Categories
Emotions empowering patients Happiness Letting Go Meditation mindfulness Preventive Health Self-care stress management Wisdom

An Introduction to Mindfulness

by Davidicus Wong, M.D.

This is a handout I share with my patients to introduce them to the practice of mindfulness and principles of cognitive behavioural therapy. I consider these to be two fundamental emotional wellness skills that every adult and child should learn.

Like any other skills we wish to master, practice – particularly daily practice – is essential. Through the power of the human brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity (to change itself), we learn new skills – including new ways of thinking and feeling – through repeated practice. In the words of the pioneering Canadian neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb, “Neurons that fire together wire together.”

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION helps us to centre our minds, increase our awareness and calm the nervous system that modulates how we experience pain and other sensations. The practice of mindfulness teaches us a less reactive approach to the rest of our lives. We become open to accept and experience every aspect of our lives, our selves and our sensations, without clinging, aversion or judgment.

We begin meditation by spending 15 or 20 minutes each day just sitting in a quiet place in a comfortable position. We turn our attention to the natural flow and sensations of the breath without trying to control it in any way. This becomes a safe and calming anchor that we can return to at any time.

We can then turn our attention to sounds as they arise in our immediate environment, just attending to the arising and disappearance of different sounds as they come and go from our awareness. We don’t have to label or identify each sound. We simply remain aware of them as they arise.

We can centre our awareness on different physical sensations in the body, perhaps the pressure at points of contact, warmth, coolness, vibrations, pulsations, tingling and even pain. We can move awareness to different areas of the body, and if a sensation such as pain in one part of the body is difficult to manage, we can shift our attention elsewhere, to the part of the body that is most comfortable or back to the anchor of the breath.

With practice, we are able to maintain awareness and attention to every sensation without reacting to it, without aversion, clinging, judgment or identification. With time, we recognize that everything within our awareness is ever changing; nothing is constant – no sensation (not even pain), no mood, no emotion and no thought.

We are able to attend to each thought as it arises without getting carried away in a train of thoughts or a story in the remembered past or imagined future. We can note thoughts as they arise, without judgment or identification and let them go. We can do the same with the transient feelings and emotions that arise without getting caught up and carried away with them. We experience moods, feelings and emotions but we are not our moods, feelings or emotions. We can see them as transient, temporary conditions like a mist, a fog or a shower. They pass through us or we pass through them.

We can be mindful when walking, attending to the sensations of each step, the sounds and pressures on the feet and the movement of the legs. This becomes a mindful anchor from which what we hear, see, feel and think arises in our open and accepting awareness. 

Mindfulness can be practiced while eating, attending to the taste and texture of each bite of food; swimming, attending to the sensations of buoyancy, flowing water on the surface of the skin and rich sounds of moving water and air; and even driving. Mindfulness only begins with meditation. When you apply the healthy attitudes of non-reactive acceptance, gratitude and compassion to everything in your life throughout each day, you will discover a deeper level of peace, happiness and meaning. 

Mindfulness when diligently practiced can bring serenity to your mind and body throughout each day – an open, accepting and nonreactive approach to your life. It can foster in you greater compassion for others and yourself.

COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY trains us to uncover our underlying beliefs and assumptions, choose our conscious thoughts, reframe our situation and shape our emotions. We can discover that we can improve our moods, thoughts and function in life through healthy self-care – eating regular healthy meals, ensuring adequate rest, daily appropriate physical activity and spending quality time with supportive friends and those loved ones who naturally lift our spirits. Mindfulness meditation can help us identify unskillful thoughts (those that increase suffering) and help us choose skillful ones.

MORE RESOURCES (I’ve put my favourites in bold)

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom (Joseph Goldstein)

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening (Joseph Goldstein)

Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach)

True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart (Tara Brach)

JackKornfield.com, TaraBrach.com Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach’s videos, guided meditations and lectures are available for free on these websites. By listening to these teachers, you will quickly see how the attitude of mindfulness can be applied to your everyday life.

