• How to afford medical expenses when living on Centrelink

    Do you struggle to afford medical care while living on Centrelink or a low income? Read on to learn how to cover some major medical expenses, afford the help you need and what free help is available for those on Centrelink or low incomes. Disclosure, there are a couple of affiliate links in this post for things I use. Any affiliate income enables me to create more resources, articles and options for you. 

    In May, I had to go to the hospital. My pain levels hit a 9 and 10 (pain more intense than childbirth and at 10 you black out from pain). I lost feeling in my legs, my lower back felt like the muscles were crushing my spine again, I could not breathe and it was terrifying. I spent most of 2015 like this and got no answers then. I saw a neurologist as the doctors suspected with Guillain-Barré syndrome. The neurologist advised me I had either the permanent version of GBS or another permanent condition. I was sent for more tests, physio, acupuncture and other treatments. If I had to pay for all of that out of my own pocket it would have been close to $3,000. There are ways around paying for it all though, which I’ll share in a minute.

    Medical treatment is expensive. The ambulance bill alone was $1,200 then the medication, crutches, other tests, more treatment and changes to my home. It added up quickly.

    In the past few years I have needed:
    4 surgeries
 (and will have an annual surgery for the rest of my life)
    Physiotherapy
    Psychology
    A chiropractor
    Other treatments such as regular doctors visits, medications, specialists such as a neurosurgeon, gynaecologist and I tried naturopaths, Bowen therapy, basically anything anyone suggested, I did. 

My daughters required speech therapy, counselling, hospitalisation at one point and other treatments as well.

    I know how expensive medical treatments can be and I know how debilitating disabilities can be which prevent your ability to earn to afford the medical treatments. It is a vicious cycle.

    I’ll cover the main things I have experience with here from ambulance trips to glasses. I have some experts I am working with to get all this information for you all for future posts, so feel free to leave a comment with specific questions.

    NDIS
    First and foremost, check your eligibility for help from the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Many things such as support people, one off items like wheelchairs, connections and more are available and a plan will be tailored to you if you are eligible. Find out more about NDIS here.

    1.) Ambulance
    If you are on a pension the ambulance is covered. You will likely still be sent a bill, you call and it gets sorted. Do not stress. 

If you can afford private health insurance or choose to have private health insurance make sure your policy includes ambulance cover. You will be sent the bill and you process it with your insurer so you won’t pay but you need to do it quickly.

    Alternatively, you can get ambulance only cover for under $100 a year for a family or under $50 a year for singles. (Thanks, Jess for the tip!)

    This alone can save thousands!

    2.) Dental care
    If you have kids and get Family Tax Benefit A or a relevant payment, you are eligible for some dental treatments for them up to $1,000. You can find out more here.

    For yourself, there is some public dental help available, which varies state to state. Find more information here.

    Some private health funds cover some dental care, in my experience, it doesn’t cover much and isn’t really worth it. if you have private health insurance with extras, find out what you are entitled to. If it’s not worth it, compare and see how much you can drop your premium by getting rid of dental.

    Prevention is the best option with dental costs. These are tips from my dentist:
    – Get an electric toothbrush (they often go on sale for half price).
    – Use it for the full 2 minutes (they have a timer).
    – Floss properly by cupping your teeth with the string and flossing.
    – Use a mouthwash if you want but at the least rinse with water to get the rest of what you flossed from your teeth out of your mouth. Or put sage in water and leave it for a few hours then rinse with that water.
    – Do not wash your teeth right after soft drinks or sugary drinks as this can cause more damage. – 

Limit the sugary, unhealthy foods you consume.
    – Drink more water and make sure you eat well as this also helps your teeth.
    – 

If you need urgent dental care such as a filling, root canal etc you can ring to get approximate quotes, see if there are dentists who offer discounts for people on Centrelink or low incomes. Ask if they have ‘cheaper times’ (e.g. some offer a reduced rate on Mondays and Tuesdays, mainly for seniors. I had one in Western Sydney you worked mainly nights, but he offered a discount for day time appointments).
    – 

If you need x-rays and have the time, request a referral to a bulk billing place, go get them done, then come back to the dentist. Not all dentists do this, but it can save money.

    Oil pulling is something else some people swear by. I found it did help a little to ease pain, reduce swelling and enabled me to save to pay for the dental treatment I needed years ago. I used coconut or sweet almond oil. However, it’s controversial, so I’d recommend getting professional treatment as soon as you can.

    3.) Doctors visits
    Look for a doctor who will bulk bill. Not many do anymore, or some only bulk bill on certain days. Ask around. If you have chronic conditions, some doctors may bulk bill some of your appointments for you.
    Some tests can be bulk billed, check with your doctor or the lab if needed. Some other tests have a reduced fee when you go back for results too. Find out more here.

    4.) Specialists

    Go on the public waiting list as soon as possible, but be aware you may wait years depending on where you live, what treatment you need etc. When my daughters needed speech therapy it was a 2.5 year wait. I paid for private treatment for them and 3 years later I got a call to ask if I still wanted to be on the wait list with no idea of when I’d be able to get in still. That was Sydney. The wait list in Canberra was 6 months. Huge difference!

    If you have to go private, shop around and ask for a discount. Most do not bulk bill, I found once I outlined my situation in 2015 (long-term paralysis, surgeries etc.) many waved or reduced their fees. The anesthetists dropped their fees from $900 to $0! Call before the surgery and ask.

    Check extra payments or benefits you may be entitled to. With the speech therapy example, because my daughters had other specialists they needed to see as well, I was eligible for carers allowance for them which was just over $100 a fortnight then, and now $124.70 plus you might be eligible for 2 other payments at tax time ($1,000 and $600) which can help.

    For physiotherapy and similar treatments, your GP might be able to put you on a plan which provides you a limited amount of treatments either bulk billed or at a reduced rate. Ask them. I know of plans for physiotherapy, speech therapy and psychology, but there are probably more!

    Psychology and ATAPS I accessed ATAPS when going through my divorce and getting treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. It cannot be used with the Medicare option, but it has a lot of benefits. Find out more here.

    5.) Glasses and contacts

    I wear glasses and used to spend hundreds each time I needed to replace my glasses. Now I purchase mine from either Zenni Optical (get $5 off with this link) or Eye Buy Direct (get $10 off your first purchase with this link). I have done this for 7 years, had the prescription glasses checked by an optometrist and they were impressed. 
I am almost positive Zenni Optical is used by SpecSavers. Their frames for $99 or two for one deals etc are all in the Zenni range. Zenni has prescription glasses from $6.95 plus postage. You can upload a photo of yourself to get an idea of how you will look or try them on in SpecSavers then buy online instead.

    What you need to do:
    – Get your eyes tested.
    – Try on different styles to see what suits your face.
    – Ask for the prescription including your PD or pupillary distance. (I have heard some places, especially private ones do not give them to you, so ask before you get tested).
    – Jump onto Zenni, upload an image of your face, set the little crosses to your pupils then go through and ‘try’ glasses on that you like. Pick the one you want to order, put your prescription details in and save those details in there to refer to later if you need new ones. Order and wait a few weeks.

    I found the quality to be decent. I am more likely to lose my glasses than I am to have them break. In 7 years I have only had 1 pair break and they were not treated well by me and still lasted a few years.

    6.) Medication
    PBS – Some medications come under the PBS and if you have a health care card (or pension card) you get these medications for a heavily reduced fee. This does not cover ALL medications though and the cost of essential medications can be difficult for many. 

Ask for the generic brand. There generally isn’t a difference except for the packaging. Unless your doctor is explicit about you needing the brand name, ask if generic is ok then get the cheaper option from your pharmacist.

    Join reward clubs. Many pharmacies have loyalty programs you can join and collect points whenever you make a purchase which can be redeemed for money off future purchases.

    Keep track of it. Make sure you get your scripts before they expire so you needn’t pay for an extra appointment or script from the doctor. Take your medication as instructed or it won’t be as effective.

    


7.) Educate yourself
    Learn about your conditions, what helps and what makes it worse. Keep a diary to make notes for yourself as well. 

Use apps to track everything. For example, there are health apps to track everything you do, put in your symptoms when you have them etc. This helps doctors when you have to get treatment as you have a record and specific dates for your issues.

    In my case, Guillain-Barré syndrome is an auto immune disorder so I went on the auto immune protocol diet. It helped a bit, but didn’t completely enable me to recover (however, a combination of other things did).

    For some conditions, certain foods will cause issues. For other conditions, too much or too little movement can impact. Get to know your body, your conditions and what works for you.

    For apps, I have the health app on my iPhone but also downloaded an app for periods (I have PCOS so this has helped know when things are wrong). I also have the Medicare app, my doctor has an app I use to book easily and I’ve used apps like My Fitness Pal to track everything.

    8.) Watch what you eat

    Alcohol, sugar, high acid food and most processed foods can aggravate many conditions, especially ones that have chronic pain involved. 

Do some research to find out which foods help and which foods make your condition worse.

    Right now, I have found the keto or Low Carb High Fat diet has helped significantly.

    

9.) Stay hydrated
    We underestimate the value of water and how it helps our bodies, helps us heal and reduces many issues. Our bodies are mainly water, if we don’t drink enough it cannot function properly. Drink at least 2 to 3 Litres a day. I like to keep bottles of water in the fridge and sip throughout the day.

    10.) Try other options

    For starters, most people go to the doctor for sniffles and coughs which are viruses and they expect antibiotics. Most of the time the doctor can’t give you anything and the appointment is a waste of money. 

Talk to your pharmacist and they can offer some suggestions or tell you if you need to see a doctor.

    Call the health line on 1800 022 222 before going to your GP or the hospital, they can often advise what you should do.

    Check out medical co ops which have a monthly or annual fee and provide medical care. A list of options can be found here.

    Leave emergency or 000 for ACTUAL emergencies. I cannot stress this enough. Rarely, if ever, have I called 000. Even when blacking out from pain I didn’t want to but was advised to and I ended up with breathing issues, requiring injections and could not leave my home without paramedics, so it was the right call. However, if you are not dying, your condition is not life threatening, then do not call emergency. Use the health line, your GP or pharmacist. People die because emergency services are tied up dealing with non emergencies. 

    11.) Natural treatments

    Do this under proper supervision. I have had more success with various natural treatments for ailments of mine compared to traditional medicine for simple issues like throat infections, minor pain, skin issues etc. More recently, I am now walking and not in daily pain after being told my condition was permanent. It wasn’t traditional medicine that helped.

    For example, when I have a throat infection drinking a lot of water, having honey with lemon and ginger in hot water for a tea, crushed garlic in everything possible and getting plenty of rest works better than any medications I have used. If your throat is sore, stop talking! I know how hard that can be. I’m a single mum with 2 kids and speak professionally. However, whenever I have pushed myself, I end up making it worse, spreading it to my lungs and taking longer to heal.

    Many conditions ease if you eat healthily, get light exercise, sleep well, rest etc. Plus, remember, prevention is always better than cure.

    How do you get the money to pay for medical treatment?

    If you have been struck down by illness or injury, the medical bills are one problem, the inability to work and pay for everything in life is usually another which adds to the stress making it next to impossible to get better.

    1.) Check if you are eligible for Centrelink benefits
    If you are going to be off work for a while, change your income status so your family tax benefit, rent assistance and other payments adjust.
    Check what else you might be eligible for. Disability is notoriously hard to get and it might not be the right benefit for your situation, but you might be able to get Newstart with a medical exemption if you are partnered, they might be eligible for carers payment and allowance. You can find a list of Centrelink benefits with links to each one here. Also, check this part of the Centrelink website to see if there are any one off payments or assistance available to you.

    2.) Private health insurance
    I paid for private health insurance as soon as I became single purely because I wanted the peace of mind that if anything happened or we needed immediate treatment, I would get it. It has paid for itself plus provided me numerous benefits where the staff specifically said if I was a public patient it would not be happening.

    One example of that is we ended up in emergency for my youngest daughter. They were reluctant to take us in despite my GP and health line both saying she needed to be there. They took me because I was a private patient. Once inside, after various tests, the doctor on call asked if I felt I could look after her in her condition at home. I knew there was something extremely wrong and he was dismissing me. I said no, I am a single mum and we cannot go home with her in this condition. They admitted us because I had private health insurance.

    Next, my phone went flat and I didn’t know the phone numbers to call anyone to get my other daughter. I was told, if we were not private patients they would have called children’s services and taken my eldest until someone could be contacted. Instead, as we were private and had a private room, they brought in a recliner and we had a bench, so all 3 of us slept there.

    In the morning I was able to get hold of family who picked up my eldest. A pediatrician came and my daughters condition was so severe she was kept in hospital for 3 days and advised to remain home from school for another 2 weeks with follow up appointments once we were discharged.

    It sucks, but sometimes, you get further with private health insurance than you do public. If we had been sent home, I hate to think what could have happened to my daughter.

    If you already need the assistance, private health insurance probably isn’t going to help. If you have it, check what you can claim and what assistance you can get. Compare to ensure you are on the best deal and that you are covered for what you need. Many private health insurance extras aren’t worth it. Hospital or ambulance can be, especially if you have medical issues or are not eligible for a pension/low income card.

    3.) Find alternative ways to make money
    A job is not the only way to make money. If you have a condition like I did, where some days the pain is so excruciating you cannot do anything, or where you are paralysed or mental conditions where some days getting out of bed is a struggle, your earning potential is severely limited and most people will not understand. I do and there are options. Aside from Centrelink benefits, it can be difficult to find other ways to make money. I have 51 ways to make money from home in a free eBook here (and feel free to share that eBook with anyone and everyone!)

    You can also try options like:
    Online surveys – the best ones I have used are here.
    Become a freelance writer (tips on how to do that here) or a virtual assistant (tips on that here).
    Buy stuff to resell (I made almost $9,000 one month doing that).
    Mystery shopping (tips in this article) or market research (tips here) are two options which provide money occasionally.
    Also check out ways to make money while living on Centrelink.

    How do you afford medical care when living on Centrelink?

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  • How to cope when life is falling apart

    It’s no secret my life has been rocky over the past few years with domestic violence, homelessness, health issues and being a single parent.

    What I have kept secret is that the past few months have been less than ideal. I don’t want to go into full details about all of it but it has rocked me and been a lot to process. I am terrible at asking for help. I like being the strong person in the room, the one who has overcome my obstacles and can help everyone else with whatever they need. Unfortunately, we can’t be that person all the time. Life throws curveballs and recently, it felt like my world was falling apart again but I have an amazing support network and somehow always manage to have the right people come into my life at the right time.

    I have learnt so many lessons over the past few years, especially some coping strategies for when life doesn’t go as planned, as well as things to do to get back on track.

    1.) Ask for help

    I am hopeless at this. I keep everything inside until I am at breaking point. I struggle to ask, yet whenever I do I am inundated with the help I need.
    Be clear about what help you need, be open to offers, trust your gut about who is offering the help and why (while most people are genuine, there are some who help because they want something in return) and be someone who helps others where possible.

    Reach out to your community and ask for help.

    2.) Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

    I harp on about this a lot because it makes such a huge difference. With my current circumstances, I have found a few lessons I can be grateful for and the generosity of total strangers and my close family brought me to tears. No matter what the circumstances are, there is always something you can learn/an opportunity you can find or something good that can come from it.

    3.) Take care of yourself

    Another element I have not always been fantastic at and as a result, I have ended up in the hospital twice because I was paralysed in excruciating pain. And by excruciating, I mean, if you check the pain scale doctors use an 8 is childbirth, at 10 you pass out not because of blood loss but because the pain is so intense. Very few people ever experience this level of pain. I hit a 10 due to pain in my spine, I lost the function of my legs, went numb and battled to get better. I have had a cancer scare, struggled with mental health issues at some points in my life, my weight has gone up and down, the list goes on.

    Often, when life is hard, we put ourselves last and everything else becomes harder, we get more stressed and end up taking longer to get back on our feet.

    Take care of yourself by:

    – Eating healthy. Don’t succumb to take away or junk food. Eat nutritious food and make sure you eat properly.
    – Drink enough water. When you are dehydrated your body suffers and your mind can’t think as clearly. Drinking 2L or more a day will have a huge impact on your body and mind.
    – Look and feel good. Get showered, get dressed fully, wear nice underwear, do your hair and makeup. These things might seem superficial, but so many people neglect this when they get stressed or depressed. Take care of yourself and how you look, it will give you a boost of confidence.
    – Do something you love. Do a dance class, go out to dinner, hang out with friends, continue your hobby, read a book, whatever it is, do something you love!

    4.) Pick an affirmation or quote

    When I was homeless, robbed, broke and had left my abusive marriage, there were 3 quotes which helped me cope:
    “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” ~ Carl Jung
    “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” ~ I can’t find the specific source, it was anon for me.
    “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” ~ Seneca

    I often repeated these to myself, especially the first one. My life and how it turns out is up to me. I am what I choose to become, what is happening in my life does not define me.

