Viewing entries tagged
mindfulness

Geneviève's Picks

Geneviève's Picks

 
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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!


Zhen's Picks

Zhen's Picks

 
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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!

通过心理调试治愈节后综合症

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.


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.

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.


Michelle's Picks

Michelle's Picks

 
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WHEREVER YOU GO THERE YOU ARE – JON KABAT-ZINN

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.   


7 STRANGE QUESTIONS THAT HELP YOU FIND YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE – MARK MANSON

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

 
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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.


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!


THE MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION WORKBOOK

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!


 A TOOL FOR FOSTERING A GROWTH MINDSET FOR LITTLE ONES! 

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/).


HAVE YOU FILLED A BUCKET TODAY? A GUIDE TO DAILY HAPPINESS FOR KIDS BY CAROL MCCLOUD  

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!


HELPING OUR CHILDREN BECOME MORE MINDFUL

"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.  


A QUICK BREATHING EXERCISE TO HELP YOU DE-STRESS ON A BUSY DAY!

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!


AN INSPIRING WAY TO LOOK AT OUR ROLE AS PARENTS: CONSCIOUSLY AND AWAKENED!

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.


LOCAL WEEKLY SUPPORT GROUP FOR WOMEN EXPERIENCING PERINATAL DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY

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! 


SIMPLY BEING APP

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. 


FITBIT

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! 


Jodie's Picks

Jodie's Picks

 
 

Is your phone getting in the way of truly connecting with yourself & others?

As a psychologist one of the most important prescriptions I suggest to my clients is to talk to a friend or loved one. When we share in conversation, we feel less alone, and it makes the hard stuff of life more bearable. As technology takes a bigger place in our world it seems to be pushing out the space for conversation. Instead of turning to a friend to talk about something difficult we can check the likes on our most recent post to get a shot of feeling good. In this ted talk Sherry Turkle talks about how our constant connections on our devices work “like a symptom, not a cure”. We’re constantly connecting to get away from our difficult emotions but never getting what we really need. She suggests how we can develop a more self-aware relationship with our devices, our relationships and ourselves.


The empathy bear (thanks Brené Brown!)

Here is a video I absolutely adore and would highly recommend if you are:  

  1. Wondering why it might help to talk to a close friend about how you are feeling about something difficult in your life (rather that keeping it to yourself). Who can be an empathy bear for you?

  2. You are learning how to be a wise, empathic friend to yourself, rather than a critic or a cheerleader. Can you find your inner empathy bear?

Enjoy! Makes me tear every time (in a good way). 

Watch it here: Brené Brown on Empathy.

It can also be found on Brené Brown’s video webpage: https://brenebrown.com/videos/


HELP YOUR KIDS FEEL HEALTHY: BODY & MIND!

My pick for the month is a great book I’ve been reading by Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer called “I’m like so fat! Helping your teen make healthy choices about eating and exercise in a weight-obsessed world”. I picked it up in preparation for a workshop I’m doing for parents who want to help protect their kids from developing both obesity and eating disorders. This is quite a job for parents in the toxic environment in which we live! As Dianne Neumark-Sztainer puts it in her book, our social environment is one that "pushes fat but rewards thin, encouraging us to overeat and be sedentary, yet stay unrealistically thin and muscular". In the book she helps parents understand that while their kids eating and body issues are not the fault of the parent, there is indeed a lot that parents can do to try to mitigate the risk for their children. She provides questions and worksheets to help you understand the risk factors and protective factors for your children and gives concrete tips for how you can help. For example, did you know that the simplest tradition of having family meals is associated with tons of positive outcomes for teens including healthier diet, less unhealthy weight-control behaviours, less unhealthy behaviours like smoking, alcohol and drugs and less depressive symptoms? And that just telling your kids that it’s normal to sometimes hate their body can help them tolerate those difficult days without resorting to dieting or other unhealthy weight-control behaviours. I learned a lot for my own kids while reading this book! 


WANT A TOOL TO HELP YOU GET TO THE GYM? TRY “TEMPTATION BUNDLING”…

We all have things in our life we know we really should do but have difficulty doing. Exercise, going to the doctor, writing a thank you card… So, we either try to push ourselves to get them done through sheer willpower or we pretend they aren’t that important anyways or that we’ll get around to them when we have enough time. Well they are important. And you do have enough time (think about your TV watching or internet surfing hours). It’s just hard to get motivated to do some things, and often these tend to be important things for our health or well-being. That’s why Katherine Milkman, Associate Professor of Operations, Information & Decisions at The University of Pennsylvania, decided to devote her career to the study of human behavior and how to make behavior change stick. In this Freakonomics episode, When willpower isn’t enough, she presents a great tool called “temptation bundling” in which you pair a behavior you are highly motivated to do with a behavior you have little motivation to do. And, she finds that if you do this you’ll have better chances of doing those good for you but not so enticing behaviours! For example, you might decide to only watch your favorite TV shows at the gym (like she does) or reward yourself with a day off of work when you finally get your mammogram. I started only listening to my favorite podcasts while running and it works to keep me more motivated! 


THESE GUYS DON'T MESS AROUND SO BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEY TELL YOU HOW YOU CAN HAVE MORE SUCCESS IN YOUR JOB (AND LIFE)! 

