Phone Us 07 3349 5511

General Questions

3 Ways To Tell If Your Child Might Have Social Anxiety

 

Written by By Dr Cate Hearn

 

 

 

 

Shy or Self-Conscious

 

Compared to other children their own age, socially anxious children appear shyer and more self-conscious. They may:

 

 

  • Find it hard to talk to other children

 

  • Find it hard to make new friends

 

  • Feel left out or awkward, or worry they’ll embarrass themselves

 

  • Have less well developed social skills than children their own age

 

  • Dislike being the centre of attention

 

  • Worry a lot about their appearance

 

  • Worry that their friends don’t really like them

 

  • Be quiet in large social situations

 

  • Speak softly to those they don’t know well

 

 

 

Avoidance

 

Socially anxious children fear and avoid a range of social situations. They may:

 

  • Avoid new social situations

 

  • Make excuses not to go, by saying, “I’m just a homebody”, “I don’t feel like going”, “I don’t like parties”

 

  • Dread sports days or swimming carnivals

 

  • Dislike giving orals or talks in class

 

  • Be too anxious to raise their hand/answer questions in class

 

  • Play alone often

 

 

Tummy pains, headaches

 

Anxiety and worry can manifest in physical symptoms, and socially anxious children may:

 

  • Report pains in the stomach, headaches, nausea or sore/aching arms/legs especially before school or social events

 

  • Become withdrawn or irritable before social events or before school

 

 

 

Won't they just grow out of it?

 

Research shows that a great many children with social anxiety do not just ‘grow out’ of it.

 

Left untreated, social anxiety can persist and cause significant interference in children’s lives. Child friendly cognitive behaviour therapy for social anxiety can help children overcome social anxiety.

 

At Benchmark Psychology, we have a number of therapists who can provide child friendly therapy to socially anxious children. Ask for Dr Cate Hearn (who’s PhD thesis was in child and adolescent social anxiety), Dr Alison Bocquee, Dr Kylee Forrest, Dr Jasmine Pang or Dr Leona Chun

Five Screen-Time Life Hacks

Written By Dr Tania McMahon

 

 

 

It’s 9pm. You’re exhausted. You’ve just finished dinner, maybe putting the kids to bed, tidying up around the house and vaguely thinking about what you have on tomorrow, and you have approximately one hour before you drag yourself, bleary-eyed, into bed to get some sleep and do it all again tomorrow. It’s time for some ‘you’ time! What about checking social media for a few minutes before figuring out what you could do to relax?

 

It’s 10:15pm, you realise with a start, as you peel your eyes up from Instagram and check the clock. “A few minutes” has turned into over an hour, and any time that could have been spent tinkering on that craft project, strumming on the guitar, or pulling a new book off the shelf has now been sucked up by the black hole of your digital device. While you have a vague sense of being mildly entertained over the past hour, you can’t remember exactly what it was you were looking at, and your brain is in a strange state between buzzing with alertness and feeling strangely fatigued. As you scramble to get ready for bed, you can’t help but notice a strange feeling of discomfort, a low-level frustration that something hasn’t been tended to, or you didn’t finish something; a feeling of being left unsatisfied.

 

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Our devices embody an almost perfect solution to temporary boredom: brief, instant entertainment, on demand. Yet when we find ourselves turning to them at every idle moment, day after day, night after night, we start to realise that they are taking us away from all those things we’d “love to be doing more of”, but that take a little more time and effort to get into. And when we do less and less of those activities we value, we fall more and more into the same trap of turning to our digital devices whenever we have a moment of boredom.

 

 

So, how do we hack our way out of this digital ditch? Here are five quick tips to get you started:

 

 

1. Categorise screen time into ‘work’ and ‘leisure’.

 

We all know that some screen time is unavoidable – emails, online banking, checking the bus schedule, and so on. However, this ‘necessary’ screen time need not get mixed in with checking social media, playing games, and browsing the web. By mentally categorising each function, app and activity on your device as ‘work’ or ‘leisure’, you can start to build awareness of your use, and then start to make decisions about how much ‘leisure’ time you really want to spend on it.

