(07) 5569 0115 - Gold Coast

What would you tell your younger self if you could have a conversation with them today? It turns out, we all ponder this question quite a lot, and a recent study shows, most adults consider what they’d say at least once a week. But have you ever wondered what your psychologist would tell your younger self? Likely, the advice would be a little different. After all, they know a lot about you, what you struggle with today, and how you could have saved yourself a lot of heartache with a few different choices and a bit more knowledge, if you’d had it then. Here are the 7 things your psychologist would tell your younger self…

1. You’re not the only one

Something we all struggle with, most especially when we’re in those formative years, is being the ‘only one’ who’s going through something. We feel isolated and alone in our teenage years, and frankly, it’s all part of the experience of growing up. But if we’d had the kind of knowledge our psychologists wish we’d had, we would have grown up knowing that all those niggling doubts and worries were totally normal, and that most of our peers were experiencing the same thing. It would have meant speaking up more about what we were having trouble with, and sharing more with our friends, family, teachers, and peers. The result? Feeling less isolated and learning at an early age that it’s completely normal to go through what you were going through.

2. Stop trying to grow up so fast

How often do you hear someone say, “Things were so simple back then”? Reminiscing about the past and our younger years is something many of us do, and it’s because we realise that in our haste to grow up and gain our independence, we missed the joys of being young and (relatively, though we didn’t know it then) carefree. Before the days of working full-time, raising kids, paying bills, and all the responsibilities of adulthood, our younger years were seemingly idyllic. If your psychologist could have a conversation with your younger self now, they’d tell you to stop wishing your younger years away and enjoy the ride.

3. Stop and smell the roses

The recent study by psychologist Robyn Kowalski suggests that this is a very common thought for most of us, herself included. She describes herself as being so ‘laser-focused on school’ as a teenager that she wishes she could have told her younger self to ‘lighten up a bit and enjoy life more.’

“I would have stopped to smell the roses, and that’s a message I shared with my own children,” the Clemson University professor told TODAY.

4. Your trauma needs addressing – the sooner the better

One of the main reasons people seek out a psychologist is to deal with the trauma that was never addressed at the time it happened. For many of us, that was in our younger years as children, teens, or young adults. Along with feeling alone in our issues, young people who experience trauma are likely to feel shame around the traumatic event. This is something that manifests itself over time, leading to a whole range of problems in later life; from depression and anxiety, to phobias, disordered eating, PTSD, low self-esteem, trouble relating to other people, difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships, and many potential dysfunctional habits and behaviours. If your psychologist could have a chat with your younger self today, they’d tell you to seek out help and deal with your trauma as soon as possible – because carrying that trauma and shame around is going to hold you back for years – and it doesn’t need to.

5. You are more powerful than you think

If there’s one thing any psychologist could impart to all their clients, it would be that YOU have the power to change your life. In fact, counselling and psychology are aimed at giving you the tools and the knowledge to make the changes you need in your life, and not on solving your issues for you. Your therapist would love for your younger self to know that it is you who holds the key to your own success and happiness, no matter what life throws at you. So, they’d tell your younger self, that you needn’t feel so helpless, you should stop searching for validation in all the wrong places, and start believing in your own innate ability to create the life you want to lead.

6. Don’t wait until things are dire to get help

As someone who has a great deal of insight into your struggles and challenges now, your psychologist can see just how much you needed to seek out help years ago. But, like many people, you didn’t think your concerns were ‘serious enough’ to see a psychologist or a counsellor. If there’s a piece of advice they could give to your younger self about therapy, it’s that it’s never too soon to reach out for help. In fact, the sooner you do, the sooner you can begin to heal from wounds of the past and get back control over your life. The sooner you seek out help, the sooner the brave, powerful, and happy version of yourself emerges.

7. Look back at your younger self with compassion

While some of the advice the study participants would give to their younger selves related to things they couldn’t change (like ‘don’t have kids so early’ or ‘don’t put off your studies’), quite a lot of it was still relevant today.

“That fascinated me,” said Kowalski. “Following the advice takes effort…(but) if people could take the advice that they had to offer, I think it would really make a difference.”

The important thing is to be kind to your younger self and look back on them with compassion. After all, you did the best at the time with the tools that you had. In fact, experts say that the happiest adults are those who use compassion when thinking about their past selves and use any regret to motivate future change.

What advice would you give your younger self? And what do you think your psychologist would say? In your next appointment, you might like to use this as a thought experiment and uncover just what advice both you and your therapist would have for Younger You. Importantly, how could this advice be used to make changes in your life today?

