Tag Archives: wellness

How to Deal with Bullying

Unfortunately, many of us have been or will be bullied at some point in your lives. This can take a serious toll on your mental health and self-esteem.

Bullying happens when a person abuses their position of power or authority, physical strength or position in life to hurt someone else, whether that is emotionally or physically. This is done due to a need to boost their ego for personal satisfaction or even to impress someone else. The truth is that a bully has personal issues that they refuse to deal with head on, so they use relieve their frustration by taking it out on others.

So what can you do to stop or avoid being bullied?

It all depends on your situation.

In most cases, the best thing to do is nothing. This shows the bully that you are not affected by their actions. Bullies thrive off of making you uncomfortable and putting you down. So showing that you are not affected by their antics actually makes them lose their interest because they also lose a sense of accomplishment. Most bullies are acting out to get attention, so if they are not getting a rise out of you, they are likely to move on and leave you alone. It is also important to have someone that you love and trust to talk to for support while all of this is going on.

In other cases, it may be necessary to have a parent, counselor, or teacher get involved. You will know that this is the right thing to do if the bullying has gone beyond the limits of your ability to cope with it on your own.

People often think that if you remove what makes you different and if you conform to the norms of society, that you will reduce the chances of being bullied. But we must realize that those things that make us different and unique are also what makes us special and can take us far in life. So go forward boldly and unapologetically because the world needs you just as you are, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Procrastination: Tips to Stop Waiting and Start Doing!

Infinity time spiral 15267876“I”ll do it later.” – the anthem of the procrastinator. Too often later never comes around or we wait so long that we have to scramble to get things done. Procrastination can be the monkey on your back that you feel you just can’t shake off. The best thing to do is to understand why you are procrastinating and work from there.

There can be numerous reasons for procrastination. One may feel as though they do not have the skills or tools needed to complete the task, so it is put off. The task could also seem unimportant, thus lacking the motivational qualities for you to start working on it. Another common reason for procrastination is a fear of the outcome. You may have been in the same situation before and things turned out poorly, so, you are avoiding the outcome by avoiding the task. On the other hand, it may be that you have no clue what the end result will be, thus you are steering away from the potentially perilous unknown. What is important here is to note that the act of procrastination varies between tasks and people. We don’t procrastinate on everything and we don’t always procrastinate on the same thing in the same way. So how can you decrease the possibility of procrastination? Know yourself.

One of the best things to do is to NOT label yourself a procrastinator. We tend to act in self-confirming ways. So if you think you’re a procrastinator, you will procrastinate. The second thing to do is to recognize why you are procrastinating and correct the issue. If you think the task is too boring, find meaning in it. Yes, the 12 page essay on cyberbullying may be tedious, but consider all of the information you will gain that will help you keep your future children protected from it. If you feel like you are lacking a skill, see this as an alarm to spring into action and find the proper resources to solve that issue.

By changing your perspective of procrastination so that it is an alert rather that a barrier, you can change your slacker ways into proactive ones.

When A Family Member Has A Mental Illness

selfcareThere’s lots of information out there about different mental illnesses and how to find help or treatment for them.  But what is often missing is advice for you on how to cope when it’s your child or another family member who has the mental illness.  Perhaps you’ve connected this person with great resources and treatment is progressing as expected, but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t a ripple effect created that impacts you and your family.  Here are three tips for helping yourself, while you’re helping your family member.

Accept your feelings.  You might feel shame, anger, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment.  All of these feelings are normal.   It’s hard to let go of the dreams we have for our children or our families, and sometimes a mental illness gets in the way of those dreams coming true.  Maybe it will help to know that everyone in your position runs through a gamut of emotions; you’re not alone (even if it feels that way).  Sometimes life is challenging in ways we don’t expect, and in those cases, we just do the best we can.  Under these circumstances, advocating for your ill family member and taking care of the business of running your family can seem like an enormous responsibility at times, but remind yourself that anyone in your shoes would feel the same and that you’re doing the best you can.

Develop coping strategies.  There are going to be lots of things you can’t control, so get control where you can.  Whether it’s regular exercise to offset stress, or a monthly night out, or a few minutes with a book before bed, do what you can to impose a little bit of order and structure to your days.  Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have; it’s important to fill your tank up, too, in order to be able to give your best to your family.  You deserve to have moments of relaxation, and joy, and peace, so create those moments in whatever way you can.

You may also need some coping strategies for dealing with your loved one’s behaviour, either at home or out in public.  Plan ahead for these situations as best you can, and remind yourself that it isn’t personal.  Don’t let public pressure or the judgment of others keep you from doing what you know is best for your family.  Have a plan in place for the unexpected, so you’re not derailed by a crisis.

