Are you struggling to keep it all together? We are going to be living with the impact of COVID-19 in one form or another for the foreseeable future. Coping with anxiety, psychological distress caused by COVID-19 is significant challenge. And then there are the more practical challenges, like trying to keep work and home separate. Are you working out of your bedroom, or your living room, or side by side with your children at the kitchen table? Creating work-life boundaries is a key to preventing burnout, but how on earth do you keep your work and home separate in the middle of pandemic?
At the start of the first lockdown last year caused by COVID19 pandemic, I decided to switch permanently to working with clients online. Like many of your, since then I've found myself at home, with my children, a lot. On top of managing work, there's also managing changing conditions of children's education, and everybody's mental and physical health.
I threw myself into work as a coping mechanism. Part of this was not knowing when the lockdown was going to end and making the best of not being able to do much else. However, this was not the healthiest option; hello COVID kilos and my mind going stale. Something had to shift. Now my priorities are a little different. I rely on four key strategies: acceptance, taking control, leaning into mindfulness, and active self-care. I use the flexibility of work-life boundaries to better balance work and everything else. Because life is still there, it just looks a little different.
BOUNDARIES ARE A STATE OF MIND
Boundaries have always been a state of mind. At work you have environmental cues and barriers such as an office, a time clock, and a meeting room. However, there is more to boundaries than walls and a clock.
Seepage of stress between home and life is not just about bringing work home, being on call or checking work mails after hours. For working mums in particular, it’s always been about compartmentalising thoughts, and perhaps the guilt that often comes with not being able to do two roles (mother and worker) at the same time.
Home thoughts at work may include: What am I making for dinner? How is Chelsea going on childcare, I hated to leave her crying? How do I let my boss know I have an appointment next Wednesday? Do we have enough money to pay the bills? Or ruminating on an argument with your partner, a personal medical problem, or daydreaming about your holiday.
At home it’s wondering when you are going to be able to finish a report. Thinking about whether you should change jobs, or why you weren’t invited out to lunch with your peers.
FOUR KEYS TO KEEPING YOUR COOL WHEN WORKING AT HOME DURING A PANDEMIC
Although creating work-life boundaries is important to prevent burnout, work and life have never fitted into neat little exclusive packages. Managing the extent and intrusion of thoughts from one role to another is the key. This involves a level of awareness, self-compassion and task attention. The myth of multi-tasking has been well and truly busted. Productivity comes from concentrating on one important thing at a time.
The keys to maintain work-life boundaries when working at home in a pandemic is accepting your situation, controlling what you can, practicing mindfulness, and active self-care.
1. ACCEPT YOUR SITUATION
Accept that it is generally impossible to ideally separate work from life in these current circumstances.
2. CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN
Control what you can and can't control.
Just because you can be flexible with your time does NOT mean you need to be available all hours of the day.
3. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Cultivate a mindfulness mindset
4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
When you aren’t physically seeing colleagues, going into work, chatting to your train buddies or engaging in many of the incidental contact we take for granted, intentional connection is necessary.
Working from home was sold as the dream. Flexibility, working in your pyjamas, being able to go out for coffee. A dream. However, the reality of working from home, in a pandemic, during lockdown is no-one’s idea of a dream. Maintaining a distinction from work and life is hard, particularly when you don’t have a she shed and your children are remote learning.
Accepting your situation, controlling what you can, practicing mindfulness and engaging in active self-care, are keys to maintaining your work-life boundaries .
Doing all these things is not going to magically change working from home back into a dream, but it can make working from home during a pandemic less stressful.
What are some of your best working from home tips?
Thank you for reading. If you have found this article useful, please share with someone who it might help.
Until next time, take care of yourself.
Kim Ross (Dunn)
Psychologist | Fierce Self-Care Advocate.
ps if you need some fierce self-care? Join our Mindful Wellbeing Community and get helpful tips and support direct to your inbox.
