Since 2009, IGM has been working with education institutions, primarily with students, to better understand mental health and its effects on youth.
Early in 2020, along with others, we identified that the pandemic would afflict the education systems. The loss of routines, the joy of seeing students interact and learn, and the lack of well-being of their students. In fact, it has created more chaos than anyone could have anticipated.
Educators, administrators and entire districts have been reeling for over two years. They have been asked and required to do much more than their job descriptions state. They have been asked to keep the students safe when allowed in school, and when not; forced to teach online and to keep them engaged through a screen where they cannot control the environment. All the while still managing their own families at home.
Teachers and administrators are often informed just as we the public are, and with less than ample time to make the necessary arrangements. They have to scramble to move lessons online; they have to figure out what to do with their children. Balance is impossible as they adapt as best they can to support our children.
The education system is far from perfect. It is demanding and full of ego; the culture can be toxic. It is hard not to shed a tear when listening to their shared stories. It is often the case that those who care deeply for the well-being of others do not take care of themselves.
These human beings have been pushed to the limit. Like the rest of us, they are at a loss for words as no words can describe the state of the world today. Days are filled with uncertainty, fear, and worry. Unfortunately, this contributes to unhealthy mindsets and will lead to afflictions that will change generations to come.
Students are suffering. Some children do not know school without a mask. Students who have done what has been asked have been denied their graduation ceremony, which marks a significant achievement in their young lives. They have been disappointed countless times and are not growing up in an environment that will help develop valuable life skills. They are learning the opposite, to not trust others, to judge the values of others, and all of this contributes to them growing up with excessive stress and social anxiety. These afflictions will alter the generations to come and the fallout will likely be far more significant than we can imagine today.
The system is in trouble; the individuals are battling every day. Experienced teachers are quitting; young teachers are questioning themselves and the choice they made. Students are not considering teaching as a career. Why would they? The result of this is going to cause more and more issues in the future. What will happen when we do not have enough teachers in the future to educate the next generation?
Here’s the good news, we can help them. We can show patience and understanding. It is not their choice to shut down schools. They suffer as much as everyone else, if not more. We can support the people who have one of the most important jobs in our society. We can make sure the next generation is better than we are.
The children are our future, and we need to do all that we can to support our teachers. These are the people who have dedicated their lives to making sure our kids are educated and understand the importance of learning. A thankless job at times, a demanding job always.
So the next time you get frustrated by the restrictions, the shutdowns, or the fact that our kids have to wear masks to school, please remember, our teachers are a courageous group that we need to appreciate and support. They are doing their jobs in a system that is in distress. If you are a teacher or a support staff member working within a school or online school, please reach out to us at [email protected] for information about our complimentary 50-minute IGM Mental Wealth presentation. We would love to provide this complimentary presentation to you and your coworkers to support mental well-being within the education system.
Over the past 24 months, we have seen a multitude of mental health issues growing within all demographics of our work at IGM.
Illnesses such as toxic stress, which is one’s inability to manage their stress, is causing mental, emotional and physical problems. Social anxiety is another issue we have seen increase dramatically. People have become fearful of other humans and going to public places. A sneeze in a grocery store can send people into a frenzy, and handshakes are almost like dinosaurs, a thing of the past.
One significant issue we have seen is the amount of stress young people are experiencing. We have attributed this to how adults manage their stress.
As someone who battled for years managing my own stress, I always thought I was hiding it from others. But what I was doing was lying to myself. We cannot think properly when we live under unhealthy stress, we call this; lizard brain. It is when we are using the lowest functioning part of our brains, and no rational thinking can occur here. Our ego is activated in an unhealthy manner, and we go into self-preservation mode. I like to call this ‘the box’.
While living in ‘the box’, we think we are protecting ourselves. We blame others for our circumstances and we judge others for their behaviours. Sometimes we begin the pity party and feel sorry for ourselves. None of these are productive behaviours, and yet this is what we are displaying and teaching our children. Giving them the impression that all of this behaviour is ok. It is not.
Our children watch us and they begin to emulate the behaviour. They begin to use words they hear us use. They begin to blame, deflect, condemn and develop their own ‘box’.
