By Jennifer Robinson, MSW, RSW
Although the official first day of spring is tomorrow (March 20th), living in Northern Ontario we are well aware that whether we like it or not, winter typically does not stick to a schedule.
It is no secret that winter is cold, dark and snowy. It is often a chance for people to hibernate, stay in and wait for warmer weather. However, intentionally making an effort to engage in healthy leisure activities and practicing positive self-care can help you enjoy winter and can also help boost your mood during these dreary months.
It is common that individuals notice a decrease in their mood and energy levels during the winter months and this is due to the lack of daylight, colder temperatures and other lifestyle changes like eating habits and decreased socialization. A decrease in mood and energy levels can have a big impact on our day to day lives, how we interact with others, and how we feel about ourselves.
The change in seasons can impact an individual’s mental health. In more serious cases, people can develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is characterized by symptoms similar to depression and commonly presents during fall and winter due to the limited amount of sun exposure and the colder temperatures.
Whether or not you experience changes to your mood based on the change of seasons, it is so important to take the necessary steps to maintain your well-being, especially during the darkest (and coldest) of months.
By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, MACP (Candidate), RP
“I realize that sometimes I may come off as angry, aloof, quiet, unapproachable and difficult to talk to, but there is more to me than what others may realize. I have anxiety!”
Having anxiety means that one may come off as a bad friend, a coworker that doesn’t care, or even somewhat antisocial to others, but this is hardly the case. The actuality is that people who are struggling to cope with their anxiety care and they care a lot! Fear is a big component of anxiety and keeps those that struggle with it from having meaningful conversations with others, from texting friends whom they really want to spend time with, and fear that they may be a nuisance if they build up the nerve to pick up the phone or to actually have that conversation. People who are struggling to cope with their anxiety are overwhelmed, may feel like crying, and may even get angry if the thought of breaking down crying in front of others would be just too embarrassing. Anxiety is the reason why they may not make good eye contact, that they may be quiet in groups of people, and it is not because they are distracted, don’t care, or are quietly judging others.
People with anxiety are not just quiet! While they may present as quiet on the outside at times, there is often an internal turmoil boiling over inside. Inside they may be struggling with trying to minimize the symptoms of their anxiety that others might see on the outside, they may be trying not bring attention to themselves, they may be going over and over again in their mind trying to figure out what is next or how to say what they really want to say out loud. People with anxiety are not a$$holes, they are people who want to be accepted and liked by others, like anyone else!
By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
While 1 in 3 Canadian women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, sexual offences are less likely than any other violent crime to result in a guilty verdict. Only 5% of sexual assaults are reported to police. The Government of Canada statistics say that an estimated 0.3% of perpetrators of sexual assault are held accountable, whereas over 99% are not. Time and time again we see sexual assault charges being thrown out or dismissed. And even if the person is convicted, the sentence usually isn’t too harsh. So, what should we do as sexual assault survivors? Should we report what happened to us or not?
By Marianne Wylie, MSW, RSW
We like feeling happiness, joy, love and contentment. We often don’t want to feel fear, sadness, despair, anger, frustration, jealousy and guilt. In fact, many of us will try and avoid these emotions at all costs. It is understandable as they can be very difficult to experience. However, a big part of healing involves allowing the space to feel the emotions. Emotions are our messengers for how we are doing in relation to our environment. This means, there are no good or bad emotions. All emotions are equally relevant and important. They are there for a reason.
What is your emotion telling you?
Allowing the space to see what emotion we are feeling gives us power over it. We then allow it to process rather than feeling like we are stuck in it. Some ways you can allow space for the emotion is to talk to a person you feel comfortable with, to write it out in a journal, sit in silent reflection, or let it out in counselling.
What you are feeling is valid and it is telling you something. What do you hear?
Linehand, M.M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, 2nd Ed. Page 229.
By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
Have you ever wondered what your dreams mean? We all spend about one-third of our lives dreaming, whether you remember them or not. Dream interpretation dates back thousands of years. However, there are still a variety of theories on how to interpret dreams. By trying to understand your dreams, you may be able to find out more about yourself that you may not know.
Dreaming occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. There are a variety of factors that can affect your dreams. You age, gender, personality, and the events that occurred throughout the day, all have an impact on what dreams you have. Because we experience so many things in a day, we do not have time to process them all. This is where dreams come into play. They can help us process what we saw, felt, and thought during the day. Even what is happening around you while you sleep can also make it into your dream. This can include temperature changes, noises, sensations, even needing to pee. If you have strong feelings before you go to bed such as being anxious or worried, you will sleep lighter and have a better chance of remembering your dreams. However, this can also cause you to wake up before your dream is over. Dreams can also help us process many other events in our lives.
If you are worried, excited, traumatized, or have any strong emotions relating to a certain memory, then your brain uses dreams to help process the event and the feelings that occurred during, and because of, the event. If these memories and feelings are repressed, then they can still come out in your dreams. When you are awake, it is easier for your brain to repress unwanted thoughts, feelings, or memories. However, when you are sleeping these aspects can be less censored and make their way into your dreams. You may not always recognize them though.
