How to End Mental Illness Stigma- Awareness and Education

Who would have thought that an actor from the Sopranos TV series, Joey Pantoliano “Joey Pants” would be a leader in the area of mental health education and awareness and one of the most significant figures that I’m aware of in the crusade to de-stigmatize all forms of mental illness. Well through his documentary, “No Kidding, Me Too” he has started the NKM2 movement that has also involved a remarkable group of individuals from all walks of life as well as other celebrities.

 

The NKM2 web site is very impressive as well as the actual documentary.  There are some segments that you can view for free on Youtube.  It’s an entertaining and fascinating look at a range of individuals, some mental health professionals, who have experienced mental health issues of some form.  It’s about hope, confidence and the knowledge that it’s all something that can be dealt with.  Also, the documentary, as well as the whole, NKM2 organization provides information and direction on new research and resources.  And by the way, Joey Pantoliano himself reveals his own struggle with a mood disorder and ADHD.

It’s a great movement and as Joey Pants says “Infotainment!”

Photo credit: No Kidding, Me Too .ORG

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The Best Canadian Vacation Destinations to DeStress and Push Some Limits (More to come)

There are so many places in the world that are great destinations for finding space, relaxation and, if you want, excitement and adventure.  When someone takes a journey either near or far and finds a space for themselves and come back with great memories of the experience, it is time very well spent – especially if you were able actively relax, enjoy your time or even feel that you’ve achieved something new and interesting .  Here’s 2 of my initial entries in this category.

  1. Newfoundland – Virtually all of the Province of Newfound, Canada is a place of peace , tranquility and adventure.  The province has a great online site.  There is a city on the East Coast, Corner Brook as well as the Capital on the East Coast of the province.  One of my favourite spots is just outside the City of St. John’s called Cape Spear.  This beautiful Cape is a majestic piece of the land that is actually the most Eastern part of North America.  The amazing experience is going there for a sunrise (I have) so you can be the actual first person in North America to see the sun on that day. 
  2. Osheaga – On literally another note anthem, Osheaga is the annual summer Alternative Music Festival held over three days in Montreal, Canada.  I include this because it’s opportunity to simply get lost and involved in a musical, cultural and social phenomenon.  The catch is that you are doing it with about 100, 000 other people.  Sure, you’re not standing on shore with no one around for miles – just the opposite.  But there is something I it if Alternative Music is your thing – there’s actually a wide range of music in this genre.  The people are nice, there is an air of freedom and fun.  There’s even a kind of “Burning Man (Nevada Desert), feel to the place.  

I’d be interested in hearing about your getaways and experiences.

photo credit: Newfoundland and Labrador Dept. of Tourism

The Best Way to Deal with Stress and Anxiety: Some Important Parts of Your Approach

The important part of the title is “your approach”.  Just like your own finger print, your stress is unique and the approach to deal with stress and anxiety is as individual as you.

  1. Thinking is an important aspect of any approach to daily stress or anxiety.  The style of our thought patterns often plays a role in how we deal with challenges such as stressors or symptoms of anxiety.  One of the Best approaches is seen in the Centre for Positive Psychology that is directed by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania.

2. Physical Activity remains an important part of any approach to the management of daily stress and symptoms of anxiety.  There is quite a lot of research to support the benefits of regular exercise for mental and physical health.  Especially exercise that you enjoy.  I previously reviewed an article posted by the American Psychological Association.

 

Your Approach to Taking Care of Yourself is as Unique as your Fingerprint

 

3. Getting Help   . Help can come in the form of a good book that you find to have the information that you need , such as Kabot-Zinn’s Full Catastrophie Living or a therapist who is trained in the area in which you need help.  Psychologists and other mental health professionals, especially in private practices, are able to list the areas of specialty in their public listings.  You can also see what organizations and licensing bodies they are affiliated with.   If you feel that you need the assistance of a professional – it’s important to get someone suitable for you.  Most will even answer questions before you make a commitment to refer yourself.

These are some key features that I recommend considering.. I’m interested in your views.

The Best That You Can Be. Sometimes Only You Know It

I recently read a story in the Globe and Mail about a remarkable achievement of four adventurers in the Canada who completed what was called a “dangerous and unprecedented” ski trek between Jasper and Lake Louise, Alberta.  They skied across mountains, ice fields and extreme terrain on wooden skis without GPS, Satellite Phone or any high tech equipment. They faced extreme conditions and lost up to 22 lbs.  The traverse took 21 days.  When they finished, they ended up on a highway where they had a coffee at a cafe and then simply went home in different directions (I’m sure there was at least a high five). This amazing and “epic” trip happened 50 years ago before selfies and social media  that would chronicle their moves every step of the way and announce their victorious completion the moment it happened.  But they are only being truly recognized in this newspaper story now.  I found it amazing to think that the four young men went about their lives simply knowing that each had accomplished something that was admirable and “award worthy” but kept it to themselves as their own personal victory, with media hype, CNN coverage or a Youtube post.

 

Sometimes it’s simply Enough for Only You to Know that You Have Accomplished Something

I think that there is some wisdom here for those who climb their own personal “mountains” in life.  Whether it’s an epic hike or dealing with a difficult situation, problem, relationship or challenge. Whatever our achievement is, sometimes it’s enough for on YOU to know that you have done it.

There are times in life where our challenges are ours to face on our own.  It’s sometimes a very lonely and isolated feeling.  And, sure, it’s always great to have support and share our accomplishments, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way – sometimes it’s just you.

I think that one of the greatest challenges is to have enough self respect and acceptance of ourselves to recognize our own courage, commitment and ability without the approval or recognition of anyone else.

3 Reasons Why “13 Reasons Why” Matters

The new Netflix Series “13 Reasons Why” based on the same titled book by Jay Asher, has met with what would truly be called “critical acclaim”.  It seems that for every review that is raving and complimentary, there is a review that is quite critical.  Some people feel that the series is a great work that highlights mental health issues.  I’ll leave the reviews to the experts and the viewers who formulate their own opinions (although I’d like to hear yours, certainly).  However, I do think that 13 Reasons matters for three important (maybe more) reasons:

  1. It Gets Us Thinking.  A work like this gets us thinking about our perspective on the issue of human relationships as well as our influence on those around us.  The series highlights the idea that we actually influence those people in our lives, and vice versa, perhaps more than we think.  Any work of art, literature or media that does this is valuable.
  2. It Gets Us Talking.  The Series and Book has allowed us to simply talk and discuss the subject matters and the story in coffee shops with friends and on social media.  This hopefully leads to a sharing and development – and even progression – of ideas about human relationships, caring and mental health
  3. It gets Us Acting When we think and talk about ideas in a constructive and open way, there is usually some form of, again hopefully positive, action that follows.  A series like “13 Reasons” will probably lead to some changes in peoples’ behaviour in the form of a more positive relationship style or communication style with others.

I’d be interested in your views.

Photo Credit Netflix.com

The Best Place to Relax and Find Peace

When you ask someone where they are truly at peace or some place where a person can go to collect themselves, you often get a variety of answers.  Some people have that “special place” like a cottage or shore by the ocean that allows them to “get their head screwed on straight” realaxt heir thoughts or work through a problem by doing some serious thinking.  Sadly, some people do not have such a place and feel trapped at times when the need is there to get away from it all.

It’s important to many to have an oasis, a sanctuary, an escape, or even a room in the house(or apartment) that they can call their own.  Once there, it really doesn’t matter if you practice fancy mindfulness, meditation or Just Be.  Simply being there on your own, feeling safe and calm , is sometimes enough.  But if your place involves banging through the  waves in a speed boat with the wind blowing through your hair – well that’s fine too. It’s your place.

The thing that is important is to be able to find that tranquility or space when you need it.

 

I’d be interested in other people’s experiences and what Your special place is.

5 Key Strategies for Stress Management that are Essential

living life to the fullist

Even though the list can be endless, I think that the following 5 components of tacking your stress are essential for any plan!

1 . ENJOY the activities that you are using to deal with your stress.

The American Heart Association has outlined the importance of actually incorporating enjoyable and pleasurable activities into your stress management plan.  Doing things that you simply don’t enjoy does not work

2. Include Physical Exercise in you Stress and Anxiety Management.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends physical exercise as part of any approach to management and control of stress, Anxiety and mood problems.  This includes everything from walking, Yoga, running and the list goes on.  Cardiovascular exercise is simply a great thing!  However, know your limits and take your time if you are new to this or not in good condition initially.

