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Relationship breakdown and separation

Many blokes who come to see us, often do so due to issues within their relationship.

Some want to learn how to better communicate or open up to their partners. Others want to deepen their connections and learn how to argue and manage conflict more effectively.

And unfortunately some men come to see us after recently separating from their partners and families.

This can be an extremely challenging time for men; trying to readjust to life outside of the family home, grieving the relationship ending and for many blokes, it means getting used to only seeing children on a part time basis (if at all).

This is often a time when many men can turn to substances. drugs or excessive gambling.
Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues can also set in during this time, as men often isolate themselves from support networks and struggle to maintain their health in this adjustment period.

All of our Psychologist’s are passionate about working with males and have experience in assisting men to improve their relationships and support through separation.

Depression men male psychologist

If you’d like to learn how to be a better father, communicate more effectively and open up to your partner and ‘get your shit together’, hopefully before it’s too late
OR
If you’ve recently undergone a separation and are struggling to cope, please get in contact with us.

We have offices in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne (Scoresby) and in the Bayside area (Highett).
Give us a call 9994 1721 or for our Bayside office (Highett), you can also book in online!

Blokes Psychology - Counselling for men and boys!

Video/online counselling

Did you know that in addition to face to face counselling and support, Blokes Psychology also offer online video sessions?

Have you thought about reaching out for support but lack of time and availability has been holding you back? Have you considered online video sessions?

We see blokes of all ages, from all across the country, via video sessions. Some clients travel a lot and are unable to commit to regular face to face appointments. Others attend boarding School or University out of Melbourne and have maintenance sessions online. Some of these clients have seen us face to face for some appointments, whereas others have only ever interacted with our clinicians via online video!

And if you live in a rural or regional location, you may also be eligible to receive medicare rebates for video sessions!

Many clients quickly realise that video sessions don’t feel that different from being in the room and having a face to face session.

The best thing about video sessions is the flexibility. As long as you have a computer (or even smart phone) and a spare hour - then you’ve got everything you need to get the ball rolling.

If you have any questions or queries about how video sessions could work for you or want to book in an appointment, please contact us!

You can book in by contacting our lovely office staff or even booking yourself in via our online portal!

Blokes Psychology heads East!

We’re excited to announce that Blokes Psychology is now offering services in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

Our Associate Psychologist, Luke McDonald, is working from our Scoresby office, currently on Mondays and Tuesdays (with after hours & video/skype appointments available!).

Luke has worked in private practice previously and still works part-time for a few VFL/AFL clubs.
He has a keen interest in working teenage and adult males whom are experiencing depression, anxiety, high stress and/or addictions.

Luke also possess a special interest in sports psychology and sports performance, having played at the highest level in AFL as a youth. He loves working with athletes (from weekend warriors to professionals) and supporting them to improve/maintain their mental health and wellbeing, in addition to assisting them to improve their overall preparation and performance on game day.

If you’re wanting to book an appointment with Luke or have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Appointments can be made by filling out an enquiry form or by contact our lovely office staff - 9994 1721

We have moved!

We have moved!

But not far, just down the road in Highett!

We will have signage up soon but in the meantime the best way to find us is to park at Highett Woolworths and look out for the ‘Klint’ sign directly across the road (also next door to Bayside Blades). We are co-located with ‘Klint Physio’s’.

In other exciting news:

We are currently in the process of recruiting for some additional clinicians to join us in Bayside, to further expand our operating hours.

We are also about to welcome a new Associate who will be providing services in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne (servicing suburbs: Scoresby, Wantirna, Knox, Glen Waverley, Knoxfield, Boronia, Vermont, Bayswater, Ferntree Gully, Rowville etc!).

We want to thank everyone who has supported as on your journey thus far, having recently celebrated our one year anniversary.

It was our vision from day one to provide a male specific service (for boys, teens and adult males), to support them in whatever they’re struggling with in life.

Depression, bullying, alcohol, drugs, anxiety, self-harm, addictions, stress, lack of direction, family issues, life transitions, workplace services, gaming, relationships, anger and the list goes on.

We aim to continue providing mental health support for males of all ages, as we gradually expand our team and services.

Self-harming teens

Self harm

Self-harm is quite common in Australia, with research indicating about 1% of Australians have self-harmed in the past month and approximately 8% have self-harmed at least once in their lifetime.

Why do people self-harm?

Individuals may self-harm for a variety of reasons but often they are not intending to die.
Those who self-harm often do so

·         As a way of managing emotions.

·         To cope with stress.

·         To reduce anger/anxiety.

·         To ‘feel’ something, if feeling numb.

·         To get help.

·         To punish oneself.

The most common form of self-harm is ‘cutting’ of the skin, other forms also include:

·         Burning, slapping or hitting oneself.

·         Persistent scratching/picking wounds to prevent them from healing.

·         Overdosing on medications.

Teenage depression anxiety

Who’s at risk?

Teenagers are often at higher risk of self-harming, in particular those who:

·         Victims of bullying.

·         Have experienced a recent loss (death, break-ups).

·         Excessive substance use/addictive behaviours.

·         Experience depression/anxiety.

It is common for family members and friends to assume self-harm is simply a failed suicide attempt or that the individual does want to die; usually this is not the case. People who self-harm usually do so in order to feel better, not to die.

 

What to do if someone you know is self-harming?
Firstly, try not to panic. If the self-harm is life threatening or the person is at risk, then call emergency services.
However if not, try and engage the person in conversation about what’s going on for them and why they’re self-harming. The individual may not be willing to open up and discuss this though, especially if they’re a teen. Self-harm can be addictive and become a habit, so it can take time to change this behavior. Remain supportive, open and of course encourage the individual to seek professional support. Don’t demand they simply stop the behavior.

Students, depression and anxiety

Whether they’re in high school or the first few years of University or Tafe, many of the students we see experience high levels of depression and anxiety.

Often, the anxiety stems from gradually allowing deadlines to build up, which leads to further avoidance of assignments or even attending classes at all.
Compound this with parental pressure and high expectations, depression can often begin to set in.
Many of these young men aren’t sure what they want to do with their life or if the course they are studying is even right for them. This further increases their anxiety and stress, often feeling as though they’re being left behind by their peers who seem to ‘have it all together’. 

This cycle of avoidance may ease stress and anxiety in the short term but longer term, makes the anxiety and low mood even worse.
Some may begin to isolate themselves from friends or activities, escape these feelings via substance use and panic attacks aren’t uncommon.

teenage boy depression anxiety psychologist

So what to do if you’re caught in this cycle?

Firstly, it sounds cliche but you need to reach out and speak to someone!
A family member, a mate or a professional.
Most schools and tertiary institutions will have support or welfare staff you can speak to.

Secondly, put a study plan in place. This sounds boring and mundane, but many students don’t realise how beneficial this can be. Get a whiteboard or calendar and block out an hour or two each day, where you’ll focus on your studies.
A study plan ensures that ‘procrastination’ time is minimal, whilst also setting start and end times of ‘study’.
If you manage your study time well, you often don’t have too spend much of your weekend studying!

Thirdly, if you’re still struggling mentally or finding it hard to adjust to the study plan, seek professional support. They will be able to assist you with further strategies, support and a plan.
They can also assist you with exploring what it is you want to do course or career wise and may be able to give you some tests or assessments that give you further insight into what you’d be suited doing.

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. . .

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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    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.

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    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.