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29/Dec/2017

res·o·lu·tion

 noun; a firm decision to do or not to do something.


That time of year when our use of the word RESOLUTION tends to skyrocket is just around the corner. As a new year approaches, we often naturally find ourselves thinking about what goals we would like to set for ourselves in the upcoming year.  We make promises to ourselves, and perhaps also to our friends or family, about what we plan to do differently, what we plan to start, and what we plan to stop.  Creating New Year’s Resolutions can be a great way to not only make plans or set commitments for the upcoming year, but also to reflect on the past year.

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Although it may sound like a simple task, many of us struggle with it.  Some of us may feel that we cannot narrow down our list and may feel overwhelmed by the number of things we would like to accomplish, while others may feel that they cannot think of anything they would like to start, stop or change in the New Year.  Even for those of us that have a clear idea of what we would like to achieve, we may find ourselves doubting whether we can actually do it, or whether we actually will.

We would like to provide you all with some useful steps to follow when setting your New Year’s Resolutions this year.  These strategies will help you to narrow down what you value in life and set commitments in accordance with those values.

STEP 1:  REFLECT MINDFULLY

First and foremost, take some time to reflect on the past year.  Take out a blank piece of paper and answer the following questions:

  • What did you accomplish this past year that you are proud of?

Remember, this is something that YOU are proud of accomplishing and not only something from which you received recognition from others. What is important is not the size of the accomplishment or the reward of that accomplishment, but rather that it was an accomplishment at all.

Accomplishments may not always provide pleasure or reward and they may not always be recognized by others as accomplishments, and that’s okay.  For example, if you had been avoiding asking someone out on a date, but then did it, even if they rejected your invitation and left you feeling let down and embarrassed, you may still consider the act of asking the person out an accomplishment.

  • What were you grateful for this past year?

Thinking about what you are grateful for can highlight areas of life that are important to you.  It can identify people or things that you value and cherish, which can act as foundations upon which you set goals for the future.  For example, if you identify that you are grateful for your job and the lifestyle it allows you to live, you may be more inclined to set New Year’s Resolutions that help you to grow within your job or further develop your skills for your job.  Whereas if you find yourself noticing that you are not grateful for your job at all, perhaps that realization will allow you to set resolutions for change in that area of your life.

  • On a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = not at all, and 10 = completely), how connected did you feel within each of the domains listed below over the past year?

If any of these domains are not at all important to you, feel free to skip them, however, if you hold any value in the domain, reflect on how connected you were in that area of your life this past year.  Also, feel free to add your own domains if you think of one that is not listed here and is important to you.

Family relationships
Intimate relationships
Friendship
Work
Health
Spirituality
Community involvement
Leisure
Personal growth

See if you can identify some domains that were lacking compared to others this past year, and perhaps that will help you to set New Year’s Resolutions targeted to improve that domain in the upcoming year.

STEP 2:  IDENTIFY VALUES

Once you have finished reflecting on the past year, use the information you gathered to identify who and what is important to you.  This will help you later on when you are ready to set some resolutions because you will be able to recognize who and what you want to move towards in the New Year.  For example, if you noticed that you were proud of your accomplishment of asking someone out on a date, you were grateful for your friends who supported you when you were turned down, yet you were still feeling disconnected in the intimate relationship domain of life, perhaps you can use this information to set a resolution that will help you move towards becoming more connected in that domain despite the disappointment you had endured in the past year.  It is a New Year, a perfect time to try again, and it is always worth it if it is something that really matters to you.

STEP 3:  SET S.M.A.R.T. RESOUTIONS

Setting New Year’s resolutions, in more generic terms, is goal setting.  Some of you may have heard of SMART goals in goal setting.  Making your goals SMART increase the likelihood that you will be successful in achieving them.  It allows you to structure them in such a way that they almost feel that they can be held in your hands as an object rather than feeling like they are floating somewhere in the clouds.

** In brackets I added some substitute words that I found on Project Smart which I felt are also relevant to the objective of SMART goals, and particularly in setting New Year’s Resolutions (https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php).

S – Specific (Significant)

Make sure each resolution that you set is clear to you and that it is specific enough that you would be able to explain it to someone else in just one sentence leaving as few unknowns left as possible.  See if you can answer who, what, where, when, why, and how for each goal you set.  For example, saying that your goal for the New Year is to be healthier is not a specific goal, whereas saying that your goal is to be healthier by exercising four days a week for at least 30 minutes and eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables a day IS a specific goal.

M – Measurable (Meaningful, Motivational)

Make sure that you are able to measure your progress with your goal.  Are you able to identify when you are moving towards that goal or away from that goal?  For example, are you able to measure if you are being healthier if you don’t have anything to reference that goal with?  What does ‘healthier’ mean to you?  A measurable goal would be like the example above of exercising 4 times per week for at least 30 minutes – you would easily be able to measure whether you had done this or not.

A – Achievable (Attainable, Adaptive, Action-oriented)

Make sure that you have the means to achieve your goal.  Are there barriers to achieving your goal that are completely out of your control?  If you are setting a New Year’s Resolution that has the time-frame of one year, is this goal achievable in that time-frame?  For example, if your goal is to become a doctor, is it possible to complete all the necessary education and training to do that in just one year?  This does not mean that you should not set resolutions that will take longer than a year, but perhaps the end goal needs to be broken down into smaller, more achievable goals.  For example, if becoming a doctor is your end goal, then perhaps your New Year’s Resolution could be to have all your medical school applications submitted by the end of the year.

R – Relevant (Realistic, Reasonable)

Make sure to check in with your values to identify whether the goals you are setting are actually relevant to YOU.  Do not set your goals based on what other people want you to do (unless your underlying reasoning is because it is important to you to make that person happy), and do not set goals based on things you feel you should do.  For example, if you set a goal to attend Church weekly solely because your family is very religious and want you to attend Church regularly, is this goal truly relevant to YOU?

T – Time-based (Trackable)

Make sure your goal has a target date.  With New Year’s Resolutions, this target date is usually sometime within the year, but the more specific you can get with your time-frame, the better!  You can ask yourself questions like:  What can I do this week?  What can I do in the next month?  What can I do in 6 months? And so on, that may help you move towards a long term goal.

