STRONGER TOGETHER: Wrapping a trusted Crew around our young people

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"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the YOURCREW app.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

We know carrying something heavy is easier with support. Whether it be a helping hand from someone you know, a professional or it’s a group effort, it is easier to move with help. The same can be said for our mental health, particularly if you, your friends, family, or child are struggling.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

While it isn’t always easy to ask for help knowing someone is there and having access to support can be lifesaving - and it is exactly what the YOURCREW app is designed to do.

Amanda Riedel created the Harrison Riedel Foundation after her 13-year-old son Harrison unexpectedly ended his life in 2014. Amanda describes Harrison as a typical kid, who excelled at school and had lots of friends.

Mental illness however does not discriminate, and Amanda is passionate about ensuring that every young person has someone to contact, 24/7, with the aim of ensuring small issues do not become big ones.  

She believes that the power of having access to a trusted ‘crew’ can’t be understated, with the YOURCREW app “developed to remove barriers for young people to get help, to have a ‘crew’ and gain an understanding that they are cared for, that they are important, and they are not alone”.

All crew members accept an oath to help without judgement and within confidentiality (unless someone’s safety is in danger). The best part is that the app continues to be reviewed by young people, with their ideas incorporated to improve usability and access.

The app has several features including an emergency button with hotline contacts, a map of safe places including hospitals and police stations, check-ins via a range of emojis, image or written text, a calendar, safety plans, journals, an information hub and more.

If you know a young person, please download the YOURCREW app today and support them to establish their crew. Visit their website here.

‘All young people deserve to feel safe knowing that there are people who care about them’.

Harrison Riedel Foundation.

If you or someone you know needs help now, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the power of questioning and expanding our focus.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

If you have a piece of paper grab it, or simply imagine one, place a single small dot anywhere on the paper, and look at the page. What do you notice?

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

This isn’t a puzzle, or a cryptic riddle. It’s a reflective exercise to understand how and what you might focus on.

Some people will become fixated on the dot, what it looks like, represents, and reminds them of.

The same thing can happen in our daily lives. We can become engrossed in certain things; tunnel vision takes over and everything becomes relative to the dot.

When this happens, we can become preoccupied and lose sight of what is important to us.

But what if we also considered the blank space?  

If we shift our focus from the dot to the page, there’s a wealth of space to a comparatively small dot.

This space can be indicative of many things, opportunity in particularly. The space for creativity, for change, growth and for something other than a singular fixation.

Being able to look at the bigger picture and interrogating what we see and why can be liberating.

By practicing this kind of reflection, you can give yourself permission to consider alternative situations, context, and the flexibility of reality.

However, broadening one’s focus is sometimes easier said than done. We bring with us past experiences and education which can shape our response to stimulus, alongside our present mindset and busyness which can influence our focus.

Mindful practices can be used to help create the time, space, and ability to step back and reflect.  

Breathing exercises are among the most accessible and simple tools to creating such a space. Some techniques include box breathing; whereby you inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds and then exhale for four seconds, repeatedly. Another exercise is belly breathing and mindful breathing.

There are numerous apps and resources online with further information on breathing and mindfulness techniques.

If you have a spare moment today, consider if there’s something you’re fixating on and what you might see if you broaden your focus.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on our basic needs as humans and overcoming challenges by supporting one another.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

The warmth of a hearty meal, a shower after a long day, the shelter from the change of season and a community that cares for others, is something we should all have this winter.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

But across the country and in the Bundaberg region, people are experiencing homelessness as the housing crisis continues and people are finding it increasingly difficult to put a roof over their heads.

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow coined his ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and it is undeniably prevalent nearly 80 years later.

Maslow’s theory breaks down five modes of needs for a person to being living their most authentic and comfortable life. Unsurprisingly, it starts with the physiological needs – what we need to survive. These foundational needs include food, water, clothing, and shelter, for without them it would be extremely challenging to priorities anything else.

The rising cost of living not only makes it difficult for people to afford shelter and food, but it can also take a toll on one’s mental health. 

The power of having a consistent and safe place to rest your head and full your stomach cannot be overstated and for those who may be struggling, it is vital to know there are services to help you.

If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or other difficulties, there is an information flow chart on IMPACT’s Community Navigators’ webpage with a breakdown of the various situations one could be facing and the appropriate support service contact numbers and addresses to help.

