Gold Coast Women in Business Awards 2018

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 Thank you so much to the Gold Coast Women in Business Awards. I feel extremely honoured to win an award this year in the field of Innovation and Technology, for Tapping in the Classroom. These awards are a fantastic initiative for women, which aims to provide a platform to honor outstanding and successful businesswomen and industry achievers. The awards were established to encourage ambition, empower confidence and inspire new female leaders now and into the future. And, I was in very good company on the night, receiving the award alongside some incredibly inspiring and motivating women, from The Futurist Award winner and school student, Selena Magill to Gold Coast Woman in Business of the Year 2018, Morlife Founder Chery Stewart (see full list of award winners here: wibaa.com.au/2018-award-winners).

As you may or may not already know Tapping in the Classroom is an Online Training designed to give teachers, school guidance counsellors and psychologists an effective tool to help children overcome stress, anxiety and behavioural challenges and is a much loved passion of mine. The program is based on EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), commonly referred to as ‘Tapping’. Read more about it here: evidencebasedeft.com/tapping-in-the-classroom

I would also like to sincerely thank my team and loved ones, because without you none of this could happen, thank you!

Dr Peta Stapleton - Switching Off

The Benefits of Switching Off Mobile Devices

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Why has switching off from mobile devices become so difficult?

Today’s world is technology rich and technology friendly. And thanks to mobile devices, it has become incredibly simple to check your emails, get the latest in news and current affairs on virtually any topic. We can even stream our most loved TV shows, where ever we are! Who among us could’ve predicted this only a handful of years ago?

Unfortunately, despite all these positive gains, being permanently connected to the online world does have its pitfalls. In a relatively short amount of time our phones have become such an extension of ourselves that we can easily feel stressed, anxious and ill-tempered when we are without them or out of range. This phenomenon now even has its own name!

“Nomophobia” is the term coined for an irrational fear of being without your mobile phone. Whether running low on credit, battery power, or signal many people experience this phobic reaction.

Nomophobic Symptoms

Have you experienced any of the following regarding your own phone?

  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulty
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • A nervous sensation of ‘butterflies’ in your stomach

Currently, the average adult spends up to 5 hours each day on their phone. University students are severely affected by nomophobia and mobile phone addiction.

These rates of high usage have significant consequences on the brain. Though it sounds strange, your brain can even come to perceive your device as your romantic partner and experience grief when access is unavailable. Additionally, your sleeping cycle can be altered and in turn this can affect the functioning of your organs.

Strategies to assist you in switching off

Follow these five strong strategies to short circuit mobile addiction and get health benefits while doing so.

  • To determine exactly how much time your really do spend checking websites and social media etc., install an app such as ‘Checky’ on your mobile devices, and ‘RescueTime’ on your computer.
  • Starting small, see if you can resist checking your device for a small increment of time, say 15 minutes. Using a timer can be helpful in this instance. If you can successfully do this for this small window you will begin to claim back your power and control. Next increase the time in 15-minute increments. See how far you can get! Studies show a correlation between lower screen time and increased fitness.
  • Use the ‘Night Shift’ feature on your iphone, or for android devices there a various apps you can download, which will automatically change your screen to a warmer hue at the yellow-orange end of the light spectrum in the evening. This will prevent melatonin affecting blue light from interfering with sleeping patterns and mood and helps to prevent eyestrain.
  • Implement the 20-20-20 strategy. These means for every 20 minutes you are looking at a screen, you will look away from it for 20 seconds and rest your eyes on something 20 feet away.
  • Make sure to ‘Clean Your Screen’! University Arizona conducted research which showed the average phone has 10 times the number of bacteria that can be found on a toilet seat! Use antibacterial wipes every day to contribute to maintaining good health!
Dr Peta Stapleton - EFT Press Release

Press Release: EFT Efficacy Acknowledged by UK Government

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For the first time in history an arm of the UK government has acknowledged the ever-growing research base of EFT and TFT for PTSD treatment.

In response to a NICE** review of PTSD treatment guidelines ACEP, EFT Universe, AHEFT (and David Feinstein as a consultant) have come together in an AAMET-led project in open-hearted collaboration to advance EFT’s place in modern healthcare.

Currently, AAMET as the registered stakeholder, in close consultation with the organisations listed, has submitted a communal response to the 57 page suggested advice guidelines and the thousands of pages of appendices.

