for April, 2019

Habits of a Healthy Mind

Posted on April 29, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Mens sana in corpore sano– Latin for ‘sound mind, sound body’- okay so not exactly a news flash here but our modern lifestyles can make it harder than the simplistic motto would suggest. Sometimes, we need a little nudge, or gentle reminder to slow down, sub the chocolate for the cacao and reconnect with ourselves and others. 

So here’s what we consider habits of a healthy mind:

Eat Well- Eat Mindfully

True to the old saying; ‘You are what you eat’, our diet has an incredible impact on our mind, body and soul. There are strong links between poor diet and mental health and part of this can be due to the vicious cycle of guilt, weight gain and self-shaming. But it’s not just about what you eat but also about how you eat it. Enjoy your food, think about the connection you have with it, where it came from and how it is going to nourish your body. Eat distraction free, turn off your phone, TV or other distractions that you can control and try to focus on the taste, smell and feel of the food as you eat it.

It’s important to be aware of your physical cues vs emotional cues when it comes to eating. In short, eat when you are hungry not when you are tired, emotional or have ‘3:30itis’. Fulfil your emotional needs with something other than food, this might be a walk, a chat to a friend or something you consider personally indulgent.

Get Better Sleep

Note that did not say ‘Get More Sleep’ but ‘Get Better Sleep’. Sleep is the pillar of health and when it’s not good quality, your physical, emotional and mental health can head south pretty quickly. If you are struggling with sleep, seeking help is a must. Some basic sleep hygiene tips include, keeping your evenings technology free (really- yes really), avoid alcohol within a few hours of bed and reduce caffeine after 2pm.  Although it is important to exercise and in fact it can improve sleep quality, some research suggests avoiding it within 3 hours of bedtime.

Keep Active

Research and literature across the world concur that exercise is one of the key components to maintaining your health and wellbeing. This is even more apparent for those that suffer from acute or ongoing mental illness with findings showing exercise as highly effective strategy for alleviating depressive symptoms.

Be Kind to Yourself

There is much to be gained by being kind to yourself, just like there is emotional gain from being kind to others. As the Dalai Lama said; “If you have no compassion for yourself, then you are not able of developing compassion for others.” Cutting yourself some slack and not judging yourself will do wonders for your mind and soul.

Stay connected

There are strong correlations between loneliness and depression and anxiety with research showing prolonged loneliness negatively impacts the brain and can lead to stress and a range of mental health concerns. Staying physically connected with people is important, but the way we now communicate can make it a challenge.  We need to push past this and challenge ourselves to make meaningful connections with other humans. Shifting your perspective to values those meaningful human connections rather than counting the amount of relationships or friends you have, is a positive step towards a more confident and fulfilled you. Fostering these true connections by continuing to work on what makes that connection special, will help you both to thrive.

If you need help with emotional or psychological concerns, or just want to feel more fulfilled, visit our Brisbane Psychologists page to view our team of Clinical Psychologists.


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How Lack of Sleep Affects your Relationship

Posted on April 22, 2019 in Sleep - 0

We all know how it feels when you’ve not had enough sleep- tired, cranky, irritable, unproductive and overwrought. Even the simplest task can seem overwhelming and this is largely due to the fact that your brain and cognitive function is not operating at optimal levels.

So, it’s not surprising that when it comes to navigating a relationship, sleep deprivation can cause major problems. Clinical Psychologist and Towards Better Sleep Facilitator, Kathryn Smith, says; “The part of your brain that monitors mood and emotions, called the amygdala, is affected when you are sleep deprived, causing you to overreact to situations that normally wouldn’t bother you.”

Research suggests, and anecdotally I can concur, that lack of sleep can also lead to increased stress, as well as anxiety and depression, all of which put pressure on relationships” Smith says. Often people think there are problems with their relationships when in reality, the stressors and irritations are a result of not enough sleep or other lifestyle choices.

Lack of sleep can also lead to a decline in overall health, with your body deprived of the downtime it needs to restore and replenish cells. Enter the relationship triple threat- stressed, tired and sick. An unhealthy you can often lead to an unhealthy relationship and some very testing times.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression and an increased risk of other co-morbid conditions.

Another key consideration when it comes to relationships is the importance of giving each other enough time. It can be challenging to feed your relationship when life pulls you from pillar to post, and with Mr Sandman beckoning, date night can fall to the wayside. Setting aside time and committing to quality time together can make a real difference.

However, the underlying sleep problems or other health concerns that are affecting a relationship need to be addressed and it’s important to encourage your significant other to seek professional help.

Clinical Psychologist Kathryn Smith and Psychiatrist Dr Curt Gray have been effectively treating insomnia with cognitive behavioural therapy through their long-standing group programme, Towards Better Sleep. Unlike sleep medication, CBT is not a quick fix and takes time to work, which is why the programme spans across 6 weeks, focusing on education, behavioural techniques, correcting faulty thinking and relaxation strategies.

A group setting has proven an effective setting to treat people with sleep problems, allowing participants to share their experiences and learn from one another in a more cost-effective way. If you think you could benefit from group therapy, talk to your GP about your suitability for the Towards Better Sleep programme. Or, if you would like to speak to a Psychologists about improving your relationship, visit our website for the list of Clinical Psychologist based at Morningside and Newmarket.




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