A new year provides opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the year to come.  We understand and can appreciate first hand that setting New Year’s Resolutions can seem like a daunting or overwhelming task, but we hope that the strategies above help you to identify what is important you through mindful reflection and set goals that are in line with what you value.


From all of us at JMA, we wish you a very Happy New Year full of values guided living!

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28/Sep/2017

Kerry Foster wrote an excellent blog, Best Practice: Is Your Injured Worker With A Psych Injury Too Sick To Work?’, summarizing two compelling articles: ‘Is your patient too sick to work?’ by Dr.’s Gregory Couser and Gabrielle Melin of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine Rochester; and ‘If Work Makes People with Mental Illness Sick, What Do Unemployment, Poverty, and Social Isolation Cause?’ by Joe Marrone and Ed Golowka from the Institute for Community Inclusion in Portland.  Foster and the authors of these articles have, in our opinion, hit the mark on the topic of staying off work due to psychological illness or difficulties.  We have been working with a population of individuals who are off work due to chronic mental and/or somatic health difficulties for many years and the trends we see are directly in line with what these authors are speaking of.

First of all, when we meet with clients for our initial assessment and we ask them what led up to their leave from work, they start off by listing the stressful events and/or the limiting symptoms, and then go on to say that when they met with their doctor, their doctor suggested that they take some time off work to recover.  In many cases, through going off work, the client has now eliminated from their life a key part of their identity or role in this world.  They have deleted the human interaction that may have accompanied their job, they have opened the door to possible financial pressures and isolation, and they have closed the door to productivity, financial contribution to the family, and maybe even a sense of accomplishment and purpose that they may have once obtained from their job.  They have also now entered the mindset that the difficulties they are facing and their work cannot co-exist, and that they must wait until they feel better in order to do their job.  The problems here are that with chronic conditions, the individual may in fact never feel completely better with symptoms at times persisting regardless of treatment. It is the case that until these individuals resume working and actually immerse themselves into their work environment again, they will never be able to learn how to allow their difficulties and their work to exist simultaneously.    Whether it was a decision made independently, or one made by their doctor, it is often one that can hinder a client’s recovery rather than encourage it.

The next problem that arises is that as people continue to sit at home waiting to feel better enough to return to work, the time keeps passing, the challenges continue to exist or become even worse, and the idea that they are disabled from doing their job gets further and further reinforced.  Often times, when we see clients who have been off work for two years or more, we are automatically faced with additional challenges in helping them Portrait of an upset businessman at desk in office. Businessmanget back to work, primarily because this notion and conditioned belief that their symptoms and work cannot co-exist has been carved into their minds.  The earlier clients are referred to us, the better results we see.  If we see clients at the point that they go off work, or even when they are still working but are having challenges, we can work with them to learn how to manage and cope with their difficulties in such a way that they do not have to give up a pivotal part of their life.  We can provide strategies to manage their difficulties while AT WORK, and can teach them how to address and deal with issues as they arise.  Furthermore, we can help them identify the value that their work brings to their life.   Even if someone does not go into work every day thinking I LOVE MY JOB, we can often still help them identify what it is about working that is meaningful to them – whether it is financial security, status, sense of accomplishment, financial contribution within the family, setting an example for their children, the ability to live a comfortable lifestyle, or the means to keep their family healthy – there is rarely an empty response.  From there, the client may notice that in being off work, they are moving away from that value rather than towards it, which is causing additional suffering to their already quite full plate of difficulties.

Early intervention is important, but is not always granted.  There are a number of reasons for this, but one that I will discuss is the issue of individuals needing to feel that they CAN open up early on and that they will be heard.  In order for early intervention to be possible, it is essential that the individual suffering feels that they have someone they can open up to as soon as they start to notice their struggles so that they can be dealt with immediately rather than allowing them to persist and likely bring on additional suffering.  Workplaces need to create open and inviting environments that make employees feel comfortable to speak up about their difficulties and to receive the support needed, rather than having to go off work to deal with things in the privacy of their own home.

At JMA we offer intervention services to individuals at any stage, whether they are still working and are struggling or whether they have gone off work and are looking for help to get back on track.  If you, or someone you know could use some support and guidance towards getting back to where you want to be, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.  We are also able to provide educational programs to employers about mental health at work and about how to best support your employees if they approach you with challenges they are experiencing to lessen the risk of prolonged disability.

Kerry Foster’s full blog is available here: Best Practice: Is Your Injured Worker with a Psych Injury Too Sick to Work?

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References

Crouser, Gregory, P. & Melin, Gabrielle, J. (2006). Is your patient too sick to work? Current Psychiatry 5(9):17-25.

Foster, Kerry. (2014, April). Best Practice: Is Your Injured Worker with a Psych Injury Too Sick to Work? Retrieved from https://activeohs.com.au/best-practice-2/best-practice-is-your-injured-worker-with-a-psych-injury-too-sick-to-work.

Marrone, Joe & Golowka, Ed. (2000). If Work Makes People with Mental Illness Sick, What Do Unemployment, Poverty, and Social Isolation Cause? Speaking Out (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal) 23(2): 187-193.


15/Aug/2017

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that uses a combination of strategies to foster psychological flexibility including, mindfulness, acceptance, commitment, and behaviour change.  Rather than the focus being on ridding oneself of ‘negative’ internal or external content (i.e. thoughts, feelings, emotions, pain), ACT focuses on inviting individuals to be open to experiencing all that life has to offer us, whether pleasant or unpleasant, and to learn how to move towards the people and things that are meaningful to us, particularly in the presence of challenges.

The way we see ACT is not only as a type of therapy used in a wide variety of clinical settings for a wide range of clinical diagnoses, but also as a way of life, that each of us at JMA have adopted.  Our work at JMA is broad and so using a type of therapy that is also very broad is quite fitting.  We have been able to incorporate components of ACT into each and every one of our services, and have seen plenty of success in doing so.

In September 2017, we will be launching our ACT for Mindful Eating course which uses components of ACT to address the challenges and barriers that typically come into play in other weight loss initiatives (i.e. dieting, counting calories, restricting).  In preparation for the launch of our course we have been exploring what researchers studying ACT’s role on weight control and eating behaviour have discovered.  We came across research that revealed that ACT has shown favourable outcomes for long-term weight control outcomes.

