Transformational Acupuncture by Jonathan Yang
We all want to feel good in both our bodies and mind. But the reality is that many of us struggle with mental illness.
For some of us, the pain in our bodies brings us down and can lead to depression and anxiety.
Life Synergy strives to help our patients – one step at a time – strive towards mental wellness.
The health of the mind is one of the most significant struggles for people in the beautiful communities we lean into – so the mental wellness of our patients is something the Life Synergy team fully invests in.
Many of our patients battle with depression and anxiety, and other mental wellness challenges.
That’s why we have trained all our Life Synergy acupuncturists in the innovative mental wellness technique of Transformational Acupuncture.
I’ve been working closely with the Coffs Harbour doctor who developed Transformational Acupuncture for the past eight years so our team can help more Life Synergy patients transform their mental wellness.
Dr Alex Joannou has been a GP for 40 years and an acupuncturist for 20. He has successfully used his Transformational Acupuncture to treat mental wellness conditions in his patients.
After 400,000 patient consultations and 60,000 acupuncture treatments, he has a deep insight into the complex relationship between the body, mind and spirit.
His solution for depression is a natural alternative to the antidepressants usually prescribed to treat depression and anxiety.
I’ve seen incredible Transformational Acupuncture results in my Life Synergy clinics and heard about the tremendous success of Dr Alex’s practice.
So how does it work?
Transformational Acupuncture taps into Traditional Chinese Medicine, Psych-K, and Ayurvedic understanding of chakras, sacred geometry and the power of intuition. It combines traditional Chinese acupuncture and Indian Ayurvedic knowledge of the body. The technique is similar to Japanese acupuncture and uses Japanese-style needles inserted fairly shallowly.
Patients fill out a Depression and Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) questionnaire at the start of their treatment. The scores are then compared in follow-up treatments which, on the whole, show significant improvement.
Many patients report a powerful cumulative effect in these treatments that builds over time.
What real patients have said about Transformational Acupuncture
“I feel much better. I feel much lighter and have more clarity around my thinking. I’m generally more hopeful about life.”
“The acupuncture has really kind of settled my nervous system down, and it’s had a fantastic effect on what’s going on in my body, but it’s really helped me with many underlying issues. I’ve realised I’ve had some anxieties, stress and overthinking. Transformational Acupuncture has had a really profound effect on my emotional and mental state.”
If you want to learn more about Transformational Acupuncture, Dr Alex has written two books: Stick it to Depression, Get Your Life Back Naturally and Stick it to Depression, Another Tool in Your Doctor’s Bag.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RHYTHMIC BREATHING by Jonathan Yang
Everyone has a superpower tucked away inside them that they can learn how to unlock every day to support their mental well-being.
Breathing has extraordinary power over the mind.
That’s why every relaxation, calming or meditation technique relies on breathing.
Think about it; breathwork is the common denominator in all approaches to calming down our body, mind and spirit.
Without a doubt, rhythmic breathing is the most important skill we teach our Life Synergy patients.
Many studies show that rhythmic breathing helps people manage anxiety, stress and stress-related conditions.
Rhythmic breathing stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system (our rest and digestion system) and diverts attention away from our thoughts.
When we are in mental anguish like stress or anxiety, we are likely shallow, upper chest breathing. When we take small, shallow breaths, we only use our shoulders rather than our diaphragm to move air in and out of the lungs. Overly rapid breathing can induce further feelings of stress and anxiety. When you breathe in, if your breath does not expand down to your lower abdomen and low back, it’s a sign the pelvic floor is not in play, and most of your breath will be in your chest. When we breathe only in our upper chest, it triggers our in-built fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the body’s reactions to stress, is now activated. This can create all sorts of problems in our bodies. When you are in a prolonged fight-or-flight response, your digestive system grinds to a halt, and your blood pressure and heart rate go up.
Scientific studies show that learning to control our breath helps us manage stress and stress-related conditions. Rhythmic breathing helps balance our nervous system and encourages our body to relax again.
Taking a few minutes every morning to focus on our breath is the most important single change we can make towards better health and well-being.
Even though breathing is natural, everyone seems to forget how to do it. Learning to improve the rhythm of our breathing is incredibly important to our health and well-being. Carving out time in my morning to focus on rhythmic breathing helps me become centred. How we breathe sets us up for our entire day and can mean the difference between feeling calm and in control or freaked out and frazzled.
