Health & Wellbeing

Health & Wellbeing

MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: WITH BROOKE CEFAI

Brooke Cefai

Mental illness continues to be a major health, social and economic issue in Australia with one in five people experiencing mental health concerns in any one year (ABS 2008).

For many dealing with a mental illness is a prolonged battle that requires ongoing psychological support. Here in Australia our systems don’t often support this need. Awareness campaigns grow stronger each year as we actively challenge the stigmas that prevents people from seeking help, robbing them from having important conversations. Despite these tremendous efforts a huge number of barriers still exist, one of which Is something I’m hugely passionate about changing; access to counselling & psychological services.

In Australia those that cannot afford private counselling (a large percentage of the population) are reliant on a capped/subsidised and overburdened public system or will need to seek the aid of charities with extensive wait lists. For many time is of the essence and it means they simply go without the support they so desperately need.

We are fortunate in Australia that our system has some supports in place, and having worked in the community sector for many years I am all too aware of the multifactorial and complex reasons why there are still so many unmet needs because of inadequate funding, quality of services, understaffed centers/hospitals ill equipped to be dealing with the demand and a lack of focus on early intervention & prevention

As a therapist in private practice charging market rate and as one who has my own weekly counselling and pays market rate, (yes we all know I’m a firm believer that counsellors should have counsellors) I am all too aware of how expensive therapy is!

I often ask myself what more can I do as a therapist?

When I began private practice I wanted to offer as many services as possible to those that wanted to use them. As a result I make available a number of appointments each week for those that don’t have the ability to pay market rate, doing what I can to help you utilise my service at a discounted rate OR I will find a service that is appropriate for you if mine is not

It is simply a matter of reaching out…

As mental health awareness week slowly comes to an end I encourage everyone to have a closer look at your mental health needs, is seeking support something you’ve been putting off? Are your symptoms getting worse and you’ve been ignoring them hoping they will disappear? If so now is the time to be proactive and reach out.

The saying ‘People fear what they don't understand and can’t conquer’ rings true, but we need not forget, understanding and working through your symptoms or illness won’t make them any worse & early intervention often leads to more positive outcomes (for any illness)

If you identify with this please make contact and let’s put a plan in place to help you move towards wellness.

About Brooke Cefai

Brooke Cefai is a Melbourne based Counsellor & Wellbeing Facilitator who has spent two decades working in a number of diverse counselling and wellness settings in Sydney & Melbourne. This includes the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Victims Services NSW, PWD Abuse & Neglect Hotline, Mission Australia Counselling Services, and Essential Energies Wellbeing Centre. Brooke’s qualifications include a Graduate Diploma of Counselling and Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Wellness qualifications include a Certificate of Metaphysics and Advanced Certificate of Spiritual Healing. She is professionally registered with the Psychotherapy & Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).

Brooke uses a holistic approach to counselling that draws on a number of counselling models and techniques chosen specifically to meet a person’s current needs. This approach considers physiological and psychological disorder as part of a greater whole and will focus on the relationship between body, mind and spirit to empower individuals to unlock their innate wisdom and potential. Brooke is further guided by a psychodynamic framework meaning within sessions the aim is to bring unconscious elements within one's life into consciousness and often requires an exploration of your past to understand the current impact on the present. Brooke is available for private counselling sessions at MISS FOX, online, and at her South Melbourne clinic.

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Health & Wellbeing, Events

WHAT IS... KUNDALINI YOGA?

Kundalini Yoga Melbourne

Kundalini is a real and powerful energy available to you at all times. It represents your infinite creative potential. 

Through Kundalini Yoga, you awaken this energy in order to be able to call upon the full potential of your nervous and glandular systems, and to balance the subtle system of chakras (spiritual energy centres) within the body. Physical and mental changes are initiated that affect the body, mind and spirit simultaneously. It is a dynamic tool for expanding awareness, so that you can achieve your personal best.

In Kundalini Yoga, there is no “perfect posture” to attain. The focus is breath and movement and is accessible by all, including those that have never tried yoga. It is an energising and elevating practice.

The effect of Kundalini Yoga is moving energy through the chakra system, stimulating the energy in the lower chakras, raising it to the higher chakras, and then balancing all the chakras. The techniques of Kundalini Yoga allow us to breathe through unconscious blocks and boundaries that limit our potential, and help up better connect with our intuition.

Kundalini energy strengthens the nervous system and optimises heart rate variation to combat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders as well as improve immunity. It is an antidote to many of the systemic effects of stress. It enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than be controlled by our thoughts and feelings. The practice of Kundalini Yoga leads to higher consciousness and ultimately, self mastery.