“At 3-month follow-up, ACT participants had lost an additional 1.6% of their body weight, whereas the control group gained .3% and overall a significantly higher proportion of the ACT participants had maintained or lost weight.  The ACT group also showed significant improvements in quality of life and reductions in psychological distress and self-stigma” (Lillis et al., 2009).

Check out this full article, to see what these researchers have to say about using ACT independently or in combination with Standard Behavioural Treatment for weight control: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4238039/

For more information about our ACT for Mindful Eating course please contact Michelle Urbanc at 905-317-8890 or by email at info@jmarlinandassociates.com.

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Lillis, J. and Kendra, K. (2014). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for weight control: Model, evidence, and future directions. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3(1), 1–7


6/Jul/2017

I’m sure we have all experienced the anxious feeling that arises when there just doesn’t seem to be enough money in the pot to cover all our expenses, or the gut-wrenching feeling that arrives when we are hit with unexpected and un-planned for expenses, like car and home repairs, or vet bills.  Financial stressors are not uncommon and feeling overwhelmed by financial pressures is normal.  It is when the stress takes over due to ineffective money management that our long-term mental health may start to suffer.

A nation-wide survey conducted on behalf of Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) showed that 42% of Canadians ranked money as their leading cause of stress, significantly more than work, personal health and relationships (FPSC, 2014).  The survey also found that financial stress is contributing to poor sleep, reconsideration of past financial decisions, arguments with partners and dishonesty amongst family and friends about personal finances.  When we lack sleep and our meaningful relationships are strained, a number of other problems can arise, and we can become overwhelmed, and our ability to cope with it all can start to wither away.  When we are no longer able to effectively cope with these building stressors, and are stuck in a cycle of being stretched beyond our limits to try and make ends meet, we are at greater risk of experiencing long-term mental health difficulties.

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It is often difficult for even the healthiest and wealthiest of individuals to effectively manage their money and the stress it may bring, but in individuals already suffering with mental health disorders or challenges, there is even more to consider.  Those with existing mental health disorders are at greater risk of being affected by financial pressures for a number of reasons: (1) they may have less drive, focus, and motivation to properly manage their finances; (2) they may use spending money on desired items as a means to relieve symptoms; (3) they may be unemployed or on a leave from work for mental health reasons; and (4) they may be more prone to impulsive spending due to weakened inhibitions.  In order to stay healthy, it is important for all individuals to develop a money management plan, and it is important for us to support one another in doing this because we will all fall victim to financial stressors of some kind.  Researchers from The University of South Hampton concluded that the likelihood of having a mental health problem is three times higher among people who have debt, and that depression, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders were among the most common mental illnesses people in debt experienced (Psychology Today, 2015).

It is a difficult and multifaceted challenge in that we can’t always identify the cause and effect – whether the debt caused the mental health issues or whether the mental health issues caused the debt – but regardless, both problems must be addressed.  When you have an effective financial plan and are on top of things, it’s easier to improve your mental state – and when you are healthy, both mentally and physically, it is easier to take action on your debt.

So the answer isn’t simple, but it does exist.  We must become mindful of both our mental health as well as our financial situation and if either are not where we would like them to be, we need to develop a plan.  Seek counselling or reach out for social support if you notice that you are experiencing mental health difficulties, and seek financial advice if you are struggling to stay on top of things financially.  You don’t have to try and do it alone – we are all in this together.  According to a survey done by The American Psychological Association, 43% of those who say they have no emotional support report that their overall stress has increased in the past year, compared with 26% of those who say they have emotional support.


So here are some of our basic tips on tips on how stay mentally healthy.
(If you feel you need more support, in the form of coaching or counselling, we are here to help as well).

  • Practice mindfulness & be mindful of your mental health
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Develop and strengthen your social support network (and use them!)
  • Reach out for professional help when needed
  • Engage in activities and relationships that are meaningful to you
  • Set aside time for reflection to see whether you are truly living the life that you want to be living, and if not, make some changes

Because we are not financial experts, we reached out to a friend, Anton Tucker, who is a Certified Financial Planner and Portfolio Manager, and has many years of experience providing financial advice and support to people.  We interviewed Anton and here is what he had to say about how to stay financially healthy:

‘’Managing money effectively is difficult because we are all so consumption driven. After all, our entire lives have been influenced by media touting the latest gizmo or paradise vacation that will “change our lives”.  Most of us have also never been coached on how to properly ‘save the cents and in turn, grow the dollars’, so we are not to blame for not knowing how to do just that.  Saving money is no different from exercising to get fit and stay in shape to be healthy.  It requires a basic plan, discipline, patience and above all sacrifice.  I believe in order to effectively manage our money we all need to first select a saving number based on our ability, need and life stage.  The number is the percentage of your income that you will commit to save each and every paycheque.  It should typically be 10%, 15% or 20% of your net income.  In the simplest of terms, 10% will result in you being somewhat comfortable, 15% will deliver a good nest egg and 20% will provide a very solid financial base from which to fund an enjoyable lifestyle.  Take this at face value as you contemplate your number and set about thinking how you can do this starting from your very next paycheque.  You will be amazed at just how easy it becomes as you get used to setting this amount aside before you pay bills or think of spending again.’’

Staying on top of your mental health and your financial health simultaneously will go a long way in helping you stay mentally healthy and in not letting financial pressures threaten to take that away from you.  Whether you are already struggling with mental health or financial stressors or are not yet, but still feel there is room for improvement, try some of the tips we have shared with you or reach out for more personalized support whenever needed.

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APA. (2015, February). American Psychological Association Survey Shows Money Stress Weighing on Americans’ Health Nationwide. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/02/money-stress.aspx

FCSP. (2014, November). Canadians Cite Money Worries as Greatest Source of Stress. Retrieved from http://www.fpsc.ca/news/publications-research/how-is-financial-stress-affecting-canadians

Georgopoulos, M. (2017, June). End the Stigma: Impact of finances on mental health (or the impact of mental health on finances…). Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/end-stigma-impact-finances-mental-health-maggie-georgopoulos

Morin, A. (2015, June). What Your Financial Health Says About Your Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201507/what-your-financial-health-says-about-your-mental

Richardson TElliott PRoberts R. (2013, December). The relationship between personal unsecured debt and mental and physical health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24121465 


25/May/2017

Do you feel as though your clothes just don’t fit the way you would like them to?  Do you feel anxious about the upcoming summer months and losing the layers of winter clothing?  Do you feel like the battle to lose weight and feel great is an endless one?  Well, you’re not alone.

