Six Tips For Managing Intrusive Thoughts(anxiety)

Anxiety is a mental health disorder that can cause people to feel overwhelming worry or fear. Anxiety not only impacts people mentally, but it can also take a toll on people physically. Some physical symptoms of anxiety include increased heart rate, tension and difficulty sleeping. Anxiety can be a debilitating disorder if you don’t know how to manage it properly. Here are six tips that can help you manage your anxiety:

1. Identify Your Triggers

Identifying what triggers your anxiety is a great way to manage it. When you are able to recognize what is making you feel anxious, you become aware of what is causing it. Once you are aware of what is causing your triggers, you can begin to work on ways to better manage your anxiety. Writing in a journal when you are feeling anxious is a great way to keep a record to identify a pattern in your behavior.

2. Exercise Regularly

Exercising not only maintains your health physically, but it can also benefit your health mentally. Exercising regularly has been shown to relieve anxiety and stress. Whether it is a brief walk or a long intense workout, incorporating physical activity in your day can have a positive effect on your mental health.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Spending time to taking care of yourself is incredibly important. Whether it is taking a shower, going to the hair salon, buying your favorite meal, or doing something that you enjoy; these are all steps to self care. When you are feeling anxious, these are all great way to manage your anxiety and get your mind off of what is triggering you.

4. Talk to Someone

If you are feeling anxious, talking to someone can help tremendously. Opening up to friends or family can help start the conversation on how they may be able to help. The support of your family and friends is important for your mental health and well being. But it doesn’t have to stop there. If you are interested in seeking professional help, click here to read more about treatment options to determine what may word best for you.

5. Learn Relaxation Techniques 

Anxiety can become overwhelming. If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, taking a moment to stop and relax can help switch your brain to a more relaxed state. For example, deep breathing exercises have been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and tension. Another relaxation technique is meditation. Meditating promotes being present, being mindful. Meditation can help ground an anxious person who may not feel like they have control over feelings and emotions.

6. Think Positive 

While it can be hard to think positive, replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can help manage anxiety. It is common that people who anxiety feel constant negative thoughts because of the vicious cycle of fear and lack of control. A great way to combat negative thoughts is to learn your ABC’s. This is a method used by professionals to help you change your response to anxiety. A stands for “alarm”, B stands for “belief” and C stands for “coping”. Essentially, your mind reacts to a thought or situation, your mind associates a belief with that thought, and you cope accordingly. Being able to start changing that belief and way of coping can help manage your anxiety.

To learn more about the ABC method, click here.


Knowing When to Take a Break from Work

Taking a break from work can be tough. After all, time off can mean falling behind and potentially losing out on a fair bit of money. From time to time, though, taking time off is a necessity. If you notice that one of the signs below is true for you, it might be a good idea to start looking at taking a few days off from work.

When Your Performance is Suffering

The little things are often the best warning signs before a disaster. If you notice that you are starting to make multiple tiny mistakes at work, you might need to take some time away from the office. Multiple little mistakes are often a sign that your concentration is starting to go, possibly from putting in too many hours. You may well need a break that will allow you to gain some perspective and get your mind back where it needs to be. Take real time off and allow yourself the time you need to get back on the ball.

When Your Health is Suffering

If you have recurring health issues, it’s important to know when to stop working. If you are putting in so many hours that you are always sick or that you are feeling worn down, you need to take at least a day off to recuperate. If you are dealing with work-related issues like carpal tunnel, for example, you might need to take even more time off to heal. While your job is certainly important, it’s not more important than your health. Use any time off you have to get back to a better place physically and mentally.

When Your Relationships Suffer

If you can’t remember the last time you went on a date or did something with your friends, that might be a problem. You might be a homebody, but everyone has relationships in their lives that are important. If you find that you are out of the loop in all of your personal relationships, you are certainly working too much. This is one of the most common signs that you need a vacation, so pay attention. All work and no play really is a dangerous combination if you want to have a life outside of the office.

When You Dread Your Job

If you find yourself lying in bed one day dreading the fact that you have to go to work, that’s nothing to worry about. If this happens every day, though, you’re looking at a problem. You may need to consider taking some time off to recharge or to make a better plan for your future. It might be normal to hate waking up early or fighting traffic but feeling a true sense of dread about going into your workplace is a sure sign that something more serious is going on. Definitely schedule a vacation if you get to this point.