Are you struggling with keeping your work and home life separate and preventing burnout? I share my top 9 strategies to help you create strong workplace boundaries to help maximise work-life balance and prevent burnout.
You face numerous stressors as a psychologist. These include administration overload, isolation, compassion fatigue, Imposter Syndrome, dealing with grey ethical issues and workplace bullying. However, you can minimise the risk of burnout and create a sustainable, thriving career using an intentional self-care approach. One powerful self-care strategy is having clear work-life boundaries. Staying in control of your work-life balance and protecting your time, energy and values is an ongoing process. The following strategies can help you create boundaries to maximise your work-life effectiveness and prevent occupational burnout.
9 STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU CONFIDENTLY CREATE YOUR WORK-LIFE BOUNDARIES
Strengthening work-life boundaries requires you to take a mindful approach. The 9 strategies below challenge you to examine your current situation and take practical steps. Let's get started.
1. Identify what matters most to you
Finding the confidence to set and protect your boundaries is difficult, particularly for early career psychologists. Certain boundaries in a work setting are clear. These include legal, professional and some ethical boundaries. Other boundaries are more flexible and negotiable. Where you choose to place these boundaries is influenced by your needs, beliefs, resources, and intentions
After you consider legal and ethical requirements that come with being a psychologist, it’s time to consider your values. As a professional you have many decisions, including who you work with, what you charge, when you work, what modality you use, what resources you buy, how you want to work.
If you’re not clear about your boundaries, spending time reflecting on your value is an important step.
2. Identify recurring stressors
Make time for regular reflection and bring awareness to your current work situation.
How do you feel when you:
The above are some potential areas of recurring stressors that contribute to workplace burnout AND opportunities or threats to your boundaries. Identifying recurring stressors are a good place to stop and think about your boundaries.
Too much incongruence between your values and those of your workplace will create a situation where your boundaries feel under constant attack.
3. Clarify role expectations
It’s clear from my conversations with other psychologists that role expectations vary, often dramatically, between workplaces. And the lines between being a subcontractor or employee can be blurred. One clinician stated that at "My other clinic I feel confused by, in terms of am I an employee or a contractor. It feels quite grey, rather than black and white, which leaves me at times confused as to accountability and responsibility and who is managing the risk".
Legal advice on whether you are an employee or a subcontractor is recommended. And then this helps the next step, of fully clarifying your contract details. Read your contract and position description. Write down your interpretation of what the contract means. Check your interpretation with your employers understanding. Work through ambiguities. If you are employed, check it with any relevant legislation including workspace, and think about asking a lawyer to check through it as well.
Areas to ensure you understand include who is responsible for areas such as
Outside of work, do people in your life understand what you do?
My other clinic I feel confused by, in terms of am I an employee or a contractor. It feels quite grey, rather than black and white, which leaves me at times confused as to accountability and responsibility and who is managing the risk".
4. Set realistic expectations of your time and energy
Remember that drive to impress when starting out? The need to do more to quiet you inner Imposter Syndrome? It’s not sustainable. Do you want to be working these hours, taking on these responsibilities in two years’ time? If you don’t, stop setting up unsustainable expectations.
Whilst flexible boundaries are important in helping you adjust to the changing demands that are part of managing the ebb and flow that is work-life balance, there comes a tipping point. This occurs when your mindful decision to do more, to bring work home, to talk about work at home, becomes less of a choice and more of a reflection of a loss of control about keeping work-life separate. This seepage is an indicator that you are slipping towards overwhelm and burnout.
Think about your current individual situation.
The digital time black hole
The time spent reading, organising and responding to emails is estimated to take hours each day It is a big productivity drain. If you want to check for yourself you can track your time and see for yourself how much time and energy you take with this task.
Digital time drains include engaging in tasks such as responding to emails / phones and texts from your workplace and/or clients outside of hours.
If the digital world is overwhelming, a regular digital declutter can help.
