How Exercise & Sleep Supports Mental Health

By Allison Smith, Guest Blogger, Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Enthusiast

Depression runs in my family. Both my mothers’ parents took their own lives when she was a teen, and died herself by suicide recently. As difficult as it was, I was motivated more than ever to help others in pain. And so I was honoured when Leslie asked me to speak to her group Professionals Working Well about the importance of exercise and sleep for our mental health. (more…)

Peer Support for Professionals – Mental Health, Toronto

Is it possible to experience a mental health challenge and be effective and succeed at work?

Many wonder if it is indeed possible for a person living with a mental health challenge to work effectively, accomplish goals, reconnect with self and others, and recapture meaning and purpose in life.

 Peer Support for Professionals builds local community and connections among working professionals who have experience with a mental health challenge. (more…)

Mental wellness; it’s all how you look at it!

Lately, I’ve been bummed out – really bummed out. I could speculate on why but I don’t think it’s that helpful to go over the reasons. When I get into a one of these bummed out moods, my mind is like a war zone of negativity, Much of how I view things is based on what happens in my day and what I make of it:

  • I apply for a job, get an interview and am told I don’t have what they are looking for.
  • I ask for help from a friend and am ignored.
  • I’m short on cash to pay my visa bill at the end of the month, and it’s a reminder that I don’t have a consistent group of clients paying me for the work I love to do.
  • I continue to work out and don’t see any results in how my body looks.
  • I view job boards, get interested in a position, only to realize I don’t have the qualifications to be considered for an interview.
  • I’m taking the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course and have failed to keep up with the homework.
  • I’ve continued to share my vision of finding a grant for my Unleash Your Mental Wellness coaching program and have not come close to securing one.

(more…)

One woman’s 52-minute crisis

I haven’t always been challenged with directions. Reading signs and understanding where I’m going was something I did easily when I was young. I remember driving with my father and looking at the map. Usually, it was somewhere up north. He helped me understand how to read a map and the street signs. We never did any driving trips to Quebec so there was no need to learn or understand the Quebec road maps. I could have used some of that Dad support today! You see my Dad is originally from Val D’or Quebec, speaks perfect French and always knew what to do when we were lost. (more…)

4 Steps to Achieving Your Goals

Course corrections can only come from deliberate reflections!

June is the halfway mark in the year. Six months have passed, and we have six months still to go. I’ve often wanted to review my goals at this time and have either forgotten, or it was too late when I remembered. This year is different. Looking at what we have done in the 1st half year will give new insights into what needs to be focused on for the remainder of the year. This is all in service of achieving our goals and outcomes.

Use these three simple questions:

  • What has worked?
  • What has not worked?
  • What do you need to have in place for those things that didn’t work to work?

I believe reviewing the last six months might just be the piece that has been missing for me. There is research that shows the link between how often reflection is done and the ability to lead more effectively. Those who engage in reflection are said to be more grounded, able to handle a crisis effectively, are empathic with their peers and more successful in their stated personal and business goals. I believe this can be used in our own lives. We are all leaders of something, our lives, our family, our mental health, and our physical health. (more…)

When Open Hearts Connect

Open your heart and experience all the emotions. It’s a gift that I seldom open. Most of the time, I’m scared and afraid. I’m scared you will break it, I’m afraid we won’t be connected anymore.

I opened my heart this past week and here is what I found.

Open heart.
Tears in my eyes.
Moved beyond words.
Heavy heart for those who came before us.
Aching love for all that have been affected
Family, friends, strangers, professionals, caregivers.
Stopped in mid sentence by overwhelming emotions.
Caught off guard when I least expect it.
Move through it  – breathe deeply.
Balancing between incredible outrage for those who suffer and the love I experience for all of us,
even those who dishonour us,
even those who stare and call us crazy.

My experience tells me we are all the same, we come from the same place and we have the same needs;
connection,
love,
even if I don’t care to admit it.

Fear stops me from talking, it stops me from connecting, it stops me from loving. (more…)

Hall Pass

When you have been diagnosed with mental illness, life doesn’t stop giving you obstacles to overcome. Life doesn’t give you hall passes, get out of jail free cards or golden tickets. We deal with and work through all the same challenges as people who haven’t been diagnosed.

 

There is no Difference

We get married and divorced; our loved ones die, and there are wonderful births in our families. Our children do well in school, and they fail. We get jobs, and we lose jobs. We are no different from anyone else. Except, we are susceptible to being triggered by any one of the above listed events. Research has shown that anything that puts a stress on our brain (positive and negative) can affect our mood and our stability. It is critical to have support around you and a way to manage these kinds of changes in our lives. (more…)

A Leap of Faith – Disclosing Mental Illness in the Workplace

Telling a potential new client that I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder 17 years ago was the farthest thought from my mind last Friday. We were sitting in their boardroom hammering out the final details of our contract. Our next step was to review and agree on what both parties had put forward and sign off on the 1-year agreement. Still not a done deal.

I’m not sure how this happened; we started talking about our personal lives, and suddenly my partner looked over at me and said “what’s your passion, Leslie?”

Time slowed down; my heart dropped to my stomach, I felt a tightening in my chest; my mind started racing from one thought to the next, and as I looked at the clock on the wall, I realized I had three minutes to share my commitment and passion in transforming the Mental Health system in Canada. (more…)

It feels like my brain doesn’t work

Sometimes it feels like my brain doesn’t work. And I can’t articulate the words or thoughts that I want to. Sometimes I think that I’m just not smart enough to be writing a blog.

I think I’ve been experiencing writer’s block.

But that thought just keeps getting pushed out of my mind. How can I have writers block if I’m writing emails or blogs for other sources?

Maybe it’s that I just don’t think I have anything interesting to say about mental health anymore.

After spending weeks of trying to get inspired to write by reading articles, profiles, and websites, I’m no farther ahead today in being inspired to write. (more…)

Compromise for the sake of what?

Sleep

I won’t compromise my sleep for anything else. Sleep is the most important activity I can do for my health. Some say you can sleep when you are dead – I say you are going to be dead sooner if you don’t sleep.

Fitting in with the crowd

I no longer compromise my true self in order to be like the crowd, doing the same as the rest. Even if I know it would help the situation in the moment, I know it won’t in the long run. This lesson took longer to learn than I would have liked. I no longer try to fit in, even when that voice in my head erodes my confidence in the moment nudging me, asking me to conform, I won’t budge. (more…)