Autumn/Winter 2017 Articles

Self Care During the Autumn/Winter Transition by Dr Lara Winten (Clinical Psychologist)

As we transition from summer to winter, autumn offers us all an opportunity to be mindful of the changes happening within us and around us. The light and warmth of the sun is changing, and with it our self-care practices may also be undergoing change. The ways in which we stay connected to others and ourselves might also be taking on a new form.

People often think of mindfulness practice as a formalised or highly structured activity, for example through a daily guided meditation program such as the ones offered by Apps like Smiling Mind. However, mindfulness can also be an informal practice of taking a moment to bring deliberate, non-judgemental, present-focused awareness to ourselves and our surroundings.

Mindfulness has been shown in multiple empirical trials to correlate strongly with a huge range of mental and physical health bene ts. And even though you may not be in the practice of a daily mindfulness “activity”, you can still choose to have a mindful moment, or a mindful minute, or even take a mindful pause from the noisy, busy demands of your day.

This autumn, see if you can look out for moments of non-judgemental observation of
the changes happening around and within you. You might notice the colour of the leaves changing on the trees, the crispness of the air rst thing in the morning, the warmth of the mid-morning sunlight. You might notice the creeping pull of your warm home earlier and earlier in the evening; or the reluctance of your muscles to move as freely rst thing on
a dark morning. Whatever you notice doesn’t need to be labeled as “right” or “wrong”
– try and allow it to “just be”. An observation, a self-re ection, a moment in time.

If we bring curiosity to these moments they offer us the opportunity to stop, be grounded, be aware, and be deliberate in the actions that we then go on to take in that very next moment.

Emotionally Intelligent Parenting by Sally Freedman (Psychologist)

Developing emotional intelligence is likely to play a big part in therapy for clients across the lifespan. Research tells us that developing emotional intelligence can buffer children, teens and adults from developing mental health conditions as they get older.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to:

• label and understand your own emotions

• understand emotion in others and respond with empathy

• deal with frustration and be able to wait to get what you want and think calmly even when distressed

  • be in control of how and when you express your feelings

    Emotional intelligence is important because it provides us with awareness and control over what we do which usually results in more socially acceptable and positive behaviour. It helps us to mange stress, con ict, peer pressure and enables us to have more satisfying friendships and intimate relationships. Emotional intelligence results in lower levels of stress and better health. Overall it makes us more resilient.

    The first step to emotional intelligence is developing emotional literacy. In an ideal world, we want to understand and accept all of the emotions we experience and all those of our loved ones. Emotions are part of the human experience. We all have them and they all serve a purpose. Even the negative ones. Jealousy motivates us to protect the things we cherish. Sadness reminds us of what is important in our lives. It makes us slow down and re ect on things. Anxiety protects us from perceived danger. Anger protects us too. It motivates us to assert boundaries to keep ourselves safe from threats. Guilt motivates us to make amends and problem solve. Accepting these emotions in ourselves and others never means we need to accept bad behaviour. What we feel and how we behave are two different things?Sitting with negative feelings can be dif cult. Some people may try and manage or avoid these emotions through alcohol use, comfort eating, distracting themselves with work or other tasks or in severe cases self harm.

Sometimes seeing our children experience these negative emotions can be dif cult. We want to take away their pain so we say comments like “ don’t be sad” “you have lots of things to be happy about”, “chin up”, “stop crying” etc. Whilst our intentions are good, the underlying message we are saying to our children in these moments are- sadness is not OK, you should not be sad in this moment and I cant handle your sadness. Our children pick up on these messages and as a result they may internalise their sadness or express it to their friends and peers rather than us
as their parents. This might suit some of us well as it is hard and uncomfortable to talk about sadness. However if we want our kids to stay emotionally connected to us and reduce their feelings of isolation, we need to be able to talk about these emotions with them. We need to tune in.

Sally Freedman, psychologist at Lets Talk Psychology Practice, will be running a “Tuning into Teens” parenting course that aims to develop these skills. Tuning into Teens is an essential course for all parents of teenagers. If you would like more information please call the clinic on 0424 143 473 or send an email to info@letstalkpsychology.com.au