One of the most difficult tasks in the world—if not the hardest—is being a mother. A mother's love is one of the most natural and most unconditional forms of love. It is without a doubt that mothers tend to think of their family first before themselves. Yet, all mothers are human, too, and need to look after themselves as well. Some may think that the top priority is the nurturing for their family, which is not wrong, but mothers also need time for themselves.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on Australia’s Children (2020) indicated that in 2013-2014 almost 14% of 4-11-year-olds experienced mental illness, and in 2015 7.4% of 0-14-year-olds had some level of disability.
It is no surprise then that many enquiries are made for children with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Anxiety. These children face additional challenges as they develop and grow, which often impacts their wellbeing. Understandably causing concern for caregivers.
Everyone needs some form of support, but teenagers are one of the demographics that need it the most. Teenagers need both support and knowledge as they learn to engage with the world, and parents are a vital source of information for teens for areas they are not familiar with.
Here at the Centre for Effective Living, we have put together some recommended online resources that are perfect for parents to engage with to feel better equipped to support their teen. What is more, these sites can spark opportunities to share and discuss valuable information, as teens live their lives in both the real world and the virtual world.
For those who experience persistent, disabling or overwhelming anxiety it is normal to wonder if it will ever fully go away. However, while there are excellent, evidence-based treatments available to help manage anxiety, it wouldn’t be right to say that we could absolutely ‘cure’ it.
Fat talk – negative words we say to put down our own bodies – is sadly an all too common conversation topic today. An overwhelming number of both men and women report regularly engaging in fat talk with their friends and family. Once you start noticing it, you will hear it everywhere - women in the bathroom or a dressing room trying on clothes, men at the gym wanting to gain more muscle, high schoolers scrolling through heavily filtered, staged and Photoshopped pictures on Instagram, and on TV, on the radio or in magazines.
Uncertainty is a feeling that makes many people uncomfortable and that many people struggle to tolerate. People who struggle with tolerating uncertainty often perceive uncertainty, unpredictability and doubt as awful and unbearable experiences. They often describe feeling like they cannot cope with not knowing.
Uncertainty can lead to worrying, as one tries to reduce the uncertainty through attempts to plan and prepare for possible negative events. Unfortunately, this rarely leads to feeling better or feeling more control. Rather it can lead to more worrying, along with heightened anxiety and stress.
Often our default is to think about making our lives easier now, to the detriment of our future selves. We find what is convenient now, and leave our future self to get things done. In the moment, putting off exercise, difficult work tasks, and household chores can feel really good!
But later that day or week, our future self is left to pick up the pieces and is usually pretty unhappy about it. So why is it so hard to learn from this?
Many enquiries are often made to support children with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Indeed, these neurodiverse children can display some challenging behaviour and experience difficulties with their wellbeing. However, other common presentations, such as Anxiety, may go unnoticed.
No one lives a life without some level of stress, conflict, or difficulty. The same is true for psychologists – and fortunately, the very techniques and skills that form the body of evidence-based practices that we use with our clients – also work for us!
When asked about how the psychologists on our team manage stress and difficult situations – these were some of the tips and strategies we identified as most helpful (you might recognise a few!)
For many of us, the first time we reflect on needs is when we become parents, grappling with what our children require from us to thrive in the world. Others reach their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 50’s without realising that they have actually have underlying needs, or that effectively meeting them will lead to psychological health. The idea that needs are neither mysterious, enigmatic or abstract but rather universal is certainly not mainstream knowledge.
Most people would agree that they feel better after getting a good night’s sleep and not so good when they haven’t slept well. However, many would also agree that in today’s fast-paced world sleep seems to be one thing that can be expendable. If we are going to prioritise sleep above the many other things that are fighting for our time and attention it is important to understand what exactly sleep does for us.
Sleep can be as frustrating as it is necessary. We go to bed early and then lay awake for hours. We roll from one side to another. We put on some headphones and listen to a podcast. We try falling asleep to a tv show...nothing seems to help.
We can’t always think away the worries that keep us awake, or the nagging sensation that we’ll never get to sleep. But there are some tools we can use to rediscover better sleep.
Experiencing shame can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant. Shame is that feeling that comes up when we feel unworthy, not good enough or inadequate. Shame is that feeling that tells us we are bad or wrong or silly.
Experiencing shame can impact on relationships and work. It can make it difficult to connect with people and achieve goals. Not only that, unresolved shame can lead to other feelings- depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Experiencing shame can be deeply damaging.
