Overcoming Perfectionism Workshop – Semester 1 2019

How many of the above statements can you relate to? If it is a few, then Perfectionism might be relevant for you.

For more information on what Perfectionism is, and how it can be problematic, check out my earlier blog post which explores this in more detail.


Perfectionism is such a common problem among university students, that we regularly run a workshop series which helps students with overcoming problematic perfectionism.

The series of 4 x 90 minute workshops will focus on why perfectionism can be hard to shift, strategies to shift from problematic perfectionism to healthy striving, and how to manage self-criticism and procrastination.

The workshops will be held over four weekly sessions:

At Callaghan Campus: 1-2.30pm on Thursdays, commencing Thursday 7th March 2019

At Ourimbah Campus: 1-2.30pm on Tuesdays, commencing Tuesday 12th March 2019

Places are limited. To register for your place, complete the online registration form or email counselling at newcastle.edu.au for more information.

Welcome to 2019

Welcome back from holidays! I hope you have had a fun and safe holiday period and are returning to study at least a little refreshed. If not, there is always coffee!

Counselling, Online Counselling and Student Support are now open again and ready to help you out with any questions you have or things you might be struggling with.

Skype Drop In sessions will resume from Wk 1 of Semester 1 – Monday 25th February 2019. 

The University Crisis Support line is available on 130 653 007 or SMS 0488 863 216 between the hours of 5pm-9am on weekdays, and 24 hrs over the weekends and public holidays.


The end of another year

Today is the final day of the exam period, and many of you will have either already finished for the year or be finishing up in the coming weeks.

Congratulations on making it to the end another year!

Now can be a good time to take a few moments to reflect on 2018: What worked well for you with your studies this year? What didn’t work? Is there anything you would like to do differently next year?

If there are some things you would like to change, but you have been struggling to do so, remember that Counselling is available – both face to face and online. Counselling can be a good way to explore and overcome anything that might be barrier to change, or to help you if things did not go well but you are not quite sure why or how to change things.


Counselling and Online Counselling will be closed from Thursday 20th December 2018, and will reopen at 9am on Monday 7th January 2019.

Skype Drop In sessions have now closed for the year, and will recommence in Week 1 of Semester 1 2019. 

If you need to speak with someone, the UON Crisis Support Line will be available 24 hrs a day from Thursday 20th December 2018 to Sunday 6th January 2019. You can call on 1300 653 007 or SMS 0488 884 165.

Alternatively, Lifeline 13 11 14 and the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 are also available 24 hrs/day.


We wish you all a safe and enjoyable holiday period, and look forward to working with you in 2019.



Managing Exam Anxiety Workshop

Did exam anxiety get to you last semester? You are not alone!

Register below to learn some strategies and tips to get on top of Exam Anxiety.

Do it now – don’t let your brain convince you to do it later!



Managing Exam Anxiety Workshop

This workshop will focus on strategies to manage negative thinking and self-talk  about exams and help you learn how to be aware of your emotions without becoming overwhelmed with study and exams.



Thursday 1 November 1-2 pm


Tuesday 6 November 3-4 pm

(the workshop is repeated and attendance is required at only one workshop)


McMullin Building

Callaghan Campus


Register your place and find further information at


University Mental Health Day

Today, Tuesday May 1st, is University Mental Health Day across Australia and New Zealand.

University Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of the mental health and well-being needs of those who study and work in higher education settings.

A key part of being human is feeling connected to others and your community. Evidence suggests that spending time with your community, friends and family as well as pets can really support your mental health and wellbeing.

For University Mental Health Day, we encourage you to take a moment to identify and acknowledge your community contacts, friends and family. Perhaps, plan to catch up with someone over coffee, sport or taking a walk together.

At UON Callaghan campus today we have an expo with a focus on getting involved with your community. Come along and find out more, or join our Online Forum on Building Digital Student Communities at 5pm 1st May on Blackboard Collaborate.

Events at NeWSpace and Ourimbah are planned too. See here for details.

Most of all, stay connected for your mental health.


For support, phone:

University of Newcastle after-hours Support Line: call 1300 653 007

UON Counselling and Online Counselling appointments: (02) 4921 6622

Overcoming Perfectionism – Workshop Series

While many of you may be still on break enjoying the summer (or hiding from the heat), others may be starting to think about Semester 1 or you might even be back at study already. Wherever you may be, you have likely received your grades back from 2017, and might have even reflected on things that went well, and the things that didn’t.

One of the most common barriers to academic success and wellbeing that we see in students at Counselling, is Perfectionism.

“How can this be a barrier? Wouldn’t perfectionism make your work BETTER?” I hear you collectively ask.

Perfectionism, can be defined as striving to meet unreasonably high or inflexible standards, judging your self-worth (how you feel about yourself) based on your ability to achieve these standards, and continuing to strive for the standards despite experiencing negative consequences.

Sometimes, people are able to meet their high standards, however this comes at a cost to their relationship, feeling highly anxious, problems with sleep or neglecting their physical health or friendships. For others, the pressure to perform well can be debilitating, and can lead to avoidance and procrastination, and at times failing to submit work or complete courses.

For more information on what Perfectionism is, and how it can be problematic, check out my earlier blog post which explores this in more detail.

If you already know that Perfectionism is a problem for you and you want to learn more, we will be running a series of four workshops on Overcoming Perfectionism in March 2018.

Sessions will focus on strategies to shift from problematic perfectionism to healthy striving, including how to manage self-criticism and procrastination.

The workshops will be held over four weekly sessions, from 3-4.30pm on Wednesdays, commencing Wed 7th March 2018 at Callaghan campus.

