How to declutter your mind

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Coming out: How to support your child

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Adult ADHD: How it manifests in the workplace

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is commonly understood to be a ‘childhood disorder’. But according to the South African Society of Psychiatrists, 6070% of symptoms continue into adulthood. This is what you need to know about ADHD in the workplace, including signs and tips for management.

ADHD is a neurological disorder that’s usually diagnosed in childhood. Some of the common symptoms of ADHD include being extremely forgetful, struggling with social situations and cues, being distracted and having difficulty focusing.

While these symptoms may be overlooked in a child, having adult ADHD becomes more challenging, as it interferes with the responsibilities an adult needs to uphold, including managing work.

ADHD and work performance

  • Sign: Frequently daydreaming or zoning out during conversations.
    What this looks like: Not paying attention or being disengaged during meetings.
  • Sign: Experiencing boredom often and seeking out more stimulating activities.
    What this could look like: Moving from one task to another, letting incomplete work pile up.
  • Sign: Overlooking details often.
    What this could look like: Frequently making errors and regularly missing deadlines.
  • Sign: Poor organisational skills.
    What this could look like: Struggling to cope with and complete tasks.
  • Symptom: Low self-esteem and hypersensitivity.
    What this could look like: Struggling to handle criticism even when it’s constructive.
  • Symptom: Becoming easily flustered and stressed out.
    What this could look like: Missing work regularly and using sick days often.

Adult ADHD in women

ADHD is underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed in women, with 50% fewer girls than boys being referred for treatment and evaluation. The condition often presents later in females, during puberty. This makes it even more difficult to diagnose, as teenagers naturally experience hormonal fluctuations, which affects their emotions.The social and cultural pressure that women face to perform well makes them more equipped to hide or manage their symptoms. As a result, ADHD may manifest differently in women at home, socially and at work.

Tips to manage ADHD at work

  • Create a supportive work environment by surrounding yourself with the right tools. This could mean taking notes during work or after social meetings, choosing work that motivates you and setting reminders on your phone for tasks.
  • Use your resources. Practise coping techniques as advised by your doctor and take your medication as prescribed. Reach out to support groups such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, reachable on their toll-free ADHD helpline.
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. This will provide you with the energy you need to focus better, complete your tasks and manage your commitments.
  • Lean on your safe people. If you find socialising difficult, try to keep your circle small. Maintain important connections, such as a close friend or colleague.
  • Conquer time management. Try to finish tasks you don’t enjoy immediately. Ask colleagues or a close friend to hold you accountable with a daily check-in.

Note: If you suspect you have ADHD, talk to your doctor, who can refer you to a mental health expert for an official diagnosis.

For more advice related to mental health, read these helpful articles:

For confidential assistance, contact Life EHS; SMS your name to 31581 and the Care Centre will call you back.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:

Continue reading…


Your mental health toolkit

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According to The South African Depression and Anxiety Group, as many as one in six South Africans suffer from mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Here are a few ‘tools’ to promote mental wellness in everyday life.

Podcast: Where Should We Begin?

Romantic relationships aren’t plain sailing and getting expert advice from the comfort of your home can be a great help. Esther Perel is a Belgian psychotherapist and a New York Times bestselling author of The State of Affairs and Mating in Captivity. Her relationship podcast, Where Should We Begin?, touted as ‘a podcast for anyone who’s ever loved’, tells the stories of real couples. From infidelity to loss and sex-related issues, she provides insight to help couples empower themselves.

Why this tool? Life is busy and the audio format of a podcast makes it a tool you can use on the go, for example when you’re in your car on the way to work, doing your chores or working out.

Available for free on Spotify and iTunes.

Mobile App: Calm

If you struggle with anxiety, insomnia or stress, meditation is helpful, as it aids deep relaxation and calms your mind. This mindfulness app is for beginners and provides guided meditation that helps to, for example, relieve stress, improve focus and concentration and boost self-esteem and gratitude. The length of the meditations ranges between 3 and 25 minutes to fit any schedule, and there are even options for work and school.

Why this tool? Most service apps can be personalised according to your preferences. They generally work faster than websites and can be easily accessed from your phone.

Available for free on Google Play and the App Store.

