Bird Box | Children’s Needs

Bird Box | Children’s Needs

A few weeks ago, I watched the highly trending movie, Bird Box. In short, it involved survival of a woman and her children against an unknown force that took the form of their worst fears. If you see it, you die.


Every character, including the kids, were constantly on high-alert of the life-threatening situation. Just to set the scenes, each child was only named Boy and Girl to ‘protect’ them from becoming attached should Malorie (main character) die and they were not allowed to hear stories of seeing/playing in the outside world again. Ever. They were to remain blindfolded whilst outdoors at all times. Should they hear a noise, the children were ordered to ignore it and continue with their task no matter how tempted they may be. You can imagine as children, they would be frightened and curious of what the mysterious and deadly entity may be.

After a long, dangerous journey, Malorie and her two children reached a safe-house filled with other survivors. At last, she began to express her love to the children and gave them freedom to be kids again; to play and explore in their new community home. Malorie also gave each child a proper name, honouring people she had lost in her life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

According to American psychologist and humanistic theorist, Abraham Maslow, human needs can be categorised in the form of a pyramid (as above). He suggested that once a person has their basic needs met (physiological, safety, belonging etc), they can move up the pyramid of needs to ultimately reach self-actualisation/self-transcendence.

It is important to remember though that varying personal circumstances can result in fluctuating between these “stages”. Cultural factors like language and community beliefs can also affect a child reaching developmental milestones.

As stated in the pyramid above, all children deserve and need to feel safe in their environment, food, water and shelter, a sense of belonging and self-esteem. As children mature and their brains develop, their cognitive, aesthetic and self-actualisation needs can be met.

The Importance of Play

For children, being able to have unstructured play time allows them to develop social, cognitive and emotional skills. Play also gives children the freedom to express themselves through re-enactment and creativity. Further more, play time helps in learning and monitoring emotions of themselves and others.

The Stress Response (AKA the fight-or-flight response).

As it sounds, the stress response is simply how we respond to a stressful situation. Physiological changes occur in our bodies to prepare us to either “fight” or “take flight” (run) from a threat. It is said to be an evolutionary defence mechanism to ensure the survival of the human race.

For young children, stress responses to trauma can vary. Some children find it difficult to talk about the event while others repeat the event constantly. Other children may use their creativity to process an ‘alternate ending’. As I saw in the movie, Malorie’s children ’emotionally shut down’ in response to constant danger. There was no time to process emotions. They needed to survive.

Children may not have the capability to fight or run when faced with a stressful situation, which is why it is important that we do our best to provide for their needs like shelter, safety and belonging.

Bird Box in real life – the signs.

In order to help support children in the best way possible, it is important to know what signs to look for.

Signs of trauma/stress in children aged 3-12 years old:

  • Shutting down/withdrawing from everyday experiences
  • New/increased clingy behaviour towards a parent, carer or a staff member
  • Sleeping difficulties and nightmares
  • Drawing or re-enacting a traumatic event
  • Tantrums, grumpiness or misbehaving at home/in school
  • Complaints of unexplained headaches or tummy aches
  • Fearful of the traumatic event being their fault
  • Regression – reverting to a former/underdeveloped state in terms of speech or going to the toilet
  • Forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating

How can we support children who have experienced trauma?

First, it is important to provide a safe environment. Like Malorie and her partner, they did their best to provide shelter from the elements as well as from the dangerous entity. As adults, carers or staff members, it is our duty to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable.

Another way to support a child, is to talk with them about what happened. Being heard can be powerful for a child experiencing distressing emotions. This can build trust and form a safe bond for children to feel secure to face life’s challenges.

If the trauma is severe, or if the child is suffering from a mental illness caused by a traumatic event, another form of support could be seeking the help of a mental health professional.

In Australia, there are many organisations here to help support, educate, treat and fight for children. I have listed them below.

I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.

Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston
Welcome back to my regular readers and thank you for joining me if you are new! This blog is about mental-health wellness as well as lifestyle topics like fashion, food, decluttering and travel adventures.
You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook pageInstagramEbay and Twitter!

It is possible to create change and manifest positivity in your life! x

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5 Ways to soak-up the Summer Season and Maintain your Mental-health.

5 Ways to soak-up the Summer Season and Maintain your Mental-health.

Welcome to 2019!

Congratulations on entering a new year full of opportunity, learning and growth. After the Christmas/New Year holidays, we can get distracted by the demands of work, school or even family and we forget to practice self-care. As a reminder to myself and others, I’ve made a list of 5 things to stick to this summer to maintain our mental-health. Let’s get started!

1. Take your time in the morning.

Taking my time in the morning means that I can set my intentions for the day. What is it that I want to achieve? Am I going to be proactive today or just let the day roll by? I then write down a list of things I want to complete. Of course, with the holiday vibes, I get distracted and watch a movie… or three… The beauty of being a casual worker + student allows me this luxury. But, if you have a full-time job, or if you are raising children at home, I suggest either setting time in your break at work or waking up earlier in the morning to reflect and set intentions for the day. We can get so caught up in life, that sometimes we miss the goodness each season brings us. What can be done while the sun is up that would otherwise be left behind during winter? Is there something you wanted to do during December that you can finally get around to? Would you like to start new habits to help you achieve this year’s goals? Being proactive about our goals/passions can help maintain our mental-health, not just in summer, but all seasons!

2. Visit a local beach.

In South Australia, we are are so lucky to have beautiful coast lines. In the last few weeks, I’ve gone to Grange, Henley and Glenelg beach. Each one has it’s own characteristics. The beauty of summer is how refreshing the water is on a hot day. So, message some friends and enjoy the waves and night-life! Of course, remember to be sun-smart and use sunscreen, drink lots of water and wear appropriate clothes to protect yourself from the sun! Not only are you getting Vitamin D, but you are also spending time with people you vibe with!

3. Enjoy the night life. (I don’t mean clubbing until 5AM, although, you are welcome to).

Around Adelaide, there are night markets and restaurants with outdoor settings to enjoy. These are generally available throughout the year, but something about a balmy, summer’s night encourages people to go out! Hot-spots are buzzing with energy, so soak it up! This summer, I’ve really enjoyed going to pop-up markets and outdoor restaurants. A quick Google will show you what events are on around your city/local area! Join a meditation group, cooking class or even art workshop. With the Fringe around the corner, there will be LOTS to do and see very soon.

4. Spend time with your loved ones.

Whether it’s brunch, coffee or ice cream from your favourite place, take advantage of the sunny weather! For me, quality time is so important to maintain my mental health. What I love about the summer holidays, is that it tends to bring people together!

5. Recharge.

If you work full-time and can’t relax during the “uni holidays”, recharge during your days off or on the weekends. Make it a priority, as little or as much as you need. Whether it’s curling up with a good book under the air-conditioning, or riding your bike down the trails in Adelaide, you do you! Some people recharge by spending time in big groups and events, whereas others find relaxation in being alone. And if you’re like me, I enjoy both! What helps you recharge? Remember, we only have one mind and one body in this lifetime! Find strategies that work for you, and make it a priority to recharge so you can achieve everything you set your mind to!

I hope this post was helpful to you. Don’t forget to like, comment or share, so I know what content to post!

Welcome back to my regular readers and thank you for joining me if you are new! This blog is about mental-health wellness as well as lifestyle topics like fashion, food, decluttering and travel adventures.
You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook pageInstagramEbay and Twitter!

It is possible to create change and manifest positivity in your life! x

Childhood Trauma Series | The Beginning

Childhood Trauma Series | The Beginning

Defining childhood trauma

Childhood trauma refers to a frightening, dangerous or distressing event that threatens a child’s life or bodily integrity. This can also include being a witness to a loved ones suffering or pain (vicarious trauma). Events like natural disasters, emotional, physical or sexual abuse can have long-term effects on developing minds and bodies.


A trip down memory lane

It was a normal school day (besides my slipping attendance, which was not new). The year-level coordinator approached me after lunch. I was somewhat nervous but also oblivious to the conversation that would ensue. He asked me a series of questions regarding my lateness, whether I’d lost weight etc. After telling him a small portion of what was happening in my life, he used the word ‘abuse’ to describe what I had mentioned. This was a shock. How was I going through abuse? Wasn’t every other student experiencing this too? When he’d ask how I was faring from then on, I would assure him I was okay, even though I wasn’t. As a teenager, I thought I was right (typically) and it couldn’t be possible that what he said was true. Little did I know, pushing him away (as well as my pain), would cause an emotional overload, years down the track.

A few years later, I was studying Art Therapy. There was a particular module in the course based on The Inner Child. Most modules consisted of theory coupled with practical work. This practical exercise required us to trace the outline of our own body onto large butcher paper. Then, we needed to draw or create an item our inner child needed. I stared at my outline for quite some time. Eventually, I drew a heart shape and coloured it in with a marker. The flood gates had been opened… the next year or so would be one of the biggest struggles of my life.

Throughout my time studying Art Therapy, other peers would share their experiences and I felt somewhat detached. I felt sorry for them but I didn’t have the capacity to truly sympathise. It was like my brain switched off the department to feel pain for others. Including for myself. I began struggling to concentrate. I started skipping class. I didn’t want to do the practical work for fear of all the “shit” coming up in front of my peers. Feeling caged, and somehow ‘in danger’, I didn’t want to face it… face what? Class? Other students? The trainers? I was so confused. What was happening to me? I felt like I wanted to cry most of the time. My personal life was also affected: I was working in a toxic environment that caused panic attacks; my living circumstances were unstable; I had no one to turn to because I withdrew myself. Everything was overwhelming. 

The beginning of healing and discovery

At first, I wanted to see an Art Therapist to shed some light on what was going on. I completed one session but didn’t feel better. I started seeing a counsellor. As I was unravelling my childhood memories however, she mentioned something that made future sessions feel impossible. The college I was at, offered me a list of mental health professionals I could contact for further support. Going through the list, I searched each name on the web. After a few attempts, I came across a counsellor who was located in the city. I read through her website which 1. looked professional and 2. had a calming vibe. Her client reviews seemed positive too, which was great. That was the beginning of discovery and healing for me. 

This counsellor helped me through some harrowing times, past trauma and suppressed emotions. I learned from her how to care, be patient and acknowledge my emotions. I can’t thank her enough for her ability to hold space and offer unconditional support. It was exactly what I needed to begin healing. After a long time with C*, I noticed a ‘heaviness’ that I couldn’t shake – despite all the growth and learning that occurred. I knew then, it was time to find a new mental health professional. 

On-going self-work

A mutual friend suggested I see a specific psychologist that lived nearby. At the first consultation, the psychologist pointed out a possible ‘conflict’ that could hinder progress, if we were to work together. I was then referred on to my current psychologist, N*. 

Since I’ve started seeing N, I’ve grown and learnt SO much. I’ve noticed my thinking has changed a little over this time: I’ve begun thinking critically rather than reacting emotionally. Although my personality traits (that include being emotional) won’t change, I have been enjoying this shift in thinking patterns. Not every action requires a reaction! Sometimes all we need to do is put our ‘thinking cap’ on, and find ways to solve the problem at hand. Give ourselves space to feel what we’re feeling, and when we are able to, get to work on changing what needs to be changed! The power is in our hands. The power, is in our mind.

For me, talk therapy has been really helpful. Perhaps for you, other avenues like creativity coupled with talk therapy could be more helpful. Treatment isn’t a one-shoe-fits-all. What works for me, may not work for you and vice-versa.

Advice for anyone beginning the healing journey or going through it currently.

It may take a few (or more) tries to find a mental health professional that you feel safe with and connect with. Trust the process and be patient. Remember that healing isn’t overnight. Childhood trauma (or any trauma for that matter) can be complex, so be prepared for difficult days and nights. When we experience things during our childhood that shape our beliefs and values we hold, it can be terrifying to sift through memories. I know, I’ve been there. I’m still there. But with what I’ve worked through so far, it’s been the best choice in my life to ask for help and commit to doing the work. It’s time to move forward!

Another piece of advice I wish I had: make a tangible list of coping strategies that help you stay calm and centred in-between appointments. It can be scary, feeling overwhelmed from past memories. However, there is research out there that suggests techniques that help manage symptoms before your next appointment. Things that have helped me (and STILL do): yoga/general exercise, breathing exercises, guided meditations on YouTube, reading self-help books, learning about mental health and treatment, listening to podcasts and seeing friends/loved ones.

If you have any personal questions, contact me here. Please remember, there are people that care about you. Reach out to a trusted person or online community.

Here is a list of organisations that are here to help you:

  • blueknot helpline 1300 657 380 – complex trauma
  • beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636 – depression/anxiety awareness
  • kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800 – private, confidential counselling
  • lifeline.org.au 13 11 14 – crisis support, suicide prevention
  • qlife.org.au 1800 184 527 – LGBTI support site
  • vvcs.gov.au 1800 011 046 – veteran, war-related support
  • ReachOut – youth mental health community support

 

 This kind of self-work is not easy, but worth it to move forward in life.