 

 

2. Track your use

 

Devices have a funny habit of ‘warping’ time while we’re on them, making it seem like only 10 minutes has passed, when it’s actually been much longer than that. It follows, then, that all of us are rather poor judges of how much time we’re spending on them. By downloading an app that tracks your use (popular options include ‘Quality Time’ for Androids and ‘Moment’ for iPhones), you’ll be able to analyse your use over days, weeks and months, as well as look at patterns of use across the different apps on your device. By knowing when, were and how you use your device the most, you’ll be able to set your own personalised goals for what you’d prefer your use to be like.

 

 

3. Set regular screen-free times

 

While everyone’s screen time rules are ultimately going to be different, a good general rule for everyone to apply is to set at least one regular screen-free time. Some choose a screen-free breakfast, so they can connect meaningfully with their family first thing in the morning; some choose the train or bus trip to work, so they can use it as ‘thinking time’; many choose the hour before bed, because of the strong evidence linking screen use before bed to sleep difficulties. The options are numerous!

 

 

4. Change your notification settings

 

Notifications are designed to catch our attention – a red badge here, a blinking light there. The more we see, the more we feel the compulsion to check them, irrelevant of how important or urgent they actually are (and let’s face it, how many times have those notifications been utter time-wasting distractions??). A simple solution to this is to change your Notification settings so that you only receive Push notifications for things you feel are absolutely necessary. Or, be daring and change them all to Manual!

 

 

5. Make your leisure screen time as goal-directed as possible

 

Get into the habit of asking yourself ‘what am I wanting to achieve by looking at my device right now?’ and ‘is this my preferred use of my time right now’? More often than not, you may find that mindlessly scrolling through social media is not your preferred use of your time. Sure, the answers might be ‘I want some quick entertainment’ and ‘yes, as long as I start making dinner in 10 minutes’, but at least it means that you are consciously making that choice, and that you have defined a meaningful limit to your use. That way, if more than 10 minutes go by and you realise you haven’t started making dinner, you know it's no longer a good use of your time.

 

 

Dr Tania McMahon is a clinical psychologist with a particular passion for helping people manage their screen usage. Tania often treats internet and gaming addictions at Benchmark Psychology.

Embracing Easter – It’s time to teach play

Most of us can’t decide what we think of the Easter holidays – it seems every bonus comes with its own cost. The camping trip is booked, but will begin with standstill traffic on the Bruce Highway. The chocolate eggs have been hidden, but a secret few will always remain behind the couch (yes, that’s why you have ants). The kids are on school holidays, but the kids are on school holidays.

 

Having the kids home can fill parents with a mix of joy (think – no school drop-offs, lazy mornings, fun time together) and dread (think – they are there ALL the time, I miss the peace and quiet of work). But, how often do we think of school holidays as a time to teach our kids new skills?

 

As a parent, you are always your child’s number one teacher! So now the school-bell has rung, it’s back to you to help give your child the skills they need to thrive. I’m not talking about teaching maths and history; I’m talking about teaching play.

 

Developing good play skills is essential for all children. Play is where we learn tolerance and problem solving, where we express our creativity and healthy competition, and where we develop friendships and explore relationships. While play skills come naturally to some, many children struggle to find their feet in the playground.

 

Working with children with autism and other social communication challenges, I spend a lot of time in schools teaching kids how to play with their peers. I can get the basics across with books and individual sessions, but the real learning happens out there in the field. You’ll find me hanging out in the sandpit, on the spider web, and at the oval (and yes, I have been told to sit out once before because of the no hat, not play rule). So, how can you get involved and help teach your child how to play this Easter holidays?

