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walking-across-the-street

Let’s face it, many of us fall victim to spending a lot of time on our phones or tablets.  We use them to stay connected through social media, pay our bills, or talk to someone on the other side of the world, but have you ever considered how all of this technology can help you to stay healthy?  It’s true, there are lots of apps out there that can help nudge or coach you to be physically healthy, but have you ever considered what apps can help with your mental and emotional health?

As the prevalence of mental health difficulties continues to grow, more and more apps are being developed to help keep you healthy in mind, body, and soul.  Below are some of JMAs favourites to help you check into your mental health on the go.


calm-logoCalm:

Calm offers gentle sounds to help block out external distraction and allow your mindfulness practice to take you to your happy place.  The app and website use different themes from which the user can choose and then offers a variety of free meditations to help reduce anxiety, improve your sleep, and focus on your breath, to name a few.  This app is sure to help you de-stress.  Check out their website https://www.calm.com or download the app (compatible for both Apple and Android).

headspace-logoHead Space:

It’s like a gym for your mind.  Headspace was one of the first wellness apps to target mental health.  It is another great app for those new to the art of mindfulness and meditation.  The app offers a 10 level ‘course’ where the user is encouraged to practice the 10 minute classes daily to get into the habit of a daily practice.  Visit the site, or download the app (compatible for both Apple and Android) https://www.headspace.com/.

 

stop-breath-think-logoStop Breath Think:

This all-encompassing lifestyle app is the perfect blend of mindfulness, meditation, and compassion building that is both user friendly and fun to use.  Use it to de-stress and manage anxiety symptoms or just check-in with yourself.  Explore the recommended meditations based on your current thoughts and emotions and track how your mood changes and see if you can find yourself in a more grounded state.  Check them out online, http://www.stopbreathethink.org or try out their app, compatible for Android and Apple products.

 

happier-logoHappier:

If you are looking to start out with mindfulness, but find meditative practices to be a challenge, Happier might be the app you are looking for. This app will assist you to become present and positive through your day.  Receive inspiring quotes, take a meditative break, or share some positive moments in your day with the Happier community.  Happier can also double as a gratitude journal, allowing you to record some positive moments from your day and become more resilient to negative thinking. Find it online: https://www.happier.com, or try the app and celebrate the good around you (compatible for both Apple and Android).

 

breat2relax-logo

Breath2Relax:

This app acts as a portable stress management tool that offers instruction for diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing.  This breathing technique can help to decrease the ‘fight-or-flight’ response in the body as well as stabilize mood.  The user can monitor their stress levels using touch screen technology.  Download the app on your Apple or Android device, and learn how to manage your stress with your breath.

 

optimism-logoOptimism:

This app is a great compliment to your in-office counselling, as it helps you to be mindful of your emotions and chart your moods.  The app assists you in detecting patterns in mood and helps you to identify triggers that allow you to create a customizable wellness plan to improve coping strategies. The only downfall is that this app is only compatible with Apple products.

 

act-coach-logoACT Coach:

ACT Coach is best used in conjunction with you face-to-face therapy.  The app offers tools to identify personal values and to assist the user to take actions to move towards them.  Log coping strategies or practice mindfulness, this free app will compliment your work with your therapist and help you live a values driven life.  This app is compatible for both Android and Apple products.

 


Whether you check out one, or all of the above apps, it is important to remember not every app will appeal to everyone.  There are lots more on-the-go resources out there that might be a better fit for you.  If you find one you love, be sure to let us know.

stephanie-corras



The Mondays:             A phrase used to describe someone that has a bad mood when he or she                                                       comes to work or school on Monday.

case-of-the-mondays

We’ve all been there.  It’s Sunday evening, and that inkling of the new workweek beginning in a few hours has crept in.  Maybe you feel sad that the weekend has ended, maybe you feel anxious about the to-do list for the week ahead.  Even if you love your job, the start of the work week for many of us comes with mixed emotions and often a case of “The Mondays”.

