Overcoming Your Inner Critic

Each of us has an “inner critic” judging our every action and instructing us on how to live our lives. But how much are we letting this inner critic control us? Are our actions based on what we really feel and believe, or are we living our lives based on our inner critic’s negative programming? Learning to effectively overcome our critical inner voice is central to all areas of life: personal development, healthy relationships, self-esteem, and career success. Join us for this profound interview where Sandra talks with author and psychologist Dr. Lisa Firestone about dealing with our inner critic through self-compassion.

New free online mental health support in Ontario

From CTV News

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, there are two new mental health support services available to people in Ontario.

The goal is to improve mental wellness and get people who are experiencing issues of low mood, anxiety and stress access to help quickly.

One of the new tools is called Big White Wall, which available online for people over the age of 16, who are experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

“Sometimes that can be a very lonely, scary time for them. And if we provide them with some of that support early on, to help some of that mild anxiety, depression, it can help those issues from becoming bigger.” said Stephanie Paquette, the mental health and addictions lead for North East LHIN.

People can self-refer; it’s anonymous and available around the clock.

“A lot of students are really attached to their technology, and we appreciate that, and so I often encourage students to use apps or use technology, because it’s readily available wherever they are. They can use it at night, they can use it on the weekend.” said Roni Sue Clement, Cambrian College student support advisor.

The other tool is called BounceBack, a free skill building program including telephone coaching and online videos for adults and youth ages 15 and up.

“Mental health can have significant wait lists. This offers another alternative tool to people in Ontario to access the services when it’s right for them.” said Sue Tasse, Canadian Mental Health Association.

“At Cambrian, it’s our objective to help students succeed academically, but in order to do that more supports are needed to help them on their academic journey.” said Alison De Lusia, of Cambrian College.

Read more here…

The benefits of making pet ownership possible for people with mental illness and disability, both for the individual and society.

From The Record

KITCHENER — Allowing animal hospitals that operate as a nonprofit to register as a charity is “the right thing to do,” Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife says.

Fife spoke about the issue at Queen’s Park on Thursday, pointing to the East Village Animal Hospital in Kitchener that serves pet owners with low incomes and animal rescue groups.

“They provide an essential service in my community,” Fife told her colleagues.

While the Kitchener clinic operates under nonprofit principles, it cannot become a registered charity due to provincial regulations that govern businesses and veterinarians. Fife urged her fellow MPPs to reconsider those limitations.

“This is a solution that will not financially impact the province. It’s just the right thing to do,” Fife said.

The benefits of making pet ownership possible for people with mental illness and disability and for seniors on a limited income are profound, both for the individual and society.

“Pet ownership has been shown to reduce strain on the health-care system by reducing physician visits and reducing the prevalence of mental illness,” Fife said.

The Kitchener clinic opened on Weber Street in summer 2017, helping more than 5,000 pets in its first year. On average, it gets 50 calls a day.

Read more here.

10 ways to handle holiday stress

From Calgary Counselling

There are many wonderful things that come with the holidays – time with friends and family, lots of tasty treats, a break from work to binge-watch the latest Netflix show. But this time of year, can also bring its own set of stresses and pressures that if you don’t plan for or take care of can leave you feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

To help make this season a true season of joy, we have a few suggestions for you to take care of yourself over the holidays and make sure your mental and physical health are well taken care of:

Make a plan

This busy time of year is filled with social events, shopping, and family time on top of all your other daily obligations. If you’re not careful, over-committing yourself can burn you out. Use a calendar, to-do list, organizational apps or whatever works for you to plan your time and organize your thoughts. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Help others

For some people, the holidays can be extra lonely. If you feel isolated, try participating in events offered around your community. Volunteering is another great way to make connections with new people, lift your spirits and give back.

Be conscious of your financial limits

Especially with the current state of the economy it is important to not over-spend this holiday season. Decide on a budget that feels comfortable to you and try to stick to it. If you are feeling pressured to buy presents for several people, suggest a Secret Santa gift exchange or homemade gifts instead.

Shift your perspective

If finances limit your spending this holiday season, remember that you don’t need to give material gifts to show love to the people in your life. Your authentic presence is more important than a monetary expression of your feelings.