Book: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Do you struggle with productivity, time management and breaking bad habits? You’re not alone and the right tools can help you. Atomic Habits, a book by James Clear, offers practical strategies to help you reshape your negative behaviours with small changes. This not only extends to work, but to personal habits as well, including giving up smoking, reducing stress, losing weight and reaching career milestones. This book also helps with insight into how to get back on track if you’ve lost sight of your goals and putting your plans into practice.

Why this tool? A book can be easily placed in your bag or car to be enjoyed anywhere and doesn’t require internet access. If you prefer e-books, you can easily save it on your smartphone or tablet and it doesn’t require internet access.

Available on Takealot and Loot.

Mental health group: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)

SADAG is a non-profit organisation that offers mental health support and has a team of health experts and volunteers. It provides help in the form of support groups, 16 emergency counselling lines, workshops and educational materials. Best of all, SADAG’s resources are free to use and cover a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma and bipolar mood disorder. You can also get free medical treatment with a SADAG referral, in some cases, and if you want to help your community, you can apply to receive training as a volunteer.

Why this tool? Support groups and counselling can help you to feel understood and less alone, and teach you effective coping mechanisms. As helpful as technology is, sometimes human interaction is necessary. 

Information available on the SADAG website.

Physical activity: Move your body however you like

According to research published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, exercise has a positive effect on mental health, particularly when it comes to treating anxiety and depression. The research states that aerobic workouts like running, jogging, dancing, swimming, walking and cycling are especially helpful. You can get started with apps such as Aaptiv or free home-workout videos like on Team Body Project, or join a local exercise class, whether you like to box, dance or cycle.

For more advice related to mental health, read these helpful articles:

For confidential assistance, contact Life EHS; SMS your name to 31581 and the Care Centre will call you back.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:


Mental health: Your rights

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How to reclaim your guilty pleasures

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While a harmless guilty pleasure brings joy and release, it can be seen as embarrassing or taboo. Here’s why guilty pleasures can be good for your wellbeing, and what healthy indulgence looks like.

From watching your favourite show and enjoying a delicious slice of cake to taking a day off, indulging in life’s pleasures is often associated with guilt. Laziness, selfishness and weakness are also tied to leisure. But why?

According to Psychology Today, guilt may arise from your perception of judgment, either from yourself or others. This is often associated with anything society views as ‘bad for us’. We are also made to feel ashamed for not being ‘productive’, ‘moral’ or having ‘self-control’. As a result, anything pleasurable is seen as something that needs to be earned.

The benefits of indulgence

  • Doing something for fun gives you a mental break and gets you out of problem-solving mode. This helps you to deal with stress and pressure better.
  • It’s healthy to embrace your need for all kinds of treats and restricting yourself makes it more likely that you’ll overindulge.
  • Entertainment can help with emotional release. For example, you may cry or laugh while watching a show, and this has a cathartic effect.

Tips for indulging healthily

Taking a lazy day

Despite what you’ve been taught, this is not unproductive and can allow your mind and body to recharge. This makes you less prone to burnout, helps you to be more creative and aids in better sleep.

What this could look like:

  • taking a day off work, shutting down your computer and not reading emails
  • saying no to plans and spending all day in bed watching your favourite show
  • switching your phone to Airplane Mode and ignoring texts and social media for a day
Eating whatever you want

Food not only nourishes your body, but can also be good for your wellbeing. And although it shouldn’t be used as an emotional crutch, it’s perfectly fine to eat for the senses. Furthermore, depriving yourself of your favourite foods because they are labelled ‘unhealthy’ could lead to overindulgence.

What this could look like:

  • eating your favourite foods in moderation
  • getting takeout, on occasion, when you don’t feel like cooking
  • having comfort foods, or healthy alternatives, when you’re stressed or feeling down
Treating yourself

Since many people have suffered financially during the pandemic, overspending shouldn’t be encouraged. However, it’s still important to do nice things for yourself now and then, staying within your budget, of course. This is part of self-care because it reminds you that you deserve to be treated well.

What this could look like

  • finally checking out your digital shopping cart
  • subscribing to a streaming service such as Netflix, or going to a spa
  • buying something just because you like it, not because you need it

For more lifestyle advice related to mental health, read these helpful articles:

For confidential assistance, contact Life EHS; SMS your name to 31581 and the Care Centre will call you back.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:


Are you microbreaking enough at work?

