How to Manage Anxiety

Happy young woman holding cup with tea in be

Do you need some ideas on how to manage anxiety?

We often talk about being anxious about something, and it is true that we face a lot of stress and worry in our lives. However, anxiety can become more than an occasional, manageable part of life for some people.

Here are some ways to tell if your anxiety may be a problem, as well as some ideas on how to manage anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

If you are anxious for a specific reason, this can make perfect sense. The anxiety is there to help you to an extent. Anxiety is a state of awareness that something may be threatening you, and so the body gets ready for ‘fight or flight’ in order to keep you safe.

You may feel your heart pounding, sound rushing in your ears, your face becoming flushed as blood runs through your body, or your muscles becoming tense. If you are anxious about a job interview or an important exam, the body becomes extra alert to let you know that you need to prepare.

Anxiety becomes a problem when it has little or no reasonable cause, or it happens constantly. The physical feelings of anxiety come on and the sufferer can feel an ongoing sense of worry, fear, and dread, when they don’t know why.

This kind of anxiety can interfere with everyday life, causing people to avoid certain situations, interacting with people, and even leaving the house. People with chronic anxiety often use alcohol or drugs to calm their fears and quieten their constant worrying minds.

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you may need some ideas on how to manage anxiety.

Around 18% of adults suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder, although only around a third of them will seek treatment to help. Often people living with anxiety will develop depression as well.

Simple Ways to Help Manage Anxiety

Chatting to a counsellor about your anxiety is one of the very best ways to help manage it. You may have underlying reasons for your anxiety which need to be addressed to help you face the anxiety itself.

Anxiety can come on when we aren’t looking after ourselves, so maintaining a general level of good health will always help. Get eight hours of sleep every night, exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week and get some fresh air and sunshine every day. Reduce sugar, alcohol, and caffeine and try to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and healthy sources of fat.

Some supplements may help including wild fish oil, magnesium and vitamin B complex – all of which have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood.

Relaxation techniques and alternative therapies are incredibly helpful for many people, including meditation, yoga, acupuncture and tai chi.

Mindfulness is an easy practice that you can add to every day which helps you to focus your mind and not get caught up in the physical and emotional stresses of anxiety. There are some excellent apps for daily mindfulness that make it simple to introduce into your daily routine, such as Smiling Mind, Aura or Calm.

You can also try something like journalling or mindful colouring to help focus your mind.

Resources
https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

How to Talk to Your Child About COVID-19

Mother and Child

“Now is the time to stay close to our children. They need to feel us beside them so they don’t feel as worried as they are.
We need to be honest with them and let them know that good people from around the world are working very hard to keep them safe and healthy.
Our children will believe us, we love them deeply.”

Australian Childhood Foundation article: “Staying Connected with our Children”

The situation we find ourselves in at the moment triggers a range of emotions and concerns for us all. As adults, we have multiple concerns and a range of emotions moving through us, and we may be struggling to find adequate words to express ourselves.
Our children bear witness to our confusion or worries and are exposed to most of the same ‘flood’ of information that surrounds us. They will be experiencing their own confusion, anxiety and wordlessness.

Play and movement-based activities are helpful ways for children to ‘ventilate’ and regulate strong emotions. It is also helpful for children to have quiet time to connect with you without having to talk or be ‘busy’—opportunities to be still.

Children need to know what is going on and why their lives have changed so much; why they can’t see their friends, why school has stopped, why library visits and playgroup is no longer happening, why sleepovers and visits to grandparents are not happening.

At this time it is important to give children information that is age appropriate. What you talk about with a teenager will be very different to what you tell a 10 year old and different again for a four year old.
There are some resources that may support these discussions:
Australian Childhood Foundation resources for families about COVID-19: https://www.childhood.org.au/covid-19/
There are a selection of stories and resources for parents and carers supporting children to understand about COVID-19 as they work through social isolation.

Regardless of your childrens’ ages you need to stay connected.

The Australian Childhood Foundation have put together these simple suggestions to help you talk about the virus in a way that is truthful and loving.

  • Be honest with your children about what is happening. Let them know that things like this have happened before, and they have ended.
  • Remind children you love them and your love will never change. Validate their feelings and reassure them you have the same sorts of feelings too. Tell them it’s ok to be worried or scared, or to feel whatever emotions they’re experiencing. Tell them they can share these emotions with you. Acknowledge the disruptions and change in activities. Let them know these activities will start again when the virus has gone. Work together on how you can do these sorts of activities at home together.
  • Have fun and play together and have quiet time together too.

