In this NAIDOC Week I am taking inspiration from Indigenous Healers and their Healing Practices by unpacking some of the key features from the social and emotional wellbeing practices of First Nations people. Some of these features are familiar to me through a white lens. Others are not. Either way, I am aware that my lens is likely to miss important elements. However, being aware of the need to clarify these may help me to best support First Nations clients.
We have all heard of the 'fight / flight / freeze' responses, but there are many other complex systems at play when we become stressed. In this blog, we will take a look at the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal systems, otherwise known as the HPA axis, to understand how and why dysregulation of this axis can compromise our immune system, and lead to inflammation and a downward spiral in our mental, hormonal and physical health.
In their wonderfully accessible book, 'Burnout: solve your stress cycle', sisters Emily and Amelia Nagoski take us on a delightful romp through all things related to stress, burnout and 'solving your stress cycle' - quite a feat given the subject matter! The key messages this book are really helpful in understanding how we can best support ourselves, manage stress and work through the emotional exhaustion that is so huge for many right now. So what are the four key factors in managing our stress response?
'Stress' has become a ubiquitous concept and term, bandied about with (ironically) careless abandon: 'I'm so stressed'; 'He really stressed me out'; 'I've got to stop being so stressed'. We talk about stress all the time, but what exactly is stress? What are the differences between acute stress and chronic stress? And why does it matter?
Being a cloud-lover has brought me great joy, moments of contemplation, imagination, connection, wonder and playfulness. And it turns out that having an ability to connect with ourselves and the world around us in these ways is very important for our capacity to shape our nervous system towards health and wellbeing. Most of us are familiar with 'triggers' but do you know about building awareness of and connecting to a sense of the goodness within and around you through 'glimmers'? Join me in this exploration of glimmers through clouds.
Finger paints and worker wellbeing?! There is now so much more recognition of vicarious trauma, moral injury, empathic strain, burnout and other vicarious risks of helping work. But many do not know that there are also protective factors that help to mitigate these risks, and bring us strength, hope, inspiration and joy. Understanding of these concepts and connection to our felt experience is crucial for a healthy and sustainable career.
When we are burnt out it is hard to take the steps we need to begin to recover. In this blog you will find short summaries and links to podcasts on burnout. There is a range of information here from different professions, including doctors, naturopaths, psychologists and therapists. Understand the stress response cycle, hear personal stories from those who have experienced burnout in relation to work and home, hear why listening to your body is important and even what we can learn from dancing to our own rhythm!
It is well documented that recovery from post-traumatic stress requires a multi-modal, body-based approach. Guided imagery and music GIM) is a creative, internal and experiential approach to therapy that enables participants to access aspects of experience and memory that are beyond conscious awareness and talking. With its origins in depth psychotherapy, a growing research base and its close associations with other internal and experiential therapies such as Internal Family Systems Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) and psychedelic therapy, GIM has much to offer.
You may have heard that using nonspeaking approaches - essentially anything other than talking, such as movement, gesture, body posture, creating art, music or craft, listening to music, tactile or sensory experiences, working with the breath, touch or play - offer a number of benefits in counselling or supporting others. Here, we explore eight ways that alternatives to talking may support your ability to connect with children and adults, enhance your therapeutic practice, and help your clients, students or patients to find other ways to feel safe and understand their experience.
Polyvagal theory helps us to understand that we can be creative and and precise in our self supports. We have a whole smorgasbord of ways in which we can connect in, connect with others and connect with the world around us. We already know this, but in our busy-ness, we can forget. This is your invitation to look through and choose your own adventure of nervous system supports. Have a look at this infographic with a sense curiosity and of exploration. How might you bring yourself into greater connection with your world today?
Nonspeaking approaches in counselling or supporting others can move us beyond the thinking, talking, logical world of the cortex, and into the subcortical realm of implicit experience, feelings, movement and the senses: into the unconscious experience that informs 80% of our existence. How can we find ways to connect with these parts of ourselves? What are the benefits of doing so? This blog explores these questions and why approaches beyond words are an essential part of any health or education professional's toolkit.
Netflix's award winning TV show 'Stranger Things' highlights the power of music to calm, connect loved ones, reconnect with ourselves, forge new identities, distract monsters, and even save lives. But how much of this is true? What powers does music really have? What does science tell us about the power of music? And how does music help the characters in 'Stranger Things'? Buckle in to hear what we know about the power of music from an Australian Registered Music Therapist's perspective.
Given the outward focus on the individual, it is ironic that many of us in this Western culture struggle to truly care for, and nurture ourselves with kindness. Regardless of the types of mothering experiences we have had, at some point we all need to find ways to nurture our inner child. See below for an infographic that summarises one approach to self-mothering in three simple steps.
In these uncertain times, it is easy to get caught up in the heavy waves of helplessness that come with a world facing a pandemic, war, climate change and the ensuing tsunami of mental ill-health. Connecting with presence and hope through music, imagery and poetry can help us to open to a sense of possibility and connection with ourselves, others and the world around us.
The first four blogs in this five-part series have illuminated the significant challenges faced by workers in helping roles in Australia, and the need for change if we are going to sustain a stable and healthy workforce in healthcare and education. The statistics are dire, but there is a way forward. This blog explores how we can nurture hope in healthcare and education through presence and connection.
From the first three parts of 'The Helping Professionals Interview Series' we've heard that teachers and health professionals struggle to reach out for support and care for themselves. Why is this? In this penultimate blog in the series, we hear through the voices of participants that the answer is tied up in societal messages that begin in childhood, and continue on through professional training and within workplace cultures.
Through November – December in late 2021, I met with seventeen helping professionals from the following areas: nursing, teaching, music therapy, pharmacy, counselling, child and family therapy, social work and service management to discuss how they seek help or look after themselves when they are struggling. This infographic summarises key findings.
Towards the end of last year, I met with a number of health and education professionals in an informal process to discuss how they manage their own wellbeing. We discussed what gets in the way of them maintaining their own self-care, and finding external help. Part one of this five-part blog series shares the key blockages to seeking support as experienced by these helping professionals.
This time of the year can be difficult at the best of times: the pressure to get things finished, have fun, be social and make merry; family gatherings; multiple social events; late nights and rich food. Additionally, this year’s festive season follows two years of lockdowns, restrictions, negotiating who has/hasn't been vaccinated, ongoing uncertainty, and for many, financial hardship. See below for how the ‘8 C’s’ of Internal Family Systems therapy can guide what you might need to create space and support for yourself.
Well before COVID reared its ugly head, the World Health Organisation predicted a global mental health crisis. With a return to lockdowns and uncertainty everywhere, it's more important than ever to find different ways to support ourselves at home, at work or working from home - wherever you fit now, or when it changes again. See below for some tips on managing the “new normal” of lockdown and uncertainty.
Polyvagal theory describes how our nervous system works hard to help us to connect with others, to keep us safe, and to protect us against threat. Many are familiar with terms such as fight, flight and freeze. However this is only part of the picture. This article unpacks three organising principles of polyvagal theory that help to make it accessible, understandable and easy to translate into daily life.