If you are in a position to help fellow residents who are in need, there are various organisation which take food donations, like the Angels Community Group’s Emergency Food Hampers. Angels is also currently calling for cups of soup donations to facilitate their cup of soup bar at the support centre on 66 Targo St.

As indicative of the title of this column, as a community we are ‘stronger together’. Providing donations or sharing valuable information can be key to helping people attain their basic needs and begin improving their lives.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on the power of visualisation.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Making your dreams a reality undeniably requires a lot of dedication and hard work; but there’s several simple and fun tools that can give you a hand along the way.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

The power of visualisation as a form of mental practice is not only attested to by numerous high-performing athletes and business professionals, but recent research has revealed this type of rehearsal can influence memory, motor control and planning. 

To maintain momentum in the pursuit of your dreams, creating a Vision Board can be an effective means to help promote manifestation as you work towards bringing your dreams to reality.

When creating a vision board, get clear on what you want. Consider your values and goals, and also think about what you would like to achieve, what kind of person you would like to be, how you want to feel.

It’s important not to spread yourself or your Reticular Activating System too thin. As mentioned last week, your RAS is located at the base of your brain and works like a filter processing the sensory information that you are exposed to

Your vision board can therefore assist your RAS to focus on what is important to you.  The key is to double down on 1-2 key themes, and once you are clear on those areas, get your creative juices flowing!

Dream big. Spend some time collecting photos, images and quotes that represent what you want. Vision Boards can be anything you want them to be – traditionalists will display on a cork board, however they can be created online and displayed as a screensaver on your phone or laptop.

The most important part is that you display it somewhere that you will see it daily. A Vision Board serves as an anchor to your dreams and displaying them loud and clear in front of you on a daily basis helps to consistently work towards them.

And don’t be afraid to change it up once you have achieved a certain goal.

That’s the beauty of a Vision Board – you’re in control of what goes on it!

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on the Reticular Activating System in the human brain and how we can use it to help up us accomplish our goals.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

It’s often said that the human brain is like a supercomputer, and just like a computer it has various systems and filters that can be used to our advantage when we know how they work.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

One such system is the Reticular Activating System. A bundle of nerves located at the base of our brain, our RAS works like a filter processing the sensory information that we are exposed to; from images, to words, colour and sound.  

The average person is exposed to more than 74 GB in information a day, therefore our RAS will support us by setting filters on the information we feed it – what we focus on, what we tell ourselves, the information we consume, the people we spend time with.

Sometimes though, mindlessly exposing ourselves to information without considering what is most important to us can result in the consumption of social media and other content filled with misinformation, doctored images and toxic messages. This can become detrimental to our wellbeing if we don’t create awareness around it and check in with how it aligns to our own beliefs and worldview.

Fortunately, our RAS can help us with this.

Imagine this.

If you struggling to get fit, write down what you need to do to get fit. Put that list somewhere that you will see it, write your main goal in big letters so that it stands out, read fitness blogs, get a personal trainer, create a vision board of things you want to achieve from being fit. Do whatever it takes to ensure that your RAS takes notice and supports you to reach your goal.

When we understand how our biology works, our RAS can be used to our advantage; the key is continual reinforcement, focus on what is important and consistency which can be achieved through the practice of positive mantras, vision boards and even visualisation.

Understanding the tools available within the human brain can be lifechanging, supporting us to focus on specific goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on time and how spending it doesn't have to feel like a loss.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Noticed yourself or others talking about how quickly the year’s gone? If so, you’re not alone.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

In today’s fast-moving world, it feels like we’re losing time – we simply don’t seem to have enough hours in the day to do the things we need to do.

These feelings of loss associated with how quickly time flies, are aligned to a scarcity mindset.

It’s easy to lose yourself in this state-of-mind amid the daily hustle of work and life. Without realising it, we start to articulate this as experiencing loss or lacking something. These thoughts can be insidious, and they can creep into other areas of our life.

Viewing ourselves, our situation, and opportunities that come our way through a scarcity lens, can seem like everything is a ‘win-lose’ situation.

But what if we turned this into a ‘win-win?’

For many, their waking hours are largely consumed by work, with precious little time available to check off things on the ‘to do’ list, much less engage in wellbeing activities like exercise or socialising.

So, is a lack of time the issue, or the feelings associated with how we do spend our time?

Everyone gets 24hrs a day, and a choice about how that time’s spent. Work, childcare responsibilities, volunteering, medical appointments and household duties dictate our time be spent in certain ways, but this isn’t necessarily a loss of time.

