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Certainty is a myth, uncertainty is the norm

During these turbulent times we can try to exert control over our environment by worrying. This is because we look to have certainty in an uncertain world.  However, recognising that the world was never really a certain place and re-investing our mind in other ways can help.  Here's a video that explain it

School transitions during COVID-19

What do you feel when you look at this picture? For me, I instantly feel anxious and a kind of fear. Deep oceans feature in my dreams. I do not like swimming in the ocean when I can't touch the bottom.

It took me a really long time to figure this one out. What I finally connected it to was a memory of my younger brother falling into the swimming pool, seeing him sink to the bottom, feeling helpless, and my dad jumping in and yanking him out. I was a child then. I don't remember if the pool was really that deep, or even if my memory is accurate. However, I do remember the fear of the unknown, feeling helpless, and watching threat unfold.

I returned home from work to find my high schooler eager to talk to me. There were so many things they had discovered that were unusual and perhaps a little unsettling about the experience of distance learning. I realised that for someone with limited life experience, this plunge into distance learning by sudden "dangerous" reasons was being encoded in their memory. A good dinner conversation uncovered a couple of things that I share here with you:

1. Realising there is a difference between solitude and isolation. Many of the lunchtime and recess friends are no longer available in these online classroom environments.
2. The vacuum of silence and the uncertainty of how long this will go for: It's a different thing to know that school holidays is a limited experience, and not knowing . Children who go to school are surrounded by noises and laughter, and chatter.
3. Not moving! Not walking to class, or to school, or around the classroom
4. Staring at a screen the whole day
5. Not knowing if they could go outside the house - or go to the toilet mid-way class
6. Distractions and sensory weird-ness from different sounds that came from having headphones and hearing every rustle, crunch and page flip

At the end of the conversation there was a comment "I need to get a hold of my life..."

For tonight, the conversation just sits as a validation that things are different, unknown and without definition. Tomorrow we spend some time putting structures and substitutes into place to make the world just that little less scary and undefined.

Coping with COVID-19

At the Centre for Effective Living, we have been thinking about how the coronavirus situation is impacting our clients. In this blog, we wanted to highlight some tips for psychological well-being during COVID-19. In particular, we are mindful of individuals who may be likely to worry about health-related information. If you are finding that you feel increasingly worried about the situation, be aware of the amount of exposure you are getting to news, images, and talk about the coronavirus. People tend to talk about what they are worried about, and stress can spread from person to person. So, give yourself permission to switch off these channels, and instead use this time to do an activity that can help you feel calm. You can stay informed by only reading official sources of information, such as government health websites, once or twice a day.

We are also thinking about how children might be affected by this situation. No doubt, many parents are wondering how to discuss the coronavirus with their kids in a way that will not make them more worried. We would encourage parents to not be afraid to discuss the coronavirus, as keeping kids in the dark may make them worry more. Instead, answer your child’s questions by sticking to small amounts of information to avoid overloading them with details. Focus conversations on what you are doing to stay safe, as knowing what to do to stay healthy can help your kids feel empowered at this time.

In a situation like this, staying connected with people who support you is very important in maintaining our psychological well-being. Even if you cannot see people face to face, there are electronic ways to stay connected, such as Skype or FaceTime.

If you are unwell and unable to come into our clinic, video-calling consultations on Zoom may be an option for you. You can learn more about how to do this here https://www.effectiveliving.com.au/telehealth-services/

We hope that all of our community at The Centre for Effective Living keeps physically and mentally well at this time.

Make hand washing during Covid-19 something we do because we care AND throw in some self care. Why not give yourself a hand massage in the mix and enjoy moisturising after. Taking care of our mental …

Make hand washing during Covid-19 something we do because we care AND throw in some self care. Why not give yourself a hand massage in the mix and enjoy moisturising after. Taking care of our mental health means looking for ways we can increase our positivity and pleasure in the midst of difficult times #covidcare #selfcare #together

How To Study Without Stress – 3 Tips Backed By Research

Are you stressed out by study? It’s only the start of the school year, but already homework, assignments, and exams are piling up, your stress is rising, and you wish you could do something about it.

As psychologists, we understand that study stress can be tough, and we want to help. That is why we are running a 6-week 'Study Without Stress' program for Year 10-12 students. In a small group setting, this program will equip students with practical strategies to help them overcome the stress that can arise from study and assessment pressures. This program is designed to help students stop procrastinating, break out of perfectionism, manage their time, learn how to prepare for exams, and reduce their anxiety levels.

