Author Archives: gftadmin

Transition into Winter Season: COVID Edition

With the transition into winter often the first few items we notice is the early darkness setting in (that reality of leaving work/school and only able to witness 60-90 minutes of daylight), the cold (starting to hit temperature of below zero), and individuals natural desires to withdraw socially (often looked at as isolation or some hibernation).

This year in particular there is a few added pieces, as a huge benefit we had a gentle transition into the winter cold (plus 20 degrees several days within November +), but we are also living within a global pandemic where a lot of our once comforts are not necessarily an option.

We then need to develop new traditions, coping mechanisms, and strategies to ensure we are taking care of ourselves within these times. Checking in with yourself around what have I done for myself (within and outside my basic needs today)? Have I had a social connection with another human outside of work/school (virtual, in-person with safety measures in place)? What resources can I reach out too? What am I noticing that I am feeling (pulling upon some mindfulness, mediation techniques)? How is my body doing within this time (have you exercised, stretched, or done any movement)?

Beauty within Grief

Certain times of year, events, smells, sounds, and slight changes are often reminders of those special individuals that are no longer here with us in the physical sense. Grief Moments— These reminders (or/triggers) can be a sense of comfort (often when we’re ready for them and see the beauty within them) or can be a sense of guilt/loss (when we are holding onto the negative belief around ownership or blame). These two different angles provide us with a lot of information to our certain situation and what we are requiring to heal, and the possibility we hold to move forward and bring that individual’s memory with us (in a positive sense). As I have determined many years ago, grief does not end— it shifts and changes as we move forward.

One of the most grateful moments within grief for us, is the reminder of the reality of the present moment. Take in each moment! You never know it is the last phone call, hug, laughter, text, etc. Until the moment is gone. Learning to embrace the moment for what it has the potential to be is the ideal practice to cherish those that are important within our lives.

The realization that grief does not need to be this dark cloud we carry with us, it can be the light that shines through.

Suicide: Tough Conversations

Every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide! Over 800,000 people die each year by suicide! Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those individuals between the ages 15-29! (WHO, 2020). It is important to note that Suicide is a lot more than just numbers, statistics, and facts!

Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors and should not be attributed to any one single cause. Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.

People who experience suicidal thoughts and feelings are suffering with tremendous emotional pain. People who have died by suicide typically had overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, despair, and helplessness. Suicide is not about a moral weakness or a character flaw. People considering suicide feel as though their pain will never end and that suicide is the only way to stop the suffering.

Many factors and circumstances can contribute to someone’s decision to end their life. Factors such as loss, addictions, trauma, depression, serious physical illness, and major life changes can make some people feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily the nature of the loss or stressor that is as important as the individual’s experience of these things feeling unbearable.

World Suicide Awareness Day is marked each year on September 10th. This is where we take a moment to reflect as a dignified, respectful, day to unite a community around a common cause, and beautifully celebrating the life of every individual that has been impacted by suicide. It is a healing day; and an opportunity for the community to come together and mourn as one!

Suicide prevention is all of our responsibility! By reducing the stigma through the language we use, and the support we offer those around us. Leave the judgement behind!

Let today be the start of each of us opening our ears (setting our cell phones down) and starting to truly listen to those around us! Listening does not mean you need to have all the answers; listening allows those that are struggling to know they are not alone! Connect them to someone who can continue to support them throughout this struggle: Here 24/7 & WRSPC provide free crisis services that you can access. Reach out: Know that you are not alone, and that you matter!

Anxiety within Today’s World…

Anxiety within the many unknowns of today’s world!—Anxiety is not a new reality or concept but it is something that is shifting in how it presents: the patterns and the side effects that we need to pay attention too.

Do you tend to want to avoid social events, animals, schools, parks, work, planes or basically any situation that causes anxiety? As the one experiencing it, how are you attempting to manage and cope within it?

Possibly you are responding to aspects of the anxiety, but it is likely not as helpful as those techniques and tools once were. When we are shifted within an anxiety response the amygdala is activated and therefore; the flight-fight-freeze response urges you to respond within a fearful way. More often than not the flight or freeze response is indicated for an anxiety response. Unfortunately, in the long run, avoidance makes anxiety worse. Finding ways of controlled exposure within our limits to expand our window of tolerance is key.

A concept that I strongly recommend is ‘Laddering’.

Individuals who are able to manage their worry and break it down into manageable chunks (the different steps along the way working towards the ultimate goal). Laddering uses this chunking concept and gradual exposure to reach a goal.

An example: Let’s say you’re afraid of sitting on the swings in the park, as a new anxiety as a result of COVID-19. Instead of avoiding this activity (especially since parks are now open), create mini-goals to get closer to the bigger goal (e.g. go to the edge of the park, then walk into the park, go over to the swings, possibility you wipe them down with an disinfectant [washing your hands before and after] and, finally, get on a swing).
You can use each step until the exposure becomes too easy; that’s when you know it’s time to move to the next rung on the ladder.

We are our GAINS not our Losses…

“Focusing on individual gains not losses.” – Maia Szalavitz

Throughout our life we are taught and shown to see our ‘shortcomings, perceived failures, and areas of growth’ as our losses. When we look inward with this lens you will find what you are searching for, with little to no difficulty. It has become our default (meaning that this will be happening automatically before we even have the conscious ability to correct it, stop it, or redirect it).

