2020, a year in review: Dr Carol Newall

We've asked some Community of Practice members to tell us about what 2020 has meant to them. Some things may surprise you...

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What has been your greatest concern during COVID-19?

The rise of anger has been my greatest concern in recent months. Anger can be manifested as day-to-day irritations with strangers (e.g., for not wearing masks, not socially distancing) and at a broader, geopolitical level (e.g., anger towards Asians because the virus first emerged in China). It can also be manifested in secret, within the family home (spousal conflict, domestic violence). A major threat like COVID-19 and recession can lead to us into becoming more insular, fearful, and more hateful towards others.

 

Am I angry too?

I’ve become more mindful about monitoring anger in myself recently. I use a very simple rule for managing anger. I ask myself: “is it satisfying to say or do this particular thing?” when angry (e.g., tell someone off, lean on that horn, send that incendiary sms/email/comment on social media). If ‘yes’, I don’t do it or at least delay it for 24hrs. I have always regretted taking action at the peak of anger, but I have never regretted exercising impulse control when angry. Moreover, I have become more mindful in recognising things I cannot control and practising acceptance. I have also become more active in problem-solving the things/issues I can control.

 

Managing my own anxiety

The simplest technique in managing my anxiety has been to find laughter every day with my friends, family, and clients. We do more dance-offs with the kids after dinners. We play more hilarious board games like Throw Throw Burrito when we have guests over for dinner. My clients and I sometimes find ourselves laughing in session when we can identify the ridiculous in all the tragedy. That shared laughter is sometimes just as profound as the tears. I have worked harder at laughing in the year of 2020 because we have needed it more, and it has worked its magic.

 

What have I learnt in 2020?

COVID-19 has shown me that stress can sometimes lead to accelerated innovation, such as the rapid adoption of telehealth for primary and allied health practitioners. I am a facilitator with the Black Dog Institute and I have been incredibly impressed with the institute’s rapid development of workplace webinars in response to COVID-. My dream plan is to integrate more travel/life with work. I would love to be able to deliver workplace webinars/telehealth from anywhere in Australia and spend more time out-of-office in beautiful places.

By and large, though, I think COVID-19 has shown me that I can pivot relatively quickly with changing circumstances as a businessperson and a clinical psychologist. If I can survive COVID-19 during my first year in business, working in my own private practice, I can survive anything. It means that taking risks in the future will not be as daunting as pre-COVID-19.

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Dr Carol Newall

Dr Carol Newall is a clinical psychologist in Sydney, Australia. She works in private practice, workplace mental health training, and is part of the Education team at the Black Dog Institute.

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