If you have seen the movie Office Space, you may be able to relate the monotony of the waking up to the screaming alarm clock on Monday morning and not wanting to leave the comfort of your bed.  In fact, you might argue that a case of “The Mondays” is natural.  From an evolutionary standpoint, we have been conditioned to seek out problems as a means to protect ourselves from danger.  So it is somewhat natural to seek out what’s wrong and focus on it; however, it is more likely that when thinking about the start of the workweek, this become less of a protective mechanism, and will likely make it more difficult to be happy.  The good news is that you can train your brain to shift to a more positive perspective.

Below are some simple tips to help you beat the Sunday Blues and set a good tone for the work week ahead and hopefully cope with a case of “The Mondays”.

Make Sundays enjoyable.

One of the worst things you can do is to end Sunday in a stressed-out mindset, sleep poorly, and start the workweek off on the wrong foot.

Instead, this Sunday, plan to do the Monday preparations earlier on in the day.  Organize laundry, choose your outfit, iron and pack your lunch in the morning.  If needed, review your work calendar and address emails before 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.  That way, you can take some time in the afternoon or evening to do one or two things you actually enjoy.  Watch a favourite show, plan a movie night, make a meal you will look forward to, spend quality time with family and/or friends, go for a walk or practice some yoga – anything that you enjoy doing.

 Studies have found that when we have something positive to anticipate, we feel better and more optimistic[1].  By simply re-structuring your Sunday to complete the to-do list items earlier on in the day, you are setting the stage to not feel as rushed and finish the day with an enjoyable activity.

Be Present.

Our minds are very good at wandering.  Maybe it is during your commute into work, or perhaps while sitting at your desk, you may find your mind wandering to the deadline later in the week, or the meeting in a few hours.  Rather than letting it distract you or stress you out, take a mindful moment and practice being present.  Tune into your breath, notice your surroundings, and take a moment to reconnect.  When we do tasks mindfully, we increase our attention and focus, minimize our risk of errors and you may actually find yourself becoming more efficient at work!

Reward Yourself.

One way to make “The Mondays” better is to treat yourself to something at the end of the day.  It doesn’t have to be extravagant or take much effort, but by practicing a little self-care you can give yourself a pat on the back for tackling the first day of the week!

Why not spend some time:

  • Reading for 10 minutes in your favorite chair.
  • Make a cup of your favorite tea and savor it for a few minutes.
  • Listen to music you enjoy (this is one that helps me with my commute home).
  • Do some yoga or stretches.
  • Draw a bath.
  • Really anything that would be a little treat that you can reward yourself with.

 End the Day With a Grateful Pause.

If you read our blog on Gratitude a few weeks ago you know how valuable this practice can be. Since many of us are rushing from point A to point B, you may feel like you simply do not have the time for this.  The best way to do this is to connect it to something you already do.  Try to think of something good that happened during the day before starting your car for your commute home or before you put the key in the door as you arrive home or while cooking or even while brushing your teeth before bed.

All the above are good habits to adopt to help manage stress after the weekend (and especially after a holiday).  Start by trying out a few of the above strategies to take back your Sunday and find a cure for a case of “The Mondays”’.

stephanie-corras

[1] Van Boven & Ashworth (2007).  Journal Of Experimental Psychology.  https://www.psychologies.co.uk/self/life-lab-experiment-mind-2.html



If you read last week’s blog on How to Sabotage Your Next Diet, and if you have ever dieted before, there is a good chance you could relate.  The truth of the matter is, when we diet, we tend to experience feelings such a guilt, shame, and failure, which are not much fun at all.  Food and eating is meant to bring us joy and pleasure, not to shame us for enjoying it.

mindful-eating

Mindfulness, the concept of moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment, is becoming a well-documented tool for mental health, but did you know the principles could also be applied to diet?

eating-in-front-of-tvIn fact, most of us likely practice the opposite of mindful eating, we are more likely engaging in mindless eating.  We lack awareness of how we fill our plate, or our portion size.  We eat in front of the TV or computer, and we do not notice cues in our body signaling us that we are full.  With mindless eating, most of us can consume an unnoticed 200-300 calories each day, which overtime can lead to unwanted weight gain.  Consider this: have you ever been eating chips and went to put your hand in the bag, only to find it empty? Or have you ever eaten the last piece of crusty, dried out chocolate cake even though it tasted like cardboard?