Local mindfulness retreats: Westcoast Dharma Society http://www.westcoastdharma.org

MicrodosingMindfulness.com will show you how to fit in routine mindfulness breaks in just a few minutes a day

THE PRACTICAL SCIENCE OF NEUROPLASTICITY

Hardwiring Happiness (Rick Hanson)

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom (Rick Hanson)

COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment(Martin E. P. Seligman)

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (David D. Burns)

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think (Dennis Greenberger, Christine Padesky)

Anxietybc.ca has many useful resource including the Mindshift app for smart phones

Checkingin is a free mindfulness app for your smart phones

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (a synthesis of mindfulness and cognitive therapy)

            The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for AnxietyBreaking Free From Worry, Panic, PTSD, & Other Anxiety Symptoms (Alexander L. Chapman)

For an effective technique for establishing healthy new habits, check out TINYHABITS.COM

Categories
empowering patients Happiness stress management

Understanding and Embracing Emotional Health – Challenging Common Mental Health Myths

Understanding and Embracing Emotional Health – Challenging Common Mental Health Myths

Davidicus Wong, December 6th, 2020

It’s been called the parallel pandemic. The social isolation, uncertainties and financial impact of COVID-19 has stressed us all, but those most vulnerable – including the elderly, the homeless and those struggling with addictions – have been hit hardest.  

Most people don’t realize that up to 30% of the daily work of a family physician involves emotional health – helping patients manage difficult emotions, relationship challenges, anxiety and stress. 

But I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg because many people are reluctant to bring up emotional issues and may never seek support. 

There remains a stigma attached to emotional or mental health challenges. In recent years, pubic health agencies have tried to remove the stigma by getting people to talk about it. 

But for many, just raising the awareness that you can and should talk about it to those who can help hasn’t erased the prejudice, embarrassment and myths associated with emotional health.

An unfortunate legacy of the 17th century philosopher, Rene Descartes is mind-body dualism, the incorrect separation of mind and body as completely distinct and independent. 

The reality is that there is no such separation. The brain is obviously an inseparable part of the body. In fact, you can recognize many emotions by how you experience them physically. 

When we are anxious or stressed, we breathe more rapidly, our hearts beat faster, our muscles tense, our stomachs turn and we sweat. 

When angered, not only do our thoughts race, but so do our heart and breathing rates. We feel a surge of agitated energy throughout the body. 

When depressed, we slow down physically as well as mentally, sleep is disturbed, energy dips and we may gain or lose weight from changes in appetite.

Our thoughts and emotions affect other “non-mental” aspects of our health and can contribute to high blood pressure, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, an overactive bladder, stomach ulcers, heartburn, chronic pain and fatigue. 

Compounding the false belief of mind-body separation are myths about emotional health. Because some conditions require medication, some incorrectly conclude that emotional problems are strictly chemical (i.e. neurotransmitter) imbalances. Others incorrectly assume that all emotional health problems are genetic. 

Another common misunderstanding among friends and family members of those suffering from severe clinical depression is that it is just the same as when we feel sad with a loss or other negative event. Depression can be so profound that it affects an individual’s outlook and ability to think clearly and solve problems. Those who have never experienced clinical depression may not understand why their loved one just can’t get over it or snap out of it. 

Your emotional wellbeing is an important aspect of your overall health. There is much we can do individually and collectively to support the wellbeing of everyone in our community. When your mood, stress or anxiety are affecting your function and enjoyment of life, don’t hesitate to seek help. 

Every community has organized supports for those struggling socially and emotionally. In Burnaby, we’re all working together through the Primary Care Network. Check the resources that are available at https://www.burnabycoronavirus.com/social-supports

On Thursday, December 10th, I’ll be giving a free online talk on behalf of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients program. The topic: Emotional Wellness. I’ll be sharing key emotional health skills that we all need to manage the effects of this pandemic and community resources for help. For more information: https://divisionsbc.ca/burnaby/for-patients/empowering-patients

Categories
COVID 19 Emotions Happiness Self-care stress management

An Introduction to Mindfulness (and CBT)

Dr. Davidicus Wong

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MINDFULNESS MEDITATION helps us to centre our minds, increase our awareness and calm the nervous system that modulates how we experience pain and other sensations. The practice of mindfulness teaches us a less reactive approach to the rest of our lives. We become open to accept and experience every aspect of our lives, our selves and our sensations, without clinging, aversion or judgment.

