Podcasts

1. Resilience & PERMA

The Science of wellbeing has come a long way in the past 20 years or so. When psychologists studied ill health back before the 50’s they looked to the worse-case scenario and tried to work out a solution to a decline in individual wellbeing.

Read More
In more recent times though a new faction of psychologist (Dr Martin Seligman) possibly the best known for his PERMA framework, have looked to those who are well and resilient regardless of what life throws at them.

Scientific psychologists began to study why people could experience the same trauma, some bounceback and others left to languish throughout the rest of their life or worse still opt out of life. This is the science and reality of positive psychology. This is the educational work of UH Where There’s a Will in our schools in the Upper Hunter.

WTAW are taking the best of this psychology and through education, aiming to equip the next generation with the knowledge and tools they require to survive and may I say thrive regardless. We can all learn to have a cup half full; this is not a trait you are born with this is something you learn.

WTAW was established in August 2016, and is a registered not for profit charity in the Upper Hunter. WTAW’s vision is A mentally fit Upper Hunter community with a core value of wellbeing. We will achieve this via preventative education programs and community awareness. Whilst WTAW’s focus is on prevention and not treatment of ill mental health, we do recognise that treatment resources are sorely lacking and much needed in our community and throughout Australia. The system is not coping with demand, there is a national shortage of practitioners. The circuit breaker in addressing mental health is to tackle it with prevention, equipping people with the tools to ride the highs and lows that life can throw at us, and how to identify when things are not going well and be able to seek help.

wellbeing-model

The very word resilience in the world of wellbeing is largely misunderstood. A common misconception is that, in terms of wellbeing, when I am told to use my resilience, I have to remain tough, regardless. The actual meaning of the word resilience is

continuing to experience some positive emotions, engagement in daily life, healthy supportive relationships, a sense of meaning and a sense of accomplishment.

Over the coming weeks we are hoping to dig deep and revitalise our sense of resilience in its true meaning in our lives, which are busy, challenging, scary at times and often very sad. This week we are going to visit positive emotion.

POSITIVE EMOTION

We are funny creatures we humans. Our brains are wired to notice all the things that are wrong, rather than things that are right. This is our safety mechanism, and it is wired in our brains to keep us from harm.

This was very important as cave man for staying safe in a world of real life threatening dangers. This negative bias exists in our brains still even though we have no wild beasts to fend off daily.

Scientific research is suggesting that we need 5 positive events to balance just one negative event. This is because our brain clings to the negative event because negative emotion is painful, and we therefore naturally look out for to avoid pain.

ENGAGEMENT

Am I mindful, or is my mind already full?

Why is engagement so important to well-being and happiness, and what does it mean to engage? As it might appear on paper the action of engagement can appear to be simplistic. The truth is, we are often overwhelmed by the automatic assembly line of life and often the things we can “engage in” are the first things to get dumped from the line-up.

Perhaps you can relate to one or more of these statements:

I used to love to……..…but I don’t have time anymore”;

I remember loving to do that, I can’t remember why I stopped”;

“there just never seems to be enough time in the day for anything other than work”;

These are all statements that literally speak the voice of yearning to engage and reconnect to joys, to loves, to enjoyment and to passions.

We can improve our wellbeing, our relationships and our ability to succeed by learning to engage in the present and take time to enjoy our one life while completing our day to day commitments and pursuing our dreams for the future.

RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships are an important part of well-being. People who maintain strong positive relationships are generally happier in life. We are “social beings” who need to connect with one another

Having a network of social connections or high levels of social support has been shown to increase our immunity to infection, lower our risk of heart disease and reduce mental ill health.

Our connections with other people are at the heart of happiness – theirs and ours. Whether these connections are with our partners, families, friends, work colleagues, neighbours or people in our broader communities, they all contribute to our happiness. “Other people matter”.

Your thinking is heavily influenced by the 5 people and things you spend most time around. How you feel about yourself can be influenced by people, movies, videos. the tv programs you watch the music you listen to.

The messages you receive constantly from outside gets hardwired in your brain and becomes your belief.

We can’t always avoid people who bring us down or make us feel less but we can be aware and seek out people who are supportive and uplifting and make a big effort to spend more time with these.

MEANING

No one can tell you your meaning in life. We are all uniquely different have different feelings, strengths and gifts that create different visions for each and every one of us.

What makes you feel proud and good about yourself, what feels right and provides satisfaction. You may already know the answer to this, some people know who they are and what they want to do from an very early age, some of us fall upon it by accident and some of us need to think hard about what our interests are, what makes us feel good and pursue things that help us hone our skills until we find our niche in life.