‘Do you feel fat?’ is an abrupt question and may be intimidating  for many to answer, but the reality is that it is, in fact, how many of us are already feeling, and the majority of us would respond ‘yes’.  I felt a bit apprehensive in using this very question as the title of my blog and the tagline of our advertising campaign for the month, but throughout my research for this blog, I came to learn that the fact of the matter is that asking people this question is really just getting to the point and not ‘avoiding the elephant in the room’, so to speak.  This trend is not surprising given the media’s influence on people’s perception of what is considered to be ‘fat’.  Responding affirmatively to this question does not necessarily mean that our weight or body mass index (BMI) falls within a category that is considered to be overweight or obese, nor would it confirm without a doubt that our body shape or size is posing any risk to our health.  I am not saying that feeling fat never equals being fat, but I am saying that the former can, and most definitely does in many cases, exist without the latter.

I was interested in collecting some numbers so that I could really see if what I thought was happening was really happening – if many people felt fat and were dissatisfied with their body.  I anonymously surveyed 100 people of varying characteristics, ages, genders, and cultures.  I asked them a series of questions, which were as follows:

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The results were what I had expected, yet for some reason I was still surprised by what I saw.

I know that a lot of people feel fat, and I know that many are dissatisfied with their body, but seeing the numbers really drove the point home – people’s undesirable body image, whether justified or not, is a real problem.

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Click here to see a bigger image:  do-you-feel-fat-surevy-results

As you can see in the graph above, the majority of people we surveyed feel fat, are not satisfied with their body, have tried dieting, would like to lose weight, compare their bodies to others, and are unhappy with the number on the scale.  Surprisingly, many even said that others would not agree with their perception of their shape and size, suggesting that this may be a group of individuals who feel fat, but perhaps would not necessarily meet the true criteria for being fat or may not be seen as fat by othersLet’s face it – we are typically our own worst enemy and toughest critic!

There are a number of assumptions we can make when analyzing these results.  Here are a few assumptions that I have made based on these results, but there are definitely still other angles that can be taken.

  • Many people are in fact overweight: It is known that overweight and obesity is a real problem in the current world, and perhaps the reason that many confirmed that they feel fat, are unhappy with the number on the scale, and are dissatisfied with their body, is because they are, in fact, overweight or obese.  Again, this is just an assumption we can make since we did not ask any information in our survey about weight classification or BMI.  Statistics Canada reported that in 2014, 61.8% of Canadian men and 46.2% of Canadian women were said to be overweight or obese based on their BMI classification (The Huffington Post, 2015).  If being overweight or obese is where the problem lies, then behavioural intervention (i.e. eating behaviour, exercise, education, etc.) is required to prevent weight gain to a level that puts people into these categories.
  • The majority of people have a negative body image: Whether or not individuals fall into the overweight or obese categories, it is evident that body image is a real issue that needs to be addressed.  The Canadian Women’s Health Network supports this point as it reports that 80% to 90% of women and girls in Canada are unhappy with the way they look (CWHN, 2012).  Women are not the only ones dealing with body image issues as many people may think.  The Guardian reported that more than 81% of men talk in ways that promote anxiety about their body image by referring to perceived flaws and imperfections, compared with 75% of women (The Guardian, 2012).  The study also found that 38% of men would sacrifice at least a year of their life in exchange for a perfect body.  If body image is where the problem lies, then psychological intervention is needed to help individuals maintain a positive perception of their size and shape – a positive body image.
  • The media and cultural trends have influenced unrealistic and likely unhealthy perceptions of what is considered to be an attractive body shape and size: If we look back over the years, the ‘perfect’ body shape and size has changed drastically, and what may have been considered ‘attractive’ or ‘desirable’ decades ago, would now be considered ‘fat’, ‘unattractive’, or ‘undesirable’.  This video shared by BuzzFeedVideos in 2015 shows the ideal body types over time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xrp0zJZu0a4.  The media’s view of ‘the perfect body’ is not static and so why should we keep trying to chase it, rather than learning to love the body we have, as long as we are doing what is needed to keep it healthy.  If you feel fat, consider how much the media is playing into that feeling.  If the media and its strong influence over our perceptions is where the problem lies, then educational intervention is needed to help individuals understand that different body shapes, types, and sizes exist, and that striving to be something we are not can cause more harm than good.

There are indeed other interpretations or conclusions we can make based on the results of our mini study’s results, however, there seems to be one overarching issue that needs to be addressed, regardless of the root of the problem – people feel fat, are unhappy with their bodies, and are looking for solutions.  If people continue to feel fat, a chain reaction of other problems can begin.

Some studies, including one done in 2012 by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, found that thinking you are fat or feeling fat can actually lead to you becoming fat.  They identified a number of reasons supporting why this may happen, such as the psychosocial stress of trying to achieve the ‘ideal body type’, skipping meals, and ‘yo-yoing’ on and off unsustainable diets.  Other studies, including a body image study done by researchers at Bradley Hospital, Butler Hospital, and Brown Medical School, have looked at the effect of having a negative body image on psychological health.  This study and others like it have concluded that adolescents with negative body image concerns are more likely to be depressed, anxious, and suicidal than those without intense dissatisfaction over their appearance, even when compared to adolescents with other psychiatric illnesses.  They also found that in addition to higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidality, patients with shape/weight preoccupations expressed higher levels of dissociation (a coping style characterized by blocking out emotions), sexual preoccupation/distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and that the majority of the adolescents in the study were not actually overweight.  This suggests that weight may not be the problem, but rather the perceptions that individuals have of themselves, whether or not they are in fact overweight.

At J Marlin and Associates Inc. we understand this issue, and have developed an effective psychological, educational, and behavioural solution.  Our approach to this issue may be different than others and may be new to many people, but it is supported by the scientific evidence, and we encourage it with confidence.  It allows us to tackle all of the issues that have been researched around ‘’feeling fat’’, including the true need to lose weight, the need for proper education around eating behaviours and perceptions of ‘the perfect body’ and psychological strategies around acceptance, engagement in life regardless of how you feel, and coping with challenges or barriers along the way.

Our solution is ACT for Mindful Eating.  This 10-session course begins in September of 2017.  Students will learn to approach all of their behaviours more mindfully, from grocery shopping to food preparation to eating in restaurants and at work, and to maintaining a risk free eating environment in the home.  Mindful Eating helps us to better understand, appreciate and, when needed, change our relationship with food.  Mindfulness helps us to foster a non-judgemental acceptance of things as they are in the present moment (i.e. our current body shape and size), notice what can and cannot be changed, move towards what is meaningful to us, and to continue along that very path regardless of the ‘stuff’ that interferes or may try to stop us on our way.

We can quite reasonably assume that many of you reading this will have felt fat at some point, may feel fat right now, or may know someone that feels fat, and we can help.  Please feel free to get in touch with us if you are interested in hearing more about what we can do for you.

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21/Apr/2017

Over my Easter weekend with family, this word – mindfulness – came up a few times.  It became a hot conversation topic and sparked curiosity and interest within all of us, particularly with those that do not have much experience with it, or do not fully know what it is.

‘Mindfulness’ has been a big buzz word for the past little while now, but after our family conversation over the weekend, it became clear to me that not everyone really knows what it is, or the purpose of it.

Some were arguing that it was a technique used to relax and clear the mind, while others argued that it was a strategy to improve concentration on whatever you are doing.  While neither of these are entirely wrong, they are also not entirely accurate.  Some felt that it was more effortful to be consciously mindful than to just move through the day as one normally would, and others felt that it was something that could only be done if time was set aside each day to dedicate to the practice of it.  Again, neither points are globally wrong, although neither are fully correct either.

I realized through our conversations, that mindfulness is not a clear cut idea that everyone and anyone would come to understand from just one simple definition, although the practice of it can truly be simple once you understand its purpose.

why-the-dog-is-happier

So then what IS mindfulness anyway?

The way I would define mindfulness is that it consists of openly, fully, and non-judgementally experiencing all there is to experience in any given moment, both internally and externally.  Mindfulness is about connecting with your senses and being present in the here and now,  It is about acknowledging, accepting, and ‘ sitting with’ whatever thoughts, feelings, emotions, judgements, physical sensations, or other internal or external content that shows up for you, without trying to change it.  It is also about learning how to see each of the pieces of your experience as equal parts of your moment-to-moment existence in that you are not labelling or attaching any form of judgment to them as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

While many believe that mindfulness is a relaxation technique, relaxation is not exactly the aim of mindfulness, although can often be a ‘side effect’.  When we are being mindful, we are not trying to clear our minds and think of ‘nothing’, we are actually doing quite the opposite – noticing and acknowledging everything that is showing up in our mind.  The difference between being mindful and being in full concentration of something may be that when you are in full concentration you have likely attached yourself in some way to what it is you are focusing on, whereas with mindfulness the goal is to stay detached from the content of your mind and to allow it to come and go as it will.

I can fully understand why some may feel that mindfulness takes effort, and that is because it is not how we have evolved to go about life.  Living the busy lives that we all live often leads us to living life in what we like to call ‘auto-pilot’ without fully noticing and appreciating our experiences.  For example, perhaps while enjoying a relaxing, soothing massage, we are thinking about the work we have to get done that evening, or thinking about what we will make for dinner.  Or while out for dinner with friends, we may be scrolling through our cell phones to see what we have missed on social media, or to check whether we have any ‘urgent’ emails to respond to.  So yes, being mindful does not always come easy to us, which is why it is important to practice it every day.

There are two kinds of mindfulness:  (1) Formal mindfulness, and (2) Informal mindfulness.  Formal mindfulness requires setting aside time to practice mindfulness.  This would include choosing a particular mindfulness technique such as breath awareness, and setting aside a specific amount of time dedicated only to that.  Informal mindfulness can be paired with any of your day-to-day activities.  Some great examples of when you can practice informal mindfulness include while washing dishes, while brushing your teeth, or while taking a hot shower.  These are things that we tend to do on a daily basis, but may not be fully present in the experiences involved with each of these activities since they are so routine to us.

Practicing mindfulness can be challenging at first, but the more one practices, the more likely they are to notice that they are becoming more mindful in their daily lives without even trying and without any added effort.

I encourage you all to start off by setting aside 10 minutes per day to practice formal mindfulness, and I encourage you to incorporate informal mindfulness into as many of your daily activities as you can.  Like I said, the more you practice, the more likely you are to naturally be more mindful within your daily life.


Here is an example of a quick formal mindfulness strategy that you can try as you start out:

This is a simple exercise to center yourself and connect with your environment.  Practice it throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings.

  1. Take ten slow, deep breaths.  Focus on breathing out as slowly as possible until the lungs are completely empty—and then allow them to refill by themselves.
  2. Notice the sensations of your lungs emptying.  Notice them refilling.  Notice your rib cage rising and falling.  Notice the gentle rise and fall of your shoulders.
  3. See if you can let your thoughts come and go as if they’re just passing cars, driving past outside your
  4. Expand your awareness: simultaneously notice your breathing and your body.  Then

look around the room and notice what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.

Here is an example of how you can be informally mindful while doing an activity, such as washing the dishes:

Notice the temperature of the water, notice the texture of each of the dishes, notice the weight of the dishes, notice the smell of the soap, notice how the sponge feels, notice how your hands feel when they are full of soap versus when they are not, notice the sounds associated with washing the dishes.

See if you can optimize your engagement and appreciation of all that is involved within your daily activities by being mindful as you carry them out.


Good luck, and please feel free to share some of your thoughts and comments with us as you progress through your journey mindfully.

jessica-rickus1


17/Mar/2017

Have you ever thought about what the world would be like without rules, contingencies, stipulations, regulations, or facts?  In my opinion, although it may be fun at times, it would be chaotic, potentially dangerous, full of ambiguity, and disorganized.  In a world of about 7 billion human beings, all with very different values, goals, ideas, and personalities, we need structure and boundaries – we need RULES.  Rules serve many purposes, but ultimately, they promote safety, protection, peace, fairness, and an overall well-being for all abiders.