If we are serious about better health, I believe learning to breathe well is the most critical thing we should all work on getting better at. While meditation experts teaching relaxation mainly focus on a deep breath in, we need to concentrate more on ensuring we fully breathe out.
Start by taking 20 short, sharp breaths in and out through the nose, focussing on your breath from the very beginning and ensuring you fully exhale. We want to get to a space where we focus intently on our breath but do it effortlessly.
Meditation goes a little bit wrong because there is a mindset to focus too heavily on our inhalation, but we need to pay more attention to our outward breaths.
When we hold our breath or don’t fully exhale, the oxygen converts to carbon dioxide; if you don’t exhale, your body will keep breathing in oxygen but with a little carbon dioxide on top. So, holding our breath or not fully exhaling can increase our breathing and heart rates, trigger emotional upset and set us up for fatigue.
If you start doing 20 breaths in and out today, that will be 20 more than you did yesterday.
Jonny’s step-by-step breathing guide?
- Find a quiet and comfy place to sit upright with a relaxed posture.
- As you breathe in, ensure your breath expands right down to your lower abdomen and back.
- Concentrate on the breath in. And really concentrate on the breath out. Focusing from the beginning to the end of the breath wakes consciousnesses, which is the basis of meditation.
- Once you master 20 breaths, you can just keep going.
ANOTHER BREATHING EXERCISE TO TRY
Clear space in front of your lounge, lay down on your back and put your legs up on the couch, so they are in a 90-degree position. Position your bottom at the base of the lounge. Put one hand on your chest and one on your tummy. The hand on your chest should not move, but when you breathe in, the hand on your stomach should move up. Make a beer belly with your inward breath. And then feel your hand drop down as you fully exhale. Start your day with this simple breathing exercise. There are many apps you can download to keep you on track.
CALL TO ACTION
Please contact our friendly administration team if you want me to teach you rhythmic breathing in a private one-on-one session.
WARNING: When you first start breathing in this way, you may feel a little dizzy or even begin to shake, and that’s because you are breathing out all the carbon dioxide and flooding your brain with oxygen. So, don’t drive while you practise until you get really good at it.
VIDEO CONTENT FOR PATIENT TREATMENT PLANS: There is a 41-second video of Jonny demonstrating this breathing technique. We could send this to patients as part of their treatment plan for mental health, stress, anxiety, or overwhelm.
33 SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO BOOST YOUR GOOD VIBES
Anxiety, overwhelm, and stress hold down our feel-good vibes, but we can do many inexpensive things to give ourselves a burst of energetic joy.
No one should always expect to be happy, but these simple Life Synergy tips can lift your emotional wellness.
A critical joyfulness tip we want to emphasise is the value of positive self-talk.
You’ll never talk to anyone as much as you speak to yourself. So, ensure you fill your thoughts with love and compassion.
Also, spend some time with this thought: everything you’re stressing about now won’t even matter a couple of years from now.
So why not consider building these Life Synergy mood-boosting tips into your daily routine this week?
We are confident you will start to feel much better as you add even a few of these into your coming days as the weeks.
You are so powerful.
What you think, speak and believe, you create.
Let these habits shape your life and consciously create your ideal reality.
AVOID COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS. You are an individual; the only person you need to compare yourself to is you. Set achievable goals and compare your progress but don’t deplete your energy by comparing yourself to others.
AVOID CHECKING YOUR PHONE WHEN YOU WAKE UP. When we pick up our phones to check out our social media feeds, we put our energy into what everyone else has been doing instead of focusing on ourselves. Instead, use the time to breathe, meditate, or exercise and invest in yourself.
BE THE BOSS OF THOUGHTS. Our incredibly Life Synergy acupuncturist and healer Jonny Yang tells his patients to “shower kind thoughts onto yourself daily”. When you feel flat, negative self-talk can take over your mind and make you even sadder. Positive thoughts push negative thoughts away.
BURN ESSENTIAL OIL. You may have a favourite oil that lifts your mood. Many people find lemongrass and citrus scents can boost their energy. Even burning a simple non-scented candle can calm your energy at the end of a stressful day.
CELEBRATE WINS. In the rush of life, we can sometimes forget to take a moment to celebrate our wins. When we take time and celebrate our successes, we boost our well-being, become more optimistic and less stressed and will be more likely to take better care of ourselves.
COMPLIMENT SOMEONE. Research shows that giving someone a boost by expressing gratitude for them or complimenting them has a mood-lifting effect on the person giving the compliment and contributes positively to your well-being and their well-being.