Over the last year and a half, many of us have had to experience working from home for the first time. And for some of us, working remotely will be a permanent change – whether moving to a hybrid of working from home some of the time and in the office the rest of the week, or working from home for the foreseeable future – and something that will take getting used to. Although some people thrive when working from home, for others, it can be a struggle. No matter which category you fall under, we’ve put together some tips for how to survive working from home; to keep your productivity up, but most importantly, to keep your sanity. 

1. Get dressed 

We know, it’s tempting to crawl out of bed and straight onto your laptop (or perhaps even stay in bed for those Zoom meetings), but it’s not doing any good for your motivation or your mental health. One of the best things you can do for yourself when working from home is to get up every morning and get dressed. That doesn’t mean having to put on the full get-up, but at least changing from your ‘relaxation’ clothes to your ‘it’s time to do some work’ clothes. And yes, yoga pants count. Just be sure to put on something that’s both comfortable and suitable for any meetings you’ve got on that day. This signals to your brain that it’s not the weekend, you’re not home sick from work, and that it’s time to get productive. You’ll see, it will do wonders for your headspace. 

2. Keep a consistent sleep routine 

Even though you’ve cut out the morning commute from your workday, that’s no reason to stay up all night binging on Netflix. You’ll only end up making yourself more tired the next day and you’ll struggle to get into the groove of things when the workday starts. Keeping to the same sleep schedule contributes to your sleep quality and helps you to function throughout the day. It helps you to be more productive, perform tasks more effectively, and stay more focused. So, for the sake of your energy levels and motivation during the day, set yourself a regular bedtime and waking time. 

3. Have a dedicated workspace 

Just as getting dressed and having a proper sleep schedule will help your brain to get into the mood for work each day and stay focused, so too will having a dedicated workspace. Whether it’s a spare-room-turned-office, the kitchen table, or the couch, just be sure it’s not somewhere that you spend your time sleeping or doing most of your relaxing. This can be tricky if your space is limited at home, of course. So, if you’re stuck with using the couch, try to set up a coffee table or somewhere flat to put your computer or tablet, and support your back and neck as best you can. The aim of the game here is to mentally separate your ‘home’ spaces and your ‘work’ space, so that you can once again give your brain the cue that it’s time for getting work done. Likewise, once work is done, putting away your desk or moving to another ‘relaxation’ area of the home will let your brain know that it’s time to decompress and switch off from work mode. 

4. Take regular breaks

It can be tempting to work right through the day when you’re working from home, to either get extra work done or to finish earlier than planned. However, this can be harmful to both your productivity and your mental health, and can even lead to burnout. Be sure to schedule yourself regular breaks and do something other than making another cup of coffee during this time. Get out of your chair or off the couch, take a walk outside, or simply move around the house for a few minutes. It’s also really important to eat properly during these breaks to keep your mind and body fueled – so don’t skip meals! 

5. Create relaxation rituals 

Despite your best intentions, getting dressed, working from a dedicated space each day, and keeping a good sleep routine, you still might have issues ‘switching off’ from the stress of work each day. You’re not alone. In fact, at least half of Australians have experienced increased levels of stress due to the disruptions to work routines and organisation that the pandemic has caused. If you found it hard to take your mind off work before, working from home has likely made it that much more difficult. Thankfully, there are some really simple things you can do to correct your stress levels when working from home. Creating some ‘relaxation rituals’ is key. These will further prompt your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work, and time to be in ‘home mode’. Here are some examples: 

  • Take a shower once the workday is done and change into some ‘at home’ clothes 
  • Put your laptop or tablet away and clear away any work clutter until the next day
  • Put some of your favourite music on and do a quick clean up of the house (put your coffee mug away, clear up any chargers and cables, etc.)
  • Take a walk or take some time for exercise before and/or after your workday 
  • Get outside and get some sunshine and fresh air – both during your breaks and after work 
  • Cook something for you and/or the family and sit down to dinner together 
  • Put on the television and watch your favourite show
  • Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down to read a book 
  • Call a friend or loved one for a chat and decompress about your day 
  • Schedule your sessions with your counsellor or psychologist and keep them up to date about how working from home is going 

6. Reach out when you need to 

Perhaps most importantly of all, remember that you’re not the only one who’s finding it a struggle. Even though working from home sounds great for many of us in theory, it can be tough to get used to. And even for those of us who quite enjoy working solo and spending time alone, working from home can be more challenging than expected. That’s why it’s so important to reach out for support when you need it. Whether it’s calling a friend or colleague to chat about your day, or making time for regular counselling sessions to help you with strategies for maintaining your motivation and supporting your mental health – we all need a little support sometimes. 

If you’re finding working from home difficult, if your mental health is suffering as a result, or if you’re simply having a hard time keeping your focus throughout the workday, there are many strategies that can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation about how our counselling, psychology, and life coaching services can support you to make the most of working from home –  not just to survive, but to thrive. 

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen