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Alcohol in moderation reduces lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease

We have all heard it before “everything in moderation”.  This is certainly true when it comes to alcohol use. Alcohol effects the reward, motivation, learning and memory parts of the brain. Heavy drinking on a regular basis can lead to a physical dependency and this is why drinking in moderation is so important.

So how can you tell if you are at risk of developing a dependency? This is a difficult question to answer accurately but research undertaken by the National Health and Medical Research Council suggest in the Australian guidelines that “limiting alcohol intake to two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury”. This applies to both men and women. You can read more about the guidelines at: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/ds10-alcohol.pdf

If you are worried about your drinking or are concerned about the drinking habits of a family member it is important to seek help. Please contact the team at YoungMinds and Minds4Health to connect with one of our highly trained practitioners.

 

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Six ways you can help yourself if you have an eating disorder

There is no substitute for professional help when you have an eating disorder. However, there are some simple things you can do to help yourself.

  1. Regular eating
  2. Eat in company
  3. Eat food that provides good nutrition
  4. Avoid weighing and mirrors
  5. Keep a food diary
  6. Take regular exercise

Ideally you should seek help from a health professional who knows specifically how to assess and treat eating disorders. Some health professionals are trained, and approved by the Australian Centre for Eating Disorders (ACFED).

They include counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, and dietitians who have completed training and really understand what you are going through. More importantly, they have the skills to be able to help you recover and develop a more contented relationship with food.

We are lucky enough to have ACFED approved practitioners working at YoungMinds. Check out www.acfed.com.au for further information.

Reference: 

http://www.acfed.com.au/single-post/2016/04/11/7-simple-ways-to-help-yourself-recover-from-an-eating-disorder

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World Gratitude Day

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I find it really hard to be positive. It is so much easier to focus on the stresses or worries of life! Constantly focusing on the negatives can, however, take its toll. We can become overwhelmed, pessimistic, dissatisfied and even unwell. Being in such a negative state can also impact on relationships. Anyone else had the experience of their negative mood spilling out in a cross word or sharp reply?

 The 21st of September is World Gratitude Day. While being grateful has been formally celebrated since 1966 (the very first World Gratitude Day), it is only more recently that the concept has become more popular. You can now find specially designed journals and Apps designed to help you practice thankfulness. There has also been an increase in research into gratitude with the majority of studies finding a link between gratitude and wellbeing (e.g., Sansone and Sansone, 2010).

 It is all very well to talk about the benefits of being grateful, but how do we put it into practice? ReachOut (http://au.reachout.com/all-about-gratitude) have provided some suggestions:

  • Keep a gratitude journal: take time to regularly think about what you are thankful for and write it down (I choose three things each day);
  • Take photos of those things in your life you appreciate (as I always have my phone with me, I just take a quick pic when I see something I’m thankful for);
  • Let significant others in your life know that you’re thankful for them and why (this is one I need some practice with!).

 While being grateful isn’t guaranteed to take our problems away or remove unpleasant emotions, I find when I practice thankfulness a shift in my perspective takes place. Even though the stresses remain I am able to look at them differently. They don’t seem quite so big and overwhelming. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that gratitude takes practice; it is hard to change our way of looking at the world. Most us find it much more natural to focus on the negatives. So if you do give being grateful a go, remember to be kind to yourself. It may take some time for thankfulness to become a more automatic response. Why not start the shift now? What are you grateful for today?

 Sanone, R.A. and Sansone, L.A. (2010). Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation, Psychiatry, 7(11), 18-22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/
 Many thanks to Rebecca Yin Foo for this information (and for the lovely photo)
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Your inner adolescent may help you support your teenager.

Do you remember what it was like being an adolescent? I remember a great longing for freedom! I had played the ‘good girl’ role (typical eldest child!!) for all of my childhood and desperately wanted to find a new identity for myself. This I equated with moving out of home as soon as possible, which for me was starting university. While much has changed (it is much more common, for example, for young people to remain at home for longer), many challenges faced by adolescents today are similar to those faced by adolescents of the past: exploring identity, concerns about body image, managing emotions, increased responsibilities and freedoms, deciding on a career path, peer pressure, increased likelihood of risk taking behaviours and the list goes on. As we reflect on the young people in our lives can I encourage you to get in touch with your inner adolescent? As we together remember what it was like being a teenager, perhaps we can make a difference in a young person’s life today. Let’s make an effort to join with the young people in our lives with understanding and support as they navigate an often challenging time of life. If you would like more information about the challenges that face young people today you might like to check out the Teens Health website (https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/).

Many thanks to Rebecca Yin Foo for this information.
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Happy Fathers Day

We don’t always give dads the credit they deserve for being actively involved in the development of their children. After all, dads:

  • Can be a lot of fun – Roughhousing with dad is awesome fun and some of the research suggests that this kind of play during the preschool years is developmentally helpful.
  • Provide a different perspective to mum. Men tend to think differently to women and therefore, provide children with an opportunity to learn that there is always more than one way of looking at things.
  • Are really good at setting challenges and helping kids push themselves to reach them;
  • Can be great role models and teach kids important life skills.

Just as important as the role of motherhood, the role of fatherhood contributes to a child’s future relationships. Hence, boys tend to model themselves on their fathers. They emulate their father’s behaviours and seek to receive their approval at each developmental milestone and well into late adulthood. On the other hand, young girls who have affectionate and gentle fathers will look for those qualities in the men they chooses to be close to later in life.

These are just a few of the reasons why at Young Minds we love it when dad’s take an active role in therapy. Congratulations to all the hands on dad’s out there making positive contributions to their children’s lives. Keep up the great work.

If you need help with parenting or would like to improve your skills check out our parenting programs or make an appointment to discuss your specific needs with one of our trained psychologists.

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Celebrating Book Week – Our favourite children’s books

In celebration of Book Week, we have compiled a list of our favourite children’s books. We frequently use these books in therapy or recommend them to families.

The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

We often introduce this book to children who are experiencing    separation anxiety. It is a beautiful story that describes the connection between the people we love, even when they aren’t physically present.

 The Red Beast by K I Al-Ghani

This book was written with children on the Autism Spectrum in mind, however we use it with many children who have difficulty controlling their anger and emotions.

 

 

What is a Thought? by Amy Kahofer and Jack Pransky

A great book that introduces the concept of a thought and how they influence our feelings and behaviours.
 

 

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside

We often introduce this book to children who are experiencing anxiety and worries. It describes how worries can weigh you down and encourages children to instead share them with a trusted adult.
 

 

pic fiveIncredible You! by Wayne W. Dyer

An inspiring book for children, which aims to increase their self-esteem and confidence by helping them to realise how truly incredible they are.

 

 

Thanks to psychologist Melinda Garred for putting this great list together.
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Sustainability – Get out and about for International Youth Day

International Youth Day falls on 12 August and the theme this year is sustainability. It’s a day to inspire young people to actively participate in daily activities that have a positive impact on the future of the environment.

There is just something about the natural environment that makes us feel really good. Scientists suggest that spending time in the natural world can improve, not only mood but, cognition and overall general levels of health and wellbeing. It increases relaxation and decreases perceived stress leaving individuals feeling more positive about the world. So this might be a great week to get out and about in nature.

Here are our suggestions that might, not only have a positive impact on the environment but they may also, improve mood and bring about a sense of family togetherness.

  • Go on a picnic at a local park or visit the botanical gardens;
  • Start a vegie patch or a worm farm in the back yard;
  • Do some artwork with leaves, flowers, sticks or twigs etc;
  • Take a stroll along a local bike path and talk about the local vegetation – you never know you might even see some wildlife;
  • Take a trip on public transport to visit your closest beach.

Don’t forget to check out your local community which may support a whole range of activities aimed at protecting the environment. Most of all – enjoy!

 

Reference: Natural and wellbeing, The Australian Psychological Society Ltd https://www.psychology.org.au/public-interest/environment/wellbeing/

 

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Speech Pathology Awareness Week

Communication impairment in Australia is more common than you may think. Difficulties are found in both adults and children and range from the mild to the severe.

Communication involves using the voice, speaking, hearing, listening, understanding, social skills, reading and writing. Speech pathologists help people with a wide range of communication impairments.

While people can have problems in one or more areas and not another, people with communication impairment are likely to experience some difficulties in their interactions with others.

As with most health issues, the sooner people with communication difficulties seek help the better the outcome.

Different aspects of communication where Speech Pathology can be useful

Voice

Voice is using the vocal cords correctly to produce the sound so we can talk.

Speech

Speech is the sounds we use in language. Sounds such as /th/ and /r/ are later developing sounds and you would not expect a two or three year old to say them correctly.

Language

Language is how we put words together to make sentences and express our ideas as well as to understand others when they speak to us. Twenty percent of four year olds have difficulty understanding or using language. Thirty percent of people after a stroke suffer a loss of language.

Literacy

Literacy involves reading and understanding what is read and then writing it down so others can read and understand our written information. Children with a language impairment are six times more likely to have a literacy problem than children without. Forty six percent of young offenders have a language impairment.

Social Communication

Social Communication is how we learn to talk to others, to make friends and to understand both non-verbal and verbal information and the social rules which govern their use e.g. how do you interrupt politely two people talking, how do you request directions from a stranger etc. Many children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder have difficulty in this area.

Fluency

A common fluency problem is stuttering. This difficulty may first be noticed in childhood but may persist into adulthood.

For more information on communication difficulties go to the Speech Pathology Australia website where fact sheets and information on where to find a speech pathologist is documented.

Many thanks to Speech Pathologist, Jill Cross for sharing this information.
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On-line Safety: Keeping our Kids Safe

We all know that technology is becoming an important part of everyday life, so it is no surprise that parents worry about what their children access online.  Given that 45% of 9-11 year olds are avid users of social media sites and online gaming, there is genuine concern about cyberbullying, on-line predators, inappropriate material and interactions with complete strangers.

The truth is that we can’t stop the invasion of technology into our homes or social environments. It is an important part of our future. We can however, start to discuss cyber safety with children from the very first time they become active internet participants. According to some researchers it is worth having daily conversations about the online world. Talking about the sites being accessed and the games being played, from the very beginning, enhances communication. At the very least, it will enhance your understanding of what your child is talking about when they tell you about characters from their favourite games. It also provides space for you and your child to talk about any concerns they may have.

In addition, to actively talking about what’s happening online, the following few actions may help to reduce the risk of your child having a negative internet experience.

  • Have daily conversations about online safety;
  • Set rules about the kinds of information that can safely be provided online. Suggest it is not OK to give anyone your full name, your date of birth, or details about where you live etc;
  • Have rules about how long your child can spend online;
  • Set up an account and become familiar with the sites your child is accessing. Learn to play their online games if necessary;
  • Consider the use of technologies that filter or limit exposure to potentially harmful or distressing material;
  • Be a good role model of positive online behaviours.

The internet and social media provide some great opportunities for all of us to learn about the world. Unfortunately cyberbullying, offensive and illegal content are ongoing issues. If you need help with cyberbullying or would like to report offensive material contact the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner on 1800 880 176 or visit their website at: https://esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying-complaints/i-want-to-report-cyberbullying

 

Adapted from kidsMatter. Keeping children safe online, ÓCommonwealth of Australia, 2008 http://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/families/enewsletter/keeping-children-safe-online
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Stress Down Day – Do it for you!

Friday 22 July is stress down day. This is a national event organised by Lifeline and a great opportunity to do something different in your day to reduce the stress in your life; and if you are keen raise some money for Lifeline.

We live such busy lives and it is way too easy to ignore the warning signs that stress is starting to impact on our life.  Unfortunately, too much stress, if left untreated, can have an impact on our wellbeing and lead to health problems such as high blood pressure.

The message here is clear. It is important to monitor stress levels.

Whenever we start to feel things are getting out of control, it may be time to stop and consider some of the following suggestions that may help lift your spirits and give you an opportunity to control some of the symptoms of stress.

  • Breathe and take a moment to calm;
  • Socialise with friends and/or family;
  • Take regular exercise;
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Get enough sleep;
  • Meditate;
  • Do something you love doing (listen to music, dance, paint etc);
  • Talk to someone you trust

So why not give Stress Down Day a go. Check out the official Stress Down Day website at http://stressdown.gofundraise.com.au/ where you will find all sorts of fun things to do at work, school or home to increase your chill.

If you have taken steps to manage your stress but symptoms continue, please see your GP and/or consider seeking help from a professional therapist or counsellor. If you would like to book an appointment with one of our psychologists please contact us on (07) 3857 0074.