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

 

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What are the benefits of Art Therapy?

art therapyby Polly Guetta

Some people are reluctant to try art therapy because they feel that they are not “artsy” or “creative” enough. Some of us may have bad memories of high school art teachers telling us we aren’t talented or that we are doing it all wrong (this was my experience) . It can be difficult to get past these negative associations with the art-making process and  jump into it again. But giving yourself the freedom to express yourself visually and to tap into your creative self can really help you to get your thoughts and emotions flowing in positive directions.

We’ve been offering art therapy at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC for the past year of so, and we have heard some great feedback from the people who have participated. In doing a little bit of research about the benefits of art therapy, I came across a top ten list which I thought summed up the research very nicely:

Art Therapy – Top 10 Benefits’ list:

  1. Art Therapy can provide a forum to express strengths and genuineness.
  2. Through viewing one’s own creation – one can improve the skill of self-observation.
  3. What cannot be said with words – may be more easily expressed through the art.
  4. Metaphors and stories emerge through the art – which can provide a ‘voice’ for material which may be difficult to express.
  5. Art Therapy is active & physical, fun, and stimulating.
  6. Emotions and art are closely connected; making art can aid in uplifting one’s mood.
  7. Making art activates the whole brain and can foster integration of emotional, cognitive, and sensory processes.
  8. Emerging and recurrent symbols expressed in the art can help to make unconscious material conscious.
  9. Art can make the hidden – visible in an external & tangible way.
  10. Art making provides an experience which is stress & anxiety reducing, relaxing, and decreases worry.

So, are you thinking about giving art therapy a try? Join us at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC on June 30th for a 3-hour workshop on Values-Based-Living Art therapy. Click on the poster below to go to the registration page.june30workshop

 

MDABC Photo Contest is in Full Swing!

It’s been one week since we launched our contest at gogophotocontest.com/mdabc, and we are off to a great start. We’ve had a phenomenal response and a lot of amazing photos have been submitted. We still have a long way to go if we want to meet our fundraising goal by June 10th when the contest closes so make sure that you submit your photos, donate to vote, and tell everyone you know about this contest! Our top three fundraising photos will win brand new i-pads and have their photos included on an MDABC annual wall calendar. Here are the three photos that are currently in the lead for the top spot:

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Changes, Renewal, Transformation by Michael
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Summer on the West Coast by Tim
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Yamnuska by Ashleigh

 

 

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

MDABC Will be at the 2016 Vancouver Wellness Show!

Save the Date!

The MDABC is excited to announce that we will be at the Vancouver Wellness Show on February 12th, 13th and 14th so if you are in the area make sure you stop by and visit our booth. We will have tons of mental health information to give out and an interactive activity to keep you busy! (More details on the activity to come in a future post).

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Valentina Chichiniova, MA, CCC

In addition to our booth, MDABC Counselor Valentina Chichiniovia will be presenting a “Mindful Relationships” seminar on the Living Well Stage at 5:15 pm on February 11th.

The Wellness Show is in its 20th year and attracts over 30,000 guests each year.  There is definitely something for everyone at this event -you can check out seminars, demos, displays, samples, and raffles. There will be everything from Acupunture to Zumba! For more information about the 2016 Wellness Show and tickets go to www.thewellnessshow.com .

mindful relationships

 

Winter 2016 Program Guide is Ready!

winter | treesThe MDABC’s winter program guide came out last week and it offers a variety of group therapy courses for people who are facing mental health challenges at this time in their lives. We have brought back our most popular courses including groups for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Depression, and Social Anxiety. People can choose from a variety of therapeutic approaches to treatment including art-based therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy.

In addition to returning courses, the therapy team at MDABC has also developed a number of new courses which we are very excited about.  These include intensive weekend skill-building seminars for depression and/or anxiety and a course designed specifically for younger adults on emotional regulation.

Get started on feeling better today -check out our Winter 2016 Therapy Groups here.

Everybody needs a little help thinking positively…

The MDABC has created a new “positive thoughts” poster for you to print and share – click here to download the PDF.

positive thoughts

The Art of Gratitude

morning sun

By Polly Guetta

Cultivating gratitude has long been recognized as a key approach to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and well-being. In the seventeenth century, Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza suggested that in order to develop a practice of gratitude that becomes second nature we commit to answering the following questions every day for a month:

Who or what inspired me today?
What brought me happiness today?
What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

By answering these questions daily in a journal, you can start to take more notice of the beauty and joy in life and this can lead to a meaningful change in your general outlook.  As you write down your thoughts, try to have original entries every day – this will challenge you to take note of the little things that brightened your day, touched your heart, or made you smile.

To help get you started on a daily gratitude practice, I asked some of MDABC staff and supporters to share their answers to one or more of the questions. Here are some of their entries:

From Lisa Kleiman, MDABC Support Group Facilitator:
What brought me happiness today?

I am so grateful for every single day. For sitting in my favourite coffee shop. Meeting friends, seeing family, working, volunteering, facilitating. I take nothing for granted. This time last year I was very sick and in hospital. Thinking I will never see wellness again. It was so scary to think there was no hope for recovery. I feel so blessed to have my mental health back. I am able to attend MDABC workshops to help me get even stronger. I use my tools that I have to keep myself in wellness.

I know what I almost lost and to be well today I am so very grateful.

 From Valentina Chichiniova, Counsellor at MDABC:

Who or what inspired me today? Watching an old couple holding hands and supporting one another.


What brought me happiness today?
Watching the beautiful cloudy sky and noticing the amazing variety in shades of grey, white, purple and yellow.


What brought me comfort and deep peace today? 
Talking to my mom.

 

From Teri Doerksen, Receptionist at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC:

Who or what inspired me today?

Martin (Executive Director of MDABC) inspired me today at the staff meeting – he reminded me that all of the work I do is to help a person with mental health issues cope and begin to recover.

Thanks for sharing everyone. If you’d like to share your gratitude post, please comment!

Meet Caer Weber – One of MDABC’s Wonderful Volunteers

                       caer

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

I started to attend one of the support groups in 2009 though I wasn’t sure I liked it at first. Too scary. All those strangers! But after a couple of times I started to like it. Then I started to think that I would really love to facilitate a group. I had done some facilitating before and really loved it. So by 2010 I was facilitating a support group weekly and just loving it. I continued to do it until 2014.

What kind of volunteer work have you done at MDABC?

Last year I decided I wanted to change what I was doing with MDABC a bit. So I came up with a proposal. I offered to be a facilitator liaison. Essentially I would help train other facilitators – now that I had 4 years under my belt – to help Catherine St. Denis, Operations Manager, in her role of connecting all of the facilitators with the organization itself. To help be that bridge. I knew Catherine had more than a full plate. I think everyone does at MDABC. That’s why they need volunteers. Anyway, I started doing that last year.

I also started to think a lot about self-care and came up with another proposal. To run an 8-week closed group focusing on self-care. I ended up doing that in the spring earlier this year After that group MDABC asked me to run some half-day workshops on self-care. So I ran three of those workshops.

I continue to be facilitator liaison, and it’s quite a bit of work and quite challenging. I am also about to do 2 more half-day workshops on self-care and especially on self-compassion. I hope to do a lot more of those and maybe add-ons to them.

What do you find most rewarding about doing this work?

First, and possibly the most important thing is that just working with the staff at MDABC has been one of the most rewarding things about this work. They have given me a lot of space to run with my ideas and I’ve never had such a great and supportive environment to work in. I am so grateful for them.

I also find that I keep trying to make the things that I do better. I keep looking at them and saying “Am I satisfied with this or do I need to change something?” It feels like a very creative process. And when I do the facilitator training and meet the new facilitators it’s invigorating and inspiring to meet all these people who really want to help. When I do my self-care workshops I learn so much from what people tell me about their struggles. I get to know what the common themes are especially with people with mental illness.

It’s all absolutely fascinating and such a learning experience for me. A real gift.

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

I’d like to see a real campaign started that focuses on self-care, self-compassion and mindfulness. Some of those things have already begun. I would like to see us keep building on that theme. I have just begun using these things in my life and I’m amazed at how much better and how much more alive I feel. I really hope people have a way to learn that they are alright just as they are and none of us need to suffer quite so much if we are kinder to ourselves and are more present in the world. A waking up to self.

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

Right now I need my 30 minutes of meditation before bed. I have not been able to keep a meditation practice for this long before (8 ½ months) and I am noticing huge changes in my life. I am slowing down, am more grounded, and much softer and more compassionate towards myself and to others. And when I really blow it and get really upset about something I am now turning to mindfulness to help me find my center again.

So I think 1. meditation, 2. self-compassion and 3. ice cream or chocolate at least once a week. Oh yah and to be mindful through it all. Especially when eating the ice cream or chocolate.

A Welcoming Space

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Valentina Chichiniova is the lead Canadian Certified Counsellor practicing individual and family counselling at The Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC. She has been with the Counselling and Wellness Centre since we opened our new offices in April 2015. Over the course of the summer, Valentina began decorating her counselling office with the goal of making it a cozy, inviting, and optimistic space. When we asked Valentina why she was taking the time to decorate the room, she replied: “I want it to feel homey, comfortable, and safe. The more comfortable and homey the environment, the easier it is to share about yourself and your life.”

To book an appointment for individual, couples, or family counselling with Valentina, click here to complete an intake form. Once we receive the form, our office staff will contact you directly.