5 Lessons in Letting Go

As a coaching psychologist with a focus on positive psychology, I work with clients everyday to support them in creating a positive future. What I find that often gets in the way of creating that beautiful, shiny new future is a lot of clutter rom their past. This emotional, social and mental clutter is often the reason that they are not achieving their goals. So what are the important lessons in letting go that can support you in achieving your wellbeing and success goals in 2016? Here are a few that I would like to share with you.

  1. Forgive Yourself. Let go of resentments, blame and guilt that you are directing at yourself for what you think you have done or not done in the past. Ruminating over past mistakes and beating yourself up over missed opportunities only keeps you anchored in the mire of past unhappiness. We are often very quick to forgive other for errors in judgments or mistakes reserving our toughest criticism for ourselves. There is a point where this criticism stops being constructive and is now destructive.
  2. Acknowledge Fears. We may be holding on to a relationship, job or habit because it is known and familiar, even if it’s not good for us. In my experience as a professional psychologist, people are more afraid of the unknown than anything else. It is normal to be fearful about what will happen next when you leave a job or a relationship. However if you are being ruled by your fear, then it will stop you from moving forward. Identifying what you afraid of and how that might be stopping you, gives you the power to choose between your fear and your desired outcome. Our fears can run us if we don’t get clear on what they are.
  3. Ask for Help. Letting go is not easy and even if you know you need to do it, you may have no idea how to begin. Working with a professional psychologist to support you emotionally as you let go of a relationship, job, or habit will make it an easier, quicker process, then if you struggle through on your own.
  4. Keep Moving. Even if you feel stuck, tired or uninspired, stay active physically and mentally. Getting regular exercise and taking action in other areas of life, will give you more energy for the area of your life that you are currently challenged by. That activity will give you the momentum to take the actions involved in letting go more easily.
  5. Focus on the Benefits. If I let go of this job, relationship or habit, how much better will my life be? Notice how much of your energy is zapped by holding onto to this situation in your life. What could be possible if you free yourself from this situation? How much lighter will you feel?

If you are finding it hard to let go or you are feeling stuck with some area of your life, our professional psychologist can support you. We offer a range of positive psychology and coaching services, visit our Services page for more information. Bright Ideas Psychology is a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

7 Steps to Achieving Great Goals in 2016

As a coaching psychologist, clients will often book in at the beginning of a new year because they have a big goal that they want to achieve and so far it has eluded them. Sometimes you need a little coaching and support to stretch that little bit further than you have before. The other reason that clients enlist the help of a professional psychologist wth their goal setting, is because the goal that they want to achieve is something they have no experience in. When you are venturing into brand new territory, whether it is training for a marathon, having a baby or starting a business, it helps to enlist professional support. It can save you time, money and frustration, as a professional psychologist can help you navigate the simplest, most effective path to your goals.

In my experience as a coaching psychologist, there are several steps involved in achieving great goals that I would like to share with you.

  1. Write down your goal. Most people never write down their goals and so they never achieve them. Use the SMART method – make the goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and set a Time frame in which to achieve it.2.
  2. Stay conscious of your goals. Post them on your fridge, use them as a screensaver, keep them at the front of your diary.
  3. Make a plan. What do you need to do to make that goal happen, what are all the little steps along the way? What things need to happen first? What are the actions that are consistent with achieving that goal?
  4. Get support. There can be a tendency these days for us to take everything on and try to manage it all ourselves. You will most likely need the assistance of others to achieve your goals. Who do you need on your support team to achieve your goal?
  5. Take action! Take some action everyday to achieving your goal. Even if it’s the smallest thing, like a phone call. What are the actions necessary to achieve that goal, what is your plan to achieving that goal?
  6. Make your goal authentic. If you are getting bogged down, feeling blocked, or unwittingly sabotaging yourself, ask yourself: is this an authentic goal or am I doing it to please others?Goals based on our core values and drivers tend to be more likely to genuine goals that we want to achieve for ourselves.
  7. Acknowledge your progress. Take the time to acknowledge yourself for making progress towards your goal. Sometimes we forget how far we have come and we are so focused on doing the next step that we don’t enjoy the moments along the way. Enjoy and celebrate those moments.

If you need support to create new goals or just need some help to make them happen, then our coaching and positive psychology services can help you. Read more at our Services page about how we can help you achieve your goals. right Ideas Psychology is a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

5 Tips to Keep Your Cool at Christmas

It can be a busy time for us psychologists over Christmas. People are run down, stressed, and tired as we reach the end of the year. We might be seeing more of our family, the kids are on holidays, money is flying out the door and all of these factors can mean we are more irritable or short tempered than usual. Hot weather can also mean we don’t sleep as well and feel more out of sorts.