Finding your meaning and pursuing your goals, the things you are good at and the things you love doing will provide challenges and setbacks but knowing yourself and what you want along with a dream and a plan, you stand a better chance of getting there.

Respecting yourself and your vision is as important as respecting others and their vision, meaning it is about being you.

ACCOMPLISHMENT

Although accomplishment is the last part of the PERMA model no one element is more important than another. Professor of psychology at Penn University, Angela Duckworth, has developed the concept of ‘grit’, perseverance to achieve goals over months or years. The ability to sustain perseverance also adds to the sense of achievement, something that can be savoured and recalled for motivation when facing a new challenge.

People who have goals which align with their values are more likely to achieve success.

People who have goals that target personal growth and connections with others reap a greater increase in wellbeing.

People with a pessimistic explanatory style (those who are more likely to say “I’ll never be able to do this, I’m bound to fail”) are less likely to persist with goals, believing that the cause of failure is persistent and personal to them.

+

Character strengths and health.

STRENGTHS

When you discover your greatest strengths, you will learn to use them to handle stress and life challenges, become happier, and develop relationships with those who matter most to you.

Knowing your strengths will assist you to develop a strong sense of self. Being aware of the strengths you do possess also gives you an opportunity to work on strengths you would like to display, those which may not come naturally but are equally attainable with practice.

HEALTH

Nutrition/sleep and physical activity and the role they play in maintaining wellbeing.

2. Improve your Wellbeing Using PERMA

Last week we discussed that resilience to maintain wellbeing doesn’t mean toughen up,  and that in fact resilience means seeking some positive emotion in our lives, engagement, healthy relationships. meaning and accomplishment. We also discussed the idea of two tanks of emotion resting within our brains – one tank for the negative emotion and the other for the positive emotions – our resilience tank we called it.

Read More

Last week we discussed that resilience to maintain wellbeing doesn’t mean toughen up,  and that in fact resilience means seeking some positive emotion in our lives, engagement, healthy relationships. meaning and accomplishment.

We also discussed the idea of two tanks of emotion resting within our brains – one tank for the negative emotion and the other for the positive emotions – our resilience tank we called it.

We chatted about how important it is to consciously and deliberately keep something flowing into that positive tank because sometimes when life gets stressful, traumatic, sad and tough the old negative tank can be filling quicker than we feel we can deal with.

Last week we covered the P – positive emotion the first of the 5 elements of wellbeing – this week we are going to look at engagement.

Engagement is being present. Being so involved in what you’re doing that you’re not thinking about the past or the future.   

The truth is, we often get so overwhelmed and sucked up by the automatic assembly line of life, that things we can “engage in” are the first things to get dumped from life’s line-up.

 See if you relate to one or more of these statements:

 “I used to love to…………..…..…but I don’t have time anymore”;

 “I loved going to……………….., I can’t remember why I stopped”;

“I’d love to……………………….. but really I shouldn’t take time out”

Some people are really good at taking time for themselves but some of us are stuck in a rut or have so much on our plate that we feel guilty if we take time to enjoy things we like.

People often ask what should I engage in but no one can tell you that

We all find enjoyment in different things, it may be playing an instrument, playing a sport, dancing, working on an interesting project at work, a hobby like fishing, leatherwork, sewing   you get the picture.

Some people are able to stay present through meditation but for most of us we require an activity that relaxes us naturally. We switch off because we are engrossed in what we’re doing.

Gardening is my engagement; I know I can always switch off my phone….. plug in my headphones for some music and garden for a few hours, I make sure I get time in my garden every week as a priority and I know this helps me both physically and mentally. It makes me a better person to be around because I have unwound and destressed.

When your engaged “time flies by” hours seem like minutes.

I can’t tell you what to engage in, you need to find it for yourself. But I can help you discover what it might be by teasing out some ideas.

  1. What do you love doing? What gives your pleasure?

Answer this question to prompt you 

I used to love ……..……………..but I don’t have time anymore”;

Now set a time and day in the future and organise a date with yourself to engage in this activity.  

Add a photo/picture/word to your fridge door that keeps it active in your thoughts/add the time and date to complete, contact all people necessary to complete the task if they’re needed and book them in.

For some past activities are in the past because physically they got to demanding and these people may have to get out and try a few things before they work out what it is. If that’s the case

  1. Write a bucket list for the next 12 months.

Add everything you would like to have a go at in order of interest. Make these things achievable, if you make it too hard you may set yourself up to fail.

 Do this for yourself – share with your family things you’d like to try. Ask for their support in this.

Write the following for each activity you wish to explore; you fill in the spaces: –

This is on my list because………………………………………………………………………..…….

To make this happen I need to………………………………………………………………………

What obstacles stand in my way; how do I move them………………………………………..

Add due by dates to each activity…………………………………………………………………

Now stick this on the fridge door as a reminder.

Right now, there are some great things on offer on the community, look at the community calendar take a look if there is something there that may be of interest.

Engage.

3. The R of PERMA – RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships be it partners/families/friends or community are at the very core of resiliency. Some say the most important element of PERMA.

We need to connect with one another. This is why solitary confinement is seen as one of the cruelest punishments. Our connections are at the heart of happiness.

Read More

Relationships be it partners/families/friends or community are at the very core of resiliency. Some say the most important element of PERMA.

We need to connect with one another.

This is why solitary confinement is seen as one of the cruellest punishments.

Our connections are at the heart of happiness.

This can be why people who seemingly have everything in life from where we sit, celebrity, popularity and riches, are often very depressed, their relationships and connections are not healthy.

People truly matter.

 It is important that the people we surround our self with are relationships that are healthy and supportive not negative and eroding.

The messages we receive constantly from others gets hardwired into our brain and becomes our belief about ourselves and – so these messages need to be constructive and honest.

This doesn’t mean hang around people who tell you everything you want to hear – this means hand around people you trust to have your best interests at heart.

So many farmers and shift workers are isolated both geographically and timewise from their family and friends – does this matter?

Geographic isolation, shift isolation and for anyone working constantly on their own, loneliness sometimes sadly for some is unavoidable. The constant isolation can allow the old negative tank to fill and this can affect our wellbeing, we must be on top of this, like most things if we are aware and understand we can address it.

Get up and turn that tap over to the positive tank by actively seeking good healthy relationships, it requires effort, I know but it’s the way to stay on top of the game.

We encourage people to actively understand the importance of connecting with others and the role it plays in our wellbeing,,,,, family and friends should also understand the power of connection and support where possible.

 If though you do surround yourself with others who care for you and you still feel lonely and isolated this may be a sign that your wellbeing is being tested – and you may need to talk to someone. Reach out.

Also, if you begin to notice that someone else seems isolated or withdrawn this also could be a sigh that they require support, they may need you to reach out.

 If relationships are seen as one of the most critical elements of resiliency how do we sure up and make our relationships as strong as they can be.

1, Acknowledging those you love and care for – even just to yourself, be grateful for them.

If you wish, write their names on paper and stick to the fridge, put up their photos as a reminder each day of what they mean to you and the joy they bring to your life.

 If you can let these people know you recognise them as having your back – and that you have theirs that’s even better.

Relationships are no different to crops – hold back the water and fertiliser – stunt the crop.

  1. Reflect on your relationships are they lifting you up or dragging you down, can you play a part in changing this, do you need to address this to improve how you feel about yourself.
  2. Make your contacts ,,,,,face to face where you can-ditch social media and phone if practical, Make it real, see their facial expression and share the joy of real connection

4.Commit to meeting new people –

This action boosts wellbeing – it can create positive emotion lead to engagement create new meaning and leave you with a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

  • Try joining a club, class or service group that meets regularly, this is a great way to meet a diverse group of people.

4. The M of PERMA – MEANING

Pip touched on meaning and purpose last week when talking about maintaining and boosting our wellbeing. Meaning is recognised in both MHFA for intervention and PERMA as a powerful preventative tool for resilience.

Having a bigger purpose in life helps us to focus on what is really important when we are faced with significant challenge or adversity in our life.

Read More

Pip touched on meaning and purpose last week when talking about maintaining and boosting our wellbeing. Meaning is recognised in both MHFA for intervention and PERMA as a powerful preventative tool for resilience.

Having a bigger purpose in life helps us to focus on what is really important when we are faced with significant challenge or adversity in our life.

No one can tell us our meaning in life. We are all different, have different feelings, strengths and gifts that create different visions for us all of us.

What makes you feel proud and good about yourself, what feels right and provides satisfaction?