Join us for Community Yoga Classes at MISS FOX, with Kundalini Yoga Teacher, and founder of MISS FOX Melbourne, Victoria Fox (RYT-200). This is a modern Kundalini Yoga practice. Register for our August 26th class here.

To be kept updated on future classes follow us on instagram @missfoxmelb. We look forward to raising Kundalini with you.

Health & Wellbeing

3 WAYS TO RID YOURSELF OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS

You’ve probably noticed that your mind engages in an inner dialogue. It never seems to stop, producing one thought after another.

Like a difficult partner, the mind reminds you of what you did or did not do, what you said or shouldn’t have said, what you noticed or did not notice, and on and on. “I shouldn’t have said that.” “What’s wrong with me?” “Why do I keep doing that?” It’s no wonder that worry and anxiety dominate the mind, making it nearly impossible to get comfortable in your skin.

When unwanted thoughts pick up the pace, the brain prepares to fight or flee by releasing stress hormones. What it doesn’t know is that the threat it’s detecting is none other than itself. What’s worse is that these unwanted thought patterns recycle themselves. When you become familiar with the tactics of your inner critic, you’ll notice that they resemble what author and professor of psychology Judith S. Beck, PhD, outlined in her book Cognitive Therapy

  • Worst-Case Scenario Thinking is about anticipating the worst, engaging in “what if” type thoughts.
  • Critical Thinking is the dreaded inner difficult partner, spewing personal flaws and put-downs.
  • Catastrophic Thinking is a type of thinking that inflates matters in the worst possible light. This type of thinking heightens anxiety.
  • Perfectionistic Thinking is the difficult partner times 10. It’s the slave driver that reminds you that you’re not good enough unless you are doing more, doing better, and doing until you are exhausted.

Over time, negative self-talk breaks down confidence and contributes to ongoing stress. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States estimates that stress accounts for about 75 percent of all doctors visits; patient complaints included but were did not limit to headaches, back pain, heart problems, upset stomach, stomach ulcers, sleep problems, tiredness, and accidents. 

Negative thinking is a major contributor to the production of stress and worry. However, there are three simple ways to reverse stress, worry, and negative thinking.

1. Self-Awareness

This is the aspect of you that goes beyond thought; it’s often experienced as hope and courage during difficulty and emanates as your observing presence. Having greater access to your self-awareness allows you to notice your inner thoughts and transform them.

You can enhance self-awareness by recognizing that you are not your thoughts. In fact, you are the observer of your thoughts. Thoughts originate in the mind. Try to become aware of your thoughts as they arise or grab your attention. For instance, while reading this article, were you aware of your big toe on your right foot? Probably not. But as the thought of it was introduced, your awareness was drawn to it. Suddenly, you’ve become aware of the sensation of your right foot, particularity your big toe.

Thoughts enter and exit your awareness thousands of times a day. Persistent thoughts, however, linger because they “play” like background music in the mind. An easy way to witness your thoughts is to close your eyes and bring up the image of a beautiful flower. Notice how the thought enters and exits your mind. As you practice self-awareness by observing your thoughts, you will notice that some thoughts have more “space” between them and your experience of those thoughts. This is a simple mindfulness-based skill. By enhancing self-awareness, you will notice sensations and emotions as they arise in your body. This empowers you to become the observer of them, instead of being absorbed by them.

2. Self-Compassion

This is the highest form of self-care. Rather than “beating yourself up” for a shortcoming, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and forgive yourself for your mistakes. Move kindly with yourself by carving out a bit of quality alone time. For example, take a few extra minutes to watch the sunrise or sunset, or take a luxurious bath or scenic walk. These experiences not only help you reconnect to your essential nature, but they also help you feel energized.

3. Meditation

Meditation is a powerful tool that allows you to go beyond the mind’s incessant chatter and discover the silence between your thoughts. When you meditate, you begin to recognize your true nature—one that is beyond mere thoughts and emotions. You can step away from constant thinking, analyzing, and decision-making.

The best way to get started with meditation is to set aside 5 to 10 minutes each day, making meditation a part of a daily routine. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Using a timer with a soft chime can help you automatically ease in and out of mediation.

This productive time of rest allows your mind and body to rejuvenate so you can experience greater clarity of mind, inner calm, and expanded awareness. In addition to reducing anxiety, meditation has been shown by recent studies to create new neural pathways (messenger highways in the brain) to encourage beneficial thought patterns instead of the same old worry-based tracks. 