5. Make Imposter Syndrome your best business buddy
The imposter is that pesky voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough, you don’t know enough, you can’t do that, even when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary
When that pesky voice is driving you to do more, to be more, this has a direct impact on your time and energy levels. It can mean putting your hand up to do things that aren’t your responsibility to prove something to yourself and others. It can mean putting in extra hours so you know just what to say and do in the next session with a particular client.
You can flip this though. When Imposter Syndrome is reframed to be the quiet voice of questioning and curiosity it can be your best business buddy.
Sit down and listen to it and let it guide you into doing a reality check.
As a bonus, the Imposter Syndrome can help test out the congruence of your workplace setting as well as strengthen your interpersonal boundaries. Identifying people you trust can result in lowering your boundaries in some areas and lifting them in others.
6. Own your diary
You are a limited resource. No matter how hard you work, there is still only 24 hours in a day.
Use your diary as a tool. Mark in your self-care time, and any other time that is important to you. Mark in your holidays. Don't let admin fill your diary out until the end of the year without breaks. Do that client audit and work out how many client hours you are doing a week. Is this sustainable? During times of crisis many psychologists report a need to ‘step up’ and do more for their community. Whilst this may be sustainable in the short term, it can create a chronic lack of control over work-life imbalance leading into burnout.
Whilst flexible boundaries are important in helping you manage the changing demands that are part of the ebb and flow of work-life balance, there comes a tipping point
7. Have clear work policies and procedures
Your work setting will have these policies and procedures. Official policies include, but are not limited to, missed appointments, working with separated parents, social media, how you communicate with clients etc. However, there are likely to be gaps. And if you are a solo psychologist, you will be creating your own policies and procedures.
Create your policies to not only include necessary legal, professional and ethical obligations, but to also prioritise your self-care. Think about:
Even though you are only one person, having established policies helps you create and maintain work-lifeboundaries. They add clarity for both you and your clients and help you avoid the stress of making decision making on the run). *As a note - people do sell their policies. They take time to develop and it is rude to ask people to share them for free.
8. Establish a work-life transition process
Having a mindful routine that helps delineate work from home is helpful in letting your mind know that work is done for the day. Being able to rest from work demands is essential in maintaining control of your work-life balance. Some strategies include:
Do you have a favourite transition strategy?
9. The five allies you need to defend your boundaries
After you have set boundaries congruent with your values and designed to honour your time, energy and what matters to you, it’s then up to you to defend them.
Broken boundaries can be subtle. Although the impact of stress is often cumulative it can take one thing to make you realise that you have lost that sense of control you once had over your work and home life, leading to exhaustion, resentment and burnout. Many factors go into why your boundaries become porous, why you say 'Yes' instead of 'No'. Interfering factors include Imposter Syndrome, compassion (and lack of self-compassion), overt and covert pressure, workplace culture, financial considerations, lack of clear policy and procedures, guilt, and an inability to prioritise self-care.
Your five best allies in defending your boundaries are:
Maintaining control of your work-life boundaries to avoid slipping into overwhelm and burnout takes effort. It means getting intentional about your self-care. The encroaching of work demands into your personal time, energy and what you hold important ranges from very clear breaching through activities such as workplace bullying and exploitation, to more insidious and subtle practices. Without a preventative and proactive self-care approach you are placing yourself at risk. Creating clear boundaries is one of the key self-care strategies. Use the questions and reflections in this article as a guide to help you prevent occupational burnout and improve work-life harmony.
OVER TO YOU
I’d love to hear your experience of work boundaries and burnout. Is it the digital time suck, the weight of Imposter Syndrome, or the exhaustion of trying to work out the essential from the non essential administration tasks? Or something else?
If you found this article useful please share.
If you want me on your side as you honour your own needs, so you can turn up as your best self for your clients without sacrificing your home life, I'd love to help. .
Until next time, take care of yourself
On Saturday afternoon I sat down to watch the North Melbourne versus Brisbane Lions AFL game. As I like to do I wanted to follow SuperCoach* scores on a particular website.
