Ever heard the saying ‘Success is not a destination, it’s a journey’? When we think about accomplishments, we often focus on how good we feel when we achieve a long-term goal or experience a major breakthrough.

These big wins are great—but they are fairly rare. The good news is that even small wins can give you a spike in positive mood and self-esteem!

Celebrating small wins is an important way to track incremental achievements and work toward much larger goals. Also, it makes you feel good all the more regularly. In a study discussed by Harvard Business Review, nearly 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees across seven companies were analysed to see how everyday life inside organisations can influence a person’s performance. They found that when a worker crosses off minor to-dos from their list, it enhances their motivation. Simply recording progress in some way helps to boost self-confidence and can be put to use toward future successes. This simple recognition can help build momentum and drive you forward to accomplish much larger tasks later on.

The other positive is getting that flood of dopamine each time something is checked off your list, regardless of how minor. Neurologically, when you achieve something, it activates the reward centre of our brains, allowing us to feel a sense of pride. Dopamine is a neurochemical that releases and energises us with feel-good emotions. This chemical helps you to experience the feeling of getting rewarded, and can hook you on wanting to accomplish more. Who doesn’t want to feel that sense of accomplishment more often!?

It may seem inconsequential or uncomfortable to celebrate something as seemingly unimportant as meal prepping, however, you’re not necessarily celebrating the achievement itself; you’re celebrating your good behaviour – similar to how your parents used to congratulate you for brushing your teeth when you were young. So, take the time to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished and feel good about it.

If you don’t pause to appreciate them and simply rush from one task to another – then it’s easier to become exhausted and demotivated. When you show appreciation for your small successes, you show appreciation for yourself too, which everyone should make time for.

It’s also important to recognise that small victories vary from person to person, and what may seem small to you could mean so much more to someone else. You may want to consider some light bragging to mark the achievement, to help reflect on how far you’ve come from the start of a project. Sharing your wins may also inspire others to reach for their goals – so everybody wins!

Not only has a pandemic turned our world upside down, those who are still working now face extra pressures.

Will I keep my job? Will they be focusing on my performance? I need to work longer and harder!

These are all common thoughts in this current climate, we all face them!

We also now have to deal with working from home, coping with home schooling the kids and also missing out on the social interactions that keep us sane.

How we cope and react with this new set of stresses can set the path for our own mental health.

What are the signs I should be aware of?

Stress can manifest in so many areas of your life. Your body can sometimes be the first warning beacon. Some of the key symptoms can include changes in your:

  • Body — do you feel any changes in your body? Rapidly gaining weight, headaches, increased sweating, racing heart. All can be physical symptoms of your stress.
  • Behaviour — have you start to eat or drink too much, are you struggling to sleep, do you find yourself being cranky and irritable?
  • Emotions — are you having heightened emotions (anger, sadness, fear), or numbed and feeling nothing at all?
  • Mind — are you confused, indecisive, or having trouble remembering things and struggling to concentrate?

What can you do to manage your workplace stress at home?

Look after your body

The don’t say your ‘body is a temple’ for nothing! Giving yourself a solid physical foundation will do wonders in maintaining your mental health. Make sure you:

  • Get enough rest and sleep.
  • Exercise each and every day, even if this means just a 30-minute walk.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid going overboard on alcohol.
  • Keep a close eye on your diet and try and avoid all the sugary, fatty snacks.

Take a break from communication

We are currently completely bombarded with news and updates about the pandemic, make sure you schedule in some time to switch off completely from the news!

Also, as we are all now working from home, we have lost the physical separation of home from work and we can be guilty of checking emails throughout the day and night. Make sure you switch off the phone and close the laptop to give yourself an actually break from the constant demands.

Schedule in social interaction

When we are at home, we miss out on those social interactions which make up a vital part of our working day. No more coffee breaks? No more visiting each other’s desks for news updates? Sitting at home for hours on end with no human contact can play a key role on our happiness levels.

Thankfully the wonders of technology can help! Book in Zoom and Skype meetings with colleagues even if it is for a chat. Why not kill two birds with one stone – work updates and social chats!

Seek help when you need it

There will be times when you find yourself struggling to cope with all these changes forced upon us, and all the new stresses may be affecting you more than you can manage.

It’s at this point you need to recognise that professional help might help you develop strategies to manage this new norm. Psychological therapy involves understanding your thoughts and developing practical strategies to help improving your mental health.

How can we support you?

We understand that life has now developed a huge number of additional stresses we never thought would develop. COVID-19 has affected each and every one of us.

At The Crawley Clinic we offer high quality evidence-based psychological services to Tasmanians of all ages in Hobart, Launceston, East Coast Tasmania, Scottsdale and George Town.

We understand that with the new lockdowns, you may not always be able to attend an appointment face-to-face so we utilise modern technology to make our services available when you need us. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, we can make it work remotely through the use of either your computer or mobile device.

If we were to define ‘emotional intelligence’ exactly what would it be?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is essentially an individual’s ability to connect their personal experiences with those of others.

The term gained popularity in the 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence”, written by author and science journalist Daniel Goleman, and it’s gone on to become an integral part of the vocabulary of those who focus on workplace success. Yet in this blog we want to look at why EI can support mental health in general.

What makes up Emotional Intelligence?

In Goleman’s book, he defined five key areas which make up Emotional Intelligence. Each area is described in clear detail and gives us a good outline:

  • Self-awareness – the ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values
    and goals and recognise their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
  • Self-regulation – involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses
    and adapting to changing circumstances.
  • Social skill – managing relationships to get along with other.
  • Empathy – considering other people’s feelings especially when making decisions
  • Motivation – being aware of what motivates them.

Why do we need to consider Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

There are wide ranging reasons why we should improve our overall levels of EI. Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater career prospects, job performance, and leadership skills.

Yet most importantly high EI can lead to better mental health.

How we react to good and bad situations can be key to supporting better mental health.  Our emotions and ability to read situations, both personal and work related, can also overwhelm us and affect the way we behave.

People who lack emotional intelligence are more likely to just react, without giving themselves the time to weigh up the pros and cons of a situation and really thinking things through. The consequences of this down the track can affect our mental health.

What are the key characteristics of strong Emotional Intelligence?

Responding not reacting
High EI gives you the ability to process the situation you are faced with – it stops those initial defensive walls we can sometimes build up. The skill of being able to listen, gain perspective, reduce judgement and withhold strong emotions can truly support reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Ability to withstand difficult situations

The term ‘firm yet fair’ rings true with those with high EI. It allows you to have difficult conversations without spiralling into petty disagreements and conflict. With EI you have the ability to set healthy boundaries in a calm and positive way because you have summed up the situation and are coming from a place of balance.

Understanding your own emotions
EI gives you the ability to regulate and self-control your own emotions which helps you responding appropriately. Goleman says this about people with self-control- “Reasonable people–the ones who maintain control over their emotions–are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments.”

Another article describes that ‘while average levels of anxiety can improve cognitive performance – probably by increasing focus and motivation – too much anxiety can block cognitive achievement.

So, knowing how to find the sweet spot, between too much and too little anxiety, can be a useful tool.’

Emotional intelligence is an area each of us can improve on and we should be taking time to consider our own ability to judge and react to difficult situations. We can avoid building stress and anxiety with the ability to monitor how we react.

If you feel like you struggle to regulate your emotions or want to improve how you consider difficult situations and setting boundaries the team at The Crawley Clinic are here to support you. Click here to book an appointment.

Fatherhood – Equal part stress and joy. Tips to manage dad’s mental health.

We all know that bringing a child into the world can be a time of great excitement and joy for any family, but for some it can also be a time of huge transition and change.

A new baby brings so many new challenges including sleeplessness, routine upheaval and stress to the marriage or relationship.  It can also bring additional financial pressures that lead to more stress and anxiety!

A lot is discussed about the health and well being of new mums, but less is spoken about the mental health of new dads. In fact, statistics show that over 45% of fathers are not aware that they can experience postnatal depression. Even worse than this is the fact that of first-time fathers see anxiety and depression after having a baby as a sign of ‘weakness’.

