Chilling out is important for our bodies and brains. We need to have a balance of working our minds and bodies enough to feel like we have achieved and enough relaxation time to allow us to recharge and to feel like we have pleasure and fun in our lives. This year for many may have been challenging to find ways of doing this, with some of the common ways that people chill out having been impinged upon by restrictions on socialising and travel. But chilling out at home by doing things that you find relaxing is especially important when we are under extra stress. I know in our house that watching a movie together as a family is seen as a lovely way to chill out. I know that for a few of us at home, getting into drawing or art is a wonderful way to just chill. I can also see my kids often head outside just to sit on the monkey bars, or get into the yoga hammock we have, talk quietly to a dog or cat and just chill outside in nature. When I was younger I certainly took opportunity to chill by reading a book (or two or three). And doing that is still something that I would choose to do as my own quiet chill out time. I also love time watching a movie with my children, even if I’ve seen it, as I love the cuddles and watching their faces as they enjoy the excitement and emotion. I think for lots of people, and I certainly know it for me, that changing our environment will often help with chilling out. I know that going somewhere different, whether down the river or to someone else’s home, that I find it easier to chill out. At home there can be many distractions (think work, housework!) that might call you away from just chilling. But if we are out and enjoying nature, it can be much easier.
The first three steps to helping your child with behaviour and emotions so that you know how to get started and how to keep going! Step 1.Know that you are not alone, although you may feel it, and that help is there to be found. Trust your instincts that you can help your child when armed with the right information and right support. It’s easy to feel that other parents have their shit together and know what they are doing. It’s a lie, most are making it up as they go along, most have days they are totally overwhelmed and feel like they are not doing a good enough job, as the demands of parenting and life are high. It’s it’s the brave insightful parents that admit they need help and actually go out in search of it. So reach out, ask around to others to see if they can recommend someone to you, or just book that appointment with an attitude of ‘it’s just an initial appointment to see if they are a good fit’. Like all things in life, not every therapist will suit every individual, so if the first professional you come across does not make you feel at ease and that you are in a safe place, trust that instinct too and find another. Because when you have that person, you can really start to get the support you and your family deserve. Step 2 is be prepared to put yourself under the microscope as well as your child when you attend therapy. Which just means be prepared to look at your own mindset. As parents are the biggest and most important influence for our children, exploring our relationships with them, our reactions to them and our beliefs about their behaviour, their capacity and your expectations will come up. This is usually anxiety provoking for everyone, so expect it and think about how you will manage it! There is also temptation that once you get to therapy and feel that sense of relief that you’ve gotten to the ‘professionals’ to believe that the responsibility for change is now in their hands. Unfortunately nothing so complex as learning skills to better our thinking and feeling is changed by just one influence that quickly and easily. The interplay and relationship between parents and children is quite vital to good mental health and wellbeing. Regardless of regular therapy, children will continue to need parents to be their guide, their support and their model for the skills they are looking to acquire. Even with regular input, there is a huge chunk of time between sessions that needs to be seen as moments and opportunity for practicing the skills. So resist the temptation to hand over control to others completely and if you notice yourself feeling that way, it might mean that you are still overwhelmed and likely need more support, just for you. Sometimes your child’s therapist might be able to provide this and sometimes they may not and you may need your own parent coach and support person for the journey. The third step towards helping your child with their wellbeing is to set small goals and celebrate the small wins and achievements along the way. There will always been new challenges in parenting, there are likely to be new stages, new demands and certainly new developmental periods that ask more of us. The big picture is that parenting can feel relentless at times and that the goal of harmonious family life or ‘mental health and wellbeing’ can sometimes feel like it stays just out of reach. So set small goals for you and your child and celebrate these in a big way. For example if you have a child that is a reluctant school attender and you have a goal to get them to attend most days during a week, make sure you make a big deal when they attend one day more easily, then have a bigger reward for you both when you achieve this-make it a special outing or family time or acknowledging how proud of them you are and what it feels like to seem them achieve something difficult. When we do this, it creates joy, enthusiasm and this creates energy to keep moving forwards onto more goals. The families that I have seen do this along the way, are actually enjoying the process of therapy, can enjoy time with each other even during challenging times and it’s like I’m watching the the bonds between parents and children grow stronger before my eyes! So no matter where you are in your parenting journey with your family, I’m hopeful that one of these steps may help you towards the future that you all deserve.