Places are limited. To register your place, complete the online registration form or email onlinecounselling at newcastle.edu.au for more information.


Skype Drop In


As we come toward the end of Semester 2, many of you will have already finished or be nearly done with your exams and placements. Time to enjoy some well deserved rest and relaxation over the summer break! Or you might like to check out the Navigator blog for some ideas on wrapping up 2017!

As there is less demand for the Skype Drop In service during the break, there will be some adjustments to the Skype Drop In sessions during this time.


There will be no Skype Drop In session on 2.30-3.30pm Thursday 23rd November due to staff training. However, the evening session at 8-9pm Thursday 23rd November will still be running as usual.

Thursday 23rd of November will be the last of the evening sessions (8-9pm Tues and Thurs). These will resume in Semester 1, 2018.

Day time Skype Drop In sessions will continue to run until Friday 15th December 2017.

The day time sessions are held:

  • Monday 1-2pm
  • Wednesday 3:30-4:30pm
  • Thursday 2:30-3:30pm
  • Friday 9-10am

Lifeline (13 11 14) and the Mental Health Line (1800 011 511) are available for 24 hour support.

Mindfulness and Anxiety

Have you heard about Mindfulness ? If not where have you been hiding, it’s all the rage and all the cool kids are doing it !

Mindfulness is a concept that the West has borrowed principally from Buddhist meditation practices, and has been popularised over the past 40 years in the west. One of the leading pioneers of mindfulness is Dr Jon Kabat Zinn, who applied the concept of mindfulness to combating stress and anxiety.

He created an eight week program called Mindfulness Based Stress Management (MBSR). Another similar course is called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. These programs have been researched scientifically and found to be very effective in helping to reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and even chronic pain.


So what exactly is Mindfulness.  Well in a nut shell, mindfulness is method of distancing ourselves from unhelpful thoughts and emotions. Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as “Paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment , non-judgmentally”

The benefits of mindfulness includes ;

  • Reduced rumination or worrying
  • Stress reduction
  • Boosts working memory
  • Better focus
  • Less emotional reactivity
  • More cognitive flexibility

You can find out more about the benefits of mindfulness here … Mindfulness Benefits

There is a great TED Talk about Mindfulness here too



How can this help with anxiety ?

Well, the cause of anxiety are our thoughts. Now sometimes our anxiety is useful, and we as humans evolved to have anxiety to keep us safe from harm. However, sometimes our mind can indulge in worry too much and trigger our fight or flight response prematurely. This is akin to the smoke detector being activated in your kitchen by slightly burning some toast.

By learning to adopt a perspective of mindfulness to our thoughts and emotions, we can gradually become less reactive to them, so that we recognise that the issue is just burned toast, and not a real fire.

Getting started with Mindfulness

There are lots of apps around to learn mindfulness, such as Smiling Mind, however in my experience it is establishing a regular mindfulness practice that is the tricky bit. However there is a 4 week online course available for FREE from Monash University, called Mindfulness for Wellbeing & Peak Performance.  I will be doing this course over the next 4 weeks, and writing some posts about my experience, and I’d like to invite you to join me, and share your experiences.

Another option is to learn a couple of mindfulness techniques from singer-songwriter, Jewel ……. right here …. right now.






World Mental Health Day: Do you see what I see?

Today is World Mental Health Day. A good day to stop and take a minute, and ask what you know about mental health.

When I first opened the website I was met with today’s date. 10th October. 10/10. For me this made me question what does it mean to feel 10/10? Is that even a possibility? Is striving for 10/10 something that should be our goal in life?

There are A LOT of myths around happiness and how if we could just be happy everything would be perfect. Well, that’s not the case. Even if things are going ‘perfectly’ we may not feel happy all the time.  That’s because as humans our natural state is to feel a whole range of emotions and if we only try and feel one emotion, such as happiness, then we are actually putting a lot of pressure (and sometimes judgement) on ourselves for feeling anything other than happy. Russ Harris writes about this in his book “The Happiness Trap” (available from the UON library in electronic and hard copy) and the video below shares some of the benefits of NOT falling into the happiness trap!

Besides helping our own mental health, we also need to be mindful that falling for the happiness trap can lead to us judging others around us who may be struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. Thus increasing the stigma associated with this issue. How many times have you seen a meme about how exercise and fresh air is a natural anti-depressant? Or one of my favourites of what if we treated physical health issues like mental health issues?

As the World Mental Health Day website outlines we need to be aware that “stigma around mental illness due to misunderstanding or prejudice remains an issue in Australia, delaying or preventing people from wanting or feeling able to seek help, and impacting adversely on their lives” and that it is part of everyone’s responsibility to be aware of the damage that can be done by these misconceptions and misunderstandings. You might be surprised to learn that 1 out of 5 Australians are affected by mental health. And according to recent findings this number is believed to be 1 in 4 in the Australian tertiary student population.

So what can you do today?

  • Perhaps have a check in on your own mental health. Do you feel 10/10. Is that OK? It may be that you want to challenge yourself to accept that you are allowed to be feeling 7/10 or it may be a reminder to practice some self care. But if you’re feeling lower is it time to have a chat with someone?


  • Could you check in on someone else? A couple of weeks ago was RUOK Day which was a good reminder that we need to all keep an eye on each other and be comfortable asking are you OK?


  • This leads to the next thing you might want to consider today and that is how you can help promote the mental health and wellbeing in your community. One idea might be something small and simple like challenging stereotypes around mental health, perhaps by sharing a cartoon like this one on social media.. You never know who will see it and what it may mean to someone in your life.


The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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