What should we be aware of as new dads?

We are all unique in how we cope with change, but there are a few symptoms that we need to keep an eye out for, some of these include:

  • Constant tiredness and fatigue
  • Reduced motivation
  • Irritability, anxiety and anger
  • Changes in appetite and sleep including difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of pleasure in activities that are usually enjoyable
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating and mind always wondering

Are new dads all susceptible to perinatal depression?

Each new father will deal with a fresh addition to the family in their own way, and most will cope just fine. There are, however, a few traits in an individual that could be a risk moving forward.

Keep an eye on fathers who have/are:

  • Previously experienced depression or live with anxiety
  • Any previous relationship problems that could resurface during this stressful time
  • General low self-esteem or concerns about fatherhood
  • First time fathers who are struggling with all the changes and lack of sleep
  • Coping with a baby who is struggling to settle

I’m starting to feel overwhelmed as a father, what can I do?

The first thing to do is understand that anyone can go through these feelings, new babies are one of the hardest challenges in life and it is completely normal to have stress.

  • Seek support and open up – Find someone you can trust to have an honest conversation with. This might not be your partner, but maybe a family member or close friend.
  • Look after yourself – Exercise and eating well can be difficult to combine with the demands of work and parenting, but can make an important difference to how you feel. We would especially advise you to not turn to alcohol to help you cope!
  • Stop comparing – Each parent, child and family is different and you never truly know what they are all going through. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect dad’ so don’t try and compare yourself to others.
  • Ask for help – Parenting is the hardest thing you will ever do, and it does not come with an instruction manual. Just as you seek expert assistance if you had a heart condition or diabetes, mental health concerns are no different.  Seeing a psychologist is never a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you are taking the steps necessary to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy.

Being a new dad should be a wonderful and exciting time but it will definitely come with its challenges. If you are facing ongoing stress or feel the need to reach out for some support, the team at The Crawley Clinic are here to help you manage and gain more control.

The evidence is clear – Australians will be exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lives.

Traumatic events can come in all shapes and sizes however according to Phoenix Australia, the most common traumatic events people in Australia are exposed to are: the unexpected death of someone close to them; witnessing someone badly injured or killed or unexpectedly seeing a deceased body and being in a motor vehicle accident where there is a possibility of death.

Being exposed to a traumatic event can have a massive emotional impact on our well being and may leave us not feeling ourselves for a period of time.

To answer the question – am I susceptible to PTSD – is a hard one to judge. While 50-75% of people are exposed to trauma, only 5-10% will go on to develop PTSD (Phoenix Australia).

What are the common causes of PTSD?

Research has found that there are particular risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing PTSD following a trauma. The Black Dog Institute identifies the following risk factors:

  • Having a prior history of trauma such as childhood trauma
  • The duration of the trauma, with longer duration increasing risk
  • A family history of mental health problems
  • Prior mental health diagnoses such as anxiety or depression
  • A lack of social support from friends, family, colleagues and professionals
  • Your job may also place you at greater risk, with first responders (i.e. police, ambulance officers, firefighters) and those in the military more likely to develop PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

Of course, each of us is unique so we can all be affected in different ways. However according to Beyond Blue some of the more common symptoms or thoughts include:

  • having trouble remembering important parts of the event
  • having very negative beliefs about yourself, others or the world
  • persistently blaming yourself or others for what happened
  • persistently felt negative, angry, guilty or ashamed
  • feeling less interested in doing things you used to enjoy
  • feeling cut off from others
  • having trouble feeling positive emotions (e.g. love or excitement)

How can I prevent PTSD?

How you react to trauma initially can give you a great risk of developing PTSD.

scientific review has concluded that the way in which an individual makes sense of the trauma at the moment of exposure and the emotions they experience (i.e. fear, helplessness, horror, guilt and shame) play a significant role in determining whether they will go on to develop PTSD.

One key area that was focussed on was the action of dissociation during and immediately following the event was a strong predictor of PTSD.

