Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pleasant Activities

Hello everyone,

As you know, it’s important to have joy and happiness in your life in order to reduce stress and be a happy and healthy person. Feel free to read the list of activities below and incorporate some into your life if you wish to increase your joy and happiness.

Pleasant Activities

  1. Taking a warm bath
  2. Going for a walk in the park
  3. Listening to music
  4. Watching youtube clips
  5. Stretching
  6. Looking at trees
  7. Feeling the sunshine on your face
  8. Laughing
  9. Talking to friends
  10. Reading the magazine or news paper
  11. Looking at pictures that bring back happy memories
  12. Going home from work
  13. Eating a special treat
  14. Practicing yoga
  15. Dancing
  16. Repairing things
  17. Building things
  18. Planting seeds and watching them grow
  19. Doodling
  20. Singing
  21. Practicing a religion (going to church, temple, meditation)
  22. Engage your senses (smell flowers, watch the sunset, feel soft fabric)
  23. Making a list of things you like about yourself
  24. Going to the beach
  25. Painting
  26. Writing poetry
  27. Knitting
  28. Volunteering at an animal shelter
  29. Day dreaming
  30. Cooking
  31. Having a morning coffee
  32. Reading a good book
  33. Photography
  34. Walking around the mall
  35. Writing a letter
  36. Dancing to music at home
  37. Acting
  38. Doing a drop in comedy class
  39. Cleaning
  40. Remembering pleasant activities you’ve done in the past
  41. Doing a crossword puzzle
  42. Dressing up and looking nice
  43. Doing a puzzle
  44. Lighting candles
  45. Talking on the phone
  46. Going to a museum
  47. Playing cards
  48. Solving riddles
  49. Playing computer games
  50. Having lunch with a friend

 

Hormones and Depression

How the body works

Hormonal imbalances 

Hormone imbalance has been known to contribute to a variety of problems from pains to cramps to mood swings to anxiety and depression as well as a number of other problems. These hormone imbalances are especially troubling for women who have more of a natural hormone fluctuation than men. Some symptoms of low estrogen for example include foggy thinking, hot flashes, depression, memory lapses, forgetfulness, sleeping problems, and problems with bone density. Some symptoms of high estrogen include anxiety and irritability, cramps, and increased triglyceride levels. Some of these symptoms are very similar to hormone imbalances from thyroid dysfunction. Hyperthyroidism can cause hand tremors, nervousness, hot flashes, sweating, joint pain, insomnia, and poor concentration. Hypothyroidism on the other hand can cause exhaustion, constipation, weight gain, feeling cold, depression, and puffy eyes. As you can see the symptoms of estrogen imbalance and thyroid hormone imbalance are very similar as are the symptoms of some other hormonal imbalances. When the endocrine system is struggling there are a number of ways we can help it regain balance including getting enough sleep at night, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and listening to the signals your body is sending you!

References: http://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/hormone_balance.html

 

Chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins

Chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins

Studies have shown that depression may be associated with toxins from pesticides, herbicides, and other toxins. These chemicals can potentially interfere with neuronal processes in the brain and lead to toxic build-ups in the tissue. To prevent these chemical effects some people choose to use more natural and body friendly approaches to cleaning, insect control, and house cleaning. Some examples of natural solutions include:

Using vinegar as a weed killerweeds and vinegar

Using salt to get rid of slugssalt and slugs

Using essential oils to

make deodorizers andWhat-Are-Essential-Oils

bathroom sprays

References: Koifman, S. (2013). Pesticides, depression and suicide: A systemic review of the epidemiological evidence. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health 216(4) 445

http://www.tipjunkie.com/post/homemade-cleaners/

Your Amazing Brain!

Triune_brain

Your Amazing Brain

By: Angela Englander                  November 7, 2015

Intense emotions, fear, racing heart, sweating, numb emotions, confusion, trouble thinking clearly, feeling distracted and indecisiveness can all be part of the ongoing legacy of childhood trauma. Living with these symptoms is rarely a fun experience though, so what can you do about it?

Your reptilian brain: There are three main brain levels that come into play when we talk about trauma, the reptilian brain, the mammalian brain, and the higher level thinking brain. When someone is in a scary or dangerous system they instinctively go into reptilian brain mode, their body is primed for survival. In this stage the fight or flight or freeze reaction is launched and people may find that they’re snapping at people, they are hurting themselves and people they care about, or they are avoiding job and life responsibilities. This brain has evolved to help you survive and last when adverse life experiences happen or you are in danger. The great news is that you’ve made it to this point in life, you have likely survived scary and traumatic experiences and I congratulate you on getting to this point. The down side is chronic trauma reactions may mean you are not able to access your other brain levels.

Your mammalian brain: This brain is responsible for emotions and attachment, it allows us to feel, accept, and react to our emotions as well as allowing us to form attachments and relationships. In order to use this brain though we need to be in a safe and secure environment and be able to shut off our reptilian brain. Being unable to get to this brain and use it effectively is one reason many people who have experienced childhood trauma continue to struggle with relationships. Some people who have experienced trauma find themselves in abusive relationships, some find that they are unable to say “no”, while others find they bounce from one short-term relationship to the next and yet others avoid relationships all together. Without healthy connections and people you can depend on, having a happy and healthy life can be a struggle.

Your higher-level thinking brain: This brain helps us access our higher-level thinking and reasoning skills. It helps us see various perspectives on a situation and make decisions that incorporate emotions while also looking at our short-term and long-term goals. In this brain we can challenge black and white thinking patterns and figure out who we really are and what we want. Some signs you are not yet able to access this brain are being unsure of who you are and what you want, continuing behaviours and addictive patterns that are not in line with who you want to be and how you want to live your life.

At this point you’re probably wondering how to access these levels of your brain more effectively. There are a number of skills you can learn in order to regulate your emotions, tolerate your distress, and gain feelings of safety. Some skills are in other articles on this website and in the resources page while others will likely be published in the future. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me at angela@waystowellbeing.ca and as always, stay strong and continue on your healing journey.

Making Good Decisions

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Making Good Decisions

By: Angela Englander      August 20, 2015

In order for someone to make a good decision they need to incorporate both logical information and emotional information. This means knowing what emotions we are feeling, what emotions come up when making this decision, and how the outcome of the decision will affect us, and what factors are contributing to the decision. You can use the pro’s and con’s chart http://waystowellbeing.ca/pros-and-cons-of-living-the-life-you-want/ to help you figure out the logical factors contributing to the decision and the emotions chart and primary and secondary emotions sheet to help you figure out what emotions you may be experiencing at this link http://waystowellbeing.ca/links-resources/  The following chart can be used to help you figure out what the best decision to make in any circumstance is.

 

Emotion Facts Best Decision
     

 

 

 

An example of making a decision through using this chart may look like the following:

I am trying to decide whether to go on a second date with a person I just met. This decision has been confusing and frustrating so I’m going to make an emotions chart to help me figure out whether I should go on the date or not.

Emotion Facts Best Decision
I felt anxious on the first date

We laughed and the discussion made me feel relaxed

I am scared that person will not like me

 

 

I am scared of getting hurt

 

 

 

 

I am scared of getting too close or being rejected

Many people feel anxious on a first date

 

Walking ca calm the nervous system but the conversation making me happy means that we connected in way

 

Many people are worried about this when they are getting to know someone new

 

If you don’t take a risk you will never know what could happen both positively and negatively

 

A second date doesn’t guarantee a relationship so having a second date can be part of taking things slow

After considering my emotions and thoughts and the facts about my emotions and thoughts it makes sense that I would agree to go on a second date with this person.

 

I will contact this person tomorrow and tell them I would like to see them again or agree to go out with them if they call and ask me.

 

Through using this chart I was able to decide to go on a second date with someone and feel calm and confident in my decision because I know that I’m not being impulsive. I also know that is it the healthiest decision for me when I’ve considered all things so I won’t feel regret or make impulsive choices.

 

Using this chart will help you make happier and healthier decisions that are in line with your morals and values. This will also help decrease impulsivity over the long-term allowing you to make good short-term and long-term decisions. As always if you have any questions please contact me angela@waystowellbeing.ca and I look forward to hearing from you!

Dysregulation After Trauma

Dysregulation after Trauma

By: Angela Englander      August 3, 2015

After traumatic experiences people often find themselves having to cope with a variety of struggles. At times the struggles they are experiencing do not seem to relate directly to the trauma yet may result because of an inability to regulate emotions and/or behaviours. Regulation is a term used to describe a balance between extremes. On one hand a person may over do something and on the other they may be under doing it. A person may also swing from one extreme to the other when they are unable to balance and regulate themselves. The following is a list of common over or under regulated experiences.

Too Much Control

Too Little Control

Numb emotions

Overwhelming emotions

Withdrawal from socializing

Constantly needing attention

Sleeping all day

Insomnia

Depression

Anxiety

Inability to relax

Reckless behaviour

Ruminating thoughts

Inability to focus or concentrate

Obsessive planning

Procrastination

Sexual avoidance

Sex addiction

Always saying “no”

Always saying “yes”

Passive

Aggressive

Being abused

Abusing someone

Obsessions and compulsions

Dissociation and avoidance

Fear of spending money

Compulsive shopping

Fear of intimacy

Codependent relationship

Not having relationships

Getting involved too quickly

Avoiding social situations

Constantly needing attention

Distrust and paranoia

Being open with everyone

Ending relationships quickly

Staying in unhealthy relationships

Hoarding

Destroying and damaging possessions

Being suspicious of others

Being around unsafe people

Flat emotions

Intense emotions

A variety of skills can be used to help balance out extremes, some of these skills involve challenging black and white thinking, challenging false beliefs, and considering opposites that can both be true. By training your brain to think in a more inclusive way you can learn to have a healthier and more balanced life. To find a worksheet on learning how opposite things can both be true check out http://waystowellbeing.ca/opposites-that-can-both-be-true/ . To work on challenging unhealthy beliefs check out http://waystowellbeing.ca/whats-keeping-you-from-living-the-life-you-deserve/ . As always, feel free to e-mail me angela@waystowellbeing.ca .

 

Have a wonderful day and continue on your healing journey!

Opposites That Can Both Be True

 

 

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Opposites That Are Both True

By: Angela Englander                   July 28, 2015

This exercise is designed to help people challenge unhealthy thinking patterns and reduce black and white thinking. By challenging your mind to believe two seemingly contradicting messages at the same time your brain is learning to see things through a healthier perspective. This exercise also helps people decrease anxiety, challenge obsessive thoughts, and reduce emotional suffering. For this activity you just read the sentences below and think about how they can both be true at the same time. After reading the list, try to think of some other things that can both be true at the same time. By training your brain out of black and white thinking you will experience your life in a happier and easier way.

  • The day can be sunny AND it can rain
  • You can disagree with the rules AND also follow the rules
  • You can enjoy going out AND enjoy spending time at home
  • You can work AND you can rest
  • You can disagree with someone AND also be friends
  • You can try to change AND accept yourself as you are
  • You can be tough AND be gentle
  • You can be independent AND also want help
  • You can be with others AND be lonely
  • Someone can have a valid reason for wanting something from you AND you can say no
  • You can be a misfit in one group AND fit well in another group
  • You can have a fight with someone AND still be friends
  • You can be mad at someone AND love and respect that person
  • You can be mad at yourself AND love and respect yourself
  • You can enjoy your life as it is AND you can work to change and achieve goals

 

Three Phase Treatment of Childhood Trauma

two people graphic

Three Phase Treatment of Childhood Trauma

By: Angela Englander                                       July 28, 2015

Stage 1: Establishing a sense of safety and emotional wellbeing

In order to heal from trauma a person must gain a sense of safety, without this feeling of safety a person may continue to be in the fight or flight response and their brain and body will continue to be focused on survival. When survival is the priority, gaining skills and feeling happy are not important to the brain, as long as the person survives the crisis. In traumatized people, the feeling of being in a crisis does not end.

There are a variety of ways to establish emotional wellbeing, often they involve gaining the skills and experiences that were missed in the individual’s childhood. Emotion regulation skills and emotion expression skills are commonly linked to childhood trauma, they are also linked to many mental illnesses.

Emotion regulation skills and emotion expression skills are naturally gained through a technique called mirroring. The child will model their emotions based off their primary caregiver and the way the caregiver expresses their own emotions. When these skills aren’t gained in childhood they can be learned through a number of therapeutic techniques including: dialectical behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, and skills based trauma treatment techniques. If you go to http://waystowellbeing.ca/links-resources/ you will be able to view a chart that discusses emotions and ways that emotions occur naturally.

Stage 2: Working Through the Traumatic memories and body memories

            Often people who have experiences traumatic events continue to hold onto part of those events in their body, their emotions, their mind, or the patterns they live out. In order to let go of the trauma and put it in the past they must work through their memories of the trauma and challenge the physical sensations they may be feeling as well as the life patterns in which they may live out their trauma. By validating the traumatic experience and not avoiding the thoughts and feelings they associate with the trauma they can accept it and it won’t need to keep being a theme in their present life.

It is important to have completed the first phase of trauma treatment so that the traumatic memories, intense emotions, and physical experiences will not be as overwhelming for the patient. It is important for the individual working through their trauma to be safe and not at imminent risk because of the feelings that come from discussing their trauma.

A variety of exercises can be used to work through trauma, they include: discussing memories, role play, using toys or other objects, doing art, and creating a story to tell the trauma that has been experienced. Using many of these techniques a patient can rewrite their story allowing them to relieve themselves of guilt and understand their role in healing. They can also explore different perspectives about the trauma and move from being a victim to being a survivor. These exercises also allow the patient to explore their false beliefs about the trauma and about themselves and establish a healthier way of thinking. Having healthier beliefs will increase the patient’s self-esteem, sense of self, and feelings of safety.

Stage 3: Establishing connections in the community and a network of support

            Through making connections in the community the patient will be able to get more involved and start having positive relations and connections with other people. By having positive experiences with people a sense of connection and safety can begin to develop and trusting relationships can be formed. This also helps with the feelings of being separate and alone that have been associated with some traumatic experiences.

The other major benefit of having a support network in the patient’s community is that the patient will have a smooth transition once therapy ends. The patient will be able to connect with people and find support when they need it. Having friends and community connections may also help prevent future mental health challenges and trauma reactions because the patient will not feel like they are alone and having to take on their weight of their traumatic experiences on their own.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this article! As always feel free to e-mail me angela@waystowellbeing.ca and let me know what you think. Also feel free to share any comments you may have in the section below. I wish you well on your healing journey!

Reference: Herman, J. (1992). Complex PTSD: A Syndrome in survivors of prolonged and repeated trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 5(3) 377-391

Herman, J. (2009). Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence- from domestic abuse to political terror.

Pros and Cons of living the life you want

Pros and Cons of Living the Life you want

 By: Angela Englander

This chart can be used to calculate the pros and cons of making a choice that contributes to you living the life you want to live.

 

                        Doing what you want                                   Not doing what you want

PROS  

 

 

 
CONS  

 

 

 

Here is an example of how to use this sheet. For this example the thing I want to do is joining a weekly dance class. I’ve decided this is something I could do that would make my life happier.

                        Doing what you want                Not doing what you want

PROS -I’d meet new people

-I’d get in shape

-It would be a fun Thursday night activity

-I would improve my coordination

-I would be more active

-I would get healthier in the long-term

-I’d be alone more often

-I’d be less social

-I’d be bored more often

CONS -I might miss a shift at work

-It costs $300 for 12 weeks

-I might get embarrassed

-The other students might not like me

-I would keep wanting to take a dance class

-I would be thinking about it

-I would feel like I’m missing out

-I would keep thinking about what it would be like to take a dance class

 

After reading my chart I would consider the points I’d written in the pros of doing what I want and the cons of not doing what I want sections and use these to decide how strongly I want to do the activity. Then I would look at the cons of doing what I want and the pros of not doing what I want and decide how resistant I am and how much doing what I want would negatively influence my life. Using the above example the main thing holding me back would be the cost of the dance class but I see more points in the categories of wanting to do the dance class so after thinking about the choice I would do it. After finishing up the dance class series I may sit down and make another pros and cons chart about the decision to check and see if it was worth the time and money you invested to attend the dance class and if it was a good decision looking back. This reflection process will train your brain to think critically about various decisions in your life and you will begin to make choices with confidence and start living a life you want to live.