Tag

Wellbeing

Browsing

We’re all familiar with PMS.

80% of women experience some form of physical or emotional symptoms just before their period starts. However, around 5-10% of women, experience what is known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD – a mood disorder that requires treatment to alleviate symptoms.

For these women, the week before their period marks the onset of symptoms so severe that getting on with daily life is impossible. These tangibly different yet similarly presenting conditions cause PMDD to be often confused for ‘severe PMS’. But, where PMS is uncomfortable or annoying, PMDD is debilitating.

PMDD was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mood Disorders as a depressive disorder’ just six years ago. Since then, the existence of the condition has been gaining awareness amongst women and the medical community. However, that PMDD is not widely spoken about or recognised means that more conversations and research into the condition are needed.  

PMDD often being described as ‘PMS on steroids‘ or ‘severe PMS’ signifies the possibility for accidental ignorance toward the condition.  When women are led to think of their incapacitating symptoms as ‘just PMS’ they may feel that their experience is ‘normal’.  The result of conflating symptoms causes many women wait to seek help until they reach their ‘breaking point’. By this time, women suffering from PMDD describe that their relationships, work and daily life have been significantly impacted.

How it impacts an individual’s life:

Gogglebox Australia’s, Isabelle Silbery, recently penned a deeply personal article recounting her feelings of desperation and frustration prior to being diagnosed with PMDD.

via Instagram: @IsabelleSilberry

Detailing an upsurge in arguments with her family accompanied by bouts of worthlessness, doubt, and despondence toward exciting things in her life – Isabelle called out for greater awareness and education for women regarding their cycles and the boundaries of what should be considered ‘normal.’

It was relentless. I hated myself, I hated my partner, I hated everything.

Isabelle says that her revelatory diagnosis stemmed from her mum, fortunately, catching a radio segment on triple R discussing a newly recognised disorder that bore markedly similar symptoms to her own.

Finding a printout on her pillow, she read about PMDD and was shocked and relieved to find she ‘ticked every box.’  Paranoia, fatigue, sensitivity – experienced only between ovulation and getting her period. Suddenly, Isabelle felt empowered – she wasn’t ‘going mad’ – there were answers.

Upon seeing a new specialist (who told her undoubtedly, she was experiencing PMDD) – Isabelle recalled asking:

Here I [am], 36 years old, having [had] my period for years now and birthed one child. How the hell did it take this long to figure it out?

Her doctor, Dr Lee Mey Wong from the Jean Hailes Clinic for Women’s Health, explained that ‘women who suffer from PMDD have what’s called a vulnerable brain’, meaning they may have suffered some trauma in their formative years. This vulnerability can lead the brain to be acutely sensitive to the by-product of progesterone – a hormone the body makes every cycle. This sensitivity contributes to the onset of symptoms that characterise PMDD.

In the process of learning about herself and her body, Isabelle found there was a lot more about periods, cycle phases and women’s health, in general, that she wasn’t across – prompting her to question: 

Why aren’t we educated around our cycles more as young girls? Being told you get your period and to use a pad or tampon is not enough.  

Isabelle’s message was simple: women are often made to feel crazy when they feel something is wrong. Yet we know ourselves better than anyone, and we’re usually right.  Information is power, and we need to empower ourselves and each other to assert control over our bodies. It is time we all prioritise our health and stop our silent suffering. To do this we have to stop demonising our hormones and periods.

A UK-based journalist, Jenny Haward, also shared her story of figuring out she suffered from PMDD. For her, the early years of getting a period were characterised by some ‘mild bloating’ and an ‘off chance that [she] might shed a few tears over a not-particularly-sad film’ with 48-hours of light bleeding to follow.

But, by her 30s, this had changed. Haward describes that being someone who had never tracked their period, it took her a while to make the connection that what she had begun to termthe dark week’ was linked to her cycle.

‘The dark week’ would bring tingling in her extremities, bloating of her stomach and hands and what she terms the PMDD hangover’ – Non-alcohol related but reminiscent of the hazy, sick feeling you get after a few too many, tinged with The Fear.

Haward describes the week before her period as charged with anxiety that pulsated through her, hyper-fixation on worries and exacerbated by insomnia – leading to fights with friends and terror toward work projects. But, as soon as her period arrived – she’d snap out of it.

Significantly, for Haward and many other women coming forward sharing their story – it took until the day she had to leave work, so ‘overwhelmed with misery and inability to function’ to call a doctor for an emergency appointment.

Haward wanted her story to reach women like herself and tell them: ‘there is help – you’re not making a fuss, or crazy or an awful person, and most importantly, you are not alone.’

PMS or PMDD?:

from Share the Dignity

Lynda Pickett, the Australian Project Coordinator for ‘Vicious Cycle: Making PMDD Visible‘, explains that PMS is an average onset of physical and sometimes mild emotional symptoms and typically doesn’t cause any life disruption.  On the other hand, PMDD is characterised by severe, life-impairing emotional symptoms that last 1-2 weeks before menses onset.

Recognising this difference between PMS and PMDD is crucial to understanding the significance of the disorder. While 1-2 weeks may sound manageable, when you factor in these symptoms occurring every month, every year – you can begin to get a clearer picture of the rollercoaster of emotion and life instability that sufferers face.

Symptoms:

Kin Fertility list the 11 symptoms of PMDD as the following:

  • Mood changes
  • Irritability or anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Bloating and breast soreness

Experiencing five or more of these symptoms in a life-impacting way mean that you may meet the diagnostic criteria for PMDD.

What is it? Why do we need to talk about it?

PMDD Cycle – Buoy

PMDD is a disorder that sits between psychiatry, gynaecology and other mimicking conditions—making getting a diagnosis a lengthy process due to the necessity to rule other possibilities out.

In Australia, the average ‘lag to diagnosiscan take eight years.

This lag is in part due to the experience of having symptoms downplayed by doctors as ‘just PMS’. This dismissal often requires a necessary determination on the part of the individual to challenge what they are being told.  Due to many doctors being unfamiliar with the condition, a referral is often necessary, or the individual has to search for answers themselves.

Lynda Pickett shared significant statistics relating to the number of people affected by PMDD:

Treatment:

Although there is no ‘cure’ for PMDD, there is a range of treatments available to help manage the symptoms.

Several medical therapies are effective, including antidepressants (SSRIs) which surveys show have provided relief to 75% of sufferers.

Oral contraceptives are also routinely prescribed to treat PMDD. Due to the pill’s interference on ovulation and the production of ovarian hormones, the pill can give greater control over the menstrual cycle and therefore reduce the severity of symptoms.

Further, many women report that additional things like reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and taking supplements such as magnesium, calcium and B6 can help. As well as making lifestyle changes in the lead up to their period in particular, such as more exercise, sleep and generally taking it easy, can make a significant difference.

Support:

Joining PMDD support groups can also give sufferers a much-needed sense of community and connection when coming to terms with their diagnosis and managing their symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

Lynda Pickett says she ‘doesn’t know where she’d be without her PMDD Peeps‘, the group name shared by her fellow PMDD community.  The hashtag ‘#PMDDPeeps’ is widely used across Instagram and Twitter to connect sufferers with PMDD.

Facebook groups for individuals with PMDD, partners, post-op groups or child-free women are also widely available. These groups exist to give and receive support from people who are in the same boat.

Other great resources and groups who are bringing people with PMDD together include:

www.viciouscyclepmdd.com = a patient-led project that is focused on raising awareness and raising the standard of care for those living with PMDD.

www.iapmd.org = A global charity that offers peer support, education, research and advocacy.

www.mevpmdd.com = a PMDD symptom app.

Walking 10,000 steps a day has been linked to various health benefits and reducing the risk of disease, and a healthy focus for weight loss. However, the basis for this target being introduced was not scientific or medical.

10,000 steps is a well-known target, however this amount did not originate in medical or scientific studies as you might have thought. The Manpo-kei step meter was created by the Yamasa Clock and Instrument Company.  Its marketing campaign was created by a Japanese health science professor who believed that walking 10,000 steps a day would help Japanese people avoid obesity.

The advertisements for the pedometer said “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day!”, with the number 10,000 being chosen for the fact that it looks like a person walking in Japanese characters.

Celebrities such as Will Smith and Simon Cowell have taken to the 10,000 step challenge, likely due to advice from celebrity trainers. Harley Pasternack gives this advice to his clients including Adam Levine and Amy Schumer as a daily goal to challenge and motivate them to stay active.

The more steps the better!

Whilst the campaign for 10,000 steps may not have originated from a medical background, the sentiment remains a recognised goal. Most experts agree with the approximation of 10,000, slating this as a target as well as 30 minutes of activity a day. This is in line with the Australian guidelines which recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Whilst there is no real rule, 5,000 steps a day is recognised as a minimum target, with anything less being considered sedentary.

Research has found that those who track their steps take an average of 2,500 more steps per day. Pedometers are mostly a thing of the past, with fitness watches such as the Apple Watch or Fitbit motivating walkers to reach step goals and activity rings. This can be a good way to stay motivated as you can compare counts and challenge friends and family.

legs walking up stairs with bright coloured shoes

Benefits of walking more

Walking is a low-impact workout available to almost everyone with good walking shoes, and a 2015 report found that Australians walked the most, with an average of 9,695 steps a day.

An Australian study found that the risk of prematurely dying was reduced by 6% with every 1,000 steps increase per day. This same study found that those who took 10,000 steps or more had a 46% lower chance of having an early death than those who didn’t.

There are several health benefits associated with walking more, including the following:

There are several social and emotional benefits to walking more each day, including:

  • Opportunities to engage with new people and friends, reducing anti-social behaviour
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • A higher level of concentration
  • Better management of anxiety and stress

10,000 steps is often recommended as a target for weight loss. An average person will burn around 3,500 calories per week from walking this amount, roughly translating to half a kilo of fat. This should only be an indication however, as your speed and body weight will affect the amount of calories that you burn.

Recommended steps per age range

10,000 steps is regarded as a reasonable target for most healthy adults, who on average take 4,000 to 18,000 steps per day. Children however, already take around 10,000-16,000 steps per day.

The Australian guidelines to physical activity do not denote a specific number of recommended daily steps based on age, but instead base their recommendations around minutes of physical and vigorous activity. Young children aged 1-5 should be physically active every day for at least three hours in total. For children aged 5-12, this recommendation includes vigorous physical activity for at least one hour per day.

Adolescents aged 13-17 should also engage in at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day, focusing on activities that can help strengthen muscle and bone.

For adults aged 18-64, a minimum target of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity is recommended per week, with a combination of at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity. This amounts to a rough estimation of 10,000 steps per day.

Older Australians aged 65 years and older should aim to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, and continue at a level they did throughout their earlier life. A Harvard Health study found that for older women, 10,000 steps is a large goal, and instead taking a modest 4,400 steps per day at minimum was associated with a 41% lower risk of dying compared to other women taking 2,500 or less.

table of step counts by age
Source: First Quote Health

Ways to increase your step count

If you are finding it difficult to spend time walking to increase your step count and don’t have access to a treadmill whilst watching TV, there are other simple ways to increase your step count. This may include:

  • Getting a dog. If you’re a regular walker, training and being kept accountable by pets is a great way to stay motivated to walk.
  • Using a standing desk and standing up during commercial breaks.
  • Breaking walks into multiple little ones per day.
  • Walking with friends to socialise.
  • Cleaning your house.
  • Taking the stairs wherever possible.
  • Walking in shopping centres when the weather is poor.
  • Parking your car further than usual from your destination.

The industry you work in will also impact the amount of steps you do per day. For example, hospitality workers do roughly 23,000 per day, retail workers 15,000 but clerical and office workers less than 7,000.

woman walking shoes

If you’re someone who walks an average of 7-8,000 steps a day, considering challenging yourself to 10,000 steps to see the well-documented benefits. Remember the more steps the better, so don’t try to take more than 20,000 steps a day if you are just beginning to increase your walking capabilities, as you may burn out. Too much walking can take a toll physically and mentally, so remember to only do what challenges you, not society’s expectations.

In a world flooded with global disasters and mental health conditions like eco-anxiety on the rise, author of the bestselling self-help book, Slow, Brooke McAlary, unveils the pitfalls of neglecting personal care in her new book, Care.

Brooke McAlary’s own experience with post-natal depression was the catalyst for her self-care journey and marked the beginning of her career change from business woman to self-help author. After the overwhelming success of her 2017 international bestseller Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World, Brooke returns to share her latest tips to live a slow and joyful life, through her latest book, Care: The Radical Art of Taking Time, published by Allen & Unwin.

After receiving her post-natal depression diagnosis following the birth of her second child, it was Brooke’s therapist who first recommended slowing down. This wake-up call prompted Brooke’s change of pace and her ensuing move to the Southern Highlands with her family. Burned out by her past career running a jewellery business, along with raising two young children and juggling excessive commitments, the self-care author reveals how she knew something had to change.

Brooke says, “Looking back, I can see my mental health started to take a dive…I write about slow, because I need slow, it’s not something that comes naturally.”

Self care is important for mental health
Photo Credit: Nikko Macaspac on Unsplash

In her book, Brooke tackles the exploitative nature of the wellness industry. The industry has high stakes in profiting from the growing market for self-care, reeling in nearly $4.5 trillion and representing 5.3% of global economic spending.

With increasing mediums for internet users to be inundated by advertisements and marketing campaigns, it is becoming easier for corporations to exploit the rising population of people seeking solutions to stress and burnout. Brooke says, “If you are buying into certain elements of self-care because you think there’s something wrong with you, you become vulnerable to that marketing message.”

Wellness services have flooded the market, many of which have been accused of charging exorbitant fees and exploiting desperation. Brooke challenges the exclusive tactics of self-care corporations, and offers a more accessible path to wellbeing in her guide.

“Everything I write about needs to be accessible to everyone, regardless of finances, geography, abilities,” Brooke says.

It helps if you’re already well, you’re slim and you’re 25, that kind of mentality is what has attached itself to self-care.

“In keeping with the idea of accessibility, I really wanted it to be achievable for people who are busy, which is a lot of people. If you’ve got thirty seconds, you can spend those thirty seconds looking out a window at a green view, you can write down one lovely thing that you saw today or you could hold the door for a stranger.”

Walking outside is a form of self care
Photo Credit: Юлія Вівчарик on Unsplash

Brooke unpacks the ideas of ‘Big Care’ and ‘Small Care’, and their significance in the past year where ‘Big Care’ has had a major global impact of “upheaval and collective grief,” with the climate change crisis and the COVID19 pandemic. While she acknowledges that these two types of ‘care’ don’t exist in a vacuum, she also identifies why we need to prioritise the ‘Small Care’ sometimes.

Brooke says, “I realised I had spent so much time and energy caring about all of these big, important global collective issues like climate change, COVID, the national grief we’re all feeling as a result of last year’s bushfires, but what I had neglected was the other end of the spectrum of care, the small acts of care.

“That is the genesis of the spectrum of care I talk about in the book. The reason we need to start spending more time on the smaller end of the spectrum.”

Brooke’s call for greater self-care and mental health awareness is all the more pertinent, with stress and burnout rapidly increasing among the population. Asana’s global study found that 4 in 5 Australians in white-collar jobs suffered burnout in 2020.

While a variety of symptoms are reported, the main signs often include:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Brain Fog
  3. Maladaptive Daydreaming
  4. Lack of Motivation
  5. Sleep Issues
  6. Frequent Illness

With smartphone users clocking in 3 hours and 15 minutes a day and technology infiltrating all aspects of people’s lives, Care brings to light the role technology plays in exacerbating burnout and stress.

Fighting the temptation to keep scrolling on social media is hard when “it feels good in the short term because it releases dopamine”, Brooke says, but she maintains the need to substitute internet usage with more fulfilling activities.

Our phones, our laptops, our screens can be viewed much more like a tool… something you use for a job and then you put it away.

Brooke advises people to partake in hands-on activities outside of technology, suggesting that physical activities like yoga can positively affect the brain and even just “looking into the eyes of animals can release oxytocin”, also known as the love hormone.’

Looking into the eyes of animals produces oxytocin
Photo Credit: Nachelle Nocom on Unsplash

Brooke says, “If there’s an opportunity to go for a walk, or to sit and do something tech-related, I use that information for motivation.”

In her own life, Brooke has implemented this concept for her family, with her children creating a technology-free ‘slow room’ to help reduce outside sources of stress. She says, “I started experimenting and started to declutter and was astounded to find the impact it had on my mental health.” It was this realisation of how switching off can bring joy that inspired Brooke to share this practice with her children.

Practising self care as a family
Photo Credit: Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

Brooke also outlines how ‘Small Care’ can affect our perception of time, revealing how anyone can harness the ability to “bend timeand alter their experience of its passage.

“As I get older, as my kids get older, I feel like time speeds up. That made me curious about why there were times in my life where time seemed to feel like more,” Brooke says.

Research shows that our perception of time changes as we grow older. When we’re a child everything is new.  As a result, time feels like it goes on for longer… That is the simplest way to bend time.

Brooke says when people’s lives become monotonous and repetitive, the brain doesn’t hold on to those memories, thus creating the illusion of time passing quickly. In Care, Brooke encourages individuals to embrace the sense of play and wonder from childhood, to slow down their perception of time and make space for ‘Small Care.’

Featuring Brooke McAlary, author of Care: The Radical Art of Taking Time.

 

 

Spirits and signs, how do they shape your life? Psychic Helen Jacobs shares ways we can connect with our spirit guides, notice the signs and find our life’s purpose.

Helen Jacobs, psychic and author of You Already Know – a comprehensive guide to spiritualitychats with Wellspring editor, Kate Durack, discussing a framework for living more intuitively in order to see your path clearly.

Before she practised as a psychic medium, Helen was a successful PR executive. Upon the advice of her spirit guides, she was able to make this change. Helen suggests that everyone should connect with their own spirit guides to give direction to your life’s path.

A busy mum of two, Helen transformed her life’s outlook, staying grounded but believing that her spirit reaches beyond her roots. She knows the challenges life brings and taps into her psychic senses to let spirits guide her, inviting and urging others to do the same.

sunset and serenity

Spirit guides

Helen began her journey with guides in 2001 after a spirit visitation from her Aunty. After this, she began to really connect with her inner and higher guidance.

Helen has relied on spirit guides to help her through many life decisions. After studying business and journalism, Helen realised the importance of communication. However, only later and likely due to her self-proclaimed naturally curious manner, did she realise how important spirit communication is, and how it would change her life.

Helen suggests that guiding spirits are present to be called on at various times, whether that be a transitional period such as becoming a parent or other challenges in life. She knows that every life has a purpose and urges others to realise they are here for a reason, and you will be guided towards this if you use those around you.

Everyone has at least one spirit guide, who is assigned to them for the entirety of this particular lifetime.

Instead of just one spirit guide, Helen posits that everyone has access to a spiritual support team, likened to a board of advisors in a business where each spiritual guide plays a different role.  According to Helen, spirit guides do not possess a physical body and knowing they are present is not the same as sensing when someone is in the same room as you.

Their energy can be as close to us as we wish to invite it in.

girl in nature watching path

Use the ‘psychic senses’

Helen believes that everyone has psychic senses in the same way that we have the physical ones of taste, sight, smell, etc., but in a metaphysical sense.

The way that spirit is going to communicate with us is not necessarily through our physical senses, but the metaphysical.

Do the hairs on the back of your arms often stand up? Helen suggests events like this are signals that there is a lot of energy around. When you get dizzy, she likens this to a spirit being present as energy moves in circles, making you feel as though the world is spinning.

There are so many clues that our body is giving us that someone non-physical is trying to get our attention.

Colours, animals, numbers are also symbolic and can be relaying messages from the spirits around us, says Helen. Most of the time we are not even paying attention to the clues that indicate that spirits are trying to grasp our attention, she continues.

Through our intuition we can sense, we can feel that the energy in the room shifts, Helen says.

She believes in not hiding your truth and following these hunches.

tarot cards

Look backwards

Intuition plays a big role in how one expands and challenges themselves. Helen believes that everyone has a path, but this is not necessarily set in stone. Instead, listen and follow the signs around you to do what will ultimately benefit you. This intuition, she says, will help you navigate through your life’s journey.

Life will present us signposts with choices of directions and our job is to figure out, by using out intuition, which one of those directions we want to go in.

To determine what has shaped your life, Helen suggests looking at things that have shaped your life experience, as they will help inform you about how you have gotten where you are, and importantly what you will do next.

Looking backwards is one of the best ways to realise what your signposts look like.

Helen warns against getting caught up in fear-based thinking, as despite its intention to keep you safe, it might make you retreat or hide from what is presented in front of you. Instead, she encourages us to follow our intuition despite this not always being easy. In doing so, she hopes, you will be guided on your journey by the signs around you that you might be missing.

girl meditating at sunset

Ask for a sign

Once you start looking for signs, Helen says, you will find them.  Then, she believes, you will be able to see how much life is working for you. Don’t be so specific, Helen warns. For example, if you want to quit your job and ask for a yellow car to drive past as a sign, you might be waiting a while. Spirit guides can do a lot, she says, but “maybe not that.”

There is real magic in watching how the signs come to you, and what the signs are that come to us.

Helen suggests taking a step back and becoming an observer in your own life, so that you can notice what has shaped your life’s journey and start to see this “serendipitous, synchronistic life” that we are a part of.

man meditating in nature

Be present

Don’t spend too much time wondering what you purpose is, Helen urges. “Each and every moment is of purpose,” she claims, and “if there are millions of moments in a lifetime, you have already offered so much.”

Life purpose is a moot point because you don’t know what the purpose is until your life is almost is complete.

She ends the interview with an important message, reminding us to trust your intuition and its guidance.

You know more than you think you do, and when you trust yourself, your whole world can change.

Watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

Lockdown sucks.

My heart goes out to anyone who is on the frontline, is struggling for work, is struggling with work and learning from home or who is separated from family. These times are challenging for everyone. I appreciate that I cannot possibly know or completely understand your personal circumstances, but I do appreciate that it can be tough. Really tough. You are being asked to do the impossible.

At my house, my husband is working long hours from home, often starting at 8am and not finishing until after 6pm. Our three children are learning from home and I’m trying to supervise, whilst doing my own work and keeping the house in some semblance of order. My younger two, who are still at primary school, obviously need the most input from me, whilst my eldest is reasonably self-sufficient but gets distracted; I have to check in a lot to make sure she’s on task and that she is remembering to take breaks from her screen. I seem to get one child started on an activity before another child finishes or has a problem with the laptop, or zoom, or spelling, or just loses focus, or is bored or hungry or just wants to see what everyone else is up to. In short, it’s not easy. We’d never ask a teacher to teach three classes at once, would we? And I know a lot of you are in a similar position.

It is true that there’s so much beyond your control and so much uncertainty, however, there is also a lot you can control. A very wise person (my grandma) once told me,

‘You can’t control everything all the time,

but you can always control your response.

There is your power.’

So, with that in mind, let’s look at 10 ways to love lockdown—or at least hate it less. After all, numerous mums lamented their lack of time and overall busy schedules before lockdown and I know many of them would have been delighted to press ‘pause’ on life. Now we are in a somewhat ‘paused’ state, it’s far from perfect, but there are some things we can do to make this time a positive one.

1. Schedule downtime

Plan a walk with a friend, a nap, a meditation session, a bath…whatever makes you feel better. Make an effort to prioritise it. It’s important to care for yourself as you care for your children.

2. Zoom party

Craving a catch up with the girls? We may not be able to meet in person at present, but what’s stopping you from inviting your friends to a virtual cocktail hour this Saturday night?

3. Differentiate the weekends

It can get a bit like Groundhog Day in lockdown. So, make an effort to make your weekends different. Go out as a family and do a long bush walk or bike ride. Have some fun with a family games afternoon, baking session, or even hide and seek (kick it up a notch by playing in the dark with torches). Order takeaway, dessert delivery or a box of Lego — everyone deserves to relax and have fun.

4. Get outside

I promise you’ll feel better. Fresh air is good for your mood and your soul, especially if it’s nice and sunny. Let the kids run and burn some energy. Move your body and breathe in the day. Bonus points if you can sit outside to meditate.

5. Enjoy a good book (or movie)

We all need a little escapism sometimes and whilst we can’t travel at the moment, the whole world awaits inside books. Or if you need something uplifting, consider a book more geared towards personal growth or positivity: Untamed by Glennon Doyle and Phosphorescence by Julia Baird are both great options for this.

6. Change your clothes

I don’t just mean change into clean clothes, I mean change out of your active wear, joggers or loungewear. Wear something that makes you feel great. Even choose to get dressed up for an at home date night. Or if you’re working from home, consider differentiating the day with your outfit by changing into loungewear when you’ve finished work for the day (and not before!).

7. Flexible work

Many employers understand the struggle of managing children at home and trying to work. If it’s getting too much for you, speak to your employer about adjusting your hours. Maybe you could work earlier in the day and then take a break to help with schooling before finishing later on. Or is there an option to reduce your hours temporarily? Or even take a day’s leave here and there.

8. Tag team with a partner

If you live with someone make sure you are sharing the workload. It’s easy to fall into habits and usually that means the mum doing the majority of the childcare and housework. Split it between you wherever you can.

9. Get up early 

It can be tempting to sleep in when you don’t need to rush out the door. But resist the temptation, get up and enjoy some time to yourself before you start the day. This is a time you can control. I love to meditate, journal and squeeze in a quick yoga session before my children are up, but you do what feels good to you. Maybe that’s a walk or run, or a coffee and a book.

10. Let go

Screen-time guilt and impossible schooling expectations aren’t helping you. These are unprecedented times and we need to be realistic about what’s achievable. If not, who suffers? You! And quite probably your children. Just try your best to let it go. This situation is temporary.

Overall, just try to be kind to yourself. You are being asked to do the impossible.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that nothing can be taken for granted.

Notice what you’re grateful for. Notice what you can control. It’s perfectly fine to be ok one day and then not the next. Just take it easy.  And remember, ‘You can’t control everything all the time, but you can always control your response. There is your power.’

Save money, time and so much more with ethical products.

Ethical products

By using a reusable safety razor one can save $250 over five years.

We can reserve a stack of money by converting to ethical products which are long-lasting, improve our health and supports local businesses and fair trade.