These challenging times have exposed our weaknesses, which is terrifying to many. We like our lives to be predictable and safe. However, the last 24 months have removed that usual comfort for all of us.
There are some essential questions we need to ask ourselves.
Do I let my stress affect my kids?
Is my inability to manage my stress affecting my behaviour?
When I am stressed do I lose emotional control of myself?
Do I need to learn some coping skills to manage my stress more effectively?
Do I see my kids showing similar traits in how they are managing their stress? (Shutting down or blowing up)
We know the power of self-reflection. It is something we promote to our clients. Athletes, educators, coaches, business owners, and employees; we all need to take time to reflect. When we do this we can realize where we did well and where we need to improve. We recognize our strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, we can identify where we need to learn and grow.
If you think your stress does not teach your child, student, athlete how to ‘stress’ for themselves, you need to know that it does. Your pain becomes theirs. Your afflictions become theirs. Your stress becomes theirs.
Do yourself and your son or daughter a favour. Do some self-reflection and identify what it is that you may need to learn. The benefits far outweigh the fear that may be stopping you.
When you begin to learn and improve, your children will benefit in more ways than you can imagine.
If you are a parent interested in learning more about stress, the different types of stress, how it affects your loved ones, and what you can do to change the negative outcomes, click here for information about our Understanding Stress for Parents course.
We are honoured to have been presented with this award from the prestigious LUX Global Excellence Awards from LuxLife Magazine for the second consecutive year! We want to thank our clients, sponsors, supporters, teammates and LuxLife magazine. We wouldn’t be here without any of you.
What a year it was, filled with ups and downs, growth and change. We came out the other side better than before despite any challenges we faced. We found opportunity in the chaos; the best kind of opportunity, the kind where you get to help others.
We are grateful for the ways 2020 pushed us, it has helped us be better for you. We discovered new ways to support our clients, ways to touch more lives, and new issues that need to be addressed. We have seen reduced stigma and more courage, but the job isn’t done yet and we will continue to fight for mental wellness for all.
2021 is off to a great start and we have no plans to slow down, keep your eyes peeled for more events, revamped programs and courses, new tribe members and more! See you all this time next year when we complete the threepeat!
This is a summary of the latest significant Canadian () and international suicide research we collected in the past month:
Canadian Patient Safety Institute & Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2021). Suicide risk assessment toolkit: A resource for healthcare workers and organizations. We typically do not include items from the grey literature, but we thought this new resource was deserving of attention. It is an accessible compilation of selected risk assessment tools. Accompanying text include current best practices culled from the research for risk assessment use. This is a major overhaul of a previous edition (2011).
Abstract – Objective: Little is known about people who have been exposed to a suicide attempt by someone they know. The purpose of this study was to examine how many people have been exposed to a suicide attempt by someone they knew and whether the exposure was associated with general well‐being and suicidal ideation. Method: A population‐based online survey was conducted during 2019 in Denmark (n = 6,191). The associations between exposures to suicide attempt and general well‐being (WHO‐5) and suicidal ideation (Suicidal Ideation Attributes Scale) were examined using linear regression analyses. Results: Overall, 24.6% reported having experienced a suicide attempt by someone they knew. Of those, 46.5% had experienced a suicide attempt of a close relation and this group reported having been more affected by the event. Those exposed scored lower on general well‐being (b: −3.0; 95% CI: −4.2 to −1.8; p > 0.001) and higher on suicidal ideation (b: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.3 – 1.9; p = 0.001) than those not exposed. Half of the exposed reported not having received sufficient support after the event. Conclusion: Suicide attempt affects a substantial share of the population, and it might be relevant to ensure that support is available for those exposed perceived to be in need of support.
Leenaars, A., Dieserud, G., & Wenckstern, S. (2020). The mask of suicide. Archives of Suicide Research. DOI: 10.1080/13811118.2020.1851832 Veteran Canadian sucidologist Antoon Leenaars uses tools of the Psychological Autopsy (PA) to investigate the prevalence of dissembling or “masking” among suicidal decedents. This was a study of 120 survivors/informants in Norway.