By Linda Kelly, MSW, RSW
“Does this picture work?”
“How about this one?”
“Should the logo be there or…”
“Wait, if the logo isn’t there it could be shared and then people won’t know who made it.”
“It looks off. Does it look off?”
So goes the conversation in our cozy, warmly lit office that does not yet have the white desks and plants that would have come in handy for staging our own photos. Realistically, white desks would be full of pen marks in no time, right?
All of these minor details add up to the oddest conversations, largely interrupted by me with unrelated topics as Piper ardently strives to make this magazine so lovely, so perfect, and so recognizable that it will change the world.
She fixes a photo. I condense sentences.
She asks me to write about a topic of interest. I send her memes until I am suddenly struck (STRUCK!) by motivation and the words flow out effortlessly.
Do the details matter? Of course! Because every colour or line or word is what will draw people in. And if we want to make mental health understandable and normal, if we want to validate the lived experiences of others while offering help and advice, it all matters.
When we thought about trying to put together a magazine, it was just a whim. We wanted to conserve all of the efforts we had put into writing articles for the public. It was a way of wrapping all of them up in a pretty package every few months so that people could enjoy them indefinitely.
And then it became a thing.
By Linda Kelly, MSW, RSW
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, do yourself a favour and take a hard look at your expectations, because you may be causing unnecessary suffering.
I once got upset at a boyfriend because he took me to a carnival and couldn’t win me one of those huge stuffed animals. I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset. I went silent around him until he got upset at me and had to defend the fact that those games are rigged and why in the world was I so bothered by it. Then I realized that movies have conditioned me to believe that it was a rite of passage that your boyfriend will win you a huge teddy bear at a carnival.
By Seija Grant, MEd CP, RP
When I talk about ‘finding a good fit’ I am referring to the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. One of the most important factors of therapeutic success is having a strong therapeutic alliance. The importance of this is significant, as you (the client) need to be able to trust the therapist enough to share some of the most vulnerable parts of yourself. Outside of a therapy context, you probably wouldn’t go around sharing all of your most secret, private (possibly darkest) parts of yourself with just anybody, so why should it be different when it comes to therapy? As a client you have the right to try out counsellors to find one that suits you. If you don’t feel it is a good fit, don’t be afraid to ask for an appointment with a different counsellor next time (if this is an option at the agency or organization you are attending). Therapists are aware of the importance of this factor and ultimately want you to be successful and thrive in counselling…even if it isn’t with them. I personally would much rather have a client transfer to another therapist than for them to miss out on all of the benefits of counselling, just because we weren’t a good match.
There can be several reasons for a lack of ‘good fit’ between client and counsellor. Some of the factors to consider:
By Kristen Sohlman, HBA, MACP (Candidate), RP
Do you ever notice that you struggle with a low mood, that you are lacking energy, or are moodier in the fall and winter seasons? Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs seasonally and is related to the changes in level of sunlight that you are exposed to during seasons of low daylight. It is important to realize that SAD can occur at other times of the year, for example, for those who work nightshifts who may not have access to as much natural light as those that are awake during the day. Some of the reasons that SAD may occur involves a lack of natural light that may actually affect your biological clock or circadian rhythm and may influence the release of chemicals in your body such as serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin, affecting your mood.
By Kelly Graham, MSW, RSW
Technology seems to be dominating our lives today. Whether it is your cell phone, computer, PlayStation, TV, or anything else, we are always surrounded by it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Netflix and checking Facebook; I’m not a technology hater. However, I have noticed that a common theme among people today, myself included, is that technology is beginning to interfere with our relationships.
If you were to add up the time you spend using technology throughout the day, you would probably be surprised by just how often you’re on it. Many people can’t even make it through a meal without checking their phone. When we see everyone else checking their phone, we then feel compelled to check ours. Instead of talking with each other face-to-face, we bury ourselves in our technology.
When we are continually using technology in the presence of others, we are ignoring them. While you may be listening, to them it looks like you are more interested in what is on your phone than what they have to say. Remember how you have felt when you’ve been ignored. Were you hurt, angry, sad, frustrated? All of those are valid responses. While this may be annoying when you’re trying to have a normal conversation with someone, imagine if they are trying to talk to you about something important. Then it may feel like you are ignoring their feelings, or worse, that Facebook is more important than them. When this happens frequently, the person may just stop trying to engage with you.
This ultimately causes a rift in relationships - when we feel like we can’t express our thoughts and feelings because the other person is too busy being lost in technology. We end up burying these feelings which eventually can turn into resentment and anger. If these feelings are not dealt with, it can ruin a relationship.
How can we fix this?
Kelly Magazine, along with all articles and blog posts, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide personal support as an alternative to psychotherapy services. Please note that replies are viewable by the public, and we may take a few days to respond. If you require immediate assistance, please call Kelly Mental Health during business hours.