    Find some quotes or affirmations that speak to you.

    5.) Boost your confidence

    When things aren’t going right, our confidence and sense of self-worth takes a hit. Think about what gives you a confidence boost and do it. If you need some ideas check out 20 ways to increase your confidence.

    6.) Be Proactive

    What can you do to take control of the situation and improve your life instead of letting your current situation control you? Work out a plan of action then follow through with it. You may need to tweak it as you go along but if you do nothing, things will either get worse or not change at all. Neither of those are good options. You can make the change you need.

    To get your free copy of the top 10 tips and resources I used to go from homeless to CEO subscribe here:


    What tips would you add?

  • How to get healthy and drop dress sizes

    “Your doctor needs you to come in immediately about your blood test results.” – My doctors office.

    This post focuses on changes I have made or am making in my life regarding health. I have had significant health scares in the past 18 months and major changes is happening. Due to the nature of what I do, I have had the fortune of being gifted some of the things needed to make these changes. Before being gifted them I was already researching and had made some selections. I mention specific products and my thoughts because these are what I am using. All opinions are my own.

    As soon as I published a post on self-care the other day my doctors office called me to come in immediately about blood test results which it turned out had tested positive for blood clots. I was immediately sent for a CT scan because other health issues indicated the clots were in my lungs.

    In the past 18 months I have had:
    – Paralysis issues and they still don’t know why, it has been suggested I had Guillain-Barré syndrome, but not confirmed. I do have a bulged disc from when I was 15 and disc degeneration too.
    – Cancer scare, specifically the cancer my mother died from. I now have annual surgery for this because I have a rare and controversial condition. Some medical experts say it’s classed as cancer, others do not. Either way, current treatment is surgery.
    Female health issues which I won’t go too much into this as it has been ongoing for months and I see a specialist next month about it.
    Allergic reactions to everything. About 5 weeks ago I started to get itchy on my arms and legs, it spread across my stomach but oddly has not effected anywhere underwear sits or my face. It got so itchy I felt like I wanted to rip my skin off. After 2 weeks of this, I developed some red dots down my arms, not raised or anything so I went to the dr. I was given cream and antihistamines. After 2 weeks I was still itchy, the red dots come and go, never being too severe or obvious, but I had issues breathing now to the point where if my breathing got heavier I would have a coughing fit and pain in my lungs. I assumed they were connected to allergies, my blood tests showed blood clot issues (hence the beginning of this post and the CT scan for clots in my lungs.)
    Blood issues including being diagnosed with neutropenia (my body doesn’t create enough neutrophils, the white blood cells which fight infection) and yesterday blood clot issues. Good news = no lung clots. Bad news, my blood is messed up and they don’t know why.

    How to get healthy, drop dress sizes and love yourself.

    Important steps for health
    I know I have neglected many areas of my health and I know that part of how unhealthy I am is because of stress. I have worked to sell some parts of the company and reduce my workload this year. I’ve focused on getting financially healthy and reduced stress in some areas of my life. However, without facing my fears, anxiety and stress remains. In order to heal myself, we have made some changes in our home and I am working on the rest. I know what I need to do, I don’t always implement it and that is the issue for me. As with other goals, I have had the most success when I put it out there like this. So here is what I know needs to be done for a healthy body.

    1.) Sleep in a bedroom that is an oasis
    Until recently, I have been sleeping on a terrible mattress. We moved into a furnished apartment and the mattress is clearly the cheapest thing they could get. We tried mattress toppers for a while, but neither of us were sleeping well. A little over a month ago I was asked to try a new mattress and it has done wonders! My sleep isn’t perfect yet, part of that is due to other health issues, not the mattress. My sleeo has improved drastically though and both our bodies feel significantly better sleeping on a supportive mattress. I have the

    I have the iGravity by Sensus from BedsOnline. It’s $999 delivered and it’s the best mattress I have ever had. I’ll do a full post on it properly later, but in a nutshell, because of my previous back issues my chiropractor recommended certain things in a mattress and when I sleep on a mattress that doesn’t have full support I end up in pain. The iGravity has firm support without being stiff as a board (which is how my partners mattress felt when we moved in together) and I highly recommend it.How to get healthy - make your bedroom an oasis.