 

Step 1 – Release your inner kid

Mum & SonWe all know that a group of adults and a group of children playing look like different species. If you’re going to help teach your child how to play, you need to find and release your inner child. A few key pointers to look out for – 1) kids don’t talk and explain themselves as much as adults, they just do stuff and get on with it, 2) kids lose themselves in the moment, they’re not pretending to be Spiderman, they are Spiderman, and 3) kids join in on play by announcing their role in the game, not by waiting to be given one (“I’m the postman!”).

 

If you’re still feeling stuck, take some time to watch how your child, their siblings, friends, and cousins interact when they’re playing.

 

Step 2 – Brush up on the games

I’m telling you, the field has changed. I’m sad to say, What’s the time Mr Wolf? is getting dusty, and Mr Freeze is the new cool kid on the block. Tiggy/tag and stuck-in-the-mud are still going strong (woohoo!). But, if you don’t know how to recreate a live action version of Minecraft, you’re going to struggle. I recently asked a group of kids to play Red Rover with me and only got blank stares back. Hiding my inner devastation, I took this as a challenge and taught them now to play it – within 10-minutes they had mastered it and I firmly believe their little futures are better for it!

 

Remember, the internet is a marvellous place where you can look up modern playground games – but this isn’t always necessary. The expert in your child’s playground is sitting right in front of you. Ask you kids what they play at school. If they’re not sure, ask their friends and cousins for some ideas.

 

Step 3 – Break it down

There are many skills involved in play – watch your child play and see if you can identify what skills they have, and what skills they are missing, to be successful in a particular game. For example, you can’t play tiggy/tag unless you can run – and even then, you’re always going to be “it” if you can’t run very fast, and that’s not so much fun. So if speed isn’t your little one’s strength, start off with some running races to help increase their gross motor skills and teach them how to sprint. Similarly, if you want to be the leader at Mr Freeze you’ll have to call out someone’s name, so if you’ve got a quiet talker, start by practicing using a loud voice by sending silly messages to one another across an oval/park.

 

One of the key skills to being successful in any game is actually just sticking around. If your little one is a bit of a wanderer and loses interest quickly, teach them how to stay with you for longer and longer. Create a clear play environment (e.g. the Lego mat or playdoh table) and alternate between play- and break-time, gradually increasing the duration of the playtime (e.g. 2-mins, 4-mins, 8-mins, 10-mins) and rewarding them for sticking with you with lots of fun and laughter.

 

 

 

Water Fight

Step 4 – Have fun, always

The take-away message when teaching children play skills is this: playing with others is fun! If they haven’t got that message, you haven’t taught play skills. We need children to absolutely love engaging with us when we’re playing with them, so they’ll want to spend time playing with their peers in the playground. Children’s games are incredibly fun – if you disagree, you just haven’t played them in too long! Lose yourself in the game and laugh along with them.

 

So while you’re sitting there on the Bruce Highway this Friday, chocolate eggs melting away in the boot, start up a game of Alphabet Number Plates or 20-Questions and enjoy the ride!

 

 

Grace works with children, adolescents, and adults at Benchmark Psychology. Grace has a special interest in supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families. For more information, visit: http://www.benchmarkpsychology.com.au/about-us/meet-the-team/grace-sweeney/

Benchmark Psychology, helping Brisbane

Benchmark Psychology just marked our three year anniversary.  As well as being a world class, evidence based psychology practice, we are also part of the Brisbane community.  We thought it would be a good time to reflect back, and see what we have been doing to service Brisbane these past few years.

 

Seminar series for other Brisbane psychologists

At Benchmark, we have run a monthly seminar series for both he public and for other psychologists. These seminars have covered a range of topics, from parenting advice, to dealing with schizophrenia. These have been well attended and shared valuable knowledge and skills.

 

Talks for schools in the greater Brisbane area

Psychologists at Benchmark have given talks to parents at kindies, primary and high schools in the public, private and catholic systems.  We have received fantastic feedback on these talks from parents. If you are interested in booking one of the Benchmark Psychologists for a school event, contact us.