And finally, stay connected.  Maintain a relationship with your partner; don’t let that become a casualty of the illness.  You’ll feel better if you believe that you have a partner in all that you’re going through, so keep that relationship strong.  Seek out support from others who can relate to your challenges or who are reliably there for you, whether that’s an association or support group, a therapist, or a friend or family member.  It’s hard not to worry about being judged for what your family member is doing or experiencing – sometimes people are not very compassionate about the struggles of others and worry only how it might impact them.  Don’t let this get you down or lead you to shut down about your struggles.  It’s not your responsibility to educate every thoughtless person you meet, but at the same time, staying quiet and not sharing your story keeps the whole topic out of conversation and continues the cycle of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Mental illness can have far-reaching effects on a family, but don’t let it define you.  Know that you’re doing the best you can in exceptional circumstances, have a plan in place and strategies to cope, and don’t let yourself become isolated.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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The Journey of Personal Transformation

moving-on-from-a-cheating-partnerPersonal transformation is probably the single most challenging and rewarding activity we as humans can ever take on. If you’ve ever found yourself riding the high of freedom from a lifelong concern, only to wake up the next day in the midst of an emotional crisis, then you will have some idea of what I’m talking about.

 

People wind up on the path of personal transformation for different reasons. Some can no longer stand to live with the pain of childhood trauma. Others live for many years with an inkling there is more to life than what meets the eye. Just like everyone, those “on the path” of transformation are motivated by the desire to live happier, more empowered and meaningful lives. However, those who walk the path of personal transformation have consciously chosen to acknowledge the inner obstacles to happiness. They have chosen to turn their relationships with themselves upside down until they’ve come to peace with every last part – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

During the process of personal transformation, step-by-step we trade the old, outworn cocoon of the personality we inherited from our parents, siblings, babysitters, teachers, authority figures etc. for our unique and irresistible authentic selves. As the process unfolds we experience a continual stream of new possibilities for meeting the challenges and opportunities of life, which are accompanied by a rush of excitement and renewed sense of purpose. We begin to catch glimpses of peace, joy, and bliss more alluring and gratifying than any we’ve ever experienced, and as time goes on we experience these states more and more.

Sounds amazing, right? It is, except for all the personality traits that make up our old cocoons. Make no mistake. We have invested a lot of energy and time – several decades in some cases – in pumping up these parts of ourselves in order to get by in life. We have become so reliant on these parts or our personality that whenever they want something we bend over backwards to give it to them. And since our relationship to these parts is more intimate than any other, they know how to hit us where it hurts the most every time.

The good news is, we are free to choose change in every moment, no matter how slowly it seems to occur sometimes. And by surrounding ourselves with an environment that supports us on the path of transformation, the old parts of us can gradually come to see that they no longer have to work so hard to ensure our security. In the meantime, it helps to remind yourself of the wise adage “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself”. And give yourself permission to sit back and enjoy the ride.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Practising Mindfulness in Everyday Life

mindfulness-imageIt’s easy to live our lives on autopilot, going through the motions without ever being fully present in our experiences. We can find ourselves always waiting for what’s next and never fully appreciating the here and now. For example, we may find ourselves always waiting for our meeting to be over or waiting for the end of the day. When we are not living fully in the present, we miss the magic in the simple moments. If we do this for long enough, we miss our entire lives. After all, life is made up of moments.

When we think of mindfulness, we often think of yoga or meditation. While these can be wonderful ways of incorporating mindfulness into our lives, we can also be mindful in the simple moments.

First Thing in the Morning

When we are mindful, we purposefully ‘tune in’ to the present moment. Take some time when you first wake up to notice your surroundings, along with the infinite potential that your day holds. Notice the softness of your sheets, the sun shining through your window or the gentle patter of raindrops on your windowsill.

Commuting to Work

Notice the colour and smell of the flowers, the crunch of newly fallen snow under your feet or the way your boots splash in the puddles as you walk. If you drive or take transit, notice how the steering wheel feels in your hands or the shape of the clouds in the sky.

Mealtimes

Meals are a prime time to practice mindfulness. There are numerous benefits to mindful eating, so take a moment to truly savour the colour, texture and flavour of your food.

Conversations

When you’re speaking with someone, instead of being focused on how you’re going to respond or the meeting you need to be at in five minutes, really focus on what the other person is saying. What emotions are being conveyed, what is their body language telling you?

Doing the Dishes

Some people say they find doing the dishes to be therapeutic, and it really can be! When you’re cleaning up after dinner, notice how the warm water feels on your hands and the gentle scent of the soap bubbles.

These are just some examples of how we can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives. None of the above may be particularly extraordinary in and of themselves, but through mindfulness ordinary moments can begin to feel purposeful and special – as opposed to only “exciting” or “extraordinary” events being meaningful. The more we incorporate mindfulness into the simple moments, the more we open ourselves up to experiencing the beauty and magic that exists in even the most ordinary of moments.