When You Resent Your Workplace

One of the major signs that you need to take time off is that you start to resent your workplace. It’s not just going to work that you don’t like – it’s the little things that are driving you mad. You start to become irrationally angry at the way your boss pronounces a certain word or at the pictures on your coworkers’ desks. This kind of unhealthy frame of mind is certainly a sign that you need a break.

When You Begin to Make Unhealthy Choices

If you notice that you are making unhealthy choices just to keeping going to work, it’s probably a good time to take a break. If you’re over-indulging in alcohol, making poor choices in how you spend your time or even starting to undertake risky behavior just to feel something, you’re heading down a very dangerous path. If you intend to be able to work in the future, it’s vital that you take some time off to reassess what’s going on in your life.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs above, taking a brief break might be a good idea. If you can afford to do so, an extended vacation may allow you to come back to work better-rested and better able to handle your resonsibilities. No matter what your situation, though, you must acknowledge that it’s impossible to continue working without taking at least a brief break. Doing so will not only hurt your physically and psychologically, but it will also ruin your ability to perform well at work.


How to Deal with Postpartum Depression

Having a baby incites a lot of emotions. And while utter happiness and excitement are the two most apparent ones that rule over this certain milestone in a mother’s life, it can also be enveloped by anxiety and fear. These negative emotions can develop into serious and even life-threatening conditions if left unchecked. So, how do people deal with this long-lasting, serious mood condition? Below are seven tips on how you can protect you and your baby against the signs and symptoms of PPD.

Identify the Signs and Symptoms 

Treatment of signs and symptoms cannot start without proper diagnosis of the underlying condition. Depression after pregnancy can develop suddenly, typically within the first 14 days post delivery. In some cases, symptoms can appear within two days. Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, severe anxiety and agitation, suicidal thoughts, bizarre behavior, and thoughts of harming the newborn.

Make a Secure Connection With Your Newborn 

The stage wherein a mother and child are bonding on a deep emotional level, also known as emotional attachment, is the most critical stage of infancy. Success in this particular stage allows a child to feel safe enough to grow to the fullest extent. It impacts how he/she will interact and form deep connections throughout his/her life. To create a secure attachment with your newborn, use nonverbal cues including smiling, maintaining eye contact, and creating contact between your’s and your baby’s skin.

Get Some Rest 

One of the most common advice that people who have just had a baby get is “sleep when the baby sleeps”. This might sound overused after awhile, but it’s sound advice that could help you deal with postpartum depression. In a 2009 study, women who had the least amount of rest post pregnancy were also the ones who experienced the worst bouts of depression. This applied to mothers who clocked less than four hours of rest between midnight and 6 AM. If you find yourself staying up late because you need to breast-feed, consider pumping and filling a bottle so that your spouse can handle the overnight feeding.

Maintain a Healthy Diet 

Althought a well-balanced diet won’t immediately or solely cure postpartum depression, adopting a well-balanced diet can help you feel better and more energetic. It helps you avoid one of the most common symptoms of depression, which is severe mood swings. Plan out the week’s meals over the weekend and prepare healthy snacks in advance. You want to bulk up on food that is dense in nutrients including carrots, cheese, apples, peanut butter, and so forth.

Consider Psychotherapy 

Based on a 2013 study, psychotherapy was found to have a substantially lower rate of relapse versus medication. The report also suggested that people who were being treated via psychotherapy had lower risk of dropping out from the regiment as opposed to those who were taking medication. That being said, consult with your attending physician before resorting to psychotherapy treatment.

Avoid Isolation 

The weeks following delivery of your baby are the worst times to be alone. Isolation can increase your risk of developing symptoms of postpartum depression. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reveals that talking about your emotions with your spouse, a family member, or close friend can help boost your mood. Reports also show that new mothers had lower risk for depression after regularly socializing with experienced moms who also suffered from postpartrum depression during their pregnancies.

Gradually Go Back to Your Exercise Routine 

Tons of studies support the claim that physical exercise can help with depression, particularly those experienced after pregnancy. Although it’s ill-advised to start exercising right away after you give birth, most mothers can safely begin low-impact exercises a few days after pregnancy, particularly if you had a healthy delivery without any vaginal complications. If unsure, speak with your physician for advice on when you should start exercising again. Start with walking for half an hour each day. Other common physical exercises for mothers include spinning, dance, Pilates, and yoga.

