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I'm doing this for me, and I'm not going to feel guilty about it.

Posted on January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychology Registrar, Dr James Kirby 

James150x150

How often do you find that you are in automatic pilot? I recently moved house, and yesterday when I drove back home from work, I found I was driving back to my old place rather than my new place. When reflecting on it now I find it comical, but when it happened I was so annoyed. I think I said something to myself like, “James you are an idiot”. As a result of this mistake I was stuck in more traffic, I arrived home late, still had to make dinner, and had no time to do what I really wanted to do and that was go for a run.

I’m sure most people can relate to this kind of experience. I find it happens more and more. I think it’s because I can get so easily caught up in what jobs I should be doing that I forget what I am actually doing. And that is exactly what happened on my drive home, I was thinking about what jobs I still had to do at work and I wasn’t paying attention to the present moment.

I'm doing this for meI often read or hear in the media how everyone is getting busier and busier, and one of the reasons for this is because we are all so much more accessible due to mobile phones and the Internet. It is like ‘we never turn off’. We all have so many responsibilities. Work obligations, family jobs, chores around the house, and social commitments. At times it can feel like we are just on automatic pilot going from job to job, event to event, with no time to ourselves. And in those rare instances when we do consider the thought, “I’m going to do this just for me” often a feeling of selfishness or guilt can be evoked. So rather than take care of our own needs, we keep trying to attend to all the jobs we should be doing.

But that is the very problem. If we don’t take care of our own needs we can start to become annoyed, frustrated, forgetful, irritable, and sad. All of a sudden we find that we start to lose patience with family, we put ourselves down for forgetting things, and we are constantly stressed. So to manage all the demands we withdraw from the things that we do for ourselves, because we don’t have time for them. And all of a sudden you get the sense that you have no control of your life, rather your responsibilities have control of your life.

This story I am telling is not uncommon. I find clients come to therapy for this exact reason quite often. It’s a case of I am becoming depressed because of just how much work I need to do or I am anxious because I fear I won’t be able to do all of the jobs I am supposed to do. Depression and anxiety are not enjoyable emotions.

So what is the answer?

There is no clear answer. But one small step you can make to improve how you are feeling is something we call, ‘pleasant activity scheduling’.

This might seem counterintuitive and I can already anticipate what you must be thinking, “hang on, I have just told you how busy I am, and now you are telling me to schedule something else in?”

I completely understand that point, it makes perfect sense. My response would be, “how many jobs do you do now that are just for you to enjoy?” Often the answer to that question is “nothing”.

The key to pleasant activity scheduling is looking at what activities you really like and then making sure you do them. When you start to do this, you will find that when your own needs are being met, you are better able to meet the needs of those around you.

An activity doesn’t have to be a 4-week vacation, although that wouldn’t hurt. Pleasant activities can be very small, for example, having a coffee in peace and quiet, enjoying a view of a landscape, seeing a movie, listening to a piece of music that you really like, or maybe reading for 15 minutes or going for a walk. These little activities are what makes life so enjoyable, they are the icing on the cake.

There will be barriers that will get in the way, such as unexpected jobs, work phone calls, and guilt. But the key about pleasant activity scheduling is the scheduling. Here are a few ways you can help improve the chances you will engage in pleasant activity scheduling:

  1. Generate a full list of all the different things that you like. They can be small or big things. For example, a trip away to the coast, looking at old photos, thinking about your next holiday. If you are stuck for ideas do a search on google for a list of pleasant activities.
  2. Write down in your diary a time when you can next do that activity. So you might schedule in a 20 minute walk for 4:30pm on Wednesday.
  3. Think of what barriers might get in the way. For example, another job at work that needs to be completed.
  4. Think of ways you might be able to overcome those barriers. For example, asking if you can attend to the job tomorrow, as you already have a prior appointment.

That is the key to pleasant activity scheduling. Is to view them as appointments that you must keep. By the implementation of simple, but pleasurable activities, we cannot only improve our own quality of life, but we can also prevent depressive and anxious symptoms from taking control of our life. So enjoy your icing on the cake, and go and schedule a pleasant act.

For more information on James and our team of Psychologists visit: www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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I’m doing this for me, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it.

