The aim of this site is to provide psychoeducation through a growing network of Doctors, Psychologists, Allied Health Professionals, and Inspiring Individuals who share a passion in raising more awareness and knowledge in the community as well as the health profession about Mind Health and General Wellbeing, and through a collaborative approach, a better outcome can hopefully be achieved. It is site for "everyone" and purely for the purpose of education and NOT as a replacement for therapy.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers and to your families. We thank you for your support in 2014 and hope that life will bring you much joy and happiness. We look forward to sharing more ideas with you in 2015!
Chronic pain can have a significant impact on both our physical and emotional well being.
My simple approach to treating chronic pain is as follows...
Treat the cause if you can eg a severe bulging disc with severe nerve impingement.
Treat the pain with non pharmacological methods such as heat, ice, TENS, improving core muscles, massage and physiotherapy.
Treat the pain with pharmacological methods with analgesics such as heat rub, capsicum spray, anti-inflamatory gels, panadol, anti-inflamatories and less ideally narcotics and possibly steroid injection into an inflamed tissue.
Increase the threshold to pain by improving mood, treating depression and anxiety and improving coping skills.
Chronic pain is not easy to treat and often require a multidisciplinary approach. Ask your Doctor about whether you are eligible for a Care Plan and possibly a Team Care Arrangement to access up to 5 Medicare subsidised visits to an Allied Health Professional such as a Physiotherapist.
Let's face it, we all have problems and in actual fact, if one day we have no problems, then this will become our "new" problem as we will get bored and have no more meaning and purpose. So, in order to thrive, be resilient and not get stressed and depressed, one needs to know "how to solve problems".
This is where we consider using the "Vinny's Toolbox".
First of all, stop and define WHAT the problem ACTUALLY is. Try to see the problem for what it is, not worse than what it is. When we are stressed, we tend to catastrophize and see things worse than it actually is. Try to perceive rather than judge.
Then consider which of the 4 following tools to use....
Run and Avoid. This is a very important tool and in actual fact, if we don't have it, we will probably die an early death. For example, if we see a snake in our path....Avoid! If there is a bushfire nearby....Avoid! However, most people use this tool inappropriately. They avoid when they shouldn't avoid. If you have a problem with your husband or wife, probably avoidance is not going to solve your problem. So the key is to use the right tool for the right situation or problem. If you need to put a screw in the wall, you would not use a hammer would you?
The opposite of run and avoid is to Fight, Show aggression, Blame, and Frustration. This is a very useful tool especially if you are in danger and you cannot avoid. Blame and anger helps to give us that burst of energy in order to get ourselves out of that danger. It is best used for your enemies and not for your family and friends. Aggression leads to "counter" defensiveness and escalates into more aggression. Aggression destroys relationship so remember, this tool is not for your family, friends or people who you need a continual relationship with.
Best way to understand the usefulness of the 3rd tool is to ask yourself this question. If you made $1 Million this year, the taxman is going to send you a tax bill for $300000. What tool would you use for this problem. ?Run and avoid ?Show aggression with the taxman or simply Accept and glad that you have made a lot of money. In all sincerity, I would love to have a tax bill of $300000. Again, some of us use this tool inappropriately. For example, if our children is failing in their school work, should we just let that go and accept? Maybe not.....
The last tool is where most of us also lack and that is Assertiveness. The problem is that most of us don't know the subtle difference between Assertiveness and Aggression. One of the best way to differentiate this is to ask yourself if there is blame or anger in your emotion. Assertiveness with blame will come across as Aggression. Examples of assertiveness and aggression are outlined below.....
"We need to talk or else it is over" = Aggression
"We need to talk" in a demanding voice = Can still come across as aggression as it implies that we need to talk, I don't really care whether you want to talk or not but I want to talk.
"I understand that you don't really want to talk about it and at the same time, this is very important for me and us, so do you think we can put aside sometime today to talk about it in order to solve this issue together? = Assertiveness. Assertiveness has no blame and accepts that both conflicting ideas can coexist hence the word "and".
(Be careful not to use the word "but" after a validation e.g. I understand that you don't really want to talk but I want to talk.)....... So take away the "but"!
Imagine saying things like "You are a great singer artist but you don't have the right image for it".
In essence, if one predominantly uses the "avoidance and blame" tools....High risk of depression as chronic avoidance and blame teaches us powerlessness, and powerlessness leads to hopelessness, and hopelessness leads to depression.
If one uses acceptance and assertive skills predominantly....This is "resilience". The great news is that these can be taught and learnt!
Please share it to those who might benefit from this.
Often people have the vision and the skills to do something great in their lives, but due to self doubt and inner conflict, they don't take appropriate action and hence, not achieving what they need and want. This lack of result will lead to further self doubt and inner conflict and the cycle repeats itself.
Knowing what you really want, committing to learn the skills to get what you want, resolving your inner conflict and taking appropriate actions, are the keys to achieving what you want.
Have you ever felt that there is just too much drama in your life?
Human beings are social beings and hence thriving for connection is one of the keys to happiness. However, most people can appreciate that connection inevitably comes with drama and some of us unknowingly try to avoid drama by disconnection which will then can make us feel empty and unhappy.
Hence, do not fall into that trap. Learn how to manage that drama is the key. You can certainly talk to your health professionals about that.
I often come across many of my patients who are perfectionistic in nature and that is not necessarily a bad thing. In actual fact, it is a great thing! We should all have and thrive for high standards.
However, my statement comes with a few conditions.........
A perfectionist who is self critical and fear failure can be extremely self destructive.
A perfectionist who is self critical, fear failure but have lots of skills will get away with it until the day when they are faced with a situation where they do not have the skills eg in parenting and relationships.
A perfectionist who is self compassionate, self reflective but not self critical, and who understands that failures and mistakes are pathways to success will go a long way.
So if you are a perfectionist, please celebrate it, be kind to yourself and embrace your failures just like when you play Angry Birds. If you are good at it, then I know that you have made at least a few mistakes along the way.
I wish you all the very best.
(PS Please pass this on to other perfectionists if you find the above helpful and thank you for spreading the word.)
When your relationship is becoming problematic and you are "growing apart", one of the most important ways to fix this is to learn how to "connect" again.
One of the books that I often recommend is the 5 love languages. You can find it in your local book store, library or our Self Help Bookstore. Essentially, it is the "language of connection". If you want to "connect" with someone and build a good foundation for your relationship, you need to do the following....
1 Spending quality time with each other
2 Acts of service ie doing things for each other
3 Physical touch ie hugging, kissing or holding hands
4 Word of affirmation ie telling how much you appreciate each other or praising your partner
5 Gift giving ie to buy gifts for them
Now if you can reflect on when you first dated each other, how much of the above did you do. Now reflect on "now", how much are you doing? Knowing this, will hopefully guide you towards a positive change.
You can find out what your predominant love language is by following this link The5lovelanguages.com and complete a short survey.