As a positive psychology coach and psychologist, I spend a lot of time teaching my clients strategies to stay calm under pressure at work, but these tips work just as well in your personal lives. In fact I think our families can sometimes be way more stressful than a day at the office! So to support you over the festive season I thought I would share 5 Tips to Keep Your Cool at Christmas.

  1. Keep Up Your Exercise Routine. I’ve noticed that as we get busy we tend to stop doing some of the activities that maintain our physical and emotional wellbeing. Maybe the gym has reduced its hours or it’s not convenient when you are not travelling to the office. Doing some form of exercise like a swim, walking the dog, backyard cricket, riding a bicycle or yoga stretches will have a positive, stabilising effect on your mood. Regular moderate exercise during the silly season means you will feel calmer and more relaxed. Much less likely to fly off the handle or yell at the kids, which can only be a good thing.
  2. Slow Down and Breathe. When we get stressed, we are operating from our flight or fight response and we begin to breathe more shallowly and more quickly. By deliberately slowing down and breathing slowly in and out through our diaphragm, we are controlling our anxiety. By slowing down our breath, we let the brain know that there is no actual emergency and you will find that your mind stops racing. Breathing in for 3 and out for 3 can be a good way to begin to regulate your breathing. It’s a great strategy to use during a tense family gathering or a challenging work meeting.
  3. Choose Your Battles. There may be lots of opportunities to get into an argument, with your partner, a family member or one of your children. These arguments drain your energy and usually make you feel worse. Be strategic with your battles. Think about your bigger picture, what sort of environment or memories do you want to create this Christmas? Be the leader and model that approach. If you want a peaceful Christmas, then choose a peaceful reaction. It’s very hard to have a one-sided argument, if you drop it, the other person has no choice but to drop it as well.
  4. Have Fun. Ensure that there is a spirit of fun and playfulness in your festivities. Planning activities or games that you and everyone else enjoy, means that everyone has something positive to do. Boredom can create discontent, so planning activities for a rainy or a fine weather Christmas keeps things positive. Having a fun Christmas together gives your family the opportunity to create some positive memories for the future.
  5. Be Grateful. Focussing on what you have to be grateful for, counting your blessings is a great strategy to shift your perspective and allows you to let go of minor irritations. Practicing gratitude is a proven wellbeing booster, and improves your sense of fulfilment and satisfaction with life very quickly. Writing down 5 things you are grateful for or encouraging each person to share what they are grateful for over the Christmas meal, can shift a mood very quickly in a positive direction.

If you need more support controlling anxiety, then you may like to visit our Services page here. Bright Ideas Psychology is a Sydney positive psychology service based on the Northern Beaches where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

How Good is Your Emotional Hygiene?

You go to the dentist for a toothache. You go to the doctor for the flu or a virus. But who do you go to when you are lonely, struggling with rejection or dealing with setbacks in your career?  Most likely the answer is no one. We teach children how to keep their bodies and teeth healthy, but we ignore their mental and emotional health for the most part. Were you taught that rumination and persistent negative thinking can lead to depression and alcoholism? Did someone teach you that the best way to deal with failure is to find another way to do it, rather than to stop trying? This is the work of professional psychologists. We work with people everyday who are experiencing emotional pain or discomfort in some area and we help them move through it, without making it worse.

You see we human beings have a terrible tendency to make our emotional pain worse through habits like learned helplessness, negative beliefs about ourselves, and avoidance. When you hit a setback or a failure, it’s highly likely you will respond with a default setting of feelings and beliefs that have been developed throughout the course of your life. These are like the operating system on your computer, they are so automatic that you may not even realise they have been triggered. Unfortunately our minds are very hard to change particularly when we are not even aware that they are creating our emotional pain.

Working with a trained psychologist who can help reveal your unique mindset and emotional reactions will increase your resilience and your success in life. Most of us are not reaching our potential because we get derailed by emotional upsets and negative mindsets. Instead of a band-aid on a cut, a psychologist will teach you powerful strategies to use when emotional pain hits, which can help you deal with the situation without making it worse.

The advantage of going to see a psychologist when you are just starting to experience anxiety, loneliness, failure or rejection is that you are likely to see things improve much more quickly, then if you leave it and do nothing. Unfortunately people can sometimes makes themselves feel worse with unhelpful thoughts and negative coping behaviours in an attempt to deal with their emotional pain themselves. Getting professional support early on and learning the tools of emotional hygiene will save you a lot of time, money and needless suffering.