CONSERVE YOUR ENERGY. Your energy is a precious resource, and once you spend it, you can’t get it back, so if it’s not positive, productive, helpful, supportive, loving, kind or reciprocated, don’t waste your energy on it.
DANCE AND BE SILLY. Life can be so serious. But if you are parents of young children, you probably know how fun it can be to be silly. So, pop on some fun music and have a dance party. Before long, you will be laughing, and everyone’s mood in the house will soar.
DECLUTTER. Take some time to organise your belongings. Give away or throw out the things that are no longer serving you. They could be adding to your stress and overwhelm. The act of giving something to others can make us feel good too.
DROP TECH FOR A BIT. Take your air pods out and listen to the sounds around you. Notice the chirping of the birds. Concentrate on your breath. Are you fully exhaling? What is your body trying to tell you right now?
EXERCISE. There are plenty of exercise opportunities you can enjoy for an endorphin boost. Why not check out what community classes are near you? Dance, Pilates and yoga are fun. Local swimming pools have group classes. Or just put on your joggers and go for a walk.
FOOD THY MEDICINE. Our gut is our second brain. Our digestive or gut health and brain health are intrinsically linked. That means what we put into our bodies directly affects our mental health. Good food makes us feel good. Rubbish food makes us feel rubbish. Eat better, and you will feel better.
GO FOR A STROLL. Consider putting yourself on a digital diet. Ditch checking your phone first thing in the morning and instead use the time for a 20–30-minute stroll. The movement will raise your heart rate, ease anxiety, help clear your mind and lift your mood. You will also sleep better that night.
GROW SOMETHING. Gardening can make a lot of people feel good. Some people like to grow their food and share it with those they love. Others want to grow flowers. If you don’t have enough space for a garden, you could grow some potted herbs for cooking.
HI-5 + APPRECIATE YOUR REFLECTION. Transform your morning view of self. This may sound silly, but after you finish cleaning your teeth, give your reflection a high-5 and say a positive affirmation. For example, “I am a good person, and today I am going to make someone smile.”
HUG SOMEONE HEART TO HEART. The heart emits a larger electronic, magnetic pulse than the brain. So, when we hug someone heart-to-heart for 20 seconds, our bodies release the love molecule oxytocin. This makes us feel calm and relaxed, and these feelings travel around our bodies and lift our moods.
JOURNAL GRATITUDE. Life will never be perfect, but we can learn to appreciate and make the most of it. Look for small moments to enjoy and wisps of joy in your life. Think more about why you are blessed instead of thinking about being stressed. You give life to what you focus on.
LAUGH + SMILE. One of the best ways to release endorphins, our body’s stress and pain relievers, is to laugh out loud. So, find something funny to watch on TV or listen to a comedy podcast and remember how good something as simple as laughing can make you feel. If you can’t laugh, try a smile.
LET IN THE FRESH AIR. Open up your windows and doors and get the fresh air flowing through. You can also burn sage to cleanse the air or use the palo santo that Life Synergy sells at Burleigh Heads and Murwillumbah clinics.
LISTEN TO MUSIC. Put on your favourite playlist, and the happy hormone serotonin will likely be stimulated. Also, singing out loud can make you feel good. So don’t worry about other people’s thoughts; just sing your heart out.
MAKE TIME FOR NATURE. Carve out some time to connect with nature whenever you can. Walking in a rainforest or along the beach can help reset your mind and give you a feel-good boost. Sitting under a shaded tree or in a garden can lift your mood even if you are not up for a walk.
MEDITATE. We can see how many worries we have when we stop to notice our thoughts. Find a still place and pay attention to what you are thinking. Visualise sitting by a flowing river, and when you see a worry, pop it on a leaf floating by and watch it go downstream.
ONE STEP AT A TIME. Know that you will feel better in time. You can achieve great things if you set your mind to it. You will get there, one step at a time. One day at a time. Write down positive things about you that make you a unique human. And remember, it’s okay not to feel okay all the time.
PAT A PUPPY. When you pat a dog, it releases the feel-good hormone dopamine and decreases the stress-related hormone cortisol. Interacting with animals lowers blood pressure, reduces loneliness and boosts your mood.
REACH OUT TO FRIENDS. You may not feel like being with people when you feel flat but trying to stay in contact with people you feel comfortable with is important. Even a hug will make you feel better, and connecting with others is an opportunity to share your good vibes with others.