I am offering support to parents and carers through online or telephone consultations, throughout this period. If you would like to ‘check-in’ or make a time to talk with me about ways to support your children (or yourself), please do not hesitate to contact me. Reduced fees may apply.

Contact us by clicking here.

References:

Australian Childhood Foundation article: “Staying Connected with our Children”

Helpful Resources.

  • Online book by Theresa Fraser (attached) and also available for download here: https://www.maritimeplaytherapycentre.com/blog
    This book is brief and helpful for explaining to children that we are all working together to help people by staying home.
  • Australian Childhood Foundation’s ‘Bringing Up Great Kids’ page: http://www.bringingupgreatkids.org/en/

For other excellent parenting resources, including videos and reading materials about ‘connected parenting.’

  • Kinderling Radio: https://www.kinderling.com.au/
    Music and stories to share with younger children. Older children love them too!
  • Generation Mindful: https://genmindful.com/products/time-in-toolkit
  • Time in Toolkit. Helping children learn about their emotions in a positive and supportive way.

Parenting Support Resources

  • The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did). Penguin Life Random House UL. 2019. Philippa Perry.
    A simple and relatively short read to help parents differentiate their feelings so they are better able to help their children. Practical and relevant for any parent.

Online Counselling Handy Hints

Female client using laptop for online counselling

Adapting to our dynamic world is certainly presenting new challenges for all of us.

The transition to online counselling for most people has been sudden and a necessity, rather than a preferred mode for counselling. Online counselling is not for everyone and may not suit some issues or people.

For this reason, I recommend that you try at least 3 online sessions before deciding if it suits you.

We’ve put together a few suggestions that might help you get the most out of your online counselling experience and make it as comfortable as possible.

  1. Ensure you are in a private space

    This might sound fairly easy, but if you have children, it may be quite challenging. Some clients sit in their car, others will schedule the session when another parent or carer can be available to help them carve out some private space. You are welcome to negotiate with me for a time that suits you. I have some flexibility across my working days of Wednesday to Saturday each week.

  2. Make sure you have confirmed with me which platform you are using

    I use one of three platforms: professional Zoom, Skype or Facetime.

  3. Try using a headset, ear phones or ear pods

    Using a headset, ear phone or ear pods can significantly reduce distracting background noise and enable all parties to hear each other better.

  4. Have your facial features well lit

    I can see you better and you will see me clearly by placing any lighting in front of you. This way your face is illuminated well. Any lighting behind you, such as open curtains, open doors, or any sort of electrical or other light will make you dark. It is then difficult to see your facial features.

  5. Good connection to the internet

    While a good internet connect is mostly out of your control, you can do a few things to assist. Be as close as possible to your modem or Wi-Fi port; limit other family members being online whilst your session is in progress; use a device that you know works well with your Wi-Fi. If your Wi-Fi connection is not great, you may want to consider using mobile data. In these instances, please check that you have enough data to undertake the online call. I cannot take responsibility for any disruption to the call due to poor internet speeds. I make all reasonable efforts ensure I have a reliable internet connection when undertaking sessions.

  6. Chose the right device

    Your tablet, laptop or PC are best. However, phones can be used. Tablets are best used in portrait mode. Make sure you do not need to hold your device. This way, your hands are free to move as you talk and you can adjust your position comfortably without me having to look up your nose, at the ceiling or at another part of your space you may prefer to keep private. If you use your phone, turn off notifications. This way, you won’t be interrupted during your session. Please consider sending all calls automatically to message bank.

  7. Couples sessions

    These can be successfully managed in a couple of ways:
    1. Both people are seated next to each other and need to be able to turn and face each other easily so a dialogue can be facilitated. It is best to use a laptop or tablet for this type of session.
    2. Both people use their own device, are in a different room (or even a different location) and connect in using Zoom (preferred platform). Being physically located in another space is important to reduce feedback noise.

  8. Home isolation and issues for counselling

    Some people like to bring an issue or topic to the session and may worry working from home or being socially distanced will impact this. Please be reassured you started counselling for a reason and that reason is still present, whether you are working at home or in the work-place. In session issues will make themselves known to you. I have never had a client sit for a full session with nothing to say.