3. Deal with Stress at Work.

Work stress, whether it’s issues with other people or just the type or amount of work you do is absolute crucial to get under some control.  Work stress is the source of pressure and angst for many and can be a bad and detrimental addition to an already stressed life. The American Psychological Association has a division called the Psychologically Healthy Workplace and has a lot of great resources and guidelines for both employees and companies.

4. Learn Assertiveness and Self Respect  

This link to the Mayo Clinic has a great article on the relationship of Assertive to improved stress management and communication.  It’s all about feeling better about you.

5. Avoid the overuse of substances or artificial way to Reduce Stress .

Using substances like alcohol, drugs or ingestion of food and drinks such as cola or coffee can become an ineffective way – as well as problematic- to deal with stress.  Simply put – It’s important to watch this aspect of your life and not make your “go to’s” a problem area for you.  A relaxing coffee, tea, meal or other things like this can be a great part of your day.  The National Library of Medicine has an interesting article on stress and vulnerability to addiction that is linked here.

Please add your comments and tips .  This is just part of a plan for stress and anxiety management that can be effective.

Perfection through Weight Loss, Hair Loss, Abs and the Things that Drive us to Perfection

      Are the things that “drive ” us really the things that matter.  Our 21st Century culture has been driven by such things as weight loss, hair loss -rather prevention of- and physical perfection.  Leigh Vanderloo, Ph.D. has written an interesting article on exercise and weight loss for the HuffPost.  Often the idea is to achieve these goals with minimal work and time.  The image created by multiple medias is seen by many as unrealistic and perhaps looking at the wrong aspects of what well being, health and happiness really are.  Weight Watchers and Magazines like Fitness Magazine (for women)  or Mens Health are actually good sources of information, inspiration and even results for a lot of people.  However, any endeavour with an aim to being “better”, more attractive, thinner, better physical condition, smarter – and the list goes on – has to be something that is based on some realistic expectations.  Expectations about who you are and what you truly want to become.  It actually IS about you and what is important to you – Not what the media , corporations or even other people define for you.

      I,d be interested in your views n what some might think is an old topic.  Do you you think it’s still important to talk about?

      Photo Credit  bodyforwife.com

      The Secret to a More Satisfying Life? : #Minimalism- Is it the answer to De stressing our Lives?

      The documentary (2016 Netflix) “MINIMALISM- A Documentary About the Important Things”, two former work colleagues, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus bring us through their work of reducing their physical possessive world to , well… a minimum.  This included a complete purge of all the extraneous possessions that they have accumulated throughout their still young lives.  They essentially “wanted out” of the race for status and happiness through possessions and “things”.  However they emphasize at one point that it is important to have the things in your life that really  – really – matter to you.  Some of the experts that are interviewed discuss the psychological and social science of all of this.  That is, how happiness can be linked to the idea of getting the iPhone 8 or a new car.

      I must admit that I want the iPhone 8 and I just bought a new car . But, I don’t necessarily see these things to the route to happiness and contentment. They look at everything from housing to our overall lifestyles as well as where we actually live.

      It’s a fascinating view of stress in our lives and the people who the two friends profile, as well as themselves, are actually happy and content.  Whether you actually practice or incorporate any of the ideas is not as important as the message that the documentary shares.

      Fitness and #Exercise – Still one of the Best Medicines

      An entry published in recent years by the American Psychological Association is entitled “The exercise effect”.  Kristen Weir outlines the often standard belief in the mental health world that exercise is not only good for mental and physical well being but that it should be part of the treatment for psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.  There is evidence that a person can feel the positive effects of exercise within “minutes”.  Numerous people have stories about their own routines of walking or running that contribute to positive mood and stress reduction.

       

      However there are many who don’t really enjoy exercise and certainly don’t want to step foot in a gym.  That’s their style and personal preference – like anything else.  So then the challenge becomes – What does work for you if you want to get your body in a fitness routine or work toward conditioning and overall fitness.  It’s important for each person to find their own niche.  Not everyone wants to ride a bike, not everyone enjoys a walk or run in the park.

       

      What we do know is that exercise in many forms has advantages when done properly  – in line with a person’s age, condition and background.  So perhaps the task is to determine what is right for you.