REGULAR ACUPUNCTURE. Booking in for regular acupuncture will help lift your mood when you feel down. Acupuncture stimulates areas of the body responsible for producing mood-boosting endorphins, which enhance positive feelings and emotional regulation.
SEEK OUT, POSITIVE PEOPLE. You become like the five people you spend the most time with, so surround yourself with positive people. Whenever you resist a negative emotion and choose a positive one, you rewire your brain to be more positive and loving.
SELF-CARE. Run a warm bath, pop the kettle on, and make yourself a pot of tea to savour. Trim your nails or brush your hair. Give yourself a facial or a foot massage. Invest a little time to nurture, love yourself, and enjoy the dopamine rush your body will give you.
SIT IN THE SUN. Give yourself your daily dose of vitamin D and sit in the morning sun for a bit. Feeling the sun’s warmth on your face can release the happy hormone serotonin. Take a book to read or a cup of tea to savour.
SLEEP WELL. Our body clock requires sleep. At night, dim lights or lamps to mimic the old days of campfires. The moon time resets our melatonin pathways. So, dimming lights and avoiding screens before bed are two important steps towards setting up a healthy sleep routine.
SWITCH COFFEE FOR HERBAL TEA. There are lots of non-toxic teas like chamomile and lemon balm tea that have been proven to minimise stress, promote calmness, reduce some kinds of anxiety and increase your mood. Life Synergy sells some incredible calming blends.
UNDERSTAND THE YIN & YANG. This understanding brings harmony into our life when we begin to appreciate the opposite but interconnected forces of yin and yang. One thing yin and yang teaches is that positive things can come from the negative things happening in our lives.
WATCH WHAT YOU INGEST. Ensure that the movies you watch, the books you read and the kind of news you ingest make you feel good. Also, pay attention to the people you surround yourself with – do they make you feel good? If you surround yourself with good vibes, you will feel better.
What we consume in our digital world significantly impacts our mental well-being by Jonathan Yang
How we spend our time and what we choose to consume in our digital world significantly impacts our mental health and well-being.
Our mental well-being is the unique way we handle our emotions and respond to stress and our general outlook on life. A healthy sense of mental well-being lifts our mood, promotes resilience in difficult situations and helps us get the most out of life. (1)
DIGITAL MEDIA NEGATIVELY IMPACTS OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Research shows that using digital media excessively can negatively influence our behavioural and cognitive development and physical and mental health. While digital media has connected us across boundaries, we are more disconnected from each other than ever before. (2) Excessive use of social media can fuel feelings of isolation, Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), self-harm and even suicidal thoughts. (3)
SOCIAL MEDIA IS DESIGNED TO BE ADDICTIVE
Social media platforms activate our brain’s reward centre by releasing dopamine, our feel-good chemical linked to pleasurable activities like sex, food and social interaction. Unfortunately, the platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety and depression. Many social media users worry about missing something important, triggering the urge to check their news feeds continually. When we spend too much time on social media, we aren’t prioritising our time for more meaningful activities that will boost our mental wellness.
TOO MUCH TIME ON OUR DEVICES CAN LEAD TO DIGITAL BURNOUT
When we spend too much time on our devices and our social media feeds are stressing us out, we can get digital burnout. Digital burnout, or the feelings of anxiety, exhaustion and apathy caused by spending too much time on digital devices, is a growing problem. In 2019, the World Health Organisation officially recognised digital burnout as an occupational phenomenon that can influence our health. Physical signs include sleep disorders and decreased energy. (4)
ENDLESS TV BINGING ISN’T GOOD FOR OUR MENTAL WELL-BEING
There are many great things about streaming platforms, but the sheer content available now is overwhelming, and it’s too easy to binge. Sitting in front of the television for hours removes the mental wellness time you could enjoy. Binging TV will not make you feel good. Chose to watch shows and documentaries that make you feel good.
SAD AND BAD NEWS
Most news we read online or consume through mainstream media is doom and gloom news. Monitoring what kind of news that we consume can help us manage our anxieties. Take a moment to reflect on how the news you consume makes you feel. Do you feel an increased sense of community, connection and shared humanity or increased feelings of anxiety and despair?
TEN LIFE SYNERGY DIGITAL HYGIENE TIPS FOR BETTER MENTAL WELLNESS
- Cull your digital networks. Go through your computer and phone and delete what you don’t want or need. You will reduce messages and distractions and get more peace in your life.
- Disconnect from technology. Make time each day to disconnect from technology and observe the simple beauty of the world around you. Go for a stroll or watch a pretty sunset. Turn your phone off or put it away so you can’t see it.
