Viewing entries tagged
Montreal

Stéphanie's Picks

Stéphanie's Picks

 
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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?


Jacinthe's Picks

Jacinthe's Picks

 
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L'AGILITÉ ÉMOTIONNELLE

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».  


Maeve's Picks

Maeve's Picks

 
 

WHO DOESN'T LOVE FREE RESOURCES?

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!


PSYCHOLOGICAL TOOLS FOR CHRONIC PAIN

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.


MENTAL HEALTH FOR MEN - RECOGNIZING AND MANAGING DEPRESSION

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!


THE HAPPINESS TRAP

“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.


LET’S GIVE OUR YOUTH PERMISSION TO FAIL

“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!


“ACT IN CONTEXT” PODCAST

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.


TALKING TO YOUR TEEN ABOUT MARIJUANA

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.


HANDLING GRIEF IN THE CLASSROOM AND BEYOND

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.


CHECKING IN WITH YOUR SHENPA

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)

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ON FEAR

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!


YOUR PERSONALIZED DRINKING PROFILE

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.


CREATING YOUR MINDFULNESS PRACTICE WITH AN EASY APP

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!


MINDFULNESS AND CREATIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE

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.

Tobey's Picks

Tobey's Picks

 
 

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!


RECOGNIZING EATING DISORDERS IN TIME TO HELP

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.


EATING DISORDER RECOVERY

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.


SELF-COMPASSION – CONCRETE TOOLS TO SHOW YOU HOW!

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.


THE HAPPINESS TRAP

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.


THE FIVE THIEVES OF HAPPINESS: HOW OUR MINDSET CAN BE OUR MAIN OBSTACLE

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.


HOW TO BUILD RESILIENCE IN KIDS

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.


HOW TO HELP BOYS EXPRESS THEIR FEELINGS

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.


ARE WE MEANT TO BE HAPPY? OR WHOLE?

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.


WHEN TO LET GO

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.


OUR NEVER-ENDING SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS

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.


SHOULD PARENTS TALK TO THEIR KIDS ABOUT THEIR WEIGHT? 

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.


CAN PERSONALITY BE CHANGED?

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

 
 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

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...


HAVING TROUBLE FEELING HAPPY?

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!).


STOP, BREATHE & THINK APP

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

 
 


CHECK IT OUT - TREVOR NOAH’S “BORN A CRIME”

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!


EST-CE QUE TU AURAIS UNE RÉFÉRENCE POUR… ???

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!


JE STRESSE, TU STRESSES, NOUS STRESSONS!

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

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!).

Lisa's Picks

Lisa's Picks

 
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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.


STARING AT THE SUN

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!


MORE LISTENING, LESS ADVICE-GIVING

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!


DANCE LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING!

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 :)


LEARNING HOW TO THINK ABOUT EMOTIONS ALL OVER AGAIN

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!


HEALING TRAUMA THROUGH OUR BODIES AND MINDS

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


WHEN THERE’S NO ROOM FOR SELF-CRITICISM

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.


CONFRONTING OFFENSIVE COMMENTS

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!


COPING WITH CHRONIC PAIN

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.


VULNERABILITY, TRAUMA, AND MINDFULNESS

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. 


CONNECTION AND MEANING AT BURNING MAN

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. 


DEBUNKING MYTHS ABOUT SUICIDE

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.


THAT INTRIGUING FEELING OF AWE

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.


BRENÉ BROWN: THE ANATOMY OF TRUST

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.


MARIA KONNIKOVA ON LEARNING RESILIENCE

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.


A SHOCKINGLY SMALL AMOUNT OF RUNNING CAN BOOST YOUR HEALTH

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. 


RISE UP AND RECOVER APP

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.


CHRIS HADFIELD'S ADVICE ON APPRECIATING THE NOW

“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.