 

Benchmarking data for other Brisbane psychologists

 

Benchmark Psychology is quite unique in that we collect exhaustive data on treatment outcomes and drop-out for all of our psychologists.  You can check out that data here. As well as being incredibly useful for us in our efforts to provide the best possible service, that data has been used by dozens of other Brisbane psychology practices.practices.  Have a look at our colleagues at Jumpstart Psychology, to see how our data is helping to improve outcomes for others.

 

Supervision of trainee psychologists

Benchmark Psychology has a number of accredited supervisors who provide supervision services to trainee psychologists from most of the major Brisbane universities. Our team of supervisors are highly regarded and get great feedback from their trainees.

 

We are proud of the work we do as psychologists, but we are also proud of the work we do building our Brisbane community.

 

Why not click here to learn more about our team

 

Meet the Team

 

 

6 Ways to get help for your child

Girl (free comm use) As a parent, supporting your child or teenager through mental health challenges can seem overwhelming. Many parents find themselves wondering – What do I do now? Who can help me?

What’s best for my child?

It’s good to know you’re not alone.

The Department of Health recently published a report on one of the largest national surveys ever taken on the mental health of young people. They asked parents what they found hard about getting help for their children and teens. One of the biggest worries parents had was not knowing where to turn.

So, how can you get help for your child?

 

1. Visit your doctor

GP’s and paediatricians are trained in recognising common mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and substance use problems. Not only can your doctor give you advice on how to cope with some of these challenges, they can also refer you to a mental health professional in your area for more support if needed.

 

2. Find a mental health professional

Mental health professionals are experts trained in treating mental health challenges, and include psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, and others. These professionals will speak with you and your child to find out what challenges they are facing, help you to set a goal for therapy, create a personalised treatment plan, and monitor how therapy is going.

 

3. Talk to friends and family about how they accessed help

Asking your friends or family members about how they accessed help for their kids can be a great starting point. Our loved ones can point us towards people, services, and resources that helped them support their kids through a difficult period. You might even find that having a conversation with another parent going through similar struggles can help you feel more supported and less overwhelmed.

 

4. Get some tips online

If you want the best advice on the net – go straight to the experts. Websites like beyondblue.org.au, mindhealthconnect.org.au, and headspace.org.au are full of helpful strategies, resources, and information for parents and young people with mental health challenges.

 

5. Book an appointment with the school guidance counsellor

School guidance counsellors are another great starting point to get help for your child or teen. These counsellors may already have a relationship with your kid and can help them get support straight away, in the familiar school environment. They can also provide added support for school-related issues and can communicate with teaching staff to help your teen achieve in the classroom.

 

6. Log into therapy

Parents and young people can access evidence-based support from the home computer. Computer-based therapy programs are now available to help young people manage anxiety, depression, mood problems, and odd experiences, as well as build resilience, study skills, and much more.

What about #6: Log into therapy? Have you ever heard about logging into therapy as a way to get help for your child?

Girl Laptop 2 (free comm use)[1]
Even though we’re all pretty switched on when it comes to technology, most parents don’t know that Australia has access to some of the best computer-based therapies for young people in the world.

A team of researchers at Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland are trying hard to fix this. Their first challenge is to find out what parents think about computer-based therapies.

What do you think about using technology in therapy? Have you ever heard of a computer-based therapy program? Do you think they could help your kid? Why did you choose face-to-face therapy instead? We want your answers!

 

If you are a parent with a child under the age of 18 who is currently attending a mental health service, you can help out by completing a 20-minute online survey.

 

Every parent can enter into a draw to win a $100 gift-voucher.

 

To get involved straight away, start the survey here:

Mouse (free comm use)

 

To find out more, go to www.facebook.com/loggingintotherapyparents

 

Want to find out more about the Department of Health report? Go to:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-m-child2

 

Evidence Based Dating Strategies

Dating advice is everywhere, but most of it is based on opinion and folklore (or even creepy pick-up artists). New research from the University of Queensland uncovers the truth about how to attract a date.

 

When you’re trying to attract the attention of a potential partner you have a choice: make yourself stand out from the crowd, or show how well you fit in with others. Standing out suggests that you’ve got individuality and flair, while fitting in with others shows you’re friendly and agreeable. Both are attractive to potential partners, but which strategy is more successful?

 

If you asked your grandparents what to do they’d say that women are attracted to men who stand out from the crowd, whereas men are attracted to women who know how to fit in with others.

 

These ideas might sound old-fashioned, but a study from 2006 showed that when university students were thinking about dating, the female students tended to change their opinions to fit in with others, while men were more likely to change their opinions to stand out from the crowd. But are these strategies effective?

 

New research from the University of Queensland (co-authored by Dr Richard Wellauer of Benchmark Psychology) shows that men are actually more attracted to women who don’t conform to the group - those who stand out from the crowd.

 

Dating advice for women

 

Whether it’s evaluating dating profiles, rating the attractiveness of other people in small group interactions, or thinking about how much they’ve enjoyed recent dating experiences, men consistently reported that women who stood out from the crowd were more attractive, even though most women think that men prefer conformist women.

 

Dating advice for men

 

Women also reported that they preferred men who stood out from the crowd, but only up to a point - being too independent can be unattractive. If anything, men who are good at both standing out and fitting in with others are more successful in relationships.

 

So when you’re updating your online dating profile or going out with a bunch of new people, don’t let other people’s ideas about what’s attractive change how you act. Women don’t need to be afraid of standing out and showing off their individuality. Men don’t need to worry about acting the tough guy. Express your own opinions and flair, but make sure you also show that you’re able to be flexible and go along with the group.

 

This research is about dating, but it may as well be about job interviews, meeting new friends, or chatting to people while waiting for your morning coffee. We often spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to present ourselves in a way that stands out the least - instead, we should be making sure that we’re not living by other people’s standards. It’s okay to stand out from the crowd and it’s okay to fit in with others, but a mix of both is best of all.

Are you Ok ?

This blog began as a marketing exercise, as part getting to know what resources were available for mental health I began looking at online self help forums through Facebook, message boards and the like.

 

The breadth and diversity of self help forums for children; giftedness, autism, behavioural disorders, and many more overwhelmed me. These forums are incredibly vibrant, moderated by volunteers, with hundreds of enthusiastic contributors and readers. Most of the forums are virtually absent of any form of trolling, and with a topic as contentious as parenting even the disagreements are rare and mostly managed politely. It really did open my eyes to how effectively social media at its best can be used to support mental health.

 

Then I turned my attention to adult self help forums, and was stunned by how scarce they are and even the ones that do exist were so much quieter than what I had seen earlier. It was heart breaking to read one forum where a man was posting his increasingly distressed and unhappy thoughts over a series of months and receiving nothing but Internet silence in reply. I can only begin to imagine how this silence must have felt to him in what I can only assume was one of the lowest points of his life.

 

This got me to thinking about the differences between kids and adults. As a child, ideally there is always someone who has their out for you. Parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings all play a role in making sure both the physical but also emotional needs of the child are looked after. Last week my daughter told my wife that an older girl had accidentally walked in on her at the school toilet and she had felt embarrassed. Now she doesn’t want to go to the school toilets anymore. Our response was immediate. We had a big chat to her about it, gave her some encouragement, talked to her school teacher, and one of the teacher aides agreed to take her to the toilet the next day before lunch to get her used to it again. In a perfect world, all children would have multiple people in their lives who are looking out for them to make sure they are ok.

 

But as an adult who is there looking after your problems?

 

“I’ve noticed its been a few weeks since you went to the gym, are you feeling ok ?”

“Every time we have to have a staff meeting you get sick and have to go home, are you ok ?”

“We all used to drink too much when we were teenagers, but you are still doing it, are you ok?”

