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Six Strategies for Self-Care

Posted on September 4, 2015 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Whether it’s a day that’s been particularly stressful, a series of events that suddenly pile up, or a chronic illness that just seems like too much today, it’s important to have options to make life more manageable. As you might tell from the name, self-care is a method of taking care of yourself! It’s not an elaborate plan, just a list of options that you can do to make yourself feel better. For those days when you’re sore, tired, achey, or just plain feel like you can’t even, here’s some little things that you can do.

 

 

1. Have a hot drink

Tea isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and the caffeine in coffee can make some people feel even more stressed out, but any kind of hot drink can be soothing. Plus it’s a good way to hydrate! Not enough water can lead to headaches, lack of concentration, and a working memory that isn’t fully functional – which means anything else you’re doing becomes infinitely more difficult. Some of my favourite hot drinks are honey citron drink, hot chocolate, or heated apple cider. Also check out Wikipedia’s  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hot_beverages.

 

2. Go for a walk

This is a classic way to get your consciousness thinking about other things. If you’re stuck on a problem, walking forces you to physically distance yourself from it and gives you space to think. If your neighborhood isn’t ideal for walking, you can pace your flat, or go to a park nearby.

 

3. Take a (short) nap

The incubation theory says that sleeping on a problem can help your mind relax its constraints and think about the problem in a new way. Whether you actually dream up a solution or not, a 20-30 minute nap can recharge your brain, clear out toxins, and leave you feeling ready to tackle the problem again from a new angle. A word of warning if you choose this approach, do remember to set an alarm – self-care should be something that prepares you to do other things, and if you sleep away the afternoon you could wake up feeling even more stressed!

 

4. Write it out

Keeping a diary isn’t something that works for everyone, but jotting down your feelings or thoughts on a piece of paper can be a way to clarify what exactly you’re feeling. Free associate with the things that are bothering you – why are they bothering you? What about this situation is overwhelming? Is there something that you do can to solve or manage this with the right steps? If not, what are some things in the present that you can do to make it less harmful to your mental health? Check out our last post on harm reduction for some ideas.

 

5. Get in touch with a friend

I talk to my friends through so many ways that it’s easier to say “communicate” than anything else! Whether it’s a snap on snapchat, a Facebook message, or a good old-fashioned phone call, it can be great to get in touch with someone who knows you really well.

 

6. Take a stretch break

There are so many easy stretches to relieve tension, which also can reduce stress! Because physical symptoms can be misinterpreted by the brain and attributed to the wrong causes, tension in your body can make you feel more stressed than you actually are. Get up! Lean down and reach for the floor, then lean back and reach your arms behind your head. If you can, sit down and stretch out anything that feels tight or sore. Give yourself time! Don’t rush it, take 10-15 minutes to really get into it and feel the results.

 

The most important part of your self-care is that it’s tailored to YOU! I’m more of an introvert, which means that even though I love being around people, I recharge by being alone (meditating, reading a book, going to the park). For extroverts, recharging can come from being around and engaging with others (talking, dancing, cuddling with a trusted person or a pet). It’s all about what’s right for you and your head.

 

Also, try to come up with self-care that you can do the moment you need it. While getting a massage is a great way to relax and de-stress, it’s hard to get yourself out to a massage place when your head is spinning! Try and think of 5 easy things that you can do wherever, whenever.

What do you think of our list? What’s on yours? Let us know in the comments!

 

[Inspired by everydayfeminism.com/2015/02/self-care-101/]

 

Why it's not as simple as just saying no

Posted on May 28, 2013 at 2:20 AM Comments comments (0)

 

A teenage girl and boy are sexting on their phones. Eventually, they decide to meet up then head back to his place. They go to his room and things start to get heated. When he pulls out a condom, she doesn’t say no, although she does go a quiet and still. She isn’t sure if she’s ready, but she’s also curious about sex and worried about him thinking she is a tease. She ends up having sex with him and, although it's slightly painful, it's not as bad as she imagined. She even feels relieved.

 

Afterwards, she is talking to her girlfriends and says “I don’t know, I mean it was ok. I wasn’t really in the mood, but the poor thing was all hot and bothered! You know how boys are. I guess it wasn’t too bad, but I probably wouldn’t do it again.”

 

Ask the average woman if this girl has been raped, and their answer will most likely be no. Sure, she may have had a regrettable experience, but if she didn’t want to have sex, she could have said no, right?

 

Not according to Melissa Burkett and Karine Hamliton. They have published a new study that shows that even forty years after the sexual revolution, women are still often coerced into having sex that they do not want. And a lot of it has to do with our culture.

 

Right now, we live in a “coercion culture”. A “coercion culture” is a culture normalises coercive behaviour. In our current “coercion culture” preventing rape is considered to be entirely the responsibility of women. This kind of culture makes several (unspoken) assumptions about consent that make it difficult for even the most assertive person to “just say no”.

 

Consent is assumed

 

“Coercion culture” assumes that from the moment that a man and a woman begin to interact sexually, the woman is consenting to other kinds of sexual activity as well, including penetrative and oral sex.

 

Sometimes, the assumed consent begins before anything physical even occurs. Various women who were interviewed in Burkett and Hamilton’s study believed that just going to a man’s house, texting them with sexually explicit messages or flirting with them implied consent to sexual activity.

 

Consent is only about words

 

“Coercion culture” teaches women that the only way they can withdraw this assumed consent is by saying the word “no”. Unless the word “no” has been spoken, and spoken in an assertive, forceful tone, consent is still assumed.

 

This assumption is completely removed from the way that individuals actually negotiate during sex. When people were asked about how they convey consent in sexual situations, most people mentioned using body language to provide unspoken messages to their partner. Many people are negotiating consent without talking to each other at all.

 

Physical coercion is the only form of coercion

 

“Coercion culture” portrays rape as a man physically forcing a woman to have sex with him. Outside of this, it assumes women are making their sexual decisions free from coercion.

 

However, many women reported that if they did not engage in regular sex with their partner, they experienced –

 

Verbal pressure

Increased arguments

Loss of intimacy within their relationship

Fears that they would lose support from their partner

Fears that they would lose their relationship with their partner

 

It wasn’t rape – I just didn’t want it

 

“Coercion culture” ignores the fact that sex can be coercive, even when women don’t experience a sexual activity as rape. Women often cite a variety of complex reasons (such as wanting to please their partner or feelings of guilt about changing their mind) as reasons for having sex that they did not want. However, this sex was viewed by them as consensual because it did not fit the standard societal definition of rape.

 

Empowered women don’t get coerced

 

What makes it harder to expose all of these ideas is the assumption that because women can vote (for primarily male candidates) and work (for less pay than their male counterparts) they are now “empowered”. Women are free agents, making unhindered decisions about their lives and our sexualities. Empowered women, so the thinking goes, are on an equal footing with men. So there is no reason to worry about this coercion business - because it’s not happening.

 

This is perhaps the most dangerous assumption of all.

 

Consent culture

 

Let’s talk about a different kind of culture for a moment. Imagine a culture where anything other than an active and enthusiastic yes was taken as a lack of consent. That is a “consent culture”.

 

Imagine a culture where, when two people are having sex, it is considered normal to check in verbally several times with your partner to see if what you are doing is ok. That is a “consent culture”.

 

Imagine a culture where whenever you had sex you negotiated explicitly about what was and wasn’t ok, and assumed that you were consenting only to activities that you had already spoken about. This is “consent culture”.

 

Have another look at the example at the beginning of the article. Was what happened between that girl and her partner rape? Coercion culture says no. But was what happened between them entirely consensual? Absolutely not.


How would the above scenario have played out in a consent culture?


For starters, the entire context of would be changed. Both people in this scenario would have grown up in a culture that encouraged openness, exploration, and education around sex and consent. 

Texting back and forth wouldn't have any connotations of consent to anything else. Each person would have check in several times before making the decision to come over, by verbally asking things like "is this still ok?" and "are you still comfortable with this?".

Sex hopefully wouldn't have been initiated by just producing a condom. But if it was, the boy would have immediately stopped and checked in with the girl the minute her body language changed. 

They would have negotiated about different activities they could do together, or the girl could simply inform the boy that she has changed her mind. There would be no negative consequences, no pressure, no attempts to change her mind and no worries about her reputation. 

And if they did check in, talk, negotiate and decided together that they both still want to have sex, it would be in  way that was fun, pleasurable and consensual for both of them. 


Want more information on consent?


Try the Yes Means Yes Blog or  the Red/Yellow Card Project

 

Why everyone should have a therapist

Posted on August 10, 2012 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (0)

One of our twitter followers passed on this fantastic article -

Why everyone should have a therapist

Good on you guys, keep them coming :)

Some helpful links, and great news for anyone with a co-morbidity

Posted on February 16, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi all

Just a quick one today to keep everyone updated.


