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Perth Weekend Guide

We’ve found some fantastic fun and engaging things for the kids to do in Perth year-round, all you have to do is choose where to go first!

KEEP THEM ACTIVE

Are your kids bubbling with energy? These activities are sure to keep them entertained all day.

Zone Bowling Joondalup

Looking for a place with it all? With bowling, laser tag, an arcade and yummy food, Zone Bowling will keep them busy for hours. Visit: https://www.zonebowling.com/venues/wa/zone-bowling-joondalup

 

LatitudeAir Joondalup

Take the kids to LatitudeAir Joondalup to climb, bounce and fly. With over 3,000sqm of aerial entertainment, including trampolines and climbing walls, get the kids ready for a day packed full of activity. For more information, head to their website: https://latitudeair.com/?_ga=2.60282477.1790865332.1605578656-66651972.1605578656

The Climb Zone

At Kerem Adventure Park, the Climb Zone is a fun adventure packed experience – with high ropes, low ropes and rock climbing in a safe and fun family environment. Go to: https://www.theclimbzone.com.au

Adventure World

A favourite for the whole family, Adventure World is now open with awesome rides for everyone. If you’re a thrill-seeker, check out the big scary Abyss or the Kraken. Or if you’re looking for something a bit tamer, go see the Hawaiian resort-themed Kahuna Falls. There’s even something for the little ones in the Dragons Kingdom. Visit: https://adventureworld.net.au

Island Aqua Park

Located in Hillarys, this floating aqua park features climbing walls and slides, and is suitable for children 6 years and over. Just make sure to book 48 hours in advance. Go to: https://islandaquapark.com.au

Trees Adventure

Just one hour out of Perth, this action-packed treetop and zipline adventure is suitable for kids 4 years and older, and offers a great range of courses and challenges for the whole family to enjoy. Hopefully you’re not afraid of heights! Go to: https://treesadventure.com.au/park/lane-poole-park/

Bibra Lake Regional Playground

This playground has something for children of all ages, with everything from water squirting bulrushes to educational giant rocks telling local Nyungar stories. Located near Bibra Lake on Progress Drive, this playground has plenty of activities including a double flying fox, rope obstacle courses and climbing frames, and plenty of shade, so you can even bring a picnic. For more visit: https://www.cockburn.wa.gov.au/Recreation-and-Attractions/Parks-and-Playgrounds/Bibra-Lake-Regional-Playground

VR-Arrival

For the older kids, this fun and new Virtual Reality experience is suitable for children 11 years and older. Much more than just gaming, VR-ARRIVAL delivers extraordinary experiences, transporting you, your friends and family into immersive virtual worlds. Boasting the best in professional VR headset (HTC Vive Pro) and room-scale motion-tracking technology, VR-ARRIVAL lets you experience virtual reality at its very best, with unmatched immersion and realism. Walk freely inside virtual worlds and literally step INTO the experience. Visit: vr-arrival.com.au 

LEARN WHILE YOU PLAY

Keep them learning and growing on the weekends, by making their time off fun but educational.

AQWA

A family favourite located on Hillarys Boat Harbour, the Aquarium of Western Australia is the place to see and learn all about the underwater creatures of our coast as you go on a journey to learn and gain respect for our sea life. There is plenty to see and do, including diving or snorkelling with the sharks. For more info, go to: https://www.aqwa.com.au/

Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison has some fantastic experiences such as an Escape Tour, for children aged 5-12; and their making a mark art workshop! With tours for children aged 8-12, the prison is an excellent and exciting place to learn while you play, getting a glimpse into the life of a prisoner at Fremantle prison.  https://fremantleprison.com.au/visit-us/

Boola Bardip Museum

Located in the heart of Perth, the new and improved Perth Museum has finally reopened its doors and has a multitude of fun programs and activities to get up to. From their “Blast off! Stop Motion Animation” program about meteorites and our solar system, to their “Virtual Vortals program” about virtual reality and interactive digital adventures, plus many more. See: https://visit.museum.wa.gov.au/boolabardip/tours-programs-events

WA Maritime Museum

This weekend, head on down to the Maritime Museum in Fremantle to learn all about the fascinating world of the Vikings, with activities such as a Vikings themed game show, a choose-your-own-adventure story, or just relax and enjoy a fun-filled adventure of sailing, raiding and exploring. Go to: http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime

 

Gravity Discovery Centre and Observatory

Located only an hour north of Perth, become a rocket scientist for a day with their rocket making activities, and on Thursdays get the chance to become a space explorer with their school holiday program. Visit: Gravity Discovery Centre

SEE THE WILDLIFE

Are you an animal-loving family? There’s plenty of activities to get out and see some furry (or not so furry) friends.

Perth Zoo

A family favourite for wildlife is the Perth Zoo. There is plenty to do, from kids and youth programs to watching live streams of the animals and Zoocoustics where you can see some of the best emerging Australian musicians with your loved ones. Set in the lush gardens of the Zoo, these unique live acoustic music sessions will have hearts fluttering. There will be food trucks for those looking for a bite to eat, or pack a picnic and bring your own food with responsible BYO drinks. General tickets are $30. Perth Zoo members receive a discounted ticket price of $25 (A valid Perth Zoo membership card must be present upon entry).  For more information check out the website:  https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/programs

Caversham Wildlife Park

Located inside of Whiteman Park, get the chance to meet a wombat, feed a kangaroo, meet the koalas or feed some penguins. Visit: https://www.cavershamwildlife.com.au/daily-attractions/

Yanchep National Park

Have a little explorer on your hands? There are more than 400 caves reported at Yanchep Park, each offering contrasting experiences. Not only this but there are koalas to visit, kangaroos to see, golf to play and the opportunity tolearn about the rich culture and history of the Noongar people of Australia’s South West. For more, go to: https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/yanchep

Cohunu Koala Park

Have a chat with over 30 talking parrots, see dingoes, kangaroos, emus, deer and koalas, just to name a few of the animals that live at this park. Take a ride on the Cohunu Park Railway for $4, it zig-zags its way throughout the park most weekends & public holidays (subject to weather conditions). Visit: http://cohunu.com.au/pioneer-steam-museum/

 

Penguin Island

Just a five-minute ferry ride away, the beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters is an island known for its wildlife. Join them for a cruise to see some dolphins, rare Australian sea lions, as well as the world’s smallest penguins. Plus the chance to swim, snorkel, picnic and explore, Penguin Island is a dream for animal lovers. Go to: https://www.penguinisland.com.au/#welcome-1

Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm

Are cuddly farmyard animals more your style? With entry including free tractor/train rides, a free merry go round ride, free bottle and bucket feeding, and free tea and coffee for the grown-ups, this is a lovely day out for the family. Visit: https://www.cuddlyanimalfarm.com.au

Toodyay Fairy-Tale Farm

Located in the Avon Valley town of Toodyay, this family built and owned farm has a range of indoor and outdoor displays of all your favourite nursery rhymes and fairy tales, friendly farm animals for the kiddies to interact with, and even a vintage toy museum. Go to: https://www.fairytalefarm.com.au

Creative and Cheap Ideas to Keep the Children Entertained at Home 

 

 

With school back in session, you may have run out of ideas to do with your kids, and due to last year,  maybe on a strict budget.
Well, here is a list of fun, creative, and fantastic ideas that are cheap, can be done in the comfort of your own home, that is sure to entertain the whole family!

Have an indoor picnic:

This is perfect for those scorching hot days when you don’t want to leave air-conditioned comfort or for those days when it is pouring outside. To make this activity a bit more unique, why not come up with a small menu that the kids can help out with.

Make a Fort:
Forts can be made out of just about everything, but if you want to get real creative try using cardboard boxes. The kids could draw on the of the cardboard boxes to replicate a castle or a garden.

Have a movie night:
Put sleeping bags in front of the television and cook microwave popcorn and hot chocolate. You can put on a marathon of movies like those from Disney or Christmas movies that the whole family will love.

Make your own Playdoh:
Making your own playdoh is always a great option as some store-bought play-doh may have toxic ingredients if accidentally eaten.  However, this particular recipe is safe and nontoxic!

Ingredients:

2 cups of flour.
½ cup of salt.
2 tablespoon of cream of tartar.
1 ¼ cup of boiling water.
1 ½ tablespoon of canola oil.
Sandwich bags.
Food colouring.

Directions:

Step 1:
In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
Then, add the oil and boiling water to the mix.
Step 2:
With a spoon mix all of the ingredients in a bowl.
Once mixed thoroughly, and the mixture is warm (not hot), mix by hand.
Roll the playdough a few times on a flat surface using both hands (like pizza or bread though), until thoroughly mixed and soft.
Step 3:
Divide the playdough into 4 equal parts.
Press an indentation in the centre of each piece.
Step 4:
Place a few drops of food colouring in the indentations you made on each dough batch.
One by one, roll each playdough batch until the colour is thoroughly mixed into the playdough.

Scavenger Hunt:
Scavenger Hunts are an excellent and creative idea to entertain the kids at home. You can hide a few toys in the sandpit and send your kids on a hunt to find them. You could even go around the house and put together a list of items that are around the house and send the kids to find them. This is definitely a great indoor and outdoor activity, depending on the weather.

Build Something:
Building with blocks and Legos sparks the children’s imagination as well as their motor skills. You and the kids can come up with something to build, and you can have a competition trying to develop that idea.  A little healthy competition never hurt anyone.

Video Game Competition:
Have a competition with your child on their gaming console (Wii, Nintendo etc.). You can split the family into teams (girls vs boys; parents vs kids). This helps the children know what healthy competition is and how to deal with their emotions if they lose.

Play Dress Up:
Kids love to dress up as their favourited character, favourited princess, and even their parents. Maybe pick an outfit out of your closet and dress them up as if you were going to work. It will be fun for them and a cute picture for saving.

Dance Party:
Put on some of your child’s favourited music and dance with them. You can teach them dance moves that you learned from your parents. This can be anywhere from the waltz to the electric slide.

Learn to Juggle:
Try to learn how to juggle together. It will be fun to learn a new skill together and maybe a hobby you two can continue to learn and practice.

Paper Airplane Competition:
Make paper aeroplanes and see who has the one that can fly the furthest. There are many different plane design to follow, and you can test which one is the best option.

Create a Puppet Show:
Creating a puppet show will let the kids come up with the design of the puppets as well as the storyline of the puppet show. This can also include what the set, lighting, and script will be.

Backyard Picnic:
Pack up a healthy lunch or leftover. Grab a blanket and some pillows and set up a spot in the yard. While eating, you can set up an outdoor movie viewing of your favourite family film, or you can bring out books and read a chapter out loud to the whole family.

 

Bord Box Ideas:


Get the kids to decorate an empty tissue box. Write on pieces of paper various activities. This could include everything from playing a board game, reading a book, Skyping or calling a friend or watching a movie, to a chore like cleaning their room or washing the car. This tissue box then becomes the ‘I’m bored box’. If the kids say they don’t have anything to do, get them to choose a piece of paper from the box with a suggestion that they have to complete.



Educational:

Crash Course Kids

Crash Course Kids is a bi-weekly show educational Youtube from the producers of Crash courses all about grade school science, so if you have a science excited kid then this is sure to interest them.

 

Adventure Academy

This is a website is virtual games that incorporate learning into the. The kids can have fun but are mentally stimulated at the same time.

 



Virtual field trips for kids that like to learn:

Virtual field trips are fun and educational, and now you have the option to go places while in the comfort of your own home.

Google Arts and Culture Program:

This is an online program through Google that allows users to view images and videos of artworks and cultural artefacts from different museums from around the world.

Great Barrier Reef:

Now that Google has launched Google Street View, you can take a virtual dive of different Great Barrier Reef Dive Sites.

International Space Station:

This involves a live stream of the International Space Station that shows crews on duty, Earth views available from space and even audio conversations between the crew and mission control.


Arts and Craft:

Sensory activities differ from other types of play as the emphasis on the senses amplifies the activity. Sensory play is any activity that activates one or multiple senses, and all kinds of play have the potential to become a sensory activity.

Edible Fish Small World Sensory Play:

Materials:

Two Blue Jelly packages.

Colourful and edible fish.

Jumbo tweezers or any other fine motor tool.

Container.

Directions:

Follow the directions on the back of the jelly box.

Once the jelly is set, cut the jelly into cubes but leave it relatively untouched so the children can squish it up and create their own ocean all themselves. This is an excellent way to work in more fine motor practice.

Now it is time to add the fish. This is especially fun for a toddler as they love poking and squishing things, so burying the fish in the gelatin is loads of fun for them.

For older kids who are ready for more of a fine motor challenge, you can use tongs or tweezers for kids to go “fishing”. Those little fish are slippery, so it’s quite the task to catch them.

You  can extend the learning in this edible fish small world sensory play a bit more by:

  • incorporating counting as kids add or remove the fish from the sensory bin
  • working on sorting and having kids sort the fish by colour
  • practising patterning with the fish

And when you’re done have a refreshing squish snack!

 

DIY Snow globe:
Select a focal point object to use in your simple DIY snow globe jar.  It is helpful to have several sizes of jars available. Perhaps save a variety of types and sizes of jars before doing this craft. Clear glassworks the best. Use hot-glue to glue the focal point object to the centre of the lid of your jar. You may glue down other small things to the top such as pebbles or beads as long as they are not close to the edge where they would be in the way of being able to screw the lid onto the jar. Fill the jar halfway full of distilled water. Squirt in some clear glue and stir it into the water. This will thicken the water and cause the glitter to fall more slowly when the kids shake the snow globe. The more glue you use, the thicker the water will become. For extra fun, add some glitter. When you are content with the amount of water in your jar, screw the lid tightly onto the jar. The focal point object should fit nicely inside. You can glue the lid on if you’re concerned the kids will try to open it later.

Active:

Leapfrog
Many of us played leapfrog as kids and could play for hours. This is a great idea to play outdoors and will definitely tire the kids out. You can make it even harder to add more people to the line-up.


Hot lava:
Hot lava is a game that everyone should know. The object of the game is to jump or climb on anything that is not the floor when anyone says, “The Floor is Lava”. This one works best indoors but can be quite creative when playing outside. You can even go as far as setting up an obstacle course that everyone has to follow.


Circuits:
This can be set up outside and can have several stations where the kids have to do a particular exercise at each place. When the time runs out, then they would have to switch to the next one until they complete the course. This one will definitely tire them out and may even get them to take an afternoon nap.


Red light, green light:
Well, everyone knows this game. One person is the caller, and they will either yell red light or green light. Red means stop and freeze, and the green light means to go forward. The first person to get to the caller wins. It is a great way to get their heart rate going.


Science Experiments:

Skittles rainbow:

 



Supplies needed:
· Plate
· Warm water
· Skittles (Try different colours and flavours!)