Abstract – Although it has been stated that the majority of suicidal people give definite warnings of their suicidal intention, a percentage of suicidal people may dissemble (or mask), possibly 20%. The aim of this psychological autopsy (PA) study was to explore the mask of suicide, examining age and sex of the decedent, and survivors’ relationship to the deceased. A PA study in Norway, with 120 survivors/informants, was undertaken. Overall, 80% of informants reported manifest and/or latent content of deception (dissembling); well above the 20% suggested. Three main themes emerged from the interviews of the 95 survivors that were related to the mask. In the opinion of the bereaved, reasons for the mask were due to: 1) Inability to adjust/ impairment; 2) Relational problems; and 3) Weakened resilience. Differences in masking or (self) deception were found in the age of the decedent, but not in sex, nor in the survivors’ closeness of the relationship. Older deceased people were perceived to exhibit more dissembling, associated to the suicide. Limitations are noted in this beginning study into the mask of suicide, and it is concluded that much greater research is needed to unmask the dangerous dissembling, maybe in some, self-deception.
Abstract – Background: Infectious disease-related public health emergencies (epidemics) may increase suicide risk, and high-quality evidence is needed to guide an international response. Aims: We investigated the potential impacts of epidemics on suicide-related outcomes. Method: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, CINAHL, Scopus, Web of Science, PsyArXiv, medRxiv, and bioRxiv from inception to May 13–16, 2020. Inclusion criteria: primary studies, reviews, and meta-analyses; reporting the impact of epidemics; with a primary outcome of suicide, suicidal behavior, suicidal ideation, and/or self-harm. Exclusion criteria: not concerned with suicide-related outcomes; not suitable for data extraction. PROSPERO registration: #CRD42020187013. Results: Eight primary papers were included, examining the effects of five epidemics on suicide-related outcomes. There was evidence of increased suicide rates among older adults during SARS and in the year following the epidemic (possibly motivated by social disconnectedness, fears of virus infection, and concern about burdening others) and associations between SARS/ Ebola exposure and increased suicide attempts. A preprint study reported associations between COVID-19 distress and past-month suicidal ideation. Limitations: Few studies have investigated the topic; these are of relatively low methodological quality. Conclusion: Findings support an association between previous epidemics and increased risk of suicide-related outcomes. Research is needed to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on suicide outcomes.
Abstract – A number of studies have demonstrated elevated risk of suicide in certain occupational groups. We seek to understand a possible new risk factor: suicide contagion, as demonstrated through a suicide cluster analysis. National-level coronial data and census population data were used for the study. We calculated suicide rates to identify “risky” occupations. SaTScan .1 was used to perform Poisson discrete scan statistic. Suicides occurring in arts and media professionals, construction, manufacturing, and skilled animal and horticultural workers seemed to cluster in time and/or space. Those working in construction settings were at risk of being in both time and space clusters.
Grzeda-Isenberg, E., et al. (2020). Suicide attempt after determination of ineligibility for assisted death: A case series. Journal of Pain Symptom Management, 60(1), 158-163. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2020.02.016 Three case studies are presented of patients who attempted suicide after being deemed ineligible for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada. None met the current requirements of having a serious illness, experiencing intolerable suffering, and having a reasonably foreseeable natural death. The authors foresee this period of MAID ineligibility as an emerging category of vulnerability to suicide.
Abstract – Medical assistance in dying (MAID) and similar right-to-die laws are becoming increasingly common in jurisdictions across North America and elsewhere. To be eligible for MAID in Canada, requesters must have a serious illness, intolerable suffering, and a reasonably foreseeable natural death. They must also undergo two assessments to confirm eligibility. Although a growing body of literature now exists to help clinicians understand and support patients around requests for assisted death, a dearth of literature exists on how best to support those patients who are deemed ineligible. Here, we report on a case series of three patients who attempted suicide after being found ineligible for MAID. Two patients were ineligible because they did not appear to have reasonably foreseeable natural death. The third patient was ineligible because of concerns around decisional capacity. All three cases had previous diagnoses of depressive disorders and mild cognitive impairment, and two cases had histories of suicide attempts. In at-risk patients, we speculate that the period surrounding a finding of MAID ineligibility may represent a period of particular vulnerability. Clinicians must be vigilant and prepared for the possibility of heightened risk, including risk of self-harm, after a finding of ineligibility for assisted death.