First of all, a link to a fabulous insider perspective on navagating the mental health system by laketothelight. Wow, super comprehensive and very helpful.


Some fabulous news; ACON are now running educational sessions "Snakes and Ladders" of a Tuesday afternoon for anyone who would like to learn more about, or has experienced issues with, both mental health and alcohol and other drugs.


Lastly, we have listened to your feedback and have updated our intake and assessment forms! There is now an "own definition" section on your initial intake form for both gender and biological sex, and the "other" tick box has been removed.


A helpful reminder for us as mental health professionals (and as people) that no one should be considered "other" - just different :)

 


Navigating the Mental Health System - Part II

Posted on January 27, 2012 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

 

Financial Help

Hello everyone! I’m back to updating the mental health blog after a break over Christmas and New year. This is part two in my navigating the mental health system series, all about financial help.

I often speak to people who are struggling with finances due to their illness, and having a chronic illness of any kind (mental health or otherwise) can make it hard financially. You are often limited in the kind of work you can do, you may need time off for doctors appointments,and you may need part time rather than full time work.

Unfortunately, getting any kind of financial assistance is a very stressful process, so here is your “how to” guide to make it easier to get access to financial support that you are entitled to.


Centrelink

The benefit from Centrelink that most people are familiar with is Newstart, the payment that covers you while you look for work. However, you may not be aware that Centrelink also have other benefits such as the Sickness Allowance, Disability Support Pension, Mobility Allowance, Supported Wage System and Crisis Payments.

This means that you might be eligible for support if you go through a period of illness, if you have problems travelling to and from work, or if you need to leave your home due to domestic violence.


How do I get assessed for the Disability Support Pension?

If you have been unable to work for the past 2 years, you may be eligible to receive the Disability Support Pension.The first step is to approach Centrelink and ask them for the paper work that you will need to complete, and book any appointments you need.

They will usually need a report from your doctor and any treating specialists who might be able to provide them with information about your illness. Centrelink have their own staff who will provide you with a job capacity assessment.


What about psychological issues such as depression and anxiety?

Centrelink have their own psychologists who have received specialist training to perform job capacity assessments. They will refer you to one of these psychologists, who will ask you questions about your condition and ability to work. The psychologist will usually spend at least 1-2 hours with you, and may request that you return for another session.


What if I'm not elligible for the DSP?

Many people who eventually receive the DSP spend some amount of time receiving Newstart. This can be difficult because Newstart requires you to look for a certain number of jobs per fortnight, which can be hard if you are suffering from depression or anxiety.


Difficulty applying for jobs

If you have been having difficulty applying for jobs because of your condition, you will need to get a medical certificate from your doctor. You don’t need to go in every day, but the medical certificate does need to state that you are currently medically unfit to work for 8 hours per week.


Missingappointments/job interviews

If you miss an appointment, make sure you get a doctors certificate. If you miss several appointments Centrelink is required to give you a “Comprehensive Compliance Assessment” to determine why this has been happening. If you can bring medical certificates to this assessment, they will usually provide you with extra support, and may give you leniency around the amount of jobs that you need to apply for each week.


Link in with an agency

There are several agencies who can provide you with support, and help you find a workplace with an understanding of health and mental health issues. If they are aware you have a disability, some workplaces may also be able to offer you part time or modified work. This will give you valuable experience and some temporary extra income until you find the job you want.


What gets in the way of seeking help?


Paperwork and red tape

The best person to ask for help is Centrelink’s Community Engagement Officer. There is one in every major city, and in some regional centres as well. It’s their job to help people access the benefits that they are entitled to, and receive support through other agencies.

It may seem like a simple step, but just arranging a time with a friend to fill out paper work means that you are more likely to complete it. They can also provide help if you are experiencing fatigue or “brain fog” that day.


It's not always simple or easy

Unfortunately, it often takes several visits and phone calls to arrange for help, and it takes time. This can be extremely frustrating if you need help right now, or if it took a lot of effort just to pick up the phone.

Just knowing to expect that it will take a few tries can be helpful. It’s ok if it doesn’t get sorted out on the first appointment, or the second. Persistence is the key. Keep a written record of who you have spoken to, when you saw them, and what they told you to do to. Keep any forms you have filled out in a book or a folder, so that you have things with you when you need them.

Try to make phone calls when you are having a good day, so that you have the time and energy to deal with any frustration that you experience.