Here are 3 tips from the program that you can put into practice right away:

  1. Feeling anxious before an exam? Try slow breathing. When we are stressed, our body is trying to prepare us for a dangerous situation. One way it does this is by making us breathe faster. To turn off the stress response, slow down your breathing.
  2. When something goes wrong, do you tend to think that everything is a complete disaster? When our mind produces catastrophising thoughts, it can make us feel anxious. Start to notice the kind of thoughts in your mind. If there is catastrophising, ask yourself, “Is there another way of looking at this situation?”
  3. Do you procrastinate? People who procrastinate often feel overwhelmed with a task. Instead of trying to do everything at once, ask yourself, “What’s the next step?” Break a task down into do-able steps, then slowly work through them one by one. Perhaps you could reward yourself as you tick things off!

Want to know more?

Our Study Without Stress program will run for 6 Wednesdays at 4:30 – 6:00pm from the 25th of March to the 13th of May (with a break for school holidays). The cost for all 6 sessions and material is $520.

If you are interested in joining, book your place at: https://www.trybooking.com/BIHHJ

For more information contact us at: admin@effectiveliving.com.au

Sheraan De Souza is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist with over 20 years experience. Medicare rebates apply when you see her for psychological therapy. What exactly does she do? Appointments wit…

Sheraan De Souza is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist with over 20 years experience. Medicare rebates apply when you see her for psychological therapy. What exactly does she do?

Appointments with Sheraan can be made through our mainline 1800 832 588

#mentalhealth #mentalhealthot

What to expect when you see a Psychologist

Feeling anxious about seeing a Psychologist for the first time is very common.. Your Psychologist is very aware that you are going to feel this way. Their first priority is to help you feel comfortable and listened to. Clients have found the following tips to be helpful:

  • Have a look at the website and Social Media platforms of the practice or the psychologist you are attending. This can help to feel like you have got a sense of who they are
  • You are always welcome to call the practice ahead of time and drop in for a casual look aroundIf it makes you feel more comfortable, look through your transport route ahead of time, and aim to be 20 minutes earlier for your appointment
  • Speak to your family about how you are feeling. Consider asking someone you trust to accompany you to the first appointment. They don't have to sit in the session, but it may be nice to have some company in the waiting room.
  • If your appointment is for a young child, you may want to talk to them ahead of time about where they are going. Packing water, some light snacks and comfortable clothing helps too. Sometimes a light cardigan can help with cold air conditioning.

At your first appointment you can expect:

  • To fill up some paperwork providing you information about your confidentiality as well as gathering some of your personal details such as your address and contact details.
  • Your Psychologist will be interested in listening to your story and some of the symptoms you have been experiencing so they have a thorough understanding of what you are going through
  • Collaborative goals and therapy aims are likely to be touched on in the first session and built on in subsequent sessions
  • Your Psychologist will want to answer any questions you may have
  • With young children, Psychologists adopt play and activities to engage with your child to help them feel safe and secure
  • With adolescents Psychologists are keen to get to know you as people with your own interests, thoughts and ideas about your world and what you need

If you are wondering how to open up the conversation with your child or adolescent about seeing a Psychologist, you may find it helpful to:

  • Explore sites such as https://www.youthbeyondblue.com/ and https://kidshelpline.com.au/ as a way to open up the conversation together
  • Watch the practitioner videos on our website and explore our social media platforms (this often gives children and young people a sense of the people they could see
  • Children and young people know what it is to have a coach help them with sport, or a teacher help them learn something new, going to a Psychologist can be explained this way as well - it is a chance to talk about the difficult feelings and situations they are facing and have someone to help them with what they can do.

We are always happy to talk with you further if it helps with those first appointment concerns.

Is it anxiety or something else?

Lately I have noticed there have been enquiries that have come in from parents who have been concerned about whether what their child is experiencing is anxiety, a behavioural issue or just part and parcel of growing up.  It can be difficult for parents who are immersed in their family situation to get some clarity around this.

In general, the rule of thumb is if there are no significant disruptions to their daily lives, and no significant changes to their everyday functioning, and if the episode passes relatively quickly (couple of days, a week) then perhaps it is part of the cycle of growing up and facing everyday challenges.  However, if there seems to be significant changes such as refusing to go to school, impacted sleep, withdrawal from friends and activities that used to be a source of joy, significant physical symptoms (headaches, breathlessness, shakiness, dizzy spells) that are persistent and not easing, or if they are cyclical, they keep coming back - it is worth investigating.  These could point to an anxiety and/or mood disorder. It could also be part of a broader profile of other learning or developmental conditions that may be causing anxiety or a mood fluctuation.  There are some key circumstances we would definitely say warrants professional help - thoughts of self harm, suicidal impulses and panic attacks.  These are signals of significant distress.  In young children, regressing to former stages such as bed wetting, nail biting, having nightmares that do not ease, and increased irritability could also suggest something more is going on.

The following blogs written by our Psychologists will be helpful for more information:

https://www.effectiveliving.com.au/will-a-diagnosis-make-my-child-vulnerable/
https://www.effectiveliving.com.au/child-in-distress/
https://www.effectiveliving.com.au/parenting-an-anxious-child/

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