Honour and accept your emotions

If you are feeling overwhelmed or upset, take a moment to acknowledge and express your emotions and tell yourself it is okay. These emotions, although uncomfortable at times, are normal.  If you have recently lost someone or cannot be with your loved ones with this holiday, know that it is alright to feel sadness or grief.

Take time for yourself

During the holidays, we are often so focused on the needs and wants of others we forget about our own. It’s important to give yourself a break during the holidays and make time to do something you enjoy every day.

Read more…

What Worries You Masters You

From Feisty Frugal and Fabulous

In an era of self-help, the idea of taking control of one’s destiny and being mindful are constants. Which is a good thing, but for some people, these thoughts can add to a growing list of worries and become overwhelming. It can be a vicious cycle, but only if you let it.

When presented with a stressful situation, I try to make a conscious effort to not let my thoughts get out of control. I am one of those people who can immediately think of a worst-case scenario and then determine all the possible outcomes of that scenario. I’ve had to remind myself that worrying gets me nowhere, and that I need to work through a problem (and all those possible outcomes) and then leave it be. In other words, “I’ve addressed it, now I have to leave it.”

Mindfulness is key. We’re going to have worries, anxieties and life stresses – that can’t be helped – but if we learn to master those thoughts when they begin, and be more mindful, we can better deal with the issues as they arise.

Last month, for the 12th consecutive year, Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions (CCDS) partnered to celebrate Credit Education Week and raise awareness of financial literacy among Canadians. This year’s theme was focused on helping Canadians manage their stress and become more mindful, as it pertains to personal finance. Capital One Canada and Credit Canada fielded a survey to uncover Canadian sentiment towards finances, which revealed some interesting info about how Canadians are feeling.

According to the study, 44% of Canadians believe that their financial situation negatively impacts their mental health. The biggest financial stressor on Canadians’ mental health is their total debt load (31%), followed by affording essentials (20%).

But here’s the thing: that same study found that one in five Canadians (21%) would go to extremes to avoid reviewing their personal finances, including:
– Eating dinner with an ex-friend or ex-significant other (11%)
– Getting stung by a bee (7%)
– Sit through a root canal (6%)
– Sitting next to a sick passenger on a long-haul flight (4%)

Yikes! I realize looking at our financial situation can be awkward and uncomfortable, but it surprised me the lengths people would go to to avoid that experience. It doesn’t surprise me then that so many Canadians have debt that is mounting rather than subsiding – especially when we’re not willing to even look at the problem.

Read more here…

Important Advice for Seniors Trying to Recover Their Resilience and Joy

Growing older can be a struggle in many ways. Your body might not function the same way it used to, your income might be limited, and you just might not feel like your so-called “golden years” are so great. You might even feel depressed, anxious, or suffer from a mental health concern you don’t know how to manage. Thankfully, there are simple measures you can take to help you revive your senior years and recover your joy.

You Aren’t Alone 

Does it feel like you’re stressed out, worn out, weary, or just can’t find happiness? Many people have mental wellness concerns, and just because you make it to your senior years doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the road. In fact, studies cited by US News indicate that up to 20 percent of older adults struggle with mental health. Diagnosis can be challenging since many seniors take medications that can cause or imitate symptoms of issues such as depression.

Recognizing Trouble

Issues such as depression can be an elusive concern for seniors since so many other troubles can look similar to depression. For instance, many people attribute a loss of interest in activities, inability to sleep, reduced appetite, and insomnia with the aging process, but those problems can relate to depression. Seniors can feel moody, confused, or experience memory loss due to depression as well, and oftentimes others might think it’s “just old age.” There are also medications for certain chronic conditions that could contribute to those concerns, so doctors and family members might overlook the signs you are feeling depressed.

Taking Action 

One simple way to combat mental wellness concerns is to declutter your home. Clutter appears to be linked to depression, anxiety, and stress, and tidying up can make you feel better about yourself and your home. If it’s too overwhelming or you don’t have time to undertake the endeavour yourself, consider investing in having a professional do it on your behalf. Most homeowners spend between $100 and $200 for thorough routine house cleanings. Another suggestion is to engage in some healthful activities, such as getting involved with a group that shares your interests. You can join a book club, play cards or dominoes, or volunteer at a local charity.  Ensure you’re eating a nutritious diet, and spend some time outdoors every day.

