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Being kind to yourself as the first step to helping others

Posted on September 14, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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On RUOK Day- 14th September 2017

Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants

The four prompts to starting a conversation on RUOK day this year are; 1. Ask 2. Listen 3. Encourage Action 4. Check In

This process is great and represents a small but powerful act of human kindness. Perhaps as well, the preparation for these four steps, could be to first check in with yourself, asking yourself, AM I OK? As the famous psychologist Jack Kornfield once said, “Compassion, without self-compassion, is incomplete.”

Practicing self-compassion, that is treating yourself with the same level of kindness as you would others, does not come naturally for many people. However, being kind to yourself by soothing the inner self-critic and softening negative thoughts can lead to a better sense of well-being and inner strength that enables you to also practice compassion towards others in your life.

Try following these six steps to begin practicing self-compassion:

Turn your attention to yourself, and become sensitive to your own thoughts and feelings. Step out of living on autopilot and become aware of your experiences.

If you identify areas in which you may be struggling or suffering, see if you can understand that suffering and be accepting and non-judgemental of yourself.

Know that suffering is a part of life, and a part of what it is to be human and to have these tricky human brains. Rather than criticising ourselves, we can approach ourselves with empathy and understanding.

And we can feel sympathy for ourselves. Not a pitying kind of sympathy, but rather a feeling that what we are going through is really hard and we feel moved by that feeling.

With a fundamental sense of care for our own well-being, we can bring our innate caregiving motivation to looking after ourselves and working out what we can do to help.

And finally, we can ask ourselves the key question: What is it that I really need, or would help me, in this moment of suffering?

So, remember that today, during this national day of awareness, as well as having the wisdom and courage to ask others RUOK, also look within and ask yourself that very same question. As the aeroplane safety video says regarding oxygen masks before take off, “fix your own mask first, and then help others.”

If you are struggling with negative self-talk, persistent anxiety or depressed mood, talking to a mental health professional can help you move forward and start living the way you want to live, Visit our website for more information and to view our team of clinical psychologists www.psychologyconsultants.com.au  

Some other helpful website include:

https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask

http://www.compassionfocusedtherapy.com/

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

 

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Rehab for the Soul after Stroke

Posted on August 31, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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During Stroke Awareness Week 4-9th Sept

This week is Stroke Awareness Week with this year’s campaign aiming to educate people on the “fast signs” of stroke, like blurred vision, loss of movement and drooping face. Knowing the signs and acting early is key to minimising the impact of stroke and improving rehabilitation outcomes.

With ample focus on repairing the physical impacts, as psychologists, we are naturally inclined to also ask how the person is coping emotionally and psychologically after suffering a stroke. Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety are common after stroke, not only because the condition affects aspects of brain functioning directly, but also due to the physical changes and personal challenges that may result.

Emotional recovery is a major part of the rehabilitation journey and some attention should be placed on the person’s emotional wellbeing. As well as changes in general mood, many stroke sufferers can feel traumatised or angered by the experience and live in fear of a second occurrence. Speaking with a mental health professional about your thoughts and feelings after stroke, may help alleviate stress and psycho-social symptoms whilst improving physical effects, like sleep that are integral to the recovery process.

Similar to the tools that are provided in physical therapy, stroke survivors can also be provided with a mental health tool kit filled with personalise strategies to help cope with the challenges that lie ahead. Although mood disorders and emotional strain are common after stroke, recovery is also very common, with psychotherapies like cognitive behavioural therapy having positive effects.

Like the late Napoleon Hill famously said; “The body will achieve what the mind believes”, and getting the right help to regain a positive perspective and the self- confidence to embrace life, is imperative to a holistic rehabilitation.

The Stroke Foundation offer a number of resources and support for the emotional and psychological recovery including Enable Me with useful advice and podcasts from a range of professionals.

For more information on our team of Clinical Psychologists and their areas of expertise visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au/psychologists-2

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Selfies causing mental health problems

Posted on August 30, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants

Like most new crazes, they come with a side of commentary and debate and the selfie fad is not exempt. At risk of over-analysing simply taking a photo of oneself; the selfie craze is sending people over the edge by promoting narcissistic and self-objectifying behaviour that relies heavily on reward and social approval.

“The mounting pressure to be approved and rewarded by ‘likes’ or follows, can lead to a downward spiral, unravelling the person’s deep seeded doubt and insecurity that may have lead them to this digital space in the first place,” said Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist.

Particularly with the Gen Y’s, selfie obsession has become a real problem with people becoming disconnected from the real world on a search for the perfect post. Not only does the craze promote self-objectification, it removes the ability to be mindful and enjoy the present moment.

The term narcissism was coined by a German Psychiatrist, Paul Näcke (1851-1913) and refers to a beautiful greek mythological character, Narkissos who fell in love with his own reflection. But more often than not, narcissists are deep down insecure people with a burning hunger for acceptance and approval.

It would be extreme to suggest that anyone who has posted a selfie falls into this category, after all, we are probably all guilty of a cheeky selfie-snap. However, the trap that many people unintentionally fall into, when it comes to social media, is becoming obsessed with posting photos only to wait for other people’s digital approval.

Considering the said ‘approval’, is so flippant and empty that is takes a nano-second to offer; why is getting ‘likes’ so important in this social-media obsessed age?

Perhaps it’s because it provides such an easy platform to show others your worth and popularity. For some, it represents a chain of money, a myriad of business opportunity and possibility. And for others, it’s more innocently, just a way of telling your story to the world and knowing it has been received. A little soap box, you otherwise would not have the opportunity to stand on.

The most important thing when using social media is to really think about your reasons for posting and to exercise caution if you feel you are placing too much value or significance on the number of likes or follows you receive.

A good question to ask yourself to bring it all back to reality is; if I received a real-life compliment about this photo I am posting, would it have equal worth?

If you are struggling with personal or emotional problems, speaking to a professional counsellor or psychologist can help you get back on track. For more information on our team of clinical psychologists, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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The art of accepting a compliment

Posted on August 25, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

Every human being is worthy of a compliment. The baffling thing is, the majority of the us, find taking a compliment totally flustering. Personal compliments trigger strange reactions that range from slight to total embarrassment and for the more discerning, rearing feelings of distrust…. pondering what exactly does this person want from me?

So why is this the case? It is because we are taught to be humble, modest and not show off, or is it our inner sceptic questioning the real reason for the compliment? Maybe, it’s because we spend too much time admiring others, when we should, from time to time, take a step back and value our own abilities, accomplishments and personal qualities. If that sounds rather narcissistic to you, then you are probably not good at taking a compliment- right?

The real art in accepting a compliment is in how you receive it. Deflecting a compliment doesn’t make you humble, there are many other ways to remain humble, whilst still taking on board what other people see as winning personal qualities. So here are a few simple ways you can work towards taking praise on board. 

Stop with the negative self-talk

You are worthy of a compliment, not matter what your inner monologue throws at you. One of the reasons some of us find accepting a compliment difficult, is because it challenges our inner self-belief. Challenging negative thoughts is difficult and not something that will change over-night. Once you are aware of the physical and emotional cues that come with negative self-talk, you can stop, breathe and start to challenge those negative thoughts.

Only counter-compliment if it’s sincere  

A common knee-jerk reaction is to deflect the compliment by giving one back, which is as transparent as rice paper, unless it’s sincere. A better response can be to include the person (if appropriate) in the compliment or express how much the compliment means to you. For example; “Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without your help” or “Wow, thank you, that means a lot to me.”

Last of all- Just Say Thank You!

Sounds easy, right? Not only does saying ‘thank you’ allow you to accept and reflect on the positive praise, it respects the person who has given you the compliment. 99% of the time, there is no ulterior motive, the person genuinely wants to show that they value you as a person. Now it time to start valuing yourself.

If you liked this post you might also like:

http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/dear-diary/

http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/kicking-the-mid-year-slump/

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

 

 

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What would your friends say at your 80th birthday?

Posted on August 22, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
80thbirthday

During Senior’s Week 19-27th August

By Erika Fiorenza, Clinical Psychologist

Values are our heart’s deepest desires. They are about who we want to be on an ongoing basis. There are hundreds of different values. Some common examples are: authenticity, acceptance, challenge, caring, fun, honesty, independence, gratitude and kindness.

One way to clarify your values is the ‘80th Birthday’ exercise.  Imagine it’s your 80th birthday and someone close to you was giving a speech – what would you like that person to say about the person you have been?

In therapy, we help people identify their values and how effectively they are living by these values.  Often, painful thoughts and feelings can get in the way of living in line with our values.  For example, feelings of anxiety, and worry about what people think, can lead to avoiding social situations, and therefore a move away from values like connection and caring.

In a challenging situation, being able to tune into our values can give us some direction.  Making moves in the direction of these values means living a richer, more meaningful life.

