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STRONGER TOGETHER: The great thing about being grateful and showing gratitude

You are here: wellbeing
Last updated:
19/09/2022

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses gratitude and its effect on wellbeing.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Gratitude may seem like somewhat of a buzzword these days, but there’s plenty to be abuzz about.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

The practice of gratitude is not only a nice thing to do for others but also for yourself. Research suggests that being grateful and expressing gratitude towards others can improve our happiness and quality of life. Gratitude enhances empathy, improves physical health, mental wellbeing, quality of sleep, self-esteem and, also has the capacity to reduce stress.  

Identifying what you’re grateful for, especially during challenging times, can help foster resilience and improve our wellbeing.

Expressing gratitude to others goes a step further from identifying things we are grateful for. It actions it, often shifting the focus to appreciating the kindness, nature, and acts of others. When we meaningfully express our gratitude and appreciation for others, seldom is it lost on them.

Several years ago, I received an anonymous gratitude card filled with praise and positivity about me. This act, seemingly so simple, was incredibly uplifting. The generosity of such an act can have a compelling effect on people and their capacity to cultivate happiness, kindness, and compassion.

While September 21 marks World Gratitude Day for 2022, and it’s well worth pausing on this day to reflect and express gratitude – there’s also no time like the present.

There are various ways in which to show or express gratitude; these include writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal and practicing mindfulness.

The great thing about being grateful is that’s really easy to get started, you don’t need any special equipment. Simply start by observing and noticing the things that people are doing around you each day that you appreciate or are thankful for. Make a mental or written note of who did it and why you are grateful to have noticed it.

We all know using our manners can go a long way, and simply saying ‘thank you’ is no exception, particularly when we’re talking about gratitude.

Take a moment today, on September 21 and every other day to reflect on what or who you’re grateful for and how you can share it.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses taking our emotional health as seriously as our physical health

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

It can be hard to talk about being in pain. I’m not talking about the pain we feel when we stub our toe or fall over and get injured – that we recognise immediately.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

We seek out help when our body is injured.

But when our emotional and mental wellbeing is in pain, we tend to ignore it until it piles up and we start to breakdown.

In the TEDTalk Why we all need to practice emotional first aid, psychologist Dr. Guy Winch provides a terrific exploration around the preference we place on our physical health. With an anecdote about breaking your leg, he brilliantly highlights the stark and arguably bizarre way we brush off psychological pain.

You know when your leg is broken, other people can see that it is broken, there are professionals ready to help you identify the injury and provide advice on how long it will take to heal. No one judges you or tells you to ‘walk it off’.

And yet, how often do we tell ourselves or does someone say ‘try not to worry about it’ if you’re worried or upset about something?

This type of response must stop. Our emotional wellbeing is just as serious as our physical health.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel, to notice pain in others and the compassion to consider what it is like walking in someone else’s shoes.

We’re human beings, and we can’t just put a band aid on everything. Sometimes we need to stop and talk about what we’re going through, sometimes we need to let others help us.

We can’t predict how long it will take to mend, or when things will be better; but when we work together, we know things will indeed get better.

We can apply first aid and stop the ‘emotional bleeding’. If you need help, reach out to a friend or a profession and talk about it. Or if you know someone is going through a hard time, give them a call, ask how they are today and let them know how much you appreciate them and you are always ready to listen.

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses trying to balance the hustle of daily life and prioritising our wellbeing.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Life is full. People are juggling and struggling to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Although I advocate for and encourage my team to have a personal self-care plan, the reality is many see self-care as an additional job on their ‘to do’ list. Something creating a sense of overwhelm for people already feeling stretched.

Advocating the importance of self-care shouldn’t be a push strategy; pushing ourselves, our team, family, or friends to do things that improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Move more, drink more water, take your lunch break, disconnect from work, get enough sleep, eat food that nourishes you, take regular breaks, catch up with family and friends. These are all good strategies when applied consistently.

The research however tells us that push strategies aren’t working.

Results from a recent Deloitte study (2022) show that 1/3 employees and executives struggle with fatigue and poor mental health. This is even though people are well-intentioned, know what strategies to use and understand the importance of prioritising their mental health and wellbeing.

So, what’s the problem? If they know it’s important, what’s stopping them?

Work. And arguably not just the 9am-5pm chunk of your day when you’re on the clock. You have to get ready for work, commute, cook dinner, look after children if you have them, try to catch up with friends and ensure you have time to focus on your wellbeing. It’s a lot to cram into 24hours.

