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anxiety and tips to cope

Anxiety Symptoms and Tips to Cope

By | Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Anxiety Symptoms and Tips to Cope

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is something that everyone experiences to varying degrees. Many people think that anxiety is just panic attacks and a sick feeling in your stomach, which it is, but it can also be so much more than that:

  • It can be the perfectionist tendencies
  • It can be your procrastination
  • It can be the thoughts that everyone is staring at you and judging you
  • It’s the hot and cold flushes
  • It’s the fear that you’ll say something wrong and look stupid.
  • Thinking that a potentially bad situation is going to be the end of the world
  • It’s feeling tired, weak and having trouble concentrating
  • It’s feeling fidgety and restless
  • It’s avoiding places and situations that you believe are going to cause you anxiety

Tips to cope with Anxiety

There are many effective ways to cope with feelings of anxiety:

  • First cab off the rank is the classic, and always in fashion, deep breathing.
  • Taking some slow and long deep breaths can help regulate your system, and decrease the feelings of anxiety.

If you struggle to take some slow, deep breaths, maybe try the 4-7-8 technique.

What is the 4-7-8 technique?

The 4-7-8 breathing technique (touted by integrative medicine expert Andrew Weil, MD) is thought to help reduce nervousness and stress, calm anxiety, and help people drift off to sleep more quickly.

It can actually change the speed at which your heart beats and promote the effective pumping of blood to various organs and muscles. Here’s how (and why) to do it.

  1. Breath in for four seconds through your nose
  2. Hold this breath for 7 seconds
  3. Exhale completely for 8 seconds through your mouth.

This forces the brain to focus on regulating your breathing, rather than your anxious thoughts and feelings.

Talk to yourself (no, seriously, have a chat with yourself).

Often time we let our anxious thoughts go unchecked, they just wash over you without you putting up a fight. When you have a negative or anxious thought, ask yourself: how likely is this to happen?

Lastly, try some grounding techniques. Grounding or mindful techniques help you stay present, focused on what is around you, and out of your head. 

  • Ask yourself, what are:
    • 5 things you can see
    • 4 things you can hear
    • 3 things you can touch
    • 2 things you can smell
    • 1 thing you can taste
  • If you’re around people, ask yourself questions about them, such as:
    • What is their favourite movie, food, celebrity
    • What is their superpower
    • What do they do for a living

Also having tangible things to help ground you can also be really helpful, such as a stress ball. Keep your mind focused on what the stress ball feels like in your hand, and how your fingers tense when squashing it and how they relax when you let the stress ball go.   

If you’re feeling like your anxiety is becoming overwhelming and it is difficult to cope, please reach out to your GP, come see a Psychologist or give a call to the many great support lines that are out there:

Beyond Blue: 1300-222 4636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Lauren Foreman - Principal Psychologist Graham Psychology at healthMint medical centre in CroydonThis article was written by

Lauren Foreman

Principal Psychologist B.BSc, PostGradPsyc, GradDipProfPsych.

Lauren is a qualified psychologist who uses her experience from working in a wide range of social settings to enhance her treatment style.
Lauren has extensive experience working with high school aged children, professional athletes, in corporate settings, within the not-for-profit sector and is an experienced workplace trainer.  ​
Her treatment experience includes depression, grief and loss, anxiety, significant trauma and relationship counselling.

Graham Psychology at HealthMintGraham Psychology is at HealthMint Medical Centre in Croydon

Graham Psychology is a boutique service who offer a range of psychology services including:

Treatment for Stress, Anxiety and Depression​ | Sport psychology | Trauma counselling | Child and adolescent counselling | Autism (behavioural assessments and programs) | Anger management | Workcover referrals, NDIS and TAC claims | Employee resilience counselling | Grief and loss | Relationship counselling | Parenting advice | Addiction counselling | Eating disorders | Child Psychology | Corporate Services | Vocational Assessment | Supervision

For more information and to book an appointment visit here

woman practicing breathing techniques in nature and being mindful

Getting Started with Mindfulness

By | General Wellbeing, Mental Health | No Comments

What is mindfulness?

 

Originating from ancient Eastern traditions, mindfulness is essentially trying to connect our mind to the present moment, non-judgmentally.

However, when our mind swings from the past to the future, and back again, it can rarely have a chance to rest in the present.

Why can this be unhelpful for mindfulness?

 

When we recall painful memories/regrets, or worries for the future, we feel the horrible feelings that come with it and can’t do anything to change it.

We have no control over what has already happened or what is to be. Our power and control rests solely in the present moment.

What does being in a state of mindfulness feel like?

mindfulness words in a wave illustration

 

If you think about the moments when you feel most calm and at peace, it is usually when you’re completely engaged in the moment, free from unhelpful self-talk and stress.

It might be feeling the breeze on your face when you are outside, enjoying a hot shower, or being engrossed in a hobby.

Your whole being is involved and engaged in the moment, body and mind.

This integrated state is so different to what we are used to – driving home from work and thinking about dinner, on a zoom call but wishing you were talking to your friends and talking to your friends with your mind on housework!

How can mindfulness be achieved in daily life?

 

Try an activity where you can actively connect with your body:

  1. Laying on your back in bed/on the couch, feeling the rise and fall of your breath in your abdomen and chest.
  2. Body scan. Work your way slowly up from your feet to your forehead, simply noticing the sensations in each part. You can take this a step further by intentionally tightening and loosening muscle groups (progressive muscle relaxation)
  3. Taking a deep breath, stretching your hands up to the ceiling, and exhaling slowly allowing your arms to rest gently by your sides. This can be repeated for a few minutes

mother and daughter practicing yoga pose in the loungroom

Make the most of nature:

 The outdoors is an easy space for us to feel connected with our senses and trying to get outside when the weather is good can be helpful.

Use your senses to engage in the moment – what can you hear? See? Touch?

When we feel stressed and overwhelmed, trying to ask ourselves “What is under my control right now?”

These are simple practices we can all try no matter where we are, the aim being to make it more than a ‘practice’ but an awareness that can benefit our lives.

mindfulness woman in nature holding out her arms

 

To see where you are at in your mindfulness journey, you can try this simple questionnaire called Mindful Attention Awareness Scale 

Smiling Mind can support your (and your family’s mental health throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. They offer a FREE daily mindfulness and meditation app and guide at your fingertips. You can learn more about them here

Priyanka Nair HealrhMint Medical Centre Psychologist

Priyanka Nair

General Psychologist (BHSc, MHSc, PGDipCounsPsych)

Priyanka is a lovely and warm registered Psychologist, trained in New Zealand.

The two main modalities used by Priyanka are, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). Priyanka also has experience with Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and has conducted skills-based groups for both adults and children.

Priyanka has worked with adults presenting with a range of concerns including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, work and financial issues, chronic fatigue, interpersonal difficulties, adjusting to physical illness, grief, and managing sleep. She has seen the impact of mental distress on career, relationships, and personal happiness, and aims to equip clients with skills to manage the mind. She is passionate about third wave psychology, and particularly resonates with ACT, a values-based, mindful approach to managing the mind and its thoughts/emotions.

Priyanka is aware of your needs, and will tailor every session to accommodate you. She is able to build rapport easily, and works with you to find a long-term approach to manage any unhelpful patterns in your lives.

Book Appointment

Watch Priyanka introduce herself here

the importance of mental health scrabble tiles healthmint cranbourne medical centre

The Importance of Mental Health

By | Lifestyle, Mental Health | No Comments

What is mental health and why is it so important?

Mental health is an important during every stage of life – from childhood to adulthood. Understanding the importance of mental health is vital to optimising all aspects of wellbeing. Mental health is inclusive of our psychological, emotional and social wellbeing.

HealthMint psychologist Priyanka Nair explains that mental Health affects how we think, feel and act, and therefore is directly linked to how we handle stress and the situations life throws our way. Working towards a healthy mind is a lot about unlearning our unhelpful ways of thinking/behaving, and learning helpful ways to manage stressors. 

The World Health Organisation defines good mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

How to improve mental health

We can improve our mental health by taking care of our body (eating healthy, getting enough sleep, slowing down), connecting with others (friends/family/community), and spending time doing things we enjoy.  Maintaining a gratitude journal and working towards achieving a goal can also help us feel positive and motivated.

Seeking professional support can be helpful at times when things are overwhelming, and psychologists can help equip you with skills to better manage stress, low mood, and relationships. 

Here are several ways you can take steps to improve your mental health today:woman happy with her mental health healthmint

  1. Exercise
  2. Eating well
  3. Going to bed on time
  4. Writing down something you are grateful for
  5. Be positive to yourself
  6. Open up to someone you trust
  7. Do an act of kindness or to be helpful
  8. Knowing your limits and taking a break

What is a mental health plan?

A mental health care plan is something you can complete with your GP if you are experiencing mental health issues. It involves collaboratively forming goals with your GP, and receiving a referral to a psychologist for 6 sessions.

These 6 sessions allow you to receive a medicare rebate of $86.15 per session (for general psychologist), and ensures a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to your care. Individuals are entitled to 10 medicare rebates per calendar year for individual psychology sessions.

importance of mental health

How can exercise improve mental health?

  • Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood.
  • It gets you out of the house and into the community –  encouraging connections with others, and reducing feelings of loneliness/isolation.
  • It helps regulate your sleep so you can have a goods nights rest which helps to make you feel more energised during the day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns call Lifeline on 13 11 14

Priyanka Nair - Psychologist HealthMint

 

Priyanka Nair is a general psychologist at HealthMint

For more information on our psychology services, click here

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

or book an appointment here
morning yoga healthmint

8 Benefits of Exercise

By | Body Systems, Chronic Disease, Chronic Pain, Diabetes, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Living a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial to your health, prevent some illnesses and diseases and can help to improve your mental health! Here we look into 8 benefits of exercise. 

1. Exercise boosts and benefits your mood

One of the most common mental benefits of exercise is stress relief. Exercise helps to block negative thoughts and distracts from daily worries and stresses. It  only releases the levels of, but also increases the levels of chemicals like serotonin and endorphins that can moderate responses to stress. It’s a win win!

benefits of exercise improve mood healthmint 2. Exercise assists in weight loss and helps prevent unhealthy weight gain

Exercise is extremely helpful in the journey of weight loss and weight management. Exercise speeds up metabolism, and increased activity levels increases the body’s fuel consumption (calories).

Regular physical activity combined with a healthy diet will increase the chances of weight loss.

8 benefits of exercise control weight loss healthmint3. Exercise reduces the risk of and helps to manage cardiovascular disease, reduce risk of heart attack, lower blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure

Regular physical activity can greatly reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and can actually also help to lower blood pressure! Lowering the levels of cholesterol and keeping your arteries clear of fatty deposits by undertaking regular exercise can reduce the chances of heart attacks and strokes.

8 benefits of exercise cardiovascular health heart healthmint4. Social interaction and exercise go hand-in-hand

Find an exercise buddy – grab a friend or family member and hit the pavement. Let’s face it, exercise is more fun with someone and it works both ways to motivate each other and keeps each other’s exercise goals in check.

8 benefits of exercise socialising healthmint5. Build strong muscles and bones

Exercise that involves weight bearing like walking, stair climbing, weightlifting helps to preserve bone mass which can help protect against osteoporosis. Exercise also builds and strengthens muscles which in turn protects the bones from injury and support and protect the jones that might be susceptible to or affected by arthritis. It also improves the blood supply to muscles and can help prevent age related loss of muscle mass.

8 benefits of exercise strong kids dad family healthmint

6. Reduce the risk and help manage Type 2 Diabetes

For those with Type 2 Diabetes, physical exercise is a critical party of the treatment plan. Exercise can reduce the glucose in your blood! It helps with keeping blood glucose levels in check and in the correct range. Controlling blood glucose levels is essential in combating long term complications such as heart problems.

7. Exercise helps with sleep quality and benefits energy levels

When you exercise, your body naturally depletes its energy stores which helps when trying to fall asleep. When exercising, you may have longer, deeper and greater quality sleeps which helps make you feel more energised throughout the day. Around 30 minutes of exercise is all it can take for a better nights sleep and more energised days!

8 benefits of exercise boost mood aid sleep healthmint8. Lower the risk of falls with exercise

Exercise is a proven way to prevent falls by improving balance and strengthening the muscles that keep us upright.  As we get older, a fear of falling may limit the decision to want to undertake exercise – but this can have a damaging affect and actually increase the risks of developing chronic diseases and the probability of falls.

Of course, there are many more reasons other than these 8 benefits of exercise to consider. Being regularly physically active will always have positive effects on your mind, body and soul, it’s just about finding the types of exercise that suits you and your lifestyle, setting small, achievable goals to start off with, and building up the process of becoming a healthier, happier YOU!

Before undergoing any new types of exercise make sure you have a medical check from your HealthMint GP. You can even get a FREE* Health Check Up (valued at $159) to get you started on your journey to great health and on your way to your fitness and exercise goals.

display of healthy foods diet healthmint

Food and Diet For Symptoms of Depression

By | Chronic Disease, Diabetes, Mental Health, Nutrition | No Comments

Food and diet changes that help with symptoms of depression

As well as aiding in weight loss, food and diet changes can also have a positive impact on the symptoms of depression.

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health illnesses throughout the world.

A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that those who change their diet may see a greater improvement in the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Foods that put you in a good mood!

Various vitamins, fatty acids, minerals and fibre consumed as part of a healthy diet could also impact the brain and help to improve mood.

The following foods and nutrients may play a role in reducing the symptoms of depression:

  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seafoods
  • Oily fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
display of healthy foods diet healthmint

Ditch the junk food!

While we have established that a healthy diet can help to improve mood, an unhealthy diet can have the opposite affect.

While it’s okay to have the occasional treat or overindulge sometimes, it’s the long term unhealthy diets that contain lots of foods that are very high in energy (calories) and low on nutrition. Here’s a list of foods to limit:

  • Fried foods
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Sugary snacks and drinks
  • Take away foods
  • Processed foods and meats
  • White breads, cakes and pastries
donut unhealthy food diets

Don’t forget to exercise too!

It’s well documented that the inclusion of regular exercise into your routine can have a dramatic impact on your mental health. So while you’re eating better, move better too!

Taking small steps on your journey to good health doesn’t have to be daunting – begin with a walk around the block, and gradually increase as your fitness levels do. Exercise releases endorphins, which help keep you happy!

Small dietary changes can make a big difference in how you feel over time.

Not only can they help improve your mood, but they also keep you healthy for many other reasons!

eat more of what makes you happy

Book an appointment with Saabira here

saabira dietitian healthmint

Book an appointment with Dr Natasha here

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

or book an appointment here
health benefits going outside healthmint medical clinic

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

Most of us have been told since childhood that “getting fresh air” is important for a healthy mind and body. While there are many common myths used in parenting, spending time outside actually is extremely important to maintain health. Here are some reasons why it’s important to get out of your usual four walls.

Physical Benefits

One of the best things about getting outside is that it can actually benefit your physical body. Studies that looked at campers who spent two nights in the forest compared to people who had spent those nights in an urban environment showed the campers had a lower heartrate and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Inflammation in the body can have a range of negative effects over the long term, and people who spend time outside have been shown to have lower levels of inflammation.

Sleep Better

These lower levels of stress, inflammation and resting heart rate combine to give people who have spent time outside a better sleep. If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, finding time during the day to take advantage of natural light and natural surroundings could help you to calm down and doze off.

Feel Better

Going outside can reduce anxiety and counteract seasonal depression. Even working indoors with natural light from a window is beneficial to a person’s mental state, creating mood elevation and increasing alertness and concentration. Spending time in natural surrounds can have a significant impact on people experiencing depression and anxiety, helping them to calm and improve their mood.

Boost Creativity

Studies into people who spend time in nature find they experience a boost in creativity. While the improved sleep and mental clarity certainly helps, studies have shown that a single walk outside can measurably improve creativity.

Get Fit

While just getting some light and fresh air is a great place to start, pairing it with some exercise enhances the benefits even further. Going for a run, swimming, cycling or doing yoga in a park –most communities have a huge range of activities available to incentivise you to leave the house, and they could be very low cost or even free!

Meet New People

One thing your lounge room is very unlikely to have is new people to meet, but the outdoors is likely to have many. Find an activity that will allow you to meet new people, and you can add the benefits of healthy socialisation with the other improvements for your mind and body. Many communities host events and clubs, such as Park Runs, fishing clubs, nature walks, photography and art classes, exercise groups. Websites like MeetUp.com can help you connect with people who share similar interests and provide further incentives to leave the house.

If you’re struggling with feeling down, sleep problems, stress or anxiety, prioritise some outdoors time every day to help you feel calm and centred. If getting outside is not enough, you might need to chat to your GP. Even if you do need some extra help, lifestyle changes can help you feel better – and getting outside is a great place to start.

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

or book an appointment here

Social Media and your Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Social media and your mental health: Mental health is incredibly important to maintain, and there are many sources that say social media could be impacting our mental health in a negative way. Even Facebook has expressed concern that excess use of social media could be detrimental to people’s health. So what is healthy use of social media, and what are the consequences of not sticking to a moderate level of use?

The benefits of social media

Social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow a degree of connectivity that has never been available before. People can keep up to date with friends in other countries, receive information about current events, products and services, and communicate with new people to learn things and express ideas.

For many people, social media allows them to find like-minded people and feel connected to the world around them. It gives them a chance to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas, and even to seek help. Facebook and other sites can be a great place to share exciting news, and to ask for support when needs arise.

It’s not all good news.

Some studies have shown links between the amounts of time spent on social media and negative body image, difficulty sleeping, symptoms of depression, and eating issues. Some people are even partially blaming an increased suicide rate on the prevalence of social media.

Social media can activate the reward centres of the brain, meaning users can become addicted to getting “likes”. It can also lead to envy and unhealthy comparison between users. Online bullying and trolling experienced via social media can be extremely detrimental to mental health, and there is a flood of information online with little way to verify whether it is true or not, causing people to change their world view based on false assumptions.

What can you do to keep social media use healthy?

Social media doesn’t affect everyone in the same way, so you will have to have an honest look at how your use affects you personally. However, there are some key things everyone can do to make sure social media use doesn’t have a negative impact on their mental health

  • Turn off your phone: There is some worrying data emerging about blue light coming from phones and human health. There is little doubt that it can negatively affect your sleep, and checking social media when you should be sleeping is worse. Make a firm cut-off a few hours before bedtime, and stick to it.
  • Be careful of comparison: It has been said that social media is comparing someone else’s highlight reel to your everyday life. Many people only put the absolute highlights for others to see, so social media is not a good baseline for reality. Comparison is the thief of joy, so don’t let it get you down.
  • Communicate with others: Ultimately social media is designed for people to connect together, so use it for its intended purpose! Use your time on social media to communicate with people and groups that are trustworthy and build you up. It’s good to follow current events, but try to add some light-hearted pages that make you laugh to offset too much bad news.
  • Limit your time: It is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. Find a balance in your life where you are able to be present, instead of constantly getting lost in social media. If you find yourself checking Facebook, Instagram, then back to Facebook, it might be a sign you need a break. If loved ones are telling you that you spend too much time on your phone – listen to them. If you need help regulating your time, there are plenty of apps that can help you track and/or restrict your usage.

Social media can be very positive if it is used in the right way for a limited amount of time. If you feel caught in a spiral, or if you want to talk to someone about your mental health, your GP is a good place to start. The online world can be a great place, but don’t forget to balance that out with plenty of time in the real world as well.

Want more information?

Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

or book an appointment here
mental-health-mens-healthmint

Men and Mental Health

By | Men's Health, Mental Health | No Comments

Men and Mental Health

Physical health is important to maintain, but mental health can be just as crucial. There is a “silent crisis” around the world, where men struggle with mental health but feel they can’t talk about it or get help. No matter how good things look on the outside, if you have something on the inside that doesn’t feel right, it’s time to check up on your mental health.

Why it Matters

Mental health issues are more common than you think. According to Beyond Blue, on average around one in eight men will experience depression, and one in five men experience anxiety at some point in their lives. There are many other mental health issues that affect men and can have serious consequences for their ability to work, be around other people, and live life to the fullest.

Many men try to bottle up issues, but attempting to tackle mental health issues alone makes it far more likely that issues will go unrecognised and without any treatment. Depression is a big risk factor for suicide, and men are far more likely to commit suicide – around six out of every eight deaths by suicide are men. The number of yearly suicides in Australia is almost double the number of people who die on the roads in a year.

Everyone’s mental health goes through changes from time to time. Mental health check-ups and maintenance can help your overall quality of life, help build you up to support others, and allows you to perform at your peak.

What to look out for

Men and women share many of the same mental health issues, but they often differ in how their symptoms show up and how willing they are to talk about what’s going on. For example, depression might feel like sadness, frustration, anger or feelings of hopelessness – or all of them, together or at different times. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to help deal with their mental health issues. Symptoms can even show up as physical problems like headaches, a rapid heartbeat and/or tight chest, or even digestive issues.

Some signs to look out for include:

  • Not feeling yourself

  • Changes in mood, appetite or energy levels

  • Change in sleeping patterns – more or less than usual

  • Issues with concentration

  • Difficulties relaxing

  • Feeling flat, sad or hopeless

  • Increasing high-risk activities

  • Using substances more often

  • Unusual thinking or behaviour that interferes with everyday life, or worries other people

What to do about it

Bottling things up doesn’t help anyone – not you, and not the people around you. Recognising that there might be an issue and taking steps to fix it is the responsible thing to do. There are many things you can do to help get you back to yourself.

  • Keep physically well. Looking after your body can help work out issues with your mind. A good place to start is by staying active, eating well and getting lots of good quality sleep. Just getting outside can make a difference in how you feel. You might not want to, but keep pushing through and doing things you usually enjoy, and you could find that you’ll begin to enjoy them again.
  • Keep connected. You’re not alone if you feel lonely. Men struggle with loneliness more than women, and not just men who live by themselves. It’s easy to get into a pattern of working hard, with organising a catch up becoming too much trouble. However, including other people in your life is important to your mental health, and you might be doing them a favour as well. Try to catch up in person but even a quick message can help both of you feel more connected – and you never know who else might be going through a rough patch. Joining a local team or club can help get you around other people.
  • Keep communicating. It can be very hard to talk about what’s going on inside your head, especially if you’re not used to putting feelings into words. But if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts or worry that something is not quite right with your mental health, keeping quiet does much more harm than good. You might want to talk to someone who knows you, like a family member, or you could talk to someone completely anonymously, by making a call to a group like Beyond Blue. Think about who you could talk to – opening up to friends, family, or a health professional can help put you on the road to recovery.

There are many paths you can take to good mental health, and many people who can make your journey easier. Your GP is a good place to start, and can make recommendations or refer you on to people who can help you get back to feeling yourself.

Do you or someone you know need help or support?

If this article has raised any concerns for you, or if you or someone you know needs help please call

Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

click the button to book an appointment with a HealthMint GP or Psychologist

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Call (03) 5611 3365 to speak to a friendly patient concierge

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Workplace Bullying and Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Is Workplace Bullying Affecting Your Mental Health?

Bullying is often discussed in relation to youth, but it’s a problem that can occur at almost any age. When discussing bullying as adults, it’s important to remember that bullying is often made up of small, repetitive incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but over time have a serious and detrimental effect on individuals and the wider workplace.

A report by Beyond Blue found that almost 1 in 2 Australians will experience workplace bullying at some time in their lives. Far from being a small annoyance, bullying can have real effects on people’s mental health. Let’s look at workplace bullying, and how it can have long-reaching consequences for individuals and their companies.

What is Workplace Bullying?

“Heads Up” defines workplace bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety”. Bullying embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. It can happen in person, but can also happen out of sight or online.

The “risk to health and safety” applies when someone’s mental health is at stake, as well as their physical safety. Workplace bullying takes many forms, and it can have a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of the person being bullied, as well as on the culture of the workplace.

There are several types of bullying behaviour that are more common.

Cyberbullying:

 People can be bullied using technology. That might include having messages sent either to the person or about them via various forms, sharing media about a person such as videos or pictures, or posing as that person online.

Social bullying:

 Deliberately leaving someone else out in an attempt to make them feel bad, deliberately excluding someone from a conversation, using social gatherings to say unpleasant things about a person. Bear in mind, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be invited to every social gathering! Bullying occurs when the person is being repeatedly left out with the deliberate intent of making them feel excluded.

Physical bullying:

 Taking or destroying someone’s property or any unwanted touch can be a form of bullying. Physical bullying is starting to cross the line into explicitly illegal behaviour such as assault and theft.

Emotional bullying:

 Ridiculing, intimidating, or putting someone else down repeatedly is emotional bullying.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying has a different effect on each person. People might feel alone, scared, powerless or miserable. Repetitive bullying can be overwhelming and feel like escape is impossible. Some people get angry, and spend time planning retribution. The effects of being bullied can build up over time, creating a high pressure situation.

Bullying can affect every part of someone’s life, from their relationships, confidence, how they present themselves, and what coping strategies they employ. People who are being bullied are often constantly on the alert to avoid unpleasant situations, which can be mentally exhausting and impact their working life.

Bullying in the workplace can have an effect on the business as well, especially because of lost productivity, absent employees, high turnover and low morale. The combined cost of bullying in Australian workplaces is estimated to be between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.

Putting a Stop to Workplace Bullying

In the past, management have often addressed bullying as an individual issue. However, beyondblue research has found that it is actually environmental factors that drive bullying, such as poor organisational culture and a lack of strong leadership.

Creating an environment that doesn’t allow bullying behaviour to occur is the best way to stop it from escalating. Businesses need to create strong, consistent approaches that do not tolerate bullying behaviour. A positive, respectful work culture goes a long way towards stopping bullying in the workplace.

If bullying does occur, the most important thing that individuals and businesses can do is treat it seriously. Bullying is often made up out of small incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but can build up to make a person miserable. Anyone who is being bullied needs to feel heard and supported. If you are being bullied, make sure you find a trustworthy person to talk to. Workplace bullying is a serious issue, and the impact on mental health should not be taken lightly by anyone involved.

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How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Beating the Winter Blues

If you notice yourself getting down when temperatures start to drop, you could suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s more than just feeling a bit gloomy – SAD is a recognised condition with millions of people experiencing symptoms at winter time. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to stop the change in season from affecting your mood.

SAD Symptoms

SAD symptoms commonly mimic symptoms of depression. Feelings of hopelessness, a lack of energy, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and a change in activity levels or making the time and effort to do the things you usually enjoy are all signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, what might make it SAD is the timing – Especially if symptoms occur during the winter months, when the days and nights are cold, there is a lack of sunshine and warmth, and days are spent inside out of the elements.

According to Beyond Blue, sunlight affects our hormones, but some people are more susceptible than others. Lack of sunlight can mean our bodies produce less melatonin, the hormone that tells your body it’s time for sleep. Less sun could also mean less serotonin, a hormone that affects mood, appetite and sleep. Finally, sunlight affects our body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) – so lower sunlight levels during the winter can throw off your body clock.

SAD Treatments and Tips

Follow the Light

Researchers have demonstrated a clear link between reduced light exposure and a drop in mental health for many people during the winter months. As the days get shorter but work hours remain the same, it can be hard for people to get enough natural light into their day. This is turn affects mood, sleep habits and can have other side effects like poor vitamin D levels.

If SAD is getting you down, you might have to think of creative ways to get more light into your day. If you can choose to sit next to a window at work, that could help you get that light ix throughout the day. Spending your lunch hour outside whenever possible is another great way to get some light. For those who can’t make it outside, light boxes can help. Setting up a bright station and spending time there daily can help life your mood.

Get Active

SAD can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated, but try to push through and get some movement into your day. Exercise is generally recommended to help combat depression, but has some benefits that specifically relate to SAD. If your exercise takes place outside or in front of a light box it can help you get some extra light into your day, and it can work to reduce the effects of the carbohydrates often craved by people experiencing SAD. Often the cold is a reason for people to stay inside, but some light exercise can have you warm again in no time. It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous – a walk outside during your lunch break might be enough to help you feel better.

Watch Your Food

Craving carbohydrate-rich food is a recognised symptom of SAD, and it can lead to a downwards shift in your mood, not to mention the physical effects and potential weight gain. If you’re tempted to fill your plate with comforting carbs, try to look for other solutions. Protein-rich meals will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try swapping an omelette instead of cereal, and a chicken salad instead of a chicken sandwich. Fruit can help meet your cravings for sweet, but are also full of fibre and nutrients.

Sleep Soundly

How you sleep has a massive effect on your mood, and SAD can send your sleep patterns into a downwards spiral. Napping through the day, feeling lethargic and missing the usual light cues that help your brain wake up can disturb your sleep patterns. Try to help your body’s natural processes along. When you wake up, aim for bright lights and lots of activity. Instead of letting the lethargy glue you to the couch, try to fight it with activity. Then when sleep time comes around, low lights (especially minimising bright screens at least an hour before bed), and a warm, comfortable environment can help you drift off and sleep soundly.

If you are finding symptoms hard to shake off, if SAD is significantly affecting your life or if making basic changes doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your GP. For most people, however, it won’t take much to boost your mood. You don’t have to succumb to the winter blues – a few basic changes should have you back to normal in no time.

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