By: Jenny Gomez

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Workplace Conflict I: Assessing the Problem

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At one point or another we all encounter difficult relationships on the job. Taking a proactive approach to on-the-job conflict is essential to our emotional and mental health, in addition to our performance. Due to modern technology and around the clock work demands, today’s workplaces are already stressful enough without having to deal with uninvited conflict. The good news is, there are easy steps anyone can take to nip workplace conflict in the bud.

The number one thing to remember when a co-worker is getting under your skin is not to take it personally. How people show up in one area of their life is usually how they show up in all areas of their life – so you can bet you are not the first to encounter the behaviour in question. By not making the behaviour about you, you will be in a much more balanced state to address the situation than if you were to interpret it as a personal insult.

Next it’s important to keep things in perspective. Is this the first time the person has done something like this? Are one or both of you having a particularly stressful day? Is your preferred outcome a “need-to-have” or is it more of a “nice-to-have”? Or, on the flip side of the equation, is this behaviour that you have already addressed repeatedly, and shows no signs of going away? Egos are at their strongest in the workplace, so it can be difficult not to rush in to correct a perceived injustice. However, the more we can hold off on reacting, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting “hooked” into responding in kind, and saying or doing something we may regret later.

If you’re not sure whether a particular situation requires you to take action, then give yourself some time to reflect on it. Find a way to clear your head – exercise, meditate, or if all else fails, sleep on it. They key is to approach the situation from a balanced frame of mind. And then trust your instincts to point you in the right direction. If you’re still not sure about what to do, then talk to a trusted mentor. And always remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So as hard as it may seem, trust that there is a benefit to taking the time to contemplate your best course of action.

If you are confident that intervention on your part is required, then you’ll likely want to assert yourself. Stay tuned for the next installment in our workplace conflict series, which provides easy tips for how to confront co-workers while maintaining amicable professional relationships.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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How to Make a GREAT First Impression

Handshake“First impressions are everything!”

We’ve all heard this, and although it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it does hit the point that first impressions have a lasting effect on relationships, regardless of their type. We tend to make up our mind about someone within the first 15 seconds of meeting them, meaning how we initially present ourselves can be crucial. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re going on a first date or a job interview.

Be aware of yourself.

In first meetings our anxiety can to take over and we can lose ourselves, sometimes not even remembering what we said. Stop and take a breath. Be aware of your body and speech. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and avoid jittering. Also, be sure you’re not talking too fast. Be calm and make eye contact, both of which will radiate confidence.

Don’t forget to ask questions. People love talking about themselves, but remember that this is an opportunity to not only to present yourself, but also to get to know someone else. If at a job interview, make sure you have read up on the company, and have a couple questions ready. Being inquisitive will show initiative.

Be your best self.

A first encounter is an opportunity to put your best self forward and show off what you are, rather than lying or covering up what you’re not. It is all about putting your best foot forward. This is where dressing well plays a role. Dress for the job you want. If you think you shouldn’t wear it, you probably shouldn’t. Also, keep in mind that mood is temporary. So if you are in a bad one, it would be best to set it aside and allow for your best self to shine through!

Remember to relax.

Who knows you better than you? A positive first impression is perfectly attainable if you remember that there is no need to be nervous! At the end of the day you are presenting yourself and you are an expert on you. And if you can’t quiet the butterflies, use them! They just mean that you care about the result, which shows you that you’re in the right place. Just prepare the main points you would like to talk about, and stay cool, calm and collected. If you do feel like you may have been less of yourself, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it! We all have off days, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your first impression seems to be a bit out of your norm.

First impressions are important, but they are not everything.

Are you a Therapist? Why Self-Care is Even More Important for You

I-Love-Me-written-in-sandThe practice of psychotherapy is unique, creative, and multifaceted. Although therapists are trained to care for others, we often do a poor job of care for ourselves. Self-Care is defined as the integration of a therapist’s emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health. In essence therapist self-care encompasses understanding and attending to the needs of one’s self; balance in one’s life; the quality of one’s life; serves as protection against burnout; influences client care; and is related to connecting to social support systems.

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Creating a daily/weekly self-care plan would be a great way to start giving attention to and managing your self-care. Take some time to ask yourself what you need on a daily basis to refuel and reset in order to operate at your apex in your clinical work. However before you do that, please take a few moments to explore your current thoughts and practices about self-care.

Therapist Self-care Self-Assessment

1. How important is self-care to you?
2. What do you need to refuel and refocus daily?
3. What shifts do you need to make to meet your self-care needs?
4. How would your clinical work be influenced if you were attending to your self-care?
5. How would your personal life be influenced if you were managing your self-care?

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The practice of self-care is an intentional, ongoing, and advantageous practice. Although the above-mentioned statement may seem obvious, it is easy to fall into a routine of daily life which may deny the energy needed to attend to caring for the self. Caring for ourselves deserves to be looked upon from the perspective of resource management. Likewise, therapists must continually develop and cultivate their most precious resource which is ultimately themselves.

By: Tequilla L. Hill

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How to Change an Emotional Relationship with Food

5-Tips-for-Heart-Healthy-Snacking-700x395Bored? Stressed? Waiting? What do many of us do when this happens? EAT. Many of us tend to fill time with eating or use it to relieve stress. Often we’re not even hungry or we choose to snack on easy but unhealthy choices. These choices can make our self-esteem plummet, and can even result in us feeling guilt, remorse, or depressed. Here are a few tips and tricks to try and change an emotional relationship with food.

Drink water. Carry a bottle of water around and if you have an urge to snack, drink water first. It’s easy to misread our body’s signals and think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. By avoiding eating unnecessary or last-minute foods, we also avoid feelings of guilt and remorse, which helps reinforce our confidence to make positive and healthy decisions.

Be mindful. There’s a bowl of chips in front of you and before you know it, it’s empty! We’ve all done this. We at times unconsciously snack when it is immediately available just because it’s there. Stop and be aware. Stay in tune with yourself and your senses, rather than going on autopilot.

Understand your urge to much. Part of making healthier decisions is understanding what is driving us to certain behaviours in the first place. If you find yourself relying on eating to fill time, your urge to much may be coming from boredom – in this case, one tactic is to try to find something else to do. If you’re eating to relieve stress, it may be time to explore another stress-relieving activity such as yoga or walking. Once you’ve identified your personal weak-spots, be prepared for situations that challenge you: Keep a book in your bag, so you read rather than munch. Have nothing to do? Go for a walk instead of making a sandwich.

Understand that Change Takes Effort: An emotional relationship with food doesn’t just change overnight or with a lazy approach. It’s a process that can take months and even years to understand and implement. And this change takes effort and preparation. For example, If we arrive thirty minutes earlier than expected at our destination, many of us will stop at a corner store or shop and pick up something to snack on in order to kill the time. By carrying a healthy snack with us each day that we’ve prepared in advance, like a bag of nuts or some chopped up celery, we can prevent ourselves from picking up that chocolate bar because we already have something to snack on.

A lot of the challenge we face lies in the fact that it is easier to buy that bag of chips than to cut up those peppers. Change isn’t always easy. Just keep in mind that at first it may be a nuisance, but eventually it’ll seem like you have always lived like this. New behaviours practiced often become habits, so by choosing the right behaviour just a few times, we can create a pattern that will lead to a whole new series of healthier choices.

Panic Attacks 101: How To Cope

sun-set-maldivesPanic attacks are tremendously exhausting and frightening experiences. Some people experience these rarely, while others may experience frequent and persistent panic attacks. Whatever your situation, here are some keys to working through panic both during an attack and before another one occurs.

 

1. Know what’s happening in your body when you panic. Get familiar with your physiological markers and symptoms for panic and know what happens for you. For example, some people might hyperventilate and feel tightness in their chest while others might feel nauseous and experience tunnel vision.

2. Remind yourself that your symptoms are not dangerous (read my other blog post here for more information). Once you know what it feels like in your body when you panic, you can remind yourself that you are having a panic attack and the symptoms you are experiencing are uncomfortable, but not threatening.

3. Identify your triggers for panic. Here is where a therapist can really help you to slow down the process and figure out what started the path to panic. When they happen again, you can take a step back and notice it.

4. Take steps to refocus your attention. If you’re feeling like you’re about to panic, or you’re in the midst of a panic attack, engage in activities that are soothing and that refocus your attention away from your body. Some examples: sing your favourite song, have a cold glass of water, start naming things you see and hear around you.

5. Use self-talk to help cope and calm down. A coping phrase might be: “This is just my body feeling anxious”, or  “I can get through this”. A therapist can help you make coping phrases specific to your panic and in your own words. Repeating your coping phrase is going to help intercept some of the cognitive triggers that lead to panic like “my heart is beating so fast I think I’m going to have a heart attack”. Once your coping phrase has helped to stop the other cognitive triggers, the anxiety cycle will begin to slow down.

You will notice that relaxation (such as deep breathing) is not included in this list. The reason behind this is that panic often stems from too much focus on your body and feared thoughts related to the sensations in your body. In other words, panic can occur when we panic about panicking. For example, if you try to do deep breathing during a panic attack, chances are this is what will happen in your head: “Okay I’m going to breathe slow and steady … My breathing isn’t slowing, I can’t get control of my breathing, what if I hyperventilate?” Notice how the thoughts became more anxious, which will perpetuate panic. In light of this, the best antidote to panic is learning not to fear it through greater understanding and self-talk. If you struggle with panic, try these strategies out and find a therapist who can help you further.

By: Beth Moore

Beth Moore Counselling & Psychotherapy