What’s the longest you have every waited for anything?
Do you remember the first concert you ever attended? I think my first was Australian Crawl, my favourite was U2 at Festival Hall (I think), before they started touring stadiums, which my best girlfriend took me to for my birthday. (We had great seats and it was a magic night. It was amazing.)
Recently one of my children has just attended their first ever music concert. The tickets to see The Kid Laroi were purchased about six months ago. My child has been counting down the weeks, the days and then the hours. I’ve been listening to The Kid Laroi in the car for at least that long.
They were dropped in the city to meet with friends around 5pm, lined up to get into the arena, purchased some merchandise, sat through two support acts, posted lead up photos in a private discord chat (so I didn’t see any, because I’m the mum), sat through a sound check by the act themselves and saw the clock hit start time – 9pm.
And then at 9.35pm the show was called off due to The Kid Laroi being ill.
All that waiting.
I couldn’t do anything about their waiting.
Life is full of waiting. You wait for concerts, wait for the RACV when your car won’t start, wait for the microwave to heat up your food…
And many people seeking mental health support wait on waiting lists.
How long does it take to take an appointment with a psychologist?
Just this week a client said they have been told to expect a year’s wait to get into a psychologist. Now this has been the most extreme example, but I regularly receive calls from people saying they’ve been told to ring around as they will need to wait months and months before being able to get help.
This is problematic in so many ways.
I hate that people are being given information like this, because it’s simply not true. Whilst there are clinicians who are booked out in advance, many more aren’t. And while it’s really hard waiting for an artist who doesn’t show, it’s much harder sitting on a waiting list when you need support.
At Positive Young Minds I do not run a waiting list.
How and why?
Two main reasons. It's not helpful for my clients, and it's not helpful for me.
Three boundaries to keep when speaking with potential clients
The main benefit to me personally and professionally of not having the responsibility of maintaining a wait list is that it reduces administration burden and eases work flow, which helps me avoid burnout. So, I say no, a lot. To help me with saying no, here are three of my regular strategies.
Four questions to ask before going on someone's waiting list
If you are in the position of seeking mental health support and calling around clinics looking for availability, before going on a waiting list ask some questions.
And a really important point to remember - you do not have see the person you have been referred to. Now, there may be a valid reason why a specific practitioner has been recommended. They may be very knowledgeable and have a good success record in your particular area of concern. Always check with your referrer first. However, in many cases there are other practitioners who would be equally competent. What is important is a clinician's area of interest and experience, not so much their label. So, if you have a referral and only been given one referral option perhaps ask your referrer for more recommendations. You can also search on Google, go to a database like Psychology Today, use an availability list or ask for recommendations from friends.
Waiting for many things is often inevitable. but sometimes waiting for mental health support may not be necessary. And when it is, respectful communication and clear expectations and understanding are important.
What's been your experience with looking for mental health support, maintaining a waiting list, or being on a waiting list?
Email me I'd love to know.
I've been watching Parental Guidance on Channel Nine. I wasn't going to, but I can't help myself. It's fascinating as parents to have a peek in to how other parents do it. Let's face it, parenting is a bit of a competitive sport.
Unfortunately, just like real sport you don't get a medal for competing. There are winners and losers, and least publicly.
One thing I noticed watching Parental Guidance is that most of the children are really well behaved. On a whole they seem neurotypical with developmentally appropriate development, some of them are very confident or smart, or attractive or all three. In other words, they are picked to present well on TV. And they're on TV, so that makes sense. And the parents are articulate and curious - picked for TV.
So, by all means, enjoy this show and other parenting shows, but remember it is reality TV, not real life. It is set up, simulated, scripted etc.
In real life, parenting can be really tough, much tougher than on TV. .
Parenting is hard.
Often your child’s actions, difficulties, emotional challenges, success, failures, developmental progress, scholastic progress, friendships, physical appearance etc are on public display. Out there for all to judge.
And your responses and reactions are out there in public as well. There is always a gaggle of people waiting to give you advice, and a mountain of social media posts to compare yourself against, and books and experts to scavenge through.
You can literally turn yourself inside out working out what type of parent you are, what else can you do, what are you doing wrong?
Let me tell you a secret, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have a parenting style.
It doesn't matter that you can’t fit yourself into one of the categories that people love to use – helicopter parent, tiger mum, free range, disciplinarian, or any of the other myriad of categories that currently exist.
Ignore the parenting experts
Yes there is advice on what styles of parenting are shown to be more effective, and it updates as research evolves. But this is always general advice, population best practice.. The experts don’t know you and your family. Your unique needs and your unique children.
Stop trying to measure yourself against other parents. Stop reading the parenting books. Start listening to yourself.
Let go of your parenting guilt and shame
If you are giving your love, turning up, showing respect, being there to listen, to be with…you are doing your very best.
THIS DOES NOT GUARANTEE A SMOOTH, TROUBLE FREE RELATIONSHIP.