Posted on January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychology Registrar, Dr James Kirby 

James150x150

How often do you find that you are in automatic pilot? I recently moved house, and yesterday when I drove back home from work, I found I was driving back to my old place rather than my new place. When reflecting on it now I find it comical, but when it happened I was so annoyed. I think I said something to myself like, “James you are an idiot”. As a result of this mistake I was stuck in more traffic, I arrived home late, still had to make dinner, and had no time to do what I really wanted to do and that was go for a run.

I’m sure most people can relate to this kind of experience. I find it happens more and more. I think it’s because I can get so easily caught up in what jobs I should be doing that I forget what I am actually doing. And that is exactly what happened on my drive home, I was thinking about what jobs I still had to do at work and I wasn’t paying attention to the present moment.

I'm doing this for meI often read or hear in the media how everyone is getting busier and busier, and one of the reasons for this is because we are all so much more accessible due to mobile phones and the Internet. It is like ‘we never turn off’. We all have so many responsibilities. Work obligations, family jobs, chores around the house, and social commitments. At times it can feel like we are just on automatic pilot going from job to job, event to event, with no time to ourselves. And in those rare instances when we do consider the thought, “I’m going to do this just for me” often a feeling of selfishness or guilt can be evoked. So rather than take care of our own needs, we keep trying to attend to all the jobs we should be doing.

But that is the very problem. If we don’t take care of our own needs we can start to become annoyed, frustrated, forgetful, irritable, and sad. All of a sudden we find that we start to lose patience with family, we put ourselves down for forgetting things, and we are constantly stressed. So to manage all the demands we withdraw from the things that we do for ourselves, because we don’t have time for them. And all of a sudden you get the sense that you have no control of your life, rather your responsibilities have control of your life.

This story I am telling is not uncommon. I find clients come to therapy for this exact reason quite often. It’s a case of I am becoming depressed because of just how much work I need to do or I am anxious because I fear I won’t be able to do all of the jobs I am supposed to do. Depression and anxiety are not enjoyable emotions.

So what is the answer?

There is no clear answer. But one small step you can make to improve how you are feeling is something we call, ‘pleasant activity scheduling’.

This might seem counterintuitive and I can already anticipate what you must be thinking, “hang on, I have just told you how busy I am, and now you are telling me to schedule something else in?”

I completely understand that point, it makes perfect sense. My response would be, “how many jobs do you do now that are just for you to enjoy?” Often the answer to that question is “nothing”.

The key to pleasant activity scheduling is looking at what activities you really like and then making sure you do them. When you start to do this, you will find that when your own needs are being met, you are better able to meet the needs of those around you.

An activity doesn’t have to be a 4-week vacation, although that wouldn’t hurt. Pleasant activities can be very small, for example, having a coffee in peace and quiet, enjoying a view of a landscape, seeing a movie, listening to a piece of music that you really like, or maybe reading for 15 minutes or going for a walk. These little activities are what makes life so enjoyable, they are the icing on the cake.

There will be barriers that will get in the way, such as unexpected jobs, work phone calls, and guilt. But the key about pleasant activity scheduling is the scheduling. Here are a few ways you can help improve the chances you will engage in pleasant activity scheduling:

  1. Generate a full list of all the different things that you like. They can be small or big things. For example, a trip away to the coast, looking at old photos, thinking about your next holiday. If you are stuck for ideas do a search on google for a list of pleasant activities.
  2. Write down in your diary a time when you can next do that activity. So you might schedule in a 20 minute walk for 4:30pm on Wednesday.
  3. Think of what barriers might get in the way. For example, another job at work that needs to be completed.
  4. Think of ways you might be able to overcome those barriers. For example, asking if you can attend to the job tomorrow, as you already have a prior appointment.

That is the key to pleasant activity scheduling. Is to view them as appointments that you must keep. By the implementation of simple, but pleasurable activities, we cannot only improve our own quality of life, but we can also prevent depressive and anxious symptoms from taking control of our life. So enjoy your icing on the cake, and go and schedule a pleasant act.

