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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Summer 2023

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Recognising our Difference Makers | Let your voice be heard for a better NDIS | Stationary riders cycle to glory | Upgraded gym opens up options


COUNSELLING RIDING THE WAVE OF EMOTION The mind-body connection is Research has shown that emotional repression has been linked with a familiar concept to all of us. decreased immune function (Patel & Patel 2019). Unexpressed emotion When we are anxious, we can can leave you feeling exhausted and result in a low mood. ‘feel it in our gut’, when angry we may become ‘hot-headed’, when stressed we may ‘carry the weight of the world on our shoulders’. Therefore, the work of releasing emotions is an important one that contributes to a strong immune system and improves our energy levels. Physical exercise can help with managing and processing our emotions, but what if this is not possible because of disability? Or is more difficult in NOTHING CHANGES IF NOTHING CHANGES “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts” Arnold Bennett We are well into 2023 now and, like most people, you might have been thinking about resolutions for change. Maybe you have been stuck in the same routine for some time, or maybe you want to improve your life in some way. More often than not, it can be easier to continue with the status quo and do nothing. Perhaps just the thought of change is too scary and causes an uneasy feeling. How can you get past the barriers and discomfort to take steps towards positive change? * In her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers talks about how to overcome fear to move forward in your life. Think back to the changes in your life–changing careers, ending a relationship, returning to school, health issues or moving home. After such a change it can be difficult for a while until you arrive at a new normal. The next time you face a change, big or small, the uneasiness may return. There may be resistance, denial, distractions, procrastination or even fear.* The problem with doing nothing is that if nothing changes, nothing changes. Yes, you may be more comfortable being in the same story, but is this where you want to be? Most likely, if you feel stuck or unhappy, it is a sign that you do need a change. We can’t always avoid the discomfort of change, but we can learn how to navigate it. While each change journey is different, there are general steps that can help us on the way: / Know yourself – be honest about what you need and want. / Evaluate your goals – start with goals that are easy and attainable. / Find support – look for people who can help; family, friends or professional. / Take action – real change comes from doing, not just planning. / Allow and assess – see what is happening, is this working for you? / Revise – if it’s not working, make adjustments then start again. Any change that we attempt to make in life is going to be a process. We often have no choice about the changes we experience, but conscious change can be an opportunity to make us feel good about ourselves, as well as being an important part of our growth journey. If you need support to make strides towards positive change, get in touch with our Counselling Team on 9365 4811. ALYSON YEARSLEY MSWA COUNSELLOR JANICE PETROVIC MSWA COUNSELLOR ACKNOWLEDGING Emotions have been described as like “animals hiding in the woods” (Sunim, 2002). We may have grown up in a family where emotions were not validated. Many of us learnt to ‘soldier on’, so our natural tendency is to push feelings down or distract ourselves from them. Many addictive behaviours including workaholism are ways of distancing ourselves from difficult emotions. CREATIVE ARTS Writing and Art/Music therapy are also helpful in recognising and expressing emotions in a more organic way. COMMUNICATING Communicating how we feel and what we need to those that matter to us – this can be an important step in the process of releasing difficult feelings. the summer months due to heat intolerance? Physiotherapy, massage and bodywork such as yoga are highly recommended, however we have rounded up some other ways of releasing emotion that can be helpful. These techniques are supported by brain science research. NAMING & TAMING (Siegel, 2012) Once we recognise the emotion it is important to name it. A simple phrase, said softly, can help release emotions – ‘I feel angry’, ‘I am hurt’. “When you experience significant internal tension and anxiety, you can reduce stress by up to 50 per cent by simply noticing and naming your state” (Ablett, 2019). SELF-COMPASSION Self-Compassion is another mindfulness strategy that can help us befriend and embrace a difficult emotion, somewhat like a mother would nurture a baby (Sunim, 2018; Thich Nhat Hanh, 2002). Even if a mother doesn’t know why the child is crying, her kind attention already makes it feel better. With kindness, we can practise a similar nurturing attention towards ourselves. MINDFULNESS Mindfulness techniques increase our ability to stay present and feel anchored (particularly using our breath and senses) so we can recognise and stay with a difficult feeling. Emotions can be described as having the quality of a ‘wave’, and it has been suggested that when we are able to stay in the ‘wave of an emotion’ with presence, it will last for 90 seconds (Taylor, 2008). However, if we keep pushing it away, it continues to call at our attention in different ways – unfortunately sometimes through physical symptoms. References: Taylor, Dr. Jill B (2008), My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. Ablett, Mitch (2019), Tame Reactive Emotions by Naming Them. Siegel, Daniel J (2012), Mindsight : Change your brain and your life. Sunim, Haemin (2018), The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. Thich Nhat Hanh (2002), Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. 20 21