My tips for Depression and Anxiety

Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss our mental health and not include it as part of our physical health, but anyone who has struggled with mental health issues will tell you that the two work together.

At Fit 4 Life we have included mental health as part of our four focus points – Fitness, Finance, Faith and Friendship. A number of our staff have been dealing with or have dealt with ongoing mental health challenges from burnout and anxiety to depression and more. As you struggle with what’s going on in your brain, it makes life harder including your personal fitness regime. Staying motivated is so difficult when it’s just a challenge to get out of bed and thus the vicious circle is born. Physical fitness and the endorphins that come with exercise are a vital part of recovering and moving through mental health issues.

Here’s a few tips that I have discovered about myself as I deal with anxiety.

  1. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor – it can be a huge relief to have someone journey with you who has some expertise in health issues.
  2. Don’t be a martyr about medication – anti-anxiety and depression meds are there for a reason. They help our brains reboot and gives us the space to start being the person we want to be and make the necessary changes. My doctor told me that I might need medication for as long as it took me to get to the place I was in. I feel better on my meds so I am in no rush! 🙂
  3. Do share your story – keeping your mental health stuff a secret only magnifies it. Find some people that are your friends and don’t care if you repeat your health story a million times. They can be a listening, empathetic ear as well as give us perspective when we need it sometimes.
  4. Do realise that your mental health challenge is going to change you – you might find your ability to cope is diminished or your ability to balance a hectic lifestyle may be changed. It’s ok…..becoming comfortable with just being is part of the journey.
  5. Do find things that bring JOY in your life – hobbies, people, TV shows, movies etc. Whatever gives you even a smidgen of fun, joy and distraction can be a good thing for your mental health.
  6. Do some exercise – try and do something physical every day – work out at the gym, go for a stroll, garden, dancing or whatever….find something you enjoy!
  7. Do realise that others are not going to fully understand what it is like for you and we need to have appropriate expectations of others.
  8. Don’t be ashamed to find others who are experiencing similar things to you. There is a real sense of camaraderie that comes when you share your story with someone who is also struggling.

Hope you found some of these helpful. They are just things I have done to help me in my journey with anxiety.

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff

Christy

We’re back…..

We’ve been offline for a bit, but we’re back. We hope to bring you some great articles and thoughts related to the four elements of Fit 4 Life – Fitness, Finance, Faith & Friendship. Check our blog each week for an update.

In the meantime, if you live on the North Shore of Auckland, then come and visit the friendliest gym around. Not only do we have good prices, we also offer more than you might find at another gym – free programmes, free fitness assessments, free seminars when offered, free financial planning and more.

All of our prices, times and more info are listed on our website. Check each week for our latest webdeal.

You can call us on 0800 LIFEGYM.

 

Friendship – Party Planning and Friendship!

With less than 5 days till Christmas to go, you are either sitting back relaxing, stoked that you did everything before the December madness or you are like me dashing around after work doing last minute baking, making Christmas cards/newsletters, shopping and wrapping gifts, putting up trees and trying to fit in catching up with friends and family before everyone goes away!  Either way, I hope you have fun looking at some links I have below to inspire you with loving your friends and family to another level at your Christmas functions or parties you put on in the New Year.

One thing about me, you learn pretty fast if you know me, is that I’m a HUGE fan of Amy Atlas.  She has inspired me to be able to love my friends to a gourmet Amy Atlas level.  Here is her link to check her stuff out.  Be sure to click on ‘eye candy’, to see all her beautiful featured tables.

I just love, admire and appreciate her style in catering for events so much.  From her buntings to straws, cakepops, (which I learnt how to make this year, so will have to share some more on this on another blog!) fine detailed food tags to funky backdrops, cute packaging and the list goes on with everything all colour coordinated and matching!!  Incredible!

Since it’s Christmas time, I thought you might like this link, a friend gave me from Amy Atlas’s site to a fun Kids Christmas party.

A highlight of this year for me, was receiving my very own “Amy Atlas table” created by my friend, Sarah for my birthday.  I felt soooo loved and still remember the feeling of being in awe of the “gourmetness” and just overwhelmed that someone made it just for me! Thanks Sarah for going ALL OUT!!  Note the amazing apothecary jars that were given to me as a gift that you can fill with all most anything and it makes it look even better.

A couple of months later my friend Christy and I were honoured to put on a special baby shower for Sarah and her miracle baby boy.  I got to use all my new jars and stands and make it look like an Amy Atlas table.

For some other special friends, Marlon and Lily, I created a dessert table for their wedding.  From Chocolate Mud cake with ganache layers to Red Velvet with Vanilla layers, Lemon cake with Lemon Curd, carrot cake w

ith cream cheese icing to Vanilla and Banana Cupcakes with Butter cream icing and rose buds and pearls on top, there was something there for everyone’s taste buds!

 

I’m putting on 2 baby showers before Christmas and I’m excited to use Amy Atlas-like straws that I adore.  The red and white ones my favourite, however green and yellow are the colours for the sunflower theme.  Since Sarah’s shower, I learned of this party store called Poppyseed.  It has so many fun things in it, that you need an hour just to look at all the cute accessories and take it all in.  So I have got a couple of fun yellow things (I was very self controlled) to make the table look gourmet and love my friends.  So if you love the Amy Atlas style then check out the Poppyseed link for ideas that you can get from just around the corner.  Online you can shop by product, colour, party packs, different themes, cupcakes and cupcake accessories.

Here’s a fun link to see how my favourite red and white straws have been made into a Christmas wreath.  Gosh the ideas are endless!!

Hope some of these links inspire you to have some fun being creative in loving your friends and family.

Merry Christmas!

Kirstie – Fit 4 Life Staff

Friendship – Texting Tips

So for those of you that don’t know me, I’m Kirstie and I’m a text-a-holic…just kidding!  However I do think that one day I might have arthritis in my right thumb! I really forget how we communicated without cellphones before they were around? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a cell phone these days.

If you are anything like me, I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was going over my texting limit on the business plan I’m on, and wondering why I was paying those big bills!   In the last 2 jobs I’ve had, I have been the top ‘text-er’ amongst all my colleagues.

Definitely nothing to brag about but I guess it shows how much I value communicating with people.  I use texting as a tool to stay in touch with people that I don’t get to see everyday, to show people in my life that I care for them and be there for people such as friends and family. It doesn’t have to be long and take much time out of your day, but by just saying a few words shows the receiver you were thinking of them and it can make their day.  I know I feel cared for when I receive a message from a friend, especially if it’s been a hard day.

Texting is also great as it’s non-threatening and if you are busy you can reply later.  There is no pressure to respond immediately.

When it comes to safety (and the law), I’m definitely a believer of not texting and driving.  However I do get caught in my car outside my friends’ houses texting others before I enter their houses!  And I will admit that I have texted while being in the bathroom!

Some other tips:

  •  Don’t text when angry.  You may regret it later.  Better to sleep on it if you are unsure.
  •  Don’t have conversations via text that really need to be face to face.  These texts can be misinterpreted. For example, to resolve conflict or to break up with a girl/guy- never do these over text!
  •  Don’t text and drive.  Your life and the lives around you are too valuable to be lost by sending or reading a message that could wait 5 or 10 minutes.

So go on and take a minute out of your day and encourage a friend or family member.  Let someone know that you are thinking of them.  We all need an ‘atta girl’ or ‘atta boy’ every now and then.   Make the most of the fun technology we have in our finger tips!  Build on relationships in your life simply by sending a text!  And don’t forget to add a smiley face!

Kirstie – Fit 4 Life Staff

Friendship – Understand You to Understand Others

Have you ever asked yourself the question – why is this person not like me? I have…LOTS!  When you’re a kid it doesn’t matter so much, but as you get older and move into more serious relationships like dating and marriage or the change that comes with adult children interacting with their parents, these things take on a magnitude they didn’t have before. These are the areas that create conflict, miscommunication and misunderstandings which if left unchecked lead to broken relationships, divorce and a lot of loneliness.

My husband and I started dating when I was quite young (he was a few years older) and at first everything was blissful. I loved that infatuation time. Neither of us hurt each other, everything was so new and exciting and we loved everything about each other….then reality hit. As we moved into a more serious, long-term dating relationship we started finding niggly things that just bothered us about each other and then there were some more serious things that had us questioning, should we even be together?Around that time we discovered a book that helped us hugely – Personality Plus by Florence Littauer.

Through reading her book we discovered that there are different temperaments, each with strengths and weaknesses which contribute to the dynamics of a relationship. As we began to understand each others strengths (and weaknesses) we began to see that the other person was not our enemy, but rather someone who just approached life differently and that was ok. We were able to give more grace when we understood the WHY – why they acted they way they did, or talked the way they did. Personality Plus saved our relationship and we’ve now been married 23 years and together 26 years.

Basically Florence describes the four temperaments as discovered by Hippocrates the
“Father of Modern Medicine”. He discovered that people tended to fall into four groups which he believed came from the amount of each of the four “humours” found in the human body so the names reflect that belief – Sanguine (red blood), Choleric (yellow bile), Melancholy (black bile) and Phlegmatic (phlegm). Now, we know better nowadays, but we still use these words to describe the four temperaments.

