Archive

for March, 2017

Hopping on the Scales this Easter

Posted on March 31, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants

Easter is a wonderful time of year, religious or not, it’s an opportunity to stop and enjoy some time with friends and family while the weather is still warm.

Like all festive occasions, Easter is a very food oriented celebration and as we count down the days until the Easter Bunny arrives, there is an abundance of chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and various sugar-filled treats, in arms reach. In fact, these tempting sugary delights start filling the supermarket shelves a mere month post-Christmas, but that’s another story.

Without sounding like a complete kill-joy, Easter doesn’t have to be a time to have a complete blow out. Instead, it can be a time to enjoy your food, company and rest time without being fearful of what the scales might show when it’s time to go back to work. But mindful eating needn’t be confined to the festive seasons, when practiced as part of your daily routine it can bring a myriad of health benefits.

So, what does mindful eating actually mean, I hear you say? If you have visions of yoga music and meditation at the dinner table, think again.

Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith says, “Mindful eating, is a very positive notion that encourages being present and enjoying the complete experience of eating, savouring the taste, the smell and being grateful for the nourishment food provides our bodies”.

Here are three simple steps to start putting mindful eating into daily practice.

  1.  Respond to your bodily cues, that is eat when you are hungry not when you are tired, emotional or have a case of ‘3:30itis’.
  2. Sit down to eat. It sounds ridiculous but so many of us rush around shovelling food into our face without even drawing breath, let alone setting the table. Sitting down to eat will encourage you to notice the food you are consuming and register that you have eaten. Eating on the run can cause us to forget we have eaten and therefore snack unnecessarily.
  3. Turn off your phone to eat. Eating distraction free, without checking your emails or latest Facebook feed will allow you to relax, savour the tastes and the surrounding environment.

Think of the down time over Easter break as the perfect opportunity to practice mindful eating, not only will it encourage you to acknowledge and appreciate the culinary delights on the table, it may prevent you from the aftermaths of a chocolate splurge.  For more information on mindful eating, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au/mindfuleating

 

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Enough of the Trash Talk

Posted on March 29, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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By Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist

Negative self-talk- it’s that niggling little voice inside our head that for whatever reason is often skewed towards the negative. Perhaps it’s a hard-wired human response to protect oneself from danger, assuming the worst to prepare and protect?

The fact of the matter is, negative self-talk is not as necessary for survival in the modern-day world as it was during caveman times, and studies reveal that negative self-talk is associated with higher stress levels and depression.

But learning how to shut down the Negative Nelly within, can be difficult; herein lie a few ways you can re-wire the circuit and teach yourself to think more positively.

Brené Brown, PhD, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and author of The Gifts Of Imperfection, has develop an effective technique to revert negative self-talk.

Give your negative alter ego a name, it could be endearing, funny or down right rude, just name it and put it back in its box. Every time a negative thought pops into your head, think of a physical box, put her in it, close the lid and think, “Right here comes Negative Nelly again”.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Stan Steindl says, “Learning to acknowledge when the negative self-talk is happening is half the challenge. When it is happening, it may seem to be very factual but with time you may notice a pattern with this inner dialogue and realise it’s more of a habit than a reality”.

Challenging the negative self-talk will take some practice but once you are aware of the physical and emotional cues, you can stop, breathe and reflect on what you are thinking. Here are a few thoughts that may help to challenge the negative thought.

1. What evidence is there for this thought? ⇒ Is there any alternative way of looking at this? ⇒ Is there any alternative explanation?

2. How would someone else think about the same situation?

3. Are my judgments based on how I felt rather than what I did?

4. Am I setting myself unrealistic or unobtainable standards?

5. Am I forgetting relevant facts or over focusing on irrelevant facts?

6. What would I tell my best friend if he/she said the same thing?

If you are struggling with negative self-talk or depressed mood, talking to a mental health professional can help you move forward and start living the way you want to live. You can find more information on challenging thoughts at http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/forms-and-handouts/

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Flat Out Doing Nothing

Posted on March 23, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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With Commentary from Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith, Psychology Consultants

Ever feel like you’re a rat on a wheel, working to turn the cogs without actually achieving anything?

Working efficiently can be difficult, especially in workplaces where multi-tasking is a given and deadlines demand super-powers from mere-mortals. Tuning out to the white noise and focusing on the tasks at hand is a challenge, but it might not be as difficult as you think.

Results from a recent study out of Pennsylvania State University has revealed something that seems all too obvious to be professionally proven. Turns out the age-old trick of ‘writing a list and checking it twice’, is the way to become a more efficient person.

The notion behind this is, it’s easier to complete tasks when they are broken down into smaller more manageable pieces. Not only will this motivate you to ‘hop to it’, you may feel greater reward as you tick off the completed tasks.

Clinical Physiologist, Kathryn Smith advises; “Patience is also a virtue of both an efficient worker and their task-master. Starting with a clear head and writing down the tasks you want to achieve in a realistic timeframe is important”.

“Prioritise tasks by their level of importance and the results they will achieve. Set achievable deadlines that are not going to cause unnecessary stress and upwards manage, explaining to your superior the thought process behind the timings” says Ms Smith.

Knowing your rights within your workplace is also very important and managing undue stress and pressure will help you work more effectively and efficiently. Communicating to managers and co-workers what is manageable for you is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign of a motivated person that wants to achieve goals whilst prioritizing personal health.

‘Health’ is defined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 as both physical and psychological health and unnecessary stress and pressure places your health at risk.

If you are experiencing workplace stress and would like to better manage your personal and work related goals, speaking to a psychologist can help you gain perspective, motivation and provide the clarity you need to achieve your personal best.

 

 

 

 

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Shopping for a better mood

Posted on March 13, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
source/credit: © Andres Rodriguez / Dreamstime

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants

Most of us have experienced the positive feeling of a post shopping rush, it’s exciting to have something new and the brain releases oxytocin because of our improved mood, making us feel happier, more relaxed and less stressed. And although I wouldn’t go as far promoting it as formal ‘therapy’, there is some science behind the term ‘retail therapy’.

A recent study published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing by researchers Selin Atalay and Margaret Meloy found that 62% of shoppers had purchased something to cheer themselves up and another 28% had purchased as a form of celebration.

Consumer behaviour is complex and has been studied for years on end with many theories on why people are so obsessed with commodity and owning ‘things’.

We live in an age where we are judge on material things like, what car we drive, the type of clothes we wear and the size of our house. So, it’s little wonder that people’s desire to own things is stronger than ever.

But retail therapy is more than just material desire, when practiced in moderation it can offer a range of therapeutic benefits, including socialisation, relaxation, boosting self-confidence, stress relief and creative expression.

Researchers noted that people who are experiencing low mood are searching for greater control over their situation. Shopping is their coping mechanism offering a controlled environment where they have say over where they shop and what they purchase.

But is this a good thing?

Like all things, moderation is the key. As a psychologist I has seen the devastating effects of addictive behaviour, although ‘retail therapy’ can improve mood, there should be positive reasons for using it as an outlet. Using shopping as a method of escape from reality that in turn results in credit card debt or financial stress, is counterproductive.

Signs to watch out for include; irritability after shopping, feelings of extreme guilt or hiding your purchases. If you feel your shopping experiences are getting out of control, the first step is to acknowledge the problem and if required seek professional help.

For more information on Kathryn and the team of Clinical Psychologists at Psychology Consultants visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au  

 

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Jack Feels Worried All The Time

Posted on March 10, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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By Miranda Mullins- Clinical Psychologist- Psychology Consultants

Jack is nine and his teacher describes him as well-mannered and hardworking. But his parents were concerned when he repeatedly became very upset before he presented projects in class. Jack regularly said to them that his work was not good enough and on one occasion, he vomited before going to school. Jack’s parents were also concerned that he was having trouble getting to sleep.

After discussions with the psychologist, Jack said he felt nervous with changes to his routine such as going on a school excursion or running in an athletics carnival. He also said he was reluctant to go to friends’ houses because of his fear of dogs and was worried about being embarrassed if he became upset.

Jack’s mother told the psychologists that when he started Kindy, Jack was very thoughtful and expressed worries about new situations. She said he sometimes would get upset or have tantrums when things weren’t just right. At this stage, his parents thought this was ‘just Jack’ and that he would grow out of it.   His mother revealed that she was generally unsure how to handle Jack’s fears. Sometimes she would reassure him but other times she would become frustrated.

Diagnosis

Jack’s pattern of physical symptoms and worries indicated he was suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder as well as a specific phobia of dogs. The psychologist explained that it was likely that Jack had inherited a sensitive temperament which may explain why he saw the negative in situations and perceived situations as threatening. It appeared that this tendency had been present for some time, but Jack’s move into a class with a new teacher without his friends had triggered his anxiety, causing him to have difficulties coping.

Treatment

Jack first learned to identify different emotions and recognise the signs in his body that showed he was becoming worried. He then learned skills to relax his body and gain confidence and control over his physical symptoms. He became aware of negative self-talk or unhelpful thoughts and learned the skill of positive self-talk to increase his confidence and manage his anxiety. He also learned to focus on and reward his own success and his parents learned ways to reward his use of coping skills rather than provide reassurance.

To address Jack’s fear of dogs, the psychologist introduced a gradual exposure plan where he developed confidence managing his anxiety with smaller, more-friendly dogs until he was able to face larger, barking dogs.

Jack was proud of himself when he practiced the skills he learned and discovered he was able to enjoy a lot of things he has previously worried about.

For more information on Miranda and our team of Clinical Psychologists committed to taking steps towards change, visit the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website. #believeinchange

 

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John Can’t Sleep

Posted on March 8, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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#believeinchange

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants

John is 43 and divorced from his wife five years ago. He visited Psychology Consultants and mentioned that he had been chronically unable to sleep after his divorce. John reported going to bed early and watching television in bed. He admitted to worrying about his sleep loss all through the day and assumed that ‘something bad’ would occur to him if the problem of loss of sleep continued.
John’s case is common. One in ten people report the issue of Insomnia sometime in their life – often as a result of some event. A few of the contributors might be:

  • Disease or physical pain
  • Stress and worries
  • Boredom, loneliness, unhappiness and depression
  • Pondering over problems while in bed
  • Inactivity
  • Napping during the day
  • Over-consumption of alcohol

Over-stimulation from intake of stimulants like caffeine or tobacco at night or late exercise
John started going to bed early to make up for his loss of sleep, a strategy which most people adopt. But, instead of associating bed with sleep, he had started to combine it with other activities, such as watching TV.

The main contributor to John’s lack of sleep was perhaps his worries about this condition.

During therapy, we advised that John use his bed only for sleep or intimacy, and get hold of a relaxation technique which ensures sleep.

John understood that his technique of going early to bed heightened his problem. If we sleep for a long period of time, it tends to break more often during the night and makes us feel tired in the morning.
With the help of psychologist, John also learned to modify his belief about sleep that something bad would occur if he failed to work on his sleep. Consequently, this resulted in creating less worries, and improving his sleep.
Eventually, John’s sleep became better in a matter of few weeks of therapy and practice of new set of useful sleep strategies.
Before bed:

  • Relaxing in a warm bath
  • Playing peaceful music and/or reading for sometime
  • Taking deep breaths by slowing down breathing
  • Repeating the bedtime routine every night

If you can’t sleep or have been in bed for more than 15 minutes without falling asleep at bedtime or during the night:

  • Rise and leave the bedroom
  • Note things down occupying your mind or do something else
  • Read something or watch TV (do anything which is passive)
  • Take a warm non-stimulant drink, such as milk
  • Go back to bed only when you feel sleepy

If you think you could benefit from our group sleep therapy programme, visit the Towards Better Sleep page because  together we can take steps towards change. #believeinchange

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Simon Learnt to Control His Anger

Posted on March 7, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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Simon is a 45 year-old happily married man with two daughters. A litigation lawyer, he seems successful and has many friends.

However, recently at a school P&C function, Simon became verbally and physically threatening towards a friend about an issue which had been brewing for some time. Making a terrible scene in front of school acquaintances, Simon was extremely embarrassed about his behaviour.

Although his wife said not to worry about the incident, Simon decided to see a psychologist to prevent such an outburst reoccurring.

After our meeting, Simon discovered several life patterns where anger and aggression were present. At work, he can be aggressive as a part of his role. Socially, he recalled incidences of aggressively throwing golf clubs after a poor shot and getting very upset when a friend made fun of his football team.

Simon understood that although anger is not an inherently bad emotion, it can be expressed inappropriately. And inappropriate anger usually stems from irrational beliefs. It was this inappropriate anger and aggression that Simon wanted to control.

Together, Simon and I successfully worked on ways to control his anger and aggression. We developed an action plan and over several weeks, Simon was able to practise his plan:

  • Control angry and irrational thinking by becoming aware of thoughts when angry and choosing to have a more helpful attitude.
  • Use relaxation such as breathing, muscle relaxation, and imagery to control the body sensations associated with anger.
  • Do something incompatible to what you do when your angry such as forcing yourself to smile or laugh.

Simon now feels confident he is able to control any inappropriate anger because together we can take steps towards change. www.believeinchange.com.au 

For assistance with anger management please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our psychologists enquiries@psychologyconsutlants.com.au

 

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