Could you imagine what it would look like to view ourselves with the lens of our gains? This feels uncomfortable to start, but will become more and more uplifting as we shift into it. Being able to reflect on our actions or inactions as taking note of what gains I made, or what growth occurred will allow us to continue this growth pattern and surpass limits we likely did not even know we were placing upon ourselves.

“People are doing the best they can with what they have.” – Brene Brown If we were to reevaluate how we assess ourselves and name we are doing the best we can with what we know and have within that moment our perceptive shifts. You’re doing a better job growing than you’re giving yourself credit for!

Activation within Motivation (Our Processes)

Activation is the specific action or process towards action we take, it is the movement process. Motivation is the desire to have action, ultimately leading towards a completion of an individual goal. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining one’s objectives. We can have one without the other, but when we can pull upon our awareness and force both to work collaboratively we have further advancement.

Breaking down our processes into smaller parts allows us to see the all the moving elements that goes into our responses. This allows us to respond within awareness, and not react within pure emotion.

Being able to name what action is needed or desired is a key step. Naming our motivator (what our end goal is helps us achieve more meaningful action). The goal is getting two moving parts to function together.

The Beauty within Change…

“Spring —Is a lovely reminder of how truly beautiful change can be.” –Unknown.

As we are currently living within a pandemic lots of changes are occurring beyond our control. There is also lots of idle time to focus on those changes, and our inabilities to stop or impact them the way we may desire. Naming our power and control, recognizing our needs, and being able to communicate them are all major steps towards forwards positive movement.

As we are faced with some major changes. There is many things to consider:
1. What active role do I want to participate within this change as?
2. What do I want to remain the same? —This is possible/realistic?
3. What changes am I looking forward too? —What am I going to embrace?
4. What boundaries do I need to consider within this change?

Be generous with yourself!—You’re doing some incredible work within a very challenging time!

Find a New Sense of ‘Normal’…

The word ‘normal’ has always had a negative connotation for a lot of people. As ‘normal’ is used as a comparison to identify those that fall into abnormal or not good enough subsections. For the purpose of this post I’m pushing aside those identifications of ‘normal’ and highlighting that ‘normal’ is individualistic, there is no wrong here. ‘Normal’ is your definition—it is what you would be doing as a regular part of your day-to-day. It is your routine. Within the past 5-6 weeks your sense of ‘normal’ and routine has be taken away from you.

Whether you are working from home, continuing to go into work, laid off, stay at home parent, a student, on parental leave, retired or continuing on a job search your life has been impacted. Within this global pandemic no one person has been left unaffected. This presents a shared experience. Regardless of your socio-economic, relationship, or overall status.

That is not to say that we are on an equal playing field (privilege is still apparent). But there is a shared experience for us all.

When we can share an experience with another human it connects us. As humans we are wired for connection (Brene Brown researched and spoke to this with such beauty). **It is finding the opportunities within this new ‘normal’ to foster that connection and reach out to our support systems, to someone new, old friend, neighbour, etc.

Living within the 21st century virtual connection will be our wiring for the next while.. Now it is time to find new ways to embrace it!

Anxiety Vs. Fear-Panic….

Anxiety mobilizes us into action (as long as, we are remaining within our window of tolerance). ‘Some’ anxiety is good. We require it to mobilize us when our alarms go off, when we are expected to be somewhere, and when a task is needed to be completed.

Within the current state of our world we need to remain mindful of what am I doing, actively doing on a regular basis to keep myself within my anxiety window of tolerance?—

1. Am I getting physical movement for 30 minutes daily?
2. Am I socially connecting with my support network (virtually included)?
3. Am I practicing my mindfulness/mediation?
4. Am I informing myself with factual information?
5. Am I doing my self-care practices?
6. Am I limiting my time on social media? Etc.

Asking yourself what those important questions are for yourself. On a regular basis (not just once a day), but when we notice the anxiety shifting within us.

Fear and Panic are responses when we are reacting based on lack of understanding, lack of information and when we are pushed beyond our window of tolerance. It is the act of reacting rather than responding. The concern with being within this realm is that fear and panic breed very quickly through our social networks, social media, etc.

We need to remain accountable for ourselves—

1. Have I fact-checked this information?
2. Am I sharing helpful/needed information or opinions?
3. Have I taken care of my own needs today?

Am I Enough?—-Yes you are!

Recognizing our internal state of mind and acknowledging our feelings, is a needed process in order to obtain productive and long-lasting growth.

Feelings of needing to be more. Feelings of not being enough. Fighting against these feeling is going to pull us further into the negative.
1. Recognizing these feelings, understanding that they are a feeling and that it does not define who we are is part of the process.
2. Naming where these feelings are coming from? (—often comes from pain, hurt, and trauma).
3. Allowing ourselves to identify what our thoughts are, will allow us to stop the process from repeating.

Taking action towards something positive. Allowing yourself to take a step forward—-what is something you can do today to remind yourself of joy? [ex: going for a walk, reaching out to a friend, reading a book, dancing, etc]. When we change our actions, and give ourselves some credit we can change what are default thoughts and feelings are. Which allows us to see what our support systems can see within us that, YOU ARE ENOUGH.

**As you are going through this growth process for yourself. Hear it from my voice until your internal voice can muster it—- YOU ARE ENOUGH.