Some of the greatest positives to come out of the review are:
• NICE has now acknowledged that there is EFT and TFT research that meets their inclusion criteria
• EFT and TFT along with SE (Somatic Experiencing) has been acknowledged as a combined somatic and cognitive therapy (CSACTs) in the considered psychological interventions for the treatment of PTSD in adults.
• In the NICE economic modelling, CSACTs emerge as highly cost effective, fourth most cost effective in one model and the second most cost effective in another.
• Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT), a primary set to be recommended, is only more cost effective than the CSACTs when completed in 8 or less sessions.
• The review suggests that CSACTs could possibly provide EFT as a treatment choice for military combat trauma.

Acupoint tapping methods were recognised as having positive effects and significant potential as a component of PTSD treatment. The consideration of acupoint tapping, hidden deep within the consultation documents, although encouraging, are still far away from approval.

PLEASE NOTE: AT THIS TIME IT WOULD THEREFORE NOT BE APPROPRIATE TO STATE THAT “NICE HAS APPROVED EFT OR TFT”.

Where our future collaborative efforts point:

• Convert these acknowledgements into government funding for further EFT research
• Encourage the further inclusion of two key research papers which support the use of EFT for PTSD

For those of you who want to do the deep dive reading please follow this link:
https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-ng10013/documents

Please note: EFT is NOT mentioned in the guidelines, but in Appendix D, which is well over 1000 pages. Searches for ‘EFT’ and ‘combined somatic’ will locate them. Most of the relevant discussion starts at page 212.

**NICE National Institute for Health & Care Excellence is responsible for determining what treatments are allowed to be given for which conditions and which doses. This includes physical issues as well as mental health treatments. Healthcare professionals in the UK are bound by these guidelines. NICE reviews are generally every 10 years for each condition.

Dr Peta Stapleton - Assertive

Tips to Becoming Assertive in Everyday Life

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Isn’t it time you said “No”?

Do you recall a time when you agreed to something without really meaning to? Taking on extra work, signing up for an event or family occasion when in truth you meant to respond with a “no, thank you, but I won’t be able to.” If this sounds like you then perhaps it’s the right time to examine what being assertive really means and give yourself the power and discretion to politely decline any offers you’re not truly interested in.

To be assertive means being able to state your own opinions or point of view clearly and directly while remaining respectful of others. When you are assertive, you walk the line between passive and aggressive. This also puts everyone on the same level, whereas people who are passive often place less value on themselves than others and aggressive personality types can often hold others in low esteem.

To successfully be assertive you need both a certain skill-set and attitude. Your attitude should be that your value is equal to that of others. Next you should establish the skills to implement this attitude. At the heart of assertiveness is the simple ability to express your opinions, feelings and needs.

Practical Tips

To help you on your way to being assertive I’ve included some practical tips below. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. You may need to do these things more than once before they become second nature, but eventually these practices can become positive habits.

  • Attempt assertiveness in one zone of your life at a time (e.g. home or work) or with one person at a time (partner, colleague or boss).
  • Each set of circumstances is different and there is no correct way to be assertive. Knowing what it is you want, need and what you think and feel about an issue beforehand is important. Use one or two clear sentences to express these things, sticking to the key point/s.
  • Attempt using the unselfish “I” when making a statement, avoiding the more selfish “You”. For instance, “I feel mad when you get home late as I have dinner ready and waiting” is a much better phrase than “You are never home on time!”
  • Ensure your non-verbal behaviour is in line with what it is you’re saying. Maintain eye contact but do not stare (aggressive). Nor should your lower your eyes away from the person (passive). Use a clear voice, refrain from being apologetic or whiney (passive) or loud and offensive (aggressive). Keep an assertive posture, standing up straight. Avoid standing too close to the person (aggressive) or too far back (passive). For emphasis you can use facial expressions and gestures. It may be worthwhile giving some a go in front of a mirror.
  • Of course, you will find some situations more challenging than others. If something doesn’t go the way you wanted it to use this as a learning experience. It takes practice but there’s always a next time!

It’s important to keep in mind it is your right to say “No” at any time, in any situation. No is a complete sentence in itself. Decide on an area where you could have a go at this today.

Dr Peta Stapleton - Sleep Deprivation

Sleep Deprivations’ Alarming Dangers

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We all know keeping a good diet, and getting sufficient exercise are both essential for good health, but getting a good night’s sleep is just as important. It is a sad fact that this modern world has made sleep deprivation all too common. With reasons ranging from lifestyle and work hours, to personal stresses and duties, statistics tell us 20% of the world’s population is sleep deprived. In 1942 an average night’s sleep was eight hours; this has fallen to 6.8 hours currently. It has further been shown by Sleep Cycle that no single country around the world regularly achieves the eight hour average. This result is alarming, as the recommended amount of sleep for adults is from seven to nine hours per night. This difference clearly shows the world has a sleep deficit, and this negatively affects our health.

