New Year, New Decade, New You – 2020

Aurora Festival of Lights in Toronto, Ontario

One of the main reasons societies celebrate “endings and beginnings” each year is the hope to begin anew. It is a time when people review the past year and decade reflectively.

You may have lost family members and friends due to illnesses, misunderstandings, divorces, or tragedies. At the same time, your life may have been blessed with family weddings, the birth of children, new degrees, credentials, diplomas, promotions, or a new job or business!

Everyone in society shares in the passing of the old year and the hope of the new year in common. New Year’s day is a statutory holiday for everyone to remember how fortunate you are to begin anew.

You may find yourself wishing you had reacted to something differently. You may also find yourself seeking to make amends with people you may have hurt or offended. The road you take in the New Year is completely up to you.

Starting slowly and honestly to review what aspects of your life you wish to improve, change, sustain, or maintain this year as the foundation to the next decade is an excellent way to move forward in your life.

Some people benefit from making a list of goals, ideas, resolutions, or plans for the next year. You may also expand your list to include a 3-5 year plan. Having an overall structure or framework for you to organize immediate and future goals is healthy and critical to success.

None of us experience success in isolation. Ensuring that you cultivate healthy and happy family relationships is essential to feelings of fulfillment, gratitude, health, and wellness.

In this past decade, North American societies have learned to talk openly about mental illness and the years of silent suffering caused by the social stigma created by misinformation and bias.

Know the signs of mental illness and be there when your friends need you most. Forgive yourself if you have missed the needs of others due to petty distraction or busy-ness.

Gone are the days of historic institutionalization where people lost self-determination and freedom due to episodes of depression, mania, anxiety, or psychosis. Canadians have come a long way due to the bravery of individuals such as Margaret Trudeau, Clara Hughes, Princes William & Harry, and Michael Babcock.

The constitution has also caught up accordingly and people with mental disabilities are protected equally under the law – even in the workplace and academia.

Your mental health and wellness is far too important to be misunderstood or mistreated. More service is needed, so you can find expert support at school or work without barriers.

Connect with a Registered Social Worker and Psychotherapist today who will truly remind you about your rights to be Well!

#NewYear #Let’sTalk #Heal #Wellness #KnowYourRights

Christmas Memories

Joyful experiences are forever dear.

Most people have good memories about Christmas. Despite the stress of shopping, and entertaining with family and friends, people make a concerted effort to spread the peace and joy of the season. There is no doubt that children benefit from the loving and thoughtful efforts parents, friends, and extended family put into making Christmas magic.

Memorable Christmas gifts are NOT always the ones that cost the most money. In fact, people remember thoughtful presents, crafts, ornaments, meals, or baked goods. Families fortunate enough to celebrate years of Christmas traditions together create meaningful memories for everyone.

Looking back on happy memories ensures that people have a wellspring of joy to draw upon whenever health, travel, or unexpected circumstances disrupt opportunities to be together with the ones we love.

Of course, all families have memories of tense Christmas memories as well. It is common for people to experience intense emotions, like sadness, and anxiety during the holidays as well. Everyone copes differently.

Some people argue and fight when they are stressed and anxious while others grow quiet and withdrawn. Indeed, there is a small group of people who dislike all the fuss of the Christmas Season – the crowds, expenses, and indulgences.

For those of us who love the Christmas Season, treasured time with friends and family is precious and coveted. Homemade decorations, photographs and recipes are kept for years and years, and in some cases for generations.

Christmas is a time for family and friends to celebrate together, establishing traditions of your own. Raising children in homes where traditions of togetherness and care is a priority transcends class, time, and culture. Spending quality family time celebrating traditions is as important as ever.

Happy family memories last a lifetime. Make this Christmas a beautiful one. Celebrating with all the people in your life makes your world a happy, safe, and healthy one.

#memories #emotions #happy #joy #yum #good #wellness

Healthy Touch

Resilient children grow into caring & compassionate adults softening hearts of stone.

This past May, I attended the Annual Roots of Empathy Symposium here in Toronto sponsored by Mary Gordon and her team of dedicated staff and volunteers https://rootsofempathy.org/2019symposium/. Mary’s work has a strong hold in most schools in the Greater Toronto Area, surrounding regions, and across Canada. She also has research affiliates in Ireland and the USA. Her work, career, and extraordinary dedication to children and early prevention strategies is inspiring. Having started a clinical social work career in early years services, I was very fortunate to learn theoretical and practical approaches to parenting that really work to grow healthy and resilient children over the long term. Dr. Clinton, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, division of Child Psychiatry reminded everyone about the essential nature of human touch and infant development.

Close to thirty years ago, the Hanen Approach was just beginning to reap the benefits of its piloted projects across this city. A unique blend of psychiatry, speech and language pathology, and social work, the Hanen Approach aimed to support healthy attachments between moms and babies. Research showed that a consistently caring and nurturing response style, eye contact, touching, and communication improved overall health and wellness in all children and adults, but especially in children with identified developmental delays in areas of speech, behaviour, and pretend & cooperative play http://integratedtreatmentservices.co.uk/our-approaches/speech-therapy-approaches/hanen-programme/.

Healthy human touch is essential and natural to human growth and emotional wellness. There are countless studies that reveal the negative impacts of significant caregiving relationships impoverished of human touch. People with histories of early trauma, emotional neglect, sexual, or physical abuse often develop problems with creating healthy boundaries in relation to personal body space. Some people may be overly vigilant and self-protective becoming touch adverse. Some people have loose boundaries standing too close to people waiting in line, rubbing a woman’s breast or a man’s bottom while standing or sitting next to them on public transit, or touching someone’s arm, baby-bump, or face without permission for example. There are social and cultural norms as well as professional training that shape how, when, why, and where people engage in human touch. The key here is speaking up honestly when you feel uncomfortable about someone’s unwanted touch.

More research is being explored about the prescribed use of touch therapy with patients suffering severe PTSD and other debilitating health conditions. It is imperative that clinicians feel comfortable with setting appropriate professional boundaries created with clients seeking counselling therapies from you. Clinical practice with children, adolescents, and adults do not require deliberate practices of human touch. There are other effective strategies such as voice tone, eye contact, and humour that help to reassure and co-regulate human emotion as people talk and/or process feelings about experiences or situations with you. Referring clients to therapeutic massage is suggested for people you assess would benefit from healthy human touching in a clinical milieu.

#wellness #healing #health #hugs #parenting