Directions:
Grab your plate and organise the Skittles in a circle around the edge of the container. Kids can try different colour patterns each time they do the experiment.
Gently pour water in the centre of the plate. Warm water works better than cold. Make sure there is enough water to go past the Skittles while filling the container.
Wait and watch the Skittles colours move towards the centre of the plate with beautiful rainbow streaks.
That is it. It is so quick and easy!

Elephant toothpaste:

 


Supplies Needed:

A clean 473 ml plastic soda or water bottle.
A 20-volume hydrogen peroxide.
1 tablespoon of dry yeast.
3 tablespoons of warm water.
Liquid dish soap.
Food colouring.
Small cup.
Funnel.
Safety goggles.
Adult supervision.

Directions:

Use the funnel to carefully pour ½ cup of the hydrogen peroxide liquid into the bottle.
Add about 10 drops of your favourited food colouring into the bottle and mix the bottle around.
In the separate small cup, combine the warm water and the yeast together and mix for around 30 seconds.
Use the funnel to pour the yeast-water mixture into the bottle and watch the fun begin.

Disappearing Eggshell:

 


Take a raw egg and put it in a cup.
You should see bubbles collect around the shell (a sign that a chemical reaction is taking place).
Leave for 4 to 5 days.
Go to observe.
You should now be able to see shell residue in the vinegar and the yolk whole in the egg white. If you still see white residue on the egg, you can rub this off lightly with your finger. I tried to lift the whole egg out of the vinegar but broke the membrane, but it is possible to lift it out whole.

Craft:

Bread and peanut butter bird feeder:

What you will need is bread, peanut butter, cookie cutters, birdseed and twine or string. First, we started by placing slices of bread on a cutting board. Next, you will put the cookie cutter on the centre of the bread, then had my daughter push down. You might have to help your child push the cookie cutter all the way through the bread, depending on how old your child is. After we cut out the shapes, I poked a small hole at the top of each cut out using a paper straw. This is where the twine will go through, so you can hang your feeders outside. Next, we let the cut-outs dry on the cutting board overnight. This allows the bread to harden. I flipped the bread over just once so that both sides of the bread would harden evenly. Once the bread has set, use a butter knife to spread the peanut butter on to the bread. After you have spread peanut butter on both sides of the bread cut-outs, roll the bread in birdseed until completely coated. I had to use the paper straw again to remove any peanut butter and birdseed that got inside the holes. Next, cut a piece of twine and tie in a knot.

Mason jar aquariums:

 



Supplies:

You will need a mason jar with a lid, blue food colouring, filtered water (tap is fine but come out a little cloudier). For extra fun, you can also get aquarium figurines, plastic plants, or rocks.

Step 1:

Add rocks, plants to the mason jar

Step 2:

Fill with water and add plastic sea creatures.

Step 3:

Add blue food colouring until you are satisfied with the colour.

Step 4:

Add glittering only if you want.

Step 5:

If you add glitter to make sure to add a few drops of glycerine if you want the water to flow more slowly.

Step 6:

Screw lid shut (at this point you can glue the lid with hot glue if you would like)

Step 7:

Gently swirl to see your sea creatures swim!

Cooking/Baking:

Get in the kitchen! Get the kids to help make brownies, decorate biscuits or for the festive season, make and decorate a gingerbread house. This is an excellent idea with the holidays fast approaching!


Frozen Yogurt Bark:

This recipe is not only quick but healthy and fun to make.

 



Ingredients:

Yoghurt of any kind, but plain will work best.
Sliced strawberries or chocolate chips.

Instructions:

Spread a layer of yoghurt onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
Top with the sliced strawberries or chocolate chips.
Freeze until firm, then crack into pieces.
Eat quickly, the bark melts fast.

4 Ingredients Energy Oatmeal Balls:

Ingredients:

3  cups of quick oats

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup of honey

1/2 chocolate chips

Directions:

Step 1:

Combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until well combined. Cover with a lid and put in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Step 2:

Roll into balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball). Then either eat right away or put back into the fridge for later. 




From growing up on a small family orchard in quiet, rural Morrinsville to running the country while pregnant with her first child, Jacinda Ardern has never forgotten her roots. Her humble beginnings have been key to shaping her into a thoughtful, kind-hearted and relatable leader changing the face of politics today.  

By: Harriet Grayson

Until the day before she took office, Jacinda Ardern says she never saw herself as the future Prime Minister of New Zealand.  Although passionate about pursuing a career in politics from a young age, Ardern was always content with her position as a member of Parliament. She didn’t want the intense spotlight or endless long hours that come with leadership positions, and wanted to build a family with her partner, Clarke Gayford. 

It is this humble, down-to-earth attitude, along with a kindness rarely seen in modern politics, that helped her become New Zealand’s youngest Prime Minister, at only 37 years of age, in more than 150 years.  It is also what won her a second term with enough votes to lead a majority Labour government for the first time in decades. 

Ardern was born in Hamilton, yet spent her early years growing up in Murupara, a small town mostly known for its heavy gang presence. Ardern’s father, Ross Ardern, was a dedicated police officer who spent 40 years in the force, while her mother Laurell was a school cook. The family lived right in front of Murupara’s only police station and felt directly the ever-present threat of violence hanging over the town. 

Ardern recalled one night when the house was pelted with bottles, and another where, sneaking out through the back fence, she saw her dad being confronted by a group of large men. Following her dad’s instructions, she just had to keep walking as if nothing had happened. Although just a child at the time, the inequality Ardern remembers seeing firsthand in Murupara is what first ignited her passion for social justice. 

The family did not stay long in Murupara, moving to Morrinsville after Ardern’s sister was physically abused at school one day. The rest of Ardern’s childhood and teenage years were spent in Morrinsville, where she had what is regarded as the classic Kiwi childhood. She drove tractors around her family orchard, once crashing one into a tree, and raised her own lamb for her school’s agricultural show. Her first job, and her only job outside of politics, was working for the local fish and chip shop.

Jacinda as a young girl riding trailer with friends

It was during high school that Ardern began to put her interest in politics into action. She joined various Human Rights Actions Groups and was the founding member of her school’s Students Against Driving Drunk Group. One of her earliest ‘political victories’ was managing, as a student, to convince the Board of Trustees at Morrinsville College to incorporate trousers as an acceptable part of the girl’s school uniform. In her final year of high school, her peers voted her Most Likely to Become Prime Minister, though she wouldn’t see this quality in herself for many years to come.

Ardern’s parents were heavily Mormon, and their faith was a significant presence in Arden’s childhood. Religion was in many ways one of her foundations, and despite disagreeing with the church’s conservative perspective on gay rights for many years she avoided thinking about what this meant for her as someone who avidly supported gay rights. Living in a flat with three gay friends in her twenties, however, made her realise that, while she still went to church on occasion, she had to choose one or the other. In not taking a side, she felt she was doing a disservice both to the church and to her friends, so she eventually renounced her faith. She did not speak to her father about it, but spoke about it with her mum who was disappointed by her daughter’s decision. 

Her political career kicked off at just 17 years old, when she joined the Labour Party and, with her aunt’s assistance, worked in the office of Harry Duynhoven, a Labour member of Parliament, in New Plymouth. During her time there, she distinctly remembers at one point someone coming in and voicing the various problems they were confronted with. Hearing this made her think how incredible it was that “you can be in Wellington on the one hand changing everything, and then come back here (to New Plymouth) and just change the world for one person.” It was this experience that she says made her truly fall in love with politics and the power it has to change people’s lives, even in small ways. 

Jacinda sitting in front of desk

After graduating high school, she studied at the University of Waikato where she graduated with a Bachelor of Communication Studies. Once she had finished university, she took some time to travel overseas to the United States. Even while travelling, she channeled her political ambitions to ‘change the world’ for people, working for a soup kitchen in New York where she served food to the poor and homeless.

This desire to a make difference in people’s lives through politics has stayed with her throughout her career, from the time she entered Parliament as a candidate for the Waikato district in 2008 to her recent re-election as Prime Minister of New Zealand this year. Her leadership, both of the Labour Party and of the nation, has stood out around the world as it is displays not only authority but kindness, empathy and authenticity, qualities that seem to be severely lacking in the current political climate. She has repeatedly emphasised the importance of allowing people to see her ‘failings’, that she is as prone to failure as anyone else. She feels that above all leaders need to be authentic, rather than try to present some impossible notion of flawless leadership. 

This has been particularly crucial over the last couple of years, as Ardern and her government were faced with the Christchurch terror attack, a devastating volcanic eruption and most recently an ongoing global pandemic. In the wake of the horrific terror attack on a mosque in Christchurch, Ardern held a press conference and spoke a message of unity, diversity and kindness against the hatred that shook the country. The day after the attack, she flew to Christchurch with leaders across the political spectrum and stood with Islamic leaders and mourners, hugging those grieving their losses. And earlier this year, in the midst of lockdown while the pandemic was at its worst in New Zealand, she filmed regular Facebook live chats at home to offer guidance to everyone struggling with being stuck at home. 

Jacinda holding Neve wearing traditional Maori dress

On top of all this, Ardern has had to juggle full time political leadership with parenthood, as just three months into taking office she announced her pregnancy. She gave birth to Neve Te Aroha in June 2018, taking only two months maternity leave before returning to office while her partner, Clarke, took on the role of stay-at-home dad. She has embraced her newfound parenthood the same way she has her leadership, posting photos on Instagram of her various parenting fails from collapsing birthday cakes to Neve’s refusal to share her full plate of toast with her mum. 

The last few years have by no means been easy for Jacinda Ardern, and the next few are likely to be just as hard as New Zealand, let alone the world, is far from out of the woods of the coronavirus pandemic. It will be a huge test of her capacity as a leader, not only as Prime Minister but as head of a party governing with a large majority in Parliament. If she maintains the kindness, compassion and authenticity guiding her, however, the odds are in her favour. 

From the moment we are born, every experience and emotion we have ever felt is stored in the part of our mind called the subconscious. Intangible, immeasurable, and for the most part inaccessible, this portion of the human mind is complex and extremely important to our individual personal identities.

 

Our mind is like an iceberg. Floating in the ocean, we can only see what is above the surface of the water – and while this may be colossal in size, it only makes up a tiny ten percent of the total size of the iceberg. What is hidden underneath is nine times larger. Our conscious mind represents this ten percent of the iceberg in view, above the water, and our subconscious represents all that is below. The conscious mind is only a tiny portion of what is going on underneath.

The conscious mind is responsible for collecting information in our day-to-day life through our senses, which it relays back to the subconscious. The subconscious encompasses those activities we take for granted such as breathing, blinking and monitoring our temperatures, but it also stores every past experience, emotion, and thought we have ever had. Like the iceberg under the water, we can’t see or readily access the true depth and size of our incredibly powerful subconscious mind but it plays an extremely important role in all of our lives.

The capacity of the subconscious mind is incredible, with few limitations on how much it can store. According to motivational speaker, renowned self-development expert and author of Focal Point Brian Tracy, “By the time you reach 21, you’ve already stored more than one hundred times the content of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.”

smell taste touch neon sign

The subconscious mind is constantly active and responsible for an incredible amount of our human functions, actions, choices and personality. In psychological terms, the subconscious is a secondary mind system that stores everything we receive through our senses in a kind of data processing memory bank. It monitors information coming in from our conscious mind such as sight, taste, hearing and touch.

The two aspects of the mind – conscious and subconscious – communicate all the time. The elements that are processed by our conscious mind only stay in the subconscious if they are intensely emotional experiences. This is partly what makes the subconscious so powerful and important in its long-term effects on us as individuals.

What does the subconscious mind actually do?

The subconscious element of our minds covers more than just suppressed desires and forgotten traumatic memories that we are often told about at school. It is responsible for all of those day-to-day movements and activities that we take for granted or don’t even consciously recognise doing. For example, breathing, blinking and regulating our body temperatures are all acts we do subconsciously.

According to psychologist Havan Parvez, of PsychMechanics, the subconscious is always active, even when we sleep. It communicates with us through images and symbols in our dreams, relaying information we have encountered during the day or even from many years ago – the subconscious storage bank goes back as long as we have been processing information through our senses.

 

 

Another key function of the subconscious relates to our behaviour. It regulates our reactions, actions, decisions, and physical choices to fit with those it has previously established as ‘ours’. It keeps our thoughts and beliefs consistent, establishing our comfort zones and deeming what activities would suit them.

Brian Tracy, self-development author and motivational public speaker, states that the subconscious mind is what, “Makes (our) behaviour fit a pattern consistent with (our) emotionalised thoughts, hopes, and desires.”

Man and woman in love sitting close

 

Psychology blog, Mindsets, also claims our natural intuition arises from the subconscious, which uses our previous experience, emotions and memory to help us assess situations. If you have ever felt a ‘gut feeling’ or inexplicable sense about something, this is your subconscious mind communicating with you and sending you signals based on your own previous knowledge.

According to Yvonne Oswald’s book, Every Word Has Power, the subconscious mind does the following:
  1. Operates the physical body.
  2. Has a direct connection with the Divine.
  3. Remembers everything.
  4. Stores emotions in the physical body.
  5. Maintains genealogical instincts.
  6. Creates and maintains least effort (repeating patterns).
  7. Uses metaphor, imagery and symbols.
  8. Takes direction from the conscious mind.
  9. Accepts information literally and personally.
  10. Does not process negative commands.

How can we harness its power?

It is important to know the ways in which we can harness the power of our subconscious minds. Think about emotional experiences you have had that have impacted your future life. Can personal issues with trust, relationships, certain habits, that you currently have be traced back to an incident or experience you had in the past? This is your subconscious mind acting based on the intense emotions you felt during that time.

Woman looking into the sunriseOne of the most significant reasons why we should endeavour to use the power of our subconscious for our mental health is to clear emotional blockages and for the purposes of personal healing. According to Joseph Drumheller, award-winning author and leader in meditation, healing and education, we must be in the proper state of mind before exploring our subconscious. He suggests practising some detachment when considering our emotional charges or particular feelings in isolation. Distance your rational mind from these emotions. Then it becomes easier, and safer, to push into these feelings a little deeper.

Drumheller says that letting yourself explore and feel your emotions as they arise or as you consider certain aspects of your life is important when working on your subconscious. Through your detachment from these emotions, start to think about them more critically. Take mental note of when a certain thought, image, noise, or memory triggers a particular emotion. From this point, we can start to ask ourselves why we feel this emotion, and if from our space of mental detachment, we can see that it may not be warranted, we can start to let the feeling go. As the emotion grows fainter and less raw, we are letting go of this emotional charge and clearing some weight from our subconscious.

This method is useful to try, but the results can differ from person to person. Drumheller suggests that if we are stuck with a particular emotional charge that is difficult to shift, or we begin to lose ourselves in the feelings of that emotion, then there is another method to try. Visualise a large scared object or symbol such as a flower or a cross hovering directly in front of you. Imagine that it holds immense power. Start to think about each of your emotions and visualise this object pulling the force of these emotions out of your heart and mind, drawing them into itself. In this way the power has been transferred to the object rather than your mind in releasing the emotional charge and is a good method for beginners or those struggling with release.

Further suggestions

There is an extensive array of literature, podcasts and other resources available for information and guidance regarding our subconscious. Several books written on the subject are available as audiobooks which can be a fantastic way to engage with the material.

Based on readership ratings, the following books are recommended:

  • The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy
  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  • Beyond the Power of your Subconscious Mind by C. James Jenson
  • The Subconscious Mind: How to Use the Hidden Power of Your Mind to Reach Your Goals by Linda Siegmund

Exploring your subconscious is something that can be done privately but is also worthwhile when done with the assistance of a mental health professional such as a psychologist. Those trained in this field can guide you, provide suggestions, and offer support should you need it.

Therapies for your subconscious such as Private Subconscious-mind Healing (P.S.H) are also available for more guided or targeted exploration of the subconscious. This therapy is non-invasive, extremely gentle in its approach, and is designed to assist in resolving underlying subconscious problems that are affecting our day to day lives.

 

While the law of attraction has us believe we can be reaching our goals by simply focusing on what we want, the Principles of Attraction may be a more successful way of achieving our goals through mindfulness and thought-directed action.

Just think hard enough about the life you want, and you’ll have it – it’s as simple as that according to Law of Attraction. For many, this method fails to work. And that’s why the Law of Attraction has some serious challenges. Although the Law of Attraction is an established paradigm, the Principles of Attraction is a new mode gaining popularity. It is a slight change in wording but one that makes all the difference for the concepts underpinning the psychological theory.

What is the Law of Attraction?

The Law of Attraction is a psychological theory that dates back to times of the Ancient Greeks. It dictates that if you focus your mind on visualising or imagining a certain desire it will come into fruition. All of your thoughts, actions, and focus must be channelled towards this image constantly. By doing this, the Law claims that you will attract what you focus on – from like-minded people, to the desirable life or object itself. In basic terms – think hard enough about it and it will happen.

 

What is the difference between the Principles and the Law?

The Law of Attraction promotes obsessive one-track focus on a particular item or feature of life, and in its endeavour to seek positivity and attract like-minded people, it simultaneously alienates and promotes pessimism. Conversely, the Principles of Attraction focuses on positivity and mindfulness, channelling our energies towards a healthy and sustainable goal.

Girl with hands over face lying in bed One of the largest challenges that we encounter when looking at the Laws of Attraction is that they don’t take into account the realities of life which are quite often beyond human control. According to the Laws of Attraction, incidents such as physical accidents, weather disasters, bad timing, illnesses and injuries are all linked back to a lack of positivity and visualisation of our goals. Somewhere along the way we have lost focus and have attracted the ‘bad’ because we weren’t focused enough on the ‘good’.

This element is referred to as ‘visualisation’ under the Law of Attraction. The Principles of Attraction turn away from this somewhat inactive visualisation aspect and expand the term to encourage a more active role for us as visualisers. Psychologist and life coach Dr James Michael Nolan says, “our thoughts can get the ball rolling for the possibility of creation” but we must put the hard yards and energy into achieving our goals – simply picturing them is not enough.

 

How do I follow the Principles of Attraction?

Professor Neil Farber of Psychology Today advises the following in order to achieve a lifestyle in line with the Principles of Attraction:

  • Visualising is a process not an outcome.
    • Picturing your desired life does not produce this desired life. Visualising and focusing your energies into this idea is a process for obtaining what you are looking for – it does not immediately produce your desired life.
  • Value-based goals are more important than wants and desires.
    • Do not focus on the two-storey house with swimming pool, six bedrooms and a large backyard. Ask yourself why you want this. What feelings and emotions are underpinning this end goal? A sense of achievement? A place to call your own? A place your children can grow up with space and freedom? Make these values of family, connectivity, space and freedom your goal. Visualise these rather than what you perceive as their physical embodiment.
  • Your actions matter.
    • Regardless of how much time you spend focusing on your goals, at the end of the day it’s you who needs to make them happen. You are responsible for your actions and when your collective energies are all focused on these values, your actions should follow suit. Your goals are much more likely to be realised this way.
  • Be mindful of the present.
    • While looking ahead to the future and what you are hoping to find there, don’t forget to live in the present. It’s the choices that you make in the current moment that have the biggest impact on your future.
  • Remember challenges.
    • Regardless of how hard we might focus and commit our actions to achieving our goals, there are things in the world that are out of our control. No matter how much positive energy we may be sending out into the universe, accidents, challenges, roadblocks and stop signs are part of life. Don’t be hard on yourself – these things are not from a deficit in positivity on your part, but are features of all human life. Be optimistic, but realistic.

 

What other things can I do?

Dr Nolan suggests that a good way to maintain positivity and mindfulness whilst following the Principles of Attraction is to keep journals and lists of things that you appreciate in life already. This, combined with surrounding yourself with positive caring people and engaging with them in nurturing ways, is essential to staying happy while pursuing your goals.

Suggested Activities for mindfulness:

  • Meditation
    • Woman meditatingEvery morning before beginning the busy day, spend between 10-30 minutes meditating. Find a quiet place in the house, take a seat cross-legged or lay flat on your back and focus on your breathing. Follow your breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, out for four seconds, hold again and repeat. Calming your mind will help you reflect on whatever comes into your thoughts and prepare yourself for the day ahead.
    • Meditation can also be useful at the end of the day. Incorporating meditation into your nightly routine can assist with reflection on the day that has been and calm your senses ahead of the new day to come.
  • Gratitude lists
    • Writing a small 5-10 points list about things you are grateful for and the reasons you are grateful for them in your life is an excellent way to stay mindful and focus your goals in a healthy way. These lists can be made at the beginning or at the end of the day, and are particularly useful when we are feeling lost, sad, angry or losing touchNotebook journal writing with our goals.
    • These lists can cover anything from a person you are grateful for, the city you live in, to the small things that have made you smile during the day.
    • Keeping these lists in a journal or notebook is also very important. If we’re having a particularly bad day and are finding it hard to channel our thoughts positively, looking back on these lists is a wonderful way to redirect and focus our energies in the right direction again.
  • Mother and daughter walking in moutainsWalking
    • Going for a stroll – particularly with loved ones, family, and friends – is another fantastic way to practice mindfulness and focus on your goals. Reflecting on the things you see on the walk such as the natural surroundings, the sounds, the people you may have encountered is an important way to remind yourself to live in the present moment while still aiming to achieve your goals.

 

Why doesn’t the Law concept work?

Woman writing in journal  The key difference that Dr Nolan highlights is; “Principles outline how things go, or tend to go. Laws say they cannot go otherwise.” This is why it is useful to consider attraction within the framework of principles; guidelines and features to follow rather than make-or-break laws that will often end in disappointment.

Studies show that following the Law of Attraction method without consideration of the elements underpinning the psychological process results in a success rate of only 0.1%. Very few people can achieve their obsessively-visualised end goal within the rigidity of the Laws of Attraction. The Principles, on the other hand, give us flexibility and room for growth – not to mention the impact on your own sense of self during the process.

 

What should I take away from the Principle of Attraction?

  • Take action for you own life choices.
  • Make decisions that will help you achieve your goals.
  • Chanel your thoughts, meditations, mantras and efforts into what you want.
  • Send positive energies outward and receive positive energies back in return.

It is up to us to personally change our attitudes and follow the Principles – it is not up to the world to deliver us everything we want if we think hard enough on it. As Professor Farber says, “Don’t leave your goal fulfilment to the universe.” Go out, set your goals, aim your positive energies at achieving them, and appreciate the good things you already have. Two women smiling and happy

 

Head and heart, left and right. Our ability to be and our ability to do, to receive and to create. Although considered opposites, how these transpire in our thoughts and behaviours are symbols of their strength, and can shape our personalities forever. The masculine and feminine divine are not gendered, one cannot exist without the other. These emotions are not gendered, but they align flawlessly.

The universe is created by both female and male energies, they are infused into everything we know. The feminine divine is circular, it flows seamlessly and is known to be the energy that controls our emotions. Where the masculine divine is direct, a straight line that has a beginning and an ending, a direct path and is in control of our minds. For some this may seem far-fetched, but when we start to think about the brain it can put things into perspective.

We know our brain is divided. The left side is analytical and rational, it controls our ability to make responsible decisions. The right side is considered intuitive and impulsive, in charge of our emotions and creativity. Our masculine and feminine energies are divided just the same. When one side of the brain is injured, it is often left disabled and alters the person’s life severely. When the two energies that exist within us are unbalanced, it can also be threatening to one’s wellbeing.

In western culture we are not taught how to respect this divide. We are raised in a world that is afraid to stop. Time and time again we become overworked and burnt out. This comes down to how afraid we are to connect to our feminine and how exhausted our masculine energy becomes.

The divine feminine is the purest form of female expression. She allows us to build trust within our relationships and care for one another. She helps us to be patient and intuitive and infuse passion into our day to day lives.

Our past experiences shape our energies. The divine feminine is the purest form of female expression. She allows us to build trust within our relationships and care for one another. She helps us to be patient and intuitive and infuse passion into our day to day lives. When we give birth to an idea, a friendship, a business, a relationship, it is our feminine energy that nurtures it, allowing it to grow.

Traditionally, we raise our sons to be competitive and dominate. That crying is a weakness and violence is a reasonable answer. To show any type of emotion will make you a “girl” and who wants to be a weak little girl? Comments such as these are what beat down the feminine energy and cause angry boys to grow up and be angry men. When young boys are told to repress their feminine energy, their masculine energy falls into a more dominant role. This is then called “wounded masculinity”

Wounded masculinity comes from a place of fear and is an emotion that is taught to us from a young age. The wounded side comes from struggling to prove worthiness and the fear of not being loved or welcomed. Instead those emotions are replaced by ego-stroking, over-powering displays of competition and violence.

He is confident but not arrogant, adventurous but not reckless. He is someone you want to follow, he makes you feel safe, supported and protected, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

When one’s masculine energy is wounded, they will never be enough. A constant yearning to have more and more. This kind of energy is not only damaging to one’s self, but can also create division in the relationships that surround them. It is not until the masculine becomes balanced with the feminine that the true and beautiful expressions of the masculine divine start to appear in its highest form.

The strong yet gentle nature of the masculine divine is such a powerful energy that when balanced within a person, has great potential of leadership and wholeness. He is confident but not arrogant, adventurous but not reckless. He is someone you want to follow, he makes you feel safe, supported and protected, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

But men are not the only ones becoming weighed down by these external expectations. When women first started to assert their authority and truly claim their identity, the first thing we did was burn our bras and start wearing pants. Abandoning the real essence of our femininity and instead decided to compete with men and prove that we could be equally.

We are encouraged to treat sex “like a man would” not to care, to avoid “catching feelings”. Although we are no longer burning our bras, we are subconsciously proving ourselves in other ways.

We are encouraged to treat sex “like a man would” not to care, to avoid “catching feelings”. Although we are no longer burning our bras, we are subconsciously proving ourselves in other ways. We are encouraged to ignore our feminine instincts of tenderness and love and instead adopt a rigged, nonchalant, “masculine” mentality.

Ann Friedman, author of the article,When Women Pursue Sex, Even Men Don’t Get It” says it best, “Women want sex, and in particular, they want sex with people who really want them. But socially, many straight men still find it a turnoff when women are sexual aggressors. Which means that, for women, assertively pursuing the thing they want actually leads to them not getting it.”

We all have the divine masculine and feminine within our own psyche. How they come out in our thoughts and behaviours are indicative of their strengths, and often shape our personalities and relationships. It is normal human behaviour to be stronger in some aspects than others. But when you emotionally exhaust yourself and manipulate your own behaviours to fit a cookie cutter expectation of what a man and a woman should be like, is when an excruciating internal battle begins.

The idea is not to be the perfect balance at all times, to be constantly happy and logical. Of course, there are times in everyone’s lives when you need to be more flexible, either emotionally or logically, but constantly being at war with ourselves to meet societal pressures can lead to a life of emptiness and perpetual “what ifs”.

“There’s no question kids are missing out on very critical social skills. It puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible.” – Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist.

Gen Z were the first generation to grow up amidst social media, with the first notable site, Six Degrees, being created in 1997. Rapidly, social media has proliferated out of control, gaining popularity across the well known sites we know today. 

But what effects has this had on generations starting with Gen Z and that of which followed?

A popular documentary released on Netflix called ‘The Social Dilemma’ examines this and the damaging effect that this has had on children’s social skills. Teenagers in particular have been the primary focus and their ability to create new relationships.

“We’ve created a world in which online connection has become primary. Especially for younger generations. And yet, in that world, anytime two people connect, the only way it’s financed is through a sneaky third person whose paying to manipulate those two people. So we’ve created an entire global generation of people who were raised within a context with the very meaning of communication, the very meaning of culture, is manipulation.” – Jaron Lainer, founding father of Virtual Reality Computer Scientist

In America, a short survey was conducted to discuss this by The Teen Advisory Board (TAB), and they discovered:

– 75% of teens said social media negatively affected their romantic relationship

– 77% chose texting as one of the popular ways to start a relationship

– 82% said texting is one of the two ways to end a relationship.

As children engage in face-to-face communication, they are developing social skills through vocal and visual cues which brings context to the situation. These communication cues can be portrayed through eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions and space between individuals (Knapp & Hall, 2010).

But if children are communicating solely through social media, they aren’t learning these non-verbal communication skills that are necessary to succeed in life.

It has become trendy across all social media platforms for Gen Z to joke about their social incompetencies with comments such as needing their parents to book doctor’s appointments for them because they’re afraid to talk over the phone, but to what extent is this going to affect how society will function in the future? 

“We’re training and conditioning a whole new generation of people that when we are uncomfortable or lonely or uncertain or afraid, we have a digital pacifier for ourselves. That is kind of atrophying our own ability to deal with that.” – Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google and co-founder of Centre for Humane Technologies

Perhaps social media isn’t the future, but something that needs to be changed or consumed in extreme moderation.

Studies discover symptoms of depression and anxiety can be reduced through mindfulness meditation practices.

Studies at John Hopkins School of Medicine reveal a strong correlation between mindfulness meditation and its ability to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.

After reviewing research on participants in mindfulness based meditation programs, lead researcher Madhav Goyal and his team discovered effect sizes ranged between 0.22 to 0.38 for anxiety symptoms and 0.23 to 0.30 for depression symptoms.

The Journal of the American Medical Association show these small effects are comparable with what would be expected from the use of antidepressants in a primary care population but without the associated toxicities.

“In our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants,” Goyal explains.

While meditation can be dated back to ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions, this age-old practice is gaining traction from its ability to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety without the harmful side effects of prescription medication.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all that mindfulness performs as well as or better than medication,”Adrian Wells professor of psychopathology at Manchester University states.

Mindfulness meditation works by establishing concentration to observe inner thoughts, feelings and emotions while focusing attention on the present moment to not be reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.

Meditation is a state of induced relaxation that focuses awareness on breathing and encouraging positive attitudes to achieve a healthy and balanced mental state.

Around one in six Australian adults now practice meditation, with the number of people who meditate worldwide rising by three times as much since 2012.

With studies revealing that mindfulness meditation can improve anything from memory in patients with Alzheimer’s to insomnia symptoms, it’s easy to see why this practice is being used by an estimated 200-500 million people around the globe.

The University of Oxford released a new study finding mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to be as effective as antidepressants in preventing a relapse of depression, further enhancing the credibility of this ancient practice.

In the study participants were randomly allocated to either the MBCT group or antidepressant group. The rate of relapse in the mindfulness group was 44%, with the rate of relapse of those on antidepressants at 47%.

Nigel Reed, participant from the study explains how mindfulness based therapy gave him life long skills to deal with depressive thoughts and episodes.

“Rather than relying on the continuing use of antidepressants, mindfulness puts me in charge, allowing me to take control of my own future, to spot when I am at risk and to make the changes I need to stay well.”

Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, psychiatrist at the Centre for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders believes it makes sense to use meditation to treat disorders such as depression and anxiety.

“People with anxiety have a problem dealing with distracting thoughts that have too much power. They can’t distinguish between a problem-solving thought and a nagging worry that has no benefit.”

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently. You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’

“Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that, a thought, and not a part of my core self,’” Hoge explains.

While meditation can be dated back to 1500 BCE the benefits aren’t just an old wives’ tale as science and studies have repeatedly proven.

Meditation is known for changing the way the brain processes thoughts and emotions but new research by Sarah Lazar at Harvard University reveals it can also change the structure of the brain.

An eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program discovered increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus, and certain areas of the brain that regulate emotions and self-referential processing.

Decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala were also found, with this area of the brain responsible for thoughts of anxiety, fear and stress.

These changes matched the participant’s reports of stress levels, signifying that the program impacted their feelings and subjective perceptions in a positive way through meditation.

Evidence from The University of Hong Kong also confirms Lazar’s study with further evidence suggesting meditation practices have the potential to induce neuroplastic changes in the amygdala.

Participants in an awareness-based compassion meditation program were found to have significantly reduced anxiety and right amygdala activity, which may be associated with general reduction in reactivity and distress.

These significant findings explore the powerful outcomes that can result from using mindfulness meditation practices to alter the way the brain processes thoughts of anxiety and stress.

While there is no magic cure for depression or anxiety, meditation brings hopeful benefits for those not wanting to take medication long term, or those who suffer from the intolerable side effects of antidepressants.

Although many studies suggest the benefits of mindfulness for those with depression and anxiety, it is best to consult a professional to find the best treatment option for you.

 

My life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has placed a strain on the very relationships that once gave way to warmth. It holds me close and tight and doesn’t let go until I am left feeling the brunt of its cruelty.

I suffer from disturbing, intrusive thoughts, over which I have no control. These intrusive thoughts can be cruel, and invade my brain throughout the day. With no warning. They threaten the very foundations in which make my life bearable – friendships and relationships.

These destructive thoughts hold me back from enjoying existence. They make me question who I am.

I feel there is something wrong with me.

I have OCD.​

I know the shame that intrusive thoughts bring about. So, I understand that only one-third of the 500,000 OCD sufferers in Australia seek treatment. For a long time, I refused to discuss it with anyone, but it becomes overwhelming and too difficult to keep locked away in my brain.

OCD calls on the demons hiding in the most remote corners of my brain to come downstairs and ruin my optimistic outlook on life. They convince me that I’m a despicable human and a danger to myself and others.

I won’t discuss in detail the context of my thoughts, what I will say though is that they cause such immense grief, I often feel my stomach may very well expel from my body.

The thoughts come in tsunami-like episodes, getting worse as time moves on, leading to one of the most heartbreaking episodes of all.

It had been a long night. I had been locked away from the outside world for just over a week. One could call it a self-isolation of a brain, my brain. It had been occurring for months, years even, somewhat episodically, but this time, it was all too much. I couldn’t handle the strain my brain placed over me. I had called a few helplines who suggested going to see someone but little did they know I was already in the process of finding someone. But as it was approaching Christmas, the wait for an appointment was well over 3-4 months.

My friend and I had planned to meet up for dinner and dessert, however, my eyes, stained red from distress, gave way to crucial evidence. She had been there for me two years earlier when the thought of still being around in 2019 felt like a mere fantasy.

It wasn’t an ideal situation. I sat in my car for 15 minutes trying to calm myself down. Once I felt the air float back into my lungs, I escaped the confinements of my car and made my way to her work. The sun, in its slow process of setting, shone a light shade of pink throughout the plaza.

“Just keep looking at the sunset,” I thought to myself. “It’s going to be a new day soon and this will all be a distant and faint memory.”

When you’re about to panic or on the verge of crying, the best thing someone can do is ask “R U OK?”, but I’ve found that this causes the flood gates to burst open, leading to a tsunami of emotion. The tsunami releases all the negativity trapped inside, explosions and cascades of gasps and tears tearing through the silence of their response. This occurred that night as I waited in the empty plaza outside the department store. Waiting. Breathing. Silence.

“Hey!” she said.

“Shit,” I thought.

Her smile often brings joy and the warm fuzzies, but on this day I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming army of joyless demons crush against my chest. The infection spread from my chest to my stomach as my hands started to tremble. I let out a nasty cry and fell into her arms.

She was the first person I told my thoughts to.

Everything spilt out in a rapid eruption of words and tears. I told her of the thoughts that caved away into the deepest parts of my brain, and how I had no control over them. These thoughts, intruding around my body as if on vacation refused to withdraw.

After 30 minutes of ugly crying, my friend thought it best that we call a mental health crisis helpline. Another 30 minutes went by. My ugly crying grew stronger and my friend performed her duty as a translator, relaying information onto the mental health officers.

I was too busy attempting to breathe. By 9:30 pm we were in the hospital’s mental health ward. Unfortunately, not my first time sitting in an emergency department due to mental health complications. What felt like a 30-minute wait turned into a 6-hour wait.

A lengthy couple of months ensued. I saw several mental health officers including a psychiatrist who put my mind at ease, informing me that these thoughts weren’t me. Asking me a very important question:

“If these thoughts, in any way, represented the type of person you were, then why would they cause you so much distress?” He said. “So much distress that it caused you to question your place on this earth.”

I finally had the answers, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

It was a relief when I finally had an answer for the thoughts. These maleficent thoughts were so overwhelming that I questioned my place on this earth. And for the week leading up to that night, my brain spun into what felt like a never-ending cycle. Continuing to ask the same three questions:

Why are these thoughts in my head?

Why are they coming back with more ferocity than the last time?

Should I still be alive if I have these thoughts?

The truth is, at that time I wasn’t sure why I was having them; I didn’t realise that OCD could bring about such nasty thoughts. Thoughts that made me feel physically sick. It was as if a hand had made its way down my throat, stuck these ideas in my gut then withdrew in a hurry. Scurrying far away, leaving no evidence it was once there. It left doubt in the pit of my stomach. I asked myself – Am I this sick? Am I capable of these ideas? Is this me?

If these thoughts did in any way portray the kind of person I was, then in no way did I want them to be true. This is why that night I was in such distress. Once I was suffering from this “episode” it felt as though the thoughts would never end. With my previous episodes, I had managed to force the ideas to disappear after 2 or 3 days, but I couldn’t this time.

When I realized I had no control over them a wall of shame crashed into me. This was the moment I decided to lock myself away. Fortunately for me, I had already planned that dinner date with my friend. My stomach wanted to stay locked away, but my brain saved the day. My body activated the “Save Sarah Mode”, hoisting me up, out and into the car. On my way, I went.

Luckily for me, there are be people in my life I could and still to this day can trust. You can spill your guts to them, metaphorically that is.

Even if you feel like you are alone, stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean, someone will eventually turn up, even if they are also stuck in the middle of the ocean, maybe in a dingy. Together you will form an unbreakable bond, forced together by the wildest of fears and thoughts and anxieties that crash against you like the wild, unpredictable waves they are.

 

My friend, that night, was my lifeboat.

There is this misconception that OCD only encompasses cleaning, organising, washing hands or turning light switches on and off. Now, even though these are common compulsions, it doesn’t represent everyone who has the misfortune of living with OCD. And for me, it made it difficult to speak up about my diagnoses.

Since experiencing this terrible uncontrollable episode, I have found peace. I am now able to open up to people regarding my OCD. I am able to accept that these thoughts aren’t me. And I am not able to control some thoughts that come my way.

 

If you or anyone you know require assistance in relation to distressing thoughts and/or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Aussies mums are redefining the term ‘influencer’ and inspiring their audience through fashion, humility and organic content, writes Alyssa Batticciotto.

“I’m just a normal person. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not on TV, I’m just a mum who likes to post online and sometimes people like that,” says Instagram micro influencer, Breeahn.

In an ever-changing landscape, the influencer space is unknown and “fickle”. We have all heard of these big-name influencers – AFL wags turned mums, supermodels and reality stars with an impressive following and sponsored content. But what about those mums who have grown their audience solely from organic content and “a passion for fashion”?

The young mummy micro influencer does not focus on likes, comments or follower count but rather focuses on meaningful connection with their audience and an organic endorsement of their posts. These women are using Instagram for the love and taking back those negative connotations associated with the term ‘influencer’.

But what is a mummy blogger? Are they paid? Do they have to be glamorous? What are the prerequisites?

34-year-old Breeahn is a mother of two and has amassed a following of almost 13,000 as @the_aussiemummy.

Speaking to Breeahn while she’s sitting in her PJs, she’s not what you would typically imagine of an Instagram influencer. With her unique style and iconic pink hair, Breeahn is taking on life as a mummy influencer.

“Instagram is my happy place,” she says.

Although her feed is beautiful, she still reveals a very raw and honest depiction of her life, opening up to her followers in a way that has built an incredibly loyal foundation.  It is an influencer’s relationship with their audience that makes or breaks them. “I definitely care about my audience. I’m here for them,” says Breeahn.

Originally starting her page as a way to share the fashion she loves with people; it has grown to the point where she receives gifts in exchange for promotion and runs her account “like a business”. However, this isn’t her only business venture as she also works in digital marketing.

With many people now realising the potential of a career on Instagram, some have tried to exploit the platform for their own financial gain.

“A lot of young people are looking at Instagram as a career and I find that to be problematic as to be an influencer you have to be really genuine. It has to come from a place of you really just wanting to help your audience out not ‘I want to make money’ because at the end of the day, you’re there for your audience, not there to make money,” says Breeahn.

It can be hard to distinguish genuine content from sponsored or altered feeds and finding an influencer you especially resonate with has become more and more difficult.

An influencer profile typically uses the ‘business function’ of the Instagram page.

Sometimes, influencers may be offered money to endorse certain products, this is typically found in the pages that boast a 50,000+ following. These payments can range anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to the thousands, with bloggers charging different rates for different types of content.

There is no perfect formula to gaining an impressive following on Instagram. Two visually similar pages can have entirely different followings and engagement.

Despite the competition, Breeahn finds that the influencer world “is more of a community” and rather places emphasis on what she can do to make her content “unique and special” in a way that her “audience will like”.

However, according to social media professor, Dr Brent Crocker, “it does matter what you’re posting, it is important to specialise in something”. A page will usually gain traction and a large following when they are consistent with messaging, posting, content and establishing a genuine bond with their audience.

When thinking of influencers, most people associate the term with young models with followers reaching the millions but often an influencer’s audience can range from a mere couple of thousand to the millions. There are no numeric limitations on when someone can be described as an influencer or not.

While 13,000 followers don’t seem like much in the current climate of such a far-reaching platform, it is often these hidden gems that resonate with their audiences. In fact, brands are starting to realise the importance of finding influencers who have a deeper connection with their following. They have identified the correlation between engagement and product purchase.

Engagement rate is the sum of the likes and comments that a page receives per post, divided by the page’s number of followers.

Engagement rates are healthy metrics to monitor because they underline how frequently the page’s following interacts with their content, and forces pages to focus on important data, rather than vanity metrics (like the number of followers).

“Nano influencer followers are closer to them and tend to have more influence. Macro influencer engagement is relatively poor, people don’t always listen to them,” says Dr Coker.

With audiences becoming more and more aware of sponsored content this can often lead to a decrease in audience engagement for endorsed influencers or those with a large following.

 Micro influencers are a fantastic way for brands to promote products as it provides the brand with content to repurpose and enhances product credibility.

Dr Coker says that it’s another form of “good old classic endorsement but it’s packaged in a new way. It’s regular people, micro influencers, that people relate to on another level”.

The growing power of influencers is continually being recognised and utilised by brands. Brand ambassadors (social media users who promote solely for a specific brand) as ‘regular people’ is a newfound norm as brand’s realise the benefits of partnering with not only the influencers themselves but their dedicated and attentive audiences.

Social media marketer, Marija Likoravec, has noticed a “huge” increase in mummy bloggers in comparison to other Instagram niches.

Being a new mother herself, Marija feels she can relate to these influencers on a personal level and says that “80% of the time [working with them] it’s fantastic, they are usually super flexible and quite down to earth”.

In her experience, Marija has noticed that it is the mummy blogger’s audience who are the most engaged and receptive to new, advertised products. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, many aspects become fused together.

“I almost feel like the mummy blogger community is the new mother’s group,” says Marija.36-year-old, mum of two, Rebecca McDonnell is behind the Instagram page @thebargainstyler_ with a following of over 30,000.

While not her full-time occupation, Bec has enjoyed the creative freedom of running a successful bargain hunter page.

“Instagram as a hobby has been really good to keep me busy and have something a little bit different other than motherhood the whole entire time,” she says.

From the beginning, Bec was able to identify what worked and what didn’t with her following and has been using the same formula ever since.

With some fashion bloggers Instagram pages filled with numerous sponsored posts it can often be a breath of fresh air to see influencers posting content that they love. “The key to my growth is organic posting,” says Bec.

However, with followers and admiration does come the flip side. Trolls and negativity online showcase the darker side of Instagram where people take pleasure in belittling and bullying others. Although we might not have a personal experience in it, most if not all internet users have seen negative comments at least once.

“People don’t understand that there’s a person on the other side of that Instagram account. Words and comments do hurt us,” says Breeahn.

When we think back to Instagram’s initial release, we remember its original purpose – to share the content we love with the world.