For more information on James and our team of Psychologists visit: www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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How to Survive the Family at Christmas

Posted on December 16, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

  By Clinical Psychologist, Kylie Layton

Kylie_L

Christmas time is a special time of year for many people. It’s a time to relax and rejuvenate, and be with loved ones to celebrate the past year and the New Year to come. We look forward to this time and often have hopes and expectations about what Christmas will be like. But along with this excitement and happy expectation comes a lot of other things that may or may not be as enjoyable. Think busy shopping centres, financial expense, planning and organisation, adherence to family ‘traditions’ and interactions with extended family.

National-Lampoon-s-Christmas-Vacation-special-edition-Christmas-review-1062463We all know the Hollywood Christmas day ideal of the loving family happily gathered around the Christmas tree, but more realistically family relationships can be complicated and approaching Christmas festivities can seem daunting.  So how do we survive the family at Christmas and still have the kind of Christmas we’d like?

Here are a few tips that may help you to navigate the interactions at this year’s family festivities.

1. Reflect on what’s important. Research shows that having an awareness of your own set of personal values is like having an internal compass. If we can focus on our values in stressful situations, we are more likely to make effective decisions and choose appropriate behaviours in line with living these values. So consider what matters to you most this Christmas. Then consider how you can apply this to your family gatherings to avoid getting caught up in anything unpleasant.

2. Practice acceptance. We often have that Hollywood ideal in our head and have expectations of a joyous occasion. For many families that is a reality, but for some relationships are strained by the stress of entertaining and perhaps a little too much Christmas cheer!  Be prepared to accept that the day may not always go as well as planned.

3. Pick your battles. Based on your values and expectations of the day, it can help to consider what you are willing to overlook because it’s Christmas. For example, you may be ok to ignore Uncle Tom’s sexist comment but need to intervene when Grandad wants to give your two year old some wine. Christmas isn’t the best time of year to confront someone, so ignore what you can, politely change the topic or move away where appropriate without compromising your personal boundaries.

4. Have a plan if you need to. Have a loose strategy going into family situations regarding how you are going to apply those values and boundaries. Having a strategy could also mean having a plan around how to deal with a person you have previously found difficult, or developing a mindset to help manage interactions. Often it helps to remember that you have little or no control over another person’s behaviour and that any unpleasantness on their behalf is more a sign of something that they have going on than anything to do with you.

5. Don’t be afraid to take some space. Research shows that walking away and taking time to calm down is far more effective in the management of emotion charged situations than pushing forward for a solution.  Our brains find it hard to think calmly and clearly when we are emotional. We need to give the emotion time to reduce before we are likely to be effective in reaching a solution.

6. Try to accept people where they’re at. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. Research on self-acceptance and self-compassion shows that when we are able to connect to that shared imperfection, we have the ability to not only be more accepting of ourselves and our own short-comings, but be more empathetic to those around us as well. Everyone has a history, a story, and reasons behind their behaviour. Their behaviour choices may not be appropriate or pleasant but, where we can, Christmas can be a great time to aim to accept the flaws in our family, highlight their strengths and take them just as they are.

We don’t get to pick our family and therefore it is unreasonable to expect everyone to get along. What we can hope for is for people to be accepting, considerate, and to make an effort to make this emotion charged and expectation filled day an ok experience for all. You may need to stand firm, you may need to take a break, or you may just need to lead the way with a bit of Christmas compassion and smile and move on!

Best wishes for the festive season!

For more information on Kylie and our team of Psychologists visit our website www.psychologyconsultants.com.au 

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Post Natal Depression- When ideals don’t match reality

Posted on November 19, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Clinical Psychologist, Erika Fiorenza

Clinical Psychogist, Erika Fiorenza

Clinical Psychogist, Erika Fiorenza

“Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist”.
– Michael Levine

Becoming a parent is one of the biggest life changes a person can undergo.  There are changes to their routine, lifestyle, and relationships, ever while parent and child learn together how to do almost everything. And yet, we often expect to effortlessly and naturally slip into this role.

There are a number of unrealistic expectations and misperceptions that can perpetuate distress in the postnatal period.  Postnatal Depression Awareness Week (17-23rd Nov 2013) is a great time to highlight some of the myths that new parents can get caught up with.

photo-professionalhelp Some of these common thoughts can include:

“This should be the happiest time of my life”

“I should know what to do”

“I wouldn’t have these thoughts if I was a good mother”

“If I’m not doing well, I’m not a good mother”

“My life is good….I shouldn’t be feeling depressed”

When these ‘ideals’ don’t seem to match up to reality, mothers (and fathers) can experience feelings of guilt, shame, and helplessness.