Sometimes, just pausing and reflecting on a choice you’re about to make can make the world of difference. Stop pushing for a moment to simply ask, ‘is this decision more likely to help or hinder my mental health and wellbeing?’

Will another glass of wine help me deal with the stress of a situation? Or would it be more helpful to talk with a trusted friend?  

Will staying up until 2am help or hurt my chances of starting work at 8am?

Will meal-prepping on the weekend help me to fit in a walk after work?

Every day we’re faced with choices that can help or hinder our mental health and wellbeing.

Is today the time you make a different choice?

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses Stephen Karpman’s ‘Drama Triangle’.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Getting curious about why we act the way we do in certain situations and then opening ourselves up to understanding those behaviours is incredibly powerful and emboldening.  

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Why do we think and then act the way we do? What triggers us to react in ways unique to us – why don’t other people react the same way?

Does that reaction serve us, and if not, can we prevent it from happening again?

Gaining insight into ourselves is a journey of personal discovery that can be illuminating for some. Others can be fearful of what they’ll learn and instead decide, ‘I am who I am, and I don’t care if other people don’t like it.’

Dedicating energy towards understanding ourselves better isn’t for everyone. But there’s an opportunity for us all to rise to the challenge of behaving in more ways that are above the line.

‘Above the line?’ I hear you say. ‘What line is she referring to?’

I often refer to Stephen Karpman’s ‘Drama Triangle’ model with my team. It reminds us of the different roles we play when behaving above and below the line – roles we can sometimes revert to unconsciously or out of habit.   

Karpman suggests when we’re behaving below the line, we assume the unhelpful roles of ‘bully’, ‘rescuer’ and ‘victim’ leading to habitual ways of responding linked to blame, justification and defence. Imagine someone you know who; consistently sees the world as unfair (victim); always steps in to help out (rescuer); or has a tendency to take over (bully).

In contrast, above the line behaviours indicate openness, security in oneself and the acceptance of personal responsibility.

This journey of self-discovery isn’t for the faint-hearted. We won’t always like what we learn about ourselves. Self-compassion is therefore essential. Be kind to yourself – you’re human, and this isn’t a path of critique, but curiosity.

Take a moment to reflect on the roles within the Drama Triangle.

Have there been situations when you’ve assumed roles considered ‘below the line’? If so, what was the trigger? Is there anything you’d like to change moving forward? What about behaving above the line – when did you find yourself doing that? Are there opportunities for you to do more of this?

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses toxic positivity and optimism.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Times are challenging and people are struggling to stay optimistic. If you feel like this, it’s completely understandable. Rising interest rates, the cost of living and the latest COVID wave have people feeling flat and anxious.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

Is optimism the antidote?           

We all know those ‘glass half-full’ optimists. People telling us everything happens for a reason, or we should focus on what we have instead of what we have lost.

There’s enormous pressure to put on a brave face and convince others (and themselves) that everything is ‘great’. People put on their ‘I’m an optimist’ mask and make it their mission to urge others to ‘think positive’ and be grateful for what they have, even in the face of adversity and when it’s evident they’re struggling.

There’s plenty of evidence-based research highlighting the benefits of optimism, positive thinking, and how it can inspire hope for ‘finding the silver lining’. But the reality is we are humans, not robots.

We experience emotions and we have bad days.

And that’s okay.

What’s not okay, is when we start to invalidate our own or another person’s feelings. By definition, ‘invalidation is the process of denying, rejecting or dismissing someone’s feelings’.

This can occur in a variety of ways, many of which are well-intentioned. ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’, ‘you shouldn’t feel that way’, ‘try not to think about it’ or ‘it could be worse’ are all different ways people commonly and unintentionally send a message to another person that their feelings aren’t justified or appropriate.

While the intention may be to uplift someone, failing to acknowledge your own emotions or dismissing the feelings of others through toxic positivity sits at the core of invalidation.

This doesn’t mean we can’t show gratitude for what we have. It does however serve as a reminder that sometimes we just need to have some compassion for ourselves and what others might be going through.

Sometimes listening is enough. No pressure to fix anything, just offering a friendly ear and providing support is often all that is needed.

Focusing on positive emotions only is unrealistic and erodes our ability to communicate how we are really feeling.

Finding a silver lining can still be achieved while avoiding toxic positivity. The key is recognising that negative feelings and emotions are a normal part of life, and naming and recognising them is far more valuable than encouraging people to put on a brave face and stuff them away.

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

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” This is a sentiment brought to light by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and it still rings true today.

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

Understanding how we use our voice – that is, what we say and to who - matters.

