Tag Archives: sadness

Let Go Of Negativity… For Good!

sun-set-maldivesHow to do respond to bad news? Do you get angry at the person nearest to you? Do you snap at your colleagues for the rest of the week? If you’re like most people, your response to bad news breeds negativity for yourself, and those around you.
Imagine your ideal response to bad news. Would you take a deep breath? Would you thank the person who informed you of the news for having done so? What does your ideal reactivity look like to you?
Emotions are like waves – you have the crest of the wave representing the rising emotion you may feel, the peak of the wave which signifies the most intense feelings experienced, and the fall of the wave as it returns to its beginning state. Similarly, our emotions rise up, and eventually fall away. This cycle in emotions is so natural and rhythmic, but we often feel that our emotional states are going to remain the same.
When we get angry, we often assume that our emotions towards the object of our anger will be constant and stable. As a result, we can say some nasty remarks to loved ones, make decisions we later regret, or harbour resentment for long periods of time. Imagine creating a dialogue with your emotions where you ACCEPT negativity with kindness, and welcome whatever internal responses you may have. You can do that by practicing these three acts the next time you feel negativity arising:

1. Let yourself FEEL your emotions:

When we get upset, we often try to distract ourselves with our smartphones, our tv, our computer, or a mundane task. The last things we want to do is sit with our emotion and see what happens. However, by sitting with your thoughts and feelings, you’ll gain a better understanding of your response patterns and might be able to resolve the conflict more effectively and quickly. The next time that you find yourself upset, instead of distracting yourself, try sitting with your emotion. It’s okay if you feel uncomfortable. It’s okay if you cry. Practice FEELING your feelings.

2. Practice gratitude towards YOURSELF (as well as others):

Thank yourself for feeling your feelings. You don’t have to be happy with the outcome of your emotions, but the first step to create a positive dialogue with yourself surrounding these acts. Expressing gratitude can boost your happiness tremendously. If you’re feeling okay with this, you can go a step further and THANK the obstacles in your path for teaching you new skills and coping mechanisms. Dr. Martin Seligman, a leading researcher in the field of positive psychology, found that when people wrote and personally delivered letters thanking them for their kindness, they experienced a huge increase in happiness. This boost in positive emotion lasted for over a month. You can write these down, or say them in your head. Either way, a little bit of gratitude can go a long way.

3. Learn what triggers you:

Start an emotion-diary where at the end of each day, log what triggered any emotions. You can write about how you feel anger when you have to wait for the subway in the morning, or frustration from constantly being behind schedule. You can write about the joy you get from having a morning cup of coffee, or that one person in the office who you look forward to seeing each day. After a couple of weeks of logging your emotions, you’ll be able to anticipate what you’ll be feeling throughout the day. By anticipating your emotions, you can take the steps to mentally prepare for any potential negativity coming your way.

By opening yourself up to feeling your emotions, both the good ones and the bad, you start a lifelong journey of self-discovery, as well as new positive emotions. Remember to be kind to yourself and welcome negative emotions with kindness. They won’t be around forever. The more you welcome your internal experience, the more likely it is that you’ll experience positivity.

By: Kaya Quinsey

Kaya Quinsey Mental Health Professional

10 Mental Health Tips for Students

student_mentalhealth_universityIt’s that time again – when the temperature starts dipping little by little, and back-to-school shopping supplies are advertised wherever you go. If you’re heading off to university or college for the first time, or are heading back for your last year of graduate studies, these ten tips will help you thrive and survive throughout this upcoming school year!

Students have the luxury to spend their days learning about (hopefully) what they are passionate about. University/college is also the place where you learn to push yourself intellectually and emotionally. Often, this can lead to burnout and exhaustion. We all know what happens when we reach that point… You sit in the library in front of your laptop, blankly staring at it, sitting for a couple of hours before finally getting started. Worse, you could spend your year feeling continuously unfulfilled, unbalanced and unhappy.

How do we prevent this?

You could use that time so much more wisely! Imagine if you could avoid burnout and intellectual exhaustion, instead thriving in both academics and mental wellbeing. We can take steps to prevent burnout mid-way through the semester. By implementing actions in your life that lead to balance and stress-reduction, you should be able to feel as though you’re thriving in both academics and mental wellbeing.

1. Connect with others

Make time for your friends and family. If you feel overwhelmed by how much you have going on, try scheduling a phone call with your parents instead of impromptu calls. This can help you feel like you have more control over your schedule. Prioritize friendships and staying in touch. Positive relationships with the people around us are incredibly healing and important for our mental health.

2. Take time for hobbies

A lot of people get to college or university and give up their hobbies. Love piano? See if there is a music room in your residence for you to practice! Love sports? Get involved in some intramurals! It’s a great way to meet friends and maintain balance in your life.

3. Contribute to your community

Volunteering in a new community can be one of the most rewarding acts you can undertake at university or college. If you’re living in a new city or town, it can help you get familiar with neighbourhoods and areas that you might not already know. Find volunteer positions that are fun for you! It’s an amazing way to meet like-minded people, and will look amazing on your resume once you’re finally finished school.

4. Get involved in your school’s extracurriculars

Getting involved in your school’s extracurricular activities, like mentoring and student counsel’s, are a great way to gain skills that can be applied to settings outside of the university or college. You’ll often be thrown into this new environment and learn time management, learn about long-term commitment, boosts your relationship skills and your self-esteem.

5. Take care of your (physical) self

You finally have the ability to live off of pizza and chips if you want! However, I can guarantee that a diet of soda and junk-food is going to leave you feeling sluggish and low-energy in no time. Make healthy eating a priority in your cafeteria and see what healthy options are available. You might also have access to an athletic centre at your school. Physical activity is an excellent motivator and de-stressor. In addition, exercising GIVES you energy, rather than draining you! So if you’re looking for an energy boost, try hitting the gym!

6. Get enough zzz’s

Sleep allows your brain to take in new information the next day, and consolidate memories from the day before. How are you supposed to retain all of the new information from your classes if you don’t give yourself enough sleep?

7. Make time for de-stressing routines

Take the time to meditate, do yoga, read your favourite book (for pleasure!) at least once a week. You might feel like prioritizing these isn’t important, but later down the road when you find yourself calm and collected instead of stressed out and nervous for your exams, you’ll be happy to have implemented these routines. In addition, it’s great to get a start on stress management techniques at an early age. Stress affects your physical health in addition to your mental health, so it’s important to keep under control.

8. Buy a day planner

If all of these activities and routines sound daunting to you, don’t worry! It’s completely doable! All you need to invest in is a trust day-planner. You can create blocks of time that you designate for stress management, intramurals, volunteering, friend and family time. You can ensure that you’re setting yourself up for a balanced week where you feel well taken care of and fulfilled.

9. Take a break

Make sure you give yourself periods of time where nothing is planned. Spontaneity can lead to some of your best school-related memories! You could end up exploring parts of campus that you had never anticipated, or go out with your friends to a new part of the city that you had never been. Make time in that schedule of yours for a little wiggle-room and flexibility.

10. Ask for help

Above all else, make sure you ask for help from a mental health professional who you trust. Having someone you trust to discuss your concerns, hopes and aspirations with can help to bring clarity, focus and drive to your year.

By: Kaya Quinsey

Kaya Quinsey Mental Health Professional

How to Reduce Symptoms of Depression Through Mindfulness

“Get out of our heads and learn to experience the world directly, experientially, without the relentless commentary of our thoughts. We might just open ourselves up to the limitless possibilities for happiness that life has to offer us.” – Mark Williams

purple_water_drop_4_by_shayne_gray-d33c9pfMindfulness is becoming aware of the way in which we go through life, so we can become more intentional with our actions. You learn to observe your thoughts with openness and acceptance, rather than judgment. Imagine having a relationship to your thoughts where you realized they were just that – thoughts, and not reflections of reality!

Depression is one of North America’s leading mental illnesses. According to Help Guide, you may be depressed if you experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Loss of energy
  • Self loathing
  • Reckless behaviour

“Brooding is a key feature of depression,” says psychologist Mark Williams. In people who aren’t depressed, sad thoughts pass rapidly. People who suffer from depression are likely to experience rumination and brooding of negative thoughts. Mindfulness practices tackles this pattern teaches people compassion towards themselves and others.

1. Be present in this moment

You can learn to pause, reflect, and then react to your thoughts rather than reacting automatically. If you find yourself preparing to lash out, you can take a step back from your automatic reaction and ask yourself, “Why is this affecting me so negatively?” Mindfulness allows you to step back and remind you that your thoughts are just thoughts. Nothing more.

2. Accept your negative feelings

Sometimes, all it takes is acceptance of your internal state. When you try hard to reject your feelings, this creates even more negativity. By positively inviting yourself to experience your emotions as they arise, they lose their hold on you. Imagine your self-talk going from “Oh no! I don’t want to feel this way. Go away sadness. This sucks. Why do I always feel like this?” to thinking “Oh! There’s sadness. Hi sadness!” Although it might sound silly or impossible to put in practice, it really does make a difference how you appraise your thoughts. Try welcoming your emotions, rather than suppressing them. You might be surprised how quickly rumination and negative thoughts lose their hold on you.

3. Focus on a solution

What are you passionate about? What makes you happy? It could be writing, running, cooking, sailing… If you’re having trouble thinking of something that makes you deliriously happy, try a couple of activities! It could be hard finding the motivation to do so, so try calling a friend and setting up a date to try new things together. Maybe rockclimbing is your hidden passion, but you have yet to try it! Find out what makes you happy, and gives you a sense of accomplishment, and make sure you incorporate this activity into your life at least once a week.

4. Practice gratitude

When you’re dealing with depression, it can often feel as though you have nothing in your life to be grateful for. Try writing down a couple of things in your life, even the smallest details, that you derive pleasure from. It could be a really beautiful sunset that you saw on your walk home from work, the sale at the grocery store, or that phone call you received from a loved one the other day. Find a couple of things in your life that you’re grateful for and write them down. You can try doing this every evening before bed to start forming a habit.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional who you trust. Help is available to you. 

Sources: 

Depression Symptoms & Warning Signs. (n.d.). : Recognize Depression Symptoms & Get Help. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm

Williams, M., & Penman, D. (2011).Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. London: Rodale Books.

By: Kaya Quinsey

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