    We were already shopping around for a mattress and had tried quite a few. I have previously had a chiropractic mattress worth $5,000, however I prefer the iGravity to that one and it is one fifth of the price.

    Plus, for me, since we couldn’t get rid of the previous mattress due to it being part of the furnishing for the apartment and not owned by us, we had to put my new iGravity mattress on top of the old one and it’s like sleeping on a high princess bed every night! My partner prefers to call it a fort bed. In my head, it’s a princess bed. My kids have said they want the exact same bed when they grow up!

    I cannot wait until we are rid of the old mattress though and have only the iGravity on the bed. It will be the ideal height for me.

    Aside from the perfect mattress, I have also got a bedspread I love (not pictured, I just bought it), threw out stuff we weren’t using, added a scent I like and have made it a room we can relax in. I am banning myself from working in there too. My bedroom needs to be an oasis for sleep.

    2.) Throw away the scales
    I have written about the 4-hour body and why weight is irrelevant because at 78kgs I have been a size 10 and a size 14. Even being similar weight and dress sizes my body shape has been different. Yet, when I step on the scales, if I have put on weight I feel awful. It’s completely psychological and often the weight fluctuation coincides with my period or it’s water weight and a few days later I am back to normal.

    Instead of focusing on weight, I am focusing on fat percentage. I had a DEXA scan recently and will have another in March. A DEXA scan measures the fat percentage in your body and gives a more accurate account of your body compared to jumping on the scales.

    The scales need to go. I started the year at 76.2kgs, my weight has gone up and down all year and I am sick of it. Health is my focus. Even with the weight fluctuations and weighing in at 81.6kg this morning, my actual body shape is better than before.

    To be specific about my ‘size’ to compare properly later:
    Weight: 81.6kg
    Height: 172cm
    Fat percentage:  33.08%
    Dress size: 12 (one average). This really depends on brands, summer vs winter lines etc. For example in JeansWest winter jeans I am 12, in their summer jeans, I am a 10. Cue clothing I am between a 12 to 14. Right now, I am going to say I am a 12.

    3.) Regular exercise
    With my lung issues, I am limited to certain exercises like swimming, gentle yoga etc. Prior to that I had started a simple gym routine which was making a difference.

    For the next few weeks, I am away in Vietnam. Once I am back in Melbourne it will be swimming 3 times a week and yoga 3 times a week, minimum. As my health improves and my doctor gives the ok, I will go back to the gym routine I had which included cardio and weights.

    4.) Reduce alcohol
    I was raised Mormon and for a while after the church I didn’t drink. My partner likes to drink and my alcohol consumption has definitely increased. In general, I rarely drink. My drinking is low enough doctors put me down as a non-drinker. I don’t drink every week or even at every special occasion. I don’t think there is much benefit for me drinking

    5.) Drinking 3L water a day
    I drink a can or two of Pepsi Max a day lately and nowhere near enough water. I used to use an app to remind me to have a glass of water. It is incredible the health benefits that come from being properly hydrated. 3 Litres is my daily goal, especially once I start exercising properly.

    6.) Nutrition
    I have mentioned the 4-hour body a few times on my site. I am moving away from it next year. I may need to do an elimination diet, work with an allergist and tweak things while my health is sorted.
    The basics will be:
    – No sugar
    – No wheat
    – No dairy
    Everything else in moderation and a lot of trial and error to find what works best for my body.

    Making health the goal
    I know if I take care of my healthI will get back to a size I am comfortable with. I want to reiterate to myself consistently that I love myself, I have a strong body and I want to focus on my health, not my weight.

    What are your health goals?

  • 12 tips for happiness

    A compliment I have been getting a lot lately from everywhere, even complete strangers is that I have a very positive energy. I am clearly extremely happy both within myself and with my life in general. Previously I battled with depression and borderline personality disorder throughout large portions of my life the with treatment was cleared of this in 2013. It has not been an easy road to get to the point I am, but I am grateful for every experience along the way as they have shaped me to be who I am today.

    12 Tips forhappiness

    Here are 12 things I have done to cultivate happiness in my life and help change my attitude.
    1.) Cultivate and attitude of gratitude
    I have a gratitude journal where I write at least one thing a day I am grateful for and it has helped change the way I look at things. Instead of focusing on all the negatives of a situation I look for what I could be grateful for, what lesson I could learn etc. Ask yourself what you can be grateful for today then with every negative situation ask what lesson you can learn from it, what opportunities could come and why it could be beneficial.