- Don’t respond straight away. A lot of us think we need to drop everything to reply to online messages, but the reality is that most of them can wait. This false feeling of urgency can make us feel overwhelmed and anxious. Instead, set aside time to answer texts, emails, and missed calls.
- Focus on good news. Just like surrounding yourself with positive people is good for your mental health, so is ensuring the news you consume is positive and helpful. Follow feeds that share positive news and good health news.
- Leave it at work. If you can leave your work phones and computers at the office, do that. Never take your phone to the dinner table. Try to have digital free time with family. Don’t check emails before bed. Tomorrow is another day.
- Make a nutritious meal. Instead of watching Netflix, plan and prepare a nutritious meal for yourself or those you love and care for.
- More face-to-face, less screen-to-screen. Choose that option when you can connect with friends and family, and work colleagues in person.
- Read a book. Put down your phone at night and pick up, and get lost in a beautiful story. Or read up about a topic that interests you, like health and nutrition.
- Step back from the news. Carefully choose where you get your news from. Take away anxiety-provoking information from all your social media feeds. Try @goodnews_movement or @upworthy
- Switch off screens at night. Studies show that screen time before bed can lead to insomnia and sleep disturbances, making us more vulnerable to anxiety, low mood and irritability.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO BOOST MY MENTAL WELL-BEING?
If you always do, what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got. So, if you are getting acupuncture for your mental wellness, that’s a great step in the right direction, but you can do many other things to make yourself feel better.
- A Gratitude Attitude. Writing down the things you are grateful for will boost your mental wellness. You could use the next month to write a note to someone different every day whom you are grateful to have in your life.
- Build an exercise habit. Exercising once will make you feel good once but turning it into a habit so that you exercise every day will ensure you feel good for many more days. You may even drop weight and build muscle.
- Chatting helps. Finding a trusted friend or professional you can call to talk about how you feel when you are sad or depressed or anxious, or stressed can help you feel better. A problem shared is a problem halved.
- Focus on Food. If you feed yourself highly processed rubbish, you will feel rubbish. If you feed yourself nutrient-dense good food, you will feel good. Our gut health is directly linked to our brain health. Eat more veggies.
- Make a Friend. Join a social group and get out of the house so that you can make a friend. Having a friend to share life experiences with will make you feel better.
- Meditation + Mindfulness. When you take time to notice your thoughts, let go of negative ones, sit with the now and focus on the present, you will be less likely to worry about the past or stress about the future.
- Organise to exercise. Set the alarm and get yourself out of bed in the morning. Leaving your exercise gear out makes leaving the house easier. Being outside and breathing in the fresh air will make you feel good.
- Journaling goals. If you can dream it, you can achieve it, but if you haven’t thought about your life goals, you won’t even know where or how to start.
- We are our thoughts. We have more conversations with ourselves than anyone else. So being aware of how we talk to ourselves is crucial. Positive thinking leads to positive outcomes and improves mental well-being.
- Journal feelings. When we keep track of our moods and emotions and what we were doing before we started feeling that way; it enables us to work out what triggers particular feelings we are trying to avoid.
If you think your mental wellness needs a boost, contact our friendly Life Synergy team to book an appointment.
WARNING: If you are in crisis and need to speak with someone urgently about your feelings, Lifeline Australia 13 11 12 and Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
THE POWER OF RECOGNISING WE DON’T NEED TO FIND TIME TO RELAX
Sometimes our mental wellness can be impacted because we feel really busy and our fast-paced life can lead to stress and anxiety.
It feels like there are simply not enough hours in the day to find time to relax our bodies.
Well, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to find time just to relax.
You can relax while you are cooking.
You can relax while you are gardening.
You can relax while you are washing the car.
When we choose to spend time doing something that we love, we become fully immersed in what we are doing.
That can take us to a place of blissful mindfulness when we enjoy being fully present and engaged in the moment.
We will find we are aware of our thoughts and feelings without judgement.
Sometimes finding activities that help us relax without specifically focusing on the goal of relaxing encourages relaxation anyway.
You don’t need to carve out time for just relaxing.
You can relax while you are doing other things you enjoy.
And it’s not just about resting our body, it’s equally important to rest our brain.
A brain that hasn’t been rested can become distracted and lose focus.
That’s why we get our best ideas in the shower or the bath or when we are simply doing nothing.
THE POWER OF MEDITATION by Jonathan Yang
Jonathan’s personal meditation experience
“Meditation is about going within.
Meditation is a mental training practice that teaches you to slow down racing thoughts, let go of negativity and calm your mind and body.
In 2013 I started to seek pathways to learn how to meditate. When I first started to meditate, I was taught to sit for 30 minutes. But these days, my meditation practice is more about fully focusing on breathing in and fully focusing on exhaling out. When you are busy and stressed, you tend to hold your breath, so it’s essential to be aware of consciously breathing all the way in and consciously breathing all the way out.
And as I am breathing all the way in and then breathing all the way out, I can observe my thoughts at that time.
You will discover a self-meditation practice that suits you as you practise the methods.
For me, meditation allows my body to kind of evaporate, and I experience a whole oneness of the body.”
What Headspace says about Meditation
“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. Instead, you’re learning to observe them without judgement. And eventually, you may start to understand them better as well.”
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN MEDITATING FOR 1000s of YEARS
Learning meditation can do wonders for our mental wellness. Meditation encourages a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. It has been practised in cultures and most religions worldwide for thousands of years. There are many different ways to practice meditation and many different teachers and teachings to learn from. Mediation is a superpower – once you have mastered this skill, it is always available for you to tap into.
SWITCHING OUR BRAINS OFF
When we operate on autopilot, our minds are inundated with criticism, self-judgement, negative chatter and worry. But when we purposefully pay attention to things, we activate our senses, which helps eliminate worry, judgement and self-criticism.
JUST 10 MINUTES A DAY IS ALL YOU NEED
When we dedicate 10 minutes each day to meditate — the same amount of time it takes to shower and get dressed for the day or to sit and eat our breakfast — we’re developing the ability to be present and less caught up in stressful, busy, overwhelming thoughts. Even intentionally spending 10 minutes a day with our thoughts can help us untangle feelings of anxiety and depression, and stress. Setting a realistic time goal, like 10 minutes, will help you form a meditation habit. Eventually, those 10-minute meditation sessions help rewire your brain, making it easier to bring that same level of awareness to your life. As a result, a calmer, more relaxed version of yourself will emerge. When you have mastered 10 minutes, try doubling your meditation time.
YOU CAN’T STOP THE WAVES, BUT YOU CAN LEARN TO SURF
American professor and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic Jon Kabat-Zinn said: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf,” being a surfer myself, this quote really resonated with me.
Learning to meditate will help you better surf life’s waves.
Some degree of effort and discipline is involved. Practising mindfulness may be challenging to start with, but it helps us develop a greater sense of awareness and acceptance – even curiosity.
OUR LIFE SYNERGY ALPHABETISED LIST TO BOOST YOUR MENTAL WELLNESS
Anchor yourself in the moment. If you start to feel anxious, this is a simple exercise you can do to help ground yourself. What are five things you can see? Then, work through the other senses: what can you hear, smell, taste and feel?
Animal fun. Hang out with animals whenever you can. Just being around them will boost your mood. Research shows that patting a puppy can ease stress and reduce blood pressure.
Ask for help. You don’t have to struggle with difficult feelings on your own. If you feel down, share that with someone close to you or call one of the many mental wellness 24-hour call centres.
Become a mentor. You’ve probably got skills someone else would be interested in learning, so look for opportunities in your community to become a mentor. You will get as much out of the experience as the student you teach.
Become a volunteer. Even if you are in paid work or studying, seek out some volunteer work. It will be one of the most rewarding things you do. And it will help make you feel better.
Boost your outside time. Make time to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh air. Appreciate the nature around you. Hug a tree. Smell flowers. Take your shoes off and enjoy the feeling of the ground beneath you.
Bring friends together. Organise a meal or a games night to introduce friends from different circles in your life. This can be a fun way to see all your closest people at one time.
Call instead of texting. Proper conversation with someone is more meaningful than shooting off a quick text. Don’t forget to ask the other person how they are feeling.
Catch up with old friends. Don’t think that they are no longer interested in being your friend just because you haven’t seen someone for a long time. What’s the worst that could happen if you reach out to an old friend? Be brave.
Colour-in. When we focus on colouring in a picture, we allow ourselves to quieten our minds and become present in the moment. Our worries float away as our focus on staying in the lines grows.
Complement someone. You will not believe how good giving people compliments will make you feel. Don’t just hand them out to anyone – pick your people and then enjoy watching how the person reacts to your kind gesture.
Develop your professional skills. No matter your profession, there’s always an opportunity to improve your skills. It can give you a real boost to master something you haven’t been able to do before.
