Tips & Resources
Good quality sleep allows us to empty the 'spam' folder and make space for what matters., file things away and properly recharge. Get natural light as as soon as possible after you wake (15 mins). This sets your body's time clocks and makes a difference to how you sleep that night. Try to wake and sleep up at the same time each day. Aim to be in bed by 10pm when possible - hours before midnight help most. In the hour before bed, reduce light, avoid devices and cool the room temperature 1-2 degrees more than is comfortable Reduce caffeine, alcohol, and avoid high fat foods or an overly full stomach. If you overthink in bed, schedule space to consider the day well before bed. Don't do this immediately before bed. It fires up the part of the brain that overthinks! Avoid prolonged use of sleep aids. Try a mediation app such as Calm, Headspace set on a sleep timer.
Relationships are rewarding, but not easy. Balancing what is best individually, as well as what feels best for the relationship can be tough. These tips from our psychologists can be a good start: It’s hard to have a positive relationship with a partner if we don’t first have a positive relationship with ourselves. Self criticism, self doubt, or not being clear on our own wellbeing, values and boundaries makes it hard to build a strong foundation for a relationship. Finding the right amount of time together can be hard. Not taking the time will ultimately make life even harder. If it’s not always practical to get out together, schedule deliberate time to be off devices and present. Be curious. Questions like “What are you most looking forward to?” “What’s on your mind?” “Does anything about the project surprise you?” Relationships are a collection of small gestures that all add up. Be kind wherever you can and don’t wait for the big moments. Disagreements are normal. Listen and acknowledge your partner’s view. Keep it to what the discussion is about instead of bringing up the past, and focus on behaviours. “You didn’t check in with me” rather than judgements “You don’t care about me”. Scale of 1-10, how much do you like how you have been in the relationship? Ask your partner to answer the same question for themselves? Now both plot how you feel about the relationship? What is one small next step to have you both rate it 1 point higher. Communicate. Negative emotion, unchecked rarely goes away. You don’t have to have the answers, just share what’s on your mind. Seeing a Psychologist is like seeing a Personal Trainer, but for your relationship. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.
Managing Low or Depressed Mood
Most of us will experience low mood, if not depression, at some point. here are some tips for getting back on track. Increase exposure to natural sunlight - starting as soon as you wake. Start by improving sleep by 30 minutes per night. Sleep quality is a big part of mood. Sleep tips as a priority Reduce alcohol. Although it can feel like it helps you relax, alcohol increases irrational thoughts, interrupts your body's sleep cycle and is a depressant. Exercise. Even small amounts of movement improves mood - especially if you can get outside with nature Factor in time each day for being in the moment. It might be a dog walk, colouring, music or watering a plant. If tasks feel too overwhelming, set small achievable goals such as 5 emails, or clearing dishes in the sink. Achieving small steps closes a loop that increases motivation. Social connection is important. Choose people who add to your energy and don't deplete it. Mood tends to get lowest when our thoughts are focused on things that are in the past, outside our control, or when we play ‘if only’. It’s the equivalent pouring water in a bucket that has a hole in it. If mood doesn’t improve, or you’ve had periods like this before, booking an appointment with your GP or psychologist is a good next step.
Life is full of competing demands. Our ability to choose our focus is at the heart of a happy, productive life. There’s no such thing as multi tasking. We have one torch light, and wave it between tasks. Focus is tied most closely to visual field. Declutter your desk, remove distractions such as pop ups, or if you are focusing on a relationship, remove anything that will compete for your attention. Be intentional. “What needs the benefit of my focus most right now?” When you are tempted to distract yourself with your phone or email, remind yourself that resisting urge for even another 30 seconds each time starts to retrain the brain Warm up to quality focus time by putting an X on a post it note on the wall in front of you. Practise focus for 3 minutes without moving your gaze. Set time limited periods of focus and be realistic. 90 minute blocks at most. Depending on how used to caffeine you are, 100-200mgs, 30 minutes before focused is required tends to work best. Take ‘low cost’ opportunities to practise maintaining focus, such as looking at only one character on the screen if watching TV. If you are up for it, take a cold shower or cold exposure within an hour of focus time. Focus is most effective when slightly fasted rather than when full.
7 Stages of Delegation
Delegation is not an “all or nothing” practice, and an important time management strategy. I’ll lead the process. You can shadow and observe to get more comfortable. Look into / read through this for me and give me a background briefing that we can discuss. Look into this and give me your advice or a recommended plan of action and I’ll decide. Explore, set out a plan and check back with me. We can decide together. Scope out a plan and give me your recommendation before you act, but the decision will be yours. Explore, decide, and act within certain conditions (eg within budget or risk matrix). Let me know how it went and what you learned. This is yours now. Go for it and check in if you need.
Anxiety in many ways is a normal part of life. When it impacts ability to sleep, enjoy life or be at our best, these tips can help. Limit caffeine to 2-3 drinks per day Reduce alcohol. It can feel helpful but it’s a wildfire to worry Improving sleep is important to help with perspective and to increase more rational thought Observe your thoughts like they were on a projector screen. Gently edit the wording. Eg “He/She doesnt like me” might become “I’m not sure what they are thinking.” Sort worries into 3 buckets. - 1) What is within my control? 2)What I can influence but not control? 3) What is outside my control? Exercise with mid range effort - a slow jog or walk is good Focus on breathing. To calm yourself - a long inhalation in, then another short exhalation in (like you are drawing an exclamation mark), followed by a short sharp exhalation. Repeat 3 times. Consider “Where is the evidence for that?” Or “Do I have enough information to worry yet?” Remember that specific strategies are available for specific anxiety types, such as social anxiety, phobias or trauma with good results Chat with your GP or complete a full assessment to understand underlying elements if anxiety persists.
A difficult conversation for some, might not be a difficult conversation for others dependent on previous experiences or what you are concerned is at stake. Considering the following might help to approach these: Act, don’t react. Pause to consider if having a conversation is likely to be helpful, and know what you hope to achieve from it. Take time to prepare when, how and where to have the conversation. If high emotion is present or the issue has been building up, open a blank note and get everything off your chest that you wish you could say even if it’s exaggerated. When you’ve let it spill out, go back and delete the unhelpful parts and try and get it down to a focused message. Curiosity before judgement. “Talk me through what you were feeling during the meeting” instead of “You were unprofessional” Don’t expect agreement or validation. Your role is to do the best you can, in a manner that feels fair and that you are proud of. You cannot control the outcome, only yourself and the process. The most powerful 3 words you can utter in conflict is ‘Tell me more”. Let the other person share their bucket and what’s in it. Even if it is the last thing you feel like, it will de-escalate them and do half the work for you. Express empathy. You don’t need to agree to empathise “This feels like unfair feedback to you…” Use solution-focused language. “I’d like it if in future meetings you were on time and prepared for the presentation before others dial in”. Own your own vulnerabilities, mistakes or regrets If the conversation feels circular, suggest a break and a time to regroup on next steps.
Stress is often considered negative, and something to be avoided. At high levels for long periods, it can cause harm. In general day to day life, however, it is necessary for growth, performance and change. Here are some things to keep in mind. The mindset we have about stress impacts on how we respond to it. People who view stress as a signal for a growth opportunity, increase their ability to perform and have less negative physical and mental health impacts than others. Consider that we all have 20 hurdles (stressors) between now and an Olympic Gold medal! Each one is a challenge to be navigated, taking us one step closer to the finish line. Stress is a signal that we care about something and it matters to us. Eg Wanting to win the job, or deliver the project. It’s a better problem to have than not caring about anything. Language, including self talk, matters. Be precise. Eg Instead of “I’ll never get everything done in time”, change it to “I need to get the first chapter done by Monday”. Avoiding or ignoring hard emotions amplifies them. Acknowledge it with a label. “I’m feeling uncertain about the move”. The minute you do, we lose less ‘battery’ trying to keep it at bay When worry or over-thinking is high, action is best. Walk. Move desks. Set a goal you can achieve in the next 10 minutes. Sleep and physical health is critical. How you slept 1-2 nights prior will often dictate how resilient you are 2 days later. Eat well, exercise and get good quality sleep. Remember, stress will increase proportionately to the amount of time you are focused on things that are outside of your control. Put your chips on something that you can influence. Take an aerial view. Push yourself back from the table or desk and tilt your chin up. Problems are rarely solved by being even more in the problem. In fact, the solution will most likely be outside of it.