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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.


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.


Looking back, a different season

We visited the airport this past weekend, it was a family outing of sorts. Even though my husband was off on a business trip and Jenny was sad about him leaving us for a little while, she has wanted to visit the airport for a long time now. Unfortunate,ly the times that we live in mean there isn’t a viewing deck anymore, but she did catch a glimpse of one plane taking off and see a few parked on the runway too which she thought was pretty awesome.

As we checked his bag in and got his boarding passes, a flood of memories of my own trips came back to me. I am so blessed to have traveled to quite a few different countries when I was a videogame journalist, adventures that I had such fun on and will treasure forever. That traveling came to a screeching halt when I was pregnant with Amy, and since then collecting stamps in my passport has been sidelined.

Having children changes your life so dramatically, in so many different ways, and it’s so hard to describe all of those ways until you’re a parent yourself. Of course I wouldn’t change any of it, it goes without saying that I love my two children with all my heart. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss those more carefree days…days when I could just throw some clothes into a suitcase and add another stamp to my passport.

We have different seasons in our lives, and each season has its up and downs. While I have enjoyed the different seasons in my life, including the current one of looking after my two children, I do still sometimes catch myself looking back wistfully and remembering the seasons that have past. Some days it feels as if I will never have seasons like that again.

While we may travel again (and hopefully soon), we will have kids with us this time, and that will change everything. Yet while it will no doubt make many things much harder, it will also give us the chance to experience things in different ways, and through the eyes of little people who have yet to experience these things in their lives. Jenny was excited just to see the luggage moving onto the conveyor belt, can you imagine her level of excitement when we actually board a plane? The mind boggles!

And so a new season will begin, a season to share our past life experiences with our children, and build new memories together. This new season scares me a little, but I also can’t wait to see where it takes us.


Childhood memories

Think about your childhood for a minute. Close your eyes and let those memories of your younger days come flooding back. What do you remember? Roast chicken for Sunday lunch, listening for Santa’s reindeer at Christmas time, searching for hidden Easter eggs in piles of hay. Bottle feeding calves, riding a horse even though he’s a bit wild, a gang of giggling girls, freshly baked pancakes with my Gran. These are just a few of the memories I have, the treasured experiences that helped to shape me into who I am today.

Of course not all of our memories are fond, I remember not liking minestrone soup and cabbage, foods that to this day I dislike. I remember being naughty and running away from my Mom, that one time I was sent out of the classroom for talking in primary school, falling off a motorbike.

Now think about your children. What will their memories be? Both good and bad. We must always remember that we are shaping their memories. I want Amy to remember candles at dinnertime, fun tickles when she wakes in the morning, hugs in the evening, splashing in the pool on a hot summer day, snuggling with the dogs when she was sad…I want her to remember fun times at home, love, laughter and happiness.

Of course she will no doubt also remember that I made her try and eat a tomato, just once to make sure she actually didn’t like its taste, and that I always tried to smuggle a pea or two into her mouth hidden amongst the mashed potato. She’ll remember those times she didn’t want to nap, but I insisted it was best for her, that time she had bronchitis and she needed an X-ray but I couldn’t come in with her because I was pregnant, when she was naughty and had a time-out.

But even though she may have memories of some tough times too, I want her life to be overflowing with memories of the good times. I want those memories to wrap her up and engulf her so tightly that they will make the others seem small and insignificant.

And if one day she can say that she had a happy time growing up with Mom and Dad, that she has happy memories of triangle cheese toast after school, reading funny Hairy Maclary rhymes, dancing to silly songs, sharing hot chocolate on a cold day, hidden marshmallows after bathtime, learning to share toys with her brother, then we would have done a good job and can sit down to finally enjoy a (hopefully hot) cup of tea.


Artwork is hard work from the heart

Amy loves to paint and craft. Every day she spends time in the craft room and comes home with an assortment of different creations. After class she proudly tells me that she made artwork that we need to collect before hometime. And if we ever forget to collect said artwork…well, let’s just say our little artist can be a little temperamental.

Our little girl pronounces it as a combination of “heartwork” and “hardwork.” Even though I do correct it with her, I have to admit I find this pronunciation pretty cute and it still makes me smile. Isn’t it so true that art is actually both of those things combined…its hard work that comes from the heart!

But as any parent knows all artwork isn’t created equal. We do get some beautiful art projects that are done with a bit more supervision from the teachers. These ones are proudly displayed on the fridge or pinned up on her board in her room. I find she really enjoys seeing her art out in the house and it brings us all a little smile on dreary days. When I get a new one to stick up I make sure to tuck the other one away safely for her record book (which I still promise myself I will get around to some day).

So, the question is, what do we do with the other artwork? The paint splattered drips (future Jackson Pollock?) and pieces constructed from recycled material are a bit of a nuisance not only to display but to store later too. And to be honest not all of them are worth saving for the record book either! Yet knowing how much heart and hard work she puts into her art, and seeing how proud she is of each of the art creations, I find it difficult to throw them out. Often I will take a photo of the art and then secretly pop it into the recycling bin outside. Less chance of it being discovered, I hope.

Do any of you have budding artists, and what do you do with all of the art that comes home from school?


Support World Rhino Day, purchase a Rhino Coin Bank!

The Rhino is one of Africa’s most iconic and endangered wild creatures. Tomorrow is World Rhino Day, a day for us to remember the war that is being fought daily against poaching, and a day for us to stand together and to help make sure the rhinos are still here for our children to see in the future.

Prima Toys and Wildlife ACT have joined forces again to help raise funds and support the care of orphaned baby rhinos. Prima Toys and Pick ‘n Pay have raised over R500 000 for Wildlife ACT in the past through the sales of their Baby Rhino and Wild Pals soft toy promotions.

This year Prima Toys will launch 20 000 Rhino Coin Banks into South African toy retailers and supermarkets in support of World Rhino Day. The soft toy rhino ‘piggy banks’ will feature a plastic interior and removable stopper to hold coins and cash inside the rhino’s belly.  For every Rhino Coin Bank purchased Prima Toys will donate R10 to Wildlife ACT.

“Prima Toys hopes to raise awareness of the plight of rhinos among younger generations, and have guaranteed a contribution of R200 000 to this very worthy cause,” said Chiquita Patrizi, Marketing Executive at Prima Toys.


You’ll also be able to donate any money your children save in their Rhino Coin Bank back to the Wildlife ACT here. In addition to teaching your little ones the importance of saving and being a part of this cause, and how they can help, they could win one of ten toy hampers from Prima Toys if they donate through the GivenGain website.

“Despite a small drop in poaching numbers announced by the Department Environmental Affairs recently, our rhinos are still under threat,” said Johan Maree from Wildlife ACT. “Not only do we need to keep up the fight against poaching, we desperately need to ensure that the baby rhinos that are orphaned as a result, are rescued and adequately cared for. Without their mothers, orphaned rhinos would sadly die without our assistance.”

Head over to the Wildlife ACT website to watch a video detailing the amazing work this organisation does, and you can even hear what a baby rhino sounds like!

In the words of the great Nelson Mandela, “It Always Seems Impossible Until It Is Done.” Let’s work together and get it done South Africa!