But know, if your mother-child journey is bumpy, unexpected, heart wrenching or disruptive
Know that you have still done enough.
And it’s not your fault. No-one is to blame.
Ask for help
You may need extra support, in fact I strongly encourage you to reach out for support if the bumps are too high to navigate on your own,
Get support, whether it be through parent coaching, parenting training, employing help, or asking family or friends to help out.
Ask for what you need, and understand and really accept that asking for help does not mean you have failed.
It's OK, in fact it is often necessary to have someone to walk beside you on your parenting journey; and it can make such a difference.
The most satisfying part of my work is hearing parents tell me how relieved they are when they realise it's OK to change expectations, it’s OK to accept and embrace their child’s differences, and that when they look at their child’s behaviour with a different perspective things can start to shift.
Knowing yourself, knowing your child, tuning in and understanding your emotions and your feelings this creates a sound base on which to work on your relationship and continue to support your child as best they can to manage all the tricky feelings, changes, and challenges they are experiencing.
If you practice this mindful response to parenting, and respect what both you and your child need, you will develop your unique style and connection.
Accessing mental health support in Australia can be complex. However, it is not true that all psychologists have big waiting lists and you can’t see anyone for six months. Additionally, I acknowledge that accessing private psychologists is only one part of the mental health industry, albeit an important one, and there are many other professionals providing counselling in the mental health industry. Mental health support can also be provided by counsellors, accredited mental health nurses and social workers. a range of mental health professionals.
Although the following list includes mainly psychologists, you will find some contact details for other mental health professionals, e.g. counsellors, accredited mental health nurses and social workers will be included in the below listings.
It can be difficult working out your needs and finding support that is a good fit and you may need to try more than one professional. You may also need to be flexible to access private mental health care particularly in terms of times of appointments, but I encourage you not to give up before you begin your search for support.
The opening up of telehealth as a mode of delivering therapy means you are able to access any therapist in Australia.
Why do some psychologists have vacancies?
Many psychologists choose not to keep waiting lists and therefore vacancies occur with regularity as clients finish treatment. Vacancies occur due to a wide variety of reasons including clinics expanding their personnel or hours, a change in treatment modality e.g. a focus on brief therapy, and new psychologists entering the system. There also tend to be more vacancies available in the middle of the day.
The availability of vacancies is a fluid situation, however, it can be difficult for potential clients, for other psychologists, and for referring bodies, to know where they can find psychologists who have vacancies. The following is a list of clinics and clinicians who have immediate availability (within the next four weeks). These clinicians will not place you on a waiting list. If you contact any of the clinics listed below and there are no vacancies, please let me know as soon as possible
How much does it cost to see a therapist
The cost of appointments will vary. Clinicians on this list are able to set their fees at a price they choose. You do not need a referral to see any of the below clinicians. However, if you have a valid medicare referral, you are able to claim the appropriate medicare rebate. This does not mean you will receive a free service. Please note, there are no medicare rebates to help with the cost of seeing a Counsellor.
The information listed has been provided by the psychologist or clinic owner. Where available, information on the age of clients seen, and areas of major interest by the Psychologist/mental health professional, have been noted. The author of this article takes no responsibility as to the information provided. All responsibility is on you as the reader to explore the information and make your decision as to whether you wish to make a booking or referral.
Clinics and clinicians with availability for telehealth appointments for clients.
**Updated 28th May 2022
Positive Young Minds
Kim Ross (Psychologist)
Ages: children under 12.
Presentations: Children and parents who are wanting to develop positive coping skills to improve emotional regulation, connection, sleep, anxiety, anger management and academic participation. Brief intervention parenting sessions welcome. Focus on skill development and mindfulness. Neurodivergent and NDIS welcome.
Cognitive Consultancy Company
Dayle Johnson (Psychologist)
03 8652 1903
Presentations: A broad range of presentations including: Substance dependance/ use (alcohol and other drugs); Anger modulation, Anxiety, Cognitive assessments (WAIS; WISC).
Srolic Barber (Psychologist)
Presentations: ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, Self-Esteem, Relationship Issues.
Zoe Markopoulous, (Psychologist)
Clients 8-25 years
Presentation: anxiety, depression, parenting, developmental & learning disorders, social issues
Sheida Badiee, (Psychologist)
Clients 16 years +
Presentation: sees a broad range of presentations
Rushi Witharange, (Psychologist)
Clients 8 years +
Presentation: anxiety, depression, parenting, developmental & learning disorders, social issues
Alycia Papantoniou (Psychologist)
02 6188 7388
Ages: Children (6+), adolescents, and adults
A broad range of presentations including anxiety, depression, ADHD, grief, and issues pertaining to health psychology
Fiona Stevens (Mental Health Social Worker)
02 6188 7388
Ages: Adolescents (14+) and adults.
A broad range of presentations including anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and substance dependence
Georgina Mavor (Psychologist)
Fresh Perspective Psychology
Anxiety, Depression and Grief in older adults experiencing issues associated with the questions about one’s life; difficult relationships and/or unresolved issues with children, siblings, and parents; loss of independence due to increasing physical disability and relocation; grief; isolation and loneliness.
Bulk billed consultations available for clients living at home and in retirement villages. Private consultations available to people in residential aged care facilities.
The TARA Clinic
Marnta Sidhu (Psychologist)
Maya Rutman (Counsellor)
Presentation: Supporting Alcohol and Other Drug Issues
Broad range of presentations including interpersonal challenges, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, life transitions and existential concerns.
Ages; Adolescents and adults
Lara Patterson (Psychologist)
Presentations: Perinatal mental health & parenting.
Ages: 6-10 year olds and 16 years old and over.
Sees broad range of presentations. - excluding personality disorders, psychosis or those with severe presentations requiring hospitalisation
Elise Girdham Psychology
0434 747 609
Presentations: depression, anxiety, life transitions, self esteem, perfectionism
Love Work Play Psychology
Anxiety, depression, relationship issues, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder
New Life Counselling & Psychology
Nicole Spowart (Psychologist)
New Life Counselling & Psychology, Psychologist, Brookwater, QLD, 4300 | Psychology Today
Presentations: workplace issues, couples, anxiety, depression, stress,
Miriam Henke Consulting
Miriam Henke (Psychologist)
Presentations: Depression and Anxiety treatment; self-esteem and confidence; health issues; work-related issues.
The Psychology Hub
Sandy Poovannan (Counsellor)
Ages: 8+ years
Broad range of presentations
The Psychology Hub
Care Collopy (Art Therapt/Counsellor)
Ages: 5+ years
Broad range of presentations
The Psychology Hub
Dr Rachel Sluis (Psychologist)
Ages: 6+ years
Broad range of presentations
The Psychology Hub
Ashlee Wells (Psychologist)
Ages: 18+ years
Supports neurodiverse (Autism and ADHD) as well as Anxiety and Depression
The Psychology Hub
Ages: 12+ years
Presentation: assessment ASD and ADHD; therapy - Anxiety, Depression, And supports Autism and ADHD
Mind My Health
Dr Astrid Przezdziecki (Psychologist)
Assistance for depression, anxiety, body image difficulties, eating disorders, adjustment to cancer diagnosis / treatment / survivorship.
Tali Lovegrove Psychology
Tali Lovegrove (Psychologist)
A broad range of presentations including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, stress management, grief and loss and relationship issues.
Lisa Auton & Associates
Josh Stevenson (Psychologist)
Presentation: A broad range of presentations including anxiety, depression, personality vulnerabilities, and adjustment difficulties.
VIDA Telehealth Psychology
Sharleen Gonzalez (Psychologist)
Presentation: depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, interpersonal issues
I encourage you to share this list information widely so that it reaches people who are looking for Telehealth appointments with a psychologist or other mental health professional.
Reaching out to get help is a difficult process for most people. If you are reaching out and finding it hard to find someone who feels right, please don't give up.
And if you need urgent help remember that private psychologist are NOT crisis support services.
If you require immediate assistance please contact 24/7 crisis lines:
- Lifeline (13 11 14)
- Beyond Blue Support Service (1300 22 4636)
If you require emergency support please dial 000 (within Australia).
Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.
ps. If you are a psychologist or mental health clinician who sees clients under Medicare, you can register your interest to be included on The Availability List.
pps. If you are a psychologist looking for ways to take care of yourself, you are invited to download a copy of my Five Top Strategies to Survive and Thrive as a Psychologist.
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
Identify what you can control and what you 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.
Until next time, take care of yourself
ps If you are ready for some self-care support I'd love to help as you honour your own needs and turn up as your best self for your clients without sacrificing your health and wellbeing, I'd love to help.
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 and saying NO can be difficult. Particularly now where there is a continuing increase in demand for mental health services as people struggle with the ongoing impact of COVID19.
You want to be of service. 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. Doing this on a regular basis starts to add up.
Without appropriate counterbalances, work overload often catches up with people in the end. And then 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 weeks, 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?
What makes taking care of yourself difficult?
There are many factors involved in making prioritising self-care difficult.
However, the reason most people give for not engaging in self-care is that they "ran out of time" or "I didn't have enough time".
Yep, no.... that's not it.
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. You're worried about looking stupid. It takes commitment to change your habits so that looking after yourself comes first. What about if you try this change and it doesn’t work out? Then you've wasted your limited time and resources. Your thoughts can also include self-chastisement in that you should already know how to look after myself.
3. You've bought into the busyness myth .
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?
When you investigate what's behind your claim of “I don't have enough time”, it can be confronting. However, it's a great place to start.
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.
There is no doubt that some seasons of your life, some days, are much harder than others. Knowing what self-care you need and how to integrate it into your daily life can make the world of difference to you,
You're worth it.
ps If would love to have some support in making self-care an essential part of your career, I'd love to help.
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.
* 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 Ross is a Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Essential Self-Care for Psychologists.