We begin meditation by spending 15 or 20 minutes each day just sitting in a quiet place in a comfortable position. We turn our attention to the natural flow and sensations of the breath without trying to control it in any way. This becomes a safe and calming anchor that we can return to at any time.

We can then turn our attention to sounds as they arise in our immediate environment, just attending to the arising and disappearance of different sounds as they come and go from our awareness. We don’t have to label or identify each sound. We simply remain aware of them as they arise.

We can centre our awareness on different physical sensations in the body, perhaps the pressure at points of contact, warmth, coolness, vibrations, pulsations, tingling and even pain. We can move awareness to different areas of the body, and if a sensation such as pain in one part of the body is difficult to manage, we can shift our attention elsewhere, to the part of the body that is most comfortable or back to the anchor of the breath.

With practice, we are able to maintain awareness and attention to every sensation without reacting to it, without aversion, clinging, judgment or identification. With time, we recognize that everything within our awareness is ever changing; nothing is constant – no sensation (not even pain), no mood, no emotion and no thought.

We are able to attend to each thought as it arises without getting carried away in a train of thoughts or a story in the remembered past or imagined future. We can note thoughts as they arise, without judgment or identification and let them go. We can do the same with the transient feelings and emotions that arise without getting caught up and carried away with them. We experience moods, feelings and emotions but we are not our moods, feelings or emotions. We can see them as transient, temporary conditions like a mist, a fog or a shower. They pass through us or we pass through them.

We can be mindful when walking, attending to the sensations of each step, the sounds and pressures on the feet and the movement of the legs. This becomes a mindful anchor from which what we hear, see, feel and think arises in our open and accepting awareness.

Mindfulness can be practiced while eating, attending to the taste and texture of each bite of food; swimming, attending to the sensations of buoyancy, flowing water on the surface of the skin and rich sounds of moving water and air; and even driving. Mindfulness only begins with meditation. When you apply the healthy attitudes of non-reactive acceptance, gratitude and compassion to everything in your life throughout each day, you will discover a deeper level of peace, happiness and meaning.

Mindfulness when diligently practiced can bring serenity to your mind and body throughout each day – an open, accepting and nonreactive approach to your life. It can foster in you greater compassion for others and yourself.

COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY trains us to uncover our underlying beliefs and assumptions, choose our conscious thoughts, reframe our situation and shape our emotions. We can discover that we can improve our moods, thoughts and function in life through healthy self-care – eating regular healthy meals, ensuring adequate rest, daily appropriate physical activity and spending quality time with supportive friends and those loved ones who naturally lift our spirits. Mindfulness meditation can help us identify unskillful thoughts (those that increase suffering) and help us choose skillful ones.

MORE RESOURCES

Mindfulness Meditation

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom (Joseph Goldstein)

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening (Joseph Goldstein)

Radical Acceptance (Tara Brach)

True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart (Tara Brach)

JackKornfield.com, TaraBrach.com Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach’s videos, guided meditations and lectures are available for free on these websites. By listening to these teachers, you will quickly see how the attitude of mindfulness can be applied to your everyday life.

Local mindfulness retreats: Westcoast Dharma Society http://www.westcoastdharma.org

The Practical Science of Neuroplasticity

Hardwiring Happiness (Rick Hanson)

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom (Rick Hanson)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment(Martin E. P. Seligman)

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (David D. Burns)

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think (Dennis Greenberger, Christine Padesky)

Anxietybc.ca

Mindshift app for smart phones

Checkingin.co

Checkingin is a free self-awareness app for smart phones

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (a synthesis of mindfulness and cognitive therapy)

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for Anxiety: Breaking Free From Worry, Panic, PTSD, & Other Anxiety Symptoms (Alexander L. Chapman)

Categories
Empowering Healthcare Friendship Happiness Healthy Living Positive Change Preventive Health Relationships Self-care Your Goals

The Fast Choice is Rarely the Healthy Choice – for Your Relationships, Emotions and Body

As an intern in my twenties coming off a night of call with the weight of the hospital off my shoulders, I would crave for a hashbrown and Sausage McMuffin on my way home to sleep. Though my hunger was soon satisfied, I eventually recognized I wasn’t renewed by fast food and a quick nap.