Allow a few sessions to see if online counselling is meeting your needs or not. Talk to me so we can see what we can do together to support you during this time of social distancing and isolating for health reasons.

How to keep positive and active during COVID-19

Man working from home, self Isolation and calmed by beagle dog

Is it possible to live and thrive in this ever-changing world as each day brings new restrictions and mounting fear?

A few months ago we had never heard of Coronavirus or COVID-19; now they are words we use every day. Social distancing—just yet another new phrase we use every day.

As more of us self-isolate, work from home, or are quarantined, our physical contact with others is less. Social distancing implies a lack of social contact, but it doesn’t need to mean this.

We need to maintain physical distance. But, we can still connect socially and emotionally with our friends and family.

The scenes of frantic buying, lack of concern for others and fear of the future is shared daily through the media. This means it is time to be selective about what you listen to and what you watch on TV and social media. Choose reputable and trusted media outlets to get your updates, and stay socially connected to your loved ones, be they relatives or close friends.

You may need to physically distance, but you do not need to socially distance.

I am a baby boomer. I’ve never experienced anything like this. My daughter has lived the safe and mostly care free life Australia has provided—up until now. I have grandchildren. I want them to have the same carefree life their mother had. Climate changes, environmental issues and now the Coronavirus are making this seem like just a pipe dream. However, we can all be choiceful about how we respond in these times. We can choose to nurture our planet and ourselves.

During these next few months as winter comes and the COVID-19 curve continues to climb, choose kindness instead of rudeness, hope instead of fear, social connection instead of social distance. Reduce the spread of coronavirus through physical distancing—not social distancing—and respect yourself and others.

Share your concerns and fears with a person who can hear you and who won’t feed the fear and make it bigger. Acknowledge any anxieties and seek help if they are becoming hard to manage. Join online groups focused on issues and topics in which you’re interested. If one doesn’t exist, start it! Join or start an online book club or music appreciation club. Visit museums online. Have a loud conversation across the road or balcony with your neighbour. Share a coffee with a friend in the park while maintaining a physically safe distance.

Start painting, knitting, crocheting, making mosaics, writing, exercising. Learn a musical instrument, yoga, Tai Chi or dance online. Get a cat or a dog. Stay connected, stay kind and stay respectful to yourself and others.

Perth Counselling & Psychotherapy Covid-19 Response

Cleaning Office

Your health and wellbeing is central to everything we do at Perth Counselling & Psychotherapy.

So, as the situation around coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, we wanted to reassure you that we’re working to support you during this difficult, challenging time.

We will continue to meet with clients face to face whenever possible, and for as long as possible. Rest assured that we are well-equipped to offer online video sessions to all clients and, dependent upon how the COVID-19 virus curve develops, it may be that eventually all our sessions are conducted online to help protect your health and safety, as well as that of our team.

Additional Hygiene Strategies

While we already have sound hygiene practices in place, we have implemented the following additional strategies to help reduce the risk of transmission:

  1. Specific to our West Perth rooms, all clients will have their temperature checked at the door. Any clients with a fever will be asked not to enter the building.
  2. We request that all clients use hand sanitiser once they enter the building.
  3. We will not shake hands or have any physical contact with clients.
  4. Social distancing of 1.5metres will be maintained within the consulting room.
  5. All work surfaces are cleaned a minimum of twice daily.
  6. Soft furnishings are disinfected twice daily.

How You Can Help

We expect all clients to comply with Government directives on self-isolation and quarantine periods. If you have a fever, sore throat, cold and flu symptoms, recently travelled overseas, been in contact with someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19), or believe you may be at risk, do not come into our offices. Please call us to reschedule.

Remember that all sessions can be provided online during self-isolation and quarantine.

We acknowledge the many and significant challenges that you may be coping with, and appreciate your willingness to comply with the strategies we have implemented.

Couples Counselling – Don’t use it as the last resort!

Couples Counselling Last Resort

We can be easily put off by the idea of seeing a counsellor (for anything), that we miss out on all of the ordinary ways that seeing someone can help you in everyday life.

Being part of a couple means that you closely depend on and communicate with another human being – with thoughts and feelings and actions completely different to your own.

You can’t control them and you can’t read their minds.

So even if things are ok in your relationship, it is completely normal that you may not be connecting or you may sometimes misunderstand your partner’s wants and needs. This becomes even harder if you throw in kids, work, financial worries, in-laws and any kind of stressful time like moving or renovating.