Seeking support early can help.

Ultimately, most of us will avoid developing PTSD, it’s important to understand that if we or a loved one are at higher risk, it’s important to keep a close eye on the symptoms and take action as soon as you begin to worry.

If you need support – we’re here to help.

The Crawley Clinic offers a team of qualified, experienced, compassionate mental health professionals who can help you to bring about the changes you want in your life. Click here to book in with us.

 

Dr Jane Direen – Psychologist

Why did you decide on a career in this industry?

I became fascinated with human behavior when I completed an introduction to psychology course in College. I had always been interested in health (physical, mental, emotional etc) since I was little (I used to run laps around my house to get fit when I was about 11, and being the oldest child of 6, was the “go to” person for advice), it was a natural progression!

What do you enjoy about your current role?

I love connecting with people. It drives virtually all that I do. I love working with people who are willing/able to be vulnerable, as this is where the magic happens. It is extremely rewarding to be in a position to help people find their own way out of their difficulties.

Do you have any particular special interest areas?

I feel particularly passionate about assisting people with anxiety, trauma (particularly complex/interpersonal trauma), stress, pain and fatigue.

What does good mental health look like to you?

Being psychologically flexible – being able to ride the bad with the good. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Creating and maintaining connections – with people, with animals, with society, with
family. Being present as much as possible.

Developing acceptance of what is out of your control. Taking values-driven, daily action (small or big), in alignment with the person you want to be, the things you want to achieve, and the stamp you want to leave on the world/your family/your friends.

How do you personally look after your mental health?

It looks different now to how it used to. Now I aim to walk each morning, do yoga once a week and fit in some Pilates self-practice when I can. I would love to get back into some formal Pilates lessons. I find Pilates (both as student and teacher) very grounding. I know that I need to take time each day to stop and close my eyes, breathe and reflect – even for just five minutes. I actually love doing this, and it helps me to re-set.

Best advice you’ve received in life?

“Go and have a shower”, said by my father at times of distress. (not because I smell! But to re-set)

Chantell Jones – Mental Health Clinician

 Why did you decide on a career in this industry?

I have a passion for connecting with people on which ever level they are presenting at and being able to sit alongside them in their journeys to wellness, whatever that may look like to them.

What do you enjoy about your current role?

The clientele base, rural work and child safety work.

Do you have any particular interests areas?

Relational trauma and attachment work with parents, carers, children, Gut-mind connection and how this can affect mental health, sensorimotor psychotherapy, the ageing brain and all its wonders. I like working with the WHOLE person regardless of presentation or age. This encompasses past, present, future, body, mind, brain, spiritual, connection to self and others, positive aspects and not so positive.

What does good mental health look like to you?

As above. Understanding that mental health is human, we all have it, it doesn’t need to be taboo, sometimes we have healthy mental health and other times we struggle. Sometimes we build up
adaptations that have helped us that we may not need anymore which can impact daily functioning, other times we experience something so big for our body and minds that we need a professional
connection to help us through, but it is all human. Good mental health is a person being able to function as well as they can despite the situation they are in.

How do you personally look after your mental health?

– I use a lot of mindfulness in my life in the form of Wheel of awareness (daily) and being present, I use ACT skills on a regular basis and accept that having emotions is a part of life
and I hold on to them and let them do there thing and then move them somewhere safe.
– I eat well with the understanding that what I eat can impact my mood.
– I keep up to date with current knowledge when I can as this helps my selfcare and my confidence.
– Interact with my friends and family where possible

Best advice you’ve received in life?

“ Stay passionate, it suits you”

Have you ever read a book or quote that had a huge impact in your life? If so, what was it and why?

Anything delivered by Gabor Mate’, Daniel Siegel, Bruce Perry, Pat Odgen, Dan Hughes or Lou Cozolino.

“We are always in a perpetual state of being created and creating ourselves. (p. 221)” ― Daniel J. Siegel

“Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you” – Gabor Mate

“We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world” – Gabor Mate

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” – Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom

I have many, the above resonated with me and the work I choose to do and why I do it.