How Insufficient or Reduced Quality Sleep Can Negatively Affect You

Some of the effects of a lack of sleep are surprising. We must make good health, and a good night’s sleep, a priority, regardless of what keeps you up at night.

  1. We need sufficient sleep to think and learn properly. A lack of sleep reduces brain function and cognition, impairing problem solving abilities, concentration, reasoning, and ability to pay attention. In effect, it ‘dumbs you down.’
  2. Not getting enough sleep can seriously affect our health, and research has shown that other health problems can be clearly linked to a lack of sleep.
  3. Libido decreases when we don’t get enough sleep. Low energy, tiredness and stress are all factors negatively affecting sex drive, in both sexes.
  4. Insufficient sleep ages you! Lack of sleep causes your body to release cortisol, a stress hormone, excess levels of which can destroy the collagen that keeps skin youthful and elastic.
  5. A sleep deficit makes us more forgetful. American and French researchers, in 2009, concluded events in the brain, coined ‘sharp wave ripples’, are responsible for consolidating memory, and that these events most often occur in deep sleep. So less sleep = less ‘sharp wave ripples’ = increased forgetfulness.
  6. It can increase mortality. During the ‘Whitehall II Study’, when over 10,000 British Civil servants were studied for 20 plus years, sleep patterns and health concerns were found to have clear links. Published in 2007, the study revealed reducing nightly sleep from seven to five hours or less correlates to almost doubling the risk of death from all causes. Cardiovascular disease stood out as being doubled. While these results are quite confronting, so what can we do to get enough sleep?

How could I get enough sleep?

Following are tips for getting the good night’s sleep that we all need.

  • Avoid Stimulants. Avoid foods and drinks containing caffeine for four to six hours before going to bed. Caffeine is a stimulant that inhibits sleep. Avoid any other substances which hinder sleep.
  • Restful Environment. Create a bedroom that has a calming atmosphere to encourage relaxation, rest and sleep. Electronic devices should be kept out of the bedroom.
  • Bedtime Routine. A before bedtime routine can help prepare your body and mind for sleep. Engage in relaxing activities before bed that ‘wind you down’.
  • Regular Sleep Patterns. Keeping regular sleep patterns helps calibrate your body clock. Keeping the same rest and rise routine will program your body’s ‘internal clock’ so it is primed for sleep at a certain time.
  • Prepare Smaller Evening Meals. It is best to eat several hours before bedtime. Stay away from foods that can cause indigestion or hinder sleep.

On top of evading the negative health consequences of poor sleep, what are some other positives that come with a good night’s sleep?

Why it’s Worth Creating a Good Sleep Pattern

Creating and maintaining a good sleep routine is vital to our body’s ability to function well. Here are some further benefits of a sound sleep routine:

  • Quality sleep increases immunity. Ensuring sufficient sleep reduces your risk of contracting common diseases by reinforcing your immune system.
  • Sufficient Sleep Assists in Keeping You Trim. Research has demonstrated that getting under seven hours sleep each night increases weight gain, in comparison to those getting enough rest.
  • Increases Feelings of Well-being. Quality sleep keeps you mentally fit and reduces the possibility of suffering from depression, stress, insomnia, and other mental health disorders.
  • Raises Libido. Sufficient sleep is required for sufficient energy. Research shows a lack of sleep inhibits the libido and interest in sex is reduced.

Due to an increased understanding of the effects insufficient sleep has on our lives, a lot of people are putting effort into improving their sleep patterns. This indicates that to become aware of more ways we can improve sleep we must further understand the sleep process.

What can you do today to help ensure a night of sufficient sound and quality sleep?

Dr Peta Stapleton - Chronic Worrying

Chronic Worrying (& what to do about it)

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Chronic Worrying? It’s normal to have the occasional worry, everyone does: Will I do well in my Exam? Am I going to be late? Is my family home, safe and sound?

However, if worrying is affecting you day-to-day and taking the joy out of life, it’s likely time to deal with the issue. So, how do you know when it has become prolonged and/or damaging, and you are worrying more than is appropriate?

Indicators of Chronic Worrying

Excessive worry can become habitual. Check out these key indicators that worry may be affecting you more than it should be:

  1. There’s not a day you DON’T have worries filling your mind, and you feel powerless against them.
  2. Anxiety inducing thoughts pop into your head often, despite your attempts to elude them.
  3. Uncertainty brings feelings of fear and trepidation; you obsess about future events, and feel a need to know what will happen.
  4. Relaxation is a near impossible task; you struggle to focus; often feeling overwhelmed, you use avoidance strategies to put off or get out of tasks.
  5. You may have trouble falling or staying asleep; muscles may be tense, stiff, and sore; you suffer stomach pain & upset.