    2.) Meditate
    I tried this on and off for years but couldn’t seem to ‘get it’. Once I tried guided meditation I found it worked for me much better than simply trying to clear my mind. There are so many different ways to meditate, just try different ways until you find what works for you. Mine changes depending on my mood, but I can feel it when I have not been meditating as I am more irritable, decision making is harder and I feel run down.

    3.) De-clutter
    Get rid of anything you are not using, you don’t need or don’t love. Having a lot of stuff around, clutter on every surface is depressing. It drains you of energy and without realising it your mind is sometimes thinking about the mess you need to clean up or sort out, which distracts you from other tasks. Clear out your home, your car, your workspace and inbox to make room for things that really matter to you and to create an environment where you feel more relaxed and enjoy being.

    4.) Get organized
    When you’re living in chaos it’s hard to feel happy and have a balanced life. Get a schedule, automate bills and anything else you can, get a budget and stick to it. Don’t go so far as to plan every tiny aspect of your life because you still need spontaneity, but for those every day, mundane things, get a schedule happening. Get a planner or use an app on your phone to put in all appointments and things you need to do. Menu plan then shop accordingly. Streamline the aspects of your life you can so you have more time for fun.

    5.) Love and be loved
    I have often felt unworthy of love. I have a huge capacity to love others, but often hated myself. I had to change my thinking, realise I am worth it and that I deserve to be loved. Doing this has increased how much love I surround myself with and how much more I can love others, how their opinions no longer affect my mood as severely and my own confidence and belief in myself has soared.

    6.) Help others
    Volunteering for a cause I am passionate about has made a huge difference to me. I can be having the worst day, but then go in and see all the wonderful people I spend time with and I feel so good again. Thinking about other people, serving other people and treating everyone as equal takes the focus away from things that you might think are wrong in your life and instead makes way for the warm, fuzzy feelings.

    7.) Take care of yourself
    Make time for yourself, dress nicely and take care of yourself. If you need a break, take one. If you need to do some beauty treatments, do it. If you need a massage, get one. Making your needs a priority and taking care of yourself makes a huge difference to how you feel. Putting yourself last all the time is not a way to project your self worth to the world. It’s a great way to get run down and discouraged though. So instead of putting everyone before yourself, take some time to focus on your needs and look after yourself.

    8.) Know who you are
    I was pretty lost for years.  I went through the motions instead of knowing my core values, who I am and what I am passionate about. I did what others expected of me or wanted me to do. I played the role that I had sort of fallen into and I hated it. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t being true to myself.  I decided to take time to focus on who I am, who I want to be, the sort of mother I want to be and how to change myself and my life so I can live true to myself. It was quite a journey and has been well worth the effort and time it took.

    9.) Realise your attitude is your choice
    I fail at this at times, but that is ok. No one is perfect. How you feel, how you react to situations and what you do is your choice. I am not saying you can’t get angry or sad or upset. But realise it is a choice, no one is making you feel that way. Things will happen that upset us. Express that, let yourself feel the emotions, but don’t dwell on it. You can choose to be overwhelmed by all the negativity or you can choose to learn and grow, take the lesson and be happy.

    10.) Release people from your life
    If they are not helping you, if they make you feel bad about yourself or trigger negative feelings, if they drain your energy and are not contributing to the sort of life you want, but instead are essentially toxic, get rid of them. Release them from your life. You don’t have to keep anyone in your life you don’t want to be in it. You can change jobs, you can stop hanging out, you can delete people from social media and just because someone is related to you, doesn’t mean they have to be in your life. If you can’t cut someone out of your life completely, work on cutting back the amount of time you spend with that person and how much you think about them.

    11.) Therapies
    I used a variety of therapies to help me such as psychology to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, reiki, massage, acupuncture, naturopathy and a range of other therapies and treatments to help heal my mind, body and soul.

    12.) Live in the moment
    Stop worrying about your past or future and start living in the present. If you get organised like I said above, set times to check your finances and things that will matter in the future, you don’t need to worry about it. Let go of the past. All you can do is learn from it, not live in it. You can’t change it, so stop using your energy wishing things were different. Live in the now. Appreciate the life you have now and do what makes you happy.

    What makes you happy? How have you changed your attitude?

    Originally posted in October, 2013. Revised and republished June 2016

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