If you would like more information about working with a professional psychologist at Bright Ideas Psychology, visit our counselling page here. Bright Ideas Psychology is a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

5 Positive Psychology Techniques to Get You in the Holiday Mood

Christmas time can be a busy time for us psychologists. People are stressed, tired, run-down, drinking a bit too much and feeling the pressure of the season. I see a lot of clients at this time of year who are just feeling over it all and want to just hide away at home rather than join in the festivities of the season. As a professional psychologist who uses positive psychology techniques with my clients as well as myself, I thought I would share my favourite strategies to support you in feeling the Christmas cheer.

1. Be grateful. This simple practice of counting your blessings or being thankful for what you currently have in your life, is a sure-fire way to boost your goodwill to man. If you can find 3-5 things a week that you are grateful for in your life right now, it can improve your mood and sense of fulfilment in life. Being grateful for things as they are now is a well tested positive psychology technique. It shifts your perspective and thinking to what’s going right in your life, rather than what’s going wrong.

2. Savour your meals. Giving you complete attention and awareness to pleasurable activities like eating boosts your happiness and wellbeing. Sharing pleasurable moments with others and taking a mental picture of an experience noting all the sensations and details increases your wellbeing. This positive psychology technique suggests that it is better to fully immerse yourself in the enjoyment of eating all that delicious food, rather than feeling guilty about it.

3. Be kind. Performing a few small acts of kindness for other people during a day or week can make you feel good about yourself and enhance your connection to other people. Random acts of kindness like paying for the next person’s coffee in your local cafe, letting someone in when you are during in the traffic, helping an elderly person get a product off a shelf in a supermarket take very little time or energy from you, but will have a positive impact on your wellbeing. The positive benefits ripple out from you, to the person that you help, as well as those who witness these acts. They feel good just watching kindness in action. Kindness is contagious.

4. Thank someone. Writing a Christmas card or letter of thanks to a mentor or some other person to acknowledge their contribution to you is another positive psychology technique proven to to boost your wellbeing and happiness this time of year. Even better, make the time to visit this person or catch-up with in person to let them know how important they were to you. You will both feel great as a result.

5. Nurture relationships. Don’t be a Scrooge this season, get out there and nurture the relationships with the people closet to you. Satisfying relationships is more important for wellbeing and happiness than the amount of money you ran. Use the holiday season as an excuse to re-connect with those people whom you may have been too busy to catch up with over the year. Create some new positive memories together and reinforce the bonds and closeness you initially established. We are social creatures so this positive psychology technique is a great one to boost your mood and wellbeing over the holiday period.

Need more support to put these positive psychology techniques into action? Our Bright Ideas psychology team can help, read more about our Positive Psychology approach here. Bright Ideas Psychology is a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

4 Reasons to See a Professional Psychologist to Manage Your Stress

There are lots of professional practitioners to choose from to support you with your work stress. I can’t comment on all of them but I can discuss the reasons why you might choose to see a professional psychologist.

  1. Medicare and health fund rebates.

Our team at Bright Ideas Psychology are professional psychologists registered to practice in Australia and endorsed as Medicare providers. For those of you are assessed by your GP to be eligible for a Medicare mental health plan you will receive a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions with an eligible psychologist to be used during a calendar year. If you are not on a mental health plan, your health fund may also provide a refund for psychology services. Check with your own health fund about their requirements. Both Medicare and the health fund industry recognise that professional psychologists have the skills and training to support people in controlling anxiety, among other conditions.

2. Evidence based strategies.

When you work with a professional psychologist at Bright Ideas, you will be offered the latest techniques, and strategies that have been shown to be effective in the research literature and with your particular concern. Psychologists are trained to interpret scientific findings and how they can be applied to everyday people to improve their mood and reduce stress and anxiety. They gather the best available evidence from research and practice and put it in terms that you can understand and apply in your everyday life. At Bright Ideas, we base a lot of our work with you on the findings of positive psychology.

3. Professional standards and registration.

In Australia, psychologists must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia and adhere to ethical and professional standards to maintain their registration. To become a psychologist a minimum of six years of university training and supervised experience is now required. Furthermore a professional psychologist must complete a certain number of hours of ongoing education plus supervision with another psychologist to ensure skills, knowledge and professional standards are upheld. These standards are there to protect the consumer and should a professional psychologist be found to be in breach of these ethical standards, they can have their registration suspended.

4. Diversity of choice.

There are over 20,000 practising professional psychologists In Australia, of both genders, of diverse ages, cultural backgrounds and therapeutic styles. These means that there are lots of options to choose from and it is possible for you to find someone who has the skills, knowledge, experience and personal style to meet your needs. Many professional psychologists will have a website and this is a great first step in determine whether they will be a good match for you. Suggestions from friends, colleagues and other health practitioners like your GP is another way to find a psychologist to help you with your workplace stress.

If you would like more information about our professional psychologist service at Bright Ideas, visit our Service page here. Bright Ideas Psychology is a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

My Top 3 Tips for Controlling Anxiety Without Medication

As a professional psychologist, as well as a positive psychology coach, I get concerned about all the people that I meet who take medication for controlling anxiety who have never tried any other options. I am not anti-medication per se. What concerns me is that a quick short term fix can create ongoing problems in the long term. I believe in looking at the evidence base for the most effective long term strategy for controlling anxiety, with the least negative side effects. We all experience anxiety at some time, but there is a part of the population who are more likely to have problematic anxiety, which starts to interfere with the quality of their life, their work and their relationships.

So I thought I would share my top 3 natural, cost-effective tips for controlling anxiety, especially as we are coming into the silly season of the year, when people tend to find anxiety and stress levels are rising.

1. Exercise.

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce tension, improve and stabilise mood and improve sleep. There is some research to indicate that even a brisk 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout.There is also some evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety than sedentary people. Exercise stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and seems to dampen down the central nervous system, which is responsible for our fear, fight or flight response. These systems work in opposition, so when one is activated the other is switched off. It’s a free and simple way to begin controlling your anxiety.

2. Take Action.

Avoidance is a very common strategy that people use for controlling anxiety. Unfortunately it actually makes anxiety worse, as our mind and body get used to the immediate relief that avoiding something brings. Taking action regardless of the anxiety you feel, the old saying “Face Your Fears” is actually the best method for controlling anxiety. Anxiety seems to grow and get worse the more we choose avoidance, so next time you want to avoid, just do it. Taking action always make us feel better, and it means that we are the one controlling anxiety, rather than the other way around.

3. Get Support

Psychological strategies and working with a professional psychologist to understand your unique anxiety triggers and therapies such as cognitive-behaviour therapy are highly effective in controlling anxiety. Panic disorder and other anxiety disorders are very responsive to psychological treatment and the benefits can be seen in a few sessions. Learning to manage lifestyle factors, your own mindset, your career and your relationships style can make a big difference in controlling your anxiety. Working with someone with in-depth knowledge and training can support you to manage the impact of anxiety for the long term, just like you would manage any other aspect of your life. The bonus is there are no negative impacts on your physical health. In fact the only side effect is that you are likely to see your confidence in your own ability to cope with life increases.

Not sure exactly what you need? There is more information on our Controlling Anxiety page here. Bright Ideas Psychology is unique in being a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include counselling, personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the evidence based strategies from a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

Afraid to Take Annual Leave?

I see a lot of clients in my executive coaching Sydney service afraid to take annual leave and this phenomenon now has an acronym! FOTAL! A survey of 1250 Australians (Household, Labour Dynamics and Income in Australia survey) found that two-thirds suffered from FOTAL (Fear of Taking Annual Leave). It found that people didn’t take leave because of the stress created by the build-up of work upon their return. 78 per cent reported feeling guilty about taking a holiday while 67 per cent said they did at least a little work on their holiday. Are you too stressed to take a holiday because of the enormous amount of emails and work that you come back to?

At Bright Ideas Psychology our executive coaching Sydney services are designed to support you in your career and wellbeing. It’s important for your wellbeing, your health and your career to take regular breaks. You come back refreshed, revitalised and you also get to see how your team, role or business function without you. It’s a great opportunity to set up systems and delegate responsibility, and to test how well these processes work. It can also be a great indicator of whether you have outgrown a role, when you realise that things and people function perfectly well without you. It opens the door to your next opportunity.

Perhaps fear of looking at what’s next is what keeps us plodding away, afraid to take a break. Maybe we afraid that if we take a few weeks off we won’t want to come back. In my experience avoiding what we fear is never a great executive stress tool, in fact its means we wait until there is a crisis – be it a wellbeing issue or a organisational restructure, before we take action.

Our executive coaching Sydney service is designed to support you moving beyond workplace stress and all the “I can’t” thoughts you might have about your life and your career. We support you to examine your values and what really matters to you in life. We can also support you in delegating more effectively, choosing your team wisely and finding systems and processes to prevent you being the bottleneck in your career and life plan.