Further, these are the kind of phrases commonly heard from chronic worriers: “Worrying will stop bad things happening” (worrying on its own doesn’t stop negative things occurring; this requires action), or, “I was born to worry”, (worriers are not born).

Activities for Worriers

If any of these things apply to you, it will be a relief to know there are ways of relieving symptoms. If worry is having a substantial and negative affect on your functioning day-to-day, seeking professional help is recommended; in the interim these activities may provide you with some relief.

  1. You’ve heard this before, but it does work! Take some deep breaths, as this can disrupt the thought processes which heighten anxiety.
  2. Get all your worrying done at once! Set aside 15-20 minutes a couple of times a day for a scheduled ‘worry’ slot, record your worries on paper and do nothing else. Don’t go over time! And when ‘worry time’ is up, commit to putting off all worries until the next slot.
  3. Don’t let your worries go unchallenged? How likely are they to occur? Can you get an unbiased opinion from a trusted friend?
  4. Look after yourself. Ensure adequate sleep; eat plenty of healthy wholefoods; cut down on alcohol and caffeine. Feeling tired or physically out of sorts can magnify anxiety.
  5. Exercise daily and use up energy that would otherwise be spent on worrying. When we exercise we produce ‘feel good’ hormones, and reduce those that cause stress. Exercise actually alters our brains, increasing resilience and making them less susceptible to

These suggestions are also often incorporated in specific programs. Commit to practicing one of these things, for only one week, you may be surprised at the relief this brings you.

Is Perfectionism Setting You Up for failure?

We’re often told to be the best we can be, whether it’s our job, what we do for the family, our level of fitness, or all of these things, aiming high is seen positively. We hold high-achievers in esteem, and commonly see perfectionism as pre-requisite to their success.

In actual fact, perfectionism can be a negative and damaging influence in our lives, and a person who looks as though they’re holding it all together, may in fact feel as though it’s all falling apart. It’s good to have goals, but having unrealistic and unobtainable goals is certain to cause upset when they are not achieved, and a fear of failure may result.

Perfectionists are often self-deprecating, their outlook all-or-nothing, and are often suffering from an intense fear of failure. Perfectionists tie their own personal value to their achievements, and may feel they lose value when something doesn’t come off the way they’d planned. Sadly, it is more common for perfectionists to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety; they have a higher rate of eating disorders; fatigue; and tragically, suicide and early mortality.

Activities for Perfectionists

Believing it may be seen as a sign of weakness, perfectionists may avoid asking for help, but there are activities that can aid you in learning to calm yourself, on your own, and in your own home.

  1. Focus on your strengths – rather than focus on what didn’t go right, focus on what did, and identify three things that went well for you today. You can still be a perfectionist, but try to be the ‘glass half full’ variety.
  2. Failing is never easy, but if we learn from it, failure can be a success. Things can’t always go your way, try to see these occasions as lessons to be learnt from. Nothing was ever achieved by not trying; so much has been achieved through failure.
  3. ‘Breath from the Belly’, is a specific exercise which soothes and calms the nervous system: With one hand on your stomach and the other on your ribcage, inhale slowly, pushing out your stomach. Your ribcage should not move at all, unlike what happens with our ‘regular’ breathing when we fill our lungs first. In your mind think ‘relax’ and do so, as you exhale. Repeat this six times when you experience the first signs of anxiety or of being overwhelmed.
  4. When was the last time you decluttered at home or at work, and got rid of the things that never have or never will be used? Clearing and organising a room has been shown to clear and organise our mind, as well. Remember, our environment affects how we feel.
  5. Surround yourself with naturally positive people, who are neither stressed nor stressful, and take a leaf out of their laid-back book. Being exposed to their abundant optimism and ‘glass half full’ outlook can be a great way to learn how to grow and maintain your own positive outlook, and to live with appreciation, happiness, and joyfulness.

Final Thought

If all else fails or you’re feeling overwhelmed and are unsure where to turn, a sure fire way to lift your mood is helping other people. Be it volunteering, assisting a stranger or friend in need, or performing random acts of kindness, focusing on the needs of another is scientifically proven to improve your own mood.

Dr Peta Stapleton - Stay Motivated

4 Ways to Stay Motivated when the Urge to Quit Hits

By | Blog

We live busy lives with many duties and this often makes us want to give whatever it is we’re doing away and call it quits. There are times when this is probably the sensible decision. We’ve all stuck at things too long, whether a relationship, a job, or any other commitment when it would’ve been smarter to sever ties earlier in the piece. In Seth Godin’s ‘The Dip’, he wrote, “Winners quit all the time. They just know when to quit the right stuff at the right time.”

However, it is much more common for people to see ‘an early out’ too early, and take it. An internal voice reassures you with statements like, it will be okay, everyone will manage without you, you’ll feel so much better once you’ve thrown in the towel.

Could sticking with it be a better choice? At times we know this to be the truth but simply aren’t sure how to pull it off. It is usually the case that discovering that right reason to keep going can show us the way. These realistic methods will assist you in staying the course, and staying on task until it’s finalised.

  1. Be aware of what you say to yourself

    Internal statements like “This is beyond me, why did I even start?”, or “This is tougher than I’d imagined,” can be self-fulfilling and have already begun to program your thought processes and additionally set off a torrent of detrimental hormones to boot! When stressed and feeling low quitting can become an attractive proposition, the relief gained will be far superior to dread! The key to correct action here is to choose a helpful statement and to keep repeating it like a mantra, “I’m capable of this”, “I can do this, and I can manage.” In contrast to negative statements, these positive affirmations release neurohormones that cause us to feel better.

  2. Watch inspirational movies about inspirational characters and mold yourself on them

    Hire the film “Rudy”, with Daniel Eugene Ruettiger, and let this real life tale motivate and inspire you. A boy from a small town is repeatedly told he wasn’t big enough, smart enough, or athletic enough to play football for Notre Dame. So, what do you think he did, against it all? Another good choice is “The Pursuit of Happiness”, which tells the tale of Chris Gardner, single father of a five year old son, as he makes his way from homelessness to Wall St – an epic movie for sure!

  3. Start now with a list

    What is great and special about you? List EVERYTHING you have achieved so far, whether little or grand, dreams, successes, whatever you like! The purpose here is to gain awareness of what we have and can do, and feel glowingly good about ourselves.

  4. Prioritise what you’re good at; outsource the rest

    Even billionaire software developer Bill Gates has strengths and weaknesses, openly admitting he stinks at customer service. By letting others deal with this he can use his time efficiently. A while back I hired someone to take care of the lawn mowing and a couple of times a month look happily my beautiful yard and revel in the fact I didn’t have to do it! If you’re unsure of your skill set or natural talents there are ways of exploring this. The University of Pennsylvania offer their gold standard measures for free and are well worth a look https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/testcenter

Dr Peta Stapleton - Stop Food Guilt

6 Ways to Stop Food Guilt

By | Blog

It’s a familiar scenario, you’ve had a long week at work and you just want to go home and relax, indulge yourself even. Whether it’s a special dinner, an extra glass of wine, binge watching a whole series on Netflix, or munching several of your favourite chocolate biscuits, you may feel a little food guilt in the morning.

Though it is understandable that we occasionally have food guilt – and we all do – if it begins affecting daily life, it may also be classed as a psychological disorder. At its worst, food guilt can contribute to different kinds of disordered eating.

This appears to be increasingly prevalent in the modern western world. We’ve many ways of feeling bad about ourselves: family guilt, maternal guilt, work guilt, peer guilt, white guilt, middle-class guilt, historical guilt, and last but not least, food guilt!

Today, let’s keep our focus on food guilt. Following are six different ways you can alleviate feeling guilty about what you eat:

  1. Resist labeling

    There is a commonly held belief that eating the correct foods in the correct portion size will create the perfect body shape. Conversely, when we choose a ‘bad’ food, we see ourselves as weak-willed. When we categorise foods as good or bad, we are also labeling ourselves as good or bad. The solution lies in the realisation food is simply food, neither good nor bad.

  2. Listen to your body

    When your start feeling like it’s time to eat, take a minute to consider how you’ll feel a few hours after eating whichever food you’re considering. Those of us that do this tend to eat less junk food, as they are aware this kind of meal often leaves you feeling less than at your best shortly after eating.

  3. Create a pleasant atmosphere

    Rather than grabbing something to eat on the run, make meal times an enjoyable experience in pleasing surroundings. Set the table for each meal, with nice plates and cutlery, napkins, and table decorations such as flowers or candles. It is important to focus on the act of eating, so get rid of any distractions such as phones, televisions etc. Chew each forkful about 20 times, savouring the flavour, and put cutlery down between each bite. This means you won’t rush through a meal and also benefits digestion.

  4. Honour your choices

    Suppose you do decide on a food that is possibly not the healthiest choice, don’t feel guilty about it, enjoy it! Give yourself permission to have it and enjoy it, you haven’t done anything wrong. Then head to tip No. 2 for your next meal!