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Chatting with a co-worker, making a cup of coffee or putting in a load of washing may seem like procrastination, but it can be beneficial. Read our article to learn what microbreaking is, why it differs from procrastination and how to practise it effectively.

Being glued to your screen is not necessarily the best strategy for productivity, and taking a breather now and then can help you to bounce back from fatigue and disengagement during work.

Microbreaks are short intervals you take from work throughout the day. It could involve anything from standing up to stretch, doing some desk exercises, making a cup of coffee, chatting to a colleague or refilling your water bottle.

Microbreaks vs. procrastination

Microbreaks aren’t procrastination. The difference is that microbreaks can help you to recharge. And unlike procrastination, which can cause you to put off or avoid a task, microbreaks can help you to produce better work.

What’s more, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reveals that microbreaks can help workers to be more engaged and maintain their energy levels throughout a working day.

They’re so effective because they enable a process called ‘psychological detachment’, where you’re able to mentally disengage from work, allowing your brain to rest.

Microbreaks can also help you to:

Examples of microbreaks

Considering COVID-19 regulations, some good options for microbreaking during work include:

In-office

  • watching a short funny video
  • getting up to make or buy a cup of coffee
  • updating your diary with key events

Remote working

  • catching up with someone over text or video call
  • putting in a load of washing
  • stepping outside for some air

How to use microbreaks effectively

Schedule them. Add time to your daily calendar to take microbreaks. You can choose different times using phone alerts or an app such as Stretch Reminder to prompt you.

Take a break when you’re distracted. You won’t be truly productive if you aren’t focused. Whenever you’re feeling distracted, use it as your cue to take a microbreak. This could be as simple as stretching your legs.

Try the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management strategy where you work in blocks of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. An app like Tide can help you with this.

Learn to normalise it. There’s no reason to feel guilty for taking microbreaks since they will help you work more effectively.

For more work-related advice, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:


Understanding cancer-related post-traumatic stress disorder

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Cancer-related PTSD can occur at any point from diagnosis to surgery and/or treatment and can impact the survivor’s reintegration into their home, work and social lives. Here’s more about cancer-related PTSD and how best to deal with the symptoms.

Cancer survivors navigate emotions that range from hope and joy to trauma and trepidation as they deal with diagnosis and treatment, as well as adapting to life post-cancer. This journey is taxing and could result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For example, nearly 1 in 4 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer experienced PTSD.
Cancer experiences that may trigger PTSD vary but include:

  • the test results (diagnosis)
  • a harrowing treatment procedure
  • long hospital stays and treatment
  • cancer-related pain
  • possible recurrence of cancer

How can a cancer diagnosis lead to PTSD?

Some factors that could increase the risk of cancer-related PTSD include:

  • a low economic status
  • childhood cancer diagnosis
  • limited or negative social support
  • having PTSD or other psychological problems before being diagnosed with cancer
  • using avoidance to cope with stress

Previous trauma could also contribute to cancer-related PTSD, says Dr Eugene Allers, a psychiatrist at Life Glynnview. According to the South African Journal of Psychiatry, the lifetime prevalence of PTSD for countries with a history of violence stands at 10%. And in South Africa, where violence is rife, it stands at 2.3%.

Signs and symptoms of cancer-related PTSD

  • Nightmares or flashbacks where the content of your dreams is related to the trauma
  • Frightening and unwanted thoughts
  • Self-destructive behaviour such as abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Trouble sleeping and concentrating
  • Strong physical reactions (e.g. a racing heart) when reminded of traumatic events
  • Loss of interest in activities and relationships you once enjoyed
  • Hypervigilance and constant feelings of distress

What to do if you suspect you have cancer-related PTSD

Life Healthcare Oncologist Dr Louis Kathan suggests the below if you suspect you have cancer-related PTSD:

Connect with other survivors. Spending time with those you can relate to can help you to feel supported and understood. You can join cancer support groups or cancer-related educational programmes.

Talk to your doctor, who can refer you to a mental health specialist such as a counsellor. You can specifically ask for one who has dealt with cancer patients and survivors. Sharing your distress with your oncology team can also help them to support you more effectively and put you at ease.

For more cancer-related advice, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:


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