Final Thoughts 

One in seven women are affected by postpartum depression, according to a study published by JAMA Psychiatry. While it’s easy to discount it as a mood swing after pregnancy, it should be treated seriously before it worsens. Use the aforementioned tips to properly deal with postpartum depression. Not only does it help protect mothers, but also their precious newborn babies.


Bursting with pride

If you’re a mom I’m sure you would have experienced the feeling before of bursting with pride for your children. It can be for anything, from a little thing to a larger achievement, but being a mom I think we all celebrate them in the same way!

Earlier in the week I watched my three year old daughter perform her first speech and drama show. It was a circus theme, and saw the class assembling the big top while reciting a bit of narrative to go along with the actions. As I watched the show unfold my heart was filling more and more with love and pride and complete amazement at just what my little girl could do.

She was first a clown pretending to juggle one then two balls (complete with her brightly coloured orange wig falling off her head as she took her bow to the audience!), then a tightrope walker pretending to balance high above as she teetered and tottered on the tightrope, and finally a cancan dancer.

The children all did so well, and I just couldn’t wait to envelop her in a big hug to say well done and how very proud of her I was. Granny was there to watch, as was Dad and her little brother, so it was a huge round of hugs and kisses and high-fives. She even got a certificate of excellence for her participation in Speech and Drama this past year.

Later, on the way home she calmly helped soothe her crying brother by sharing her favourite toy, and then even offered to share her chocolate milkshake reward with him too. Both acts of kindness were so selfless and completely unprompted that I was worried my heart would burst all over again. It was a good mom day and my energy reserves and love tank is filled to the brim because of that. Bring on the next week, I’m sure I can handle you now!


On gratitude

My little boy was recently ill, and as any parent of a small child knows the probability of this happening over a weekend is very high. So it was off to the hospital on a Saturday morning to wait and see the pediatrician on call.

It was actually the first time I had been into the children’s ward at the hospital. Although it was cheerily decorated with red and blue sailboat linen while painted fishes and dolphins adorned the hallway walls and a goldfish swam to and fro through the rising bubbles in a tank on the counter, I still could not help feeling my heart sink right down into the soles of my shoes.

In one room the beds had rails to help the kiddies sleep safely, while another room housed a number of cots for the smaller ones visiting. Next to each bed or cot was a chair that converted into a bed for mom or dad to sleep on in order to look over their sick children during their stay. A few of the beds and cots were occupied with little people, while one boy was happy to be going home that day, another little girl ran up the passage singing a tune from Doc McStuffins while a nurse lazily chased her back into her bed. There were of course also plenty of tears as parents tried to reassure or distract.

Looking around and taking this all in, I sucked my breath in really hard and fought back tears of my own. How blessed were we to have a three-year-old little girl and to date we have never had to spend a night with her in the hospital? Yes, we have had hard times with sleepless nights, musical beds, medicine given to an unwilling patient, arms held for examinations, and even x-rays and blood tests. But we have never had to actually admit her to the hospital and see her experience this.

The pediatrician examined our little boy and we were given the all clear, just some medicine required, no need for any time in the hospital. The terror that had been building in my stomach finally settled as we left the ward, happy to be taking our little person home to make him feel better in his own bed.

Even though we had visited the hospital with a sick child that day, it was clear that there were so many children that were much sicker than our two have ever been. Children fighting terrible diseases like cancer, parents facing impossible choices to do whatever it takes to save them, and both parents and children being so brave to walk the path which life has handed to them together.

Hug your child a little closer, give them an extra kiss, and know how truly blessed you are to have healthy children today.


Christopher Robin

I have always loved Winnie the Pooh, and so I was delighted when my daughter chose this special bear to be her bedtime friend to cuddle. Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet soon joined the gang in her cot, but it was always Pooh bear who would bring her comfort and who eventually went on to join her on many adventures together.

Since those early days I have loved sharing the wonderful stories of Winnie the Pooh with our two children. Even after all these years there remains something so special about this bear who A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard chose to share with the world. To see this magical world of the Hundred Acre Wood brought to life in the new live action Disney movie Christopher Robin was incredible. As I sat and watched Winnie the Pooh and his friends set out on a new expedition, I was swept away in a beautiful story of friendship, the sadness of the inevitability of growing up, but then also made to delight in the rediscovery of happiness.