In addition, the stigma connected to even expressing any dissatisfaction or difficulty with parenting can hold people back from seeking help, leading to further feelings of isolation and helplessness. We all have the tendency to ‘compare upwards’.  It is common for new mothers to compare themselves and their baby’s development to that of their peers and conclude that “everyone else is doing well”.

Women with postnatal distress that present for therapy can describe a number of these unhelpful thoughts.  When they become ‘entangled’ or ‘caught up’ with these thoughts, they find themselves moving further away from the parent, partner, or person they want to be.  There are a number of studies suggesting that cognitive processes (such as those in postnatal depression) can impact on a mother’s capacity to respond to her baby and the outside world (Stein et al., 2012).

In therapy, we work on normalising these thoughts, and help people learn skills to manage their thinking, such that it has less influence over their mood and actions.  In addition to dealing with painful thoughts, therapy for postnatal disorders may also include dealing with painful feelings, urges and sensations.

Another critical part of therapy is getting back into activity.  Low motivation (one of the main symptoms of depression) leads to doing less, enjoying less, and consequently feeling worse.

It’s hard to feel ‘normal’ when we don’t do normal things.

If ‘normal’ is having contact with friends or doing daily activities like cooking a meal or going to the shop, then this is where we start.  In therapy we work on helping people identify what it is they value.  Identifying values such as ‘self-care’, ‘challenge’ or ‘acceptance’ can help parents reconnect with what is important, and help clarify goals for moving forward.

There is a lot of great information online about the signs and symptoms of postnatal disorders.  Check out: www.beyondblue.org.au,  www.panda.org.au,  and www.blackdoginstitute.org.au for more information.  Becoming more informed is the first step to seeking help and starting to debunk the myths.

Psychology Consultants have a number of Clinical Psychologists who are experienced in Post Natal Depression treatment. For more information, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

Sources:

Stein A, Craske MG, Lehtonen A, Harvey A, Savage-McGlynn E, Davies B, Goodwin J, Murray L, Cortina-Borja M, Counsell N. (2012). Maternal cognitions and mother-infant interaction in postnatal depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121, 795-809

 

 

 

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Show Me the Light- Insomnia and Technology

Posted on November 6, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith, explains how technology affects our sleep and shares useful advice on how to cure a sleep delay.  

o-ELECTRIC-LIGHT-SLEEP-facebook

The Age of Accessibility

Most of us are connected to the outside world 24/7. We keep our mobile phones by the bed, respond to emails, check Facebook, do all our banking on line, work and shopping.

We can spend a vast amount of time in front of technology. This is not a problem, except when we begin to use the technology near our sleep time or worse during our designated sleep time.

Often, this technology emits a lot of bright light over a long period of time. When you are exposed to this bright light near or during sleep time, it has the effect of delaying your sleep phase. In other words, it prevents you from falling asleep at your usual time. People then feel that they have an insomnia problem. 

The Circadian World

We have long known in the world of sleep research, that our body is controlled by a circadian cycle that defines a period of time that our sleep will occur.

Our circadian cycle is governed by bright light, which enters our body via our retina to track through to a part in our brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This part of our brain then drives our body clock and the timing of its rhythms including sleep.

Our circadian rhythm responds to four aspects of light: the intensity of light; timing of light; wavelength of light and the duration of light. These aspects neatly fit into the day/night cycle, except when technology begins to interfere.

Kathryn

Clinical Psychologist,
Kathryn Smith

Three useful tips for curing a sleep delay

1. Computer down time.

  • The first step to avoid upsetting your circadian rhythm is to not use technology 1-2 hours before bedtime and definitely not in bed.

Computers, more so than a television, emit a strong light that contains a blue/green wavelength of light. Why is the blue/green wavelength a big deal? Well, we know from scientific studies that if we shine a blue/green wavelength of light into someone’s eyes before sleep time it will delay the onset of their sleep. Conversely if we shine an amber/red wavelength of light into someone’s eyes before bedtime, it does nothing to delay their sleep time.

2. Decrease blue/green light.

  • The second step is if you are working at a computer or you need to use your phone for an alarm, take some steps to decrease the blue/green light coming from these sources.

This can be done in a number of ways. There is now a computer program that can be downloaded for free called f.lux. This program runs according to the time of the day and dims the screen to produce an amber colour after sunset. This amber colour increases during the night and then gradually lightens towards sunrise. 

Alternatively, stick on amber screens are available for computers and phones that are touch sensitive.

You can even pop on a pair of amber tinted safety glasses and have the same effect.

3. Increase bright light in the morning. 

  • The third step is to reduce sleepiness during the day. The best cure for sleepiness during the day or in the morning is the reverse of the above. Exposure to bright light, particularly the green/blue wavelength of light can push back the sleep cycle and increase the feelings of wakefulness and alertness. 

This can be achieved by spending 45 minutes out in the bright morning light.

Alternatively we now have Re-timer Glasses that are readily for sale online through medical supply companies. These glasses are worn just like normal glasses and produce 100% UV-free green/blue light that shines directly into the retina. You can wear these glasses for 45 minutes during the usual morning routine to help your body recognise when to be awake and when to be asleep.

Problems with Sleep? 

If you have experienced chronic problems with getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking early one of the afore mentioned tips might just help.

It may also be worthwhile speaking to a clinical psychologist to define the area of difficulty and its potential causes.

Our team of clinical psychologists have knowledge about sleep and insomnia. We also have a range of products for demonstration. You may also be suited to a group treatment program. We run a group called Towards Better Sleep, on demand throughout the year.

For more information visit www.towardsbettersleep.com.au or www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Responding to People’s Trauma

Posted on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

distressedTrauma regularly touches our community. Events like car accidents, assaults, hold ups, and natural and man made disasters seem to happen all too often. Experiencing a traumatic event can have a marked impact on people’s lives.

The possible psychological effects of trauma are now fairly well defined. While some people are able to get on with their lives, others may have great difficulty “forgetting” the memory, causing them to develop a number of symptoms that are collectively referred to as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

If a person has experienced an event in which they were exposed to death or serious injury and felt intense fear, helplessness or horror during the event, then further assessment of their mental state is recommended.

To screen such a person for PTSD, consider the following questions.

Is the person persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive recollections, distressing dreams or flashbacks?

Is the person persistently avoiding things that may be associated with the trauma, like certain topics of conversations, places, people or activities, or certain memories?

Is the person persistently experiencing symptoms of increased arousal, like sleeping difficulties, irritability or anger, concentration difficulties, hypervigilance or being startled easily?

Once established, the likely prognosis of the disorder can be determined through assessment of a number of other “risk factors”. Following is a checklist of risk factors that should be investigated:

  • Severe trauma including grotesque injury or death,
  • Comorbid psychiatric disorder present,
  • A positive lifetime history of another psychiatric disorder,
  • A history of separation or abuse during childhood,
  • A family history of psychiatric disorder,
  • Other life stressors present concurrently, and
  • Little social support available.

A person diagnosed with PTSD is likely to benefit from psychological treatment. The aim of this approach is to assist the person to process the event and develop an appropriate interpretation of it. One of the key components for achieving this is, in the context of a supportive therapeutic relationship, to conduct systematic and graded imagined and real life exposure to the trauma related stimuli.

Psychology Consultants can provide assessments, reports and treatment for those who have experienced a traumatic event.

www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Responding to People's Trauma

Posted on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

distressedTrauma regularly touches our community. Events like car accidents, assaults, hold ups, and natural and man made disasters seem to happen all too often. Experiencing a traumatic event can have a marked impact on people’s lives.

The possible psychological effects of trauma are now fairly well defined. While some people are able to get on with their lives, others may have great difficulty “forgetting” the memory, causing them to develop a number of symptoms that are collectively referred to as posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

If a person has experienced an event in which they were exposed to death or serious injury and felt intense fear, helplessness or horror during the event, then further assessment of their mental state is recommended.

To screen such a person for PTSD, consider the following questions.

Is the person persistently re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive recollections, distressing dreams or flashbacks?

Is the person persistently avoiding things that may be associated with the trauma, like certain topics of conversations, places, people or activities, or certain memories?

Is the person persistently experiencing symptoms of increased arousal, like sleeping difficulties, irritability or anger, concentration difficulties, hypervigilance or being startled easily?

Once established, the likely prognosis of the disorder can be determined through assessment of a number of other “risk factors”. Following is a checklist of risk factors that should be investigated:

  • Severe trauma including grotesque injury or death,
  • Comorbid psychiatric disorder present,
  • A positive lifetime history of another psychiatric disorder,
  • A history of separation or abuse during childhood,
  • A family history of psychiatric disorder,
  • Other life stressors present concurrently, and
  • Little social support available.

A person diagnosed with PTSD is likely to benefit from psychological treatment. The aim of this approach is to assist the person to process the event and develop an appropriate interpretation of it. One of the key components for achieving this is, in the context of a supportive therapeutic relationship, to conduct systematic and graded imagined and real life exposure to the trauma related stimuli.

Psychology Consultants can provide assessments, reports and treatment for those who have experienced a traumatic event.

www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Summer’s Coming! 8 ways to keep tabs on your drinking.

Posted on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

surfshotThe weather is warming up and with that many of us start to increase how much we socialise with friends and family.

Drinks after work, BBQs, dinners, weekend lunches at the local pub, sporting events, and even relaxing at home with a drink or two are common. We all like to enjoy ourselves and in the lead up to the festive season, it’s easy for the amount of alcohol we consume to increase. 

But what happens when the occasional drink becomes a little too frequent?

By Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jillian Millar

 Australia is well known for its drinking culture and laid-back lifestyle “no worries mate,” “she’ll be right.”

But how do we draw the line between enjoying a few drinks and problematic drinking?

If you find yourself thinking you need a drink rather than simply wanting one, this might be an indication that your drinking is heading towards the problematic side.

Or if you can’t remember the last alcohol-free day you had, things could be getting out of your control and it might be time to reassess your alcohol usage.

Most people think an Alcoholic is someone who drinks all day every day, but this is not always the case. Often people with alcohol dependence issues are those that might wait till they get home from work to have their first drink each day, finishing off a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of wine before bed most nights.

Increasingly, we see the rise of binge drinking problems in which a person may remain alcohol free Monday to Thursday and then drink to excess across the weekend. Not only can this result in a horrible hangover the next day, many binge drinkers make poor decisions which might expose themselves to risky situations and behaviours leading to regrets, accidents, injuries, or even death.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMR), alcohol is responsible for a considerable number of deaths, diseases, and injuries in Australia each year. However, the harmful impacts are not solely confined to the drinker, it also affects their families, friends, bystanders, and the wider community.

At times, people also turn to drinking to try and manage or avoid their emotions and problems. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant and while it produces a feeling of relaxation and tension reduction at a certain level, it can also lead to negative moods and, in fact, intensify unpleasant emotions. Alcohol is also a disinhibitor and many people use it when they experience nervousness or social anxiety.

However, alcohol reduces our reflexes, decreases our ability to concentrate, and makes us less aware of our behaviour, and therefore exacerbates the chances of mis-reading social situations and either embarrassing ourselves or offending others.

Alcohol can also increase aggression and conflict, making some people more prone to physical and verbally violent behaviour when intoxicated. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol is associated with increased fighting and arguing within relationships.

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, or maybe even concerned about a loved one’s alcohol usage it is best to address it sooner rather than later.

Here are 8 simple steps to cut back on your alcohol usage.

1.Reducing the ease of access to alcohol by not storing it in your house.

2.Only purchase alcohol when you intend to drink it for a specific occasion.

3. Store alcohol out of sight, so as to reduce the visual trigger of seeing it and wanting a drink.

If it’s already stored out of sight, but is still easily accessible, consider moving it to a different location (e.g. in the garage) so that it requires a little more effort to get it. 

4. Change paired patterns.

Rather than opening a beer as soon as you get home from work, or pouring a wine while you prepare dinner, try to do something else that is relaxing (e.g. have a shower, sit in your garden or on your balcony for a few minutes). Do something productive before having your first drink (e.g. put a load of washing on, or check your emails).

5. Increase your exercise.

 Go for a walk, run, swim etc. The more we exercise the less likely we are to feel like drinking.

6. Plan non-drinking activities.

Rather than socialising around drinking by meeting at a pub or BYO BBQs, try organising a day at the beach, a bush walking adventure, or a sporting game in a park. 

7. Ask for help.

Ask your friends or family to help you regain control of your drinking and support you.

8. Don’t be afraid to talk to your GP or Psychologist about any problematic drinking patterns.

 

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Summer's Coming! 8 ways to keep tabs on your drinking.

Posted on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

surfshotThe weather is warming up and with that many of us start to increase how much we socialise with friends and family.

Drinks after work, BBQs, dinners, weekend lunches at the local pub, sporting events, and even relaxing at home with a drink or two are common. We all like to enjoy ourselves and in the lead up to the festive season, it’s easy for the amount of alcohol we consume to increase. 

But what happens when the occasional drink becomes a little too frequent?

By Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jillian Millar

Clinical Psychologist
Dr Jillian Millar

 Australia is well known for its drinking culture and laid-back lifestyle “no worries mate,” “she’ll be right.”

But how do we draw the line between enjoying a few drinks and problematic drinking?

If you find yourself thinking you need a drink rather than simply wanting one, this might be an indication that your drinking is heading towards the problematic side.

Or if you can’t remember the last alcohol-free day you had, things could be getting out of your control and it might be time to reassess your alcohol usage.

Most people think an Alcoholic is someone who drinks all day every day, but this is not always the case. Often people with alcohol dependence issues are those that might wait till they get home from work to have their first drink each day, finishing off a 6-pack of beer or a bottle of wine before bed most nights.

Increasingly, we see the rise of binge drinking problems in which a person may remain alcohol free Monday to Thursday and then drink to excess across the weekend. Not only can this result in a horrible hangover the next day, many binge drinkers make poor decisions which might expose themselves to risky situations and behaviours leading to regrets, accidents, injuries, or even death.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMR), alcohol is responsible for a considerable number of deaths, diseases, and injuries in Australia each year. However, the harmful impacts are not solely confined to the drinker, it also affects their families, friends, bystanders, and the wider community.

At times, people also turn to drinking to try and manage or avoid their emotions and problems. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant and while it produces a feeling of relaxation and tension reduction at a certain level, it can also lead to negative moods and, in fact, intensify unpleasant emotions. Alcohol is also a disinhibitor and many people use it when they experience nervousness or social anxiety.

However, alcohol reduces our reflexes, decreases our ability to concentrate, and makes us less aware of our behaviour, and therefore exacerbates the chances of mis-reading social situations and either embarrassing ourselves or offending others.

Alcohol can also increase aggression and conflict, making some people more prone to physical and verbally violent behaviour when intoxicated. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol is associated with increased fighting and arguing within relationships.

If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, or maybe even concerned about a loved one’s alcohol usage it is best to address it sooner rather than later.

Here are 8 simple steps to cut back on your alcohol usage.

1.Reducing the ease of access to alcohol by not storing it in your house.

2.Only purchase alcohol when you intend to drink it for a specific occasion.

3. Store alcohol out of sight, so as to reduce the visual trigger of seeing it and wanting a drink.

If it’s already stored out of sight, but is still easily accessible, consider moving it to a different location (e.g. in the garage) so that it requires a little more effort to get it. 

4. Change paired patterns.

Rather than opening a beer as soon as you get home from work, or pouring a wine while you prepare dinner, try to do something else that is relaxing (e.g. have a shower, sit in your garden or on your balcony for a few minutes). Do something productive before having your first drink (e.g. put a load of washing on, or check your emails).

5. Increase your exercise.

 Go for a walk, run, swim etc. The more we exercise the less likely we are to feel like drinking.

6. Plan non-drinking activities.

Rather than socialising around drinking by meeting at a pub or BYO BBQs, try organising a day at the beach, a bush walking adventure, or a sporting game in a park. 

7. Ask for help.

Ask your friends or family to help you regain control of your drinking and support you.

8. Don’t be afraid to talk to your GP or Psychologist about any problematic drinking patterns.

 

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