Wow, I love these guys at 80,000 hours! If you don’t know them they research and write about how to do good in the world through your 80,000 working hours (i.e., your job).  They are thorough, real and I love their endeavor! Recently they also applied that same rigor to writing an article on how to be most successful in your job (and in life in general). Guess what? #1 is self-care and #2 is prioritizing your mental health. Yes! Please read


CAN WEIGHT LOSS WORK? YES IT CAN. THIS OBESITY DOCTOR TELLS YOU HOW.

Here’s one of my favorite articles that gets real about obesity (and is easily digestible). Fact: losing weight and keeping it off is hard for many reasons outside of our control, but it’s not impossible. As a psychologist specializing in weight and eating I’ve seen long-term weight loss work in many individuals with obesity. This article written by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff is a great account of why and how long-term weight loss can work combining the clinical experience of a doctor and the latest research on the subject. Best and most helpful line from the article in my opinion: “The key to your success is actually liking the life and diet you're living with while you're losing weight”.


I had the pleasure of spending two days in a workshop with this bright and passionate woman, Christina Crook. In 2012 she decided to do a one-month detox from the Internet and wrote a letter each day to a friend about her experiences, which were mailed then posted to a blog. In the end, she wrote a book that married her experience with research, entitled The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. In this inspiring TED Talk Christina tells us her story and gives us tips on how to manage our technology use so that we are more present in our day-to-day lives, our relationships, our communities and more. You too can experience the Joy of Missing Out! 


Dr. BJ Fogg, innovator, behavior scientist and teacher at Stanford University talks about his model for long-term behaviour change in this informative TED Talk. He teaches us that there are essentially two ways to produce long-term change: 1) change your environment, 2) tiny habits. In this talk he walks us through how to create tiny habits that will help us reach those long-term goals we never thought we’d be able to reach for ourselves. 


RETHINKING EXERCISE AS A SOURCE OF IMMEDIATE REWARDS

This short article from the New York Times is one of my favorite ones to send to people who are trying to make exercise a habit. It highlights research by Dr. Michelle Segar, director of the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center at the University of Michigan, which shows that people who are motivated for exercise by long-term goals like weight loss or health are actually not that likely to do it. So, what does motivate us for exercise? Focusing on immediate rewards that enhance daily life, like increased mood, more energy, stress relief or connection with friends and family. This doesn’t mean you cannot exercise for health it just means you’ll be most effective if you can find some more immediate reward to focus on to make your healthy habit stick!


I looked into the concept of psychological safety in the workplace after reading an article by Charles Duhigg about Google’s quest to find out what makes the perfect team. What they found was that the best predictor of a great team did not have to do with who made it up, but instead the group norms of the team, more specifically something called psychological safety. Defined loosely, psychological safety means that team members listen to one another and show sensitivity to others feelings and needs. Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, Amy Edmondson, has spent many years researching this construct and explains in this video why it is so important for a thriving workplace.


The UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

This amazing organization brings together science and public policy in order to promote solutions to childhood obesity, poor diet, and weight bias. They promote evidence-based solutions and are committed to “holding the food industry, media, government, and others that affect the food environment accountable for their actions”. One key message to take away is that shaming and blaming people about their weight is not helpful, in fact it is interfering with efforts to improve public health! For more information on why this is you can read about Dr. Rebecca Puhl’s research in this New York Times article, Is Fat Stigma Making us Miserable? I would also highly recommend, especially for health care professionals, that you take a look at Dr. Puhl’s presentation, Obesity Stigma: Implications for Patients and Providers.


Want to make a big impact in your career? This non-profit organization, founded by Benjamin Todd and Professor Will MacAskill, is dedicated to helping people have the biggest social impact through their approximately 80,000 working hours. Over one-third of young graduates say they want to have an impact in their career but many people do not know how to best do this and either end up walking away from the idea (and feeling like a “sell out”) or feeling discouraged in a low-impact job. One article I like, Don’t Follow your Passion explains why follow your passion is actually pretty bad advice and talks about a different formula for finding the most satisfying career: Do What’s Valuable. You can also check out this TEDx Talk about it here.  


Professor Sherry Turkle on “Being Owned by Your Phone”

In this episode of Good Life Project MIT Professor Sherry Turkle shares her knowledge on how our cell phones are affecting our relationships with people, including our professors, our friends, our colleagues and even our children. Although technology does a lot for us we have to remember that we are vulnerable to what it does to us. She gives the example of a father who realizes that with his first child bath time was a “sacred moment” and now bath time with his second child is a “good chance to catch up on emails”. She talks about how students miss out on opportunities to bounce ideas off professors because they refuse to go talk to them in person. She makes the suggestion that we accept our vulnerability and make some rules for ourselves about when to use and when not to use our phones in order to ensure we don’t lose the important human qualities found in conversation, empathy, and even solitude. 


Headspace

This website offers multiple platforms from which to learn the science and practice of mindfulness meditation. Check out their blog & podcast at Headspace Daily. Download their mobile app for free to try 10 minutes of mindfulness per day. I recommend this site to many of my friends and clients!


Great talk demystifying stress as the enemy. She presents some interesting research findings suggesting that the negative effects of stress are only found in individuals who think stress is bad for them. Find out how to change the way you see stress in order to decrease the negative effects of stress and find the positive benefits in it.


In this podcast from the Good Life Project Dr. Wendy Suzuki, neuroscientist and NYU professor does some myth busting around the brain. She discusses how to best optimize our brains including her research on the benefits of exercise for the brain.