We all know that fast food (processed, sugary, fried, fatty or salty) makes for poor fuel and nutrition. If we hold off the urge for a quick fix, we can let the craving pass and make a healthier choice.

The same holds for the other quick and convenient fixes that have become the habits and norms of daily life. Consider the “fast foods” of our friendships, activities, emotional needs and rest.

The Need for Real Friendships

A hundred Facebook friends or Instagram followers cannot replace a handful of good friends. You can have a long list of associates but most of us need just a few true blue friends for life.

Like fast food, fast friends may be interesting and fun, but they don’t provide the long term support and love we need over a lifetime. Your real friends are there when you need them, providing unconditional care.

They tell you what you need to hear – even if it’s not what you want to know. They see and bring out the best in you. Connecting through social media is no substitute for calling and meeting up with a best friend.

The Need for Meaningful Activity

Boredom can be quenched online. Binging on Netflix, watching endless YouTube videos and playing Candy Crush can fill the void with distraction. They consume attention and time but ultimately leave us wanting more.

Boredom signals for a need for challenge and meaning. Our brains were built to learn and our spirits crave for meaningful challenges. Satisfy your mind with new places and experiences. Enjoy the stimulation of a really good book.

The Need for Rest and Recreation

All work and no play make Jack and Jill burnt out.

We all need balance in our activities.

The internet is saturated with attention and time vampires. Another evening check of your phone or pad can lead to a late night. A Starbucks coffee or Tim’s double double are no substitutes for a good night’s sleep.

During a day of work or study, a change of pace with a walk, meditation or music can refresh you better than a shot of caffeine or nicotine. I’ve found that a quick lunchtime swim can energize a busy afternoon in the clinic.

The Need for Peace and Happiness

When you’re feeling down and distressed, what do you reach for?

It may be easiest to scroll through social media or play Candy Crush, vape, drink, smoke or get a dose of another favourite chemical. Again we may turn to our usual comfort foods.

Though these quick fixes may help us feel better for the moment, the effects are transient. None provide the lasting happiness or peace we really need.

Shopping in person and online may provide instant gratification but they ultimately leave us feeling empty. The joy of a new purchase never lasts.

What we ultimately need is meaningful activity and relationships. Take the time to reflect on where you devote your precious time and attention. Don’t settle for a quick fix.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His articles appear in the Vancouver Courier, The Westside Post and Richmond News.

Categories
Happiness Parenting Positive Potential Relationships

Thanksgiving and the Power of Appreciation

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What’s your favourite holiday?

If you ask kids this month, they are likely to answer “Hallowe’en!”

Mine is Thanksgiving.

Like Christmas, it’s a time we can gather with our loved ones and express appreciation for one another, but unless you’re American – or a Canadian who celebrates Black Friday, Thanksgiving does not require a frenzy of shopping.

And if you’re lucky enough to celebrate with a big family feast, you’re not likely to gain as much weight or drink too much as with the traditions of Christmas.

Thanksgiving prompts us to collectively reflect on the good in our lives – the many important people and things we take for granted. We don’t do this often enough.

The human brain has a natural negativity bias.

We notice more what is wrong than what is good.

We are attuned to pick up on things that are out of place or we just don’t like – in our environment, in others and in our selves. Noticing potential dangers or longing for things we lack had great survival value for our species but can make us overly anxious when our lives are generally safe – and unsatisfied when we really have enough.

Our negativity bias is great for business. What we have seems not enough, we crave for the new iPhone, new clothes and expensive rides. Consumerism capitalizes on our dissatisfaction with what we have and the commercial world convinces us that happiness is to be found in looking better and having more.

We can only be happy when we appreciate what we have today.

Our negativity bias, when it highlights danger and challenge and ignores our personal resources, can make us anxious. When it highlights what is wrong in our lives and ignores what is right, it can make us depressed.

That negativity bias is bad for relationships. Because children hear more criticism than complements, it erodes self-esteem and how they feel about their parents. When couples hear more words of complaint than affection, aversion overpowers attraction.

As a rule of thumb, the human brain must perceive five positives just to balance with one negative. I’ve asked couples and parents to come up with five positive comments for every criticism they express at home. They at first realize that it becomes such an effort to come up with so many positive comments that they hold their tongues with the negatives.

