Tracking Your Mental Health Progress

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The road to mental health “recovery” can sometimes feel like a long and treacherous hike. As you are navigating through the thick forest that is depression or anxiety, it can be hard to keep perspective and see just how far you’ve come. It might feel like you’re making good pace only to get caught in quicksand, unable to free yourself, this is when reviewing your progress can be most helpful. Even if those around you begin commenting on the changes they’re seeing in you, it’s always nice to see the progress for yourself. Keeping track of your mental health journey can be done in many way, here are a few to try out:

1) Long-term Journaling

Go out and grab a journal that you love and begin daily journaling. It doesn’t need to be a 30 minute daily exercise and you don’t need to pour your heart out across multiple pages, if you don’t want to. To begin, set aside anywhere from 3 – 5 minutes of your day to write down how you are feeling, how your day went and what you’re grateful for. Whenever you’re feeling extra vulnerable, have a look back through your passages to see how far you’ve come.

2) 12-Hour Check-ins

Similar to journaling, just on a shorter scale. Take time each morning when you wake up to write a half page passage in your journal and another half page before you go to bed. Outline your hopes for the day versus how it went and try your best to find a few things that went well during your day or that you’re grateful for. If you find that you’re constantly waking up in an anxious state, even before opening your eyes, This may help you examine your previous days and see how your outlook changes as the day plays out. 

3) Go Digital

Not completely into the idea of putting pen to paper? An app may be more your speed. There are several apps out there to choose from, a quick google search for “mental health tracking apps” will give you a few options. One app that we’ve personally used is called Remente. The app offers specific plans tailored to your goals, as well as tracking options to help you monitor your progress. Our favourite aspect of the app is the wheel of life tracking. This pie chart allows you to track your satisfaction related to several different aspects of your life, including: love, money, friendship, work and more. You can edit this wheel every day to reflect how you’re feeling and monitor the progress as time goes by.

Phone Apps for Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness originally associated with religions like Buddhism have grown in popularity In the psychology community over the years and are now often used as a technique in many therapy practices. Individuals struggling with anxiety, in particular, have found great success when establishing a regular practice, as mindfulness helps us tune into the here and now, instead of forecasting the future and worrying about the “what if” scenarios that anxiety disorders are so good at producing.

Meditation or mindfulness courses are becoming more readily available within our communities and are even beginning to be recognized by insurance providers and government health care as coverable health resources. The practice of savouring the here and now is even making its way into the high paced digital world, with many new apps being created to help us access meditation courses and relaxation techniques right from our phones. These apps can be used on their own or as an extension of the work you do with your therapist.

Below are just a few of the many convenient meditation and mindfulness apps available to you anywhere and at any time:

Headspace

Headspace is a meditation app for both android and apple devices that provides individual meditation sessions, as well as courses tailored to your specific needs. Whether your struggling with focus, stress, self-esteem or any number of other things you’d like to tackle, Headspace will more than likely have what you’re looking for. The app offers a free trial for new users and along with many meditations and courses, also offers short animated videos to help illustrate the topic along the way.

Calm

Calm is another amazing app which helps users relax through a variety of meditations, both broad breathing exercises and more specific guided courses. They also offer relaxing music, a tool that helps you measure your breathing and the ability to customize the user interface. After doing one of the sleep focused meditations, you can relax and enjoy one of our favourite features of the app, the sleep stories, narrated by some very famous voices. Like Headspace, this app also offers a trial period for new users.

Insight Timer

Part meditation app, part community building, Insight Timer is another great app for mindfulness meditation. This app has the widest variety by far, as it is based on user-generated meditations. Users can upload their own guided meditations, talks or music to the platform, making it a hybrid of meditation resources and social media. You can sift through a variety of meditation styles, including both secular and religious-based sessions, all without having to worry about when your free trial will end. The app offers both free use, as well as an enhanced paid version.

With so many new resources available, meditation and mindfulness have never been easier to practise!

Separation and Self Esteem: How Divorce Affects Children

Divorce and separation come with many changes and it can often become hard to navigate how to best move forward. This is especially true if children are involved. Whether you’re involved in an amicable separation or a more tumultuous split, it’s often hard to determine the best course forward when it comes to parting ways, while maintaining a healthy relationship with your children.

During the separation period, intense emotions can come to the surface and although your children may be shielded from the intimate details of the split, they are often able to pick up on the tension between parents or can witness arguments. Although it’s not intended, children who are surrounded by uncertainty, arguments and high-emotions can inevitably be affected and may suffer some repercussions.

Below is some helpful information on how to minimize the negative effects of divorce on your children and how you and your kids can thrive in a post-marriage world.

1. The Way You’re Fighting is Affecting Your Children’s Bodies

https://youtu.be/cKcNyfXbQzQ

It’s not necessarily that divorce or separation innately affects your children. It really has more to do with the way you communicate as parents that can wreak havoc or help heal your children. In this great Ted Talk, Dr Ajiji explores not only the impact of divorce on children but also how chronic fighting can impact all children (including those whose parents stay married through constant conflict). It may start off a little heavy, but stay tuned until the end when Dr Ajiji explores how you can help your children through the process of divorce or separation.