Reusable products save money in the long run.

Major supermarkets make it effortless to stick with the cheapest item, but this cycle can end up costing us more than a one-off, marginally more expensive sustainable option.

Most families use one to two rolls of paper towel a week and, while individually not costly, over time this adds up. Reusable, washable cloths are a viable alternative that require no future purchases.

Most ethical bars utilised for shampoo, conditioner and body wash reduce plastic consumption and one is equivalent to three bottles of liquid products.

Ethical soap bars

Reusable goods can last longer and are better quality.

Not only does the move to ethical goods save expenditure but they last longer.

Take toothpaste, if one brushes their teeth twice a day, organic toothpowder will last twice as long as one regular tube.

Organic tooth tabs

The same goes with sustainable bars, depending on how often one washes their hair, the bars can last four to five months. Plus, they smell equally as wonderful and work as efficiently as any regular brand of shampoo, conditioner, or body soap.

Improve your health.

A lot of cleaning products contain dangerous chemicals such as volatile organic compounds that can be destructive to our health. In addition to damage caused to our natural environment, chemicals also cause illnesses and disease, such as cancer.

Unlike bulk cleaning products, sustainable alternatives are usually 100% natural and don’t contain harmful compounds. Alternatively, they are plant-based, pose minimal threat and work just as adequately.

Sourced locally.

Buying locally-made items is a great investment and there are several advantages to us.

Lady surrounded by rubbish

Most ethical goods are made regionally so by buying them, we’re putting money back into our local economy and boosting its profits. Plus, it highlights to the government the areas the public supports and puts pressure on them to make sustainable changes.

Transport is Australia’s third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. And a major contributed to this is the transport of product goods, most of which are from big chain companies.

Unlike these unethical businesses, the other advantage with locally sourced products is that they require fewer travel miles to deliver. They also tend to use much less plastic, which could prevent massive loss of marine life.

Fairtrade and not testing on animals.

In this day and age, equality and ethical rights are of high importance, yet millions of people, particularly children still suffer under unfair labour rights.

However, the remarkable thing about organic items is they use fair trade, meaning producers of the products are paid fair wages and have up-to-standard working conditions. So, by purchasing these items we can be reassured that the making of them is done morally and reasonably.

Each year, more than 100 million animals are killed in the US alone from the testing of products.

This isn’t the case with sustainable brands, which all refrain from using the harmful and destructive procedures.

They make you feel great because they cause no harm to the environment.

We like to feel good about what we buy and where it comes from, and with sustainable products, this is reassured. We can avoid feeling guilty about using multiple items, and throwing them away because we know they’re ethical, sustainable, good for us and good for the planet.

Girl with green leaf in forest

 

Young children often put non-food items in their mouths, such as grass or toys, because they’re curious about the world around them. However, children with Pica take this a step further and actually eat them.

A boy playing in the dirt

What is Pica?

Pica is an eating disorder characterised by the compulsive eating of non-food items. A person with Pica may eat relatively harmless substances, such as ice, but many crave potentially dangerous ones, including hair, dirt or faeces. This can lead to serious complications and occasionally death. The name is derived from the word ‘pica’, meaning magpie, based on the idea that magpies will eat almost anything.

Pica is diagnosed when:

  • A patient persistently eats non-food items for greater than a month
  • This consumption is developmentally and culturally inappropriate.

If the behaviour occurs in a patient with another disorder, such as autism, it must be persistent enough to warrant a separate diagnosis.

Who develops Pica?

Anyone can develop Pica, however it is most common in young children, pregnant women and people with developmental disabilities. It is unclear how many people are affected, but it is believed to be more prevalent in developing countries due to higher levels of malnutrition and food insecurity.

Pica can also be found in other animals, such as dogs or cats.

Causes

There is no clear cause of Pica, but doctors have found that it is more common in individuals who experience:

 

  • Malnutrition
    A boy playing on the beach
  • Iron deficiency
  • Autism
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • OCD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Trichotillomania
  • Excoriation disorder (also known as dermatillomania)
  • Emotional trauma
  • Parental neglect
  • Maternal deprivation
  • Family issues
  • Pregnancy

Pica and pregnancy

Pica in pregnant women is thought to be caused by iron deficiency anaemia. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to crave strange combinations of food, however, to be diagnosed with Pica the woman must be craving and ingesting non-food items such as soil, ice, or laundry detergent.

Worldwide, Pica is thought to occur in 25% of pregnant women. The reasons for this are often attributed to the geographic region and the associated risk of malnutrition and anaemia.

Pica in children

Children with dirty hands

Young children often put non-food items in their mouths, such as grass or toys, because they’re curious about the world around them. However, children with Pica take this a step further, and actually consume them.

Small children make up 25 to 33 percent of all Pica cases. The minimum age for diagnosis is two years, as children under two often eat non-food items due to lack of understanding.

Pica in adults

In adults, Pica is usually a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as iron deficiency anaemia. If not, it is often caused by psychiatric conditions or developmental disabilities.

It is difficult to determine the prevalence of Pica in adults, as many may not want to admit to craving and eating non-food items. In institutionalised adults, the prevalence is 21 to 26 percent.

In order for an adult to be diagnosed with Pica, the eating behaviour must be culturally inappropriate. In certain cultures, a non-food item may be considered appropriate for consumption. For example, eating dirt and clay is considered a custom in some parts of rural Mississippi.

Pica in animals

brown tabby cat in blue ceramic vase
A cat sitting beside a succulent

Many animals, such as cats and dogs, chew on non-food objects, but a much smaller percentage actually consume them. Pica behaviours are often caused by behavioural problems, such as anxiety, boredom, or compulsive behaviour. It is also seen in dogs who are teething.

Dangers

Eating non-food, non-digestible and potentially toxic materials can have numerous consequences, including:

  • Malnutrition
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Dental issues
  • Choking
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Internal bleeding
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Lead poisoning
  • Brain damage

Treatment

Treatments for Pica vary depending on the underlying cause. For example, if symptoms are due to iron deficiency, supplements and dietary changes may alleviate symptoms without other treatment methods.

Behavioural modification techniques are often used, assisting sufferers to unlearn Pica behaviours. These techniques include:

  • Aversion therapy, where the individual faces a negative consequence for eating non-food items. For example, a child may have his or her toys confiscated, and a dog may be sprayed with water.
  • Positive reinforcement, where the individual is rewarded for eating nutritious food, or for not engaging in Pica behaviours.
  • Overcorrection, where Pica behaviours result in the individual, usually a child, being required to dispose of non-edible objects, wash themselves, and participate in chore-based punishment when they engage in Pica behaviours.