Do a free exercise class. Local councils often run free outdoor and indoor exercise classes. These are a great way to meet your friends and boost your confidence, and at the same time, work on your physical fitness.
Do something nice. When we do nice things for other people, it makes us feel good, and it also makes the other person for good too. It’s even better to do the nice thing without being asked to.
Enjoy a meal outside. Not only will this get you out of the house, but you will have a totally different experience from eating indoors. You could prepare a picnic or have a BBQ at a park.
Join a book club. Local libraries and often bookstores run a variety of different types of book clubs. If you enjoy reading, this can be a wonderful way to connect with like-minded people.
Join a men’s shed. Most men’s sheds take teenagers right up to people in old age. Men’s sheds are a great way to boost mental well-being, have genuine conversations and make something with your hands at the same time.
Join a local Meet-Up group. Logging onto Meet Up is just one way to meet friends based on shared interests like hiking, reading, and skill sharing. Local events are happening every day. meetup.com/register
Join a community group. There are many ways to connect to your local area through community groups. Local libraries and community centres are a great place to start.
Get active. The councils offer free exercise classes, so check out what types are running near you and sign up. Or simply find somewhere you can walk or, better still, walk with a friend.
Get an indoor plant. Caring for an indoor plant is a great way to start caring for yourself. Research shows that caring for plants builds mental resilience in times of stress and may even help you heal from past trauma.
Get out of your comfort zone. Say yes to a social event you usually wouldn’t go to. You may meet new people and friends. You may enjoy yourself. It may start you getting out of your comfort zone more often.
Go barefoot. Taking off your shoes is a beautiful way to encourage grounding. There’s something lovely about feeling the grass under your feet or, better still, sand squishing between your toes.
Go camping. Nature offers an instant digital detox. Spending time in nature calms our brains, and we produce more serotonin (our happy natural chemical) when we are in pretty places, which helps maintain mood balance.
Go out to lunch. Take yourself out to lunch or invite a friend to join you. It’s nice to spoil ourselves occasionally, and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Try a new restaurant or café in your local area.
Help a neighbour. Helping someone in need always makes us feel better. Recent research shows that when we connect with the people around us, we are less likely to feel socially isolated, depressed and anxious.
Introduce yourself. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to someone in your community. You may make a new friend or, at the very least, end up having an interesting conversation.
Learn a new skill. When we learn, we feel better about ourselves, have a greater ability to cope with stress, boost our self-confidence and hope, help build a sense of purpose and foster connection with others.
Listen to a guided meditation. Find a sense of calm, inner peace and balance and benefit your emotional well-being and overall health simultaneously; learn to relax by refocusing your attention on something calming.
Listen to a podcast. Consuming podcasts can stimulate multiple brain parts and trigger the reward pathway – releasing dopamine. This feel-good chemical is responsible for pleasure – it makes us feel good.
Pack a picnic. This age-old practice of sharing simple food with friends helps elevate our mood, reduce mental fatigue and decrease cortisol levels. Eating in nature is a great way to connect with our inner-self and bond with friends.
Pitch a tent in your backyard. You don’t have to go away to enjoy the benefits of camping. So why not turn your backyard into a camping oasis, whether with the children, your partner, or just yourself? Wake up to birds chirping.
Plan outdoor activities. Physical activity releases feel-good chemicals into our bodies, like endorphins and serotonin, which make us feel good, lift our moods, increase our energy levels and improve our sleep.
Play your favourite music. Playing music can be distracting and lower stress levels. Research shows that listening to music can reduce the impact of depression and anxiety and release dopamine linked to feelings of pleasure.
Play a board game. Something unique happens when you sit down to play a board game with family or friends. You unplug your brain from your stresses, and the simple act of having fun can relieve anxiety and boost serotonin.
Positive thoughts. You are what you think. You can change negative thoughts into something more positive. Research shows that positive thinking reduces depression and enables us to cope better with stressful situations.
Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves contracting and relaxing the muscles from head to toe. Beyond Blue has an MP3 download to get you started.
Put your phone away. It may not be enough to simply put your phone on the charge and turn it face down. If you have become reliant on having your phone with you all the time, you may need to put it in a drawer or even lock it up.
Re-read a favourite book. If you enjoyed reading a book the first time, you will probably love it when you reread it. People with anxiety often find the familiarity of a loved book calming to re-read.
