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End the Stigma. Break the Silence.

In Canada, every year we celebrate Bell Let’s Talk Day – coming up on January 30, 2019. While this day is a great reminder that it’s important to talk about mental illness, we need to be mindful 365 days of the year.

Today’s post will be focused on awareness – something we can accomplish simply by talking about ours and addressing others’ mental health.

Remember: one in five Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lifetime. 20% is substantial – this is proof you are not alone! Two thirds of those living with mental illness do not seek help or counselling due to stigma.

It can be difficult to bring up any struggles that you, someone you know, or someone you suspect are having. Here are a few reminders on ‘how to’ talk about mental health with others:

 

If someone brings up the topic with you…

– Listen. Let them finish their sentences and complete thoughts without interrupting.

– Let them know you understand. Avoid being judgmental.

– Acknowledge their feelings, and let them know they are not alone. Tell a story of someone you know who is struggling and recently sought help.

– Try not to dismiss their feelings or brush it off. (Examples of this would be: ‘you’re just having a bad week’, or ‘it’s not that bad’).

– If they are open to it, offer to help them find a professional. This one task may seem overwhelming to them and your help may be much appreciated.

 

If you want to bring up the topic with someone, try these prompting phrases:

– I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well

– I’ve noticed you seem down lately

– Is everything okay?

– How can I help?

– What do you need right now?

 

After the conversation…

– Respect if they ask you to keep it between the two of you.

– Ensure to follow up with them, rather than having this one-time conversation. After this moment, they will appreciate your continued support.

 

For more tips on how to contribute to funding for care, access, and research for mental health through the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, look for our next blog post this coming week.

 

Try talking to one person about something you have found challenging lately. Tell someone you have noticed they have been struggling. If you would like to learn more about how to talk about mental health, to learn more about psychotherapy, to book or to help someone book an appointment, please call Carly at 647-961-9669, or or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com.

New Year, New Goals

It’s that time of year again. We are almost two weeks into the new year, and despite well-intentioned resolutions that started full throttle, most of us are already losing steam and making exceptions, or excuses. As a result, we are well on our way back to old habits.

So, we ask: why do most resolutions fail and what helps some of them succeed? Some people lack the self-discipline it takes to maintain their resolutions. Others are not yet ready to change their habits, particularly the bad ones. Some people set unrealistic goals and expectations even before attempting them.

To execute resolutions, we need to change our behaviours. In order to change a behaviour, we have to develop a new thought behind it. Creating healthy habits involves creating thought patterns in the brain, which generate memories – the default for our behaviour when we have to make a decision.

 

To help change your thinking and make success happen, here is a list of 7 ways to follow through with resolutions and keep healthy habits:

1. Start small

One year is a strong commitment. Thinking about changing habits for an entire year may seem overwhelming. Start with one month, keep track and add another on, etc. If you can make it successfully through just the first month of a resolution, you are more likely to keep it as a habit through the rest of the year.

2. Be accountable

When you find it hard to hold yourself accountable, try telling somebody about your resolution. This will create a healthy sense of pressure to achieve it. When this person follows up and asks how it is going, this can help you check in with and track your progress.

3. Plan for setbacks

Going from point A to point B is not always a straight line. Think of it more like a treasure map with many twists and turns before the goal can be achieved.

4. Be specific

Instead of saying “I want to eat healthy,” make it measurable. Rather than stating you’ll get out of debt, be specific about how much per month you will pay off on your credit card.

5. Connect the goal to core values

When you can see how a goal may positively impact or improve a relationship, this makes the goal much more rewarding.

6. Focus on success

It can be easy to adopt the ‘glass half empty’ mindset. Instead, think about gains and small successes, rather than how much more needs to be done. Celebrate weekly and monthly milestones. Use a calendar or checklist to visually track progress.

7. Keep adding resolutions

You do not need to wait until New Year’s Eve to make resolutions. Improving ourselves is an ongoing process. Set monthly reminders in your phone, write them on your calendar, or have a meeting with someone who helps you set goals.

 

Counselling is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals and resolutions. If you have any questions or would like help with working to set goals and increase your mental wellness, call Carly at 647-961-9669, or email carly@balancedmindandwellness.com

Self-Care in Our Technology Driven World

I admit, it is very tempting to throw around words like “self-care” in the context of therapy. Sometimes, what ends up happening when words are so easily used is that we forget their true intention and meaning.

Self-care as it is used today is about finding ways to attend to ourselves. In today’s busy world we really forget to pay attention to ourselves as boundaries and limits are blurred by technology and the mentality of always “being on”. Without giving ourselves any true time off, we tend to feel anxious, stressed, stuck, alone, unable to connect with others, and unproductive to name a few things. It is now more important than ever to use self-care strategies in order to maintain our physical and mental health, which ultimately helps to manage our stress.

Here are three self-care strategies to use in our technology driven world:

  • Unplug from technology. In theory, this is about taking time away from technology so we can have a few minutes of peace in our lives. It’s important to think about how you’ll unplug from technology. This can include:
    • deactivating a social media account for awhile (for example, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat)
    • putting your phone on airplane mode for at least an hour
    • putting your gadgets away in a drawer or another room – out of sight, out of mind
  • Use the time you’re unplugging from technology to do something you enjoy or used to enjoy. Go for a walk, read a book, go see family and/or friends, try a new hobby, take a nap, or maybe learn to practice mindfulness.
  • When you reconnect with technology, challenge yourself to delay responding to texts and emails unless if it’s urgent. This one can be tricky, because it’s easy to tell ourselves something is super important and needs to be responded to immediately.
    • Put your thoughts through a test: if you wouldn’t call someone that moment to respond to them, it’s probably not urgent and can wait.
    • By setting different expectations we ourselves can feel less of an urgency, which will make it easier to unplug from technology.

There are some very interesting pieces on the history and importance of self-care you can read about:

By taking time away from technology we are caring for ourselves and giving ourselves opportunities to connect with our internal needs. If you’re wondering about how to develop more strategies to help improve your life, you can always develop these strategies with a life coach, counsellor, or therapist. Please visit here for more information, or email vivian@balancedmindandwellness.com to book an appointment.