But in modern neuroscience, we know that we can change the way we think. As Canadian neuropsychologist, Donald Hebb said, “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Once we start looking for more positives in others, the more we will see.

And when everyone in the family starts hearing more complements than criticisms, their relationships will improve and the home can become a haven of positive affection.

The gift of Thanksgiving is the power of appreciation. It’s an attitude and a perspective that can foster personal happiness and improve our relationships.

Appreciation – like love and forgiveness – is a twice-blessed gift. Expressing our appreciation for others makes us feel happier; feeling appreciated makes others happier.

This year, I’m starting a new Thanksgiving tradition by sending a note to the people in my life whom I most appreciate: those who make a positive difference to me and others.

I invite you to embrace the healing attitude of gratitude and start your own tradition. The best place to start is at home, in your neighbourhood, at school and at work.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in the Vancouver Courier.

Categories
Growth Happiness Love Parenting The Qualities of a Child

The Privilege and Joy of Parenting

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Fathers Day is not just a day to honour our dads (My own dad is my role model for kindness, generosity and resilience); it’s a time to remember the privilege and joy of being a parent.

This month, as my son turns 27, I recall that I was just three years older, when he came into this world and into our lives. He was due on our 3rdanniversary but came two days early. (I was looking up the traditional present for a 30thanniversary. Not silver, gold or diamonds but rather a medal my wife deserves . . . for all the times I’ve come home late for dinner or stepped out of social events to attend patients in hospital).

Though I was in the early years of my practice, I had already delivered hundreds of babies. Nearly three decades later, each birth seems no less transcendent; I appreciate the privilege of being a family physician and to be present during the spiritual milestones of my patients’ lives.

As new parents, our lives and identities were transformed much as they did with marriage. We were no longer just individuals or a couple, living only for ourselves. In a magical moment, we became parents . . . and a family, living beyond our own self-interests.

We were responsible for all of the needs of a precious child.

Being a parent is the greatest of gifts. From the moment of his birth, my life has been infused with new levels of joy, enhancing my experience of everyday life. I would come to see life through my son’s wide and curious eyes. The world was again teeming with wonder and adventure.

I became more mindful and present. Those ordinary parent-child activities – reading and drawing together, playing in the park, building sandcastles, going to the Vancouver Aquarium, riding the Stanley Park train, swimming and learning to ride a bike – were extraordinary. They remain vivid, palpable memories today.

We grow too as our children grow up. We learn patience, acceptance and most importantly unconditional love. We are given the honour to give forward the legacy of love we have received from our own parents.

And being loved by our children, motivates us to be our best selves that we may be exemplary role models and worthy of their love.

This Fathers Day, we will celebrate and thank our fathers – and graciously appreciate the joy and privilege of being parents.

 

Categories
Christmas Compassion Coping with Loss Happiness

HOW to Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

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Since its debut in 1944, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has been a bittersweet favourite of the holiday season. In the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy Garland sang it to cheer up Maureen O’Brien before the family’s plan to move to a new town.

The song evokes the mixture of emotions the holidays bring.

But how can we each find more happiness and peace in a season of stress and sometimes sadness?

1. Manage your expectations. As a kid with very specific requests for Santa, I made myself miserable on at least a few Christmases past when I didn’t get exactly what I wanted.

I soon learned that my parents and Santa didn’t always give us what we want but they knew what we really needed.

I eventually learned that the key to enjoying holidays with the people I loved was to appreciate their presence and our relationships. Presents – and the thought and care they represent – are just reflections of love.

2. Look for the light. Mankind has survived (so far) because of our brain’s negativity bias. Picking out what’s odd, wrong or dangerous, helped our ancestors survive.

But our brains still maintain this Negativity Bias. As neuropsychologist, Rick Hanson has said, our brains are Velcro for the negative and Teflon for the positive.

The Negativity Bias helps us avoid danger but makes us miserable. We emphasize what’s wrong with our lives (and other people) and dismiss the positive. Not only do we see the cup half full but we come across too critical of others.

One key to happier relationships is to look for the positive in each other and express our appreciation. We need to look for and express at least five positives for each negative just to come out even.

If we all remembered this, we’d think twice before making another negative comment.