Abstract – Background: Suicide is a major cause of preventable death globally and a leading cause of death by injury in Canada. To support people who experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors and to ultimately prevent people from dying by suicide, it is important to understand individual and familial experiences with the health care system. Objective: We present the protocol for a study, the objective of which is to explore how people who died by suicide, and their family members, interacted with the health care system. Methods: This is a quantitative research study. Data will be collected through a self-administered paper-based or online survey of the family member of patients who died by suicide. The sample size was calculated to be 385 (margin of error ±3%). Results: Data collection will start in October 2020 and results will be available by March 2021. We expect the results to shed light on the experiences of individuals who died by suicide and their family members with the health care system. The study has received ethical clearance from the Health Ethics Research Board of the University of Alberta (Pro00096342). Conclusions: Our study may inform practice, policy, and future research. The findings may shape how members of the health care system respond to people who are at risk of suicide and their families.
Abstract – Introduction: Transgender and gender diverse people often face discrimination and may experience disproportionate emotional distress that leads to suicide attempts. Therefore, it is essential to estimate the frequency and potential determinants of suicide attempts among transgender and gender diverse individuals. Methods: Longitudinal data on 6,327 transgender and gender diverse individuals enrolled in 3 integrated healthcare systems were analyzed to assess suicide attempt rates. Incidence was compared between transmasculine and transfeminine people by age and race/ethnicity and according to mental health status at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models examined rates and predictors of suicide attempts during follow-up. Data were collected in 2016, and analyses were conducted in 2019. Results: During follow-up, 4.8% of transmasculine and 3.0% of transfeminine patients had at least 1 suicide attempt. Suicide attempt rates were more than 7 times higher among patients aged <18 years than among those aged >45 years, more than 3 times higher among patients with previous history of suicide ideation or suicide attempts than among those with no such history, and 2–5 times higher among those with 1–2 mental health diagnoses and more than 2 mental health diagnoses at baseline than among those with none. Conclusions: Among transgender and gender diverse individuals, younger people, people with previous suicidal ideation or attempts, and people with multiple mental health diagnoses are at a higher risk for suicide attempts. Future research should examine the impact of gender-affirming healthcare use on the risk of suicide attempts and identify targets for suicide prevention interventions among transgender and gender diverse people in clinical settings.
Abstract – To date, little guidance exists on how to design safe and effective online programming on sensitive and/or controversial topics. Massive online open courses (MOOCs) represent a unique opportunity for delivering inclusive and accessible teaching to international learner audiences. This paper provides an insight into designing and delivering the first internationally accessible MOOC on suicide prevention in the global context in 2019-highlighting insights into best practice as well as pertinent challenges. The results from two runs of this MOOC indicate that there appears to be a global demand for education on suicide prevention. Our practice suggests that new knowledge on extremely sensitive topics such as suicide can be safely and effectively delivered through a MOOC to an international community of learners. Learner safety needs to be carefully considered when developing and delivering online learning. Thorough and careful moderation is essential to ensure that learners engage safely and sensitively with the content and with one another. The involvement of diverse stakeholders, including people with lived experience, in the MOOC design is recommended to enhance the authenticity, inclusiveness and rigour of the curriculum.