  5. Are you truly hungry?

    It has been suggested by experts in the field that oftentimes when we believe we are hungry, we are in fact thirsty. They also suggest drinking water about 15 minutes before each meal. It should take at least three to four hours after eating before you start to feel hungry again, so try to remember to ask yourself if you’re really just thirsty. We may also eat for emotional reasons; we do this in an effort to appease ourselves rather than address the issue causing the emotion. This type of hunger can appear all of a sudden and can be compelling, so if you’re hit hard and fast with hunger, ask yourself could it be you’re really experiencing a powerful emotion.

Here’s the final tip, No. 6 – what do you say to yourself when you over indulge or pick a food you don’t think is the healthiest option? Would you say these things to a close friend? If you wouldn’t be critical of or shame a friend, why do this to yourself? Talk to yourself as if you’re talking to someone you care for; be caring, kind, and supportive. Why not begin this style of self-talk today?

Dr Peta Stapleton - Motivation

Motivation and How to Find it?

By | Blog

Motivation can be an elusive and curious article. I’m sure we’ve all had times when half of us knows what is good for us (exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well) but the other half battles to keep you from doing it.

It is, in fact, unusual to feel motivated when we’ve only just begun something. Motivation builds as we progress with a task, and start to see results. It is the reason we do what we do, any behaviour really needs a motivating force behind it.

The secret lies in getting started, always the hardest step. With anything you want to accomplish, ask yourself the following three questions. Decide on something you are keen to pull off in the next 12 months and record your own answers.

Am I capable of this task?

If your answer is YES, great, move on to the next question. If you don’t know if your capable of something ask someone with more experience in the field for assistance.

Do I truly want to do this, and Why?

Here is the ‘moment of truth’ – ask yourself if this is genuinely a task you want to complete? Then ask yourself why this is the case. What positive or negative outcomes could result from doing this now and in the future?

What is actually involved in completing this task?

Whatever it is you see as successfully finishing the task, work out the steps that you’ll need to take to get there. By writing things down you increase the likelihood you’ll follow through on the commitment, whether a regular trip to the gym or healthy meal times.

Use these three methods to aid you in reaching those goals!

  • Motivation from an outside source is often needed to get you to begin something. Perhaps having another person accompany you on those trips to the gym or walks around the lake will give you a boost to begin and keep at it. Ask your friends and see who’s keen. Alternatively, a personal trainer can be very motivational – they won’t let you slack off!
  • Give yourself regular rewards. Plan what you’ll reward yourself with in advance, and keep this front of mind when working toward your goal. These rewards needn’t be extravagant or expensive, in fact regular outings you look forward to are best. Dinner or coffee with a friend you don’t get to see as much as you’d like, a relaxing yoga class, or an hour’s sleep in on the weekend or to read the paper in bed. Record your reward in your calendar or diary so it is already scheduled.
  • Take the time to assess how good you feel when you’re completing set tasks, working hard and kicking goals. Take note of the motivation and feel good emotions you’re experiencing. Your body and mind will use this recollection to help you get ‘up and at ‘em’ next time you have the urge to lie in when you shouldn’t be. Every single thing in this world is ruled and affected by our emotions. Tuning into these emotions of how good it feels when we achieve something; sticking to our diet, completing our workout schedule, or virtually doing anything to increase our sense of well-being, will help our mind and body to recall the benefits of these positive feelings and increase our chances of staying on course next time.
Dr Peta Stapleton - Bad Habits

Bad Habits and How to Break Them

By | Blog

Bad habits; everybody has them and most are keen to break them. So, why do we find ourselves repeating those same old self-defeating habits, time and again?

How do we form habits? Why do we find it so difficult to alter our behavior? The answers lie in our physiology, hormones, and brains. A habit (bad or otherwise) has three stages; ‘trigger’, ‘behaviour’, and ‘reward’. Reward aids the brain in recalling the steps taken to get said reward, so behaviour can be repeated for further gain; the behaviour is now incentivised, creating a ‘habit loop’, which keeps us repeating particular sequences, and patterns of behavior.

Habits are triggered by cues or associations that provoke a specific behavior or response. The trigger signals the brain to proceed on ‘autopilot’, meaning the behaviour or action taken following a trigger may be automatic and unintentional, though still brings gratification, or reward. There must be something pleasurable or enjoyable about an experience in order for a habit to be established. If this element is missing, the brain has no incentive to repeat or reinforce the behaviour. The ‘reward’ drives us to repeat the same routines and behaviours – even those we’d rather not have.