Quite understandably our minds, being such a powerful and intelligent organ, instinctively opts for this same safety, organization, and protection.  It protects us from danger by reminding us not to run on a broken leg or step in front of an approaching train; it helps us stay organized by telling us that although we may like to go out for lunch, we have a meeting at work starting in five minutes; and it helps us maintain peace or well-being by kick-starting our inhibitions and reminding us of the consequences of our actions, like what may happen if we use physical violence during a disagreement.  Unfortunately, however, the mind’s rule-setting, boundary-creating, and protection-ensuring mechanism is not always ‘positive’.  It can cause us to unnecessarily restrict our lives and limit ourselves as well.

puzzle-brainOur mind can be quite selfish, although its intentions may be good.  When it perceives a threat, it goes into protection mode, as described in the examples above, and it does not often think beyond that.  Although this helps us immensely in many of our interactions with the external world, it is when it tries to protect us from experiencing our uncontrollable internal content that it can make us feel, or act, defeated.  Our internal content consists of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  For example, if we struggle with social anxiety, our mind may instinctively try to protect us by encouraging us to avoid feeling this anxiety, which may only be achieved by avoiding any social interactions altogether.  If we struggle with chronic pain, our mind may try to help us limit this pain (since it has learned to perceive pain as a threat) by encouraging us to avoid any type of physical activity or movement that may (but more likely will not) cause harm or damage.  When faced with difficult internal content, our mind starts to create rules, stipulations, and limitations, which are often statements with BUT’S and IF and THEN’s that we are all very familiar with.

I want to attend my best friend’s wedding, but I am too anxious” or, “If my anxiety goes away, then I can go to my best friend’s wedding”.

We tend to place a great deal of trust in our mind and we absorb these rules as facts and follow them to the letter, causing us to lose sight of our values and stop acting in accordance with such values.  Our mind can convince us that it is more important to protect ourselves from feeling anxiety than to attend our best friend’s wedding, even if the latter is very important to us.

Learning to be able to hear what the mind has to say, but not always listen to its rules is neither easy nor quick.  It takes time to be able to decipher between actual threats and perceived threats.  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a few exercises to help with this.  One simple, yet powerful ACT exercise is to replace all self-referential ‘but’s’ with ‘and’s’.  So from our example above, we may instead say to ourselves,

 “I want to attend my best friend’s wedding, and I feel anxious about it.”

Now the statement is not limiting and is rather a statement composed of two independent facts, the first no longer being contingent on the second.

Try it yourself.  Keep record of any ‘but’ thoughts your mind produces, and replace the ‘but’s’ with ‘and’s’.  Take the exercise one step further by taking an action that the ‘but’ may have stopped you from taking.  For example, in the case of our best friend’s wedding example – attending the wedding despite the anxiety would be the next step.

jessica-rickus1


17/Feb/2017

I would like you to imagine a scale, not the scale that we stand on in the bathroom, but a balance scale with a load on either side.  Now I want you to imagine that on one side of that scale is work (career, job, work-related responsibilities), and on the other side is life (lifestyle, health, pleasure, family, leisure time).  I don’t necessarily like the common terminology of ‘work-life’ balance because I feel it separates work from life, where, for many of us, work is a very large part of our ‘life’.  However, for our purpose here, let’s keep things simple and use the word ‘life’ to represent all that defines our life outside of work.

Most of us struggle to find work-life balance.  We have so much piled on the work side weighing us down that it may consume us and we may even feel that we are buried underneath it all.  Now go back to the mental image of the scale and picture the work scale filled with all your papers, notebooks, appointments on your calendar, your phone, your computer, and all your responsibilities – of course it is heavy!!  It is perfectly normal for this side to be heavy, but it is when the life side doesn’t meet or exceed this weight, that problems will arise.

So how do we keep the scale balanced?  How do we make time for what matters to us in both areas?  How do we make sure that we are not neglecting one side at the costly expense of the other?

Here are some simple strategies…

ASK YOURSELF

Ask yourself some important questions…

  • Do you cancel plans with friends because you are too busy with work?desk
  • Do you feel like you spend as much time doing leisure activities as you do working?
  • Do you often work after hours?
  • Do you think about work as you are trying to fall asleep or do you worry about work-related problems while you are at home?
  • Do you feel that your conversations with friends and family are mostly about work?
  • Do you skip some vacation days because there is just too much to get done?
  • Does your work and income define you?
  • Do you feel that you have to be perfect at work?
  • Do your friends or family complain that you work too much?
  • Do you feel that you have no ‘me’ time because of work?
  • Does your social circle exist only at work?
  • Do you feel that you cannot leave any task for the next day?
  • Do you feel too tired from work to do anything afterwards?

If you answered YES to any or some of these questions, the work side of your scale may have become too heavy, and may be outweighing the life side, therefore, it is time to take a deeper look into what matters to you most and set goals to maintain balance.

The first step is awareness achieved by noticing when the scale is off balance, and deciding what actions will  create the equilibrium that you need.

jumpingTRY THIS…

NOTICE.  Identify what is important to you in each area, and then notice where you are at with respect to living a life that balances those values.

Starting with work, write down 3-5 work-related values. (i.e. commitment, team work, etc.)

Now, take a moment to think about how closely you are living out each of those values at work (on a scale from 0-not at all to 10-completely); Write down your score.

Do the same for the life side.  Write down 3-5 life(style)-related values (i.e. enjoyment, quality time with family, etc.) and now give yourself a score from 0 to 10 in how well you feel you are living out those values.

SET GOALS

If you find that either of your scores are not where you would like them to be, see if you can set goals that will help you increase that score.  For example, on a 10 point scale with 10 being excellent, if you scored 5 in the life domain, what actions could you take to move you closer to a 10?  Could you dedicate more of your time to family or friends?  Could you make a commitment to not answering work emails in the evening when you are at home with your family?  Can you schedule more leisure-type activities into your calendar the way you would schedule work meetings?  If you scored 10/10 with respect to your work related values, that’s great, as long as having a perfect score in this area is not at the cost of pursuing values in your personal life.


I leave you with a simple, yet very important question.  What does work-life balance mean to you?  We may not all define it in the same way, and so it is important to identify what it means to YOU personally.

Here are some responses I got when I asked friends, family, and colleagues this same question:

“Work-life balance is not having my work intrude on my personal life and having the freedom to come and go as I need to.  It means not being tied to my desk.” -Vicky

“Work-life balance is the ability to prioritize one’s personal time as we do our work time – recognizing that it is as important if not more.” – Anton

“Work-life balance means trying to complete my 40 hour work week as efficiently and effectively as possible so that I can enjoy my time outside of those 40 hours with the ones I love or doing the things I care about.  I think there are times we all have to be flexible, as from time to time, work may require something more from us, but to me, as long as this is the exception and not the rule, you can still establish a healthy work-life balance.” – Kathryn

‘’It means having the flexibility to do the things I love.  More time not working in the summer so I can garden.  Fridays off so that I can have a “me” day.  I don’t mind working on a Saturday or Sunday at times because it is uninterrupted work time.  I also don’t mind working early in the morning and sometimes in the evening.  Being able to flex my schedule to spend time with grandchildren is crucial.  Having time to travel and unwind.  Work is also very important to me so at times it is the priority.’’ – Janet

“To me, work-life balance means giving my all and being the best person I can be at both work and home.  It means making compromises and sometimes choosing one over the other temporarily in certain situations.  It means taking care of myself so I can give to both areas, and noticing the signs when I feel like I’m burning out.’’ – Kayleen

“Work life balance means making time for the important things in life outside of work hours.  I really love the quote “you cannot pour from an empty cup”.  It reminds me that self-care is important and in order to do my best at work, I need to take part in other activities that fill me in other ways.  For me, that means taking time for walks, working out, practicing yoga, spending time with family and friends and cooking/baking.” – Stephanie

Whenever you notice that you are struggling to maintain a work-life balance and feel that you are missing out on important parts of your life because work has taken over, try some of these strategies to get you back to the balance you desire.  If you are having a hard time using these strategies or if they are simply not working for you, consult a friend, family member, or even a professional because losing balance in your life can lead to psychological, social, and even physical consequences.  We at J Marlin and Associates Inc. offer private, on-on-one counselling services for anyone looking for help with creating and maintaining a balance in their lives, and living in accordance with what matters most to them.


Contact us at info@jmarlinandassociates.com or 905-317-8890 if you are interested in hearing more about the services we provide.

jessica-rickus1

 


25/Jan/2017

It’s that time of year again when the popular Bell Let’s Talk campaign takes place to encourage people to become more vocal about mental health.  On January 25th (TODAY), Bell will donate 5 cents towards mental health initiatives every time you talk, text, or join in on social media – so get talking, texting, and typing!  Here are six ways you can take part in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign on January 25th:

  1. Text (iPhone users, turn off iMessage);
  2. Make phone calls (local or long distance);
  3. Tweet using #BellLetsTalk;
  4. Post on Instagram using #BellLetsTalk;
  5. Watch the Bell Let’s Talk video posted on their Facebook page; and
  6. Post on SnapChat using the Bell Let’s Talk geofilter.

Our blog this week is inspired by the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, in the hope of joining and expanding on their efforts to end the stigma around mental illness and to get people to start talking about the things that matter!

quiet

Mental health is not often an openly discussed topic. People often TALK with friends, family or colleagues about topics such as nutrition, exercise, acute or chronic somatic illness or injury – physical health – yet, when it comes to depression, trauma, counselling therapy, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviours, avoidance of meaningful activities due to anxiety or fear – mental health – the silence is profound.  Why is physical fitness an accepted and popular conversation piece in today’s society, yet mental fitness is an eluded one?  Has evolution taught us that inner struggles, the struggles we cannot see or touch, are to be kept within?

When an individual is suffering from mental illness, it may become difficult or effortful to act in ‘’socially acceptable’’ ways, which may be why many choose to hide away or withdraw themselves completely.  We have been taught that crying in public makes us “weak”, that not being able to perform at work makes us “inadequate”, that shying away from social situations makes us a ‘’loner’’, and that talking to a psychologist, counsellor, or therapist makes us ‘’crazy’’.  So, if these common characteristics or symptoms of mental illness have been labelled with such terms, then does it not seem that the most logical ways of coping would be to just disappear, or to keep everything on the inside so that no one ever sees that which is not meant to be seen?  Little do many know, that although they may be alone in their hiding spot, they are not alone in the struggle with mental illness, and the only way they will ever come to know that is if people start TALKING to one another.

So how can we put an end to this bitter silence around our struggles with mental health?  We can make noise; we can raise awareness; we can write; and we can TALK.  But where do we begin?  How do we start TALKING about mental health, when it is a topic that has been avoided or ignored for years and is replaced with more popular topics, such as the weather or our plans for the weekend?  In no way am I suggesting that we start talking about our thoughts, feelings, and emotions instead of the party we attended over the weekend, but I am saying that discussing the contents of our inner world is just as important and should be considered just as ‘’normal’’ of a topic.  We have all attended a weekend party, just as we all have unwanted and difficult inner content.

talk-to-someoneIf we do not TALK to one another and open up, we are left to rely only on our observations or our assumptions of those around us, rather than truly knowing them.  For example, we may assume that if we do not observe any physical limitations or restrictions, then an individual does not have a disability; we may assume that if an individual dresses, sounds and appears of male gender, that he/she is truly of the male gender; that if an individual is always smiling and laughing, that they are truly happy; or that if an individual is always surrounded by people and has a big family, that they have a strong social support network.  The problem here is that these are all assumptions and they can often be wrong.  That person that is always smiling may be hiding their suffering behind a smile, or that person surrounded by family may feel completely alone in the world.  This is why we need to TALK.

Even if you, yourself, are not struggling with mental illness, someone close to you may be, and you may never know it, so TALK.  TALK to your sibling who you are angry at, TALK to your friend who you have lost touch with, TALK to someone that doesn’t know how often you think of them. If you are struggling with mental illness or you think you might be, TALK to a professional, TALK to your friends, your family, or someone you can count on.  You will be surprised at how far TALKING can take you.  Let’s put an end to the silence surrounding mental illness, let’s discuss our inner content, good or bad, and let’s not make assumptions – let’s TALK.

Check out more information about the Bell Let’s Talk campaign on their website: http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

If you are looking for someone to talk to, we have a number of qualified counsellors that are available to talk, and more importantly, to listen.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in setting up a free consultation.

jessica-rickus1


15/Dec/2016

res·o·lu·tion

 noun; a firm decision to do or not to do something.


That time of year when our use of the word RESOLUTION tends to skyrocket is just around the corner. As a new year approaches, we often naturally find ourselves thinking about what goals we would like to set for ourselves in the upcoming year.  We make promises to ourselves, and perhaps also to our friends or family, about what we plan to do differently, what we plan to start, and what we plan to stop.  Creating New Year’s Resolutions can be a great way to not only make plans or set commitments for the upcoming year, but also to reflect on the past year.

