Rhea's Picks

Rhea's Picks

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

In her book “Maybe you should talk to someone”, Dr. Lori Gottlieb reflects on the process of therapy from her point of view and experiences as both the therapist and patient.

It is a candid memoir in which Gottlieb guides readers through her work exploring the inner lives of her patients as she simultaneously embarks on her own journey of self-discovery with her own therapist.

Beyond offering insight into the opposing experiences of the therapist and client, this book highlights the awesome commonality of the human condition. Whether you are a therapist, a client, someone who is curious, fearful or even skeptical of therapy or whether you are simply someone who loves to understand humans, it speaks to all!

Geneviève's Picks

Geneviève's Picks


The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Love

In her poignant TED Talk, Katie Hood, CEO of the One Love Foundation, an organization that aims to educate young people on the topic of love, explains that unhealthy love is something all of us will experience in our lifetime. Unhealthy love can manifest itself in different types of relationships, such as romantic relationships, friendships and family relationships, and is not limited to outright psychological or physical violence. Recognizing the signs of unhealthy love is key when trying to prevent relationship abuse.

Fortunately, healthy love is a skill that we can all learn and practice. Not only will practicing healthy love improve your life, it will also contribute to the betterment of the lives of those who matter most to you!

Mastering Adulthood

In her book called “Mastering Adulthood: Go Beyond Adulting to Become an Emotional Grown-up”, Dr. Lara E. Fielding teaches her readers how to navigate the emotional ups and downs of adulthood. By using easy to understand metaphors, Dr. Fielding introduces her young readers to the principles of cognitive behaviour therapy and mindfulness. If you know a young adult who is struggling to find their way, this book is a must!

Stéphanie's Picks

Stéphanie's Picks


Le club des sans diète

En naviguant sur Internet ou sur les différentes applications, il n’est pas rare d’être confronté à des propositions de diètes miracles ou encore à des programmes d’entraînement jumelés à un plan nutritionnel magique qui vous aidera à atteindre votre corps de rêve. Il peut être tentant de s’engager dans une telle démarche. Il est toutefois primordial de prendre conscience de ce qu’exige réellement une implication dans celle-ci tant au plan physique que psychologique. L’article proposé ici illustre d’une part les conséquences engendrées par la restriction, les régimes et les diètes et aborde d’autre part, l’ensemble des bienfaits qu’une alimentation non-restrictive peut apporter. Il vous propose également deux TED TALK intéressantes qui s’inscrivent dans cette philosophie. Est-ce que vous vous joignez à moi dans le club des sans diète?

Zhen's Picks

Zhen's Picks


Combating post-holiday blues by practicing emotional hygiene

It’s that time of the year: new year resolutions in full swing, preparation for back-to-work, and for many…. the inevitable post-holiday blues. January can be a vulnerable time of the year for many, as we continue into winter with less sunlight, harsher weather conditions, and not to mention potentially increasing workload and pace returning from the holidays. To combat post-holiday blues and to maintain emotional health, practicing emotional hygiene is critical. Check out psychologist Dr. Guy Winch’s compelling TED talk on the importance of taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies. For further resources, also check out this blog for more tips in managing those blues. Enjoy the read and listen!


又是一年纠结时: 乍许完新年愿望,就要准备重返工作岗位,诸如此类......恼人的节后综合症!对于广大芸芸众生,一月份是一年中最不爽的时间,我们得继续忍受着鲜有阳光的寒冬,我们要继续忍受着数九寒天,更何况节后要加重工作负荷,加快工作节奏!为了克服节后综合症,保持情绪乐观健康,实践自我情绪调节至关重要!查看心理学家Dr. Guy Winch博士的TED谈论强调关注情绪、心理是何等重要,就象我们在乎我们的身体一样。想知道有关更多调理节后综合症的信息,请查看此博客。 希望您享受阅读,聆听愉快!

Margarita's Picks

Margarita's Picks

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A Gratitude Attitude

Earlier this year, I was gifted “The Five-Minute Journal”, a structured daily journal with a set of morning and night-time questions allowing the owner to practice gratitude by reflecting on positive experiences and outcomes one is grateful for, and by setting mindful intentions for the day ahead. Cultivating gratitude has been associated with greater feelings of well-being, both psychological and physical (e.g. stress reduction, improved self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, improved sleep, and more). This journal was a great avenue for me to begin taking the time to “count my blessings” each day. However, we do not need any specific journal to begin cultivating our Gratitude Attitude! I encourage you to take out a paper and pen right now, and list 3 things you are grateful for today – no matter how big or small. Notice how you feel after this experience. How does your body feel? Was this helpful? What surprised you?

Meditation and Mindfulness: Two peas in a pod? Maybe not.

We hear more and more people discussing relaxation practices and using the terms meditation and mindfulness interchangeably. Perhaps you’ve heard some swear by these practices, and perhaps you’ve heard others say they are just not able to find that “off switch” in their minds. In “Meditation is Not What You Think: Mindfulness and Why it is So Important”, Jon Kabat-Zinn provides a holistic introduction to mindfulness practice and discusses how mindfulness and meditation are fundamentally different (Hint: You can stop trying to silence your mind!). This book brings with it the opportunity to reflect upon the relationships we hold with ourselves and the world around us and guides us on how to both deepen and build our own mindfulness practice.

Jacinthe's Picks

Jacinthe's Picks



Qu'est-ce que l'agilité émotionnelle (emotionnal agility)? Dans cette courte présentation TED, Dre Susan David, psychologue de l'école de médecine de Havard utilise son expérience personnelle pour illustrer de quelle façon nous pouvons avoir tendance à lutter contre nos émotions ou à juger de ces dernières. Ne nous surprenons pas tous parfois à avoir certaines pensées telles que «J'ai hâte de ne plus ressentir cette émotion»? Par le biais d'exemples de recherches et de concepts en psychologie, Dre David illustre de quelle façon la reconnaissance et l'acception de notre expérience émotionnelle peut constituer une pierre angulaire de la résilience. Comme elle l'exprime si bien «l'inconfort est le prix à payer pour une vie remplie de sens».  

Maryann's Picks

Maryann's Picks


Painful Emotions: Soothe Soften Allow

Did you ever try to run from or fight with a difficult feeling? Did you ever notice that this can end up making it feel even more painful? This brief guided meditation by compassion researcher Kristen Neff walks you through a powerful alternative approach where you make a little room to notice your difficult feelings mindfully and then send those feelings some soothing care: Soften, Soothe, Allow.

NOTE: If that idea makes you freeze or freak out, you probably need to build your way up to it (e.g., get acquainted with how emotions work; learn about self-compassion).


In this post, psychologist Tasha Eurich describes her research on self-awareness and points out that introspection (thinking about ourselves) doesn't always lead to increased insight (knowing ourselves). Greater insight may depend upon the type of questions we are asking ourselves. Beware of "why?" questions that might lead to unproductive rumination, over-analyzing past events, or getting fixated on the past as a way to explain present struggles: "Why do I get so overwhelmed by my feelings? Why is it so hard to talk to him?! Why don't I enjoy this?" Instead, orient yourself towards more useful self-reflection with "what?" questions that explore your current state and potential: "What am I feeling right now? What do I want to communicate to this person? What do I like/not like and what can I do about it?"


In this inspiring and funny talk, Jia Jiang becomes my new hero and a fabulous poster-boy for exposure therapy. In large scale reviews of multiple research studies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques, especially exposure-based approaches, were found to be highly efficacious in the treatment of anxiety disorders (Olatunji, Cisler, & Deacon, 2010). Exposure therapy is essentially about seeking out the thing that you're afraid of, instead of running away from it. Sounds freaky as hell because it is! But that's part of what's so therapeutic about it: you need to feel the fear without running from it to finally understand that the fear itself can't hurt you. And it certainly doesn't have to control you. In Jiang's case, when he confronted his fear of rejection directly, he learned some surprising things about himself and about other people too.


Spoiler alert: it's not about chocolate or lingerie. Esther Perel is a veteran New York State licensed marriage and family therapist who travels the world to learn about "erotic intelligence" in modern love. In this talk, she shares some fascinating insights, arguing that in order to have good sex in long-term relationships, we have to find ways to reconcile conflicting needs: the comfort of security and familiarity VS. the thrill of adventure and novelty. Interestingly, recent neuro-imaging research (Diamond & Dickenson, 2012) suggests that romantic love and sexual desire even look different if we map them out in the brain, with each state activating different parts. Yet there might be a little common ground as some regions of the brain may light up in both states, suggesting that certain types of love and desire might be somewhat interconnected at times. Check out Perel's talk and start cultivating your own erotic intelligence!


Hurrah For Gin's Katie Kirby gives us an irreverent take on our own internal bully. Her foul-mouthed cartoon “Guilt Fairy” is the self-critical voice personified. Kirby focuses on her experience as a mom, but similar internal criticisms could be applied to anything. If you've ever beaten yourself up, you might find this post validating, normalizing, and even a little cathartic. Kirby's sketches are a great reminder to stand up for ourselves with humour and logic (talk back, fight back!). I can also spot several aspects of self-compassion woven in there (see the Fairy as a shared human experience; give yourself a break sometimes; stay mindful of your thoughts and feelings). Practicing self-compassion is a great way to soothe harsh self-criticism, build confidence, create meaningful relationships, and promote physical and mental health (Gilbert, 2010).


Seeing a bully take control of a high-ranking public position can feel intensely threatening, discouraging, and disempowering. Mirah Curzer's timely post “How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind” offers up some practical self-care lessons for a time of widespread socio-political resistance. I view self-care during difficult times as a radical act of applied self-compassion: “a kind, connected and clear-sighted way of relating to ourselves even in instances of failure, perceived inadequacy, and imperfection” (Neff, 2011, p. 1). Neff's research indicates that self-compassion promotes emotional resilience and stability. It's something within you that you can choose to practice. Empowering thoughts for a destabilizing time.

Maeve's Picks

Maeve's Picks



Psychologytools.com is a great website that is packed (and I mean packed) with information and resources, both for self-help and professionals. From educational material on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and the function of emotions, to forms that can help you monitor intrusive thoughts or your mood, to cognitive restructuring exercises, to downloadable audio files on relaxation techniques... The list goes on. Most of the resources are free, too (bonus!). I use the site to find user-friendly material for clients (i.e., to normalise all the weird and wonderful physical sensations that are associated with anxiety), and I encourage you all to take a look to see if  there can be any information or tools on there that can be of use to you!


Chronic pain is a condition that can be debilitating, distressing and (yes) painful, both physically and psychologically. This wonderful, user-friendly website set up by a chronic pain researcher (and sufferer) offers psychological tools and education for coping with some of the parts of chronic pain that may be amenable to change. Complete this short questionnaire to assess your thoughts and feelings when in pain. For example, catastrophising about pain is a common, but unhelpful internal process that can create a vicious cycle, whereby the pain catastrophising causes stress in the body and amplifies pain. Check out Lisa’s pick and Annelie’s blog post for more information and insight about coping with chronic pain.


Depression is the most common psychological disorder, affecting 121 million people worldwide. Despite this, many people have difficulty in recognizing depressive symptoms, and in seeking treatment. This especially true for men, who may feel the stigma of a mental health diagnosis more than women (we still have a way to go with mental advocacy, but we’re on the right track!). https://headsupguys.org/ is a wonderful website set up by clinicians, researchers, and mental health advocates and based at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver. It provides a “self-check” assessment of depression, and tips and tools for managing depressive symptoms (e.g., sleep, social life, relationships), information about professional services, and stories of success – specifically targeted to men, but helpful for women too!


“Popular ideas about happiness will make you miserable if you hold on to them too tightly”. Dr. Russ Harris, a well-known proponent of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, has written a wonderful, relatable, easy-to-read book called The Happiness Trap, where he puts forward the argument that our expectations about what our lives “should” be like can be harmful for our psychological health.

He presents three “happiness myths” (also available in this this short YouTube video), namely:

  1. Happiness is the natural state for human beings.
  2. Happiness means feeling good.
  3. If you’re not happy, you’re defective.

Dr. Harris suggests that a rich, full and meaningful life involves making space for, and expecting, a range of emotions, and that “the reality is, if you’re not happy, you’re normal”. Life is often difficult, and even our most positive experiences (e.g., meaningful relationships), are associated with tension, anxiety, frustration, anger (etc, etc), in addition to the warm and joyful moments.


“Am I good enough?” “Smart enough”?” “Attractive enough?” “Do people like me?” Pressure to achieve and to be valued starts young, and youth often report striving for success and recognition at school, with peers and in other activities. Achieving success (however it is measured) can be a way of building our self-esteem. However, striving for perfection can become a goal unto itself, where we can lose track of what is important and become consumed with the pressure to excel, to be valued, to be perfect. This pressure can lead to anxiety, and interfere with our ability to engage in the present moment, to be spontaneous, to play, to just beThis thought-provoking article encourages parents to reflect on the pressures experienced by youth to excel, and suggests that we re-engage with what’s most meaningful to us, rather than mindlessly (and sometimes frantically) striving to achieve, to thrive, to excel. I would argue that this article is just as relevant for adults!


Many of us at Connecte are big fans of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or “ACT” (for more information on ACT, see Brent’s blog post, as well as a TED talk by the founder of ACT, Steven Hayes, previously posted by Lisa).

One of the most interesting and useful podcasts that I listened to this year was “ACT in Context”, which brings you through the main components of ACT in an informal and user-friendly approach. The podcast is appropriate both for professionals using ACT and individuals interested in ACT for their own personal purposes (I used it for both!). The hosts are clinical psychology PhD students, and they invite in different ACT specialists for each episode to present a different facet of the ACT approach.

Access the podcast through the iTunes store, or by streaming it from the Contextual Psychology website, where many ACT resources can be found. 

Reshma Saujani’s wonderful TED talk explores the societal pressures that can be endured by girls to perform well, and argues instead that we should teach girls to be brave. She argues that being afraid to take risks or to fail inhibits girls’ willingness to learn or to seek opportunities, be they social (e.g., asking someone out on a date) or professional (e.g., asking a question when they don’t understand, applying for a job even though they might not have all the qualifications listed). Although this TED talk focuses on young women, I feel that the issue of being insecure about one’s own abilities or worth, and being afraid to take risks (that may ultimately lead to opportunities!) is relevant to a much wider audience. 

Danit's Picks

Danit's Picks


Understanding the science of willpower

January is a time during which people reflect on the past and plan for the future. We ambitiously establish goals and take on new challenges. We feel more motivated than ever and look forward to a fresh start. However, a few months in motivation often begins to wane and our resolutions are tested. Understanding the psychology of willpower (hint: it’s a muscle!) can help shed light on this process so that we can become more effective. Check out the APA’s publication on willpower here: What you need to know about willpower.


The upcoming legalization of marijuana has important implications for all Canadians, yet it raises a particularly important question for parents— how do you talk to your teen about marijuana? Having an honest conversation is the key to keeping communication channels open and helping your teen understand and navigate important choices.  

Drug Free Kids Canada offers a user-friendly step-by-step resource for starting the conversation. The PDF guide can be found here: Cannabis Talk Kit Know How to Talk with Your Teen.


Like many events of a similar nature, the Parkland shooting brings to the forefront a painful reality: We cannot easily protect our children and loved ones from traumatic events or loss. Further, we are also faced with the question of how to handle grief in the aftermath. Teachers and adults in closest proximity to children often lack the time, resources, and training to guide children through processing emotions around such events.

To address this need, the Coalition to Support Grieving Students offers online resources. These include helpful information, advice, and other tools useful for assisting adults in leading conversations and supporting affected children.  The website includes modules, guides, videos, and resources shedding light on how to help youth process grief after crisis or loss.


I first learned about Shenpa in Pema Chödrön’s book “Getting unstuck”.  It is a Tibetan word that refers to our tendency to get “hooked” by certain thoughts and emotions, and our immediate urge to react or “scratch the itch”. By giving in to this temptation, we teach ourselves that we absolutely must react to our Shenpa. Often, this leads to reacting with behaviours that are harmful in the long term. We also forego the opportunity to observe the Shenpa and experience our emotions. Refraining from biting the hook is an important part of meditation—it paves the way towards observing, understanding, and being in charge of our experiences and actions. 

Read more about Shenpa: Shenpa and getting hooked

Getting Unstuck by Pema Chödrön (book)



In this stop-motion animation, Karen Chan highlights the way our fear can limit the way we engage with our lives. Although anxiety and avoidance have been researched and written about extensively (see Machell et al., 2014, or Dymond, 2009), Chan simplifies the complexity of ‘fear conditioning’—the (very adaptive) way we teach ourselves to keep safe by avoiding danger. However, beyond that, she brings to light the tendency to hang on to fearing old fears, even when they no longer present a threat. The questions at the end of the video prime us to take a deeper look at the terror we create with our thoughts and with our actions, as we continue to avoid what may no longer be dangerous to us. There is evidence that by doing this, we condition ourselves to keep living in fear even when there is no danger. In doing so, we may be missing out on important and enriching life experiences!


Roughly 80% of Canadians report drinking alcohol (Taylor, 2016). For many, alcohol consumption is a source of pleasure—enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, a beer with friends, a cocktail on a terrace. However, many Canadians drink in a way that puts them at risk for harm (physical or other), sometimes without even realizing that their drinking is risky! If you are curious about where your drinking stands, there is a tool to help you learn more about your drinking patterns. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) makes this brief survey available to all, and includes personalized feedback about your drinking. You can learn about how your drinking compares to others’, how much it costs you (not just financially!), and how quickly you metabolize the alcohol such that it is no longer in your system after you’ve had a drink. Check it out here.


Practicing Mindfulness is the art of bringing one’s attention to the present moment with purpose and compassion. Mindfulness has been linked to improved physical health and psychological well-being (Brown et al., 2007), and is often a first step in the journey of self-exploration and wellness.

You can practice mindfulness throughout your day-to-day activities, or, you can set aside time dedicated to mindful meditation. If you are looking to explore your own mindfulness and meditation preferences, there is a (free) app to guide you.

The Insight Timer app is a great tool for beginners and more experienced meditators alike.  You can browse through guided meditations or simply set a timer for your meditation and proceed without instruction. You can choose from a range of meditations, some lasting a single minute, to others lasting upwards of an hour!


All the wonderful benefits of practicing mindfulness also extend to the workplace. In this context, mindfulness has been linked to enhanced performance, smoother interpersonal interactions and improved relationships with clients (Good et al., 2016). Taking a moment to slow down is essential in the world of multitasking and information overload. In fact, just a few mindful moments a day can stimulate creativity and insight in the workplace. 

Check out this article to learn more about mindfulness as a way to jumpstart creativity at work.

Miriam's Picks

Miriam's Picks



Bullying can have significant and long-lasting consequences for children’s well-being and development. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to help children cope with ongoing teasing or victimization.  When a child is bullied at school, it’s not uncommon to hear someone, be it a parent or a peer, suggest that they should “fight back”. But does that really work? What can we do as parents, educators, therapists, and bystanders to help children who are being targeted by their peers? Prevnet is a Canadian resource for youth, teens, parents, and educators who are dealing with bullying in some way. It contains information about the warning signs to look out for (e.g., anxiety, school refusal, physical complaints), tips on building healthy relationships, and advice on what we can do to intervene. The team at Prevnet has done a fantastic job of compiling research and making it accessible and it’s a great resource to have on hand if you or someone you know is being bullied.

In this TED Talk, Kang Lee, a researcher from the University of Toronto demystifies children’s lie-telling behaviour. Dr. Lee argues that lie-telling is not only normal, it is actually something to celebrate (to a point!), given that it signifies the appropriate development of self-control and theory of mind (our ability to perspective-take). Dr. Lee also discusses his research demonstrating that we aren’t nearly as good at detecting lies as we think they are. This talk (and the related research) is near and dear to my heart having studied lie-telling with one of Dr. Lee’s colleagues, Dr. Victoria Talwar (McGill University) during my undergraduate studies.


Lately, I’ve been sharing my appreciation for “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray Love”) with anyone who will listen. This wonderful book touches on how the need for creativity, be it through writing, painting, music, or innovation of any kind, is universal. It is not frivolous or self-indulgent, but rather deeply meaningful and even necessary. Gilbert’s message about how fear and self-criticism can interfere with our creative process and well-being will resonate with anyone who is interested in Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability (Brown, 2010, 2012). Overall, “Big Magic” is a great choice for anyone who struggles with perfectionism or self-critical thoughts and is looking to pursue a passion, be it a creative hobby or career path.


Here at Connecte we often talk about the importance of gratitude. This isn’t surprising since the practice of reflecting on the people, things, and experiences we have to be grateful for can greatly improve our mental and physical well-being (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010; Rash Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011). However, it can be difficult to find time to practice gratitude on a regular basis. The 5-Minute Journal provides the ideal solution and structure. In the morning, you are encouraged to list three things you are grateful for as well as three things that would make your day great. In the evening, you are prompted to reflect on three positive things that happened that day. It also includes motivational quotes and challenges to help you make the most of each day. Check it out here: The 5-Minute Journal. For more on the importance of gratitude check out Andrea’s recent blog post.


At one point or another, most parents have likely been frustrated with their teen’s frequent social media use. Although a moderate amount of social media use is expected and perfectly normal, recent research suggests that youth who are heavy users of social media (e.g., more than 2 hours a day) have poorer mental health outcomes (Sidani et al., 2016). Heavy usage of social media can also interfere with sleep and physical activity and create unrealistic expectations related to relationships and body image. That being said, it can be difficult as a parent to know how to regulate teen’s use of technology and social media. In the following article, Amy Morin, a licensed clinical social worker, provides 10 helpful tips for setting limits. Read more about teens' mental health and social media use here: Here's Why Social Media Harms Your Teen's Mental Health.

Tobey's Picks

Tobey's Picks



Many of us have been told that “communication is key” in a romantic relationship. But what does that really mean? How do we learn to communicate effectively, and avoid hurting each other in the process? The Gottman Institute has done years of research examining how couples communicate. They have highlighted four particularly negative communication styles, leading to less connection and more painful interactions. These are called the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, which refer to: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. Check out this detailed blog post from the Gottman Institute that helps to clarify what each of these factors look like, so that you and your partner can better communicate on issues big and small!

Food Psych Podcast

There are so many great podcasts to listen to, but some have that special combination of being fascinating, helpful and empowering. Food Psych is a weekly podcast hosted by intuitive eating dietitian Christy Harrison. Each week. Christy interviews various guests on their relationship with food, their body, how diet culture has shaped their view of themselves, and how they have broken free of their unhealthy relationships with food and their bodies to live a more fulfilling life. She digs deep into the ways in which diet culture has both shaped our understanding of how to eat and sold us the false notion that diets are the answer to our struggles. She strongly promotes body acceptance, and backs it up with good data that shows that health is not about size or weight. Christy also has tons of resources on her website, and courses that help get into the particularly challenging parts of intuitive eating and body acceptance. Check it out and see what you think!


Disordered eating might be more common than we think, but that doesn’t mean it’s something to overlook. The attached article emphasizes that disordered eating may look like a normal range of eating, making it easy for family and friends to miss important cues that suggest a loved one is struggling. However, missing these cues may delay diagnosis, leading to lost opportunities for effective treatments before the disorder takes over more space in their lives. Check out this article for some tips on what to look for and how to be helpful: Recognizing Eating Disorders in Time to Help.


So much of what we see online in relation to eating disorders involves visuals of what certain eating disorders look like (i.e. someone with a very low weight suffering from anorexia). These images highlight the dangers of these disorders (while only capturing a fraction what it looks like to suffer from an eating disorder), but do little to help individuals already suffering from these difficulties. An eating disorder treatment center in Denver, Colorado has begun a campaign to focus more directly on recovery, as opposed to images connected with the active stages of the disorder. This campaign involves writing letters about an individual’s personal recovery journey, demonstrating for those still suffering that recovery is possible! It also helps shed light on the genuine struggle and complexity of overcoming an eating disorder, but the ultimate freedom that comes with recovery. Check out the campaign here: myrecoveryletter.com.


More and more, I’m noticing that there are certain really important ideas discussed online so regularly that they are starting to simply be seen as “buzz words”. For instance, we often see the terms ‘self-care’, ‘self-compassion’, ‘mindfulness’, etc. used in ways that make it difficult for someone to understand what the terms mean and how to best incorporate them into their lives. These terms represent big ideas and the more instruction we can receive on these topics, the more likely we are to make subtle, but meaningful changes in ourselves. The following article breaks down the main components of self-compassion therapy, and then provides many concrete tools and exercises to begin practicing this new way of relating to yourself: 16 Compassion Focused Therapy Training Exercises and Worksheets.


Recently, I’ve noticed that I’ve been recommending the same book to clients…over, and over. One might believe that it’s because it’s the first book that comes to mind, or because I’m in the habit of reading only a few books a year (which all might be true!), but the more accurate reason is that I’ve realized that this book seems to be relevant for so many individuals that I work with. The book I’m referring to is called “The Happiness Trap”, by Russ Harris. It is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and is an easy to digest, relatable, and research supported book that helps individuals better notice and distance from their unhelpful thought patterns, while moving towards actions that align with their values. Plus, it has countless examples and exercises that you can (and ideally will!) use to practice these very helpful tools. The first chapter is available for free online, so check it out and see if you think it could help direct you towards a more helpful and meaningful way of thinking and acting: The Happiness Trap - Introduction and Chapter One.


We have all fallen victim to the never-ending chase for happiness, the ongoing desire to attain a steady level of contentment and joy that so often feels just outside of our grip. Interestingly, the more one searches for happiness outside of themselves, the more steep the slope may seem. This is largely due to the fact that happiness is a feeling, which means it’s an internal state that comes from within! The more we are searching for happiness “out there” the less we’re giving ourselves a chance to acknowledge what we can do within ourselves to move closer towards those positive feelings. The following article, a brief summary of the book by the same name by John Izzo, highlights the five ways that our own mindset gets in the way of our happiness: Some tips for banishing the five thieves of happiness.


As many people have read or heard, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, lost her husband suddenly two years ago. She has spoken openly about the grief that comes with loss, and the different coping skills that she and her children have found helpful in moving through this grief. In the article below, Sheryl talks about how to build resilience in children, even when they have experienced such a tremendous loss. Her writing expands on research by Dr. Adam Grant, a professor who researches resilience during adversity, and describes many key elements that can help contribute to children’s overall resilience no matter what obstacles lie in their path - Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss.


More attention is being paid to the importance of making space for our emotions, and learning how to express ourselves effectively. It appears, however, that there continues to be a stigma surrounding which emotions are considered appropriate for each gender.

Research and theory have suggested that various parental, cultural, and societal influences contribute to a divergence in emotional expression between genders (Fisher, 2000). Ultimately, gender stereotypes suggest that it is more appropriate for girls to express their difficulties with sadness, fear, and worry, whereas boys are meant to express their pain with anger. This expectation, however, leads boys and men to not have access to proper tools to express the range of human emotions. Read on to learn more about suggested tools to encourage boys to become comfortable with all of their emotions: 10 Tips on Helping Teen Boys Express Their Feelings.


So much of our culture is focused on one shared goal – the pursuit of happiness! Though happiness seems desirable, making happiness our ultimate goal may lead us to feel especially discouraged when confronted with life’s normal ups and downs, as well as the objective difficulties that all individuals confront at various times in their lives. Further, researcher finds that even once a person achieves a goal that they associate with being happy, they eventually grow accustomed to the change and its novelty and positive impact on mood diminishes (Macini, Bonanno, & Clark, 2011). The following blog explores the importance of pursing a life that includes all emotions, with a goal of being “whole” and not just happy: “Positive thinking” has turned happiness into a duty and a burden, says a Danish psychologist.


We often find ourselves stuck in a situation where we can’t seem to let go of an upsetting or frustrating event. We catch ourselves becoming distracted during the day when ruminating about these events, which removes us from the present moment and robs of us our ability to enjoy what is right in front of us.  So why do we keep our minds stuck on these moments? Sometimes we think that if we let something go, we’re saying that we’re okay with what happened. The truth is that letting go simply allows you to live more freely regardless of what’s happened. Research supports this notion that accepting our situation as it is, and letting go of negative experiences in our mind, allows us to feel more connected and present in our daily life (Ciarrochi, Bilich, & Godsel, 2010). The following article explores this notion further and highlights why it’s so helpful to sometimes let go of that which is no longer serving us: The Cost of Holding On.


I often find myself caught up in thoughts about “I’ll be happy when…”. The following article highlights that the search for happiness prevents us from being in the present moment, and can leave us stuck in a cycle of always looking ahead for what will make us happy in the future. We also tend to believe that one thing will bring us happiness, but once we achieve it, we realize that the joy is fleeting and we’re already onto the next thing. This phenomenon is further explored in the following article, which is based on research that highlights the difficulty of our never-ending search for happiness: Why You Shouldn't Want to Always Be Happy.


How should parents talk about weight with their children? Understandably, parents want their kids to be physically healthy, but it’s important to consider the mental health impact of sending the wrong message. A recent study shows that even passing comments can have a long-term negative impact on a daughter’s self-esteem (Wansink, Latimer, Pope, 2016). This article discusses the negative impact of commenting on a child’s weight, and alternatives on how to best support a healthy lifestyle for the entire family.


We all have the thought that if only we could be more outgoing, more conscientious, more organized, etc., our lives would improve. We also have the tendency to think that those desires are enough to actually lead to change. For example, if I say I’ll be more on time, in the future I’ll hopefully be more on time. However, that’s not quite how change works. Research suggests that we need concrete, attainable goals in order to see changes (Hudson & Fraley, 2015). Read on to develop a better understanding of personality and our ability to see real changes in ourselves: Can Personality Be Changed?

Ava's Picks

Ava's Picks



I have been listening to a lot of podcasts recently and this episode of Love and Radio has been one of my favourites. I love it because for me, it really drives home a couple of things. First, always close your blinds! Second, and more importantly, even when you feel alone, someone, somewhere is pulling for you and wants you to be okay :) Knowing this can be helpful, given that research has long shown the importance of social support (Cobb, 1976). Just an FYI, you may want to cry while listening to this...


We all want to be happy but for some it can seem really difficult to achieve. There are many reasons why, and this article discusses a few of them. The good news is that because much of happiness is under our control, it is possible for us to get there with some changes. See Andrea's blog post for ways you can increase your level of happiness.

So many people come in and ask “How can I be happy?!” There are many facets to it, and it means something different for everyone, but research has shown that there is a meaningful link between gratitude and well being (Sansone & Sansone, 2012). I believe very strongly in practicing what I preach, which is why I take time at the end of every day to reflect on what it is that I am grateful for. In this TED talk, David Steindl-Rast speaks about the relationship between happiness and gratefulness in a way that has really stuck with me. (And check out Andrea's blog post, "Want to Maximize your Potential? Get Happier!" for more tips on how to increase happiness!).


I am huge fan of apps, especially the free ones :) One that l have been recommending a lot lately is Stop, Breathe & Think, which is described as a “free meditation app to help you be more mindful and compassionate”. It has a number of different guided meditations available that I have found really helpful when looking for something to help me take a pause in my day. Available for both Android and iOS!

Annélie's Picks

Annélie's Picks



Born a Crime is an audiobook autobiography of Trevor Noah’s journey from a boy born in South Africa during apartheid to the man hosting the critically acclaimed Daily show. The way he delivers his story with wit, socio-political references and emotional depth enables the reader to bear witness to his journey and most importantly relate to it. While we have not lived through apartheid, many have encountered traumatic life experiences, faced ostracism, feared rejection and struggled with one’s identity or finding purpose. Additionally, many have also learned how to rise through and above their life circumstances to not only survive but live. Trevor Noah’s storytelling style will make you laugh, cheer, angry, sad and knowledgeable. Have a good listen!


On me pose cette question au moins une fois par jour que ce soit un collègue, une amie, un membre de ma famille ou un client. Je suis persuadée que mon entourage se fait poser la question aussi… peut-être même par moi! Ce n’est pas toujours facile de trouver la référence appropriée. Voici une ressource qui, j’espère, deviendra une référence indispensable pour bon nombre d’entre vous. Il s’agit du 211 Grand Montréal. En composant ces trois chiffres ou en visitant le site web www.211qc.ca, vous aurez accès à plus de 5000 organismes dédiés à fournir des ressources sociales et/ou communautaires (emploi et revenus, sports et loisirs, soutien psychosocial, enfance et famille, etc) gratuites ou à faibles coûts.

Il s’agit d’une ressource fort utile alors jetez-y un coup d’œil!


Clients, collègues et amis
Si vous ne connaissez pas le Dr. Sonia Lupien, Ph.D, je vous invite à visiter son site web http://sonialupien.com/. Dr. Lupien est une chercheure/conférencière/auteure émérite en neurosciences. Ces études portent sur le mécanisme du stress et l’impact de celui-ci sur diverses sphères (la mémoire, performance au travail, santé physique, santé mentale chez les jeunes et les adultes). Les recherches scientifiques ne sont pas toujours accessibles à tous. Cependant, Dr. Lupien utilisent plusieurs plateformes médiatiques afin de vulgariser l’information, démystifier ce qu’est le stress afin d’éduquer le public... Nous! Son site web est une mine de renseignements sur la définition, les causes et les stratégies pour gérer le stress. Jetez-y un coup d’œil!

Why should we strive for more self-compassion rather than a higher self-esteem? Kristin Neff discusses how it is a good thing to have a positive global evaluation of oneself. However, seeking high self-esteem can be problematic depending on how we go about it, and it is contingent upon success (Neff, 2011). If said success is not reached, self-criticism tends to rear its head. In such settings, she encourages us to be more compassionate and less harsh towards ourselves. Her definition of self-compassion describes 3 components: self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness.  To find out more about these components, check out Krisitn Neff’s talk at TEDx Centennial ParkWomen.


CBT- I Coach is a mobile application provided by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). It is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Insomnia. This application is designed for people in therapy for insomnia with the CBT approach. However, it can also be used by people struggling with insomnia and seeking helpful tools to improve their sleeping habits (winding down, schedule worry time, change your perspective, breathing technique). It is noteworthy to mention it is not intended to replace therapy. Strong evidenced-based data suggests CBT-I is effective (Siebern & Mander 2011). Check it out! (And check out Ava's blog post, "Getting Back to Bed" for more tips on dealing with sleep issues!).

Brent's Picks

Brent's Picks


My search for a pick this month led me to several TED talks that were interesting; but I rarely found speakers as touching and authentic as Brené Brown. She only gets into the topic of shame around the halfway point (so skip ahead to 9:45 if you are in a hurry), but the introduction is worth the wait. Often thought of as an emotion that isolates, shame is ironically universal. Brown clues us in on how looking at shame may bring us back to connection. Who cares? Well, a recent study showed that in 174 children, shame predicts depressive symptoms, internalizing issues, and social anxiety later in life (Mills, et al., 2015)…It’s time to listen.

This is Water, by David Foster Wallace

This short videogram is an excerpt of a commencement address that Wallace gave to Kenyon College’s 2005 graduating class. Bear with me on this one, it’s sometimes cheesy music may turn some of you off. But the underlying message is very touchingly and amusingly delivered: that our choice in how we relate to events has a huge impact on how we experience these events. Although Wallace was a writer, not a psychologist or researcher, his underlying message rings true with acceptance and commitment therapy’s underlying premise that much of human suffering evolves from an unruly use of the problem-solving mode of mind (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2012).

*Editor's note (important 2-in-1 learning experience in this videogram): Despite its important and poignant message, this videogram was almost taken off our site. In Wallace’s attempt not to sugar coat the ways in which we may very automatically and harshly judge certain people and situations, he—perhaps unsuspectingly—propagates fat shaming and offensive stereotypes of overweight individuals. To some of us, these aspects of the video probably go unnoticed, like water. For others who struggle to relate to the thin main characters, this “water” represents something in our culture that is rampant, mindlessly socially accepted, and that perpetuates the problem of obesity—one of the world’s most important health problems. To learn more about obesity and why some people live with it despite efforts to eat well and exercise avidly, check out articles and news on the Canadian Obesity Network. You can also read about why fat shaming is unhelpful in some of our previous picks (Lisa’s pick / Jodie’s pick).

Janie's Picks

Janie's Picks


Art Therapy Myths Busted!

As an art-therapy intern, I can feel a curiosity around me about WHAT is art-therapy. We also hear more and more about art-therapy in newspapers, blogs, community projects, books, interviews, and so on. From this curiosity, questions and myths about the field of art-therapy often arise. Can art-therapists read my mind through my drawings? Is it only for kids? Is it only for artists? Is it art classes? Is it a credible field? This blog entry from Amy Jonhson Maricle, art-therapist (MA), does a good job of addressing those myths and questions about art-therapy. You can also browse her other posts to get some tips on how to get started with your creativity.

"L’art-thérapie, une ressource négligée en santé mentale"

À l’invitation du Musée des beaux Arts de Montréal (MBAM), des projets en partenariat avec le MBAM et le département de thérapies par les arts de l’Université Concordia ont récemment été développés. Le nouveau Pavillon pour la Paix Michal et Renata Hornstein ouvrira ses portes à la fin de 2016 avec des espaces dédiés à l’art-thérapie.  Josée Leclerc (PhD), art-thérapeute, psychothérapeute, professeure et directrice du programme de maîtrise en art-thérapie à Concordia travaille depuis de nombreuses années à la reconnaissance de l’art-thérapie et à l’innovation de projets, tel celui en partenariat avec le MBAM, le programme des troubles alimentaires de l’Institut Douglas et Concordia. Dans une entrevue accordée au journal Le Devoir, elle explique comment l’art-thérapie peut aider à répondre à la grande demande d’aide en santé mentale au Québec et au mieux-être des personnes ou collectivités. Connecte est une clinique novatrice dans son ouverture aux différentes approches et qui voit la combinaison des connaissances et professions comme une force pour répondre le mieux possible aux besoins de chacun et chacune.

Documentaire: L'art fait du bien

L’artiste est souvent définit comme étant une personne privilégiée d’un certain talent naturel. Il peut sembler difficile de se valoriser par notre créativité si nous ne répondons pas aux normes esthétiques établies. Pourtant, chacun de nous possède une créativité unique. Elle nous aide à faire des choix, trouver des solutions, jouer, faire preuve d’ingéniosité, démontrer de la sensibilité, etc. De prendre contact avec cette créativité a permis à plusieurs personnes de voir la vie différemment. Le documentaire l’Art Fait du Bien (réalisé par Jean-Sebastien Ouellette), nous présente des personnes pour qui cette rencontre avec leur créativité les a aidé dans leur cheminement. Certains sont artistes professionnels, d’autres non. De tout âge et de tout horizon, ces personnes ont en commun une bataille souffrante dans laquelle l’art est un allié important. L’une d’entre eux se bat spécifiquement contre l’anorexie et a pu trouver dans la création une source de réconfort et une redécouverte du plaisir (17 min, 43 sec.).

Natsumi's Picks

Natsumi's Picks


This short video talks about why trying to avoid our difficult thoughts and feelings often backfires and keeps us “stuck” in unhelpful patterns of thought, emotion, and behaviour. The video talks about how to better deal with difficult thoughts and feelings in way that allows us to work towards the things that are the most important to us and live a more meaningful life.

 The University of California San Diego Centre for Mindfulness

Mindfulness is both a practice and a particular state of awareness that is associated with a number of psychological benefits including decreased stress and emotional reactivity, decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, and better focus and working memory. This website provides a large number of free audio guides to support your mindfulness practice. It includes guided meditation and yoga practices.

 The Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University

This website contains lots of useful information including blog posts, podcasts, and other resources as well as self-help tips and suggestions on how to overcome procrastination.

Simcha's Picks

Simcha's Picks



One of the things that clients struggling with anxiety often mention is how physically uncomfortable this emotion can be; as such, it’s not surprising that they feel eager to eliminate it, or at least to reduce it as quickly as possible. Indeed, recent statistics show that anxiety is on the rise, and in her recent article, clinical psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic proposes some reasons as to why this might be. Most interestingly, she also describes the various ways that we try to avoid feeling anxious, how this can backfire, and how we can learn to acknowledge and tolerate anxiety without fearing it.

Live to procrastinate another day

I have heard many clients assume that they procrastinate out of laziness, but as this NY Times article explains, procrastination may be related to our difficulty managing the negative emotions that a task elicits. I appreciated how this article included both psychological approaches like mindfulness and self-compassion, as well as concrete tips, to help overcome procrastination. Don’t put off checking it out!

On being a “good-ish” person

Do you consider yourself a good person? Do you strive – or expect yourself – to be one? Research shows that viewing ourselves, and being viewed, as a good person is important to many of us (Aquino & Reed II, 2002). Check out this TED talk by psychologist Dolly Chugh on why aiming to be a “good-ish” person, rather than a “good” person, can have multiple benefits including acknowledging our own mistakes and moving toward a more self-accepting stance.


Do you have a goal in mind, know what you need to do to meet that goal, but for some reason have trouble getting it done? Interesting research found that participants felt more motivated to accomplish their goal after giving advice to others, than after receiving advice, about the topic at hand. So, for example, if you know what you have to do to get a good grade on an upcoming exam but have trouble getting started, giving advice to a friend about how to overcome their own studying procrastination might actually help you feel more motivated!  


Talking to boys like we talk to dogs? The title had me curious. This New York Times article sheds light on the paradoxical behavior of 7- to 11-year-old boys; that is, why do they often behave well at school but not at home? Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel notes that their energy and anxiety may surface at home, after their self-control has been drained by school and extracurricular activities, making it challenging for many parents to avoid nagging or criticizing their children. She provides parents with tips for communicating with their children in a way that is caring, effective, and perhaps even similar to how they interact with their pet dogs! 


One of my favorite ways to learn is by listening. And lately I’ve been eagerly listening to the podcast “Where Should We Begin?” by psychotherapist Esther Perel. Each episode consists of a couples’ therapy session that she conducts with a different dyad. Her podcast exposes our seemingly conflicting desires for comfort/familiarity on the one hand, and novelty/excitement on the other hand, in relationships with secondary attachment figures (romantic partners); this balance is in some ways reminiscent of how youth negotiate closeness versus independence with their primary attachment figures (their parents). So, if you’re looking for a podcast to keep you engaged, and leave you thinking, this one is definitely worth a listen!

Electronics overload: More living, less posting

When was the last time you saw something special that you wanted to remember? Did you take out your smartphone to capture it and share with others, or did you immerse yourself in the experience and focus on what it felt like using your five senses? If you, like myself, reluctantly and sheepishly answered the former, then this TED talk may be of interest to you: In it, psychologist Adam Alter discusses research findings about the positive consequences of carving out time in our day that is free of screens, and how to go about limiting screen time in a more realistic way (see Alter, 2017).


Emotional granularity is the ability to narrow down what emotions you are experiencing in more precise terms, for example, specifying that you feel irritable or angry instead of saying that you generally feel “bad”. Having a better sense of exactly what we are feeling could help guide us towards more specific actions, and some research suggests that this ability is related to better psychological and social functioning (Smidt & Suvak, 2015). Check out this New York Times article to learn more about this and how you can help develop your own emotional granularity!


We can all probably agree that being socially accepted by others feels good and that being rejected can be pretty painful, but did you know that some brain areas that have been linked with enduring physical pain may also be involved when we undergo social rejection (Kross, Berman, Mischel, Smith, & Wager, 2011; but see Woo et al., 2014)? In this article, psychologist Guy Winch explains why this might be, how we might be inadvertently making social rejection more painful for ourselves than it has to be, and how we can react more adaptively to social rejection in the future.

Most of us can agree that we would like to live long, happy and healthy lives. But where can we devote our time and energy so that we are more likely to have such positive outcomes? Findings from the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which studied the same group of individuals for decades, suggest that the quality of our social relationships is an important predictor of later well-being (Waldinger, Cohen, Schulz, & Crowell, 2015; Waldinger & Schulz, 2010). Watch this TED talk by the study's director, Dr. Robert Waldinger, to learn more!


Many of us tend to have mixed views about worry: we don’t like experiencing it and sometimes even try to suppress worry-related thoughts on the one hand, but we also think that worrying can help us (perhaps by preparing us in some way for the negative event that we are anticipating) (see Davey, Tallis, & Capuzzo, 1996). Check out this New York Times article, in which Roni Caryn Rabin explains that certain kinds of worry are more constructive than others and provides some tips for how we can manage our worries.

Oxytocin - The Next Big Anti-Anxiety Medication?

The neurohormone oxytocin is attracting a lot of attention in both popular media and scientific communities! Some studies suggest that oxytocin nasal sprays have social benefits, including making people more trusting (Kosfeld, Heinrichs, Zak, Fischbacher & Fehr, 2005) and generous (Zak, Stanton, Ahmadi, 2007). Other studies have found relationships between levels of oxytocin and psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety (see Neumann & Landgraf, 2012). Does that mean that oxytocin will be the basis for the next big anti-anxiety medication? Not necessarily. See this article by researcher Paul Zak to find out why it’s not quite that simple.

Breaking the Cycle Between Depression and Inactivity

Decades of research have shown the benefits of exercise on mood (Dinas, Koutedakis, & Flouris, 2011). Many people report that they have less desire or energy to do things like daily chores, socializing, and exercising when they’re feeling depressed. This makes sense because decreased motivation, energy and pleasure can be symptoms of depression! The problem is that this can create a cycle where we feel down so we become more inactive/sedentary, but then this inactivity makes us feel even more down. Check out this link to learn more about how you can make small changes to your activity level in order to help break this cycle and improve your mood.

Saying and Getting What You Want in Your Romantic Relationship

When we think “Valentine’s Day”, we think love, flowers, and chocolate. But we all know that relationships aren’t always that simple or easy. Visit this link to learn why it is so important to tell our partners what we want, and how we can go about doing this!

How To Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people notice that the weather can affect their mood. Visit this link to learn more about the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and what we can do to help improve our mood during the darker and gloomier winter months.

Why Using Facebook Makes You Feel Bad

Ever feel like other people seem to lead a more charmed life than you do? Or at least that’s what it looks like on their Facebook pages… Check out this article to see why we might be getting a skewed sample from social media, and how we can guard against its negative impact on our mood!


Ever wonder why some people seem to connect easily with others, while others have trouble trusting or relying on their partners? In this Psychology Today article, Dr. Lisa Firestone explains these different attachment styles, their bases in early childhood experiences, and perhaps most importantly, that these styles can be changed over time. Which attachment pattern best describes you?

Are you, or someone close to you, considered an introvert? Is being an introvert a bad thing or a good thing? In this TED talk, Susan Cain highlights the many advantages of being an introvert in a society that places high value upon extraversion. I also recommend her book entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.


Sleep is something that comes easily to some, but can be daunting to others. For those of us who have had longstanding trouble falling or staying asleep, counting sheep may not be enough. In this article, Dr. Alex Korb gives 14 tips to improve the quality of your sleep, which can have a big impact on both your mood and your ability to concentrate at work.

Michelle's Picks

Michelle's Picks



You may have heard the word Mindfulness thrown around in pop culture a lot lately, but may not know what it really is, or may find that you get mixed messages about it. Put simply, Mindfulness is living with awareness in the present moment. It is trying (as best you can) not to live in the past, or get so caught up in planning for the future that you miss what is happening right now. It is about accepting your experiences, rather than rejecting and controlling them. This beautiful little book is a wonderful introduction for anyone who is interested in learning about Mindfulness, or who wants to bring more Mindfulness into their everyday life.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original”. So says Ken Robinson in this talk about education and different kinds of intelligence. At its core, this is a talk about diversity, and about accepting and nurturing people as they are. It is about fostering motivation from within. Incidentally, I re-listened to it on my walk to work today to make sure that I wanted to recommend it and ended up laughing out loud more than once. If that’s not a reason to listen (or re-listen) to it, I don’t know what is.   


In Mark Manson’s own words: “I write personal development advice that doesn’t suck”. He’s nothing if not honest. Mark writes frankly about topics ranging from career advice, to relationship advice, to “the subtle art of not giving a @#$%”. His articles are based on scientific literature, as well as his own life experiences. I find them insightful and relatable. The link provided here takes you to one article of his. If it floats your boat, there are plenty more on his blog where that one came from. 

Lisa's Picks

Lisa's Picks



I loved this podcast episode, Traumatology (PTSD) with Dr. Nicholas Barr, from the Ologies podcast. Host Alie Ward interviews trauma specialist Dr. Nicholas Barr, PhD, and picks his brain on all he knows about trauma. They discuss everything from what is trauma, how does it work in the brain, do treatments for trauma work, can practicing mindfulness help trauma, what can you do if you can’t afford treatment, and can you be affected by trauma you don't remember? This episode left me feeling not only more informed about trauma, but also more hopeful about our ability to treat trauma and inspired by the resiliency of humans.

Transhealth – Get Informed

People who are transgender face specific challenges and are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and even violence. They avoid public spaces, especially bathrooms, for fear of harassment, and they often face barriers to accessing employment and healthcare. If you're looking to learn more about how to help individuals who are transgender and the unique challenges they face, The Institute for Sexual Minority Health is a great place to start. The institute offers all kinds of resources, trainings, and research-backed information for individuals, clinicians, and organizations. One of its main missions it to address homophobia and transphobia and improve the health and well-being of sexual minorities. Check them out here: The Institute for Sexual Minority Health.

The Person You Really Need to Marry

I loved this TEDx talk! In it, Tracy McMillan describes how, after her many so-called relationship failures, she learns to commit to the person she really needed to “marry” - herself. We have all heard how it’s important to love ourselves, and research even shows this to be true (e.g., MacBeth & Gumley, 2012). What I found particularly helpful about Ms. McMillan’s message is how she drives home the point that self-compassion is a conscious, continual process of choosing ourselves for who we are right now, flaws and all, for better or for worse. Don’t miss out on this talk that will be sure warm your heart and allow you to love yourself a little bit more.


I’ve been reading, Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death, by professor and existential psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom. Even though this book is all about death, it has brightened up my life! (cheesy I know). Dr. Yalom discusses the idea that our fear of death is at the root of many of our anxieties. I find that idea a bit hard to believe, but what I’ve found so helpful from this book is the idea that by confronting, and if you will, embracing our own mortality, we are able to live life more fully, not let our own fears get in the way as much, appreciate the wonders all around us, and more deeply connect with those around us. For an ironically uplifting read, check it out!


This article, on the perils of advice-giving, struck a cord with me, not only because I fall into the “helper” category and am often overly eager to give advice, but also because I have been the recipient of unwanted and unhelpful (yet well-intentioned) advice. In the article, the author talks about how sometimes our advice-giving is more about our need to be seen as good helpers than about really understanding what is going with our friends. Instead of advice-giving, the author suggests, try being fully present, listening deeply, and asking questions that give the other a chance to express their own truths. This understanding and validating approach has been supported by research as cultivating closeness in our relationships (Laurenceau, Barrett, & Pietromonaco, 1998). Check out The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice here!


Very rarely do I make time to let loose and dance, but any time I have I'm amazed by how good it feels! Often though, dancing takes place in the context of nightclubs, which although have many fun pros, they’re not for everyone. This is why I love the idea behind Danser Dans l'Noir, a dance event created by two students right here in Montreal, providing a space to dance with a no alcohol, no touching, and no lights(!) policy. The idea is provide a safe environment where people can lower their inhibitions and focus solely on themselves and dancing. Moreover, dancing, not to mention cardiovascular exercise, has been show to have a positive impact on our mental health (e.g., Koch, Morlinghaus, & Fuchs, 2007). If you can’t make it to Danser Dans l'Noir, I suggest inviting some friends over and having a dance party in your own living room. Don’t forget to warn your neighbours :)


This Invisibilia podcast episode on emotions has two of my favourite things - an unforgettable and deeply moving real-life story, and research that turns your long-held beliefs about something upside down! As discussed in the episode, our emotions often feel like they’re happening to us, outside of our control, and most of us wouldn’t question the idea that some emotions, like sadness and happiness, are universal. However, psychology researcher Lisa Feldman Barrett explains that our emotions are the result of emotional concepts we learn through our experiences. For example, if we’re taught as children that emotions are bad, we’re going to experience emotions differently, or maybe even have different emotions, than someone who is taught to embrace their emotions. Why is this important? If our emotional concepts are learned, we can unlearn them or learn new ones that are more helpful and improve our mental health.

Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?

We can all agree that loneliness and social rejection cause emotional suffering. Indeed, an infinite number of songs have been sung about this very topic. Turn on your local country music or top 40 stations for a taste! Often when we describe social rejection, we use words that connote physical pain, like “broken” heart and emotional “scars”. It turns out, as outlined in this article, that social pain may be processed in the same brain regions as physical pain. In other words, social isolation doesn’t just feel bad; it may affect us on a biological and neurological level in the same way as physical pain. Although more research needs to be done on these findings (e.g., Eisenberger, 2015), it’s encouraging to see researchers taking loneliness seriously, as social isolation has been linked to everything from symptoms of depression and anxiety (Cacioppo, Hawkley, & Thisted, 2010), to an increased risk of heart disease (Valtorta, Kanaan, Gilbody, Ronzi, & Hanratty, 2016), to an increased risk of an early death (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, Baker, Harris, & Stephenson, 2015). It’s no wonder why in 1999 musician Moby wondered with so much sadness and angst, “Why does my heart feel so bad?” Maybe now we know!

Why is My Life So Hard? The Headwinds/Tailwinds asymmetry

Much research demonstrates that gratitude contributes to our physical and mental health and life satisfaction (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), yet typically we find it difficult to be regularly grateful. Why, despite the many things most of us reading this have to be grateful for, we are likely more focussed on our challenges and obstacles? Are we all just terrible, ungrateful people? In this Freakonomics podcast episode, Why is My Life So Hard?, social psychologists Shai Davidai and Thomas Gilovich discuss their recent research paper (Davidai & Gilovich, 2016) exploring this phenomenon, what is referred to as the headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry. They describe how we are more likely to pay attention to barriers because we have to overcome them in some way, whereas we don’t really need to focus on the things that are helping us along, because we can just let them be without much intervention. As a result, we tend to forget about the less visible things that make our lives good, like a free society, the opportunities we have, for many our ability to walk, talk and dance, and more easily notice the barriers, people, bureaucracy, etc. getting in our way. To begin to notice our tailwinds more, the authors suggest, when practicing gratitude, in addition to asking yourself, “What do I have to be grateful for?”, add “What are the ways I’m boosted along? What are the invisible things that are helping me?” For more, check out the interview here!


In this rich discussion of trauma by Maria Popova of Brainpickings, she summarizes and cites the work of psychiatrist and PTSD researcher Van der Kolk, in which he discusses the importance of “engaging the body in healing”. Van der Kolk describes how people who suffer with trauma learn to shut down parts of their brain that are responsible for visceral emotions, including terror, but as a result cut themselves off from a range of emotions and sensations that form the foundation for our sense of self. He then goes on to discuss how an essential part of overcoming trauma is learning how to be more comfortable with our bodies and its sensations. He describes that, “If you have a comfortable connection with your inner sensations….you will feel in charge of your body, your feelings, and your self.” A longer article, but well worth the read: The Science of How Our Minds and Our Bodies Converge in the Healing of Trauma


I found this article, How a Triathlon Helped America Ferrera Defy Her Inner Critic, particularly relatable in that it demonstrated just how stubborn a self-critical voice can be, even for Emmy award winner America Ferrera. Ms. Ferrera was all too aware of her self-critical voice, but even after 8 years of therapy, it was still hard for her to kick it. That is, until it became very clear to her (and others) that self-criticism was getting in the way of something she really wanted - completing a triathlon. She realized that in order to do a triathlon, there was no room for self-criticism. Indeed, positive moods (vs. the negative ones brought on by a self-critical voice, for example) have been found to contribute to better performance (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). Check out the article for more, How a Triathlon Helped America Ferrera Defy Her Inner Critic, and as you’re reading it you might consider how your self-critical voice gets in the way of your goals.


There is no simple or perfectly correct way to confront someone who is making offensive comments. Psychologists (including myself) recommend being assertive and directly and firmly stating your opinion. For example, “That’s offensive. I don’t appreciate that comment.” I firmly stand by the recommendation to be assertive, to stick up for yourself and your values, but I acknowledge that real-world situations are messy. What if it’s your boss making the offensive comment, or someone you know to be verbally aggressive or emotionally volatile? I appreciated this article, Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech, because it gives options for communicating to someone that what they’re saying is not okay. It discusses how to push back in ways that will potentially lead to less defensiveness in the other person (Czopp, Monteith, & Mark, 2006). Their suggestions include changing the subject, nicely and respectfully “correcting” the person’s offensive language, appealing to the value of fairness, and using humour. Check it out here for some tips!


Many of us will have physical ailments in our lifetime that will lead to pain. Fortunately, this pain is usually temporary, but what if it doesn’t go away? In this moving article, author Jodi Ettenberg describes how she copes with chronic pain, the challenges of having an “invisible illness”, the difference between “healing” and “curing”, and how she has found some ways to take back control in her difficult situation, including her attitude towards pain and her self-care. Drawing from the psychological research of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Kristin Neff, she has discovered some behaviours and ways of thinking that have helped her cope, including meditation, acceptance, morning and evening routines, and gratitude. Check out her article, How I learned to cope with chronic pain, for more.


In this short article and podcast, Barry Boyce discusses how mindfulness can be used to help people with trauma - Point of View: When Vulnerability and Trauma Collide (see also Polusny et al., 2015). Boyce talks about how through mindfulness we can learn to connect with our bodies and with what’s going on in our minds in a way that allows us to explore our triggers, our anxious thoughts, our suffering, without piling more pain on top of the pain. In other words, through non-judgmental acceptance, he describes how we can healthily connect with what’s going on inside of us. He also talks about the importance of connecting with others, recognizing that we all are vulnerable and many of us experience traumas, thereby increasing compassion and decreasing social isolation. 


If you’ve heard of Burning Man, you may wonder why I’m mentioning it in the context of mental health and psychology. This article highlighted some things I’ve wondered about Burning Man: Overworked America’s obsession with Burning Man is a cry for help. In our everyday lives, do we lack authentic self-expression and deep connection, and is the opportunity to fulfill these needs partly what attracts people to Burning Man? We know that having solid relationships and caring for others are associated with health and happiness, and creativity and spirituality can be pathways to creating meaning in our lives (Baumeister, Vohs, Aaker, & Garbinsky, 2013), all of which are encouraged and promoted at Burning Man. Perhaps Burning Man is more than just an epic party in the desert, but also a way to inject our lives with some much-needed connection and meaning. 


Suicide is not an uplifting topic, but as a mental health professional I feel it’s my responsibility to encourage a dialogue about suicide, not to mention inform myself. This article, Five Myths about Suicide, debunks some myths around suicide, and points out how (at least in the US) it is a significantly underfunded leading cause of death. Although there are many well-intentioned programs out there, and we know some of the factors that put people at risk for suicide, much more research needs to be done when it comes to suicide prevention (e.g., Oquendo & Courtet, 2015). In light of the recent suicide crises in Attawapiskat, Ontario and Pimicikamak, Manitoba, it seems there’s no better time than now to better our understanding of suicide.


Have you ever experienced feelings of awe? Maybe you were looking out over a valley after reaching the summit of a mountain, or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to see the northern lights light up the sky in all their glory. Psychologists are becoming increasingly interested in feelings of awe (Keltner & Haidt, 2003) and how these feelings promote a sense of connectedness to something greater than ourselves. The experience of awe has also been linked to an expanded perception of time and a greater wiliness to help others (Rudd, Vohs, & Aaker, 2012). Check out this article, Scientists Are Trying to Solve the Mystery of Awe, which not only discusses the science behind awe but also has some really cool quotes from astronauts viewing Earth from space for the first time.


What exactly do we mean when we say, “I don’t trust you”? Trust is something that is so fundamental to our well-being, yet most of us have difficulty articulating what trust is. In this touching and informative lecture, researcher Brené Brown discusses the anatomy of trust and describes how trust is built on small moments (e.g., Gottman & Silver, 2012). Based on the data, she has come up with an acronym that describes the different components of trust: B.R.A.V.I.N.G. B.R.A.V.I.N.G includes having clear boundaries and respecting others’ boundaries, being reliable and holding yourself accountable to your mistakes, keeping things in the “valt”, demonstrating integrity and acting in line with your values, not judging others when they ask for help, and making generous assumptions about others’ behaviours and intentions. Check out Brené Brown’s SuperSoul Sessions talk, The Anatomy of Trust.


Not everyone who experiences a stressful or traumatic event is negatively affected (Werner, 1989). Researchers have attributed one’s ability to adapt to stressors and “bounce back” from difficult situations to one’s resilience. I found this article helpful because it explains not just what resilience is, but how we can develop it. It turns out the way we think about things can increase our resilience. If we perceive a stressful or traumatic event as an opportunity to learn and grow, we may recover more quickly. Moreover, having an “internal locus of control” (Rotter, 1954); that is, believing we can influence our environments and have some control over our own fate, leads to more resilience. Check out this article for more on how to become resilient!

In this TEDx talk, Steven Hayes, psychologist and founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), shares his personal struggles with Panic Disorder. Like most of us, he initially tried to run from or fight against his anxiety, but after much struggle he came to the realization that what he needed to do was turn toward his experience, and stand with his experience in a kind and loving way. He describes how this psychological flexibility, directing our attention flexibly to our internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, physical sensations), and then choosing to move towards what we think is important, is associated with improved mental health and well-being (Levin, Hildebrandt, Lillis, & Hayes, 2012). Moreover, Hayes emphasizes that bringing love to our experiences and ourselves even when it’s hard opens the door for living a more meaningful and purposeful life. 

Fat-shaming isn’t just cruel; it doesn’t work

This article describes how a downright disturbing campaign to shame overweight people is not only cruel, but ineffective. The author points to a study showing that people who experience weight discrimination gained more weight than those we didn’t report weight discrimination (Sutin & Terracciano, 2013), and a survey demonstrating that anti-obesity campaigns with “blaming” messages are perceived as less motivating than ones with more neutral messages or ones that don’t mention obesity or weight at all (Puhl, Peterson, & Luedicke, 2013). Unfortunately, the idea that we should shame people into losing weight is pervasive. I think an overhaul of the ways in which we try to motivate people to lose weight is long overdue.

Bettering Your Brain Through Nature

Throughout history, humans have lauded the benefits of nature. Yet, as stated in this article, “According to research by the Harvard School of Public Health, American adults spend less time outdoors than they do inside vehicles—less than 5 percent of their day.” In an effort to increase our awareness of the benefits of nature, more and more researchers are exploring how nature helps us. Through measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating, they are finding that being in nature, or even looking at images of nature, significantly reduces stress, increases concentration and performance and maybe even problem-solving skills. Check out this article to learn more about the mental health wonders of nature! 

Why Including the Body in Eating Disorders Treatment is So Important

As a psychologist who treats eating disorders, one of the biggest challenges I find is helping my clients develop a non-distorted and positive view of their bodies. More and more I’m learning that getting to know the body at a sensory level is extremely important for developing a balanced and less distorted view of our bodies. For example, noticing the temperature of your breath as you inhale or exhale, focusing on the sensations of the skin that is covering your feet, etc. This article, drawing from research in neuroscience, discusses how awareness of our bodies at a sensory level, not just at a surface level, is important for a healthy sense of self. 

Fostering Creativity and "Epic" Self-Compassion with Elizabeth Gilbert

In this podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses how to balance living a creative life while being practical, how to honour and live in line with our values without getting attached to outcomes, and how to balance what the ego wants and what our souls want (wonder, connection, creativity, forgiveness, and empathy), as well as how to foster “epic” self-compassion. Not only did I find this podcast personally inspiring, but it highlights and expands on many important concepts I discuss in my therapy sessions with clients.


When people suggest that you run, does it feel like they’re saying, “Hey, why don’t you climb Mount Everest?” For the majority of my life, I felt this way too. I was that kid in high school who couldn’t make it around the track. With the help of friends, I eventually started running, 2-minutes at a time, and now when I run it no longer feels like someone is repeatedly punching me in the stomach :) This short article and video talks about how even a small amount of running (or walking!) can have positive health benefits. Not to mention the benefits for our mental health.

'Eat Up': How Cultural Messages Can Lead To Eating Disorders

 Although I would argue that it’s a variety of factors - not just cultural messages - that lead to eating disorders, I decided to “pick” this article because I do believe that we often neglect to consider cultural differences in the messages people are given about food, weight, and shape.  In this article, women of various cultural backgrounds share their stories and the need for culturally relevant treatments is discussed.

Who doesn’t want more “loving kindness” in their lives?! Meditation teacher and clinical psychologist Tara Brach defines loving kindness as, “embracing ourselves and all beings with a full and tender loving presence.” In this 22 minute loving kindness meditation, Tara Brach helps us cultivate a tender, loving acceptance for and awareness of ourselves and others. Loving kindness is immensely beneficial not only for ourselves, but our relationships and the world around us. Let Tara Brach guide you!

Beauty Refined: 5-Step Game Plan to Feel Better About Your Body  

For many of us, feeling consistently good about our bodies is a foreign experience. The founders of Beauty Redefined are passionate, inspiring women who hope to help us do just that. Check out this article for tips on how to feel better about your body and counter the not-so-body-positive messages we are bombarded with every day!

 Emotionally Vague

Have you ever found it difficult to describe what you’re feeling? Emotionally Vague is a research project about the body and emotions asking: How do people feel anger, joy, fear, sadness, and love? It turns out, words are not the only way to describe what we’re feeling. Click on “results” to see the multitude of ways people experience and express emotions.

 “There’s More to Life Than Being Happy”

If we only pursued happiness in our lives, would we be satisfied and fulfilled? This article by Emily Esfahani featured in The Atlantic explores what it means to lead a meaningful life and how giving oneself to others, experiencing negative events and suffering, and having a clearly defined purpose contribute to meaning. 


This eating disorder monitoring and management app from Recovery Warriors is exceptionally comprehensive and easy-to-use. In addition to a food journal, it’s jam-packed with inspiring content and useful activities and tips, including motivational quotes, mindfulness and body image and other recovery exercises (e.g., thinking about what “recovery” means to you), and tips for what to do in times of distress.


“The real delight in life is what is happening right now” (Chris Hadfield). Check out this short clip featuring retired Canadian astronaut, philosopher, musician, and generally awesome person Chris Hadfield as he discusses how to appreciate the seemingly insignificant moments of our day-to-day lives.

Money has commonly been considered a powerful motivator when it comes to performance. In this short and engaging RSA Animate video, based on Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us, widespread beliefs about motivation are called into question, including the effectiveness of money as a motivator. Using fun and easy-to-understand illustrations, this video describes research showing that autonomy, mastery, and purpose can help us not only perform better at work but feel more fulfilled.

Andrea's Picks

Andrea's Picks


Local non-profit targeting body positivity in youth!

As a psychologist who sees clients struggling with self-esteem issues, something that often comes up in session is body dissatisfaction. In today’s society, we are bombarded with messages that our bodies need improvement, so it’s no wonder that most people report dissatisfaction and wanting to change their appearance. As a result, I am encouraged (and excited!) when I hear about positive influences in the media working on fostering body positivity in youth (bonus: happening in Montreal!). One of these positive movements is “Bien avec Mon Corps” who recently launched their website. Their mission is to help individuals feel better in their bodies and have greater self-esteem. They are also creating awareness about the importance of body positivity and preventing body dissatisfaction in youth. Check it out!


We're hearing more and more about the importance of self-compassion in the media these days. What exactly is self-compassion and how does a person work on improving their ability to be compassionate towards themselves? If you've found yourself asking yourself these questions or if if you've noticed that you have a tendency to be kinder to others than you are with yourself, The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook is a great tool full of practical exercises and strategies that can help. Check it out!


Looking for a fun way to foster a growth mindset in the little ones in your life? I was, and recently discovered the Big Life Journal; it’s a colourful (and fun!) tool developed for kids. The introduction encourages little ones to do some of the exercises with a “journal buddy” so the journal is a great tool for building resilience and confidence in kids, and the exercises allow you to connect with your child in a meaningful way. The creators of the journal also offer some free growth mindset printables for children on their website; you won’t regret checking this out! 

The Self-Care Revolution

We hear a lot about self-care these days, but what does it really mean and how do we actually practice self-care? Psychologist Suzy Reading, PhD has written an awesome book called The Self-Care Revolution: smart habits and simple practices to allow you to flourish.

Suzy uses a storytelling approach and shares both her personal experience and professional expertise making this not only an informative and helpful book but also a very enjoyable read. You’ll discover what Suzy calls her “vitality wheel” which includes eight areas in our lives in which we can incorporate ways boost our health, happiness and general well-being. I enjoyed it immensely myself and have found the strategies very helpful for my clients (not to mention for myself- it also makes a great gift idea!). I hope you treat yourself to checking this gem out, it won’t disappoint! 

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

It has been well documented in the literature that our parenting style/practices styles have an impact on our children, both on their development and their well-being (see Joseph & John, 2008, Bornstein & Bornstein 2014, and O’Connor & Scott, 2007).

Have you ever felt discouraged or ineffective (helpless and frustrated?!) when trying to communicate with your child (please tell me I’m not the only one who finds herself asking the same question repeatedly before getting a response from her child!). “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish) is a wonderful book to help parents learn the skills to communicate more effectively with their child(ren), or for anyone wanting to communicate more efficiently with any of the children in their lives. Written in a way that is down to earth (yes, they admit to making parenting mistakes; haven’t we all been there?) they provide practical and accessible strategies to help improve your communication with your precious little ones. Who doesn’t want a tool to help strengthen their relationship with their child? I highly recommend checking out this book, or even checking out one of the many workshops based on the principles outlined in the book. In fact, there are a few currently being held around the city of Montreal (see www.kiddoactive.com/workshop-for-parents.html OR www.federationcja.org/en/event/how-to0talk-so-kids-will-listen-15019/).


I had picked this book up to read with my own children (who love it!) and found it could also be helpful as a tool in therapy with children when helping them with social skills training, etc. I have since discovered that it is used in several schools abroad (ex. Australia) to help encourage positive behaviours in classrooms and as an educational tool for anti-bullying behaviour. Studies have shown that promoting children’s social and emotional learning in the classroom can have a positive impact on children in a number of ways such as a more positive attitude, better academic performance, fewer conduct problems and less aggressive behaviour and less emotional distress (Durlak et al., 2011). A study among Canadian tweens found that students who extended more kindness towards others report improved greater well-being (Layous et al., 2012). "Have you Filled a Bucket Today" is a wonderful book that helps to encourage children to be kind with others and encourages more positive behaviours. Metaphors about filling and dipping into an invisible bucket are used in the story to help children understand the possible effects their behaviour may have on others and on themselves (for example, the rewarding effect of being kind and caring towards others which helps to fill buckets and more negative behaviour is referred to as bucket dipping). I highly recommend checking it out with the special little ones in your lives!

Parents, it’s time to make your self-care a priority (yes, I am adding something to your to-do list, but you’re going to thank me for it soon enough!)

This is a wonderful article aimed at parents on the importance of taking time for self-care. Prioritizing self-care is something I often find myself talking about with my clients, particularly with parents of babies or young children (often its mothers of young little ones, because most my clients are women). Many of the mothers I see in the office challenge me by saying that they just don’t have time for self-care because they have too much going on. It’s because of these reports of feeling that they have “too much going on” that makes me emphasize the importance of taking time for self-care. As the popular saying goes: “you cannot pour from an empty cup”.  Its well-known that self-care is important in maintaining good mental and physical health. Data from the Well-being Module from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) also revealed that parents reported parenting as their most meaningful activity but also as being the most exhausting (as reported in Wang 2013), suggesting that self-care in parents might be of even greater importance in maintaining good mental and physical health. In her article, Lindsey (2017) shares different strategies for scheduling time for self-care, including some she experimented with herself! I highly recommend parents (or any care provider for that matter) take a few minutes to check out the article for some helpful tips on making self-care a priority. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish! Self-care means giving the world the best of you, instead of what is left of you.

Helping our children through the use of mindfulness

Sitting still like a frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) written by Eline Snel - This is a fabulous book accompanied by a CD that was recently recommended to me by another mother at my children’s school. The book includes a series of meditation/mindfulness exercises and is accompanied by a CD of audio recordings of the exercises and they are narrated by Myla Kabat-Zinn (Jon Kabat-Zinn’s wife!). Myla Kabat-Zinn has a very soothing voice which helps to foster feelings of calm and relaxation. I have had the pleasure of trying a couple of the recordings out with my own children and have found that not only do they appear (and report!) to enjoy them, I can see they are more relaxed once they have done the exercises (and I admit to feeling more relaxed and centered as well when I join in. Win-win!). Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness not only reduces feelings of stress, but also anxiety and depression in children (Raes et al., 2014). I found listening to these exercises to be a great way to connect with my little ones while helping them develop a valuable life skill (and all in under 10 minutes!). I highly recommend checking it out and giving it a try with your children. The audio recordings of the exercise are offered for free on the publisher’s website at www.shambhala.com/sittingstilllikeafrog. The last recording on the CD (“sleep tight”) is ideal for incorporating into a child’s bedtime routine. It’s also available online and if it helps get the kiddos to sleep more easily, that is worth a try (parents of young kiddos, isn’t getting the kids to sleep without a fuss something we are all after?). Enjoy!

In her Ted talk, former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford, Julie Lythcott-Haims, discusses the risks of a style of parenting known as helicopter parenting. In her passionate (a little intense at times!), honest, witty and very convincing talk, she shares an important message about the disservice well intentioned parents are doing when micromanaging their children’s lives and imposing perfectionistic standards on their kids. She encourages parents to be less obsessed with our children’s success and to put more effort into helping them develop autonomy (give them chores!), genuinely connecting with them and expressing our unconditional love to them. Her suggestions are based on findings from The Harvard Grant Study (George E. Vaillant’s “Triumphs of Experience”), that demonstrated that professional success is linked to having done chores as a kid, and that genuine happiness comes from connections/relationships with others. Lythcott-Haims also has a book called “How to Raise an Adult” which I have yet to check out, but it’s on my reading list for 2017!


"The Dog Who Chased His Tail" by Greg March is a beautiful children’s story that introduces the concept of mindfulness. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child while reading and introducing the idea of how we can quiet our busy mind to improve our focus. We have been hearing more and more about mindfulness and its benefits in children, and studies have demonstrated its benefits, such as reduced symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (Raes et al., 2014). A review of the literature (Burke, 2009) also provided support for the feasibility and openness to mindfulness interventions in children and adolescents, but maintains that more rigorous research is needed to demonstrate its efficacy.  


Want a quick self-care break during a busy day? Studies have demonstrated that we can change how we feel simply by focusing on our breath (Brown & Gerbarg 2012; Philippot et al. 2002). Check out this short but effective visual/animated breathing exercise, it’s a great little tool to help slow down your breathing if you’re feeling stressed out or anxious and don’t have much time. Give it a try!


Check out this awesome podcast on the Goodlife project interviewing Dr. Shefali, author of the “Awakened Family”, “The Conscious Parent”, and “Out of Control”.  In this enjoyable interview, Dr. Shefali shares with us a little about her past and her inspirational journey. She helps us understand the importance of being mindful of our children’s journey in allowing them to figure out who they are for themselves, and letting go of what we want and try to impose on them (often related to things we need to work on ourselves!). Conscious parenting she explains involves letting go of our own agenda for our children’s future and respecting their own desires and path. Enjoy this engaging and entertaining and inspiring podcast; and check out one of her books! They’re sure not to disappoint!

Check out this inspiring TedTalk by Andy Puddicombe, the creator of Headspace, the popular meditation app so many people are talking about and using (in fact, there are over 5 million Headspace users worldwide!). Puddicombe cites a study that demonstrated that humans tend to spend 47% of their day thinking about something other than what’s actually going on in the present moment and that this type of thinking contributes to feelings of unhappiness (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010). Puddicombe enlightens us to some of the benefits of taking just a mere 10 minutes a day to do "nothing" by engaging in the present moment.


Our local Montreal media has published a couple of stories recently to try and help increase awareness and reduce stigma associated with perinatal mood disorders (postpartum depression and/or anxiety, etc). Approximately 20% of women experiences clinical depression or anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum, and yet many don't get the help and support they need. Please spread the word about the wonderful work being done by MotherWit to provide a weekly support group (free of charge!) that meets regularly as well as a private closed Facebook group started by a Montreal mother (interviewed in the Montreal Gazette article below) allowing new mothers to support one and other (see Facebook group, Maternal Mental Wellness: by Moms for Moms.).

Please see the following articles for more information:

In this brief and entertaining TedTalk, Arianna Huffington talks about the importance of sleep. Huffington points out that in our society, people tend to brag about sleep deprivation, as if getting less sleep is something to be proud of?! In her witty talk (guaranteed to get a couple of giggles watching it!), she shares with us that, in fact, sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on one’s happiness, productivity and success. Research has also demonstrated that sleep deprivation can contribute to lower emotional intelligence (Killgore et al. 2008) and lower performance at work (Kessler et al. 2011). On that note, I think I’ll go catch some ZZZ’s! 

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

For a long time, it was a common belief that hard work alone led to success, and that, in turn, this success would result in happiness. Studies in the area of positive psychology have proved that, in fact, the opposite is true: happiness fuels performance and success. In this fascinating book, Achor outlines his seven principles on how we can apply what he refers to as the “Happiness Advantage” to develop a happier mindset, which ultimately has a positive impact on our performance and success. I enjoyed this book so much, particularly because it included so many practical and helpful strategies. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post where I will share some of his strategies with you! 

In this engaging and entertaining TedTalk, Guy Winch points out that we teach our children to take care of their physical health but neglect to teach them about the importance of taking care of their mental health. I hadn’t heard of Guy Winch until recently and I was intrigued when I stumbled upon his Ted Talk, which I enjoyed immensely. He’s a very likeable speaker and his wittiness adds to one’s enjoyment of his talk.  Winch points out that we are often quick to see the doctor when we have a flu or a cold, but yet when faced with more difficult psychological challenges we have a tendency to try and figure things out on our own rather than seek professional help. He argues that we should take care of our mental health with as much care and attention as we do our physical health and he gives interesting examples of how to practice what he refers to as “emotional first aid”. The importance of mental health being overlooked is nothing new; just a couple of years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO; see http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/) reported that mental disorders such as depression are the leading cause of disability worldwide. What are we waiting for? Let’s start taking better care of our mental health and teaching our children to do the same! 

Tim Ferris and Jane McGonigal podcast: Getting More Done with Less Stress and the Health Benefits of Gaming

Wow! This was a fascinating podcast about the benefits of playing games on our well being in addition to our ability to be resilient. McGonigal talks about fascinating research on the benefits of using games and play. Research has demonstrated games to be helpful for overcoming head trauma, reducing the risk of developing PTSD after witnessing a trauma, reducing anxiety, helping to change a habit, etc. (Roepke, Jaffee, Riffle, McGonigal, Broome, & Bez, 2015). Looks like I have found a great excuse to play a little Tetris everyday! See this article describing the effects of "Superbetter" (McGonigal’s game) on depression, anxiety and general well being.

Jessica Lahey’s book, The Gift of Failure

 Parents, have you ever found yourself wondering if you are doing the right thing when it comes to your kids? In this recently published book, Jessica Lahey’s message echoes something we have heard more and more about in the media: Well-intentioned and loving parents who believe they are helping their kids are actually doing more damage than good when they hover. In her book she explains that in today’s society we have a tendency to be “overprotective” or “overparent” which, despite our good intentions, is actually doing our kids more harm than good. As a psychologist who works with children and their parents and as a parent of two young kids myself, Jessica Lahey’s message really hit home. This book does not disappoint!

Mandala coloring books

 You’ve probably noticed these “adult coloring books” around the bookstores and gift shops lately. They are becoming more and more popular. According to this Huffington Post article in July 2015 6 of the top 20 books being sold on amazon were adult coloring books! Read more about how coloring may actually have stress-reducing benefits. Get in touch with your inner child and try one out today!

 Check out this link to try a free adult coloring page. 

 In this engaging and entertaining TedTalk; Shawn Achor shares some interesting findings on happiness and success. He explains that contrary to what many of us believe (success breeds happiness), in fact, it is happiness that breeds success! If you want to learn more and even pick up a few tips on how to bring more happiness into your life, check out his TED talk. I challenge you to get through it without a giggle, not only is Shawn Achor an engaging speaker, he has a great sense of humour that shines through in this talk. Enjoy!

Check out this short video on how Shawn Achor’s “Happy Secret to Better Work” TED Talk inspired a couple of University students to engage in a random act of kindness during exam period. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to carry out your own random act of kindness? I have a couple of ideas to try myself after watching this! Let’s get our happy on! 

Cited as being one of the most successful Ted talks of all time (over 20 million views!), this is a powerful and engaging talk on living a fuller life by allowing ourselves to be authentic and vulnerable. Truly inspiring!

 Pacifica app

This self-help app is based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and can be helpful for managing stress and anxiety. A great tool that can be used on its own or in combination with therapy for extra support applying techniques in between sessions.

 “Achieve more by doing less”

See the June 2015 issue of Mindful Magazine for full article.

A quick read by Christine Carter featured in Mindful Magazine with a great message: Don’t let busyness become a badge of honour. It is possible to be productive, yet do less and come out feeling great! Who wouldn’t want that? 

One of the most frequently viewed Ted Talks!  Amy Cuddy is a captivating speaker with an inspiring life story. In this Ted Talk, she shares her research findings on how our body language has an impact not only on how others perceive us, but also on our body chemistry, which in turn, has an impact on how we feel. Bring on the power poses! 


This is basically a simple guided meditation, which allows you to choose a 5, 10, 15, or 20-minute meditation. You can choose to have your meditation accompanied by music or a choice of pleasant nature sounds. A great tool for those looking for an initiation to guided meditation. 


This is a great tool to help motivate you to become more active. There are a number of different models available, but my personal pick is the Flex. Discreetly worn on your wrist like you would a bracelet, this little gadget tracks your steps and distance. It has a feature that allows you to track the quality of your sleep at night and can also be used as an alarm. There is an accompanying app available which allows you to sync your stats wirelessly and track your progress on your Smartphone and even support your friends with a Fitbit. A fun motivating tool!