Three things encouraging us to return to our bad habits:

  1. Living for the present:

    Often seen positively, and as being a great way to live, when it comes to habitual negative behaviours, living in the now is not always a positive. Preoccupation with the present means we lack foresight into the future, and fail to consider the consequences of present actions. Take sun-bathing and tanning beds, both activities may have severe outcomes in years to come. By prioritising our appearance and the look we want today, we overlook our future health and happiness. Despite having little control over many events in our life, a tendency to tell ourselves, “it’ll never happen to me,” further hinders our assessing future possibilities. Don’t sell yourself short; being mindful of consequences may motivate you to rid yourself of a bad habit once and for all! Your future self will thank you!

  2. The desire to ‘fit in’:

    Are you holding on to a bad habit because it makes you feel you’re part of a group, ‘one of the gang’? Our peers and social lives can influence our behaviour significantly. Consider smokers; peer pressure may cause someone to take up smoking in the first place, and their current social life now keeps them smoking. Although many people are no longer keen on smoking, a fear of being ‘cast out’ of social groups may keep them puffing away. If you smoke, remember, quitting smoking doesn’t mean quitting your social life! Thankfully, in recent times, smoking has been losing popularity.

  3. There are no cure-alls:

    No bad habit has a single strategy for overcoming it; and different things work for different people.
    So where do you start? Breaking any habit is difficult, and takes commitment, will-power, hard-work, and usually, multiple attempts. It may seem easier to give yourself a pass and remain as you are. Though 70% of smoker’s claim they want to quit, they don’t. Self-indulgence might feel good in the moment, but may not be good for you! Conversely, change can be uncomfortable so is often avoided, but resisting change can be detrimental; embracing change might be the best thing you’ve ever done!

The good news; with a little effort, behaviours can be altered. Here are two tips to help make a change:

  1. Insight into why we do what we do, is gained by asking yourself how a habit began; what was the experience first linking the trigger, behaviour, and ‘pay-off. Be objective, beating your-self up and/or feeling guilty is unhelpful. Pretend the habit is a friend’s rather than your own; you wouldn’t judge or blame them and shouldn’t yourself. Putting the full cycle in perspective could give you the knowledge to kick the habit.
  2. Habits result from repetitive actions. Creating strong neural pathways, repetitive actions can create behaviour that is second nature, executed without thought or awareness. Even unconscious behaviours can be changed, and there are things you can do to make this easier. Say a junk food drive-thru tempts you as you drive home from work; find a different route and avoid temptation. The more the drive-through is avoided, the more it loses its hold on you. Doing things differently causes us to THINK differently, allowing us to live differently, and help to replace bad habits with good ones.

Final Thought:

A change in routine or environment will boost your chances of breaking a habit. Being in a relaxed setting, unconstrained by the stress and repetition of everyday life, makes it easier to alter patterns of behaviour and short-circuit triggers. So plan a behaviour change when planning your next holiday. A change of scene may be just what you need to kick-start some changes!

Dr Peta Stapleton - Mindfulness

Proven Methods to Keep You Present in Daily Life

By | Blog

Did you ever end up at work or another destination and think, ‘how did I get here this morning? I don’t even remember getting out of bed!’ We are not always attentive to what we are doing in any given moment, and our minds may drift off even as we complete tasks – we may daydream, or be distracted by unwanted and disagreeable thoughts. This is a fact of life, a normal part of human nature, and you are not the only one!  We all suffer from everyday lapses of memory, absent-mindedness being the second phase in the ‘Seven Sins of Memory’ sequence, according to Dr Daniel Schacter.

Absent-mindedness has been described by some scientists as “action slips”, or, “mental lapses”, and one in every seven adults, aged 18 to 39, will experience lapses in memory. What is more, psychologists have revealed this happens a lot more than we realise, and that we may experience these lapses up to 30 times each week! Maria Jonsdottir stated it is often while carrying out daily routines requiring little thought that this happens.

How are we affected by absent-mindedness?

Although a natural occurrence of the mind, being absent-minded can still have an adverse impact on daily life. The following impacts have been identified by researchers:

  • Trouble beginning and completing tasks
  • Exhaustion of the body and mind
  • Mental instability; being inattentive
  • Continual and repeated lateness, reduced time perception
  • Considerable moodiness
  • Stubborn unpleasant thoughts
  • Low executive function; inadequate time management and organisational skills; inability to plan
  • Physically agitated and restless; impatient
  • Working memory is inadequate

Absent-mindedness can result in these effects, and more, so we well may ask how we reduce absent-mindedness and become more attentive and mindful in our everyday life?

Ways of reducing absent-mindedness

Being mindful is the key to reducing absent-mindedness. These little tricks can teach you to fool your brain into mindfulness!

Mindful Waking

The beginning of the day is crucial to setting up mindfulness until you return to bed. Rather than rising as soon as you wake, relax, stretch, and take some time to reflect on how you feel and how you slept. Construct a morning mind ritual and brain work-out to keep yourself agile mentally.

Mindful Eating

When eating, focus on the act and experience of eating. Notice each taste, smell and texture, increasing enjoyment as you do. This enables you to avoid unwanted thoughts and increases your powers of concentration generally.

Mindful Cleaning

To hone your skills in observation and attention to detail, practice awareness of your surroundings. Pay attention to, and focus on the each piece furniture, and each area of your house when doing any housework.

Mindful Walking

Practise mindfulness when walking around. Pay attention to the pleasant feelings in your feet, legs and whole body. Don’t disengage from the world with headphones, take notice of the environment and people nearby. This increases social engagement and may improve your personal perspective on the world.

Mindful Showering

When bathing, really look at your appearance, taking note of both positive assets and imperfections. Acknowledge your own beauty, and let optimism in!

Mindful Listening

Take heed of the message a person is trying to convey, as well as the actual words spoken by a person, remembering to listen without interrupting. This will boost comprehension and presence of mind, improve attention and show the other person you consider what they are saying is worth hearing.

Meditation

Meditation is a valuable and positive practice that can help you escape negativity and disagreeable thoughts. Meditation increases self-awareness and insight, and is capable of bringing happiness into your life.

By creating a state of relaxation, in body and mind, with the practices of mindfulness and meditation, you can expect some of these benefits:

  • Heightened awareness
  • Improved concentration and focus
  • Reduced levels of anxiety
  • Thinking and observation will have clarity and calmness
  • Possibility of depression is lowered
  • Improvements in coping with stress
  • Positive outlook on life and happiness

Try one or more mindful practices today and feel the benefits!

EFT recognised as a “prescribed psychotherapy” in Ontario, Canada

By | Blog

The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, Canada (CRPO) has released the Controlled Act Task Group Consultation Documents in March 2018. This blog represents a summary and excerpt of the main points (full document here https://www.crpo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CRPO-CATG-Consultation-Documents_Consultation-Draft.pdf ).

While this document only applies to regulated members of the College, it is making quite a statement about the approaches it does recognize as being effective.

The document lists the following Categories of Prescribed Therapies Involving the Practice of Psychotherapy*:

 Cognitive and Behavioural therapies

 Experiential and Humanistic therapies

 Psychodynamic therapies

 Somatic therapies

 Systemic and Collaborative therapies

They have stated all psychotherapeutic modalities used by Registered Psychotherapists should fall within these categories. This is big deal as far as somatic therapies go (keep reading!).

What is interesting is the category of “Somatic therapies”. The following are examples of therapy modalities that fall under the five categories of psychotherapy above, and are listed in regulation. These examples are not intended to be exhaustive, rather are intended to help RPs situate their own practices within what are intended to be broad categories.

 Biofeedback

 Ericksonian Hypnosis

 Emotional Freedom Therapy (considered to represent EFT and Energy Psychology)

 Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

 Neurolinguistic Programing

 Sensory Motor Therapy

 Somatic Experiencing

Under Ontario law, certain acts, referred to as “controlled acts,” may only be performed by authorized healthcare professionals. The Regulated Heath Professions Act, 1991 governs those procedures or activities that may pose a risk to the public if not performed by a qualified practitioner. In Ontario, six regulated professions are authorized to provide the controlled act of psychotherapy. In addition to Registered Psychotherapists, these are: practitioners who are registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, College of Nurses of Ontario, College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

So while there are regulations in place, the inclusion of EFT (Tapping) as a somatic approach which is credible and effective is quite a big deal.

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*Please note that in order for a Registered Psychotherapist to engage in the controlled act of psychotherapy, and engage in the above approaches:

 there must be a psychotherapeutic relationship between client and Registered Psychotherapist;

 the Registered Psychotherapist must be providing treatment intended to help individuals improve mental health and well-being;

 the Registered Psychotherapist must be using a technique that is captured by the categories of prescribed therapies;

 the client must be suffering from a serious disorder of thought, cognition, mood, emotional regulation, perception or memory; and

 the client’s disorder may seriously impair the individual’s judgment, insight, behaviour,

Access Chapter 4 from The Science Behind Tapping here free

EFT researcher and author Peta Stapleton, Ph.D., brings together the history and cutting-edge research of tapping. She also shows how tapping can be used for a whole host of ailments, including anxiety, weight issues, depression, trauma, and more. Dr. Stapleton’s own groundbreaking study involving food cravings in overweight adults helped establish EFT as an effective, valid form of therapy.

Access Chapter 4 below - EFT Tapping for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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