ACT is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and it was “invented” by Steve Hayes; it is essentially a combination of some CBT techniques and Mindfulness… Recently I did some training/CPD on this with Dr Russ Harris and I thought I would share the basics with you here:

  • It’s about being in the present moment.
  • It’s about accepting our emotions and feelings, even pain.
  • It’s about defusing from our thoughts (see the post I wrote awhile ago on the Train as one way of doing this).
  • It’s about being able to observe yourself – hence the image at the top of this blog.
  • It’s about knowing your values and the sort of person you want to be.
  • And it’s about committing to your goals and doing the things you want to do in your life, despite any pain etc.
  • So if you want to know more go to YouTube and look up any of Russ Harris’s videos – two particularly good ones are The Evolution of the Human Mind and The Struggle Switch

A psychologist’s guide to you and your baby…

anne geddes baby

I thought as “Call the Midwife” was coming back on soon and I can’t resist an Anne Geddes’ baby photo, I would write here about The Psychologist magazine’s top ten tips about mothers and babies (Jan. 2016):

  1. Babies learn to smile and laugh at a very early age and do this in order to gain your attention, so engage with them  and you will be rewarded; (better than being on your smartphone surely?)
  2. Learn about postnatal depression before the birth and then you will know what to look out for and how to get help if necessary.
  3. Garner support from other mothers by joining a group e.g. parents and toddlers, baby yoga etc. – these friendships will often last a lifetime.
  4. Playing with your child can sometimes get tiring or boring, so hand over to his/her dad whenever possible as babies and toddlers need age appropriate  rough and tumble play and will benefit from more than one attachment figure.
  5. The language instinct is natural for human babies – so no need to worry about it and it will still happen naturally (albeit with a slight delay) if the parents speak two different languages – talking to your child is an important part of bonding even if they don’t understand what you say!
  6. Young babies can sleep anywhere during the day even with a background noise such as a washing machine (not sudden noises) and will then learn the difference between night and day. If after 6 months night time sleeping is a problem there is plenty of help available for sleep training from your health visitor or other health professionals.
  7. Hold and cuddle your baby as much as possible as it will help keep them calm, especially so with newborns
  8. Babies love faces and if you can not be there for him/her 24/7 then find a suitable cuddly toy with big eyes, a nose and a mouth –  I remember my daughter used to love looking at an owl nightdress case!
  9. Breastfeeding is a journey – but nearly always worth it – there is plenty of support available too if you need it e.g. from NCT breastfeeding counsellors (you don’t have to be a member) and I have a whole PhD on the subject if anyone wants to know more!
  10. If your own mother/mother-in -law tells you there are certain rules you must follow – don’t listen – nine times out of ten your instincts will be correct and health professionals are more likely to have more upto date knowledge than someone who had a baby 30 years ago.

Christmas and families…

Seb and me at Xmas I have just been looking on the internet to find out how many people have problems with families at Christmas time and it seems to be alot! I think this is primarily to do with unrealistic expectations and we can also lay some blame with Hollywood and all those Christmas songs sung by the likes of Nat King Cole. We expect Christmas to be perfect and it never is: we don’t often get a white Christmas and not everybody likes sprouts!

We seem to be more organised about our shopping lists than organising who we see and when. It’s not great if elderly people who are on their own for most of the year are also left on their own on Christmas day, but some others may actually like to be on their own. Also if we don’t see our loved ones during the holiday season, we can always see them before or afterwards;  it’s the regular contact and the quality time that counts – not which day of the year it is. After all December 25th is probably not even Jesus’ exact birthday. It is the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of a man who came to bring peace to our world – if we can’t even have peace within our families what hope does the world have?