Home Sweet Home

After months of isolation due to the deadly corona virus, the complete lockdown in many North American cities has lifted. The slow and gradual return to urban life includes new prevention practices that you have likely gotten used to by now. These include physical distancing, frequent handwashing and sanitizer use, and medical/custom mask-wearing indoors or in large crowds.

Your mental health may have suffered during this prolonged period of isolation. Some indicators that you have experienced a decline in your personal wellbeing include:

  • Unexplained weight-gain of more than 4.4 Kgs, or 10 lbs
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Increased dependence on marijuana to calm down
  • Changes in your sleep patterns, including either more or less sleep
  • Limited contact with friends and family by telephone, or virtually
  • A general sense of lethargy and lack of motivation
  • Increased irritability over minor problems
  • Poor eye contact
  • General sense of mistrust and paranoia
  • Extreme worry over physical symptoms and illness
  • Reduced physical exercise and sex
  • Feeling bored, unhappy, and lonely

As you re-engage in your life, you are likely to find comfort in the familiar. People, places, spaces, and activities that together constitute your experience of community will help to restore your general health to levels equivalent to a time before the pandemic.

In this way, a healthy and safe re-engagement in your local community is the first important step to regaining balance. It is also an opportunity to develop a mindful practice of gratitude for the people, places, activities, and spaces that contribute to your lifestyle. Gratitude for the familiar that you may have taken for granted in the past is a sure way to remind you about the many factors that contribute to your health and wellness.

Most certainly, there are many healthy practices that you do on your own to stay well. But the importance of people in your life like your neighbours, shopkeepers, baristas, places of worship, friends, and even kind strangers who take the time to greet you along the way are all small gifts of life-in-your-local.

Live-in-your-local is a client-centered wellness strategy clinically derived by Dr. Romano-Dwyer RSW. Proven effective with goals of behavioural re-activation, this approach centralizes people, places, spaces and activities of your client’s life in collaborative treatment planning. Live-in-your-local is an easy and effective model for clients to remember as they begin to DO the work required to Think and Feel Well.

Dr. Lisa Romano-Dwyer RSW is the owner of Lakeside Wellness Therapy Affiliates in Toronto where her team of Wellness Affiliates work with people to ease troubled minds and relationships.

#wellness #healthy #Do.Think.Feel Well.

By Dr. Lisa Romano-Dwyer RSW, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar

What’s It All Mean, Anyhow?

Le Penseur, Rodin

The Thinker is a famous sculpture created by Rodin located
in a beautiful garden under the same name in Paris. It is among one of the best representations of the ways the human mind ruminates, processes, reviews, analyzes, turns over, unpacks, and explores a multiplicity of ideas.

The capacity of the human mind to think about things may feel endless at times. In this way, the capacity to think is both a gift and a burden.

Sometimes, you may find that you think about your problems over and over
again in a circular fashion ruminating over experiences, memories, or facts without relief. In these cases, your thinking may feel burdensome and heavy. Your thoughts may weigh you down causing mental anguish and low mood.

At other times, you may think in a more direct and linear fashion coming to
a decision or insight without any great difficulty at all. In these cases, your
thinking may inspire you to change your life personally, professionally, or
socially. All great inventions begin with a thought or idea mostly evolving in
relation to a problem or dilemma.

It is in your human capacity to think that solutions to your
problems or dilemmas come to light, or more simply stated, become
. In a clinical sense, the human capacity to think about
problems in new and diverse ways is the necessary first step to personal
understanding and deeper meaning about your own life.

In order to interrupt, disrupt, or break a repetitive, circular, habitualized, or patterned way of thinking, new thoughts, ideas, perspectives, views, and meanings about your problems are needed.

Even silly new ideas about persisting negative and challenging
thoughts about your problems introduce critical new energy, perspectives, hypotheses, and views that hold the promise of growth and change. Your ability to think becomes your vehicle of escape from mental imprisonment
often created by cognitive distortions familiar to most people.