Being on a mission is when the desire to help others overcomes all other barriers. It helps you get super focused for your goals, where you don’t take notice of what’s out to the sides or even whether there might be obstacles in front of you-because of course there will be!
My mission is to show the world that difference is a strength, that being neurodiverse does not have to equal poor mental health, that autism is not synonymous with disability. That educating others on awareness, acceptance and support can go a long way to be an ally to members of the community that need it most.
I’m driven to use my knowledge of mental health, wellbeing and psychology, to help as many adults, parents, children and teens to help accomplish their goals. Whether it’s to be less anxious, to have more confidence, to have good relationships or to find contentment.
I know how important specific skills can be to help with these goals, whilst understanding that as society, as we learn and understand more about autism spectrum disorders, the better this will be for those on the Spectrum. It’s my mission to make a positive difference to as many people as I can across the globe by sharing my knowledge and support. And in doing so I will feel that I’ve made a significant impact in my life and in others’.
But at the same time, the nature of how I usually work as a psychologist is often one to one. So I am used to encouraging change in one moment, one conversation with one human. And it is no doubt a privilege to be able to have these kinds of moments with different individuals.
I am confident that I can continue this mission, whether I am with people individually or whether it is when they are with me as part of a group or whether they are with me as they read my written word. I know that the more people I can reach, the wider the ripple effect of understanding and positivity will be.
The best tip I could give to those amazing souls that are looking for some ideas or guidance with regard to their child or teenagers behaviour or mental health is firstly to trust your instincts. Most parents have very good instincts about whether they should be asking further questions and getting help for their child from professionals, but often don’t listen to this as quickly as they might otherwise do. Often this is because they seek advice from a partner, family or friends and get advice from people who’s area of expertise is not necessarily child development. That is not to say that when you get to the said professional they are always going to give the right advice, however, taking that step if your instincts are telling you to get answers, you should, as it is is usually the right thing to do. My other top tip, would be for when you are trying to create change in your children. If you are thinking about the skills that we want our children to develop make sure that we can model these as well. Hold a mirror up to yourself and determine whether this is something that you are able to do (or are at least working on). Often when we are modelling these skills, making this skill development explicit to our children, it’s a great first step to encouraging them to also build these into their repertoire. So if you want your child to learn how to do mindfulness, begin practicing it yourself. If you’d love your child to understand emotions and emotion regulation, demonstrate how you do this in your daily life as well. Children learn best by seeing and experiencing and parents are their best teachers! Kate x
I dreamt of visiting the top of the Far Away Tree I dreamt of having my very own Wishing Chair I dreamt of being able to fly I dreamt of being a ballet dancer I dreamt of being a netballer I dreamt of being a writer I dreamt of being an artist I dreamt of being a singer I dreamt of being tall! But to really know what I dreamed of, I’d have to find the diaries I kept as a kid, as my memories of what my childhood dreams were, are a little hazy! Because I love the way kids dream big and don’t know any limits, I made sure that I wrote down all the things my children use to say about their dreams and wishes for the future, so when they are older we will be able to reminisce together! Can you recall your childhood dreams and did any of them come true?!
Self-care can sometimes feel like another thing on the ‘to do’ list. But it really is just time out and space for yourself a moment to let yourself feel calm and to switch off for a bit. Finding time to nurture my creativity, to find a space where I’m not going to be working and not attending to the needs of others, can be a challenge. I find it difficult to prioritise this at times, but when I look at doing things that I enjoy and keeping me healthy, such as yoga, listening to music, art, spending time with family or friends, then self-care is easier to achieve. I think it’s the idea that I have to ‘rest’ or ‘relax’ that I find hard, because I tend to be a bit of a ‘doer’ and can find it hard to only do one thing at a time. However this is where my practice of mindfulness meditation becomes important, because it forces me to do just that. Not to do anything but be in the moment and let all the plans and activity just stop for a minute or two. And when I do it, I feel really good and refreshed. Self-care is such a unique thing for each individual, but an important thing to consider in amongst the pressures of work, school and family. And particularly this year, when stress has been an ongoing presence for many of us, but more-so in Victoria. Ability to attend to self-care may have been affected by the restrictions of the usual activities that may have formed your self-care routine. So it does mean we need to think about it a bit more and make sure we find ways that help our body and brain to reset. So what does self-care look like for you? Do you have to schedule it in, or have you found ways to attend to it as part of your usual life routine, without too much effort? Whatever it is, we know that it’s important to ensure stress levels do not get so high that we end up in a very bad place mentally, emotionally and physically. So choose one little way to give your body and mind some love today. Kate x
(Photo: Henley Beach early 2020, how much I miss the ocean, but looking back at favourite pictures, brings happy memories to mind!)
Things that are scary for me: horror films and finding spiders unexpectedly! It’s interesting that although I’m not a horror fan, I often find myself listening to others talk about scary films and tv shows as many young people I know love these. It is interesting that people who might be anxious in their day to day lives, can enjoy feeling scared watching scary things. Perhaps it has to do with being able to control this feeling as it’s expected when you watch it, or maybe it doesn’t actually give the feelings of terror like it does to me! And although I would not describe myself a thrill seeker, I’m also not someone who is particularly anxious in every day situations. I know that I don’t seek to feel frightened via jump-scares or rollercoasters or other adventures that give a rush, as I feel I actually get plenty of adrenalin from pushing myself out of my comfort zone through other means. For example by asking myself to do new things in my business, take on new ventures, by doing presentations, doing Facebook Lives or writing about my thoughts and insights like this! For me these kinds of things feel scary enough for me, but they are a really good kind of scary. They are the kind of scary that means I’m learning, I’m pushing myself into new territory and there’s an excitement and thrill with that. As opposed to the other kind of scary, where I feel that I might actually die! I think this might be because when I was fairly young, about 11 or 12, I went on the roller coaster at the Mildura Show that would stop and hang upside down at the top and I felt that the harness in was ‘in’ way too big for me and I had the distinct feeling If I let go of the bars around me, I was going to fall straight out of the carriage. So I’ve never really trusted show rides like that since! Very occasionally I really push myself to try new things that are physically scary for me, such as zip lining, high-top tree climbing and paragliding, but I have to be very sure it’s actually very safe. It’s really interesting on how we can view and experience an emotion like being scared and how it can actually be both frightening and exhilarating at the same time. So what role does being scared play in your life? Can you use it to expand your experiences, do you love the adrenalin of feeling scared (And turn it into excitement), or does feeling scared make you seek safety and calm?
(Photo credit to my daughter who got into my camera role at some point and decided to ‘edit’ one of my photo’s…..which in this instance, is actually quite appropriate…it’s terrifying!)😱🤣
For me I love them equally and I feel so sad when I hear about people with allergies, that make having a pet like this in their life difficult. For me I love both dogs and cats to bits and I can never answer the question of am I a dog person or a cat person, as it’s clear I am both! I love the companionship of my dog, their loyalty and their fun and frisky nature. But I love cats to cuddle, their strange, quirky behaviour as well as they agility and independence!
How much do you priorities this and where does your mental health fit in with your physical health. Are they seperate for you or in intertwinned? For me they go hand in hand. I like the feeling of being healthy and fit and this makes me feel mentally strong and more in control. I like the feeling of having a strong body and my exercise is also very enjoyable so that I get lots of positive emotions from this as well as social connections (when group fitness is allowed!). I love being able to do things with my kids without hurting myself, or even encouraging my kids to try new things they are less familiar with. This is especially true as I age as I was always an active kids and teenager, so I actually want to continue this well into my ‘old age’. Like all things in life, there are aspects of our health that are outside of our control, so understanding that means I try to focus on the aspects that I can control. So ensuring that we care for the body that takes us through this life is giving it the respect that it deserves. There are some simple things we can do to nurture our bodies and health, not matter where we are in the journey. It could be making sure we take time to nourish it with enough water through our day, eating fresh food that agrees with us, or taking a few mindful breaths and moments of stillness that allow us to connect with our breathing and taking a moment to be grateful for what our bodies and health is like right now.
What’s a breakthrough moment for you? Work? Life? Becoming a parent and saying no to thing that did not align with my values as a parent Beginning to work with a business coach, to reduce isolation and to learn things outside being a psychologist and trust that this would pay off