Three Things


Three Thi

Part of the MDABC philosophy is the notion that practicing good self-care is essential to positive mental health.   Making sure that you reserve time to do the things that you enjoy and find relaxing and/or invigorating is one way in which you can take good care of yourself.

To help you start thinking about introducing or continuing with activities that you enjoy, we asked the staff of MDABC to share their answers to the following question,

“What are three things that you do to feel happy and well?”.

Here are some of their replies:

Jenny West, Information Coordinator

I like to cook/bake as I find the process relaxing and productive.

I enjoy reading as I feel like I can live the lives of fictional characters and get a temporary break from the world around me.

I often stare at the sky and get lost in the shapes and movements of the clouds (even on rainy days) as I find this can be very calming for the mind.

Martin Addison, Executive Director

Three things that I do that make me feel happy and well include reading a book for its meditative properties, jumping from an airplane for its enhancement of focus and mindful composure, and talking to my son over a cold beer which reminds me that I am part of the human race.

Polly Guetta, Development Coordinator

A walk in nature usually makes me feel peaceful and refreshed so I make sure that I go for a long walk when the sun makes an appearance.

I love to read because I find it so relaxing, and I learn so much. I am always looking for recommendations so if you have any – please pass them along to me!

If I feel my mood slipping, I always try to practice gratitude in order to fight against those horrible feelings of negativity. I have a lot to be thankful for and if I make an effort, I can be aware of all of the beautiful moments that happen every day.

Catherine St. Denis, Operations Manager

To keep happy and well, I do jigsaw puzzles to keep my mind off my troubles. I spend time with my son to have someone who loves me in my presence, and I see a counselor who gives me professional help to deal with issues that come up.

Mary Burns, Counselor

Run outside on sunny days

Cook a nice meal and share it with someone

Make time to be alone and do whatever my heart desires

Teri Doerksen, Wellness Centre Receptionist  

I work on crossword puzzles.

I go to the gym 3 times a week.

I try to remember the mantra: be gentle with yourself!

Rose Record, Counselor

Getting outside. Although it’s not always easy in rainy Vancouver, I find that getting some fresh air even if just for a short period of time) energizes me and lifts my mood.

Connecting with my friends and family.

Trying to squeeze in time for mindfulness and yoga.

The Gifts of Self-Compassion


By Caer Weber

“I will always be here to support you, whatever your choices are. Above all, I will help you whenever you are in pain. I won’t put you down for it. I won’t make you feel worse than you already feel. I want to help you be yourself and be proud of who you are. Whatever you choose to do is fine by me. If you are happy then I am happy.”

Can you imagine hearing that every day? Can you imagine that was the voice in your head saying that to you all the time? A voice that never criticized you, never called you an “idiot”, never put you down, and never blamed you for mistakes and failure to accomplish things?

Well, it’s possible. Very possible. It’s all part of holding the utmost self-compassion for yourself. So how do we do this? I lead workshops on self-care and self-compassion here at MDABC, and here is a little bit of what I teach participants:

We can hold compassion for ourselves in three ways –  through kind self-talk, like in the above quote, through physical gestures that can give us comfort and, finally, through practicing the best self-care that we can.

So many of us have self-critics in our head; that voice that is always angry, always judging and always critical. It finds fault with what we are doing, have done, or haven’t done. Sigh. It’s so exhausting…

However, it can help to understand that self-critical voice. It is the scared part in all of us. The part that is afraid we won’t measure up in some way, the part that is afraid that we will be rejected by others. When we humans first started out on this planet, we needed that kind of vigilance for survival. We needed constant reminders to be aware of our surroundings, aware of predators. We also found safety and better chances of survival when we were part of a group, a tribe. And to be rejected by that group, to be ousted by the tribe, was the worst possible thing that could happen to us.

We no longer need the tribe for physical survival but we still need others to validate us and accept us as we are. The self-critic’s job is to make sure we behave in such a way to be accepted by others. Unfortunately, the self-critic goes about it all in the wrong way. It undermines us, and makes us feel bad and guilty about our failings. It is trying to protect us but it comes at such a cost. In contrast, a voice of compassion, like the one in the opening quote, can help in a marvelous way. It can support us and encourage us. It can forgive us when we make mistakes and point out that we are simply human. It can be gentle and loving with us, praise us for our accomplishments, and make us feel so good about ourselves.

Possibly the most wonderful gift of all is that when we have that voice of compassion inside us it tends to spread to others. The more compassionate I feel towards myself the more compassion I have for other people too. And that feels so good. Physical gestures are helpful too. Many of us like to be touched and held. Sometimes there is no one to do that – except there is. We, ourselves, can do this. We can hug ourselves, touch our cheek, or put a hand on our heart. When I put my hand there I can feel that “aww” moment. It makes me melt with gentleness and kindness. I still need hugs and physical contact from others but my own touch says, in that moment, “I am here for you. I care about you.”