Look for the best in your circumstances and the people around you. These include the qualities and kindnesses we take for granted – the very things we may miss looking back from the future. Are we missing out on enjoying the “good old days” while they’re still here?

The holidays are an opportunity to express our appreciation for those who make a difference in our lives. Putting into words the affection we feel may be the best gifts.

3. Make allowance for the expected challenges of the season. There will be heavy traffic, little parking, long lineups, items out of stock and lots of Christmas music. We are part of the traffic and the crowds; we’re all in this together. Strike up a friendly conversation with those in line with you. Bring your own playlist and sing along while you wait in traffic.

4. Remember the three potential solutions to a challenging situation: leave it, change it or reframe it.

No one deserves abusive relationships but many need help to get away safely.

Assuming there is no abuse, before an argument has you walking out of a family dinner, might you be able to transform the situation through new ways of relating?

Wrapping and framing make a world of a difference. A good frame and border can bring out the best in a painting. Pretty wrapping can make a gift all the more special.

The most challenging people come from a place of suffering: their home. The rest of their family suffer. They have to live with themselves 24/7.

5. Define your mission.

During the holidays, we can get distracted by the busyness, mixed emotions and difficult relationships. Some of us are missing loved ones no longer with us; I miss my mother most at this time.

Some of us have no one with whom to spend the holidays. Remember them and reach out with compassion where you can.

What is your personal mission for the holidays? Getting everything done and avoid going (deeper) into debt? Just surviving? Avoiding recurring family arguments?

My wish for you this holiday season is health and happiness. May we appreciate our imperfect but lovable human selves, fully present to one another as we celebrate our connections.

Accept the unique and precious gift of this season though at first it may seem routine. Our loved ones’ most irritating quirks are the qualities we may miss when they are no longer in our lives. Love them today.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise Column appears regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in life, read his blog at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

Categories
Burnaby Division of Family Practice Emotions Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Happiness Healthy Living Positive Potential Preventive Health Self-care stress management

Emotional Wellness (Davidicus Wong)

What is Emotional Wellness?

A deep sense of meaning and purpose, an abiding sense of peace, the ability to manage the stress and transitions of life, awareness of your thoughts and feelings and the ability to manage them.

 

Why emotional health matters

  1. Emotions influence our behaviour, our relationships and our thinking.
  2. Anxiety holds us back from doing what we need to do, from moving forward, from reaching out, and from giving our best to the world.
  3. Depression is a major cause of disability and absenteeism from work or school.

Video: Why Emotional Health Matters https://stage.divisionsbc.ca/Burnaby/emotionalhealth.

 

Anxiety Disorders

When your anxiety has a significant impact on your function at work, school or home or in your social life.

  1. Generalized Anxiety:excessive worry about many things
  2. Panic Disorder:recurrent panic attacks (symptoms may include chest pain, a racing heart, sweats, shortness of breath and dizziness)
  3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: repetitive intrusive thoughts or recurrent compulsions to perform an act (e.g. checking, handwashing, rituals)
  4. Social Anxiety: excessive anxiety in specific social situations e.g. large groups, interviews, shopping
  5. Phobias:extreme specific fears e.g. spiders, heights, flying

 

Mood Disorders

The Symptoms of Depression: fatigue, change in sleep, change in appetite, impaired concentration,  forgetfulness, thoughts of death or suicide, self-blame and guilt, feeling sad, hopelessness, lack of enjoyment or pleasure, loss of motivation.

 

Bipolar Disorder:episodes of depression and mania/hypomania (heightened mood and energy, overconfidence, decreased need for sleep, impaired judgment, decreased need for sleep, delusions of grandeur)

 

Psychotic Symptoms:impaired reality testing, delusions (fixed false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), disorganized behaviour e.g. schizophrenia

 

Video: 4 Key Emotional Health Skills https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4iPjKBOY-U&list=PLAWTWe0JNCdHMVTJSe4Jk_vhb53H2jk-b&index=1

Key Emotional Health Skills

  • A Meditative Practice to calm your mind, centre your thoughts and reflect.

Recommended Reading on Mindfulness: Joseph Goldstein, Thich Nhat-Hahn, Jon Kabat-Zinn.

 

Cognitive Therapy

  • Reflect on the thoughts that trigger your emotions. Is there another way to look at the situation?
  • Question the underlying beliefs behind unhealthy thinking.
    • Identify your cognitive distortions
    • all or nothing thinking – seeing all the bad in another person or situation; catastrophizing – imagining the worst;
    • excessive self-blame

Recommended Reading:Mind Over Mood by Padesky and Greenberger; Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman.

 

Visualizing Your Goals

  • Turn your problems into goals.
  • Instead of replaying the past or ruminating on the negative, think about what you want.
  • When you are most relaxed, visualize yourself having achieved your goal.
  • How do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear? Make it real!

 

Managing Stress

  • Burnout: when the demands of work or life exceed our ability to manage them.

 

Seizing the Locus of Control

  • Identify your sources of stress.
  • Are you reacting in proportion to the stress?
  • Recognize what you can change or control.
  • Accept what you cannot change; assume responsibility for what you can.
  • Recognize your choices.

 

The 80/20 Rule: 20% of our reaction to a situation is related to the facts; 80% arises from what we bring from our past and how we conceptualize the present.

 

The Daily Management of Stress

Be a good parent to yourself:

  1. Go out and play.Have an exercise routine.
  2. Don’t skip meals.Schedule regular healthy meals.
  3. Go to bed.Get enough sleep and take regular breaks.
  4. Go to the doctor.See your own family doctor appropriately.

Express your emotions with those close to you with a group of confidantes. Form or join a support group.

Live in accord with your values.

Attend to your relationships.

  1. Foster emotional intimacy.Agree on a habit of checking in with one another each day. How are you feeling? How was your day?
  2. Show your affection. Express your positive feelings.
  3. Schedule regular dates.Commit your time to what matters most. Don’t wait ‘til there’s time; make time!
  4. Communicate in a healthy way.Take a breath and let anger cool before you react. Acknowledge the other’s feelings and point of view. Express how you feel without blame.
  5. When things get stale, have an affair. . . with your partner.

 

Video: Keys to Managing Stress https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoN-lIlx460&feature=youtu.be&list=PLAWTWe0JNCdHMVTJSe4Jk_vhb53H2jk-b

Where to Find Help

Canadian Mental Health Association

cmha.bc.ca

Courses, resources, cognitive therapy and support.

 

Burnaby Mental Health

fraserhealth.ca (604) 453-1900

Assessment, treatment, counselling and crisis intervention.

 

Cameray Child & Family Services

203 – 5623 Imperial Street, Burnaby (604) 436-9449 cameray.ca

Counselling for children and families.

 

AnxietyBC

anxietybc.com

Education, cognitive therapy courses.

 

 

Mood Disorders Association of BC

mdabc.net

Support groups, cognitive therapy and wellness programs.

 

SAFER  (604) 675-3985

Education, support and counselling for those who have suicidal thoughts, have attempted suicide.

Support for family members.

 

The Four Foundations of Self-Care

 

  • What you eat(what you put into your body).

 

  • What you do(physical activity and rest).

 

  • How you feel(emotional wellbeing).

 

  • How you connect(healthy relationships).

 

Please share this information with your family, friends and anyone else who may find it helpful.

Together we’ll create a healthier community and a healthier future.

Categories
Burnaby Division of Family Practice Emotions Empowering Healthcare empowering patients Happiness Healthy Living Love Relationships Uncategorized

Healthy Relationships (Davidicus Wong)

 

Why relationships matter

  1. Social support from friends, family and partners are key to your emotional health and resilience.
  2. Harmony in the home is essential to your wellbeing.
  3. Loving friends and family support your health.
  4. Conflicts at home, work or school are major sources of stress and contribute to anxiety and mood disorders.

The sources of conflict

  1. Incompatibility (religion, culture, language, introversion/extraversion, values and beliefs.)

Game changers: incompatible values (core beliefs about right and wrong)

                                     abuse(physical, emotional or sexual)

  1. Cognitive Distortions– When we start seeing each other differently.
  2. Mind reading: making negative assumptions about the other’s intentions without checking them out.
  3. Excessive blaming: when something goes wrong (or is left undone), it’s the other’s fault.
  4. All or nothing thinking: seeing all of the BAD (and none of the good) in the other, in your relationship and your situation.
  5. Neglect and loss of intimacy.Too often we can let the rest of our lives take over our life together.
  6. Feelings change.We mistake the inevitable fading of infatuation and romantic love with not being in love. With attention and commitment, we can transition into enduring love, from passion to compassion.

The quirks that endear us when we fall in love eventually irritate us when the honeymoon is over, but they are the things we’ll miss when our loved ones are gone.

The 5 Love Languages (Gary Chapman)

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

The Qualities of Healthy Relationships

  1. Mutual respect– for our individuality, our feelings and our ideas
  2. Commitment to one another and to our relationship. We express our commitment with time, thought, patience, effort and a willingness to work together.
  3. Acceptance and management of the differences that make us unique– personality, passions, preferences, spirituality, customs. Extraverts are energized by people and parties; introverts need solitude to recharge. Extraverts need to speak to think; introverts think before they’ll speak. With acceptance and understanding, we complement one another.
  4. Unconditional love: mutual positive regard, compassion and good will.

Nurturing Your Relationship

  1. Foster emotional intimacy.Agree on a habit of checking in with one another each day. How are you feeling? How was your day?
  2. Show your affection.Express your positive feelings. Remember the 5 languages of love.
  3. Schedule regular dates. Commit your time to what matters most. Don’t wait ‘til there’s time; make time!
  4. Communicate in a healthy way.Take a breath and let anger cool before you react. Acknowledge the other’s feelings and point of view. Express how you feel without blame.
  5. When things get stale, have an affair . . . with your partner.

The Four Things That Matter Most (Dr. Ira Byock)

  1. “Please forgive me.”
  2. “I forgive you.”
  3. “Thank you.”
  4. “I love you.”

THE 4 FOUNDATIONS OF SELF-CARE

What you eat(What you put into your body). What you do(physical activity and rest).

How you feel(emotional wellbeing). How you connect(healthy relationships).

 

Categories
Happiness Healthy Living Love Wisdom

Thanksgiving: The Holiday with Attitude

Autumn in Whistler.jpg

Wine may grow in value with age, but as I age, I appreciate more the value in all things.

The celebration of Thanksgiving has become more meaningful with each passing year. It is the holiday with attitude – a decidedly positive one.

Unlike other stat holidays that are to many just a reason for a long weekend and cross border shopping, Thanksgiving asks us to pause and reflect, gather and give thanks for what we have been given. It can bring about a frame of mind that can frame our words and actions in the days that follow and possibly for the rest of the year.

Unlike Christmas where the meaning can be lost in the frenzy of feasting and shopping, Thanksgiving remains comparatively simple though much thought and love goes into the preparation of a meal to share with family and friends.

It is a reason to gather and appreciate that which we have. It turns our thoughts and actions towards the needs of others – the homeless and others who struggle to stay warm each night and to keep food on the table.

Grace may be a prayer of thanks many of us will be saying before dinner, but it is also an attitude – a way of thinking and acting.

Thanksgiving is not just the giving of thanks. I divide it into “thanks” (or appreciation) and “giving.”

The thanks is in the appreciation of the gifts of our past, present and future. The gifts of your past have enriched your experience and shaped your growth. Think of the special people who have supported you through love, teaching and inspiration.

The gifts of the present are those that you have this day. One of the tragedies of every human life is that we don’t always recognize and appreciate the gifts that are in our hands at this moment. Both this moment and those gifts are fleeting.

The gift of the future is its promise – so rich in youth but still present in our later years and even at the end of life. This is what you give forward – the seeds you have planted, the good you have done and the love you have given. It is your gift to the world of the future. What can you give to others in the time you have left?

Thanksgiving reminds me to give. We give away . . . to others – not just the things we don’t need or can part with, but rather what is most needed by someone else. We give back . . . not just to those like our parents who have given so much to us but also to our community, to nature and to our world. We give forward . . . to our children, to the future and to others who may never be able to thank us.

The greatest gifts in our lives are not always obvious or appreciated when we have them, and they are not ours to keep. They are given in trust for us to give away, give back or give forward. And the greatest of our gifts is the love we receive and the love we express.

Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer in Vancouver, B.C.