SuperCoach* is a competition where you are given $10,000,000 at the start of the AFL season and choose a team of players who you think are going to play well. Each player is allocated a price, so picking your team is about choosing a balance of great players, good players and the unknown. You are allocated into a league where you compete against others on a head to head basis to win (based on how well your players score). I like playing it during the season, riding the ups and downs and generally berating myself for making poor choices. It’s a constant exercise in frustration tolerance and self-forgiveness.
Back to Saturday afternoon. Whilst the game was on I was keeping an eye on how my SuperCoach team was going. The website I was following was being very glitchy, and I was becoming quite frustrated as the scores on the website for the players were not matching. I also could see that some of the players in the team were not showing up on the website, despite numerous attempts at reloading the website.
Despite this it was a great game.
Toward the end of the game (about two hours later) my son came in from his man cave. He sat down, looked at the game, looked at me and said Mum, you realise this game is a replay. He then pointed out how some of the players were now playing for other teams, one was suspended and not playing in the real life game that I was actually not watching.
The penny dropped.
It wasn’t the website that was wrong.
It was all me.
I had been lulled into the fact that it should have been a live game, because the replay had the live label up in the corner. They were the right teams playing, it’s just the game was about three years old.
I was not mindfully watching. I was watching for interest in the game, but they are not teams I usually follow. Now admittedly I was also reading and doing a couple of other things at the same time as watching the football, but how did I get it so wrong?
I saw what I thought I was seeing.
I looked at the live label, looked at the teams that were playing and thought I ‘should’ be watching the game. I am currently watching games on the Kayo App which for various reasons I found sometimes difficult to navigate, and thought I had pressed on the button for the current game.
So, in my mind I was watching the right game, and everything else went through that lens.
The fact that the website figures didn’t match the game, the fact that the website didn’t have all my players on it (because they weren’t actually playing!). This evidence was dismissed because it didn’t match my currently held belief – that I was watching a live game.
If I had tuned my attention fully I would have realised what was going on.
If I had actually tuned into my common sense I would have realised what was going on.
If my mind had been clearer and not full of everything else I was thinking of. Because I rarely sit for two hours and watch a game of football – it is interspersed with other tasks.
When it was pointed out to me, it was so obvious.
Isn’t this the way with so much.
You see what you expect to see, what you want to see and dismiss evidence to the contrary. In fact you gather evidence (consciously and subconsciously) to support your own belief. This is also known as confirmation bias. In my case, it was that the website had been glitchy and couldn’t be trusted.
The power of the mind to convince us of things that just aren’t true!
Ok, don’t leave me hanging here.
I know I’m not the only one that does things like this. We all do it. When was the last time you fiercely gathered evidence to prove you were right, when you were actually wrong?
What to do about it?
Situations like this are a great reminder of the importance of living mindfully. To be aware of incongruences and to take the time to explore. They are also a reminder that perhaps it’s time to focus cognitive self-care and nourish your brain.
Slowing down a little, taking the time to actively look for a different perspective, realising when your brain is stuck, allowing that other possibilities exist, are all important for your brain health. (If I'd taken the time to go through some basic problem solving steps, I’m sure the brainstorming part would have thrown up the option that I was watching the wrong game.)
As is realising your humanity and be able to laugh at the silly things you do from time to time. I had a great laugh at my own expense as I realised what I had done, rather than add to any stress by beating myself up for being so stupid.
Ways to Love your Mind
You can tune in this week to the Creating Connection podcast where I will be talking about Loving your Mind, and in particular problem solving. But in the meantime you can catch up with my most popular episode this year – 9 keys to successful habit creation.
Until next time, take care of yourself.
Are you loving and thriving in your work as a psychologist at the moment? Or are you struggling and feel like you're moving through quicksand? Or maybe somewhere in between?
Wherever you are, that's OK.
I know that prioritising yourself, making hard decisions around self-care, saying NO is still hard as a psychologist, particularly in a time where we are seeing a continuing increase in demand for mental health services as people struggle with the ongoing impact of COVID19. You want to be of service, and of course you need clients and you need to work.
However, you also need a sustainable business. Squeezing in an occasional extra client or going without a lunch break once in a blue moon happens for many reasons. However, doing this on a regular basis starts to add up.
Without appropriate counterbalances, work overload often catches up with people in the end. And in the end, there is burnout.. The overwhelming exhaustion, cynicism and poor productivity impacts on you, your clients and the profession.
You can come back from this, people do, but recovery time is not measured in days or week, it is sometimes measured in years. Depending on the source of burnout, it can be exhibited in leaving employment, career change, early retirement, retraining, and/or withdrawal from direct client services.
When you look at it like this, do you really not have enough time for self-care?
But I don’t have time for self-care
Ever gave an excuse for not doing something as "I ran out of time", or variations. "I didn't have enough time"?
Stop for a moment and Imagine that the thing you didn’t have time for was your most favourite thing to do in the whole wide world. Would you have had time to do it?
I’m guessing that most of the time you are going to say ‘yes’ or ‘probably’.
So, it's not the time involved in self-care that is the real barrier.
Here are four real reasons why you say you don’t have enough time.
1. Your current values and priorities don’t allow this task to fit. Life can become full of anything you choose. Work, study, children, children’s activities, gym, coffee dates, meetings, etc etc. There is no shortage of things you can do.
Hard question alert.
Q: Is what you are currently doing congruent with what is most important to you?
2. Distorted thinking. What about if I do this thing and it doesn’t work out? What if I spend my limited time and resources on …… and it still doesn't make a difference. I’m not sure what I’m doing and I don’t want to look stupid. I should already know how to look after myself.
3. The words have become an easy way out.
In a world where being busy is seen to be a badge of honour, “I’m just too busy. I don’t have enough time” has become a default. It’s easier than saying ”I know I should do that, but I actually don’t want to/it’s too hard for me at the moment/I don’t like it/I’m ignoring all things people at the moment/etc”
How about trying to be super honest (at least with yourself) about what you really want to say.
Here are some alternatives
4. You don’t love yourself enough.
This can be hard to hear.
Whether it is because you are putting your needs last out of habit, or, you genuinely believe you are not as deserving as others.
If you find yourself saying, Oh, I don't have time to sit and meditate for five minutes, I'll just take 10 minutes for lunch time because I have a report to write, I don't have time to prepare a healthy meal. I don't have time to go for a walk. I don't have time to journal. I don't have time to X, whatever it is. If these are common responses to decisions you are making, firstly look at the three points above, but then look at what you are saying about your relationship with yourself.
You are worth it. Okay. You need it. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your family. You owe it to your clients.
What you can do about reducing your busyness.
You ARE a limited resource. No matter how hard you work, there is still only 24 hours in a day.
Shifting your boundary fences to extend your clinic hours, adding on a new extra- curricular activity for your child, taking on extra clients, volunteering, pushing through…..can be a slippery slope to burnout.
I've been there, I've said yes to doing more and more because my clients needed it. When what I needed was to say NO and spend more time with my young family.
Another hard question alert
Q: What do you need to say NO to?
I know it's not quite that simple, many factors go into why you say 'Yes' instead of 'No', including
(In the Essential Self-Care for Psychologists course, the module on boundaries is definitely my favourite one - wish I'd understood all this when I first graduated).
When you check what is behind the statement of “I don't have enough time”, you get to restart your life. It's a really good trigger to set off in your brain that things just aren't the way you want them to be.
You HAVE to look at your priorities and values.
And if you don't, if you just keep saying it and not change anything, nothing's going to change.
You might find that you start to feel resentful and neglected. As the demands pile on and you are not taking care of yourself, you may start to hate your life, crave for things that just aren't there. Burnout may start to creep up on you.
So, take “I don't have enough time” as your cue to dig deeper, examine your beliefs, your priorities, to engage in honest communication, and to work on removing those barriers that stand between you and your self-care.
Be kind, and go gently.
What to know if you are experiencing burnout? Go here.
Interested in finding out more about Imposter Syndrome? You can access a paid webinar here.
I had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccination yesterday.
I understand why some people will not be vaccinated and for others why it’s such a difficult decision to make.
Reading social media, or even print media, you could be excused that it’s as simple as taking sides. Vaccinations are good, vaccinations are bad.
But life is never really as simple as we would like it to be.
When my first child was due to have their vaccinations as a baby I seriously did not know what to do. Although the vaccinations they were having were well established, there was a small risk associated with them. There were also very loud voices of anti-vaxxers, particularly with regard to the believe that Autism was related to having vaccines.
Your brain is designed to keep you alive, to protect you from danger. When there is a threat, or a perceived threat, your mind evaluates the threat and if deemed necessary it switches to a stress response – usually described as fight, flight or freeze.
Being an anxious first time mum, my brain went into evaluation stage. I read everything I could, spoke to all the experts I knew and made a decision. I went ahead with the vaccinations, but spaced the viral load out. I split the vaccines instead of having my children receive them all at once.
Currently, most of us can recite what threats having a COVID-19 vaccination poses. For me with the AstraZeneca it is dying from a clot. And even though the scientific evidence states that the risk is something like 1 in 800,000 (less than the contraceptive pill, and I survived being on that) the side of my brain that wants to keep me safe says”
Because you cannot deny that this vaccination is something new. It feels rushed. Because no other vaccine has undergone so much public scrutiny you read about all the problems that have occurred in clinical trials.
All of these factors combine to create fear and doubt.
Governments and science get it wrong, frequently.
For me, the decision to have a vaccination is based on protecting others around me the best I can.
Being over 50 the AstraZeneca was the vaccination that I was booked in for.
Having had it, I still would have preferred to have the Pfizer vaccination which has less known side effects. Side effects can appear between day 4-20, so my kind, anxious brain will be watching me like a hawk for the next three weeks.
In America one in 600 people have died from COVID-19.
We have been relative fortunate in Australia, but we don’t know what the next variation will bring. And if possible I do not want to contribute to passing this disease to my children, my family and friends or my clients.
So, I rolled the dice and rolled up my sleeve.
Let’s see what happens next.
I have a question for you.
"How are you feeling right now?"
Many people have no idea, or provide an automatic response like, "I'm feeling good, I'm fine."
If you have difficulties with knowing how you feel, you are not alone.
There are many reasons why you may not be able to easily identify what you are feeling - including the fact that many people who ask you how you are feeling, don't really care! It's just a societal nicety to get out of the way.
But knowing how you are feeling IS important.
Combined with knowing what you are thinking and identifying what your body is experiencing, it's one of the key ways you make sense of the world around you. This awareness is a part of living a more mindful life and taking responsibility for your overall self-care.
Below are five habits or behaviours that might be getting in the way for you understanding what you are feeling. Note, I do not discuss trauma in this article, or anxiety and other mental health conditions that can cause difficulties in accessing emotions. The five habits discussed are behaviours and habits that everyone can fall into with realising it.
5 feelings habits or behaviours
The first is DISTRACTION. There are so many things that distract us and take us out of ourselves on a day-to-day basis, not the least being, the 24 hour digital world we live in. Whether it be social media, watching YouTube videos, Netflix or Foxtel, there's so much you can tune into any second of the day and never have to be alone with yourself, your thoughts and your feelings. Distraction is a huge blockage that can get in the way of knowing how you really feel.
Did you know that the statistics around how often people pick up their phone is amazing. It’s about once every five or 10 minutes. And the number of people who, the first thing they do in the morning is not check in with themselves, but check in with what random people are doing on Facebook or Instagram. Hands up if you can relate to either of these things. I know I definitely get hooked into this from time to time.