 

Today is international suicide prevention day, as well as being Are you Ok day. If you ever felt like you needed permission to ask a friend or a colleague “are you ok?” then today is it.

 

Mental health professionals help people everyday who haven’t been able to figure things out for themselves. There is an old saying “you cant solve a problem with the same brain that created the it”, sometimes it really is as simple as getting another person’s opinion. When a tooth hurts, no one expects you to drill it yourself, when your throat hurts, no one expects you to decide for yourself whether you need antibiotics or just time and rest, yet when your emotions hurt, or your behaviours hurt, it is like we expect people to figure things out for themselves.

 

There are a lot of trained professional in medical, psychological, and family practices all around the country. If you ask someone today if they are ok and the answer is no, there is no shortage of places to turn for help.

 

 

question-ask-are-you-ok-health-wellbeing-mental-he1

4 steps to declutter your life

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by how much 'stuff' you've got to deal with in life? Too many bills and bank statements, too many jobs to get done, too many appointments, too many appliances or devices that keep needing to be fixed or replaced every few years, too many clothes (most of which you don't wear)? If you're like most people, you're looking for the quickest way to regain control of your life and find some peace and quiet.

 

I've begun reading the book 'The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide' by Francine Jay. The book claims that it'll help me get rid of unnecessary stuff and clutter in my life so I'll have more 'space' to function. Francine Jay also believes that having less stuff will make you happier.

 

The interesting thing is that rather than being a 'how to' manual, this book is more like a philosophical textbook, as the author describes the true costs and value of spending habits and behaviours. In fact, at least a third of the book is devoted to examining beliefs and attitudes about possessions and doesn't offer any any practical advice at all! Here's a sample.

 

"What if I told you that having less stuff could make you a happier person? It sounds a bit crazy, doesn't it? That's because every day, and everywhere we turn, we receive thousands of messages to the contrary: buy this, and you'll be prettier; own this, and you'll be more successful; acquire this, and your happiness will know no bounds.

Well, we've bought this, that, and the other thing. So we must be in seventh heaven, right? For most of us, the answer is “no”. In fact, quite often, the opposite is true: many of the items, and the empty promises, are slowly sucking the money out of our pockets, the magic out of our relationships, and the joy out of our lives."

 

So, why would a book about getting rid of your stuff spend so much time talking about attitudes and beliefs rather than just getting to the point and telling me how to get rid of my junk?

 

This investigation of attitudes is essential for regaining control of your stuff. It's also a central part of psychological therapy, and something that I work through with clients all the time when dealing with a range of different problems, including depression, anxiety, anger, and addiction.

 

So what attitude is necessary to declutter your life? Most people don't take into account the true cost of acquiring and owning things – the cost of storage and maintenance, the cost on our stress levels (and how that will influence our relationships), and the lost opportunity cost. Instead, we usually only think about how much money something costs and how much happier we think we'll be once we own it.

 

We also need to appreciate things for what they are. Objects don't change who you are and they won't make you happier – you are you, and things are things. Although on a certain level we know that what we own won't make us any happier, we get tricked in to thinking this way all the time.

 

It is important to consider the problem of your own consumerism in detail, examining your attitudes from all angles before trying to do anything practical. This will get to the root of the problem, rather that offering superficial advice or tricks to try and fix everything as quickly as possible.

 

The main aim of 'The Joy of Less' is to help people re-evaluate how they think about possessions, and I think it's a great book that will help you get back in control your stuff. However, the way the author talks about change applies to other things as well and reflects the an important psychological principle that I discuss with clients every day: sustainable change depends on a thorough understanding of the problem before attempting to do something about it.

 

 

Here's four steps to help you declutter your life.