2. Clear Communication:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-raise-happy-cooperative-child/201302/8-strategies-helping-kids-adjust-divorce

It might sound cliché but, communication is key. Not only is it important to maintain healthy communication with your ex-spouse (when possible), but it’s also very important to be clear when relaying the message of your separation to your children. The above article illustrates how you can inform your children on several aspects of your separation, including why you’ve chosen to move forward on your own paths and what your children can expect to happen moving forward.

3. Consider Counselling  

It’s never a bad idea to seek help when needed. Maybe you’d like to work on improving communication with your former partner, maybe you’d like to learn how to create a healthy dialogue between you and your children when speaking about the separation/divorce or you may be seeking services on behalf of your child who you think may benefit from therapy. Here at Reflection Centre, we offer a variety of services geared towards family and youth counselling and meditation.

Separation and divorce can be challenging for all family members, but there are ways to make it as smooth of a transition as possible while maintaining your child’s comfort and self-esteem. You’re not alone, be sure to give us a call if you’re within Simcoe County and are looking for additional resources!

Make 2019 Your Year of Gratitude

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Well, it’s that time of year again folks, The time when we reminisce about the past year, how quickly it came and went, how we have grand plans for the new year ahead and share our opinions on the effectiveness of resolutions. The gyms are about to get very overcrowded and your fridge may begin to look less like a convenience store and more like a greenhouse.

Whether you’re a “new year, new me” person, or just someone seeking continual self-improvement (regardless of the time of year), we can’t deny that setting goals to improve both ourselves and the world around us, is a great thing indeed!

If you’ve been following any self-help books, been involved in the therapy community or watched a healthy amount of TedTalks (we’re guilty of binge-watching too, it’s ok), you’ve probably heard all about gratitude and it’s effects on mental health, physical health and our communities.

Gratitude is defined as: “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Gratitude is often linked to practices such as meditation, yoga and mindfulness. It’s been studied as a remedy for depression and proven to increase, self-esteem, relationships, sleep, empathy and to reduce anger and aggression.

As humans, we often focus on the negative elements in our day or we just don’t notice many things at all, due to our high paced societal norms. It can be hard to stop and feel gratitude for something like your morning coffee, when you’re more focused on not spilling said coffee all over your new outfit as you run late to an important meeting. 

So with all that being said, we still want to make room for more gratitude in 2019 and we want you along for the journey. Here are some helpful resources for cultivating a daily gratitude practice in 2019:

  • Follow Daily Prompts

Looking for a daily reminder to get you In the gratitude groove? How about trying your hand at daily prompts? You can find a million and one blog articles, lists, journals and apps just for this! Have a look online or go to your nearest bookstore to check out all that’s out there. We love this one: https://tinybuddha.com/gratitude-journal/

  • Read all About it!

There are a huge number of books out there that focus on gratitude, but one that we love is Thanks A Thousand. We love this book (and the TedTalk) because it focuses on something we perceive as so small, our daily cuppa Joe and shows us not only how much work truly goes into it, but also how inter-connected we all are and why we should be thankful for the “little” things.

  • Make a game of it

Try this: Before you go to bed each night, instead of counting sheep (or let's be real, scrolling through social media), begin to recite the alphabet, including something or someone you're grateful for that correlates with each letter (a,b,c,d…). not only is it a way to train your brain to find more things to be thankful for, but it’s also a great way to help you drift into dreamland.

  • Thank Your Farmer

Call it grace or call it thanking your farmer. Religious or otherwise, it’s important to be grateful for the stuff that keeps us going, our food! This is also a great way to get your kids started on the gratitude train.

  • Focus on Friends

Group chats are not just good for discussing upcoming plans or keeping up-to-date with your friend's lives, they can also be used to help foster a gratitude club. Try it out with your friends, create a group chat on Facebook where you can all express what you’re grateful for each day. Not only do you get to share your day with your friends, but you can also participate in some second-hand thankfulness for all the things you may overlook in your own life.

So how about it? Will you join us on our gratitude journey 2019 edition?

How to Practice Self Care During the Holiday Season

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As we’re approaching the middle of December, the holidays are seemingly all around us. Snow is falling, Houses are lit up in multi-coloured lights and the malls and shops are packed full of people looking to snag this year’s most buzzworthy gifts.

The holidays are meant to be a time spent with family and friends, a time of fun and joy and for many, a spiritual celebration. In short, it’s meant to be a happy time, but for many people, it’s the exact opposite.

Families can feel pressured to follow along with others and buy expensive and lavish gifts, often overextending themselves and worrying about how they will pay for everything.

The holiday hosting duties often fall on the laps of parents who’re busy working, taking care of the kids and now need to anxiously plan a 5-course meal for 40 people. Others are going through grief and loss, which is only heightened by the holidays.

Needless to say, the holidays can often come with many conflicting emotions. This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re practising self-care throughout the holidays!

Whether it’s sneaking a few moments alone at your next holiday party, staying home and shopping online instead of trekking to the crowded stores or just plain saying no to adding additional events to your busy calendar, there is no shame in taking time for yourself this season.

To better help you plan self-care over the holidays, we’ve compiled a list of a few helpful articles below: