I still love lots about the Peninsula but the Waratah Bay / Fish Creek /Foster area near Wilson's Promontory has captured our hearts and has us intrigued as to what country life is like.

River will start high school next year and Sol will be going into grade 4. So, the plan is to start the school year in the new location which feels risky and inspiring all at once.

Sol and River are happy here, it is more Pete who has the itchy feet and would like to raise the boys in a place that facilitates a closer connection with nature.

Have you ever made a big move? How did it go? If you already live in the country, what's your experience of country life?

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