One such distortion is negative filtering whereby you habitually favour
detrimental, pessimistic, and emotionally damaging interpretations of events over more positive, balanced, and realistic perspectives generated by your rational mind. The task of psychotherapy is to go deeper into your introspective journey in order to unpack the reasons that you resist, reject, or fail to accept rational explanations for events or situations in your life. 

Finding the right therapist to help you with this exciting journey of self-discovery involves a process of trusted sharing with a professional who establishes clear boundaries and safety for healthy psychotherapy processes to occur. Exposing your personal thoughts to a professional and identifying your feelings associated with life experiences guarantees deeper understanding of your problems, and why you continue to think about things negatively. 

Revealing your deeply-held feelings of trauma associated with emotional pain, fear,  disappointment, and loss with your psychotherapist over time will ease your troubled mind and provide you with a new way to make sense of it all. 

The human mind and your ability to think has fascinated scientists,
neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and philosophers for centuries. It may also fascinate you, and lead you on a journey of discovery that answers your questions about what it all means anyhow!!!! 

By Dr. Lisa Romano-Dwyer

#wellness #healthy #DoThinkFeelWell

Friends and Self-Esteem

One of the most critical impacts of modern living in large urban settings is the role of personal friendships with like-minded people. Finding, making, sustaining, and keeping friends is not always easy. You are likely to have different friends over the course of a lifetime and perhaps, where fortunate a handful of people who stick by you over the entire span of your adult life.

The developmental importance of having friends emerges in adolescence when tasks of individuation become paramount and central to healthy growth and adult wellbeing. Healthy adolescents begin to seek to the company of peers over family. Although parents and siblings remain vitally important to young teenagers, learning to be with comfortable with people other than family is usually experienced as an exciting time of social exploration. Adolescence may also include periods of intense emotional upset, confusion, and pain as young people find the right fit for their needs at that particular time.

Limited to friends at school and in local communities, your first experiment with friendships were probably with people living close to your home. As you moved onto post-graduate studies, a new job, a new city or country, your circle of friends likely also expanded to include people whose company, values, and humour you appreciate and admire.

How do you recognize when it is time to look for new friends? How do you know that it is safe to invite new people into your inner circle of buddies? The following signs are usually good indicators that you are ready for new friends:

  1. You begin to feel overwhelmed by your supportive role offering a helping hand or shoulder to cry on.
  2. You start to feel as though the friendship is mostly one-sided where you needs, thoughts, concerns, or opinions are dismissed or ignored.
  3. You feel as though your friend has taken advantage of your kindness failing to host dinner parties, pay for a coffee tab, or to forget your birthday or important anniversary.
  4. You have frequent tinges of emotional pain after a conversation or casual get together where things said feel unnecessarily insensitive or intentionally hurtful.
  5. You feel less pretty, smart, funny, or compassionate after socializing and experience a loss of self-esteem over years together.

Some social rivalry between friends is normal. However, you deserve healthy self-esteem and only you know the impact that your friends have had on your sense of self.

Healthy friendships improve your self-esteem. You feel supported, loved, and appreciated for the things you say, the views you hold dear to your heart, and acts of kindness you do to cheer people up when life is tough or just because. Healthy friendships are true social gifts of time, life pleasures, good times, entertainment, food, travel, company, and humour. A true friend is there for you when you are in most need. A true friend understands when life beckons you away for periods of time and remains in touch despite distances or illnesses. True friends are forgiving and caring. A good friend is always there and conversations pick-up as though no time has passed.

Give yourself permission to find new friends and to exercise gratitude for past friendships that you had along the way. Despite the grief you may feel over the loss of past friendships, an aging heart that remains open and faithful to the belief in the goodness of others will help you grow new friends.

Sunny dispositions deserve to shine!!!!

#wellness #counsellingforhearthealth #friends #self-esteem