Without thought, a lot of the cues in our environment and body go unnoticed.

Below are a series of questions to ask yourself about your eating and eating habits.

Take a few moments to complete the Mindful Eating Self-Assessment Questionnaire[1].

mindful-eating-self-assessment-questionnaire
eating-questionnaire

Once you complete the questionnaire, take some time to review it.

The point of this exercise is to start the process of becoming more aware of situations surrounding food.  Why you may eat in certain situations, what your feelings usually are when you are eating, if you are aware of the surroundings that make you more likely to participate in unhealthy behaviours?

We first must begin to notice our behaviours before we being to change them.

Visit our web page for details about our upcoming course and FREE Information Session on JMA’s Balancing ACT for Weight Control

good-health-sign

stephanie-corras


[1]Framson C, Kristal AR, Schenk JM, Littman AJ, Zeliadt S, Benitez D. Development and validation of the Mindful Eating Questionnaire. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:1439-1444.


21/Dec/2016

As we continue to count down the days to the holidays, it can be easy to lose sight of what the true meaning of this time of year is about.  Over the last few weeks, we have shared some Mindfulness Strategies for the Holidaze and some goal setting tips for Setting SMART New Year’s Resolutions to offer a helping hand for getting the most out of December.  None the less, there are times when the most wonderful time of the year may not always feel so wonderful.

Though it’s been said, many times many ways (pun intended), mindfulness is great tool that can help give some perspective to allow for present moment connection.  There are many different times and ways to practice mindfulness.  Below are some helpful activities the whole family can try out to help stay connected to what you really value this time of year.


Mindfulness when Travelling:

santa-car

For some of us, the hustle and bustle from point A-to-B is an essential part of the holidays.  Unfortunately, unpredictable weather conditions, traffic, and the occasional “are we there yet?”, travelling may feel more like a chore.

Ask everyone in the car to describe what they see, hear, feel, smell, and even taste.  Put on some favourite holiday music, create games out of passing cars and landscapes, or have everyone reflect on what they have enjoyed most about the holidays so far.  One of my favourite games to play in the car while growing up was the License Plate Game.

Here is how you play:

Play as individuals or as a team, and try to see how many different license plates you can find on your trip.  If you will be making many trips, a fun option may be to write them down and over the course of your holiday travel, see how many different license plates you find.

As simple as it may be, this simple task can be helpful to take your mind off how busy the roads are or how late you are running, and encourages you to notice your surroundings and connect with the people you are travelling with.


Mindfulness during Gift Opening:

scarf-girl

If gift opening is a popular tradition in your home, this is a great opportunity to practice informal mindfulness.  Similar to the mindfulness while travelling, this strategy is one the whole family can try.

Start by taking in your surroundings.  What do you notice?

What sounds do you hear?  Yes, it may be noisy, but amidst the noise what can you really hear?  Crinkling of paper?  Laughter?  Heartfelt thank you’s?  The fire place crackling?

What do you see?  What colours are the wrapping paper?  Are there ribbons or bows?  Children having fun?  The lights sparkling on the tree?

What do you smell?  Your morning coffee or hot cocoa?  The scent of breakfast lingering or dinner in the oven?  Do you smell pine needles or wood on the fire?

What do you feel?  The texture of the wrapping or tissue paper in your hand?  How does it feel in your hands?  Where are you sitting?  On a chair or couch?  Is the room warm and cozy?  Are your feet in socks or slippers?

Can you taste anything?  Perhaps the sips of cocoa or eggnog?

By slowing down and connecting with your senses, you may notice some simple joys that may have gone otherwise unnoticed.


Mindful Communication:

santa-hats

This is one mindfulness practice that is useful every day, however, is an important one for me around the holidays.  Spending time with family and friends, especially those we do not get see often, is a common tradition for many.  Practicing mindfulness while communicating with our loved ones can be a gift in and of itself.

To practice mindful communication, it is important to be fully connected to the conversation.  Make eye contactListenWait patiently for the other person to finish before speaking.  Limit distractions.  If smartphones, TV, or video games are big distractions, suggest limited use during times when gathering with family and friends.  Encourage family to leave their devices in another room, or provide a phone basket for everyone to keep their phones in to reduce the autopilot nature of phone checking every so often.

A little goes a long way when it comes to mindful communication, and it will be sure to feel good to fully connect and communicate with everyone.


Mindful Eating:

gathering-around-table

It is no surprise the holidays come with lots of excuses to indulge which can certainly challenge our waistline come January 1st.

Practice eating awarenessBegin to notice your hunger cues in your body. Engage your senses.  Notice the smells, taste, and texture of the foods.

Practice becoming aware of the food in front of you.  Are you fully aware of the food you’re choosing?  Do you like everything that is on your plate?  Do you notice when you have finished a certain food item?  Do you enjoy every bite?

Being mindful while eating can be a challenge, so take your time, and enjoy the moments around food this holiday.


Stay tuned in the New Year for more on Mindful Eating for Weight Control!

We hope these Mindfulness tips help you take time to notice the simple joys of the holiday season.

From all of us at JMA, we wish you and yours, a happy and safe holiday.

ornament-banner

stephanie-corras


23/Nov/2016

1

In the last few years, more and more research has been published about the many health benefits of physical activity – especially for mental health.  When our bodies are healthy, our minds are too.  Physical activity, like walking, can play an important role in the management of anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain.  It doesn’t take much – as little as 30-minutes of daily physical activity can have can similar effects to meditation and relaxation[i].

circle-picThe trouble is that when we are facing depressive or anxious thoughts, going for a walk is not the first thing that comes to mind.  For most people who suffer with mental health, it is quite the opposite: you may feel like doing less and avoid doing the things that are of value to you.  The problem is, when you do less, you feel the impact of the symptoms even more and continue to miss out on living a meaningful life.  This is a common cycle for most people, but it can be broken.  Behaviour Activation (BA) can help disrupt the above stuck loops by introducing positive behaviours.  Walking is an ideal behaviour to introduce as it has so many benefits for mental well-being.  Improvements in mood and energy can be noticed almost immediately.  Over time, many other benefits can be noticed, including:

  • Reduced stress
  • Improved memory & concentration
  • Weight management
  • Reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • Improved self confidence
  • Better circulation

Consider walking like a prescription;

Complete daily for health benefits – regardless of the symptoms.


How to Get Started

Getting started is quite easy; below is a good check list to consult before beginning a walking program.

Medical Clearance: it is always important to contact your health care providers to ensure it is safe for you to become active.

Footwear: make sure you have comfortable walking shoes that fit well and still have good treads.

Walking Routes: map out a variety of routes to prevent boredom.

Schedule it: pick a consistent time of day that will be most effective for you.

 Start Small: start by going for a walk for a length of time with which you are comfortable.  Record this time on a calendar or chart like the one below.  Increase this time by 1 minute every day until you reach your end goal of 30-60 minutes.

Example: Baseline walk (how long you were comfortable with the first time): 15 minutes

calendar

For help on getting started with a walking program, Behavioural Activation, or assistance with Anxiety & Depression, book your FREE consultation today!

stephanie-corras

[i] http://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00007256-200029030-00003

 


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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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