By using the phrase ‘I get to’ rather than ‘I have to’ flips the script on loss and instead immediately increases the value to something we want to invest our time into. 

Deliberately scheduling your time or imagining every minute has a dollar value, and therefore needs to be allocated well is another means to reduce this feeling of scarcity.

As is, including engaging activities that leave you feeling less busy and stressful, especially when feeling ‘stuck in the daily grind’.

What we want is to experience the feelings that come with these changes, and the shift in mindset from scarcity to a place filled with abundance.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on self-awareness and the benefits of improving emotional literacy.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

‘How are you?’ -  It’s a question engrained in social greetings, but how often are do we check-in with ourselves? And how sincere is the response?

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Good, bad, happy, sad, angry, tired: these are responses that may roll off the tongue without too much reflection. But there’s believed to be 27 distinct emotional experiences and feelings aren’t isolated – they’re complex and intertwined.  

By expanding our emotional vocabulary, it can become easier identifying and describing what’s happening, how we feel and how to make a change, should we need to, ultimately improving our self-awareness.

The Feelings Wheel provides a great starting point for increasing emotional literacy. The Wheel demonstrates the broad language which can be used to capture human emotions beyond terms like happy, sad, bad, disgust, angry, surprised, and fearful.

It extends vocabulary from ‘bad’ to indifference, pressure, overwhelmed, or unfocused.

To effectively calm yourself down, or change your emotional state, it can be empowering to be aware of your current emotions and notice what is actually going on. This comes from a level of self-awareness which is not always instinctive.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take notice of what’s driving that feeling, you may realise you’re tired or busy and it’s only temporary, not forever.

For some people this is easy, they know how to self-regulate and refocus. But for those unfamiliar, keep a tool like the Feelings Wheel handy (Google to find free version online).

The Feelings Wheel will support you to bring awareness to the feeling and the confidence to be able to articulate what is going on for you in that moment. This insight, this pause to take notice and articulate how you’re feeling, creates space for growth, insight and the freedom to decide what to do next.

It’s also helpful when communicating with others; whether it’s with your partner when you feel frustrated or a work colleague if you’re under pressure.

Pausing, and taking a breath to increase your self-awareness in that moment can be awkward. But using this time to check in with ourselves before reacting can be life changing.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on gratitude and finding happiness in the unremarkable things of life.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Amid the hustle of busy work and personal lives, happiness can sometimes feel like a pursuit, triggered by something pleasurable such as a purchase, an interaction with a friend or an experience.

When it comes to the experience or purchase, the bigger it is, the happier we believe we’ll be. If we could just buy that house, or car, or new suit, then we’ll be happy. Once I have a partner or get that job or have a child – then I’ll be happy.

Unfortunately, defining our happiness by moments created outside of ourselves isn’t sustainable. Ever bought a of piece of jewelry or new outfit, and then notice you’re still not happy, or your happiness is short-lived and you’ve moved onto something else?

This experience isn’t uncommon, it’s known as the theory of hedonic adaptation, which suggests people quickly revert to original levels of happiness after the novelty of the experience has worn off.

Zen practice suggests the greatest happiness can be found in the most unremarkable of things. Rather than trying to achieve happiness from materialistic means or external validation, we focus on finding a sense of calm and contentment in simple, everyday things – daily.

These are the moments often right in front of us, but their value is priceless. They’re our comfort, our sense of meaning, our feeling of peace and grounding.

Showing gratitude for what you have in your life can be a means to slow down the hedonic adaptation and experience more joy in your day. This awareness means you’re less likely to get caught up in a ground-hog-day mentality.

It’s stopping to smell the roses. For me it’s the ocean. Being near it, having my feet in it. It fills me with instant calm, peace, and happiness.

To breathe in and out, to be able to get out of bed, to pat your dog, to kiss your partner or child. As ordinary and unremarkable as these events may seem, these moments actually make life amazing.

Happiness is in front of us every day. We just need to pause and take notice of it. 

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on our perception of stress and urgency.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Perception is one of the many simple complexities that can influence our emotional response to a task, situation, or circumstance.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

We might notice our perception of stress or urgency becomes elevated due to external factors, usually things happening to us that we can’t control or avoid. These may be work deadlines, social activities or family responsibilities. What seems like an endless to-do list can evoke a heightened sense of stress.