Managing Trauma

Did something traumatic occur in your life, and you’re trying to manage in spite of it? You might feel like you can “get over it,” especially since you already have many experiences to draw from. However, according to some studies, many seniors struggle with PTSD, and it can stem from an old stress newly surfacing, or from a new traumatic incident. Symptoms include things like insomnia, moodiness, and social withdrawal. There are many methods for managing PTSD symptoms, such as through meditation, exercise, and aromatherapy. Psychiatric Times notes that seniors often worry about what others might think if they seek treatment for their symptoms of mental health concerns such as PTSD, but it’s vital to get help if you need it, and nobody needs to know except you and your counselor or doctor.

Connecting with Help

Many people need help at some point in life, and it’s no shame to reach out when you need assistance. In fact, some research reflects that seniors are at the biggest risk for suicide. If you are using medications beyond prescribed dosages to manage pain, thinking about hurting yourself, experiencing lethargy, or just don’t feel good, you don’t need to suffer. You can talk with your physician, or there are several free, confidential hotlines you can call for assistance.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-4357
  • National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms you’re experiencing. If you are feeling down, edgy, worn or weary, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can rediscover your joy and resilience, just reach out for help — and don’t feel ashamed to do so.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

15 Books That May Help Students With Anxiety

From WeAreTeachers.com

One out of every eight kids has an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is a normal part of childhood, but anxiety disorders can cause kids to perform poorly in school and/or miss out on typical social experiences because of fear. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that one in eight children has an anxiety disorder, so chances are you have more than one student who struggles with this issue.

Literature can be a great springboard for discussing ways to cope. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most recommended books for kids with anxiety. Please note, however, that reading about characters with anxiety may be triggering for certain students. We always recommend reaching out to a child’s parents or your school counselor for further guidance.

Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!

1. Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Pre-K–2)

Wemberly is a mouse who worries about everything, but her biggest fear is the first day of school. Kids will relate to Wemberly’s fears and learn with her as she overcomes them.

Read more here…

5 Steps to Cultivate a State of Flow for More Happiness

From Psychology Today

Flow can make you more productive and happy. Take these steps to find your flow.

Science has long shown that flow state is the pillar of peak performance. There are numerous benefits associated with being in this state, including enhanced concentration, feelings of control, and improved productivity. But now we’re learning that there is another important outcome that accompanies flow. One that has gone unnoticed: happiness.

Research shows that flow is a precursor to well-being and general life satisfaction. People who are happier find themselves in flow states more often and for longer periods of time.

The originator of flow theory, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, says that the rewards of flow are inexhaustible and boundless. He argues that during such a state, the activities being done (whether it’s sport, art, business, socializing, etc.) become intrinsically valuable. The acts themselves become worth doing for their own sake. The type of happiness that flow induces isn’t a fleeting hedonism. It’s a lasting sense of personal meaning and fulfillment.

And now researchers are keen on finding ways to get everyday normal people to enter into flow through daily activities. Flow and positive emotionality, it’s now believed, can be cultivated. It’s a matter of changing your mindset. Here are five different ways you can find more flow.

1. Make your intentions clear

Flow is based off the system in the brain called intention memory. Rather than storing information from the past, this memory system allows you to be proactive by planning ahead. To activate it, consider the following:

  • The task needs to challenge you (i.e. make use of your skills). You may think the easier the better, but this can often lead to boredom and apathy (the opposite of flow).
  • The completion of this task should fulfill a goal that is personal to you.
  • It’s key to analyze the steps that will bring you closer to this goal. Try to make sure the actions performed at each step are done deliberately, as opposed to habitually (at least to begin with – in time, with more flow experienced, the activity will eventually become more of a habit).

Read more here…

Some Practical Thoughts on Suicide

From Tim.Blog

In this post, I’m going to talk about suicide, and why I’m still on this planet.

These are stories I’ve kept secret from my family, girlfriends, and closest friends for years. Recently, however, I had an experience that shook me — woke me up — and I decided that it was time to share it all.