 

 

  1. What do you gain by doing things the way that you're currently doing them? What are the deeper reasons behind your current behaviour? For example, you may find that you can't bear to throw away that heirloom because you're worried about what your family will say. Or maybe you're often arguing with your partner because you're stressed about other things and haven't developed effective strategies for dealing with stress.
  2. Work out the true cost of not changing. What are the long term costs to your relationships, your stress levels, your health, and your ability to fulfil your purpose in life? Don't just think about the money and time cost.
  3. Be prepared for the pain of change and focus on the goal. Acknowledge that change will be difficult and unpleasant in the short term, but have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and why. This could be as simple as a having a written statement or mantra that you can use to remind you of your goals, such as “I know it'll be hard, but I'm not going to get frustrated by traffic today because it'll just make me feel more angry and my frustration won't fix anything.”
  4. Go small. Big changes usually aren't sustainable and are more difficult to achieve. Start making small changes that will give you a high chance of succeeding. Once you've succeeded with a small goal, you'll feel positive and energized to tackle the next milestone.

 

 

 

 

"Decluttering is like dieting. We can jump right in, count our possessions like we count calories, and “starve” ourselves to get fast results. All to often, however, we'll end up feeling deprived, go on a binge, and wind up right back where we started. First, we have to change our attitudes and our habits... Instead of being a short-term fix, it'll be a long-term commitment to a new, wonderful way of life."

Overthinking – a few tips on getting out of your head

JulietaClinical Psychologist, Dr Julieta Castellini has seen a lot of clients who overthink their problems. Their stories, along with her own research and study into this problem have allowed her to put together some helpful advice for people who just dont seem to be able to stop worrying.

 

 

 

What is overthinking?

 

Have you ever had the experience of going to a social event and afterwards thinking and re-thinking what happened? Or perhaps getting caught up in thinking over and over about how decisions you may have made will turn out in the future? These are two classic examples of overthinking.

 

Overthinking involves narrowing your attention to focus on unpleasant feelings that you might be experiencing, such as sadness, anger or worry. By overthinking, we focus more on exploring possible causes and consequences of these unpleasant feelings, rather than spending time thinking through ways of addressing the problem. As we aren’t really dealing with the problem at hand, overthinking tends to make us feel worse in the long run. If you are overthinking experiences that occurred in the past, we call this rumination, and if the overthinking is about events or situation that may occur in the future, we refer to this as worry.

 

When should I do something about it?

 

It’s a normal, human reaction to overthink situations from time to time; however there may be times when overthinking gets out of control. A handy rule is if overthinking is getting in the way of your daily routine (e.g. going to work, parenting your children, engaging with friends), then it is likely to have become a problem.

 

What can I do?

 

Overthinking is not like a button that can be pushed on and off, but there are ways to manage it, with a bit of practice. Here are some tips:

 

Mindfulness: When you find you are getting caught up in overthinking, come back to the present moment and focus on what you can experience in your body. Ask yourself, what can I hear? What can I see? What can I smell? What can I taste? What can I feel with my skin? By focusing on what is happening within our bodies, it can help us to have a break from our worry and rumination and gain perspective on what we were overthinking

 

Change your environment: Sometimes we get caught in a rut in our overthinking. By having a change of scenery, this helps to get us out of our head. Try going for a walk, opening some windows or putting some music on.

 

Get active: When you notice yourself getting caught up in overthinking, try to stop and get involved in doing something else. This might be playing with your kids, reading, cooking or enjoying a hobby. When we are doing these kinds of activities, it’s hard to have as much focus on overthinking.

 

Problem solve: Instead of spending time getting caught up in the whys of how a situation may have come about, try to focus on thinking through your opinions in this situation. What can I do now? It might even be worthwhile to write down a list of the options you have, along with upsides and downsides to each option.

 

Talk it out: It can be incredibly helpful to talk out our worries with supportive family or friends. This gives us an opportunity to air what we are thinking and gets some perspective from others about it.

 

If you find that your overthinking is getting in the way of other important things in your life, it may be helpful to talk to your GP about whether it is worthwhile to speak to a psychologist about other ways to manage this.