Currently, for me, it’s yellow post-it notes. I’m reaching for them whenever I want to jot down something I need to do, have an idea to research, etc - you get the gist. Anything and everything lands on a sticky note, and by the end of the week, I’m swimming in a sea of them!!

This ocean of notes sends a wave of stress over me, I feel like I’ve got a mountain of work to do and can start to feel overwhelmed.

But we can reframe this perception into what is real. For sticky notes, I use the 4-D’s (do it, delete it, delegate it, or defer it) at the end of the week to determine ‘what is’ - regaining a sense of reality and control. My goal is to compile one list of priorities that guide my focus for the following week.

While sometimes our stress is real and we need to respond immediately; sometimes, it’s from external factors as a matter of perception. And we have the power to change our perception.

When familiar feelings of stress and urgency start to rise, pause, and take notice of what you are experiencing. Perhaps ask yourself ‘what else could be true?’

My sticky notes could be a sign I’ve had lots of inspirational thoughts, or I’ve had some great conversations with people who’ve inspired me to note something down.

They don’t necessarily contain things I need to do.

Giving yourself space to get clarity and shift your perception can reduce the impact on your emotional state and start to reduce the levels of stress you’re experiencing.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on the power of letting go of outdated notions of your identity for new opportunities.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

When introducing ourselves, we may highlight our profession, our hobbies, or perhaps our family. My go to was: I work for IMPACT Community Services, am a wife and mum, love anything related to health and wellbeing and am a committed runner. 

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

These elements of my life form part of my identity and shape who I am today. They’re also subject to change because of choices I make, and things outside of my control.

When change occurs, sometimes we cling to parts of our identity that are no longer real. The inability to let go of outdated versions of ourselves can lead to a feeling of ‘stuckness’.

I always referred to myself as a runner – it’s something I did daily for 20+ years. Then I injured my knee and my GP said I’d never run again.

You’d swear I was given a terminal diagnosis. I went pale, felt faint and had to excuse myself, to pull myself together.

All I had to do was change my exercise routine. Simple. However, running was such a big part of my identity, that I grieved like I’d lost a significant person in my life.

While my loss was minimal compared to others, it took me six months to come to grips with it. The effect of losing part of ourselves shouldn’t be underestimated.

My loss was outside of my control, but I had control over what I did next. After almost two years of rehab, I’m now stronger than I’ve ever been – all because I let go of my former runner identity.

Sometimes change can seem jarring or out-of-reach. We hold onto notions about ourselves that no longer serve us, but in doing so, limit ourselves to new opportunities which may be more valuable.

Give yourself permission to grieve if you need to, time to adjust and the space to embrace new possibilities.

One way to start is releasing the idea you cannot do something because you haven’t done it before.

If you have any unhelpful or outdated expectation of your identity, ask yourself ‘what can I let go of today?’

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on ways to create change in your life

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

When we feel stuck or dissatisfied in our life, it is usually a sign that something needs to change as our basic needs are not being met.   

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

It is a signal, to get out of our head and become curious about what is going on for us, around us and to us.

Last week, we discussed how we can find ourselves accustomed to boredom, simply because we become stuck in unchecked patterns of behaviour and routines that do not serve us. If we don’t break these patterns and create change, it becomes hard to grow.

And it is my belief that if we aren’t growing, we are not really living our best life.

Stepping outside our comfort zone for a road you’ve not yet travelled is challenging – it’s sometimes hard to see that change needs to occur, and harder still to make that change a reality.

Continually thinking about doing something differently can get us caught in a loop where nothing actually happens. We just continue to think about it.

Action is therefore essential – you must go beyond thinking about change to live it.

Forcing ourselves to confront these challenges despite our discomfort, enables us to start.

It enables us to push outside of the limits that we place on ourselves and start making the change that we want to see.

Perhaps you begin with a self-audit, consider how you may be robbing yourself of the life you actually want.

Be honest, what is holding you back? Where are you holding yourself captive?

Once you recognise what ‘it’ is, work out what change you can make today that will release you from past behaviours and create the shift that you want to see.

This doesn’t have to be an immediately life-altering decision. This is not about quitting your job, or dissolving a partnership or jumping on a plane with a ticket to travel the world.

This is about creating clarity, and from that, starting to set a plan for not only the change that you want to make, but also how you are going to make it happen.

