" /> My Title page contents

What is counselling / therapy / psychological treatment ?

For a lot of boys and men, whether they be teenagers or older adults, many are unfamiliar with what seeking professional support actually involves.


What happens in a session?
How long will it take? What will I get out of it?
What expectations are there on me?
Will I be laying on a couch just discussing my childhood?
These are all common questions we regularly get asked.

All of this depends on why you’ve sought support and what’s going on for you in your life.
For some, counselling may involve learning strategies and tools you can use to manage your emotions
(stress or anger management, improve mood and motivation or reduce their anxiety) or to reduce/quit one’s substance use or gambling.

For others, counselling can be about developing further insight into who they are, finding more purpose and meaning in their life or perhaps learning how to be a better father, partner or son. Some also use counselling as a place to discuss relationship breakdowns or traumatic things that have occurred to them in the past.

You don’t have to be at rock bottom to benefit from counselling.

You don’t have to be at rock bottom to benefit from counselling.

However, most boys and men reach out for a combination of reasons.

Overall though, they’re wanting to change something about their life, in order improve their wellbeing and mental health.

Seeking professional support is nothing to be ashamed about.
It doesn’t mean that you’re broken or that there’s anything wrong with you. 

We need to start viewing mental health support as no different to seeing a GP or Physio when we’re sick or have tweaked that hamstring.

Many men who seek support are amazed at how even a few sessions can assist them to make significant changes in their lives.
Yet too many blokes wait until they’ve hit rock bottom to reach out, if they reach out at all.

If you’ve ever thought about reaching out or have that niggling feeling that you know you should, why not take that first step today!

Stop making half assed new years resolutions

It’s that time of year again!

New years resolutions, #newyearnewyou and it’s no surprise gym memberships soar in Jan & Feb.

By now many of us have made our ‘new years resolution’ in the back of our minds:

“This year I’ll make it to the gym more”
”This year I’m going to cut down on the alcohol consumption”
”This year I’ll lose the weight and eat healthy”
”This year I’m going to address that issue in my relationship”
etc etc…

How many times have you loosely set the same resolution or goal?
And yet here we are. . .

49571295_296765827695248_9021274343606321152_n.jpg

But what if this year were different?

Instead of having a half assed new years resolution that you probably spent no more than a few minutes briefly thinking about, why not try something different?

Before identifying your goal, think about what you want to achieve broadly.
Now think about why that’s important to you. How does it add value or improve you or your families life?
Get in touch with your ‘why - this is what you’ll draw on for motivation on those tough days, when you don’t feel like it and your minds offering you all of those excuses.

Now identify what your goal is - be specific. “Going to the gym 3 times a week” is not specific. You’ll likely end up on the treadmill watching tv or throwing some weights around for a weeks until the novelty wears off.

So you want to lose weight? How much? Write yourself a schedule and program that’s realistic, if you don’t have this knowledge, book in to see a professional who can assist you.

You want to be a better parent or partner? Break it down and explore HOW you’re going to improve.

What ever your goal, make it specific and realistic to start.
Put time in your schedule each month to review your progress and then plan what amendments need to be made to maintain your progress.

Only 51 weeks to go for 2019, get cracking!

Christmas survival series #3 Self Care

Self-care
The end of year holiday period is a great time to unwind and indulge. But don’t use that as an excuse to over do it! It’s so easy to let our wellbeing routine slip during the Christmas / New Year’s period. Most of us aren’t at work and there’s so much else going on that our nutrition, exercise and self-care routines are often neglected. Your mind and body need adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise, all year round - this time of year is no exception.

Sure, have that extra serving of roast turkey or pav, that extra glass of red but don’t go crazy. Especially with the alcohol, don’t use this time of year as a reason to write yourself off.

background-calm-clouds-747964.jpg

Maybe cut back on the exercise for a week or so - but don’t forget about it all together.
This will not only minimise the impact of those extra holiday calories but more importantly assist in managing the inevitable stress levels.

There’s nothing worse than going back to work after the holidays feeling unrested and like you need a holiday.
Make the time to tender to your self-care over the coming month.
Have a think about how you can fit in some exercise during this period, even a decent walk in the mornings can do wonders for your mental health and overall wellbeing.

Christmas survival series #2 Help out

Do something for others!
The holiday season is a time of giving. This goes beyond mere presents and yet doesn’t have to be volunteering in a soup kitchen (but maybe it is?)