There’s no shortage of interactions we can have in a day. Regardless of the person or the setting, the common dominator in each of these interactions is you and how you chose to contribute to the conversation.

Knowing your own values and your boundaries will greatly inform how you speak and whether the conversation needs to change.

By not buying into conversations about people without them being present, we set ourselves up for more fulfilling interactions which can be uplifting and at the very least not demeaning of other people.

At IMPACT Community Services, we recently integrated the ‘No Triangles’ initiative, giving staff the authority and language to prevent gossip-type conversations and behaviour in the workplace. ‘No Triangles’ encourages staff to speak directly to the person in preference to raising the matter with someone else – an approach we believe can be a stepping stone to more proactive interactions.

In your daily life there are several different means to adopt a ‘No Triangles’ approach. You can opt to find common ground with someone. Rather than talking about someone, you steer the conversation away from an individual to a more general topic of mutual interest.

If a subtle approach isn’t working, you can be assertive, without being rude, that the conversation is making you uncomfortable and you would prefer to talk about something else.  

Being deliberate with our language and boundaries clearly sets our intentions and ensures that we are living in alignment with our values. It can be incredibly empowering, in addition to demonstrating strong moral fortitude, to not compromise your values for the sake of gossip.

You’re less likely to feel drained if you’re engaging in conversations that are delivered with compassion, with an intent to uplift without belittling someone else in the process. So, how will you be using your voice today?

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of our effort.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Human effort is a valued resource, and it is something that we as individuals have and can apply within the workforce and our daily lives.

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

While effort may be sometimes overlooked when we think of ourselves, it’s an important factor to understand.  

Recognising what we put our effort into, what requires effort, when we are willing to apply it and what we can stand to gain from it – can be informed by what we value in life.

It could be argued that our effort is one of those ‘zero talent’ skills that we look for in people.  People who understand the level of effort required to get the outcome that they want and then commit to making it happen.

Other examples of ‘zero talent’ skills include being punctual, having a positive attitude, using good body language, being coachable, being prepared, and having a strong work ethic - all desirable traits that are in reach for all of us.

Yet, these freely available and accessible skills are missing in some. That willingness to tap into skills that demonstrate grit, tenacity and belief in themselves, and their capabilities potentially eroded by disappointment, hardship or continual reinforcement from others or their own negative self that they are not worthy or good enough.

My hope is that reading this reminds you that you don’t need a university degree, years of work experience or someone’s permission to shine a light on your talent. Talents that demonstrate to yourself and others that you have everything that you need to take charge and be a success in your own life.

To get started, take some time today to do your own self-assessment against these ‘zero talent’ values and what qualities you recognise and identify with.

Every one of us can improve in these areas, yet those who succeed have the humility to recognise the change that they seek, commit to practicing these skills and learning from others. 

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants” — Isaac Newton.

Who do you know that can help you to improve on these skills?

What can you do today to make change happen?

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya discusses the importance of space and how we can use it to ensure we are showing up as our best selves.

By IMPACT Community Services Managing Director Tanya O'Shea

Space can mean many different things to different people and in different circumstances. It can be time, distance, and even astronomy. For our personal and everyday response to the world, we’re talking about time and distance.

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

Neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl is credited with highlighting the “space” between stimulus and response.

“In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This space can be a split second, in which we immediately respond to a situation. This emotional and sometimes instinctual response can be helpful in some instances, but not all. Sometimes to show up as our best self we need a moment to process, reflect and respond appropriately rather than emotionally reacting.

Hindsight is undeniably a beautiful thing. But we can give ourselves the space to consider various possibilities and delay our response to consider the appropriate reaction to the stimulus.

Giving yourself this space can look like taking 5 minutes to gather your thoughts, practicing breathing exercises, sleeping on it, or even stepping away from what has triggered you to take a break or a holiday.

It is sometimes in taking a step back that we can see the bigger picture.

Knowing what the type of ‘space’ is most applicable to you will, in part, be determined by what stimulus is triggering you and whether you are comfortable with your typical response.

If it was laid out like a formula Stimulus x Space = Reaction, you would have to solve for all of them.

The first question to ask yourself is, ‘what isn’t serving me?’.

Is there an instance or a situation whereby your response doesn’t align with how you want to act or be?

It can take a lot of courage to honestly reflect on what is triggering you and why. Doing so in a safe space and with trusted people is crucial.

Be kind and honest with yourself, as this as Frankl says, is an exercise of growth.

"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 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!

If you’re looking to improve your wellbeing and resilience ahead of entering or re-entering the workforce, the ADAPTABLE program might be just what you’re looking for.

ADAPTABLE is part of IMPACT Community Services’ free and voluntary WORKFit program, which delivers resilience training to people looking to identify and develop their inner strengths.

Jobseekers can now benefit from a resilience-building based program that will promote well-being and empower them to navigate the job search landscape and deal with the challenges of a new job.

ADAPTABLE Mentor Jonathan Bailey talks through some of the questions about the program, resilience and wellbeing below:

What is wellbeing?

Wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy, and there are many factors that can contribute to increasing an individual’s wellbeing. The better our wellbeing is, the better our life experiences are.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It’s the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges and the ability to move forward when there’s an opportunity to do so.

How do I build resilience?

Research has shown that wellbeing and resilience are closely linked. The better our wellbeing is, the higher our levels of resilience are. And the connection goes both ways whereby, the more resilient we are, the more likely we are to have better wellbeing.

Throughout the ADAPTABLE program, clients will take part in discussions and activities which help boost wellbeing and resilience. The activities are simple to do but have powerful affects. One example is the ‘three positive thoughts for every negative thought activity’. In this exercise we write down any negative thought that we may have experienced recently. Then we must write down three positive thoughts to help counter that thought or feeling.

According to research, for us to flourish, we should have at least three or more positive emotions to outweigh the experience of a negative emotion. This activity is a simple yet powerful exercise to help us succeed in this area.

Why is wellbeing and resilience important when looking for a job?

Life can throw many positive and negative challenges our way and looking for work is no exception. By looking after our wellbeing, increasing and maintaining our levels of resilience, we can ensure we’re in the best space, both physically and mentally, when searching for a job.

Can working be good for my health?

Absolutely yes! Research has found that being engaged in good and fulfilling work leads to improved self-esteem, mental health and reduces psychological distress. The right job can be great for our wellbeing.

If you have any questions about the program we haven’t answered here, give the team a call on 0459 860 928.

"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 hurry sickness and the power of slowing down.

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

In a world where connectivity is constant and productivity is associated with success, it can be hard to say no.

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

Struggling to say no to jobs, no to meeting up with people and even no to opportunities that we think we could accept but don’t really have the capacity to prioritise is something some people have difficulty with.

It’s what happens when you’re in a ‘hurry sick’ cycle. This pattern takes form in multitasking, rushing, and becoming irritated when obstacles arise.

The over-committed and fast-paced busyness of life with a lack of boundaries and unrealistic time expectations can contribute to a state of hurry sickness.

When people can lose the ability to stop and think, it can lead to an increase in errors, efficiency, direction. Most critically it can have long-term health implications.

While hurry-sickness isn’t a formal diagnosis, it is patterned behavior that reportedly increases your output of cortisol which can lead to burnout and depression. Moreover, staying in a heightened state of urgency and overstimulation can influence levels of fatigue, anxiety, and the ability to relax.

Identifying you’re in a state of hurry sickness can be akin to overcoming motion sickness, you need to slow down and stop. Stop rushing, stop being in a hurry.

Being able to say no to someone or something when you are at your limit is crucial to your quality of life and work.

You need to be able to prioritise yourself and interests with time. You don’t want to be too busy making a living you forget to live a life.

Practicing mindfulness to clear your mind can lead to personal and professional proactive leadership, rather than running on autopilot.

When you stop multitasking, you can start to question why you’re being asked to do something or why you’re spending your time on a particular project and whether it warrants the stress and immediacy you previously applied.

Prioritising work that is time critical rather than undertaking all the opportunities, projects or jobs with a perceived sense of crisis.

Briefly pausing to be present, in the moment not the thought, can have myriad benefits to your wellbeing, mindset and decision-making skills.

You must give yourself permission to take a break and know that there is support available.

Taking a break can take many forms, for some it can be as simple as saying you’ll get back to someone with a response instead of giving an immediate definitive answer.

It can also look like momentarily stepping away to regather your thoughts and composure if situations are heated or uncomfortable. For others it can be switching out language which is unnecessarily rushed – ‘I’ll pop out’, or ‘I’ll quickly get that done too’.

Some of the ways to practice mindfulness include breathing and tapping into your senses (stopping to breath for a minute and taking note of what you can hear, what you can see, what you can touch and what you can smell).

There are plenty of online resources you can access for information about mindfulness and breathing exercises.

Take time to experience life’s simple moments rather than just observing them.

When you slow down and identify what you value, it can become easier to say no to things that aren’t serving you.

Next week I will be focusing on how to determine your values and maintaining boundaries to preserve them.

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