  • Giving everyday mundane tasks your full attention and best effort regardless of whether you enjoy the task or not can create a sense of deep meaning and accomplishment – if it has to be done, do it well and create a sense of meaning.
  • For some meaning comes from a sense of belonging – connection – family, team, community, all of these can create a sense of meaning in our life. We should reflect on this gift of meaning and be aware and grateful for belonging.
  • Meaning and gratitude are powerful for maintaining and building our wellbeing.
  • Purposeful pursuits that are freely chosen – doing something for someone else – giving a hand up –giving to a worthy cause – building community -faithfully following a sports team through ups and downs – giving back – being part of a bigger picture.
  • When we join in with others, we can create a sense of meaning but also a sense of belonging in a community.
  • Taking time for your family watching them grow and thrive
  • Footy club president giving back -sense of accomplishment and meaning.
  • How encouraging friendships between a grade and U 16’s is encouraging meaning for the club and players – creating a sense of family – not just a football team but mates who care for one another on and off the field.
  • In building a culture of connection the club is trying to build wellbeing. This work is giving you a sense of pride and meaning as well.

Meaningful pursuits can build your wellbeing.

HEALTH
Nutrition/sleep and physical activity the role they play in maintaining wellbeing for shift work.

5. Accomplishment – The fifth element of PERMA

Having a sense of accomplishment means that we have worked towards and reached goals and had the self-motivation to complete what we set out to do.

Accomplishment contributes greatly to our wellbeing – it boosts our self  confidence and self esteem  two very essential ingredients for leading thriving lives.

Grit’ and ‘perseverance are the pathway to accomplishment.

Read More

Having a sense of accomplishment means that we have worked towards and reached goals and had the self-motivation to complete what we set out to do.

Accomplishment contributes greatly to our wellbeing – it boosts our self  confidence and self esteem  two very essential ingredients for leading thriving lives.

Grit’ and ‘perseverance are the pathway to accomplishment.

A win without challenge and setbacks is far less satisfying  and has less to offer our personal growth than something we really need to fight towards. This is accomplishment at its Mt Everest.

When we persevere we challenge our thoughts and actions and it is scientifically proven that we  actually grow  new brain neurons and pathways when we face challenges and accomplish what we set out to do.

If a task comes naturally and we don’t strive to get better and better at it our brain stops learning.  This is why a child with academic grit and perseverance can pass a child with IQ alone.

The harder the task the more grit required to make it to the end the greater the personal growth.

Perseverance is actually a character strengths, it comes naturally to some but it is a trait we all can  learn or re learn with practise.

Mindtraps
Have you ever experienced the trick mirrors at the sideshows – ones that elongate and distort your body?

Sometimes when we experience a run of set-backs and failures, we can begin to see ourselves and life through a warped mirror  like at the side show, everything gets distorted and  impossible to fix – our self esteem can take a battering we see others successes and only our failures.

Unless you are competitive and get motivated by comparing yourself with others, it is unhelpful and harmful.

Looking at others to see how they achieve what they do and practise the skill is ok – but don’t compare yourself; our gifts and talents opportunities and chances are all different.  Remember the secret to achievement is not always talent or IQ  – the secret is GRIT and perseverance. 

Focusing only on our failures is another mind trap that we all fall into sometimes.

We always seem to focus on what we didn’t get done, things we didn’t succeed in.

 Remember from week 1 the negative bias trap – the tendency for our brain to hold onto all things negative leaving no space or time to celebrate everything great.

 We can actually forget all the things we have accomplished in a day – in a week –or in a lifetime and only focus on our losses, failures missed opportunities.  

Just like all emotions are important for our wellbeing, don’t hide from them, – its hard to accept but success and failure are equally important to our personal growth.

ACTIONS to try this week for wellbeing

  1. Persevere 10 mins longer on a task today – tomorrow – a task you just want to give up on.  Each time you stay longer , fight the urge to give in imagine the new bridge to success you are constructing in your brain.

  2. Draw a bucket on a piece of paper –don’t fill it with things you want to accomplish – fill the bucket with every single thing you have accomplished in your lifetime.  Don’t hold back – every time you think of another accomplishment go back and add it.  If you get stuck ask others to help, don’t let the negatives hold you back. Most of us tend to be humble and there is no room for humility here.
  3. Have diary or writing pad by your bed – Each night before sleep write down everything you accomplished today –  your brain  wants you to focus on what you didn’t get done, your brain wants to focus on the negative – turn the tap to the positive tank.  Sleep with your accomplishments not your failures –  the jobs will still be there tomorrow and you will face them with a rested fighters attitude.  And for the heck of it write 3 things on the list that were great about today –  things that you are grateful for – train your brain/  flex that brain muscle,  build the bridge to wellbeing.

6. A conversation with Kirsty Hails – Recognising Strengths