Try this Wellness Journalling Writing Prompt and Discover the Power of Now

Writing workshop exercise: “Write about what you really want right now. Prose. You have two minutes. Go.”

Below is the beautifully written response to this prompt from  Toronto-based writer Wendy Sinclair.

wendy's poem

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When was the last time you really cried?

zach cries

It may start with a sharp lump in your throat, followed by a little wobble of your chin. Next your eyes are feeling moist and you’re blinking hard in an effort to hold back the tears. But your effort to not cry makes your chin wobble even more, and the next thing you know the tears are flowing, the lump in your throat is melting, and your nose is running. You are now in full sob mode. You grab the box of Kleenex and succumb to the weeping.

When was the last time you had a good cry? If you are not in a chronically depressed mood, crying once in a while can be very cathartic and healing so it’s actually better for your health to allow yourself to cry.

Are you sometimes in the mood to watch a sad movie or listen to some sad music? Do you wonder why you are seeking out opportunities to feel sad?  Movies and music can help us get in touch with the sadness within ourselves, allow ourselves to feel it, and then let some of that sadness go. The calm after the storm can then set in, and we often feel that the sadness is diminished and that there is now room in our minds and bodies for happier emotions.

Neuroscientist and tear researcher Dr. William H. Frey IIhas spent over 15 years studying crying and tears. Some interesting facts about crying that his research uncovered are:

  • 85% of women and 73% of men felt less sad and angry after crying.
  • On average, women cry 47 times a year, men cry 7 times a year. (WOW!)
  • Crying bouts last 6 minutes on average.
  • Crying has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate immediately following therapy sessions during which patients cried and raged.

To make the most of a good cry and really reap the benefits, it is important to remember that you have to be kind and compassionate with yourself after the crying jag. If you beat yourself up about crying, feel guilty, or use negative self-talk and tell yourself things like “I’m such a loser for crying” or “Guys shouldn’t cry”, you will undo all the healing that your sobfest can bring you.

So, go ahead and cry it out. And then you can proudly say to yourself “Well done! That was a good cry and I feel a lot better now!”

By Polly Guetta

 

When Caring becomes too much…

The MDABC recognizes that many people who are caring for loved ones with mental health concerns are struggling themselves. Confusion about where to go for help and support, exhaustion from dealing with the loved one, and feelings of powerlessness in the face of the illness can compound to leave people feeling unable to cope. Sometimes, when it all becomes too much, caregiver burnout can develop.

Some signs that you may be experiencing caregiver burnout include:mom and daughter

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Excessive use of alcohol and/or sleep medications
  • Irritability

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s important that you try to get the help and support that you need to cope and feel better. It is also essential that you take steps to make self-care a priority in your life in order to prevent burnout.

We invite you to join us at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC on June 24th for a free lecture on caregiver burnout. You can click on the image below to go directly to the Eventbrite Registration page. caregiver burnout (1) 

Why Mindfulness?

Why are more and more people drawn to the practice of mindfulness? We see thatstones mindfulness centres, groups, and classes are popping up everywhere…is this just a trend that will soon fizzle out?

In fact, mindfulness has been practiced for centuries and although it may have recently seen a  surging in popularity in the West, it is certainly not a flash-in-the-pan Wellness trend. People who practice mindfulness find that they feel happier, more content, and more relaxed. Studies have shown that this practice can also help you to increase your self-compassion and your compassion for your fellow beings. This compassion can often lead to more altruistic behavior which creates a better society for everyone.

Very simply, mindfulness can be defined in this way:

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose,
in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”   Jon Kabat-Zinn

Kabat-Zinn is a famous Buddhist monk and teacher of mindfulness meditation and the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and many of the strategies and exercises that counsellors use when they teach mindfulness are based on his teachings.

If you would like to learn more about the practice of mindfulness and how it can help you to recover from anxiety and depression, we invite you to consider registering for MDABC’s Spring 2016 Mindfulness Course. Click here to start the application process.

mindfulness group april

The Gifts of Self-Compassion

heart_in_hands-105

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 Self-Care and Self-Compassion Workshop is Now Open for Registration

Self-care isn’t selfish!

Have you given much thought to the role that self-care and self-compassion plays in your overall health and wellbeing? Join Caer Weber,  a self-care and self-compassion advocate, educator, and blogger for a workshop that explores how this practice can bring you increased feelings of wellness, a calmer mind and body, and a more positive self-concept.

SELFCARE FEB. 17TH (1)

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.

unhappy

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”

New Dates for MDABC’s Self-Care and Self-Compassion Workshops

The MDABC is pleased to invite you to register for a FREE Self-Care and Self-Compassion Workshop. Get started on taking better care of yourself today!

self compassion nov. and dec.