Treatment may also include dealing with complications, such as surgery for intestinal obstruction.

boy holding ice cream with cone
A child eating an ice cream cone

Does Pica go away?

In young children and pregnant women, Pica often resolves on its own within a few months, or after childbirth. Similarly, if Pica behaviours are due to a nutritional deficiency, treatment and supplements should alleviate symptoms.

However, Pica doesn’t always go away. In those with mental illness or developmental disabilities, Pica may continue into adulthood. In these cases, ongoing treatment and support may be required, including counselling and behavioural modification techniques.

Children and adolescents’ reactions to traumatic experiences can differ from the reactions of adults. During the healing process, it is important they are shown love, support and understanding.

A child looking sad

More than two thirds of children will experience a traumatic event by the age of 16 and, afterwards, distress is almost inevitable. Most need time to calm down and, depending on the child and type of trauma, this could take days, weeks, or months. During this process, it is important that everyone affected is shown love, support and understanding.

A traumatic event could include:

  • Abuse
  • Bullying
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Community or school violence
  • Natural disasters
  • National disasters, such as terrorist attacks
  • Loss of a loved one
  • War
  • Car accidents
  • Serious or life-threatening illness

Children and adolescents’ reactions to traumatic experiences can differ from the reactions of adults. This can be influenced by age, development level, previous traumatic experiences and access to a support network.

Children aged 0 to 2

Infants can sense your emotions and will react and behave accordingly. If you are relaxed, your baby will feel calm and secure. If you’re anxious, agitated or overwhelmed, your baby may have trouble sleeping, sleep irregularly, be difficult to soothe or may refuse to eat.

How you can help

  • Though going through a traumatic event can be difficult for everyone affected, try your hardest to remain calm.
  • Help keep your baby’s emotions balanced by showing physical affection, smiling, speaking soothingly and making eye contact.
  • Respond consistently to your baby’s needs.
  • Maintain a routine.

A mother holding her baby

Children aged 3 to 5

After experiencing a traumatic event, preschool and kindergarten-aged children may demonstrate regressive mannerisms or return to behaviours they’ve outgrown, such as bed wetting, tantrums, thumb-sucking or separation anxiety. They may demonstrate uncharacteristic behaviour, such as acting ‘babyish’ or withdrawn.

How you can help

  • Assure your child that the event is over and that they are safe.
  • Acknowledge and listen to your child’s fears.
  • When your child is upset, try to distract them. For example, play a game, read them a book or play with a pet.
  • Help the child to name their feelings, for example “you felt scared when the storm came.”
  • Protect the child from further exposure to the event. This may include footage or pictures of a natural disaster, news programmes, or conversations between other family members.
  • Make allowances for regressive behaviours, such as bedwetting or toileting accidents.
  • Try to maintain a regular bedtime routine.
  • If your child is experiencing nightmares, don’t ignore them. Instead, comfort them until they’re calm enough to go back to sleep.
  • If your child is experiencing separation anxiety, assure them that you are safe. It may be helpful to talk to your child’s preschool teacher, babysitter or other carers about their anxieties.

Children aged 6 to 11

School-aged children react to trauma differently depending on their age and stage of development. Younger school children may not have the appropriate skills to effectively communicate their emotions to those around them. On the other hand, upper primary school children are usually able to articulate their thoughts and communicate distress.

School aged children may become withdrawn or anxious and may fear another traumatic event. They may become angry, moody and irritable, which can lead to fighting with family members and peers. They may also experience stress-related physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach aches and exhaustion.

Two girls playing

How you can help

  • Reassure your child that they are safe, and that the people around them are safe.
  • Try to maintain a routine. This creates a sense of control and normality.
  • Keep your child busy. Organise playdates with friends, take them on outings, or play outside with them. If normal activities have been interrupted, provide alternate distractions, such as playing with toys or reading books.
  • When it comes to incidences of widespread trauma, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack, pay attention to any rumours being spread at school. Assure your child that not everything they hear is true and correct any misinformation.
  • Limit a child’s exposure to news covering the event.
  • Avoid exposure to graphic images or footage, as this may magnify the trauma.
  • Talk to your child about the experience and encourage them to ask questions. Children often feel empowered by knowledge.
  • Answer questions honestly. If you don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.”
  • Talk to your child about your own feelings. For example, “I miss grandma too” or “I was very scared when that happened, how about you?” However, don’t give details about your own fears, as this can be harmful and increase a child’s anxiety.
  • Acknowledge any physical complaints and assure your child that they are completely normal. Encourage them to rest, eat properly and stay hydrated. If these symptoms don’t go away, it is a good idea to check with your doctor.
  • Assure your child that they won’t feel like this forever.
  • If your child experiences feelings of guilt or shame, let them know that it’s normal to feel that way. Assure them that they didn’t cause the event and that nobody thinks it is their fault.

Children aged 12-18

A sad teenage boy

Teenagers may deal with their emotions by isolating from friends and family. They may become more aggressive, fight more with their family and peers, begin taking risks or turn to drugs and alcohol.

How you can help

  • Assure your teen they are safe to express their feelings.
  • Encourage discussion. Often teenagers don’t want to show their emotions. It might be helpful to start a discussion when you’re doing something together, for example, going on a walk, so that the discussion doesn’t feel too confrontational.
  • Help them take action. For example, encourage them to volunteer at a charity or homeless shelter. This may help them regain a sense of control and purpose.
  • Some teens may become involved in risky behaviour such as drinking. Talk to your teen about the dangers of this, and discuss alternative ways of coping, such as going on walks or talking to someone.
  • If your child is having problems at school, talk to their teachers or school counsellor about what has happened. They may be willing to give your child extra time to complete assignments, or extra help if they’re struggling to keep up in class.
  • Suggest healthy ways your teen can get their emotions out. For example, if they’re angry, they might feel letter after going for a run.
  • Like younger children, teenagers may exhibit regressive behaviours such as sleeping with a stuffed toy. Assure them that this is normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
  • If your teen has experienced interpersonal violence, such as an assault, assure them that it wasn’t their fault, and that they aren’t to blame.

Helping children after the death of a loved one

Ages 3 to 5

  • Talk to your child about what the death means. For example, explain that they can’t see them anymore, but can still remember them and look at pictures.
  • Get your child to write them a letter. This is especially helpful if the death was sudden or unexpected, as it
    may help them say goodbye.
  • Stay calm when your child asks questions. Questions are how young children process information.
  • It may be helpful to talk to them about the idea of an afterlife. If your family isn’t religious, you can talk to them about how the person lives on in your memories.
  • Do something to commemorate the loved one. For example, plant a tree or draw a picture.

Ages 6 to 11

  • Share your feelings with your child. This will encourage them to open up.
  • Your child may feel angry, sad, or alone. Let them know that these emotions are normal and let them know you’re there for them.
  • Talk to your child about what impact the death may have on their daily life and routine. For example, ‘I
    have to work more now that daddy isn’t here.’

    A sad little girl
  • Be understanding if the child experiences problems at school after the death. Assure them that this is normal.
  • Understand that their academic performance may be affected.
  • Avoid using vague answers, such as ‘grandma is in a better place’. Most school-aged children have at least a small understanding of what death means, so these phrases may confuse them.
  • Encourage your child to celebrate the loved one’s memory. For example, planting a tree or making a scrapbook.

Ages 12 to 18

Teenagers may have difficulty expressing emotions about death. They may fear showing vulnerability and ignore and deny what has happened. It’s important to:

  • Share your own emotions with them and encourage them to share theirs.
  • Be patient.
  • Be understanding if the death affects their academic performance and assure them that their wellbeing is more important.
  • Celebrate the person’s memory. Your teen may find it helpful to pray for them, look through photo albums or plant a tree in their memory.

A man holding flowers in a graveyard

If these feelings don’t go away

Often people recover from a traumatic experience in the weeks and months that follow. However, some experience long lasting, distressing or worsening symptoms, which may signal the need for professional help.

People who have been through a traumatic experience may develop post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD). Those with PTSD experience unwanted thoughts or memories of the event, nightmares, flashbacks and heightened levels of fear and anxiety. They may avoid people, places or activities that remind them of the event.

Symptoms of PTSD may develop immediately after a traumatic event or may not surface until later. PTSD is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm and substance abuse.

Resources

Kid’s Helpline: 1800 55 1800

Lifeline: 13 11 14

National centre for childhood grief

Phoenix Australia

Find a health service

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective.

The ketogenic diet, also known as the ‘keto’ or low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet, is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet in which one’s consumption of carbohydrates is reduced to 50-20, ideally 20, grams per day. When carbohydrate consumption is substantially reduced, the body’s supply of glucose is depleted, forcing it to turn to fat as an alternative source of energy. This metabolic state is known as ketosis. Ketosis leads to the production of ketones, which are stored in the liver and can provide energy to the brain.

In recent years, the keto diet has become a popular method of weight loss. Though there are very few long-term studies of ketosis and weight loss, there are many reasons as to why it is effective. The keto diet has been linked to the reduction of the hormone ghrelin; the body’s main ‘hunger hormone’. The reduction of hunger signals can lead to a lower calorie intake and less food cravings, resulting in weight loss.

Following a keto diet

The rule of the keto diet is to consume a high amount of fat, a moderate amount of protein, and small amounts of carbohydrates. Generally, a person following a keto diet should obtain:

  • 70-80% of their calories from fat
  • 20-25% of their calories from protein
  • 5–10% of their calories from carbohydrates

Ideal foods

  • Meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Cheese Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Low carb vegetables (e.g. lettuce, kale, broccoli, avocado, asparagus, and mushrooms)
  • Berries (especially raspberries and strawberries)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black coffee
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Healthy oils (e.g. olive and coconut oil)
An iPhone photographing avocado and broccoli

Foods to avoid

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Beans and legumes
  • High carb fruits (e.g. bananas)
  • Starchy vegetables (e.g. Potatoes and sweet potatoes)
  • Sugary foods
  • Fruit juices
  • Most milks, with the exception of unsweetened almond milk
  • Sweetened yoghurts
  • Chips and crackers
Bagels and cream cheese

Other uses and benefits

Epilepsy Treatment

The keto diet was originally used as a medical diet to assist in the treatment of Epilepsy, primarily in children.

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It is characterised by a variety of unpredictable seizures, ranging from sudden unresponsiveness, confusion, abnormal behaviour, and loss of memory, to convulsions and complete loss of consciousness. A person is diagnosed with Epilepsy if they experience two episodes of unprovoked seizures (occurring more than 24 hours apart), that are not caused by another medical condition such as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, or drug overdose.

Keto diets are traditionally used to treat and manage seizures in children when anticonvulsant medication has not worked. Higher ketone levels in the blood often lead to improved seizure control.

Fatty Liver

Studies have shown that the keto diet is effective in treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat is stored in the liver. In the past, fatty liver was attributed to those who consumed excess amounts of alcohol. However, today, it is more likely to be caused by other factors, such as obesity and insulin resistance.

A keto diet can assist in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by:

  • Reducing fat stored in the liver.
  • Decreasing insulin levels.
  • Suppressing appetite.
  • Promoting weight loss.

Other Neurological Issues

man eating vegetable in bowl
A little boy eating avocado

Due to extensive evidence that the keto diet effectively reduces seizures in children with Epilepsy, it has been suggested that the diet may assist in the treatment of other neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and even brain cancer. However, there is currently not enough evidence to support these claims, and more human studies are required.

Risks and side effects

The ‘Keto Flu’

A sudden decrease in carbohydrate intake can come as a shock to the body, which may cause a variety of flu-like symptoms. For most people, the ‘Keto Flu’ is a group of short-term side effects that will resolve within a few weeks. These symptoms may include:

  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Bad Breath

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

As the majority of fruits and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates, they are often not consumed while following a keto diet. This increases risk of deficiencies in nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B, and vitamin C.

 Lowered Bone Density

Ketosis can have negative effects on bone health. Though there have been only a few studies regarding the keto diet and bone health, results have showed depleted bone density and an increase in fracture risk.

Kidney Stones

High fat animal products, such as meat and eggs, contain little to no carbohydrates (for example, one boiled egg contains approximately 0.6 grams of carbs) and are therefore staple food items in a keto diet. Eating a lot of these foods leads to a higher risk of kidney problems, such as kidney stones.

Heightened Risk of Chronic Illnesses

Medical evidence suggests that following a ketogenic diet increases the likelihood of chronic, potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer.

Who shouldn’t follow a keto diet?

Those with impaired kidney function

As mentioned earlier, those who consume high quantities of animal products, such as meat, eggs, and cheese, are more likely to develop kidney problems. Because of this, those with pre-existing kidney issues should not follow a keto diet.

Pregnant women

When it comes to the keto diet and pregnancy, there is little research, mainly due to ethical issues regarding studies performed on pregnant mothers. However, the main consensus between doctors is that following a keto diet is not safe during pregnancy and can lead to a higher risk of developmental delays and issues with organ growth. Following a keto diet during pregnancy may also be linked to organ dysfunction and behavioural changes after pregnancy.

Those who are underweight

Though the keto diet involves consuming high amounts of fat, it often leads to, sometimes rapid, weight loss. For this reason, it is not recommended for those who are underweight.

Those who suffer from, or have a history of, eating disorders

Without the advice of a dietician, it is not recommended for individuals with a history of eating disorders or disordered eating behaviours to follow restrictive diets. There is a ‘slippery slope’ when it comes to eating disorders and dieting. Obsessing about the nutritional content in food may trigger eating disorder sufferers to fall back into dangerous behaviours. What’s more, those with a history of eating disorders or under eating may already be suffering from nutrient deficiencies, and these may be exacerbated while following a keto diet.

closeup photography of pregnant woman wearing blue panty
A pregnant woman

Keto and diabetes

There are two main types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate amount insulin, which is vital in converting glucose to energy. Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive condition where the pancreas slowly loses its ability to produce insulin.

There is no simple answer as to whether a keto diet is safe for those with diabetes. In some, following a keto diet may be possible and beneficial, provided they are closely monitored by a medical professional. As many with type 2 diabetes are overweight, the weight loss benefits of a keto diet may be helpful. A keto diet also lowers blood sugar levels, which may also be beneficial. Monitoring carbohydrate consumption is recommended in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as large consumption can cause blood sugar spikes.

However, there are numerous risks involved. Firstly, a keto diet may cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and loss of consciousness. Secondly, following a keto diet puts sufferers at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis occurs when ketone bodies produce a dangerous amount of acid in the bloodstream. The kidneys then begin to excrete ketones in the urine, which can result in fluid loss. Cases of diabetic ketoacidosis usually occur in those with type 1 diabetes, due to their inability to produce insulin, which prevents the body from producing too many ketones. However, in rare cases, it has been observed in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Always remember

three avocado fruit desserts
Avocado filled with tomato and feta

Before making any changes to your diet, it is vital that you seek advice from your doctor or dietician, monitor your health closely, and report any concerning symptoms. If you are taking any medications, it is also important to talk to your doctor about any effects a keto diet may have on them. All in all, trust your body. If you don’t feel well while following a keto diet, speak to a professional about whether or not the diet it is right for you, and discuss alternatives.

Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity.

Of course it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural to feel the need to look after them. However, there is a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity

It’s true; relationships are about compromise. We give and we take. We care and are cared for in return. But how much is too much?

A couple with anchor tattoos

What is codependency?

In simple terms, codependency involves caring for another to the point where it becomes unhealthy. In a codependent relationship, an individual sacrifices their own needs in order to meet the needs of their partner. One party takes on the role of the ‘giver’ and the other, the ‘taker’. The ‘giver’ often loses their own identity while trying to heal or ‘fix’ their partner’s illness, addiction or dysfunctional personality. Eventually, the two begin to rely on one another for relief of insecurity and loneliness, rather than love.

What causes codependency?

More often than not, codependency stems from childhood. It appears in those who grew up in unstable households, where they were exposed to abuse, emotional neglect, family issues, and lack of communication. A dysfunctional upbringing can cause people to develop an insecure attachment style, which can lead to further difficulty in relationships. A person with an insecure attachment style is more likely to become jealous, clingy and constantly seek reassurance from a partner.

Individuals with low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, or trust issues, may enter a codependent relationship in order to feel wanted or needed. If an individual feels they are being relied upon, they are less likely to worry about being abandoned.

But I care about my partner. Why is that bad?

Of course, it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural for you to feel the need to protect and look after them. However, there’s a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity. A Codependent’s life revolves around their partner’s needs and emotions, leaving them with little time for themselves. This leads to isolation and loss of connection to friends and family. If your partner struggles with addiction or mental illness, your codependency may be enabling them and preventing them from seeking help. This may have negative, and potentially deadly consequences.

Codependency warning signs

  • You justify your partner’s bad behaviour.
  • You want to ‘fix’ them.
  • You can’t enjoy yourself when they’re not around.
  • You feel like your world would crumble without them.
  • You can’t perform daily tasks, like driving or going to work, without constantly thinking about them.
  • You have no boundaries.
  • You constantly seek their approval.
  • Your self-worth depends on them needing you.

Healing a codependent relationship

If you’ve lived in a codependent relationship for a long time, it can become difficult to notice or accept it, let alone change it. Though it is possible to overcome codependency on your own, many couples require professional treatment or counselling. If both parties are willing to make a change, they can work towards a healthier relationship.

As codependency is complicated, it’s important to find a therapist with experience in dealing with them. A professional can help you to:

  • Identify codependent behaviour and take steps to address it.
  • Work through unsolved childhood trauma.
  • Work on increasing self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Help with anxiety and fear of abandonment.
  • Challenge negative thought patterns.
  • Help you develop an identity beyond your relationship with your partner.

Remember, in a healthy relationship, it’s important to:

  • Take breaks

In a healthy relationship, people are able to function away from their partner. Spend time with your friends and family, go to the beach, out to dinner, to a movie or a solo outing… maybe that shopping spree you’ve been dreaming of!

  • Set yourself boundaries
    • If your partner is constantly texting you, decide that you’ll no longer answer while at work or after a certain time.
    • Don’t cancel plans to spend time with them. If you planned a day out with friends, don’t cancel it just to be with them.
    • Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t feel like spending time with them. If you’re sick, busy, or tired after a long day at work, tell them.
    • Organise a ‘date night’ with them, or plan time you always spend together. That way, you have time to yourself, while still having a scheduled time to spend time with them.

When you have become used to giving and giving, spending time on yourself can feel selfish and wrong. However, self-care is vital in relieving stress and anxiety, strengthening coping skills, and increasing resilience. Whether it’s putting on a face mask, taking a warm bath, or going on a peaceful walk in the woods, self-care can help revitalise your mind and body, leading to a calmer and healthier you.

  • Embrace positive communication.

Be open with your partner and express your feelings. If they do something to upset you, tell them. If they aren’t respecting your boundaries, talk to them. The more open you are with them, the easier it will be for them to open up in return.

  • Trust that your emotions are valid.

In a codependent relationship, it’s common to ignore or hide your emotions in fear of causing an argument. However, in a healthy relationship, both parties should feel comfortable sharing how they feel, without fearing the outcome. Regardless of whether you deem an emotion as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you are entitled to feel it.

Professional treatment

If you and your partner both decide to make a change, a therapist who specialises in relationships may be able to help you. A professional can assist you in establishing healthy boundaries, work on self-esteem and self-worth issues, and help you to recognise unhealthy thought patterns. Since codependency often stems from childhood, a therapist may also work through any traumas or unresolved feelings that may be related to your need for codependency. Overall, the goal of treatment is to allow an individual to regain their sense of emotions and identify which, in turn, leads to a healthier relationship.

Remember: it’s not your job to ‘fix’ your partner.

We all want to support the ones we love. But remember, you are not your partner’s therapist. It is important to love them without hurting yourself in the process.