Perhaps discuss as a family what you can do or donate to a charity this year. You could even help out at a local shelter one day, a great experience for kids too.

For many, Christmas is a very lonely and challenging time of year. It’s a time when people can experience financial hardship and a significant decline in their mental health and well-being.
Sadly over 100,000 Australian’s will spend Christmas without a permanent roof over their head.

If you’ve got a neighbour or family member who is quite lonely or isolated, perhaps invite them over for a drink or afternoon tea. Consider including them in the festivities, especially if they’ve recently lost a partner and have no other close family or friends. It could mean the world to them.
This is often especially true for those who have recently migrated to Australia.

One of the below charities or organisations may be something you and your family can become involved in this festive season by donating goods, money and/or time!

RSPCA

Asylum Seeker Resource Center

Red Cross Give Blood

Mums Supporting Families in Need

St Kilda Mums

Cancer Council

Vinnies Christmas Appeal

The Smith Family

The Salvation Army

Christmas survival series #1 - Perspective

#1 Maintain Perspective

Yes we all want Christmas to be perfect but this rarely eventuates.
Yes it will be stressful!
Yes it will be hectic!
And yes things won’t go to plan!

Don’t become so stressed about the food, the house, the presents or the kids that the festivities become more of a burden than an enjoyable occasion.
Something will go wrong, that is ok!

photo-1509042283213-f7167abd77f0.jpg

The kids will run a muck, the food may not turn out how it should be and that annoying family member will grind your gears!

Remember at the end of the day Christmas is a time to come together with friends & families and enjoy each-others company. It’s a time to watch movies with the kids, live off the left overs and simply be with each other.

In a world where many of us are constantly on the go, Christmas is often the one time of year where we can switch off from work and focus on what truly matters in life for a few days - spending time with those dearest to us;
don’t forget that among the chaos!

Searching for direction?

You’re told to get good grades so you can get into University or Tafe after school finishes. School ends and you’re left wondering ‘what do I actually want to do with life’?

Perhaps you enroll in a uni or tafe course that you’re semi interested in, only to find out it’s not what you thought it would be and you’re unsure if it’s what you want to do.

Maybe you’ve swapped, dropped and changed courses or career paths 3-4 times by now and the realisation that you still haven’t found what you want to do is simply overwhelming.
Many of the friends you finished high school with are now entering ‘the real world’; full time jobs, careers and accumulating degrees and courses.
And you’re still wondering what your ‘calling is’.

This can cause anxiety, depression and often lead to excessive substance use to manage these emotions.

Being unsure about your direction is very normal for 20 (and even 30) somethings nowadays.

There’s simply so much choice that it is hard to know which way to go. Course contents rarely give you a feel for what a day in the life of that chosen career is actually like.

Breathe, you’re not alone and many many people feel the same way.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life”.

Steve Jobs

So if you’re not sure what you want to do, don’t try to rush it. It is better to be searching for that course or career path now then waking up in 30 years and realising you’re stuck doing something you hate.
It’s better to be changing jobs six times in the next two years now, than when you’ve got other financial and family responsibilities.

If you’re searching for direction, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Chat to those close to you, speak to those already working in careers or studying courses you’re considering. Seek professional guidance or career counselling.

Get out there and start that course that sounds kind of interesting, apply for that job that seems like a cool place to work or even give that business idea a real crack! Or if you haven’t had a year off since high school, go see the world for 12 months!
You’ll meet a bunch of new people and learn a lot about yourself along the way.

Even if the next step isn’t right for you longer term, you’ll be one step closer to finding that thing that is.

Mental health & the beach!

Most of us love the beach. Perhaps not necessarily going for a swim but most people agree that even going for a walk along the beach is quite relaxing.
But why ? What is it about the sand, the blue salty water and that horizon that makes it so enticing?
Well there’s a fair bit of science behind why we humans love the beach so much:

  • Even staring at the water changes our brain waves' frequency and can puts us into a mild meditative state.

  • Breathing in that ocean mist can also help calm your brain and individuals with asthma or breathing difficulties will find it easier to breathe on the beach, than almost anywhere else; this also improves sleep!

  • Feeling the sand between your toes or the sensation of the water on your feet is a great grounding exercise.

  • Our prefrontal cortex has been shown to be engaged when listening to ocean sounds (the area of the brain associated with emotion and self-reflection).