The animation in the movie is remarkable, and not for one moment did I question the authenticity of Winnie the Pooh being real. He is portrayed exactly how I had imagined him to be – often sharing his surprisingly insightful thoughts despite his absent-mindedness, always thinking about honey, and so full of love for his friends and Christopher Robin. Eeyore was predictably gloomy in his glumness, Tigger bouncy in his exuberance, and Piglet nervous about almost everything. Kanga and Roo, Owl, and Rabbit were all there too, and each endearing in their own ways.  Christopher Robin himself was perfectly portrayed by Ewen McGregor.

Christopher Robin shows us the boy who grew up, met the love of his life, got married, had a daughter and then got swept away in the everyday routine and responsibilities that come with being an adult. Along the way he forgets about the importance of using his imagination and having fun together with his family, but is soon reminded when Pooh bear makes a surprise appearance and takes him on an unexpected journey.

If you or your children are fans of Winnie the Pooh you will love embarking on this new beautiful adventure. It goes without saying that it’s also the perfect introduction to this classic story for your little ones and promises to be the start of a wonderful friendship for them with this incredible bear.  Christopher Robin delivers an authentic Winnie the Pooh experience in a completely new way. As much as I found myself giggling many times, I also felt my heart ache for the bear’s sadness, and then rejoice again later as the story unfolded. I loved hearing his now-famous words, watching the beautiful original illustrations and Pooh bear music woven into the story, seeing the surprised looks on people’s faces when he spoke, but above all I couldn’t wait to rush home and give my own silly old bear a great big hug!

Thanks for sharing your remarkable story and characters with us A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard, we are so very happy that you did. I just know you would have delighted in seeing them in this new way and on this new adventure with Christopher Robin.

Christopher Robin is now showing in cinemas across South Africa. It comes highly recommended from me, both as a mom and as someone who loves Winnie the Pooh! In addition to being a wonderful movie to enjoy together with your children, Christopher Robin has lovely messages of the importance of family and friends, as well as how we should never forget about the power of our own imaginations.


Goodnight sweet boy

As the sun sets on this day, my heart is a little bit sore. I hug you a little tighter before bed, give you an extra kiss, and rock you in my arms for just that much longer. But you’re no longer a little babe, and even though you now stroke my hair gently and squeeze your soft squishy arms around my neck while softly murmuring mama in my ear, my heart still aches for the baby boy that was so much lighter in my arms not too long ago.

Instead of that tiny babe I have a little boy now, happily vrooming his cars around the lounge, loving his sister so fiercely, laughing hard at tummy tickles, and bopping his head to his favourite beat. Tomorrow when dawn breaks I won’t be able to say you’re 11 months anymore, instead I will say you’re one.

Even though your chubby cheeks are slimming down, and your hair is less fuzzy to brush against my lips, you still love your mama so. Your eyes light up, and you reach your arms out to me. And I revel in that love my boy. I always will.

Goodnight sweet boy. A new day awaits us all tomorrow, and I can’t wait to share the excitement of presents and balloons, cake and fun, with you. Even luckier still you have a sister to celebrate with too. So while my heart may be a little sad, it’s also filled with happiness, and most of all gratitude for the blessing that you are to me.


So you had a bad day

Did you know that the word ‘mom’ upside down spells ‘wow’…coincidence? I think not! You see every mom is an amazing woman, and the glue that holds the family together. But we all know that being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world, rewarding, yes, but very difficult and we all have our bad days.

Some days you will serve roast chicken and vegetables for supper, other days it may be toasted cheese sandwiches (cut into triangles of course). Some days your child will go to school with a perfect plait in place, other days just clips will hold back her tangled hair. Some days their tummy will be filled with freshly made porridge, other days just some box cereal will do the trick. Some days just a quick bath will wash off the grit and grime from your child’s grubby hands and feet, other days you’ll indulge them with bath crayons and bubbles, and then there are those days when just a quick face cloth wipe will be deemed enough.

Some days you’ll remember to pack the change of clothes, extra nappies, dummy, bib, toy, and wet wipes, along with blankets for being out and about. Other days your nappy bag will be leaner but you’ll make a plan. Some days you’ll do an exercise routine with your baby, other days the activity mat will keep him entertained so you can put the washing on and get supper on the stove.