There is more information about our Executive Coaching Sydney services here. Bright Ideas Psychology is unique in being a Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the latest positive psychology and organisational psychology techniques provided by the authority of a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

The Vital Role of Organisational Psychology

Why would a small or medium business invest in organisational psychology? It is increasingly being recognised that greatness with the so called soft skills of leadership and teamwork is critical for businesses of the future to succeed and flourish. It’s no longer enough have technical excellence. Retaining your talented staff is a productivity and profitability issue and having a great workplace culture can often do more to keep your people than pay-rises or annual bonuses.

According to USA Today’s coverage of GreatPlaceToWork.com’s best multinational workplaces, there were three factors that distinguished companies with exceptional workplace environments. Employees trusted management, they felt a sense of pride in the company and they felt a camaraderie with their colleagues. Organisational psychology can support your business by teaching you to create trust and respect in communication between staff and management, instil pride and ownership in your staff and create a positive culture, where staff feel connected to the business and each other.

Factors impacting productivity such as burnout, poor role clarity, lack of connection between employees and management, and staff feeling disconnected from the vision and goals of the business are just some of the areas that an organisational psychology program can improve. There may also be wellbeing or resiliency concerns that impact absenteeism and performance that need to be addressed with individual or group programs.

Working with an organisational psychology consultant can improve your efforts at team building. These can be designed with specific goals in mind, such as improving communication and connection within teams or across teams to reduce silo effects. An organisation will benefit from activities that support staff to see themselves as part of a larger working toward a shared goal. Engaged and socially connected staff are more creative and more motivated. For more information on how we can support your organisational psychology needs visit our Service Page.

Bright Ideas is a unique Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the latest positive psychology and organisational psychology techniques provided by the authority of a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.

5 Proven Positive Psychology Techniques to Reduce Stress

Stressed? Feel like you are constantly on a treadmill? More and more clients are coming to me who are very successful in their careers but constantly feel stressed. The field of positive psychology focusses on people achieving their optimal wellbeing and there are several tried and true positive psychology techniques that can help you reduce stress and enjoy your life more.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. A large study at the University of California found that people who wrote down 3-5 things per week for which they were grateful for a period of 6 weeks showed a significant increase in life satisfaction and mood, improved their physical energy and health, and reported less fatigue and pain. The more elaborate you are and the wider the range of things you are grateful for, the more benefits you will see. You can even buy gratitude apps for your phone to prompt you to keep a gratitude journal. This positive psychology technique is very simple but has a bug impact on your stress levels.
  2. Delight your senses. Activities that positively stimulate all our senses – sight, touch, smell, taste and sound, make us feel good and bring us into the present moment. Eating delicious food, feeling the grass under your feet, listening to birdsong all bring us into a mindful pleasurable state. Stress happens when we are either focussed on what happened in the past or worrying about the future. Enjoying the sensual pleasures centres us back in the now.
  3. Practice optimism. While many of us may have a tendency to pessimism and always looking at what’s going wrong rather than what’s going right, we can all learn to be more optimistic. Optimism is about dealing with a situation that is challenging and looking at it from “I can” rather than getting caught up in “I can’t. Looking at the positive aspects or a situation means you can hold a broader perspective and see possible solutions. When you find yourself getting caught up in a negative mindset, questions like “Is there another way to look at this?”, “How likely is it that what I’m worried about will happen?”, “Am I a making a bigger deal out of this than necessary?”, and “Is this thought helping me?” can support you to think optimistically.
  4. Be in flow. Flow is a higher state of consciousness which is achieved when you are highly focussed on an activity that perfectly matches your skills and challenges you in a positive way. You are neither bored nor overwhelmed. Flow is unique to each person, most people report that they lose sense of time when they are in the flow state. Research by Mihaly Csiksgentmihalyi, a leading positive psychologist, suggests that people who experience flow states on a regular basis experience more stability in their emotions and greater fulfilment.
  5. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of being completely present with everything as it is right now. Mindfulness meditation focusses attention on what you are experiencing in the present moment like your breathing how your body feels, the sounds in your environment, the thoughts in your minds and your feelings. It encourages the practice of non-judgemental observer to your own experience. Studies of mindfulness meditation show that after only 8 weeks of practice beginner meditators show changes in brain activity. Areas of the brain associated with stress and negative emotions calm down, while areas associated with feelings of happiness are more activated.

At Bright Ideas Psychology we use the latest positive psychology techniques to reduce your stress and increase your wellbeing. There is more information about our approach here. We are a unique Sydney positive psychology service where our psychology services include personal coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, performance coaching and organisational psychology. You get the latest positive psychology techniques provided by the authority of a professional psychologist. To book a session, contact our Bright Ideas Sydney Psychology office.