It is about taking notice and introducing small and consistent actions aligned to a bigger goal.

Start small with something that you can incorporate into less than 2 minutes of your day, and where possible link it to a reward.

According to James Clear, habits are built around a feedback loop consisting of cue, craving, response, reward. A cue triggers a craving, leading to a response that results in a reward which satisfies the craving.

New habits will start to build and feel worthwhile when they are linked to feelings of success. Our brain is hardwired in a way that it will tell us a new habit is worth it if we start to feel positive feelings that are associated with reward, like satisfaction and enjoyment. When we feel disappointed, sad, or unfulfilled, we tend to avoid doing the same thing again.

The reality is that with persistence, patience, self-compassion, and a little bit of insight into how our biology can assist us, we can enact change.

So, what does this look like in practice?

Imagine you would like to become a person who likes to exercise in the morning, but you find yourself hitting the snooze button and staying in bed. There are little steps you can take to create that AM fitness lifestyle for yourself.

On the days that you get up as soon as your alarm goes off, reward yourself. Even if that reward is that you get 10 minutes of quiet to read the news on your phone before the rest of the house gets up.

Once you develop the practice of getting out of bed, you put your exercise shoes on.


Maybe even do a few push ups or lunges while listening to your favourite podcast or song. On those days when you get up and do some exercise, your reward might be that you grab a coffee or phone a friend on the way to work. That feels good doesn’t it!

The key is starting, because once you start, you begin to develop and embed new routines that support your bigger goal.

What small step can you take today that will get you started?  

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on how boredom can play a part in your energy levels.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

If you find yourself constantly waking up in a rut rather than a routine in your daily life but you don’t know why – maybe you’re bored.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Our energy, as discussed last week, can be drained, or recharged by certain situations. It can also have a ripple effect on those around us through the concept of an emotional contagion.

We, as individuals, also have the power to manage our own energy outputs and input, through the choices we make and the life we lead.

It’s helpful to know that as individuals we have and use energy in different ways.

At IMPACT, we use the DiSC profiling tool as a way for team members to develop an appreciation for the difference in others. After answering a series of questions, an individual is provided with insight into their Natural Style and their Adjusted Style.

A person’s Natural Style takes the least amount of effort and energy. It is unconscious, learned behaviour that represents their most authentic self.

The Adjusted Style – is how a person adapts their behaviour to meet the demands of an environment. In your job you may need to put more energy into certain tasks to display the behaviours or style that is expected for the role.

To do the required adjustments, requires conscious effort and thought. This creates a natural drain on your energy reserves.

While our Adjusted Style can be challenging initially, the good news is that our brain starts to learn new patterns quickly with practice. These new ways of working start to incorporate with existing routines and eventually require less energy and effort.

While this works for some activities/jobs in select environments, there are other times when the transition to new patterns simply doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t seem to click.

In some situations, it could be because you find yourself so painstakingly bored that nothing seems quite right, and you don’t know what’s going on.

Understanding your energy, your values and your situation may help explain whether boredom is impacting you.

Across various readings it’s clear that there are different ways boredom can influence your emotions and behaviour. They fall under the following categories: indifferent, calibrating, apathetic, searching and reactant.

Indifferent is understood as a feeling of going through the motions; while calibrating is feeling uninterested yet unsure how to break out of the routine.

Apathetic is feeling a lack of enjoyment, helplessness, disinterest, languishing.

Whereas searching is when people grapple with feelings of boredom by channelling their restlessness into motivation.

Reactant is when one is quick to snap at others, and they become increasingly frustrated. In this instance people can feel motivated to escape the situation, the people and seek fulfillment through an alternative task.

In the moments of bored realisation, it’s important not to become overtly self-critical of yourself in the situation, rather consider it as an opportunity to explore what’s draining your energy and what you can change.

When you reflect on what your needs are, understanding what you can change can become clear.

Trying to visualise and articulate your needs or your boredom can help you find clarity in your current situation.

Firstly, let’s get those thoughts out of your head.

Ask yourself ‘What is consuming my energy at the moment?’ and then ask yourself ‘Is this working for me, or do I need to make a change?’

Depending on what works best for you, get these thoughts down. Write them down, draw it or reach out to someone you trust and talk about it. Explore what is going on for you.

This process is all about being curious and becoming clearer about whether change is necessary.

Please remember that this is a personal process free from judgement. You don’t need to convince anyone else that what you’re doing is right for you.

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