Archive

for March, 2018

Plan on travelling over Easter? Here’s how to avoid the dreaded jetlag!

Posted on March 26, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

By Towards Better Sleep Facilitators, Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith & Psychiatrist, Dr Curt Gray

Most of us at some stage of our lives will experience the suffering of jetlag, a temporary condition caused by air travel across time zones. Our body clocks are “out of whack” resulting in a temporary circadian rhythm sleep disorder or sleep-wake schedule disorder.

Fatigue and insomnia are the most common signs of jetlag, however some people experience more severe symptoms including anxiety, confusion, headaches, digestive issues, dizziness, and mentation difficulties such as memory loss.

If you have traveled with a child or baby, they are not immune and can also suffer from these symptoms.

Although jetlag is somewhat unavoidable, there are ways to help your body recover more effectively without prolonging the inconvenient symptoms brought on by international travel.

Here are a few tips:

  1. As much as you will feel like napping-don’t! Napping with upsets your normal sleep pattern and will make it more difficult to fall asleep at the adjusted sleep time.
  2. It sounds obvious but caffeine and alcohol should be avoided if you want to catch your zzz’s. Although alcohol may put you to sleep, it won’t result in quality sleep.
  3. Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  4. Relax! Stress is the number one cause of sleeplessness, so find ways to unwind and de-stress during and after your flight. Meditation is a great way to achieve this.
  5. Don’t stress about losing sleep, this will only cause you to be more uptight.
  6. Avoid heavy food close to bed time, both on the plane and after you arrive at your destination.
  7. Avoid strenuous exercise nearing bedtime, although light exercise during the day can be very helpful.
  8. Get some fresh air and soak up the sun. Exposure to daylight is a powerful biological cue for our bodies so it will help in adjusting the circadian rhythm.
  9. Operate within the normal sleep and wake times for your newly adjusted time zone.

If you are struggling with ongoing sleep problems, you may be suitable for our Towards Better Sleep program with the next group starting 12th April 2018 from our Morningside practice. Find our more here.

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Breaking the cycle of bullying: On Bullying No Way Day

Posted on March 16, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

Today, Friday 16th March is ‘Bullying No Way’ day, a national mark of united effort to stop bullying and violence in our country. The organisation’s key focus is early intervention within the school environment where bullying generally begins. Without this intervention victims of bullying enter adult life feeling wounded and bullies replace the school-yard with the workplace. The effects of childhood bullying can and often do persist into adulthood with depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder resulting. It can also cause follow on problems such as difficulty holding down a regular job and poor social relationships. Stopping the cycle early and understanding the behaviour of both the bully and the victim is imperative to achieving the organisation’s goal of, ‘a world without bullying’.

So why do bullies act the way they do?

Understanding this negative behaviour and addressing it, is just as important as treating the victim when aiming to stop the cycle. Theoretically speaking, early intervention generally reaps positive reward and like an out of control weed, nipping it in the bud before it grows into a thorny bramble, may prevent bullying from continuing into adult life.

There are many reasons why people bully; cultural, social and domestic environments often contribute but the underlying goal is to gain power, acceptance and approval. And with digital platforms integral to everyday function, bullying has never been more accessible. Cyber-bullying is indisputably the most cowardly form, with no interpersonal confrontation required, the bully’s message is broadcasted to platforms with ten-fold reach of the playground or workplace.

Bullies more often than not, have a plethora of emotional issues with studies showing that bullies are often socially inappropriate and have limited natural ability to understand other people’s feelings. They often have dysfunctional relationships with parents and peers and so bully others in an effort to regain the acceptance they are yearning for.

It is important to note, that by no means is this a defence. Bullying and violence is completely unacceptable at any level. Victims of bullying are often left permanently scarred with emotional and psychological wounds, requiring ongoing professional help to live a functional life. This must stop, however, to break the cycle, we need to understand the behaviour of both parties, and intervene when issues are in their infancy. If you are the victim of bullying or you need help with social and behavioural problems, seek professional help today and help build a world without bullying.

Below are some useful resources relating to bullying and violence prevention.

www.bullyingnoway.gov.au

www.bfaf.org.au

www.ncab.org.au

https://www.humanrights.gov.au/violence-harassment-and-bullying

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Feel like you have PMS on steroids?

Posted on March 6, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants: On International Women’s Day- 8th March 2018

Women have a monthly ordeal that our male counterparts will never have the distinct displeasure of experiencing. Monthly menstruation can bring with it a long list of unpleasant symptoms like headaches, cramps, frustration and fatigue. But for roughly 5% of the female population, the standard PMS like symptoms are far more debilitating with the luteal phase of menses bringing mood swings, depression, anxiety, insomnia, intense anger and irritability, along with physical symptoms like bloating, fluid retention, headaches and cramping. This is medically known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024721/)

This disorder has been disputed over time, classified as a case of ‘severe’ PMS. However, recent studies (2007) found that women diagnosed with PMDD had variants in oestrogen receptor responsible for regulating mood, lowering serotonin levels, directly linked to sleep and mood. The test confirmed that PMDD is a legitimate endocrine mood disorder with symptoms “surpassing the harshest psychosomatic symptoms of PMS.”

The side effects of this hormone imbalance are a lot to deal with, month in month out, affecting women’s relationships, work, social and family life. Many women, upon realising they have more than “just PMS”, reach out for medical help with treatment typically consisting of anti-depressants and birth control pills, aimed at rebalancing hormones and serotonin levels. Although this may alleviate some of the symptoms of PMDD, there may also be value in cognitive behavioural therapy and non-pharmaceutical treatment like exercise and meditation, as ongoing strategies to cope with symptoms.

Emotional conflict, feelings of being overwhelmed and niggling negative thoughts are commonly experienced when suffering from PMDD and talking to your partner about it is often counterproductive. A psychologist can develop personalised strategies to help women with emotional and mood related struggles at this time, using cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT helps people to recognise unhelpful thought patterns and adopt strategies that empower you to think differently and therefore behave and feel differently. Psychologists can also detect any underlying psychological concerns that may be unrelated symptoms of PMDD. CBT is commonly used to treat sleep difficulties or insomnia which can also be affected during this phase of the month.

Exercise can also form an effective part of a PMDD treatment plan with a wealth of evidence demonstrating the link between aerobic exercise and improved mood. Although there is no official research, anecdotal results show that meditation through art forms like yoga may also help to relieve tension at this time.

If you are struggling with PMDD or PMS symptoms and would like professional help, peruse our team of clinical psychologists here.

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