Have you ever heard someone say “That’s so OCD” when someone is cleaning or arranging things carefully? Although OCD has become a common term used to refer to being neat or precise in a quirky way, this can unfortunately minimize the fact that OCD is a real mental illness that can be debilitating to live with. OCD is often misunderstood, so here are some facts to understand what OCD actually is, and then an exercise that might help you step into the shoes of someone with OCD.
Finally, 2020 is over and 2021 is here! I notice in myself and in conversation with family and friends a sense of hope about what this year could bring. That it could be different to 2020.
Last year was full of change, uncertainty, and stress; so, I have spent some time over the past few weeks reflecting. I asked myself a number of questions. How was this year for me? What went well? What was hard? Is there anything I want for this year without falling into the New Year’s resolutions/goals trap? Yes, even though I am a Psychologist, I find change hard too.
Mixed Berry Smoothie
1 cup Mixed Berries, frozen
1 banana, frozen
½ cup vanilla or plain yoghurt
½ cup milk of choice
½ tbsp. chia seeds
1. Add frozen berries, banana, yoghurt, milk, and chia seeds to a blender.
2. Cover and blend until thick and smooth.
3. Adjust with more milk to achieve desired consistency.
For a sweeter smoothie, add some honey or maple syrup until desired sweetness is achieved.
Christmas is a time for gathering together family and friends, enjoying delicious food, and celebrating both the traditions and spontaneity that come with the holidays. However, for both children and adults who experience different sensory sensitivities, Christmas can quickly become an uncomfortable or overwhelming time.
Do you have an ‘Impossible Task’? Coined by M. Molly Backes on Twitter, an ‘Impossible Task’ can be anything – starting an assignment, going grocery shopping, or making a phone call. The task may seem simple enough, but for you it’s overwhelming and all too much. Even if the task weighs on your mind every day and you spend significant time and effort willing yourself to ‘just do it’, for some reason you just can’t.
Do you find it hard to set goals? Or, when you do set goals, do you find it hard to keep them?
A quick search online suggests that the majority of people who set New Years’ Resolutions each year don’t manage to keep them for even a month - so if you struggle to keep the goals you set you are not alone!
Touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight. These are our five senses that we use every day. Whether it is appreciating the sight of the morning sunrise, savouring the taste of our morning coffee, listening to music whilst on public transport to work, or snuggling into the soft touch of the doona as we go to bed at night. Our five senses help us enjoy and appreciate the fullness of the world.
Children are amazing learners. They are making sense of the world through observation, exploration, experimentation, play, and stories. Stories, in particular, are a great tool to help communicate complex concepts.
It’s not just the age-appropriate language and interesting pictures that help with understanding. Stories promote an emotional response that enhances the connection between the content and experience. This not only increases engagement but openness to learning as well.
A lot of adults can find it difficult to attend therapy for the first time, so it should come as no surprise that teenagers can feel the same.
However, except for situations where your teen is at immediate risk of harm, being forced or coerced into therapy will often fail to provide the positive outcomes that you so sorely desire for them.
After a recent family relocation, I have been thinking a lot about how my family and I deal with change. I recalled many of the changes across my life; international moves with my children all born on different continents, two very different careers, family members passing away, my children becoming teenagers. Change still brings up complex emotion for me, yet I realise I have also changed my orientation toward it over the years.
As Psychologists we often get asked about how much screen time is appropriate for young people. This question often comes from the concern that screen time, in and of itself, is a ‘bad’ thing and should be limited – however it is important to acknowledge that digital technology is a part of modern life and brings many benefits – including opportunities for learning and socialising.
In my job I have had the pleasure of working with numerous young people over the years prepare to sit their HSC exams. As the 2020 HSC exams approach for another year, I have found myself again discussing these ‘big exams’. It is not uncommon for these conversations to assist the young person in addressing their expectations and reducing the pressure they put on themselves. For many, HSC exams are approached with a fear of failure- that they will achieve significantly worst results than any other exam period in the past. The exams are perceived as significantly different from past exams. They are seen as like ‘nothing before’.
When was the last time you beat yourself up for the way you acted towards your kids? Parenting is hard enough, but it can be made even harder by being your own worst critic. Maybe there’s a voice in your head saying that you’re a terrible parent because you lost your temper this morning, or you feel like a failure because you’ve missed your child’s basketball game two weekends in a row.