Sampasa-Kanyinga, H., et al. (2020). 24-hour movement guidelines and suicidality among adolescents. Journal of Affective Disorders, 274, 372-380. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.05.096. Data culled from the 2015-2017 Ontario Drug Use and Health Survey of student in grades 7-12 are used to determine if adherence to the 24-hour movement guidelines affects the frequency of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
Abstract – Background: The 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth recommend ≥60 min/day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, ≤2 h/day of screen time, 9-11 h/night of sleep for 11-13 years and 8-10 h/night for 14-17 years. The objectives of this study were to examine the associations between meeting combinations of the recommendations contained within the 24-hour movement guidelines for children and youth and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, and test whether age and gender moderate these associations. Methods: Data on 10,183 students were obtained from the 2015-2017 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, a representative cross-sectional survey of Ontario students in grades 7-12 (mean [SD] age, 15.2 [1.8] years). Results: Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts were reported by 13.1% and 3.3% of students, respectively. Meeting individual recommendations or combinations of recommendations were differentially associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts between adolescent boys and girls and younger and older (three-way interactions statistically significant for both outcomes). Meeting all 3 recommendations was associated with lower odds of suicidal ideation (OR: 0.24, 95% CI: 0.09 – 0.69) and suicide attempts (OR: 0.08, 95% CI: 0.02 – 0.41) among boys aged 15 to 20 years, but not those aged 11 to 14 years nor girls in both age groups. Limitations: The cross-sectional nature of the data precludes causal inferences and there is possibility of bias related to self-reports. Conclusions: These findings suggest that adherence to the 24-hour movement guidelines among adolescents is related to lower odds of suicidality in older boys.
Abstract – The current review provides a quantitative synthesis of the empirical literature on sleep disturbance as a risk factor for suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs). A systematic search of PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and the references of prior reviews resulted in 41 eligible studies included in this meta-analysis. Sleep disturbance, including insomnia, prospectively predicted STBs, yielding small-to-medium to medium effect sizes for these associations. Complicating interpretation of these findings, however, is that few studies of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, as well as none of suicide deaths, assessed short-term risk (i.e., employed follow-up assessments of under a month). Such studies are needed to evaluate current conceptualizations of sleep dysregulation as being involved in acute risk for suicidal behavior. This want of short-term risk studies also suggests that current clinical recommendations to monitor sleep as a potential warning sign of suicide risk has a relatively modest empirical basis, being largely driven by cross-sectional or retrospective research. The current review ends with recommendations for generating future research on short-term risk and greater differentiation between acute and chronic aspects of sleep disturbance, and by providing a model of how sleep disturbance may confer risk for STBs through neuroinflammatory and stress processes and associated impairments in executive control.
Abstract – There is a growing body of research investigating the impact on mental health professionals of losing a patient through suicide. However, the nature and extent of the impact is unclear. This systematic review synthesizes both quantitative and qualitative studies in the area. The aim was to review the literature on the impact of losing a patient through suicide with respect to both personal and professional practice responses as well as the support received. A search of the major psychological and medical databases was conducted, using keywords including suicide, patient, practitioner, and impact, which yielded 3,942 records. Fifty‐four studies were included in the final narrative synthesis. Most common personal reactions in qualitative studies included guilt, shock, sadness, anger, and blame. Impact on professional practice included self‐doubt and being more cautious and defensive in the management of suicide risk. As quantitative study methodologies were heterogeneous, it was difficult to make direct comparisons across studies. However, 13 studies (total n = 717 practitioners) utilized the Impact of Event Scale, finding that between 12% and 53% of practitioners recorded clinically significant scores. The need for training that is focused on the impact of suicides, and the value placed upon informal support was often cited. The experience of losing a patient through suicide can have a significant impact on mental health professionals, both in terms of their personal reactions and subsequent changes to professional practice. The negative impact, however, may be moderated by cultural and organisational factors and by the nature of support available.
May, A.M., et al. (2020). Motivations for suicide: Converging evidence from clinical and community samples. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 123, 171-177. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.02.010. This study looks at The Inventory of Motivations for Suicide Attempts, a self-report measure to assess potential motivations for suicide. Two distinct groups of people who had experienced a suicide attempt – adult psychiatric patients and community participants recruited online – were issued the tool and their responses were analyzed.
Abstract – Understanding what motivates suicidal behavior is critical to effective prevention and clinical intervention. The Inventory of Motivations for Suicide Attempts (IMSA) is a self-report measure developed to assess a wide variety of potential motivations for suicide. The purpose of this study is to examine the measure’s psychometric and descriptive properties in two distinct populations: 1) adult psychiatric inpatients (n = 59) with recent suicide attempts (median of 3 days prior) and 2) community participants assessed online (n = 222) who had attempted suicide a median of 5 years earlier. Findings were very similar across both samples and consistent with initial research on the IMSA in outpatients and undergraduates who had attempted suicide. First, the individual IMSA scales demonstrated good internal reliability and were well represented by a two factor superordinate structure: 1) Internal Motivations and 2) Communication Motivations. Second, in both samples unbearable mental pain and hopelessness were the most common and strongly endorsed motivations, while interpersonal influence was the least endorsed. Finally, motivations were similar in men and women — a pattern that previous work was not in a position to examine. Taken together with previous work, findings suggest that the nature, structure, and clinical correlates of suicide attempt motivations remain consistent across diverse individuals and situations. The IMSA may serve as a useful tool in both research and clinical contexts to quickly assess individual suicide attempt motivations.