The next three obstacles I’m grouping together and calling them REASONS. This covers justification, blame and shame. In these situations you can identify what you are feeling but you are stepping into your logical mind instead of allowing yourself the experience.
In JUSTIFICATION you are explaining your feelings. For example. “Oh, I'm feeling pretty tired, but I didn't sleep real well. And you know, maybe if I've gone to bed early or I wouldn't feel quite so tired” or “I'm feeling okay today, but you know, I had time to myself and I was able to go for a walk and unlike other days where I don't get that sort of time”.
BLAME is when you are attributing your feelings to what someone else did. For example, “I'm feeling really angry and it's your fault because you cut me off” or “it's your fault because you didn't do the dishes”. “I'm feeling really frustrated because they didn't ring me when they were supposed to”. So your emotion is all about what someone else did to you.
I'm not saying some of these things didn't happen and some of them might not have contributed to your frustration or your anger or your happiness or whatever you're feeling. However, allowing yourself to go down this train of thought is taking you away from what you are feeling right now and interfering with your ability to experience that emotion fully.
The next reasoning obstacle is SHAME.
Journaling can help you find and connect with your authentic self.
Have you ever felt lost?
Like me, have you felt that somewhere along the way you took a wrong turn, veered of the path, or just became bamboozled with what life threw at you?
It can feel like a battle to create your own space in a world that is often driven by consumerism, material success and 'progress'.
However, there is a growing movement of people who know that tapping into personal and universal energy can create a sense of oneness and wholeness that transcends the artificial.
Welcome to my corner of the world, where you can find practical ways to claim your own space.
And you don’t have to claim this space in a huge way with lots of trumpets blaring.
Confidence can be found in the quiet determination and focus actively connect with and pursue what is important to you, erect your boundaries and live your calm.
When you actively move to discover what is most important to you and live a life of integrity and authenticity, you become part of the movement that is aiming to heal the world.
Now, that’s exciting.
There are many ways to actively connect and pursue what is important to you. Counselling, coaching, manifesting, prayer, meditation, visualisation, goal setting, intention setting, to name a few.
One way of reconnecting with your authentic self is through writing, or journaling. If you have never tried tapping into the thoughts and emotions inside you in this way, I encourage you to give it a go.
However, many people find there is a slight problem with this.
Maybe you have experienced putting aside the time, sitting down to write....and then
....your mind goes blank.
You know that your mind isn't actually blank. In fact you have 10's of 1,000s of thoughts each day.
What is probably stopping you is not getting it right.
Maybe you're worried about your spelling, or handwriting. Maybe you think that what you have to say is not important. Maybe when you were at school you were criticised for your writing.
I encourage you to write whatever comes into your mind. Even if it is 'I can't think of anything to write', or your shopping list, what you dreamt last night, your school memories, what you would do if you won tattslotto, Set yourself a timer of 5 minutes and keep writing until it comes off.
The most important thing when you first start is to create the habit of writing.
To help you get started, I have created a 14 day Self-Connection journal, specifically to kickstart your journaling process.
Your 14 day Self-Connection journal contains a carefully selected quote and complementary prompt for each day.
You can find out more about it here https://positiveyoungminds.vipmembervault.com/.../view/9.
Do you feel the weight of expectations at Christmas? if you do, you are not alone!
This week I share 18 gift tips that can help with that weight, and my Creating Connections that Matter podcast provides some practical strategies to help you choose how you want to do Christmas this year (albiet within appropriate COVID guidelines.
18 GIFT TIPS
🌟 It is experiences that contribute to our happiness. Not stuff! Here are 18 tips for reducing the stress around buying gifts at Christmas.
🌟The simplest way of making gifts easier is to reduce the number of gifts you buy, and the number of people you give gifts too.
Tips just for kids
A Kris Kringle is when each person buys a gift for just one person in a group, hence reducing excess and cost. There are many variations. Names can be drawn and allocated (Secret Santa) or it can be pot luck – everyone brings a gift. If it is pot luck , here are three variations of how to distribute the gifts.
Of course, gifts are not the only potential stress at Christmas, maybe the Christmas Tree presents a dilemma for you. I've got that covered as well - with Three Tips to Reduce Christmas Decoration Stress.
CHRISTMAS NEW YEAR HOURS
This year I am having a break from the 18th December to the 11th January. I encourage you, if you haven't already, to book your appointments prior to Christmas here. There are still places available.
If you haven't already visited - this is the Creating Calm, Connection and Confidence Hub. There are a number of free, or very low cost resources here.
Each year leading up to Christmas when we ask ourselves what we want for Christmas, I find is an inspiring time to actually look at what I have. We know that if you are looking to increase the happiness in your life that putting time and energy into experiences rather than things is the way to go.
However, things have a way of accumulating. Whether you have bought them with good intentions or whether they have come to you as gifts or through other means. And before you know it even things you love can just become part of ‘stuff everywhere’!
Sitting back and looking at your stuff can be a great way of reconnecting with what is important to you. By curating your stuff you can creating an environment that supports your current stage of life, your current interests and is uplifting.
Let’s start by looking at books.
Growing up we had a set of World Book encyclopedias. I loved them. You could open up at any page and learn something new about the world. Looking at them gave me a sense of wonder and thirst for knowledge. I probably loved my fantasy books (Enid Blyton anyone?) where I went into worlds where anything and everything was possible.
It’s the promise contained in books that I love.
As I grew older my relationship with books became a bit more complicated. Books I had to read – school novels, reference books. Books I thought I should read – parenting books, self-help books. And instead of being always about pleasure books also became a mirror reminding me of things I didn’t understand, couldn’t learn or highlighted my inadequacies.
Do you love all your books? Do you smile when you see them, refer to them regularly and rejoice in their wisdom?
Are their books on your bookshelf that taunt you with reminders about your failures? Cookbooks full of recipes you haven’t tried. Self-help books with exercises you haven’t completed. Novels you haven’t read. Parenting books that seem to mock you. Reference books you don’t use (or are way out of date).
Why are you holding on to them?
Marie Kondo speaks of holding things to see if they spark joy. And it’s an exercise I do every so often.
You take the books down from the shelves and hold each one. How does it feel? Do you feel inspired when you hold it? Or do you notice creeping thoughts such as I ‘should’ read that, followed by a sigh or accompanied by a self chastising ‘well that was a waste of money’.
(If you have electronic books that you’ve downloaded, although you can’t hold them you can look at the titles and notice what thoughts and feelings arise.)
From here you have two choices.
If you feel inspired, warm, joyful when you pick up the book - make the recipes, do the exercises, read the novels. Reconnect with the reason why that book is on your shelf in the first place.
If you feel nothing, or the weight of the ‘shoulds’, move the book on. Acknowledge your intentions when you bought the book. Thank the book for the hope it inspired, acknowledge and release any guilt or disappointment in yourself. Depending on the book you could donate them, give them to friends etc. Notice how you feel when you do this.
As you remove the stuff (and fluff) from your life that no longer matters, you make space for reconnecting to what is really important to you.
If you do this I would love to know what you discover. You can email me at email@example.com.
As students are going back to school, some of the are running there and not looking back. Others are refusing to go back, and others are going back but struggling to get through the day.
Wherever your child fits into the picture, they are facing change.
Changes to school structure - including drop off and pick up procedures, hygiene practices and how they interact with their friends.
Changes from having you around more often to not seeing you during most of the day.
Changes from leisurely getting out of bed, to having to be out the door by a certain time.
Changes from perhaps only to do focused work for a short period of time and then having fun/computer time, to back to being highly regulated in their activities.
And change, as you know, can be difficult and worrying.
One of the best ways you can help them manage this change is through providing some individual quiet time, particularly if they are used to having your attention during the day whilst remote learning.
For some questions to help with conversation and some recommendations to help with calming them after school click here.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.