It’s ok to ask for help

In order to get help, you first need to recognise that you are someone who is living with a disability. Approximately one in five Australians suffer from a disability of some kind. Many of these are things that we don't always think of as a disability, like depression and anxiety, arthritis, poor eyesight, or back pain.

Disabilities don’t discriminate – you can be living with a disability even if you come from a nice family, have a good education, and are living entirely independently. If you are suffering from any kind of mental health issue or chronic illness, you still deserve help regardless of your socioeconomic status, gender, age or education level.


Helpful websites

People with Disabilities - A helpful list of agencies and other services for individuls living with a disability

Your Finances - The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation's financial information page

Food Services - A list of places where you can get free meals around Sydney, every day of the week

Financial Counselling - Free financial counselling from Financial Counselling Australia

 

Navigating the Mental Health System

Posted on December 1, 2011 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Navigating the Mental Health System

For the next little while I will be posting a series of articles to help you find your way around the mental health system. These will eventually be collected together into a "Navigating the Mental Health System" section for the website. Check back regularly for information on how to get the services that you need, and don't forget to email if there is a topic you would like to know about.


Part 1 - How do I get a referral to a psychologist?

As of the 1st of November 2011any individual who is experiencing mental health issues may be eligible for up to 10 sessions of treatment with a psychologist. These sessions are available over the calendar year (so, you could have 10 sessions any time from the 1st of January, 2012 until the 1st of January, 2013).

You will need a referral from a GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician. Most people choose to be referred via their GP. The referral your GP gives you is called a “Mental Health Care Plan”.


Some helpful things to remember

You can make it easier for yourself and your GP by calling before hand and confirming that they can provide a mental health care plan, and request a long appointment.

If you are requesting a referral to a specific psychologist, you will need the following information –

Name of Psychologist

Name of Practice

Address of Practice

Telephone Number

Medicare Provider Number

Registration Number

If you are unsure of any of these details, just ask the psychologist. They should be able to provide them to you, and maybe able to phone them through to your GP. If you don’t know who to see don’t worry, your GP should be able to provide you with a referral.


 What will happen in the appointment?

You GP will ask you a series of questions about your condition. They need to know about any changes to your mood, appetite and sleep. They will usually ask you about physical symptoms. Sometimes they will administer a brief questionnaire – this helps them get a better picture of what has been happening for you.

Sometimes when people are under stress they notice that they gamble more, drink more alcohol, or may use other substances to help themselves feel better. It is important to let your GP know if this has been happening so that they can refer you to the right person.

Your GP may also ask if you have been having any thoughts about hurting yourself, or about hurting anyone else –these are very normal thoughts when you are unwell or in a difficult situation. If this has been happening for you, it is important that you let your GP know so that they can provide you with extra support.


What then?

After you see your GP, you can contact your psychologist and make an appointment. It’s best to contact them as soon as possible as there is often a waiting list. If you are really struggling let them know – they may be able to help you find some alternative support until your first session.

If your psychologist bulk bills then you will not need to pay for your sessions. If they charge above the Medicare rebate, you will need to pay the full amount and then take the receipt to a Medicare office to be reimbursed.

Some practices can now reimburse you straightaway using new “Mediclear” software – ask your psychologist about “Mediclear” if this would be helpful for you.

Your psychologist will then be able to see you for 6 sessions. After the 6th session they will need to speak to your GP and decide if you are eligible for an additional 4 sessions.


Getting the most out of your referral

Some people find that they need more than10 sessions. While it is unlikely you will be able to access further sessions through your GP, there are ways that you can structure your appointments to get the most out of them.

You might space your initial sessions close together, and then space them out over time. You might choose to have your first sessions focus on helping you find employment or financial assistance. Or you might space your rebate sessions one month apart, and attend extra sessions in between when you can.

If you have private health insurance, contact your insurer – private health funds often provide cover for psychological services, and some of them run programs that can provide you with extra psychological support.


There are other services you may be elligble for

If you have multiple health issues, or your mental health issues are significantly impacting your physical health, you may be eligible for a referral to some other services such as -  

Aboriginal Health Worker

Audiologist

Chiropractor

Diabetes Educator

Dietician

Exercise Physiologist

Occupational Therapist

Osteopath

Physiotherapist

Podiatrist  

Speech Pathologist

If any issues such as pain, hearing loss, diabetes or weight gain/loss are making your mental health worse, you should consider asking your GP for a referral to one of these professionals as well.


Want to find out more?

“Better Access to Mental Health Care” is an initiative of the Department of Health and Ageing. You can find out more about it at the Department of Health and Ageing website.