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A positive mental health is wealth. We understand that it can be difficult to ask for help, but encourage you to take the first step as it make a huge difference in your life.

Covid-19 Resources

Staying mentally healthy during social isolation

By: Dr Aileen Alegado (Clinical Psychologist)

www.mindsetpsychology.com.au

We have been asked as a nation to participate in social isolation / distancing along with the rest of the world to help contain the spread of Covid-19. This brings up an unprecedented challenge for all of us in maintaining connections with others, loss of income, uncertainty and loss of freedom. These circumstances can normally trigger feelings of panic, fear, frustration, anxiety and depression.

Extra talking points: human contact = basic instinct. Solitary confinement for centuries has been a form of torture and punishment before. the fear is of “loneliness” not actually being alone.

Some interesting facts:

In todays’ hyperconnected society, solitude has become much more devalued than its ever been. Some of the worlds greatest thinkers and philosophers (<Moses, Emerson, Lao Tzu, woolf) champion solitude.

Here are some strategies you can do to maintain good mental health during this time: 

  1. Stay connected – keeping positive social connections are essential for our mental health as it helps us cope with stress. Use technology in a positive way and maintain communication through facetime, messages and phone calls to check in with friends + family. Use this isolation time to spend quality time with people in your household.
  • Avoid difficult situations – during a time when people are asked to self-isolate with others in their home, living with someone 24/7 provides little ME time that can create tensions conflict. Be mindful that this is not the time to hash out old grievances up but rather, identify things that you both enjoy or pick positive or neutral topics of conversations to discuss. Maintain your sense of fun and use humour to defuse tensions. Play cards, boardgames or charades! Remember to also create a roster of chores to keep each other busy but also respect each other’s space.
  • Structure your day – have a plan to restore some sense of normality in your day as weird as it may seem at first. Set appointments and schedule times when you will do a task eg. Check emails/ work, do laundry, lunch breaks and so on. Working from home as fun as it sounds can be very difficult if you lack discipline or structure and lead to you feeling unmotivated or unproductive if left unchecked. 
  • Dedicate a workspace – away from noise with adequate light and comfortable desk and chair
  • Change out of pajamas each morning – try to get ready for the day as if you would be going to the office. It psychologically helps put you in a working mindset rather than a day off mindset
  • Set a strict schedule – just as a much as you would be expected to be in meetings or complete tasks in a certain way, define your day’s tasks with regular breaks
  • Keep in touch – continue to communicate with colleagues or manager through emails, phone videoconferemcing to help keep you engaged and accountable. 
  • Do positive things with the solitude – research has shown the benefits of journaling. It helps you become more self aware  (inward reflection) and as you journal more, you will begin to develop an insight to patterns of  feelings or attitudes that influence your thoughts that lead to behaviors. Think of it as a superpower if you can improve how you run your life by understanding what you can control, turn chaos into ideas and putting a different spin on life ie. Positive self talk
  • Being present – The benefits of being more productive when we can be fully engaged in whats in front of us – being at home removes a lot of environmental factors that we otherwise might. Mindfulness leads to appreciation of the simple things in life and gratitude on a philosophical level that can help us review relationships, the world and life itself
  • Use this time to reset – improve on sleeping patterns, eating healthier food, reclaim time for physical health/ exercise. View this as a time for rest and recuperation. Also think about engaging your happy child – listen to music, learn an instrument, draw, sing, dance, take a long shower!

Final tip – take breaks from news media and ensure you have access to accurate and reliable up to date information. We are doing these strict protocols so we can return to life as we know it and we need to do our bit to help the vulnerable people of society. 

Seek additional support when needed. If you feel that the stress of self isolation is getting too much, a psychologist may be able to help. If you are referred by a GP you are eligible for medicare rebates and may also be eligible to receive psych services visa telehealth so you wont need to travel. Ask your psychologist of GP for details

Dr Aileen can be contacted on 02 91586433 or email: admin@mindsetpsyhology.com.au; www.mindsetpsychology.com.au

Healthy Business Mindset

They say “those who are crazy enough to think they can are the ones who do”, and they are pretty much right, because it all starts with a mindset. 

In business, a mindset can be the one thing keeps you going when you really just want to give up. A mindset can be your make or break it tool as well as your entire support system. That’s why having a positive and healthy mindset is your single greatest asset. 

Now more than ever, holding onto a positive outlook can be the most daunting feeling during these unprecedented times. Looking around us, we see fear in the media, panic on the shelves and a ghost town where the new norm is 1.5 metres apart. People are being confined to their homes, with no certainty to their future, resources or livelihood. Many are struggling – and it’s easy to understand why. But here’s the thing. We are literally, all in this together – which means we know exactly what we are going through with one another. This pandemic does not distinguish between race, gender or socioeconomic status. That means any one of us, at anytime can fall victim to our circumstance which is something that is largely out of our control. However, what is in our control is the way we perceive a situation and the way we subsequently handle it. As with integrity and strength of character, how we react to a novel stimulus says everything about us – and this applies to our mindset. The fact is, it’s much easier to be negative and criticise about what’s wrong in this world than it is to face reality with an open mind. There’s a seductiveness about falling victim and blaming others rather than diving inwards to reflect on our own actions. And that is what separates an active mindset from a passive one. You see, we all innately crave a sense of order during chaos. That sense of order gives us a feeling of power and freedom – the freedom to choose. Many of us will wait for order to be restored, others will pursue this freedom in the only way they know how. Not only is it healthier to grasp a sense of control over your life, your mindset will also determine if your business will succeed or fail during this testing period. 

So let’s talk business. 

Let’s talk about how your current mindset directly impacts your current business. Let’s talk about the fact that we can acknowledge what is happening to our economy, how times are changing and how we can adapt to it, accordingly. We can appreciate that both small and larger businesses across many industries are struggling right now; that is not a fact to deny. However, we can also tentatively begin to shift the way we perceive our losses at this moment. Take a look at the models that are thriving; there is a distinct pattern. Where the business does not engage basic survival needs, those that are still alive are those that are capable of adapting to the economy. The key word here is adaptation. Think chameleon, or jellyfish. Creatures like these survive some of the harshest conditions of nature and how? Because they know when to adapt to a situation. Whilst these might be biologically ingrained, our adaptation skills are heavily controlled by our mindset. We have to know when to adapt ourselves and our business models to the changing landscape in order to survive. This goes for everyone, both small and larger enterprises. It highlights that the size of the business is largely irrelevant to its existence if its leaders hold a fixed mindset. That is why many corporate giants have succumbed to their demise simply because they could not, or did not, choose to adapt. Yes, larger businesses often have more reserves to rely on during hardship, but smaller businesses have more flexibility in its leadership and decision making process. This means faster strategising, more efficient resolutions and a clearer vision to focus on the priorities of the business. An optimistic leader will take advantage of the conservative market to review and develop its profit model and implement innovative solutions to adapt to the economy. This may require sacrifice – and a lot of it – but whatever you do not change, you choose. 

Whilst we appreciate that having a positive mindset is easier said than done, having anything other than a positive mindset might not get anything done. So get creative and be resourceful. Think about what the world needs in a time like this and start adapting your business to thrive rather than simply, survive. 

It is normal to have a ‘bad day’. Everyone experiences periods of low mood and sadness in response to daily stress in life. Depressed mood can become a problem when there is a persistence and starts to affect your ability to cope or function in life. Depression is the condition that can occur suddenly or gradually and can vary in severity and symptoms.

Common symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Low mood, feeling flat or tearfulness
  • Loss of pleasure in activities
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of concentration and/ or poor memory
  • Indecisiveness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism or despair
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or shame
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans

If left untreated, Depression can cause significant effects on our health and wellbeing and negatively impact relationships, performance at work or school and enjoyment of life. Causes of Depression can involve many factors. Some of these include conflict, grief + loss, relationship issues/ conflict, traumas, personality styles, coping mechanisms and stress management, unresolved issues and resentments, low self esteem.

 

Relationships are fundamental to one’s psychological health and wellbeing. Research has shown that having satisfying relationships with a partner, family and friends are associated with increased levels of happiness and lower risks for mental health and physical illness.

 It is not surprising that relationship related concerns are one of the most common reasons for seeing a psychologist. The types of relationships issues people may seek help in treatment include:

  • Social isolation or loneliness
  • Difficulties and conflict in relationships across different areas of life – work (bosses/ colleagues), family and friends.
  • Poor communication
  • Insecure Attachment style (jealousy, commitment issues, clinginess, trust issues,
  • Sabotaging behaviours in relationship (infidelity,
  • Dating Anxiety
  • Fractured relationships marked by intense idealisation and devaluation
  • Lack of boundaries (enmeshment or people pleasing)
  • Repeating patterns in relationships (toxic friendships, break-ups, disconnection)

Relationship counselling involves identifying key issues relating to your attachment style and personality factors that contribute to the difficulties. Learning practical tools that relate to improving interpersonal skills, self awareness, communication, emotional intelligence are central to treatment. The goal is to develop healthier responses to dealing with conflict and also creating more satisfying relationships.

The most obvious loss or grief relate to a death of a loved one (bereavement). There are other losses can bring about feelings of loss and grief (financial and career losses, opportunities, ‘future’ dreams and hopes, relationships, health and vitality, independence and things in life not turning out the way we expected). Grief is universal response to loss but its intensity can vary depending on the degree of importance and attachment to the loss. It is important to note that not everyone grieves in the same way.

In the worst cases, there are individuals who suffer more severe grief, which can last up to months. This form of grief can pave the way to isolation, loneliness and depression.

Grief Therapy focusses validating feelings while working through ‘stages’ and ‘tasks’ that support you in processing the loss in a healthy manner.

Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression is a mood disorder which describes episodes of extreme high (called hypomania) and low (called depressive) moods.  Bipolar Disorder occurs in approximately 1% of the population (1in 100) will require hospital care. This illness affects men and women equally and typically begin in their early to late 20s.