So, despite the shame I might feel, the fear that is making my palms sweat as I type this, allow me to get started.

Here we go…


“Could you please sign this for my brother? It would mean a lot to him.”

He was a kind fan. There were perhaps a dozen people around me asking questions, and he had politely waited his turn. The ask: A simple signature.

It was Friday night, around 7pm, and a live recording of the TWiST podcast had just ended. There was electricity in the air. Jason Calacanis, the host and interviewer, sure knows how to put on a show. He’d hyped up the crowd and kept things rolling for more than 2 hours on stage, asking me every imaginable question. The venue–Pivotal Labs’ offices in downtown SF–had been packed to capacity. Now, more than 200 people were milling about, drinking wine, or heading off for their weekends.

A handful of attendees gathered near the mics for pics and book inscriptions.

“Anything in particular you’d like me to say to him? To your brother?” I asked this one gent, who was immaculately dressed in a suit. His name was Silas.

He froze for few seconds but kept eye contact. I saw his eyes flutter. There was something unusual that I couldn’t put a finger on.

I decided to take the pressure off: “I’m sure I can come up with something. Are you cool with that?” Silas nodded.

I wrote a few lines, added a smiley face, signed the book he’d brought, and handed it back. He thanked me and backed out of the crowd. I waived and returned to chatting with the others.

Roughly 30 minutes later, I had to run. My girlfriend had just landed at SFO and I needed to meet her for dinner. I started walking towards the elevators.

“Excuse me, Tim?” It was Silas. He’d been waiting for me. “Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” I said, “but walk with me.”

We meandered around tables and desks to the relative privacy of the elevator vestibule, and I hit the Down button. As soon as Silas started his story, I forgot about the elevator.

He apologized for freezing earlier, for not having an answer. His younger brother–the one I signed the book for–had recently committed suicide. He was 22.

“He looked up to you,” Silas explained, “He loved listening to you and Joe Rogan. I wanted to get your signature for him. I’m going to put this in his room.” He gestured to the book. I could see tears welling up in his eyes, and I felt my own doing the same. He continued.

“People listen to you. Have you ever thought about talking about these things? About suicide or depression? You might be able to save someone.” Now, it was my turn to stare at him blankly. I didn’t know what to say.

I also didn’t have an excuse. Unbeknownst to him, I had every reason to talk about suicide. I’d only skimmed the surface with a few short posts about depression.

Some of my closest high school friends killed themselves.
Some of my closest college friends killed themselves.
I almost killed myself.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” I said to Silas. I wondered if he’d waited more than three hours just to tell me this. I suspected he had. Good for him. He had bigger balls than I. Certainly, I’d failed his brother by being such a coward in my writing. How many othershad I failed? These questions swam in my mind.

“I will write about this” I said to Silas, awkwardly patting his shoulder. I was thrown off. “I promise.”

And with that, I got into the elevator.

Read more here…

Mental health awareness campaign focuses on anxiety disorders

From the Montreal Gazette

Anxiety is a word, and a condition, that comes with a lot of general preconceptions, not all of them accurate. So perhaps a definition will be handy right off the bat.

“It’s a defence mechanism, a survival mechanism,” said André Delorme, Quebec’s director general of Mental Health Services and Forensic Psychiatry and a leader of the government’s annual mental health awareness campaign, focusing this year on anxiety disorders.

“Everybody has anxiety,” Delorme said. “Ten thousand years ago, when you were in the woods and encountered a sabre-toothed cat, you had to be afraid and run for your life. Today, if you’re crossing the road and there’s a bus coming, you have to be afraid and get out of its way.”

The challenge is in distinguishing between a healthy level of anxiety and more extreme forms, where it becomes a disorder that can be debilitating if left unaddressed. Does anxiety persist after the situation causing it has ended? Does it cause an uncommonly high level of stress? Does it show itself even in non-anxious situations, becoming an overriding preoccupation? Does it keep a person from functioning in a normal way at work, in social settings, or in other everyday conditions? If the answer to any or all of these questions is yes, there’s a good chance of something requiring attention and even professional treatment.

Read more here…