"Hey, how you doing? I'm great, what an awesome day..."

The first is the Sanguine – this is an extroverted, people-oriented temperament. These people are fun, exuberant, enthusiastic, love being with people, energised by groups and parties, talkative, vibrant, child-like, talk with their hands and love telling stories. Every party needs a Sanguine. The basic desire of the Sanguine is to have fun whether it be work or play and their basic emotional need is for approval and attention. The Sanguine has some corresponding weaknesses as well. As they are a talker, they can dominate conversation, become repetitive in their story-telling and be overly loud whether in speech or laughter. A Sanguine is generally not very organised, spontaneous and struggles with personal discipline – all gung-ho at the beginning and then peters out halfway through. Sanguines can appear to be insincere as they are very much “out of sight, out of mind” kind of people. When they are with you, they are very focused on you, but once you’ve left, they’ve moved to the next person. A Sanguine is often very driven by their need for approval and often become overly concerned with how they are perceived, whether physically, in their home life and other areas of their life. This drive can lead to conflict avoidance and paranoia about what others think of them. So, that’s the Sanguine!

"Grr...."

The second of the temperaments is the Choleric. Like the Sanguine, the Choleric is an extroverted temperament, but different in that the Choleric is task-oriented. The basic desire of the Choleric is for control. They are the temperament that loves to lead, thrives in leadership positions and excels in reaching goals and targets. They love to get things done, produce and work hard. The Choleric is very efficient, highly intelligent and very decisive. Cholerics are the achievers of the temperaments. They are initiators and are outgoing, though this will look different to the Sanguine out-goingness. The Choleric’s basic emotional need is acknowledgement of achievement and appreciation. They love awards and certificates and need to have appreciation expressed for tasks they have done. The Choleric is a strong temperament and because of this their corresponding weaknesses are also strong. As the Choleric desires control this can lead to controlling behaviours like bossiness, dominating, argumentative, lack of empathy and insensitivity to the needs of others. They can be workaholics as they are so driven to accomplish tasks, often struggling to relax or just take a break from their tasks. A Choleric wants the credit, is impulsive and is more likely to experience angry outbursts or become impatient and frustrated. These behaviours can make the Choleric difficult to live and work with, but once they understand who they are and others do as well, the Cholerics are high achievers and very interesting people.

"Sigh..."

The third temperament is the Melancholy. The Melancholy is an introverted temperament, but like the Choleric is task-oriented. The Melancholy’s basic desire is to be perfect. The Melancholy is an organised, detailed, methodical personality that enjoys things being done well and to a very high standard. They enjoy lists, spreadsheets and charts and routine is their best friend. They like things to be as perfect as possible. The Melancholy tends to be the artistic temperament and loves art, music and beauty. They are loyal, sensitive, thoughtful and deliberate in whatever they do. They don’t need many friends, but the ones they have they are very committed too. The basic emotional need of the Melancholy is for order and sensitivity. However, many of the Melancholy’s weaknesses stem from their desire for things to be perfect. They have high standards and become extremely disappointed in themselves or others if those standards aren’t met. Often their friends and family have no idea of the standard they are being measured against. This perfectionism can drive the Melancholy into moodiness and if left unchecked to depression. That feeling of never being good enough permeates the Melancholy world. Because people disappoint them, the Melancholy is very selective in relationships and tend to bear grudges when wronged. They naturally look on the negative side of things and struggle to believe the best of people. They are easily wounded when they feel that they have not been treated with sensitivity. However, the Melancholy has a big advantage over the other temperaments and that’s their self-discipline. Out of all the temperaments, when they understand their personality and their weaknesses in particular, they often experience the most personal growth.

"Um....hello"

The last of our temperaments is the Phlegmatic. The Phlegmatic is an introverted temperament like the Melancholy, but is people-oriented like the Sanguine. They are not outgoing, but love hanging out with people and being in social situations. They are easy going, kind, caring, consistent in their emotions, relaxing, gentle, good mediators and very soothing to the other temperaments who struggle more emotionally. The Phlegmatic’s basic desire is for peace. They’re ideal environment is one that isn’t too chaotic, is stress and conflict-free and has people in it. They aren’t the initiators, but do enjoy talking and sharing with others when asked questions or have a particular interest area. The basic emotional need of the Phlegmatic is for respect and self-worth. The Phelgmatic is not a high-achieving temperament as they are very deliberate and can be hard to motivate, so their emotional need reflects their need to be appreciated for who they are, not what they do or accomplish. The Phlegmatic is very easygoing, but that can lead to a “laissez-faire” attitude, and to laziness and procrastination. As the Phlegmatic doesn’t like conflict, this can lead to conflict-avoidance which is not healthy in relationships whether home or work. The Plegmatic tends to be unenthusiastic which is frustrating to the other temperaments and tends to not show a lot of emotion for anything – good, bad or otherwise. When pushed the Phlegmatic can get very stubborn and is incredibly hard to get them to do something they’ve decided they won’t or can’t do which can lead to conflict with other temperaments.

Well, that is a quick summary of the four temperaments. I hope you learned something about yourself and others around you. It is really important to remember that understanding the temperaments is not about putting someone in a box or trying to “tell” people what they are or should be. Rather, it is an opportunity to get to know yourself better in order to have better relationships with others. If you understand the temperaments it becomes easier to adjust how you interact with someone based on their temperament. It’s a great tool to have.

Get a copy of the book (or borrow one from Fit 4 Life) and ask us for a copy of the test. We’ve been given permission to distribute the tests by Florence Littauer so no need to worry about that (if you were :))

Have fun and feel free to contact us if you want more information.

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff

Friendship – A lifetime of friends

(This is a blog post from my personal blog, but fit right with this week’s theme.)

With my personality, people are so important to me, but funnily enough friendships were hard for me when I was a kid and teenager. Despite my desire to have close friends and be a good friend, somehow it didn’t always work out the way I had hoped.

I had lots of friends, but struggled to find that “bestie”. I watched other girls with their best friends and my heart hurt, because I wanted to be like them.

I met my husband when I was 15 and we’ve been together ever since. He became my “bestie” which is the way it should be in marriage, but because of that I didn’t develop close friendships with other girls as much. I also had a super amazing friendship with my mom so I think I thought I was sorted in the friend department.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had lots of people who’s friendships I enjoyed….I am really talking about those heart friendships that develop through time and energy being spent in sharing ones’ lives together. I didn’t have those relationships and moving into parenthood that became even more obvious as I was now at home and didn’t have anyone to do anything with other than my mom. I had friends, but they either didn’t have kids or the relationships were changing.

Then, God brought a young woman into my life who was 5 or 6 years younger than myself. I learned a lot about being a friend from her. I learned to share my life more openly, to reveal some of my “stuff” and to feel safe. That door opened wider in 2005 when another young woman came into my life…she was a lot younger than me, but for some reason God just melded our hearts and I opened my heart even more. Around the same time, I had a group of uni students I was spending time with and those girls became super precious to me. Even though I was their “leader”, I learned so much from them and they made me feel like I finally had “girlfriends”. Finally in my late 30’s I had girlfriends. I had women that I could feel safe to share my heart with, to reveal more about myself, who loved me for who I was. WOW!!!

Tammy and I

Now in my 40’s I finally have a really close friend who is my own age….it’s only taken me 30 years. HA!!. She is a treasure. She listens to me and let’s me ramble and shares her life with me. I love it!!!! I actually feel like I have a sister for the first time in my life. YAY!!

I’ve learned a lot about friendship – to have friends, you need to be one. To invite confidences you need to confide and be trustworthy. You need to have fun together and have shared experiences and memories. I have learned so much from these wonderful ladies in my life….and from my super amazing mom and I am very thankful!

Being a girl, I don’t really know how friendships work with guys, but I would venture a guess that there are some similarities, so if you’re a guy reading this, apply what you can! 🙂 And just a reminder to all of us to continue to work on our friendships with others as those are the relationships that make all the difference – having people to hang out with, support us in times of need, have a laugh with and just being there.

Christy – Fit 4 Life Staff

 

Friendship – Being There for Others

In the last few years, I have learnt a lot about how to be there for others. I have actually learnt this in the reverse way- where I have been the one in difficulty and in need. And I have had the privilege of being on the receiving end of care from people around me when life has been difficult.

Maybe you know someone going through a tough time too? Whether it is loss of someone close, marriage breakdown, health-issues, career-change, natural disaster, family crisis, infertility, etc, we do need each other.

Here are some thoughts or things I’ve appreciated.

When there’s nothing to say, there’s nothing to say.

It is okay to say fewer things. Often this is better than blurting out things that you think will make them feel better.

Depending on what stage they are in the process, saying really positive things like quotes, verses, other happy-ending stories can be unhelpful if they are right in the deep of it and not ready for it, maybe save it for later when they are more settled. If you feel helpless and can’t find words, you can just say exactly that, that you just don’t know- that can be comforting for them too.

If you’re not sure, ask.

Ask them what is most helpful. Ask them if they want to hear positive things or not, ask them if they want help with something, ask them if there’s anything they can do, ask them if they want a meal cooked for them, etc. Then at least you have an idea where they may be at.

Questions are good because it gives them a chance to respond and take part, rather than feeling like everyone’s just going ahead and throwing help at them, when they may not want it just yet.

If they are emotional, let them be.

Crying throws a lot of us off, and so does other strong emotions like anger. Sometimes your friend may just need you to be there while you let them cry, ramble on angrily, or just sit there like a stunned mullet.

This is especially if they are in stages of grief where they are simply trying to get their heads around the situation. It isn’t always linear, so it may come unexpectedly and repeatedly. Try not to take it personally or feel too attached to what they say or do, these deep emotions will subside in time but expressing it can be one of the best things for them, though it may seem awkward or hard to hear/watch at the time.

Let them know where to find you

Some may decline help or not know how to ask for it. That is ok. Try not to hover too intensely or be their saviour.

Contact them every now and then to check in on them, so they know you are there, but you don’t have to babysit them. Ring, send a text or email so they know you are thinking of them. They will respond when they are ready.

Something is  better than nothing

If you’re not sure what to do even from the start, a simple text, email or card just to acknowledge that you are aware they are going through a tough situation or that they are in your thoughts and prayers is better than not acknowledging they are. You can also drop by a small gift of flowers or food if that is appropriate.

When bits in life seem to fall apart, it can feel strangely lonely and it is nice to know that others realise and that you have not been forgotten, so little gestures like that are much appreciated.

You’re not going to get it right!

We’re all different, and so when life is topsy-turvy, we also all respond differently. You may feel like your friend ‘should be’ processing things one way, when they aren’t. They may not respond to you like you hope, etc.

This is all very tricky stuff and there are no clear right-ways or wrong-ways (though there are healthier ways than others). Some people like life to just get on quickly as it if things are normal and that helps them, while some need a bit of time to hide in a hole before they can come out and embrace the everyday. We can keep an eye on them but we need to let them figure that out.

Encouragement and other kinds of help

There are no clear rules in terms of how long it will take for them to feel better, so just keep gently encouraging them and softly nudging them forward.

Of course, don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel they are being destructive or harming themselves. (This is hard but) we also need to be told the truth. Seek the opinion of other trusted friends if you are unsure if your view is correct. Seek professional help if you think things are going awry.

Sometimes, tough situations bring other issues to the surface that doesn’t seem related. More severe things like depression, addiction, abuse in their history, etc may be out of your realm to ‘help with’ so don’t try and handle it yourself, there are many resources out there that can do that.

Hope this helps you be there for others!!

Sarah – Fit 4 Life Staff


Friendship – Making your guests feel welcome!!

I recently was able to have a lovely weekend away house sitting and dog walking for some great friends Jason and Sarah at a wedding.  Originally I thought I was helping them, but it turned out that I was the one receiving all the love!!  I arrived to what felt like walking into a 5 star hotel, but it was their home with an extra bonus of a super fun dog, Sammy, who you can’t help but fall in love with, for company!!

The house was honestly immaculately clean and so welcoming after finishing the late night shift at work, one of those nights  where you want to drop your bags and blob!!

Their place is one of my favourite home away from home houses.  It’s so warm and inviting and they always have some fun new creative projects displayed that they have been working on to admire and be inspired by!  Sarah had written lots of fun Post-it notes all around the house, (was actually fun walking through all the rooms finding them and reading them! haha) She had a bag of cute gourmet mini Easter eggs laid on my freshly made up queen size bed with linens….luxury!! You can never go wrong with chocolate right!! They didn’t last long while watching TV!!

One of my favourite things though were the Bath & Bodyworks moisturisers and shower gels on the beside table.  I’m not joking…there were 6 options available to choose from and I was allowed to have 2 bottles!  I was wowed!!  If you haven’t tried this brand before you are going to want to! Seriously though after smelling it, you almost want to eat yourself it’s that good!!  (You have to order it from Canada or USA or just have amazing friends like I do, who are incredibly generous and have connections).  I highly recommend the Warm Vanilla Sugar and the Coconut & Lime Verbena flavours (oops…I mean scents) :)!

Jason and Sarah and Sammy, you rock!  Love and appreciate you guys heaps!

So, if you have family or friends coming to stay as guest in your place over the Easter break or other holiday seasons then hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you to make them feel even more special. I know I appreciate it so much!!!

Kirstie – Fit 4 Life Staff