2017

Although it may sound like a simple task, many of us struggle with it.  Some of us may feel that we cannot narrow down our list and may feel overwhelmed by the number of things we would like to accomplish, while others may feel that they cannot think of anything they would like to start, stop or change in the New Year.  Even for those of us that have a clear idea of what we would like to achieve, we may find ourselves doubting whether we can actually do it, or whether we actually will.

We would like to provide you all with some useful steps to follow when setting your New Year’s Resolutions this year.  These strategies will help you to narrow down what you value in life and set commitments in accordance with those values.

STEP 1:  REFLECT MINDFULLY

First and foremost, take some time to reflect on the past year.  Take out a blank piece of paper and answer the following questions:

  • What did you accomplish this past year that you are proud of?

Remember, this is something that YOU are proud of accomplishing and not only something from which you received recognition from others. What is important is not the size of the accomplishment or the reward of that accomplishment, but rather that it was an accomplishment at all.

Accomplishments may not always provide pleasure or reward and they may not always be recognized by others as accomplishments, and that’s okay.  For example, if you had been avoiding asking someone out on a date, but then did it, even if they rejected your invitation and left you feeling let down and embarrassed, you may still consider the act of asking the person out an accomplishment.

  • What were you grateful for this past year?

Thinking about what you are grateful for can highlight areas of life that are important to you.  It can identify people or things that you value and cherish, which can act as foundations upon which you set goals for the future.  For example, if you identify that you are grateful for your job and the lifestyle it allows you to live, you may be more inclined to set New Year’s Resolutions that help you to grow within your job or further develop your skills for your job.  Whereas if you find yourself noticing that you are not grateful for your job at all, perhaps that realization will allow you to set resolutions for change in that area of your life.

  • On a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = not at all, and 10 = completely), how connected did you feel within each of the domains listed below over the past year?

If any of these domains are not at all important to you, feel free to skip them, however, if you hold any value in the domain, reflect on how connected you were in that area of your life this past year.  Also, feel free to add your own domains if you think of one that is not listed here and is important to you.

Family relationships
Intimate relationships
Friendship
Work
Health
Spirituality
Community involvement
Leisure
Personal growth

See if you can identify some domains that were lacking compared to others this past year, and perhaps that will help you to set New Year’s Resolutions targeted to improve that domain in the upcoming year.

STEP 2:  IDENTIFY VALUES

Once you have finished reflecting on the past year, use the information you gathered to identify who and what is important to you.  This will help you later on when you are ready to set some resolutions because you will be able to recognize who and what you want to move towards in the New Year.  For example, if you noticed that you were proud of your accomplishment of asking someone out on a date, you were grateful for your friends who supported you when you were turned down, yet you were still feeling disconnected in the intimate relationship domain of life, perhaps you can use this information to set a resolution that will help you move towards becoming more connected in that domain despite the disappointment you had endured in the past year.  It is a New Year, a perfect time to try again, and it is always worth it if it is something that really matters to you.

STEP 3:  SET S.M.A.R.T. RESOUTIONS

Setting New Year’s resolutions, in more generic terms, is goal setting.  Some of you may have heard of SMART goals in goal setting.  Making your goals SMART increase the likelihood that you will be successful in achieving them.  It allows you to structure them in such a way that they almost feel that they can be held in your hands as an object rather than feeling like they are floating somewhere in the clouds.

** In brackets I added some substitute words that I found on Project Smart which I felt are also relevant to the objective of SMART goals, and particularly in setting New Year’s Resolutions (https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php).

S – Specific (Significant)

Make sure each resolution that you set is clear to you and that it is specific enough that you would be able to explain it to someone else in just one sentence leaving as few unknowns left as possible.  See if you can answer who, what, where, when, why, and how for each goal you set.  For example, saying that your goal for the New Year is to be healthier is not a specific goal, whereas saying that your goal is to be healthier by exercising four days a week for at least 30 minutes and eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables a day IS a specific goal.

M – Measurable (Meaningful, Motivational)

Make sure that you are able to measure your progress with your goal.  Are you able to identify when you are moving towards that goal or away from that goal?  For example, are you able to measure if you are being healthier if you don’t have anything to reference that goal with?  What does ‘healthier’ mean to you?  A measurable goal would be like the example above of exercising 4 times per week for at least 30 minutes – you would easily be able to measure whether you had done this or not.

A – Achievable (Attainable, Adaptive, Action-oriented)

Make sure that you have the means to achieve your goal.  Are there barriers to achieving your goal that are completely out of your control?  If you are setting a New Year’s Resolution that has the time-frame of one year, is this goal achievable in that time-frame?  For example, if your goal is to become a doctor, is it possible to complete all the necessary education and training to do that in just one year?  This does not mean that you should not set resolutions that will take longer than a year, but perhaps the end goal needs to be broken down into smaller, more achievable goals.  For example, if becoming a doctor is your end goal, then perhaps your New Year’s Resolution could be to have all your medical school applications submitted by the end of the year.

R – Relevant (Realistic, Reasonable)

Make sure to check in with your values to identify whether the goals you are setting are actually relevant to YOU.  Do not set your goals based on what other people want you to do (unless your underlying reasoning is because it is important to you to make that person happy), and do not set goals based on things you feel you should do.  For example, if you set a goal to attend Church weekly solely because your family is very religious and want you to attend Church regularly, is this goal truly relevant to YOU?

T – Time-based (Trackable)

Make sure your goal has a target date.  With New Year’s Resolutions, this target date is usually sometime within the year, but the more specific you can get with your time-frame, the better!  You can ask yourself questions like:  What can I do this week?  What can I do in the next month?  What can I do in 6 months? And so on, that may help you move towards a long term goal.

A new year provides opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the year to come.  We understand and can appreciate first hand that setting New Year’s Resolutions can seem like a daunting or overwhelming task, but we hope that the strategies above help you to identify what is important you through mindful reflection and set goals that are in line with what you value.


From all of us at JMA, we wish you a very Happy New Year full of values guided living!

jessica-rickus1


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J Marlin and Associates Inc. offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy services to help individuals increase their sense of vitality, well-being, and fulfillment.

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