Abstract – Objective: To design a Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithm capable of detecting suicide content from patients’ written communication to their therapists, to support rapid response and clinical decision making in telehealth settings. Method: A training dataset of therapy transcripts for 1,864 patients was established by detecting patient content endorsing suicidality using a proxy-model anchored on therapists’ suicide prevention interventions; human expert raters then assessed the level of suicide risk endorsed by patients identified by the proxy-model (i.e., no risk, risk factors, ideation, method, or plan). A bag-of-words classification model was then iteratively built using the annotations from the expert raters to detect suicide risk level in 85,216 labeled patients’ sentences from the training dataset. Results: The final NLP model identified risk-related content from non-risk content with good accuracy (AUC = 82.78). Conclusions: Risk for suicide could be reliably identified by the NLP algorithm. The risk detection model could assist telehealth clinicians in providing crisis resources in a timely manner. This modeling approach could also be applied to other psychotherapy research tasks to assist in the understanding of how the psychotherapy process unfolds for each patient and therapist.
This is to help you identify anything you might not have noticed. It is not a professional assessment. It is for your own use. It will allow you to start to have a conversation or to look for professional help.
☐ Recent mood swings ☐ Has become more withdrawn in the last 30-60 days ☐ Has become irritated with my requests in the last 30-60 days ☐ Is not eating ☐ Is not sleeping well ☐ Is not hanging out with friends as much in the last 30-60 days ☐ Has wanted to quit their passion recently ☐ Has become defiant and aggressive with me and others ☐ I have noticed bruises/cuts lately ☐ Does not want to communicate about anything ☐ Says “I’m Fine” all the time ☐ Says “Just leave me alone”
These are some things that you can start to be aware of and sit down and take a good look. If you are noticing any of these issues, it is critical to sit and have a conversation ASAP to address.
How to Have the Difficult Conversation
One of the hardest things to do is to try to start a conversation with someone who is in pain. In their minds they are alone and no one can relate or understand what they are going through. Self-Pity is one of the most damaging illnesses that can occur. It stops the person from dealing with reality and can take the Mind to a very dark place.
In the darkness it is difficult to make sound decisions. It is hard to breathe; it is hard to believe that there is a way out.
The first questions are critical to getting the conversation going. Here are some starters.
• I have noticed a change in you recently, has something happened to you?
• I attended a presentation recently that has made me aware of some things that I have done. I want to apologize if any of (insert what you became aware of) have caused you pain. I simply did not realize how my actions have caused issues for you.
• I have not been feeling myself lately and did some research and found that I have some things to learn. I have noticed your behaviour is similar, would you be open to learning some new things together?
• I love you very much and my biggest fear is that I am not providing what you need, can you help me un•derstand what you are dealing with?
These are all great conversation starters and take the guilt and shame off of them and show you are trying to help. Walking the dog, shooting hoops, having a day together is a great way to begin the process in a less intensive way.
Once you have begun to gain their trust and they open up, then you can bring up finding someone to help. Avoid using the words a therapist, a psychologist, a doctor. Simply say let’s find someone that could help us and then research some options together. Layout some timelines to finding the right one. Creating this structure to become healthy allows them to organize it in a way that they can stay focused and positive throughout the process.
When we say the word exploration, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Do you picture a vast Canyon with an open sky? A lake so vast you can’t see the end? Or a field with nothing but flowers and sun.
Whichever you imagine, how do those places make you feel? Does it bring happiness or comfort? Excitement or Danger? Exploring a new place can be all of those emotions and feelings, and it can be important to put yourself out into the world.