If you like this article you might also like:

http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/why-psychological-distress-should-not-be-a-normal-part-of-ageing/

 

 

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Why psychological distress should not be a normal part of ageing

Posted on August 19, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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During QLD Senior’s Week 19-27 August 

Liz Bamford, Psychologist, Psychology Consultants 

We are all ageing, let’s face it, it’s a beautiful human reality and try as we might to reverse the process, not even the most esteemed scientist has the cure. As we age and particularly beyond 65 years, we accept a new normal, where health conditions are part of daily life and things start to slow down. Although, this is inevitable, many older adults may also accept that feeling of psychological distress are a normal part of the ageing process.

Research findings suggest that as we age, feelings of psychological distress may increase and for some people this may be a symptom of depression or anxiety. Sometimes this emotional distress is triggered by a life event, such as a change in accommodation, death of a partner, or adjusting to a new or worsening health conditions.

Despite the ageing population and rising levels of psychological distress, there are more young people seeking psychological help than the older section of the population.

So why is this so and how can we change it?

Over the last decade, mental health campaigns and industry based initiatives have helped enormously to reduced stigma associated with mental health issues. That said, the social perception of mental health issues being common, is relatively new and for the older generation it may feel counterintuitive to ask for help when feeling sad, lonely and ‘not quite right’.

Feelings of powerlessness amongst the ageing population is common, particularly when experiencing physical changes and this can transcend into emotional and psychological difficulties. Although these feelings are common, this does not mean they are to be expected and should be ignored.

It is just as important for older adults to talk about their feelings and emotional experiences, as it is to present physical complaints to the doctor. Like the physical complaints, if left untreated they may worsen.

Talking to a psychologist can help to understand what might be happening when feelings of sadness, worry or frustration are overwhelming. A psychologist can also devise strategies for dealing with new realities of life and manage feelings of sadness, worry, grief or loss. If you are experiencing emotional or psychological distress that is interfering with everyday life, don’t accept it as normal, speak to your GP about the best steps forward.

Read more about Liz Bamford, Psychologist

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Dear Diary….The therapeutic benefits of putting pen to paper

Posted on August 10, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
dear_diaryby KenBanks

Dr Stan Steind, Clinical Psychologist

Therapeutic writing; it’s the new technical term for something that’s as old as the ink well itself, perhaps even older. So rather than claim it as a hot new trend, we are here to pay homage to the age-old art of writing down your feelings….with a pen (gasp)!

With technology and more specifically social media taking the world by storm, our ability to share (and overshare) has never been more accessible. Back in the day, people and especially youngsters, wrote a diary to vent their feelings but technology has somewhat replaced putting pen to paper. But does the digital space provide the same opportunity to be true to yourself and express your real emotions?

Social media provides a platform (or soap box) to create a brand for yourself, your business and everything in between; pets you are not exempt. People’s online profiles are usually an embellishment of their normal more vanilla lives and as a result, social media can sometimes create feelings of inferiority and insecurity. So, what does this analogy have to do with writing a diary, I hear you ask? Even though our society has become increasingly expressive, with the ability to share our lives, every waking moment, often those stories don’t convey the real you.

Enter….the good old written diary. This age-old little gem offers a safe haven to say whatever the heck you like with the added benefit of scrunching it up and throwing it in a real-life bin, should you ever feel the urge. Although some people may feel Microsoft word offers the same benefit, your digital footprint is permanent, not to mention grammar and spell check getting in the way of pouring your little heart out.

Strong research backs up the mental health benefits of therapeutic writing with American social psychologist Dr James Pennebaker leading the way since the 1980s. Research aside, the fact that humans have been writing diaries for centuries is testament to the theory that writing down your emotions and taking time to reflect before making your next move is powerful.

For those of you who haven’t contemplated writing a diary since year three, it can be a little confronting but here are a few basic steps to get you back into the groove:

  1. Buy a really nice diary or piece of stationery that you love.
  2. Pick up time when you can allocate 10 minutes to yourself. This may be first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
  3. Start writing! It may seem like written diarrhoea but writing anything that comes into your head with no censor will help you to get your emotions on paper. Remember no-one has to ever read it.
  4. Read what you have written
  5. Reflect on what you have written. What sort of emotions are being conveyed?

By writing down a whole raft of uncensored emotions that may have been stored up, you are releasing emotions and developing new personal insight. Although therapeutic writing has many health benefits, if you have experienced trauma or are easily overwhelmed, consulting your doctor and a psychologist before starting this exercise is advised.

If you like this article you might also like:

http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/kicking-the-mid-year-slump/

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

http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/enough-of-the-trash-talk/

 

 

 

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Kicking the Mid-Year Slump!

Posted on July 28, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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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
DiabetesMan

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
SmartPhone

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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