When was the last time you really cried?

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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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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.

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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.

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Top 5 Mental Wellness Digital Apps

By Rachel B.

1. Moodnotes

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Description: MoodNotes by Thriveport, LLC offers the user a new innovative approach to journalling. Designed in conjunction with two American psychologists, it employs cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. It works by asking the user to capture his or her mood in the “face” icon, and then allows the user to add detail with a note-function. By translating your emotions into data, it empowers you to chart your moods, recognize patterns, target negative thinking traps, and develop better self-awareness. This app will be a useful companion to counseling with a professional therapist. Read more at Wired.Co.UK.

Cost: $4.59

Compatibility: Compatible with Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Requires iOS 8.0 or later.

You can purchase and download the app here

2. Headspace

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Description: Headspace is a wildly popular app – co-founded by Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson – that teaches the user meditation through authentic and accessible voice guided sessions. Over the summer of 2015, version 2.0 was released to much fanfare. Each user’s journey is now mapped into a timeline (much like Facebook) and shows the user’s development and achievements over time. In the beginning, you work through the “foundation” sessions. From there, content is divided into four categories called “Health,” “Performance,” “Relationships,” and “Headspace Pro” (which allows the more experienced user to experience meditation sessions unguided by Puddicombe’s voice). Users have reported that the app has allowed them to develop the skills to meditate for extended sessions, which has improved their mood, sleep and daytime energy levels.

Cost: FREE for first 10 meditation sessions

Compatibility: Compatible with Apple iOS and Android devices.

You can download the app here.

3. DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach

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Description: Based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan, this app is a rich resource of self-help skills, reminders of the therapy principles, and coaching tools for coping. This app could be useful to explore and learn about DBT as a therapeutic practice, or be used in conjunction with therapy with a professional.

Cost: $4.99

Compatibility: Compatible with Apple iOS software, iOS 7.0 or later required.

You can purchase and download the app here.

4. Optimism

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Description: Optimism by Optimism APPS is a mood-charting app specifically designed for people coping with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Based on your input of core data for each day, the app generates graphs and charts to give you a portrait of trends in your well-being, sleep quality, and exercise frequency, etc. One of the strengths of Optimism is that it highlights medication and the importance of adherence in treatment approach, which other mental wellness apps tend to overlook.

Cost: FREE

Compatibility: Compatible with Apple iOS 8.0 or later.

You can purchase and download the app here.

5. Freudie

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Description: A silly, fun app called Freudie by The Psych Files that lets you select and insert an image of the iconic father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, into any photograph or selfie.

Cost: $1.19

Compatibility: Compatible with Apple iOS, requires iOS 6.0 or later.

You can purchase the app here. 

If you know of any other apps that help you to prioritize and manage your mental health, please leave the names in the comments.

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.

All About Social Anxiety -A Q&A with Clinical Counselor Rose Record

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Rose Record, MA, CCC,  is a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).  She has a Master of Arts Degree in Counselling Psychology completed at the University of British Columbia. Rose is a member of the MDABC therapy team. This fall she will be leading therapy groups for adults on Social Anxiety and Depression, for more information go to www.mdabc.net

In your experience, how can social anxiety get in the way for people who want to feel more connected?

Social anxiety is an experience of fear, worry and/or anxiety in social situations where there is a possibility of being observed and/or scrutinized by other people. This can get in the way of feeling connected to others in many different ways.  It can lead to intense worry or fear of being embarrassed, judged, or not performing well in public and/or social situations.  It can also lead to worry that anxiety will “show” in ways such as trembling, blushing, sweating or being “lost for words”. This fear can be so intense that even thinking about or anticipating being in social situations can feel overwhelming. Common consequences of social anxiety are reduced enjoyment of social situations, limiting participation in social activities, or avoiding being in feared situations or in public altogether.

Which strategies do you use in your therapeutic practice to help clients with social anxiety?

When supporting individuals experiencing social anxiety, the first strategy is often to build an understanding of what is going on during an anxiety response and working together to determine what their unique anxiety situations and anxiety responses are (everyone is different!). Then, we start to break responses down into the thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and behaviours involved and identify strategies that can help to re-work the responses. Many of the strategies I use are aimed at looking at our patterns of thinking and challenging/replacing unhelpful patterns of thinking with thoughts that may be more fair and helpful. Through this process, we also start to uncover core beliefs that shape our thinking about others, the world and ourselves. Other strategies are aimed more at shifting behaviors in our lives such as setting goals and taking small steps to reduce avoidance and build tolerance for being in feared situations. Finally, relaxation and mindfulness strategies are introduced to help clients to tune into their bodies, to physically slow down anxiety responses and to build self-acceptance.

Do you find working with clients with social anxiety rewarding?

Absolutely! One thing I love about group therapy for social anxiety is that it provides a safe, supportive space for clients to learn, share, set goals and build coping strategies. Through that process, clients often build confidence, skills and take steps toward doing things in their lives that are important or fulfilling to them, whether that be trying something new, meeting new people or simply becoming more comfortable and confident in social situations in general.  As a therapist, it’s very powerful walking alongside clients in their therapeutic journey.

What can clients expect at the first session of the “CBT for Social Anxiety” course that you are leading?

Our first session is really about establishing a foundation from which we’ll build on for the next 8 weeks.  We’ll spend time talking about the group itself – learning what CBT is (and isn’t), building group goals, and setting up some basic structure to the sessions so everyone knows what to expect each week.  Then, we’ll talk a bit about what social anxiety is and learn the basics of what happens during an anxiety response and how to track it.  Finally, in each session we’ll learn a new relaxation or mindfulness technique and for our first session, we’ll focus on the basics of deep breathing.  In every session, some “homework” is also suggested, which basically consists of ideas for how group members can continue to practice and try out the skills we learned in class throughout the week and start to integrate them into their day-to-day lives.