Rhythmic breathing. Find a quiet and comfortable spot and take your first breath in. Next, make sure you breathe right down to your belly. Then ensure you fully breathe out.
Send a handwritten letter. Write someone you love a letter in your own handwriting. It doesn’t have to be a love letter – even the act of thinking about what to write in a note to a friend or relative can boost your mood.
Set a regular video chat catch-up with an interstate friend. Making time for a dear friend you rarely see in person will give you something to look forward to. You can both make a pot of tea, sit and enjoy together.
Smile at a stranger. We often rush around and ignore the people we walk past but try to smile at a stranger as we walk by and see that smile boost their happiness and, in turn, feel the boost in ourselves.
Soak up some sun. There’s something lovely about taking a few minutes in the early morning or late afternoon sun to soak it in. We all need Vitamin D daily; the natural boost it will give you is the added benefit of sitting in the sun.
Spend the day at the beach. Feeling the sand squish between your toes and the ocean water washing over you will make you feel alive and refreshed. Pack a picnic and some shade and make a day of it.
Stargaze. Find someone who will lay down with you on a cosy blanket and stare at the sky to appreciate the wonder of our stars. Can you make funny pictures by joining the stars together? Look out for shooting stars.
Start a gratitude jar. Once you start to notice the people and things in your life that you are grateful for, you will really begin to realise how fortunate you are, and it may help lift a heavy mood.
Start a nature journal.
Stay in the present. Be mindful not to spend time worrying about future events or reliving the past. Instead, direct your attention to what is happening here and now, and you’ll feel more at peace.
Take a day off social media. Once you realise how good you feel after a day of detox, you may even decide to extend it to a week. Use your newfound time to pamper yourself or to do something lovely for someone else.
Take a dog for a walk. Not only will the exercise make you feel better, but chances are you will boost someone else’s mood just because they got the opportunity to see your beautiful dog!
Take up a new hobby. Spending time on an enjoyable activity can improve your mental health and well-being. Research shows people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, low mood and depression.
Talk to a stranger. Research shows that conversing with strangers can have many positive health benefits, including increased happiness, a strengthened sense of belonging and decreased loneliness.
Try outdoor exercise. Activities that get you out and about can make you feel happier and more relaxed. Sunshine naturally increases serotonin. And exercise produces endorphins – so that’s two feel-good hormones to boost your mood.
Try something new each week. New experiences are good for our emotional health. However, fear is often the most significant barrier to doing something new. To get around fear, start small, plan, and prioritise fun.
Unplug from technology. Regular bursts of digital detox will do wonders for your mental well-being. It will give your brain time to rest and allow you to be more present so that you can observe the beauty of the world around you.
Watch the sunrise. We’ve all witnessed a breathtaking sunrise or sunset. These moments contribute to a feeling of awe which research has shown has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. In addition, seeing beauty improves our mood.
POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING by Jonathan Yang
Every single day my patients give me an insight into what they are thinking, and I can tell you right now that the ones who understand the power of positive thinking heal faster.
Positive thinking starts with positive self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of thoughts running through your head every day. If these thoughts are mostly negative, your life outlook is more likely pessimistic. On the other hand, if your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re someone who practises positive thinking.
Some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. Researchers suggest positive thinking can even help you live longer, reduce depression and pain and help us better cope with hardships.
Positive thinking doesn’t mean you ignore unpleasant situations. It simply means you approach them more positively. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.
As I treat my patients at our three Life Synergy clinics, I remind them to shower kind thoughts onto themselves daily.
That’s because positive thinking has great power. Positive thoughts have the power to push negative thoughts away.
When we learn to be the boss of our thoughts, we can shape and empower our day – we can shape and empower our future.
When you feel flat, negative self-talk can take over your mind and make you even sadder.
Of course, we will spend time thinking about the past and the future, but when our thoughts get stuck in either the past or the future, it can lead to depression and anxiety. People often miss out on the present because they are too busy focusing on the past or the future.
People often spend a lot of time in the past remembering events with sadness or regret, and they bring those depressive feelings into the present.
Anxiety happens when people time travel into the future and imagine a future that doesn’t yet exist. Often, they catastrophise about the future, imagining the worst things happening. So, anxiety is feeling anxious about a future that doesn’t exist, imagining the worst, and then bringing that into the present.
And when people experience healing, beneficial and positive change – they’re in the present. And just think about the word ‘present’ for a minute – it’s beautiful, isn’t it? The present is a gift we often take for granted.
The present is a gift we can enjoy when practising positive thinking.