Letter from the Editor

mr happyDear Reader,

This will be our last post of 2015 so I would like to thank everyone out there for following this new blog that the MDABC launched in September 2015. We look forward to bringing you lots of articles next year to inspire you to be happy and well!

I am sending out a wish to the universe  that 2016 brings  lots of joy and laughter and that we all find the peace that comes with self-compassion and self-acceptance.  And like  Neil Gaiman says in the quote below, don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

Warm Wishes,

Polly Guetta, Moodsmart Editor                                                                            

 and all the staff at MDABC


 

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Neil Gaiman

Navigating Family Dynamics this Holiday Season

By david bowes

On your mark, get set, and .. it’s holiday season.

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Along with all the hustle and bustle of this season, for some of us, this time of year also means being around family – sometimes LOTS of family – and, that is not always an easy thing.  While family gatherings can be wonderful for the lucky few, for others of us, they can range from being uncomfortable to downright terrifying.  Family dynamics are a complicated thing, especially if you throw extended family into the mix.  Indeed, even the ‘best’ of families come with messy dynamics, and the more ‘dysfunctional’ ones .. well .. think messy to the power of ten.  So with that in mind, we figured that an article about navigating family dynamics would be a good – and hopefully helpful – idea for this edition of our newsletter. (This article is also published in the MDABC December 2015 newsletter, to see the full newsletter click here

To begin with, being around family can often evoke old roles, mindsets, and memories that have been unhelpful or even hurtful to us.  If we let them, they can draw us into patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior that we thought we’d left behind (or are in the process of leaving behind).  So, before, entering into the fray of your family this season, it can be helpful to identify any unhelpful roles, or patterns of relating, or “games” that you’ve been sucked into in the past.  Simply being aware of these family dynamics can keep you from getting baited into them unawares.  And, with understanding, we can cultivate compassion.  So, if possible, try to realize everyone in your family is fumbling through their imperfections, hurts, and ingrained coping strategies. Continue reading “Navigating Family Dynamics this Holiday Season”

Highlights of the 2015 MDABC Holiday Volunteer Appreciation Party

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The MDABC hosted our annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on December 14th at The Counselling and Wellness Centre. Our guests enjoyed a buffet of treats, a craft room, some holiday-themed games and some enthusiastic (if a little bit off-tune) Christmas caroling. Check out the photos!

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Homemade Gifts? Yes Please!

By Polly Guetta

It can be tempting to overspend at this time of year but research is clear that debt is related to poor mental and physical health. There are many ways to give generously without spending beyond your means and one way is to give personalized coupons as gifts. My kids make these for me often and I have to say that it feels great when they take the time to make something that is just for  me.

You can download these simple coupons, fill them out with that special person in mind and tie them together with a ribbon. Or make your own with your own artwork or photos! Great gifts don’t have to cost an arm and a leg!

Click here to download the coupon template.

download-free-coupon-book

Laughing Your Way to Wellbeing

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By david bowes

Living with a mood disorder doesn’t have to be all about intensive self-help and depth-psychotherapy.  If we can tap into the present moment and create a bit of distance between ourselves, circumstance, and our moods, there is much to be grateful for and to enjoy.  One great tool for creating a shift out of stress, feeling stuck, and pain (both physical and emotional) is LAUGHTER!  And, if you stop to think about it .. there’s a lot of funny stuff out there.

Some of you may remember Norman Cousins (1915-1990), a celebrated writer who decided to treat his heart disease with massive doses of Vitamin C and laughter (often induced by watching humorous Marx Brothers films).  He ended up living much longer than the doctors predicted .. and he laughed a lot in the process.  Most of us have also seen Patch (Hunter) Adam’s true story of using humor to improve the quality of life for his patients.  Drawing inspiration from Cousins, Patch Adams and more recently, Laughter Yoga, researchers have been looking into the benefits of actually practicing laughter since around 1960.

Among others, Psychologist and “humour-training specialist” Paul E McGhee, PhD has written extensively on the benefits of regularly practicing laughter and how it positively impacts your mood, immune system, pain symptoms, and heart health.  You can laugh alone, laugh with another, or laugh with a group.  In fact if you look up a video on Laughter Yoga, you’ll probably start to chuckle pretty soon.  Laughter is contagious.  (Laughter Yoga is basically a group of people who get together and laugh while making eye contact with one another and doing silly things – it’s pretty hilarious).  That said, when it comes to practicing laughter, one can even begin by ‘faking it’ .. you’ll be surprised at how often this will lead to your busting out into the real thing.

So, here are some suggestions to get laughing on a regular basis:

  • Practice smiling – the very act of smiling (even if it’s ‘forced’) can shift your mental state. Try it out …it works !  [Suggestion: try to smile with your eyes and your mouth].
  • If you have internet access, get on YouTube and find some videos that make you laugh.
  • Get a friend or partner to practice laughing with you. At first this may seem bizarre and forced, but in spite of, or (more likely) because of this, you’ll be surprised at how soon you may just start to really howl.  You’ll be laughing at your companion laughing at you, laughing at them…
  • Watch a funny movie or TV show.
  • Check out a TEDMED talk on Laughter Yoga by its founder Dr. Madan Kataria (this video is both technical and practical).
  • Go to a comedy club.
  • Read the funny pages or check out your bookstore’s humor section.
  • Seek out funny people.
  • Share a good joke or a funny story – or ask someone else for a joke or about the funniest thing that’s happened to them recently.
  • Host a game night with friends.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class – find a group near you.
  • Goof around with children; and, break out your playful inner child in the process.
  • Do something silly (e.g. try to dance like Elaine from Seinfeld)
  • Make time for fun activities (e.g. bowling, miniature golfing, karaoke, twister, etc..)

I will attempt to close in the spirit of Dr. Zeus:  You can laugh at me; I can laugh at you; we can laugh together until our faces turn blue.  We can laugh if we try; we can laugh till we cry; we can even laugh at funny shapes in the sky.  Laughter is good; laughter is fun; laughter helps everyone loosen up a ton..”  So give it a shot and practice getting your chuckle on.

 

 

 

4 things you can start doing right now to fight mental health stigma and discrimination

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  1. Educate Yourself

Mental health is everybody’s concern and we all need to know how to separate the myths from the facts. There are many resources available to help you become more aware of the realities of mental health including books, websites, videos, and journals. The heretohelp.bc.ca website is a great place to start for accurate information.

  1. Educate Others

Once you have educated yourself and freed yourself from any outdated beliefs about mental health that you may have been carrying around with you, take the opportunity to share your knowledge. You can do this by passing on accurate information and by challenging ideas that present myths and stereotypes. If you see or hear people misrepresenting mental health issues, you can gently change the conversation and invite people to re-examine their assumptions.

  1. Stop Labeling

When we label people, we are saying that one characteristic or illness defines their whole self.  By defining someone in this way, we miss out on learning about who that person really is as unique individual. Instead of painting everyone who has experienced a mental health issstigma jarue with the same brush, take the time to see people in all of their beautiful diversity.  Labels can hurt and dehumanize so it is important that we choose our words carefully when speaking about mental health.

  1. Talk About It

If you have a mental health issue, talk about it and seek help and support -you do not need to go through it alone. Although it can be scary to admit that you are feeling this way, remember that it is not your fault and that many, many of your fellow human beings have been there. Talking about mental health and bringing it out it into the open is essential to reducing the fear of embarrassment and shame that deters so many from seeking help.

If you’d like to participate in the MDABC’s new anti-stigma video project,  please see the article below…