  • And the beach rarely changes. You could be walking along the same beach you used to play on as a kid 30+ years ago and chances are very little has changed.

So if you’re like many of our clients who are lucky enough to live close to the beach, make the most of it!

Especially now the weather is finally warming up - hit the beach for that sunrise or sunset walk, take the dog to the dog beach, take the boat out, pack that picnic basket or even have a quick dip!

The importance of dads for girls

Why the father / daughter relationship is so crucial in a girls development:

They say that a girls first love is her father - which is often true. Even when a biological dad isn’t in the picture, a girl will often have a father figure in her life whom she looks up to and adores - this could be an uncle, brother, step-dad, grand-dad, coach, teacher etc.

As a dad or father figure in a girls life, you have a huge responsibility. The relationship you have with your daughter, will likely impact every adult relationship she has for the rest of her life!

You demonstrate for her, how the opposite sex should interact and behave in the world.
The way in which you communicate and engage with your daughter, often shapes her expectations of how boys and men should treat her.

father daughter

Dad’s hold the keys to a girls self-esteem.

The more involved you are in your daughters life, the more encouragement you provide, the more time you spend with her; the higher a girls self-esteem and self-confidence is likely to be.

Many girls will grow up and seek out partners, similar to you - their dad. Similar in personality, similar in demeanour and similar in how they treat her.

How do you feel knowing your daughter is likely to end up with a partner like you?
If this concerns you, think about why that is and identify what you need to change.

Above all, regardless of your family dynamic or structure, even if you’re going through a separation; make sure you are treating your daughter, her mother and all members of the family with respect and dignity at all times.
It will stay with your daughter for the rest of her life.

Fathers Day

This one is for the dads, grandads & uncles. 

The role a father or male role model plays in a child's upbringing, cannot be understated. They should be a source of support, encouragement and ideally role model for us how a male should behave and interact with the world - not the easiest thing to do given the ever changing landscape of what it means to 'be a man' in todays society.

The reality however, is that for most of us, the relationships we have with our dads are far from ideal.
You may check in with them, for that brief obligation phone call every few weeks. You may see them for birthdays and Christmas etc. Perhaps you even see them outside of these special occasions if you're lucky. But for most of us, our relationship with our dads lack substance.

This fathers day, take some added interest in your dads life. He might not have been the best father to you but hopefully he did his best at the time. 
Ask him what's been going on for him, what project he's currently working on or what he's looking forward to.
Better yet, instead of visiting him for lunch and giving him the usual card, with some socks and chocolate, go do something with him! 
Go for a hit of golf at the range. Take him to play bowling or lawn bowls. Take him to the footy or a movie or show. Do something different, have fun with him!
Men are do'ers - do something with them and connecting becomes a lot easier.

Sadly this isn't an option for many, as they have no contact with their fathers or they've unfortunately passed on. In this case, take some time out to appreciate and acknowledge a dad in your life.
If you're a dad, focus on bettering that relationship with your family, to avoid the mistakes your father likely made.

Let's support the father figures - as the more supported they are, the better male role models there will be for the younger generation!

 

      

Addictions

Addictions come in a variety of forms. Alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, gaming, social media, internet and the list goes on. Regardless of what the addiction is, all severely impact the individual, their friends and family.

There's a big difference between responsible drinking, gaming, gambling etc and having an addiction.

How do I tell if I need professional help?

  • Does your addiction take up significant amount of your time (thinking, planning, and doing) ?
  • Do you find yourself making excuses or hiding your addictive behaviour?
  • Do you experience depression, anxiety or irritability when you haven't engaged in the behaviour?
  • Does your addictive behaviour impact your relationship, finances, work or health?
  • Have you tried to reduce or cease the addictive behaviour but been unsuccessful?
  • Do you feel you lose control of your behaviour at times?

All addictions serve a function in an individuals life. Usually it provides an escape from the various challenges and stressors one may be facing.
Professional support and treatment is available. You can learn to live without the addiction and develop alternative coping mechanisms.

 

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, you may need support.
Consider having a chat to one of the below help lines or contact us.

Gaming & teens

Over 95% of children play video games, an estimated 2% are said to be ‘addicted’.

There’s currently a smorgasbord of online games for children to choose from. Runescape, fortnite, word of Warcraft, Dota and the list goes on.

When does online gaming become a problem?

Currently there is no defined criteria determining ‘problem gaming’ or defining ‘gaming addiction’.
However here are some signs you may want to look out for.

  • Mood swings & withdrawal symptoms
    An individual’s mood may noticeably change and as one increases their time gaming, they may experience anger or frustration when unable to play.
  • Loss of interest in school performance and other activities.
    Previously enjoyed activities (sports, hobbies, friends) and interest in school performance will begin to decrease, as an individual becomes more focused solely on gaming.
  • Isolation & aggression.
    When gaming becomes a problem, an individual will often spend less time with friends and family, in order to play. Any attempts to limit or prevent gaming will be met with hostility or aggression.

 

    john-sting-112628-unsplash.jpg

    What can parents do?

    • Parent as a team and set boundaries.
      Discuss and agree on a set time limit allowable each day for gaming. Discuss this with your child and be consistent with implementing this. Ideally, no gaming in bedrooms.
    • Homework and chores must be done before gaming.
    • Talk to your child.
      If they’re open to it, discuss how they’re currently feeling about school, their friends and life overall. It’s possible that they’re using their gaming to cope with other issues (bullying, stress, depression, anxiety etc).

    If you think gaming may be a problem for yourself or someone in your life, you may want to get some professional help. 

    Who are you?

    Male identity

    Who are you? What makes you you!?
    Now answer that without talking about your career or studies.
    A father, a son, an uncle perhaps?
    Now answer that question again, without talking about family or career.
    What else defines you?

    This question is often extremely hard for men in particular. Masculine identity has for years revolved around being the provider for the family. It's the norm to work extremely hard to ensure partners and children have everything they 'need'.

    Men become so focused on working in order to give their families good lives, they neglect to create or maintain a life of their own.


    Men’s identities can become so enmeshed with their career, all other aspects of who they are often falls away with time. Men often know this deep down and may catch glimpses of this at times but are simply too busy to do anything about it.
    This helps to explain why so many men experience depression & anxiety and issues with anger & addictions at some point.

    man lonely.jpg

    But the day will come, whether it be in retirement, being made redundant, changing jobs or perhaps the wife and kids have away for a few nights – the day will come when these men have some free time and realise they don’t know what to do with themselves.

    The man hasn’t seen his real friends in months, possibly years and hasn’t had a hobby or interest outside of work possibly for decades. The wives and partners of these men have known this for years and are often trying to get their man to call up that old friend or join that sporting group or just do something!

    Many men who come to counselling say they don’t know who they are anymore.
    “I don’t know if I’m depressed but I feel like my life is just filled up with work and chores”.  

    Regardless of what life stage you’re at, you can do something about this.
    Re-connect with old an old friend, get back on the golf course or footy field, start that class, make more of an effort with an acquaintance or start a new activity where you can meet new friends.
    Your mind is a master at making excuses – “They won’t like me, Tony already has enough friends, I’m no good at golf, I'm too old to make new friends etc “ but don’t let these thoughts dictate your behaviour.

    The men who commit to doing something about changing their life, regularly discover that most of the men they meet are experiencing the exact same challenges they are.

    Mindfulness - what is it?

    Mindfulness what is it?

    Mindfulness - the buzz word!

    'Mindfulness' gets thrown around now by everyone from GP's & health clinicians to 'wellness' bloggers and instagram 'celebs'; but what actually is it ? And what is it not?
    Is mindfulness the same thing as meditation?
    How is it relevant to mental health?

    What is it?
    Mindfulness is essentially the opposite of mind LESS ness. Put simply, mindfulness is being in the present moment and not in 'auto-pilot'.
    Have you ever been driving and realised 20 minutes later that you remember nothing about your journey? Or started eating some chocolate and before you know it half the packet is gone? - These are common examples of 'mindlesness' or auto-pilot.

    The most common form of mindfulness is meditation. You're instructed to become present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, internal dialogue and your current surroundings.

    BUT WHY?

    Daily mindfulness practice has been shown to increase focus, improve performance and overall mental health, increase emotional intelligence and the list goes on. It's been used extensively by the Australian cricket team, the Sydney swans, the Chicago Bulls and a number of successful sporting teams around the world. 

    You don't have to meditate to start implementing mindfulness into your life!
    If a mindfulness exercise seems like too much to start with, try creating some 'mindful moments'. Instead of going through the day on auto-pilot - focusing on what to do next etc. take a few moments throughout the day to check in with yourself, notice how you're feeling, what you're thinking and how this is impacting you. 

    For example, you might take 30 seconds to check in with yourself before a work presentation or perhaps before having a difficult conversation with a loved one. Notice your breath, your heart rate, any anxiety that's present and any tension in the body. Often by doing this, we can feel more ease and our mind quietens down a bit, making it easier to focus. It can also assist us in making more informed choices throughout the day, instead of just operating on autopilot.

    Try taking some mindful moments today and download the smiling mind app to start doing some daily mindfulness exercises. 

    Male Depression

    Depression affects 1 in 8 men at some stage in their life. 

    Depression can be caused by a range of factors:

    • Significant life changes.
    • Relationship problems.
    • Problems at work.
    • Substance abuse.
    • Social isolation.
    • Physical health problems.
    despaired-2261021_1920.jpg

    What does depression look like in boys & men ?

    Depression can look different in males, so it's important to know what to look out for.
    Men are more likely to notice the physical symptoms, rather than the emotional signs of depression such as:

    • Feeling tired all the time.
    • Weight changes.

      Changes in mood can be different for males too, often reporting feeling angry or irritable, rather than feeling low. Social isolation, excessive substance use and a lack of interest or pleasure from usual activities can also be possible signs of depression.

    Think you might be depressed?
    Take this test, chat to a loved one, speak to your GP or contact us.

    Concerned that a male in your life is struggling with depression?
    Send them this article, tell them you're worried about them or ask them how they are.
    Start the conversation.

     

    How do I find more time?

    So many things to do, so little time.  
    So how do we make more time?

    1. Make a list, whether for work or home life, two columns:
    "Things to do today" & "Things to do someday". 
    This will allow you to prioritize doing what really needs to be done and not slip into procrastination mode and doing things because they're easier or more enjoyable. Update this list regularly.

    2. Time audit your day. Review how much time you are spending on each task. What did you do between 10 and 11am for example? Once you've audited your day or better yet, your week - figure out how much time you spent on non essential tasks or as 'dead time'. And start to plan your days, the night or afternoon before. If you don't plan each hour, it's too easy to waste time and achieve nothing constructive. We're all experts at procrastinating. This goes for personal time too. If Saturday morning is family time for example, this means no social media, business related e-mails/calls or texts. 

    time management psychologist bayside counselling

    3. Do not multi taskDo not multi task. Do not multi task! 
    Multitasking gives us the impression that we're being productive and being time efficient, but the opposite is actually true. When we multitask, we have to spend time mentally switching between tasks (dead time). We can never truly focus on one task, which means the quality of work on each task drops off considerably. Instead, plan to spend 1-2 hours on one task and one task only.

    4. Identify & eliminate distractions. Similar to not multi-tasking; e-mails, texts, instant messaging and phone calls all interrupt our train of thought and take us away from what we're working on. This then takes further time to get back in the 'zone'. If you're working on a task (home or work), put the phone on do not disturb, close the e-mails and don't answer calls.
    Pick 1-2 times per day when you check e-mails, outside of these times, close e-mails and turn notifications off.
    Some distractions (e.g kids, partners etc.) are still inevitable but if you apply the above tips, you've eliminated the majority of interruptions.  

    5. Work time vs personal time. Make a clear distinction between work time and personal/family time. Don't be that parent who is replying to business emails on the couch whilst spending time with the kids or taking business calls when out with your partner. Learn to completely switch off from work/study and be fully present for your loved ones.
    You'll all start to experience the benefits!

    #Screentime

     

    A recent Australian study found that most adults spend more time in front of screens than they do sleeping each day.
    This is pretty concerning given most Aussies aren't sleeping enough, getting enough physical exercise or adequate nutrition.
    Often, a large chuck of screen time is spent mindlessly scrolling through social media (facebook, twitter, instagram, snapchat etc). Research has also found that the more social networks an adult uses, the more likely they are to experience depression and anxiety symptoms.

    So why are we so hooked on screen time?
    Put simply - it's convenient and for many of us, part of our routine. If we want to look up a recipe, ask a friend about their weekend plans or read the news etc, we reach for our phone or device. If we're waiting for a friend or sitting in a waiting room, we reach for our phone. If we need directions - you get the idea..
    Instead of going to the cinemas or drive in, we can easily watch a movie online from our couch. Instead of going to a shop to look at furniture or clothes, this too can be done online. 

    The online world has infiltrated our everyday life.
    Modern life demands that we are surrounded by screens.

    How often do you find yourself pulling out your phone and just 'checking' your e-mail, messenger or news feed?

    How often do you find yourself doing this in the company of others?

    adult-american-asian-1083622.jpg

    Every time you 'check' your phone, you receive a dopamine hit in the same area of the brain that is activated when people gamble or take drugs.
    We're essentially becoming addicted to our devices.

    So what can you do about it?
    When was the last time you went somewhere without your phone?
    Start by being more aware of your screen time. Notice when you feel that 'urge' to check your phone.
    Is it because you're bored, nervous, stressed or perhaps procrastinating ? 

    • Turn off notifications for apps - this way your phone isn't buzzing every few minutes.
    • Put your phone away when you're spending time with family or friends.
    • Instead of coming home and vegging out on the couch binge watching netflix, set yourself a limit and stick to it. If you have time for hours of netflix, you have time to get some exercise and connect with loved ones - no excuses.
    • Excessive screen time can have a range of negative impacts on children.
      Don't just tell the kids to get off their devices and play outside. 
      Instead get out and about with them - lead by example.
      Start to explore and enjoy nature again (and leave the phones at home or in the car!)
    • If you're really game, download the iphone app 'Moment'. It logs how much time you spend on your phone each day, how may times you picked it up and which app takes up most of your time.
      It can be quite confronting but could motivate you to take control of your time.

    Don't allow yourself to be a slave to screens.
    Use them to enhance your life, not control it.

     

    Older men

    10-15% of older men experience depression & anxiety.
    But why? Aren't these supposed to be the golden years? 

    As men enter their 60's and beyond, life begins to change. The body slows down, retirement eventually becomes a reality and men are left with a lot more time on their hands. This can sound appealing as there's more time to enjoy hobbies, travel and socialise. Yet sadly, many men become more isolated as they age and come to realise they have few hobbies or social connections left post work life.
    A man's personal identity is too often tied to his job and occupation - which come retirement time, means an identity crisis is inevitable. He loses his sense of purpose and meaning. Combine this with increased loneliness, isolation and a lack of routine in retirement and it's easy to see how depression and anxiety can begin to set in.

    If men aren't proactive, they become more and more isolated as they continue to age. Increasing physical health issues, losing family members, friends or partners as they pass away and the stigma surrounding mental health and seeking support, which is especially strong in the older generation, all paints a pretty bleak picture for older men.   

    psychologist counselling men bayside hampton

    But it doesn't have to be this way!

    Plan your transition to retirement
    If you're still in the workforce and retirement is on the horizon, start planning now.
    What will you do with your time? Is it possible to semi-retire and work part time to ease the transition? What hobbies do you have now that you can spend more time doing? 
    If you need to start developing hobbies or become involved in community groups etc, start doing this before you fully retire!
    Plan your retirement transition with a partner or friend. Speak to those who have retired.

    Get involved
    Regardless of whether you've retired or not, start to be come more involved in the community. Maybe you can coach or volunteer at the local sporting club or school? Mentor new graduates in your profession? Help out with the grandkids more often? Head down to the local men's shed and see if it's for you. Start that short course you've always wanted to try? Dust off the golf clubs or give lawn bowls a go.
    There are plenty of community groups, events, hobbies and initiatives now for older men (and women) - you just need to get step outside of your comfort zone and give things a try and find out what is going to work for you!

    Mates = protection
    Too many men rely on their partners for social connections. Many man have any friends of their own. If you don't currently have any mates or don't see enough of them, do something about it. Start making an effort to re-connect with old friends. If this isn't possible, start doing things where you can meet more people.
    "Ah but I'm not one of those blokes who enjoy community groups or mens sheds and that kinda stuff" I hear you say.
    You don't know that and you've got nothing to lose by giving it a go.
    Social connection will go a long way in protecting you against depression and anxiety.
    No excuses - find a way to connect with other men.

    Have a routine
    Routine is essential, even if you have little on during the week. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Get daily exercise and have an idea of what you plan to achieve each day - even if these things seem minimal, it gives structure and a sense of purpose to your day. A dog makes a great companion in retirement, as they require routine and regular exercise - as do retirees! 

    And if you are struggling - do not suffer in silence.
    Speak to a mate, your GP, a psychologist OR your neighbour. 
    just speak to someone.