I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to have your bad days, its normal in fact. Well at least I think it is. So you had a bad day? So what…have a hot cup of tea, maybe indulge in some chocolate (recommended) and do better tomorrow.

We all have bad days, even the best of us do. It’s just that sometimes we don’t see other people’s bad days. But they are there, I can promise you that. The really great news is that tomorrow is a new day and your little people are very quick to forgive and give another chance at this whole mom thing.

Not too long ago I was trying to survive what had been a very long day with a headache. I was impatient with Amy and I could see she was confused at this. I told her I was sorry and she said “It’s ok Mom” and gave me a hug. I didn’t feel deserving of the hug and I didn’t hug her back tight, and for that I was reprimanded and told to hug her properly. Considering myself chastised, I did for the second hug and was rewarded with a warm feeling from the love and care this little girl has for me.

Some days that hug can take away all the exhaustion in the world.


Don’t sweat the small stuff

I read a saying once that you should listen earnestly to anything your children tell you, no matter what, because if you don’t listen to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them it’s always been big stuff. In this world where there are so many dangers lurking around every corner, it resounded with me, because my children wanting to and being able to share every concern with me is definitely something I hope to achieve.

But this starts when they are young, and it’s hard to not sweat the small stuff. Perhaps understanding that to them it’s not so small will help us to understand next time. For example, while you may be worried about whether to take your toddler to the Dr because she’s had a snotty nose now for two weeks, or if you should phone insurance to lodge a report about the tree that fell in the heavy rain this past weekend, issues that seem big in your life, your toddler is trying to decide if she wants the Doc McStuffins mug or the Minnie Mouse mug, issues that seem big in her life. In the same vein, her choosing what top to wear to school is a big deal to her, even if you’re running late and she’s chosen a sleeveless summer top on a cold wintery day.

It’s not always easy to understand how a different juice mug can cause such an impact, especially when they are both pink after all, but just take a minute and see it from her perspective and perhaps you will understand. In our busy lives today with the pressures and stresses of daily living when a toddler starts to assert her independence and it’s over a juice mug tempers can flare I won’t lie. But it’s human nature for us to want to be in control of some aspect of our lives. Just imagine we tell our children what to eat, when to eat, when to bath, what to wear, and control so many aspects of their day to day life.

Let’s try to give them a little control of their color juice mug and be understanding and see where it gets us. Aside from the smile which will brighten your day, your child will see you understand how important the little things are to her, and one day will hopefully share the big things with you too. And that’s something to strive for, something to make sure we swallow our impatience over, and remember that we too were small once and the color juice mug was a big deal in our lives then too.


Muddling through the messy toddler years

We’ve all seen the toddler year’s warnings, the ones that define a toddler as an “emotionally unstable, pint-sized dicator with the uncanny ability to know exactly how far to push you towards utter insanity before reverting to a lovable cuddle monster.” And we all look at our child and think we will be different. But until your little one actually turns into a toddler and you see it for yourself you won’t necessarily believe it, but you will find yourself scrambling for books to read on how to deal with the new delicate balance in your house.

Have you heard the phrase “hell hath no fury like a toddler who wanted the green cup instead of the orange one,” or “hell hath no fury like a toddler whose sandwich was cut into squares when he wanted triangles.” Yeah, it’s more like hell hath no fury, full stop.

No wanting a jersey put on, wanting to brush her teeth, not wanting dad to sit on her chair, wanting another banana, not wanting socks on, wanting to ride the dog, not wanting to eat her yoghurt, wanting yet another banana…the list goes on, and it’s additions of like and dislikes are in continual flux.

Of course if you’re reading this and your little one hasn’t hit the toddler stage just yet, you’re probably shaking your head and thinking this won’t ever happen to you. Well it most likely won’t happen in the same way with toothbrushes, bananas and jersey wearing (well it might, but that would be weird). But it will happen, and when it does, think of me hiding bananas, sneaking around with ninja-like jersey skills, and putting socks onto wriggling toes that have been cornered. If you’re lucky you’ll get a kiss after the messy meltdown and will soon forget the toddler’s list…good thing too, because it will all change tomorrow anyway.