Don’t consider couple’s counselling as the last resort.

Couple’s counselling can help in many ways through the everyday trials and tribulations of being in a partnership – to stop you from getting to a point of no return.

Once you get to the place of not being interested in hearing from your partner, you are already in dangerous waters. You may find it too hard to care about the other person’s feelings or have any empathy for them. Relationship counselling before you get to this stage can help you sort out whether you want to put the effort into this relationship or is it really over.

Counselling from an experienced, independent and un-biased person can help both people to better listen to each other and to own how they may have contributed to the current situation.

Relationship or couples counselling can be very effective if you use it to ‘fine tune’ your relationship, a bit like having a regular dental check or car maintenance. It can help in making sure you are both on the same page and not ignoring issues that can gradually become bigger and start to create resentment.

No intimate relationship is without sad moments or difficult times. If a relationship is important to you then it is worth taking that extra step to help it. Talking to a counsellor can help you remember why you fell in love in the first place, as well as renegotiate your commitments to each other – you may be very different to the people you were when you first met. But this doesn’t mean the relationship has to end, you may just need to move the goalposts a little.

Seeing a therapist for couple’s counselling can help because:

  • You will have an external, objective opinion to help you connect with each other
  • You will have access to a toolbox of strategies and tips for dealing with problems that you wouldn’t have thought of
  • Problems like difficulty in communication, money stresses and problems with sex or intimacy can be resolved by listening to each other and being willing to compromise on the issues you know you can move on
  • It can help you each as individuals as well – improving your own self-confidence and helping you to find happiness again.
  • It can be very helpful to have someone acknowledge and normalise what you’re going through – your relationship isn’t that weird after all!

Some basic, everyday issues that relationship counselling may be able to help with:

  • Pre-living together sessions to sort out your core values and know you are both aligned on these
  • Same sex relationships and societal, family responses and pressures
  • Parenting and intimacy
  • Separation in a respectful way
  • Separation and co-parenting
  • Blended families
  • Managing physical or mental illness
  • Infertility
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Ageing parents

A couple in any kind of conflict extends further than just them, and can affect your family, children, and work as well.

Seeing a counsellor brings any conflict into a safe appropriate space and helps you to keep the conflict separate from the children and provides support for the other areas of your life as well.

For more information or to make an appointment contact Perth Counselling & Psychotherapy.

Why we can feel so easily hurt by our partner

Being in an intimate relationship is very rewarding and also very challenging. How can it be that the one we love most, is the one that can hurt us the easiest? Seems a bit unfair…….

Relationship is actually where we can work out many of our issues from the past. Not being in an intimate relationship often means there is no one to ‘press our buttons’. While we  have longing for intimacy, we do not long for the other side of it, which is how quickly we can feel hurt by our partner. In relationship we can feel totally blissful and loved and we can also feel infuriated, unheard, criticised or unimportant. These last feelings are very deep and painful and when we feel them, we blame our partner for making us feel this way. This response of blame on the other, actually can leave us feeling like we are at their mercy NOT to feel like this again, a sense of not being in control of our emotional responses.

Gestalt therapy is a gentle yet incredibly effective way of finding out where these feelings come from and what they are about. Exploring these feelings can provide you with knowledge and awareness which can take the blame off your partner and allows you to be choicefull about your emotional responses.

Contact us to make an appointment.

What to do when your partner wont attend couples counselling

Are you considering separation? Are you wanting to try couples counselling but your partner is reluctant to attend?

The stress of relationship difficulties can sometimes result in a situation where one or both people feel that separating is the only answer. This is a big step to take and it is often at this critical stage of the relationship that couples seek help. But what if one person doesn’t want to attend counselling, for whatever reason……….should the other go ahead by themself?

Too frequently what stops one person from attending counselling at this time is their opinion that if their partner really cared and valued the relationship they would attend counselling together. It is not always this black and white and there can be many reasons why some people are reluctant and not wanting to attend counselling: they my be fearful they will be judged in some way by the counsellor; they may find it difficult to able to say clearly what is happening for them; they may feel uncomfortable having to talk about personal issues; they are using denial of problems as their way of coping, seeing a counsellor makes this coping strategy hard to continue with.

The simple answer is YES there is real value in one half of a couple seeking help whenever there is any type of threat to the safety and stability of their relationship.

Just as relationship or couples counselling can assist both people to gain insight into their present difficulties, individual relationship counselling can be of benefit for the same reason. Issues that are affecting your relationship can be discussed and the counsellor can help you improve your communication and listening skills and help you to become more aware of how you may promote or inhibit effective communication with your partner at times.

Increasing your understanding of who you are, how you got to be the person you are and communicate the way you do all, along with the acquisition of some practical skills you can use at home, all are valuable in assisting you to support better communication between yourself and your partner.

Contact us to make an appointment if you would like to explore your relationship concerns.

Self awareness, choice and less judgement

More than a few months ago I was motivated and consistent with following the 5 and 2 way of eating. I was losing weight, feeling better, had more clothes to choose from, and that was just inside my own wardrobe!!

What happened? My daughter became pregnant and bought a house, I married my long term partner, I became a grandmother recently, I had some issues I had to resolve……….in other words, life is what happened!

The difference for me from any other time in my life when I have started something and then stopped is that I am giving myself permission to NOT do it. In this permission giving I have reduced the pressure I put on myself to get back to this way of eating. It will happen again, I know this as I believe in the science behind this diet and know it is something I can do without depriving myself and then feeling resentful. I have done it before so I know I can do it again.

Some weeks I have started again, I have done the first day of 500 calories fasting, then find I am not up to doing this the 2nd day that week. So I only do the one day and I am fine with this, in fact I say to myself, ” well done, you did a day”.

So what is the big deal about this? Firstly it means I have been able to stop a lot of the negative thoughts about what in the past I judged as my own weakness or lack of willpower. I accept what I can do and am not giving my self a hard time for not doing more. I am enjoying this place of no guilt, it is liberating and gentle to me and I am loving that I can be this giving to myself.

The big question is, “How did I get here?” Self awareness is the simple answer, but it tells nothing of my journey involved to reach this place. At times gut wrenching but emotionally rewarding therapy, heart ache, love, experience. Everything that involves risk of some sort, risk of making a mistake, risk of being seen, risk of failure………not staying safely cocooned from life and the joys and heart aches it puts our way will put us on the path to self awareness and with this comes greater choices that can enrich and deepen our lives.

So for me, right now, it has been about the 5 and 2 diet. The wonderful thing about self awareness is that it works across my entire life: I have greater understanding of my self in relation to others and their impact on me; I have clearer insight to my responses in certain situations and take responsibility for them, rather than blame the other person. On it goes.

If you are interested in achieving self awareness and having more control over decisions and choices you make, call for an appointment on 0458 677 108.

Circle of Security Parenting Program

A well attached child is secure – Circle of Security Parenting.

Developed by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper and Bert Powell in the 1980s and based on John Bowlbys research on child/mother attachment, the Circle of Security Parenting educates parents on healthy attachment; What it is, why it is important and how to achieve it.

Many factors influence how you parent, and research has shown that offering ways to be with your children when they  are distressed, angry, happy, sad etc can enable them to feel safe and secure and provide an essential gateway to their well being, both in their childhood and also into their future.

Even if a parent has had a healthy and well attached relationship with their primary care-giver, (which in our society is usually the mother), research has shown attending this program can deepen awareness of how you provide nurturing to your child/ren.

In this program, you will learn how to communicate and most importantly how to reflect on your relationship with your child/ren, what gets in the way of you being with your child/ren and how to recognise these times and manage them so they no longer hinder your parenting.

If you have tried or are still trying to be the perfect parent, STOP! This  creates tension in your parenting, frustration and self criticism. This program is full of practical suggestions and helps to build your self awareness so you can continue to support a secure and well attached child as they grow through the different stages of their childhood.

You already have what is necessary to be a good parent. You are hard wired to form a close and lasting attachment with your child/ren. through a secure attachment your child/ren can feel safe and cared for as they navigate the myriad of emotional feelings and experiences.

This program can be delivered as private sessions to one or both parents or to small groups of parents and grandparents. The program runs for 1.5hrs each week for 8 weeks. 

Contact us for course dates, times and costs.

Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy Logo

As restrictions surrounding COVID-19 begin to ease in Western Australia, Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy is once again offering face-to-face sessions, in addition to online sessions. For those of you visiting us in-person, rest assured that we are strictly following social distancing regulations and will not have any physical contact with clients. If you have any questions, please contact your therapist for more information.