People with this condition would describe mood swings whereby the ‘high’ is experienced as being extremely euphoric or elated and low as being extremely sad and depressed. These episodes range from mild to severe and affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves. A depressive episode mimic a depressive symptomatology. In contrast,  a hypomanic episode can manifest in feeling over-confident, pressured speech, racing thoughts, reduced need for sleep, increased productivity, impulsivity, recklessness.

Treatment involves education about the disorder and learning about mood changes. Self regulation and emotional regulation

  • Learning to monitor mood and sleep to help predict mood changes
  • Learning to identify and respond to early warning signs of mood changes
  • Identifying activities that give a sense of pleasure or achievement, and working to include these in regular routines
  • Learning to break down overwhelming tasks into manageable steps
  • Cognitive therapy (identifying, challenging and replacing unhelpful thoughts)
  • Learning how to actively cope with problems.

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

Every person has a different journey through therapy. Each appointment is approximately 50–60 minutes long but the number of sessions required for every individual varies and is largely dependent on the nature of the goals and issues outlined in the initial consultation. On average, people attend between six and ten sessions for a short-term or brief intervention. We provide regular reviews and feedback to keep you involved in the treatment process.

Some people work with a psychologist to develop coping strategies to reduce or manage symptoms of mental illness. This type of work can be short to medium-term, but may also require less frequent check-ups over a longer period of time to deal with any setbacks and prevent relapse.

Others engage in therapy to understand long-standing patterns of behaviour or thinking that may stem from childhood experiences, or to receive ongoing support. While this type of work typically occurs over an extended period of time, again, this is dependent on client preferences.

For others however, therapy may simply be something they engage with on a one off basis or for a small handful of sessions to deal with a specific issue or chat through a particular concern. Although a specific problem or challenge is typically what brings people to a psychologist – at least initially – therapy can be a wonderful space for ongoing growth and self-development.

No. Most people will experience stress and struggle at some point in their life, simply due to the daily demands of living. Psychologists can help with supporting you and also build better coping mechanisms in order to deal with any stress or issues you’re faced with moving forward.

At Mindset Consulting, we believe therapy is an investment towards a better life. Most services are eligible for a rebate under major health funds or Medicare. If you do not have any health subsidy entitlements, please get in touch to discuss short-term therapy options. Our solutions-focused approach to treatment means that you can still benefit during times of crisis where we provide immediate support to help you better deal with any issues you may be facing.

Every practice is different but here is a brief overview of how we tend to work at Mindset Consulting:
At the beginning of your first session, your psychologist will run through any important paperwork with you, including a consent form that covers issues such as confidentiality and fees. If you have been referred by a GP or psychiatrist, we will also discuss the details of your Mental Health Treatment Plan at this stage. The remainder of the session is spent discussing the issues that have brought you to therapy. As well as developing a thorough understanding of your concerns, your psychologist will also explore relevant details in regards to your family history, social relationships, work situation and any past counselling you may have done. This information helps to form a better understanding of what may be triggering for you and allows for deeper, more collaborative work in future therapy sessions.

Psychologists are health professionals who work in a range of areas including clinical, health, neuropsychology, sports, forensic, organisational and community settings. To become a fully registered psychologist you must undertake an undergraduate degree, an Honours degree and complete at least two years of supervised training and further education in the field of psychology – either a Masters or Doctorate degree. Psychologists assist people with everyday concerns such as stress and relationship difficulties, as well as mental health issues. Psychologists use ‘talk therapies’ to support people and help them develop the necessary coping strategies they need to prevent ongoing issues. There are a large number of research studies supporting the effectiveness of psychological therapy.

Psychiatrists, on the other hand, have completed a medical degree and done further training and study related to the medical diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists specialise in the medical treatment of mental illness and are able to prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists also combine therapy with medication.

Counsellors can come from a broad range of backgrounds with various levels of training. Currently in Australia, the term ‘counsellor’ is not protected. This means that anyone can refer to themselves as a counsellor. Having said this however, many counsellors have undertaken training and formal education – ranging from a Diploma to a Masters degree.

If you have a referral from a GP or psychiatrist for a Mental Health Treatment Plan, you will be eligible to receive a Medicare rebate of $124.50 when seeing a clinical psychologist, for up to 10 sessions per calendar year.

Some private health insurance plans include psychological counselling as an extra. To find out if you are eligible for a partial rebate, we recommend getting in touch with your insurance provider for more information.

You will need to make an appointment with your GP who will assess whether you are eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan. In order to claim the Medicare rebate, you will need to bring a copy of your Mental Health Treatment Plan to your first appointment.

No. While you do not need a referral to make an appointment, if you decide to go ahead without referral from your GP or a psychiatrist, you are required to pay the full fee for each session out of your own pocket.

All the information that you disclose within a session is confidential. There are only two exceptions to this rule: firstly, if you are at risk of harm to yourself or someone else; and secondly, if your sessions are subject to court orders. In either instance, your psychologist will discuss these scenarios with you.

Free resources

If you are in search of support, there are a number of free resources available in Australia where you can seek out additional help: