Archive

for July, 2017

Kicking the Mid-Year Slump!

Posted on July 28, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

End of Financial year has come and gone (yah for a tax return) and although it’s not quite time to break out the swimmers, winter is almost behind us. However, this time of year sees many of us lacking the same level of motivation felt in January. Enter the ‘mid-year slump’, a commonly felt feeling of ‘blahness’ (the non-technical term) characterised by a lack of motivation to commit to work tasks, meet your health and fitness goals or study for yet another semester.

The reason for this mid-year slump varies between people but one obvious theory is the (Christmas) light at the end of the tunnel still seems so distant and that nice little holiday break we all look forward to is not exactly within arm’s reach.

So here are some ways to flip the mid-year slump on its head and regain the personal motivation needed to get through the next ‘semester’ of work.

Re-think it.  A half glass full type attitude can help turn positive thoughts into more positive behaviour. It’s now July which is technically only 5 months until end of year, meaning you’ve now done the hard yards. Plus, there are still a few public holidays and long weekends to enjoy before the Christmas lights start to shine bright.

Break it up.  Breaking up work, fitness or personal tasks into more bite size pieces, is one way to make the task at hand seem like less mountainous and more mole-hilly. Writing weekly work lists that form part of monthly or semester goals (if you are studying) and ticking them off as you go will improve your sense of achievement, in turn keeping you more positive and motivated.

Plan a mini-break. Having something to look forward to will keep you on track and allow you to feel you are working for a reason. Making use of long weekends and public holidays by actually leaving the daily grind of your usual environment, will allow you to regroup and feel more refreshed and ready to kick some work or personal goals.

Practice Time Management. This may not seem like something that gets you running into work, high fiving people in the morning but by using your time wisely you will achieve more and therefore feel more satisfied and motivated.

Look after yourself.  Ensuring you are eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep plays an important role in keeping happy, healthy and motivated. Feeling stressed can wreak havoc with health and usually eating and sleeping habits are the first to be affected. Taking a good hard look at your work life balance and assessing if you are giving yourself enough time to be the best possible version of yourself will go a long way in the motivation stakes.

If you liked this article you might also like: 

http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/how-smart-phones-are-making-us-socially-dumb/

 

 

 

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Monitoring your daily mood levels

Posted on July 24, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Managing diabetes can be tough, not only because of the physical symptoms but the impact it can have on mental health. As well as monitoring daily insulin levels, diabetes sufferers must also remember to shine a light on their daily mood levels and look after their emotional wellbeing.

Diabetes is an incurable disease that affects 1.7 million Australian’s and is the fastest growing chronic health disease in the country. Diabetes, whether its type 1 or type 2, can lead to serious complications like limb amputation, blindness, stroke, heart attack as well as clinical depression. Although manageable through medication, lifestyle, exercise and diet, the disease requires strict daily monitoring of glucose levels and physical health. As psychologists, we are naturally concerned about the impact of the disease on mental health and would suggest it is equally as important to regularly monitor mental and emotional health, as depression and anxiety can exacerbate symptoms and lead to physical deterioration.

The all-consuming relentless management of the disease can leave many diabetes sufferers feeling exhausted and burnt out, so it’s not surprising that it can take its toll on mental and emotional health. Research suggests that up to half of all people living with diabetes, will suffer from depression and anxiety disorders at some point. Families, including children of diabetes sufferers, are also at much higher risk of developing mental health conditions, as a direct result of lifestyle and emotional impacts the disease.

Depression and anxiety, like diabetes, are medical conditions that with effective treatment can be managed. The first step is to recognise the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and take appropriate action to better understand your feelings and reboot the way your brain thinks, feels and eventually acts.

Everyone feels a little blue sometimes but depression is different from low mood and can include the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of worthless-ness
  • Low motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Loss of appetite or major weight gain or loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns- either insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Suicidal thoughts

It’s important to recognise chronic feelings that relate to the illness, like anger, resentment and exhaustion, and it can be helpful to express these emotions with someone who understands the demands of the disease. This may be a friend, a family member or a psychologist. Joining a diabetes support group or exercise group where you are with others who understand the demands of the disease can also be therapeutic and socially beneficial.

Sources:

Sane Australia- The Sane Guide to Good Mental Health for People Affected by Diabetes

Diabetes Australia- https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/

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How Smart Phones Are Making Us Socially Dumb

Posted on July 21, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

It’s a new age addiction but nonetheless serious with phone addiction arising as a worldwide problem that is impacting our physical and psychological health. Health risk aside, our dependence on smart phones to communicate has changed the social landscape of the world, affecting our ability to socialise, relate and interact with each other in real time.

A survey of 3800 conducted by technology company Cisco revealed that nine of out 10 people under the age of 30, check their smart phones every 10 minutes. In psychological terms, this type of behaviour is alarming and can change the way we live our daily lives.

Walk through the CBD of a morning or catch any form of public transport and you will notice almost everyone, has their head down, buried in their smartphones, checking emails, texting or engrossed in social- media. Gone are the days when you might consider interacting with a stranger on public transport and there is now a new standard of etiquette amongst friends, loved ones and colleagues, where it is perfectly acceptable to check phones or send a quick text midst conversation.

Even though our ‘smart’ phones are allowing us to communicate digitally at lightning speed with anyone in the world, it would seem them are leading us to become not so smart at communicating and interacting with each other in real life.

The impact on sleep is also significant with many people admitting to sleeping with their phone under their pillow or having it bedside. Rather than yawn, roll over and acknowledge your partner, a new habit of checking the phone for any cyber-activity has formed, never mind checking the real human lying next to you. On a side note, research shows that smart phones are having adverse effects on sleep health due to too much stimulation, blue/green light omission and rising levels of anxiety caused by the dependence on the device.

Recognising that you have an issue with your phone dependency is the first step towards nipping the habit in the bud. Here are some behaviours that might lead you to reassess your relationship with your phone.

  • When your need to check or be with your phone starts to impact on your relationships, work or ability to focus on a daily activity.
  • When you must sleep with your phone or have it bedside
  • Feeling anxious or excessively upset when you are without your phone
  • Getting lost or completely preoccupied with your phone (for example, hours spent engrossed in social media)
  • A physical need to have your phone with you at all times
  • Dangerous or irresponsible use of phone such as texting or checking your phone while driving

Like all things in life, moderation is the key and this is also true of phone and technology use. If you feel like your phone is controlling you or affecting relationships, a psychologist or counsellor can give you practical strategies to overturn the habit and enable you to reignite the art of real life conversation.

For more information on our team of clinical psychologists visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Why hormones wreak havoc with women’s sleep and what to do about it

Posted on July 5, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

During Sleep Awareness Week 3-9th July

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist: Psychology Consultants

Most women would agree that they don’t sleep as soundly as their male counterparts and the National Sleep Foundation agrees, with research confirming the widely-held belief that most women don’t sleep as well as men. The International Journal of Endocrinology concurs suggesting women are 1.5 to 2 x more likely to suffer insomnia than men. *1

So why is this the case and what can women do about it?

There are many reasons for the differences in men and women’s sleep architecture, some are psycho-social, some emotional and then there’s the physical. Unfortunately, it’s the physical that women lack control over, particularly with respect to our hormones, with menstrual cycles, pregnancy and later in life, menopause, all wreaking havoc on sleep.

Clinical Psychologist and facilitator of sleep program, Towards Better Sleep, Kathryn Smith says; “There is a significant correlation between a women’s cycle and sleep, mainly due to the fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone. The post-ovulatory luteal phase (premenstrual) is where most women experience bouts of insomnia, when night time body temperature is considerable higher and estrogen levels lower, meaning your brain is more sensitive to noise and disturbances”.

But let’s not accept defeat and get hung up on the fact that your hormones are working against you. The best way to combat these monthly bouts of insomnia is to accept them and be prepared for some sleep disturbance; making the most of your sleep in the lead up and after the pre-menstrual phase. Keeping healthy sleep habits all month round will also give you the best chance of a decent night’s sleep, despite the pesky hormones. This includes:

  • Avoiding the urge to eat chocolate or sugary treats close to bed time
  • Reduce fluid intake within a few hours of bed to avoid getting up to use the bathroom (this includes alcohol that will only inhibit sleep)
  • Keep up the exercise regime but not within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Think about what makes you feel most relaxed and create a night time relaxation routine
  • If you can’t sleep, get out of bed, do something that is non-stimulating and return to be 30 minutes later.

For more information on sleep health visit www.psychologygconsultants.com.au/insomnia

References: 1. International Journal of Endocrinology: Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 259345, 17 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/259345

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What’s Keeping Seniors Awake- During Sleep Awarness Week 3-9th July

Posted on July 3, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist & Dr Curt Gray, Psychiatrist

If the phrase; ‘I slept like a baby’ is far from your vernacular and you’ve noticed a gradual change in your sleep pattern, along with other undesirable physical changes, chances are you’ve fallen victim to the human phenomenon of aging. Along with the physical changes that occur with aging, our sleep also deteriorates as we get older.

Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is common in older adults and this can be due to a number of factors, including changes in sleep architecture and circadian rhythm. Sleep is broken up into repeated stages throughout the night, including light, deep and REM sleep (the active dreaming phase). Typically, older adults spend more time in the light phase and therefore don’t get the satisfaction of a deep sleep. In addition to this, the natural circadian rhythms that coordinate timing of bodily function is affected as we age, with the body tiring earlier in the evening therefore resulting in an earlier than normal wake time.

But the real disparity in the human phenomenon of aging, is even though our sleep is on the decline, our sleep needs remain the same throughout adulthood. This may be how the term “Nanna Nap” got its name; with less deep and REM sleep throughout the night, daytime fatigue leads older people to nap. However, unless the nap is kept short (20 minutes or less) and before 3pm, daytime sleep can be counterproductive and lead to even less quality night time sleep.

Aging physiology aside, sleep disturbance in the older adults can also be due to psychological, social or environmental factors, like changes in accommodation, death of a partner, illness or chronic health concerns. Older adults also tend to have more worries or concerns that can keep them awake at night or lead to a restless sleep. It is important for older adults to talk about their feelings and emotional experiences just as they would present physical complaints to a doctor. Talking to a health professional about what is concerning you, at any stage of life, can provide a huge sense of relief, as well as empower you with strategies to manage day to day and probably sleep better at night.

Other effective ways to manage your sleep health include:

  • Get regular exercise, particularly weight or resistance training as this has been shown to increase and deepen sleep.
  • Learn a relaxation routine, this will vary according to what relaxes you most.
  • Avoid alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, it won’t help you sleep. It might put you to sleep but can disrupt your sleep throughout the night.
  • Form a worry list. If you are a worrier, write down your worries on a worry list and review them during the day rather than thinking about them at night.
  • Attempt to delay your bedtime to decrease chance of early morning waking.
  • Stay out of bed when you are not sleeping.

For more information on sleep health, head to our website http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/insomnia/ or if you are suffering from insomnia and group therapy interests you visit www.towardsbettersleep.com.au

 

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