*Names have been omitted for privacy reasons.
*Some words are hyperlinked for further information/learning.

Image by just_shot_of_jameson.

Welcome back to my regular readers and thank you for joining me if you are new! This blog is about mental-health wellness as well as lifestyle topics like fashion, food, decluttering and travel adventures.
You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook pageInstagramEbay and Twitter!

It is possible to create change and manifest positivity in your life! x

3 Ways to Manage Anxiety in the Morning.

3 Ways to Manage Anxiety in the Morning.

One Saturday morning, I woke to memories of a bad dream I had. Feelings of worry and anxiousness lingered. As the morning continued, I felt worse and worse. I couldn’t sit still. I almost made the decision to get up from where I was sitting to distract myself – either clean the lounge, tidy the bedroom or sort out the laundry. But I didn’t. I felt paralysed. Continue reading “3 Ways to Manage Anxiety in the Morning.”

Therapy Sessions | How to Change A Belief.

Therapy Sessions | How to Change A Belief.
*Trigger Warning: there may be distressing content.*

Let’s begin The Session.

What is a belief? A belief is something considered to be fact.

Where do beliefs come from? Beliefs come from the environment around us (external). It can also be formed by our own thoughts and sensory experience (internal).

The thought, “I’m not good enough” can be experienced by most of us at some point in our lives. For some, it is more prevalent if we have had past experiences that ingrain this kind of thinking. It can affect our self-esteem, confidence and progress in self-improvement.

The good news is, beliefs can be changed!

My psychologist drew up a table of two lists on her whiteboard. She asked me to list evidence for why I was good enough and why I wasn’t.

Listing evidence for why I wasn’t good enough was easy. My psychologist and I then spent about five minutes expanding each piece of evidence – what was the circumstance? How did that lead to the belief? Was this evidence substantial enough? I realised: instead of moving forward, I forced myself to take fear with me from my childhood and adolescence and used the events of my past as justification.

Listing evidence for being good enough was not as easy. Slowly though, achievements came to the surface. It affirmed that there were positive things I have accomplished. For example, I moved out at 18, I learned how to save money and I learned how to budget. I realised that many things I have done in the past, required skills and sometimes, strategic thinking!

What I learned.

I learned that if I didn’t achieve things to a ‘perfect standard’ or made a mistake, I was automatically ‘not good’. As well as an avalanche of other negative thoughts/beliefs toward myself.

Some may wonder, “Well Angela, if it did you harm, why couldn’t you just forget this belief?” Let’s go back to the beginning. There’s this thing called egocentrism. As children, we are unable to process situations or events from another person’s perspective. As a result, we attribute another’s hurtful actions to ourselves, thinking, “I must be bad/stupid/dumb” (which is what happened to me).

So, how can we change our beliefs?

1. First, we need to know what our beliefs are. 
Self-work is not an easy journey but it is absolutely worth it.  To know what beliefs we have, we could take inventory of thoughts that come up. Whether it’s a positive one like “I can do anything I set my mind to!” or “I never do anything good…” – it could be worth identifying and changing if it does not serve you.

2. Make a list of accomplishments.
I love utilising lists to get a clear sense of tasks, goals or ideas. My strategy for changing this belief will be writing a list of all my life’s achievements. As time goes on, my list will evolve and grow. So whenever this belief creeps back in (which I have been guaranteed that it will) I can look at this list and remind myself, “You know what? Yes, I have made mistakes but I am good enough!”.

3. Remember that we all make mistakes.
There is a difference between taking responsibility and acknowledging a mistake and punishing ourselves over everything. Sometimes, we are our own worst critic! You don’t necessarily have to experience disturbing trauma to be hard on yourself. We all have a drive that pushes us forward. Just remind yourself of positive motivators too!

4. Be patient with yourself. 
Changing a belief is not easy. Same goes for mastering a talent, technique or academic topic. All of these have something in common: TIME. It takes time to change or learn something new. It takes time to improve a skill. So be patient.

Beliefs once formed, are ingrained and can be difficult/confronting to change – as you saw with my struggle. However, with support, patience and strategies, it is possible to live a life based on positive truth rather than self-deprecating lies.

That concludes our session today.
Thank you for being here.
Stay well! x

Image by Thu.

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