    See Brian in the video below, speaking about his personal challenges with retirement and mental health.

    Video from Beyond Blue

    Happy wife happy life?

    Start improving your relationship today!

    There seems to be some truth to old mantra - 'Happy life happy wife'.
    So this post is dedicated to improving your relationship with that significant other!

    Whether your relationship is going really well or you’re on the brink of separation
    (in which case we’d suggest you seek some support!), we can all do some things to improve our relationships.

    1.       Connect
    Life can be extremely hectic and sometimes couple’s feel as though they’ve become mere housemates; simply coming and going, with little time or effort for each other.
    Most relationships, especially those with kids, go through these phases. What’s important though, is you find time to connect. We can all find at least 5-10 minutes a day (spend less time watching tv or on your phone). Agree to make some time each day (maybe it’s in the morning before you get up or perhaps just after the kids have gone to bed at night) to simply be with each other, where neither of you are doing anything else.
    No devices, no tv’s, no cooking, nothing.
    Just sit with each other on the couch perhaps, ask your partner how their day was or just have a casual conversation.
    It’s essential that busy couples find this time, even if only 5-10 minutes, to connect and check in with each other.
    If your relationship is important to you, think of this as the glue that can hold you together through the tough times; make this a priority.

    2.       Listen
    Don’t roll your eyes, we’ll break this down for you. As much as men like to come home and sit in silence after a long day, women often enjoy discussing their day. The biggest mistake men make when trying to ‘listen’, is whilst their partner is talking, they’re either waiting so they can say something to help their partner ‘solve’ things or to change the topic.
    Listen to understand, not to respond”. Ask some questions, try to understand what your partner is saying from their point of view. Even a few questions can leave your partner feeling heard, and validated and before you know it - you’ve listened!
    Give it a try!

    adult-beautiful-girl-blur-254069.jpg

    3.       The little things
    They say the key to a great relationship is to treat your partner like you did when you first met. There’s a lot of truth to this! Once the ‘honeymoon’ period ends, we can get comfortable and too busy to do the ‘little things’.
    The beauty of these little things is they’re simple but have a huge impact on how your partner feels. An occasional out of the blue text message telling them how much you appreciate them, an ‘I love you note’ in their lunch, a surprise dinner date or night away or even making their favourite dinner when you know they’ve had a stressful day.
    Don’t wait until valentine’s day or anniversaries to do these things – ensure your partner feels loved and appreciated by doing a few little things each week! 

     

    Commit to doing these 3 things and your relationship will reap the rewards!

    Dear dad, from your kids

    Dear Dad,

    Stop what you're doing - I need to tell you something.

    1. Make time for me
    I know both you and mum are super busy working to pay all of our bills and ensure we have a good life as a family, and for that I am super thankful.
    BUT - in 10/20 years, it won't be the brand name clothes, the expensive toys or video games that will be important to me. It won't be the nice family home or private school you sent me to.
    Sure these things are great but what is most important to me and what I will remember is the relationship we have. The lessons and values I've learnt from you by the time we spent together. 
    I'll remember if you came to watch me play sport or in school performances.
    Did I feel comfortable coming to you or were you always too busy for me?
    Were you there at significant events in my childhood or were you absent?
    Please make time for me.

    2. Take care of yourself & get your shit together
    Will I look back and see a father who was always stressed, depressed, drinking or fighting with mum ? (your mental health has a big impact on us growing up).
    I need a dad who is healthy, both physically and mentally. I need you to mentor me, to lead by example, to encourage & support me and to be proud of me.
    To be a grandfather to my kids someday.
    I need a dad who can be fully present when spending time with me, not always stressing about things. I need a dad who can have fun with me but can also set the boundaries for me in life.
    I need you in my life long term - so please take care of yourself, so you can be there for me! 

    adult-baby-boy-691047.jpg

    3. Monkey see monkey do
    I am going to adopt many of your habits & traits (good & bad). If you treat mum or others with disrespect, I'm likely to do the same. If you bottle up your emotions and don't role model getting support when something is wrong - I'm likely to do the same. If there's things you need to change or work on - do it.
    I'll be in my teens and on my P's before you know it and then it's too late.

    Ask yourself - In 20 years, would you be happy/proud if I were a similar person to you now ?
    If you have a daughter, how would you feel about her marrying someone like you?

    I know you want the best for the family and for me but just remember what truly matters!