By  Sonia Brill, LCSW via Chopra.com 

POSITIVE THINKING MEDITATION

 

 

Health & Wellbeing

SELF CARE IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: BY BROOKE CEFAI

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It has become evident that many women (adolescents and young girls) are feeling significant pressure to be seen to be living a perfect existence. This I believe is due, in part, to the rise and rise of all things social media, where it has become commonplace to see the 'good highly stylised life' rather than the 'mundane & unedited real life'. What concerns me further, is this influence is all many of the new generation of young women know, and live by.  

I certainly understand this pressure. I recall some years back when social media became the new thing, trying to follow the glitzy articles, blogs or posts. Getting dragged into a new form of meditation, venturing to the gym to experience some new yoga craze, jumping on the gluten-free, vegan-free, life-free bandwagon. Just kidding myself that I was actually achieving something - anything - motivational by watching self help documentaries on youtube all day... And yet all of this did not budge that miserable space, a space that saw me comparing everything I had 'not' achieved to the photos and blogs of all those amazing tanned and stylish women who 'had'.

To add insult to injury I often felt even more hopeless given I had all these amazing tools literally at my finger tips that I should be drawing upon and learning from, (and lets not forget the bling bling photos of everyone else getting it right in wondrous parts of the world) and i just could not.  Worse still, I suffered in this space (behind my screen) all alone.

After some honest reflection it finally occurred to me that most of what we see and read on social media is not real, and over the years since then it has remained mostly the same, only now we are bombarded with way more content, way more 'paid' influencers and way more subtle advertising! For all the blessings that technology has provided us, it has also left us feeling, ironically,  less connected, more detached and way more self-critical than ever before.  

A further irony is the most important tool I had overlooked throughout my soul searching was the act of actually reaching out to another human being, to genuinely and physically connect with someone on a tangible level (the old-school way I like to call it).  And to be honest with them (and myself) about how I was feeling and/or struggling. What followed allowed me to learn more about self compassion, the power of being me and to never compare who I am with another.   

I also decided that it was OK to leave my phone and all its distractions at home and to choose who \I follow based more on shared values and vision than anything else.  

 

Brooke Cefai is a Counsellor & Wellbeing Facilitator who specialises in strengthening and empowering women's emotional and spiritual health. Brooke is extremely passionate about helping women re-connect with themselves & individual life stories, stories that are too often kept silenced. Brooke offers counselling and healing services at MISS FOX and online. To read more about Brooke's services, and to make a booking visit her page.

Health & Wellbeing

THE GUT/SKIN CONNECTION

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When it comes to taking care of our skin the first thing that usually jumps to mind are the various cleansers and serums that we use topically. These products are vital for thoroughly cleaning the skin and delivering crucial ingredients for happy glowing skin. However, this is only half the battle. So much of our outer beauty is regulated by our inner health, in particular our gut health.

When I talk about gut health, I am referring to all stages of digestion and function. From the hydrochloric acid in your stomach to the diversity of bacteria in your bowel, it all needs to be strong and balanced to function at its best.

Over recent years there has been an increased interest in the gut/skin axis (or the gut/skin connection) which is changing the way we view skin health and improve clinical outcomes. The human body is fascinating! The way it works to keep its self in balance and carry out its functions tirelessly everyday – never stopping for a break, it is truly a wonder to behold.  It is therefore important to treat it with respect and appreciate when we may need to give a little helping hand when things get tough.

Have you ever noticed how after a night of heavy drinking or fast food you wake up to an unwanted breakout or tired dehydrated skin? This is because poor dietary and lifestyle choices can lead to intestinal permeability (commonly called leaky gut) which can cause a whole host of problems.

When the protective barrier that lines our digestive track becomes damaged an increased passage of antigens can enter into the body. Over time this can lead to a vicious cycle of inflammation and tissue damage. If we also have a degree of dysbiosis (overgrowth of bad bacteria), which are releasing endotoxins, further inflammation and loss of barrier function will occur.

This cycle results in the nervous system releasing substance P in the gut and skin which increases sebum production (the oil in your skin). An overgrowth of the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes further triggers inflammatory pathways leading to blackheads, pimples, lines and wrinkles.

But luckily, we can stop this process. Your skin care routine prescribed by your skin therapist is still crucially important but investigating and treating the underlying cause is a central step which shouldn’t be over looked. High strength broad spectrum probiotics, digestive enzymes and anti-inflammatory ingredients will all help to rebalance, strengthen and heal the gut, resulting in a healthy and happy body inside and out!

Jessica Bayes BHSc (NutMed), Dip (BTh), ANTA

Clinical Nutritionist, Wellness Coach and Skin Therapist. 

MISS FOX stocks a selection of excellent internal supplements from Bioceuticals and Osmosis. Book a Skin Analysis with Jessica and our team for personalised recommendations.