We can act compassionately towards ourselves by practicing the best self-care possible. I teach people in my workshops that sitting down, thinking and planning our self-care has huge benefits in the long run. And I define self-care as taking care of our needs in the healthiest way possible. Figuring out what we need, what we have, and what we are lacking brings attention to the way we live our lives, and the way we care for ourselves.

A last word on self-compassion: it can help us to have more compassion for ourselves, and for others, when we have the understanding that suffering is a part of life for all living things. I don’t mean that we focus on this in a negative way but in a way that sees and understands that we are not alone in our suffering – though we may be physically alone in the moment. It does help to keep that perspective when we are in deep suffering. And it helps to remember that this is simply a human experience that I’m having and that people all over the world experience this every day. It also helps to remember that everyday people work through their suffering, come to a greater understanding of life, and are able to find joy at the end of that painful tunnel. There is always hope in our suffering, if we can remember it.

Self-compassion is about accepting ourselves in this moment exactly who we are, knowing we are okay the way we are. It doesn’t mean we can’t change some of the things we do, it just means we accept and allow ourselves simply to be – in this moment. I speak from experience – it is a wonderful moment.




MDABC’s Community Comes Together to Create a Mental Health Awareness, Anti-Stigma Video – please view and share!

Part of the MDABC mission is to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health issues by offering information to the public which offers a realistic, and empathetic view of the impact that mental health concerns have on individuals, families, and communities. Like other mental health agencies, the MDABC is seeking to build a society in which people can come forward with their mental health concerns without the fear of being unfairly judged or discriminated against. One way in which we create an atmosphere of acceptance is by creating videos about mental health which are available to the public on our YouTube channel.

We invited friends, members, patients, and clients of the MDABC to share their words for an anti-stigma video which we titled “What People with Mental Health Concerns Want You to Know”. The response that we had was amazing! Many people wrote thoughtful words about their own experiences with the goal of clearing up the misconceptions and misguided beliefs that exist about mental health. Other people contributed by using photography to capture images that reflected the words.

We at the MDABC are pleased to say that this video project is now complete and we hope that you will view it, share it, and send us your comments!

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this anti-stigma project. We look forward to developing more community-based projects so that your voices can be heard!


Warm Regards,

Polly Guetta and the staff of MDABC


The MDABC invites you to come and add your wish to our Wellness Wishing Tree

singapore tree
Wishing Tree in Singapore

We are all so excited here at the MDABC as we get ready to participate in the Wellness Show at the Vancouver Convention Centre this weekend. We will have a booth set up for all three days (Feb. 12th, 13th, and 14th), and MDABC Counsellor Valentina Chichiniova will be presenting a workshop on “Mindful Relationships” on the Living Well stage on Friday, February 12th at 5:15 pm.

spain wishing tree
Wishing Tree in Spain

We are also going to be bringing the tradition of the Wishing Tree to the show and we will be inviting people to write down their wellness wish or goal and join us by hanging it on our tree.

A Wishing Tree is an individual tree that is chosen by a community as a space to offer notes and offerings in order to gain fulfillment of a wish. It is a centuries-old tradition that is cross-cultural. Wishing trees can be found all over the world and are common in Scotland, Ireland,Holland, Japan, and China among other places.​

The capacity for hope is a universal human trait, and the act of writing a note on a piece of paper, cloth, or wood, and placing it on a tree with other people, gives a sense of unity in support of the cause, dream, or blessing. ​

All over the world the tradition of the Wishing Tree is taking root as way of promoting good will and positivity so we hope that you will visit our booth and take part in this activity!



Meet Lisa Kleiman – One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

lisa k (1)

How did you come to be a volunteer at the MDABC?

I was facilitating a group at the MDABC office when two members of the staff announced that they were putting together an Information Bureau. It is for volunteers who go and set up a booth of information and education about mental illness and let the community know about all the work that the Mood Disorders Association of BC is doing.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

I have been facilitating support groups since 2012. I am one of the facilitators of the Jewish Support group.

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

I love facilitating; being a member of a support group is a big part of my wellness. I have met the most incredible people. To be able to facilitate a group makes me feel so privileged. I also love going to events around the city as part of the Information Bureau because it is so much fun. You get to talk to people that may be asking questions about mental illness for the first time. Just to listen to them and tell them that there are lots of resources in the community is an amazing feeling. I feel so proud to tell them about the Mood Disorders Association as finding MDABC changed my life.

What kind of programs would you like to see offered in the future?

I would love to see a support group for high school students offered in the future. MDA has a support group for young adults 19 years old to 30. I would like to see one for young people under 19 years old. When we go into the schools to bring information, I would love to say that there is a support group for them.

What are three things that you do to feel happy and well?

I love having coffee with friends, relaxing and watching Netflix.  I also love to walk with my music blaring to shake off the day and to look after myself.