Why should I explore new places? You might be asking yourself this question, and you might say “What’s the point?” Oh my friend, there are many opportunities from the exploration of new places and removing ourselves from the chaos that is everyday life, the monotony of it all can be so oppressive that most of us don’t even realize it.
Do you ever feel yourself overwhelmed or run down? Then I have great news. Traveling and the exploration of new places is an amazing stress reducer and happiness booster. You may feel your mind clouded by worries and we all know how much social media wears on our consciousness.
There is also a science behind why exploration is a viable option for stress relief.
Exploration promotes happiness which leads to lower cortisol levels making us feel more calm and content. According to a 2013 study 80% of Americans who were surveyed noticed a drop of stress levels just after a day or two of traveling. When we explore safely, it can be one of the greatest self care acts out there.
If you’re an esteemed artist or just a casual one, exploration can exponentially increase your creativity. Visiting an environment with some sort of local culture can bring new ideas, philosophies, and cognitive flexibility.
We know it sucks to stare at a blank piece of paper and think “Why am I so blocked…” and that’s exactly why we should go to a new place or take a walk to reset our train of thought and inspire new ideas to come forth from visual stimulation.
Even Ernest Hemingway, for example, drew inspiration for much of his work from his time in Spain and France. Now I know not everyone can afford to travel across the world, but even going to a new remote hiking location or new town can promote health and creativity.
It Brings You Out of Your Comfort Zone
A lot of people in modern society have trouble with going out of their comfort zone, especially if it has to do with doing something new. Facing difficulties in an unfamiliar environment, among new people, forces you to learn and adapt to a life that’s out of your comfort zone.
This makes you more flexible, patient and emotionally strong. Exploration of new places can be especially tricky for people who have social anxiety, or people who have agoraphobia or have agoraphobic tendencies.
We’ve personally dealt with having that anxiety of leaving our house and going to a new place…your mind races and you might think “What if I die…What if I get lost…What if I witness something horrible? The number one thing we can tell you is, just do it.
We know how hard it can be, trust us, but every time we’ve left the house and went somewhere new, we’ve enjoyed it and learned many new things, not only about ourselves but about the world. We KNOW you can do it too, but here are some tips to help make you feel more secure when visiting a new place.
NEVER go alone in a new busy city, or dangerous area if you choose to go to places like that. Make sure you bring someone you trust with you to keep you safe, or know who to call if you’re ever in trouble. It also doesn’t hurt to learn basic self defense moves
Keep a positive attitude and open mind. It’s so important for your self care and health in general to think on the bright side and be an open person. This helps expose yourself to new things and cultures.
If something or someone seems a little weird or different from yourself, think of how they got that way or why they do what they do. Cultures can differ from place to place so you always want to be aware.
Be respectful. Like I said above, being in a new place can bring new things, so make sure when you do visit a new place, to try and be respectful of their cultures and traditions.
In general, just follow the rules they have set there and you should be fine. Ex. In Japan people almost never wear shoes inside, and have personal indoor slippers for you to use. It’s not illegal to wear shoes inside, but people will consider it very rude and will most likely not let you enter the establishment without taking them off.
Let go and have fun! Exploring new places should be looked at with a sense of wonder and excitement. Make sure you do what you want to do while you’re in a new place and just have fun. It can hinder all the health benefits included by not letting yourself just be selfish and enjoy it.
Now that you’ve read this, pick a new destination twice a week for 2 weeks and go forth! Life is about freedom and adventure. Be okay with bracing the unknown and think about your health first. Get in touch with the world around us and be safe.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
With the New Year comes new ideas, new hope and new resolutions. Every year our minds race with the thoughts and wishes for change in our lives. Out with the old and in with the new. The problem is and always has been that whenever we want to change, we often don’t know how to go about it. We know that we have to do things differently, but diving into the unknown is scary, like walking down a dark alley alone. We feel vulnerable, unsure and question our ability to do what we want to do.
There are some things that you must gain an understanding of to become the change that you desire. First and foremost is to understand that we are habitual creatures and the habit we are trying to change is something that we have done for a long time. Whether it is getting into shape, eating better, quitting smoking, or just living a more fulfilled life. The battle that you have chosen to fight requires commitment, or an even better word RESOLVE. The second thing we have to prepare for are those times where fear and doubt overtake us. We can start great, but resolutions are abandoned far too often within the first month. WHY? Because we are creatures of habit, this new endeavour requires a lot of thought, a lot of work and does not feel as good as we thought, or at least that is what we tell ourselves. Our MINDS are so powerful that we actually can feel helpless. Do you have what it takes to change that habit? Can you do this thing that you feel you need to do to improve yourself? The answer is YES, YOU CAN!
Here are some steps that will help you stay on track to make the change you feel will benefit you.
We are very visual in our thinking. If we can’t see it, we feel we can’t do it. Create a picture board with words and images that help us attach to how it will feel when we are successful in making the change.
Positive affirmations, create a sentence or two that you can repeat to yourself when you feel the fear and doubt creeping in. Something that when you repeat it to yourself makes you feel powerful.
Try to find someone who can help you. Often we are making the change because of what someone has said to us. “You have to lose weight, don’t you want to feel better and be around longer?” Comments such as these make us aware but also create resentment and put our thoughts in a bad place. Find someone who will support you. Someone that will tell you that you are doing great. Encouragement empowers.
Identify the things that could potentially stop you from being successful and decide how you will counter those thoughts with action. (If it is bad eating habits, then when you feel like eating a bag of chips, look at the picture board or repeat your affirmation and grab an apple or do sit-ups, take some deep breaths and focus on the new you.)
BELIEVE! It is a simple case of MIND over Matter. If you don’t MIND, well, it won’t matter. THINK THINK THINK, keep good thoughts in your MIND. Gandhi said it best “be the change you want to see in the World”.
I know that you can do it, you have done it before and this time is no different. If you are not standing on the edge, you are taking up too much room. Push yourself and gain an understanding of the fact that you can do anything you put your MIND to.
Good luck to you all! I wish you a happy and successful 2021.
Today is March 21, 2020. The World is in a state of emergency in regards to a virus called COVAD19. A strain that is causing severe infection and high death rates. But you know all of that already.
We are all in a part of history. We have not heard from anyone who has not been infected in some way. There is so much information to process, everyday things change and we have to react to the new news.
This process will and is taking a toll mentally on a lot of people. Loss, Trauma, Anxiety and Stress are a part of daily life at a much grander scale than ever before in recent history.
We are here to help you manage all of the challenges you are facing. We are mental health professionals, advocates, and survivors. We have compiled information for you. To help you learn or enhance skillsets that you possess that allow you to think rationally, to manage and process your emotions. To provide information of how to communicate your feelings, setting boundaries. All of these skills will have the opportunity to stregnthen from use. Everyday the challenges can be more emotional than you have experienced.
Mindset is everything – motivational message
We know these struggles from personal experience, we know these issues professionally, and we have access to leading edge information on trauma and the brain provided by education of Hull Services staff (Shawn O’Grady – our mental health clinician) by Dr. Bruce Perry.
We have put together educational informaiton in conjunction with Hull Services. There are 12 topics and we will release 2 topics per week. We will support the lesson plans with follow up webinars to discuss the lesson material. We will have special guests on the webinars as well.
Business woman in Stress moment sitting on stair outdoor, hands on head with bad headache, Surrounded with Negative and depress wording
Webinars will always be on the most recent topics. We will record and post everything here.
Please give it some of your time. Even if you are doing ok, it is better to be prepared and confident, than scared and uncertain.
We look forward to meeting you at one of the webinars.
President – I Got Mind Inc.
Course Available – March 30th
A discussion of the pitfalls of trying to make sense of the events that are happening. Trying to make sense is dangerous to our mental health depending on how far we take it.
Live Webinar – April 1st 6:30 pm MST
Special Guest – Kelly Hrudey
Lesson release – April 6th
With so many emotions occuring each day during this time, we can become overwhelmed. If we can communicate with those around us how we are feeling it can help diffuse situations before they happen.
Live Webinar – April 8th
Special Guest – Shaun Clouston Head Coach of the Kamloops Blazers, NHL player TJ Oshie.
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