Autumn is often perceived as the season of change. Some of us change by letting go of resentments. Forgiveness is an emotional change that occurs within a person. Here are four layers of forgiveness. 🍂🕊
Uncovering: Improve your understanding of the injustice and the impact it has on your life.
Deciding: Understand what forgiveness is VS isn't, choose or refuse to forgive.
Working: Understand the offender differently, and practice compassion toward them and yourself.
Deepening: Reduce negative emotions, find new meaning in the experience, and acknowledge the growth you've made.
Mindfulness teaches us to be present and non-judgmental. Here are 3 mindful habits you can try daily!
As helping professionals, we may not recognize that sometimes we justify our negative behaviours because of all the positive things we do. For example, lashing out at a loved one after a long day at work or saying "I deserve this" as we pour ourselves a drink following a heavy session. It is important that we are aware of our internal and external self while finding healthier ways to process. As Amy Cunningham so eloquently says, take 10-minutes for yourself - every day.
Amy Cunningham's TedTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsaorjIo1Yc
'Tis the season of giving! 🎄
Not every young person is provided with accessible opportunities to take care of their mental, emotional and physical health. That’s where New Leaf Foundation comes in.
They launched a monthly giving campaign #bettertogether. Now, more than ever, anyone can be a part of our community of changemakers. Your monthly donation can help us to:
• Provide youth with accessible opportunities to take care of their to mental, emotional and physical health
• Continue offering programming that fosters a sense of agency and empowerment
• Create systemic change through trauma-informed and mindfulness-based education in spaces like schools and jails
• Invest in resources that support young people beyond our frontline programs
For more information, reach out to me or check out: https://newleaffoundation.com/ ❤️🌿
Transitioning into college life as an adolescent may come with a lot of uncertainty and overwhelming decisions. Some may be leaving their homes for the first time and do not know how to cope with day-to-day stressors or new environments. Anxiety, depression, chronic stress and poor sleep patterns can be symptoms of these experiences. Yoga, a mind-body practice, is known to have many psychological and physical benefits for health, illness prevention, memory, focus, self-esteem, reduction in anxiety and stress - which can support academic performance and classroom behaviour.
• Stick to a schedule ⏰ – Set a consistent bed time and wake time. Do not sleep in for more than 1-hour, even on your days off! Sleep is critical for the immune system, memory consolidation, neuronal development/connectivity.
• Ditch Naps 💤 – Napping during the day makes it harder to achieve quality and quantity sleep at night. This may lead to not getting enough of Rapid Eye Movement ("REM" sleep). REM sleep typically begins 90-minutes into the sleep cycle. REM sleep leads to cognitive and brain maturation. Loss of REM sleep tends to be made up in the next night, which leads the sleep cycle to move quickly - leading to irritability, lack of concentration and greater nightmares.
• Use your bed for sleeping 🛌 – The body learns to associate your bed with sleep. When individuals use their bed for waking purposes (i.e. work, school, TV), their bed can have the opposite effect...feeling alert not relaxed, making it difficult to fall asleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to depression, slow reaction time, hallucinations, weight gain, and adverse health issues (i.e. heart, blood pressure, diabetes).
• Don't force yourself ✋ – If you haven't fallen asleep after a while, do something calming like listening to relaxing music or journaling. Avoid TV, phone screens or anything stimulating that could lead you to be more awake.
• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine ☕️ – Consumption can affect your quality of sleep. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to 12-hours! Even decaf has some caffeine.
Try it out! Insomnia and other sleep issues are common all over the world. Especially, among those with mental health issues and their correction can be a key part of recovery.
Re-defining "productivity" through Mindful eating/drinking. Mindful eating/drinking encourages us to focus on our food or drink, on purpose, moment by moment, without judgement. It is simply a practice to allow one to notice the sensual awareness we can have with food and drink. It has nothing to do with calories, carbs, fat or protein. When we are present, we can appreciate what is in front of us more.
Sometimes, I struggle with the concepts of "doing nothing" or “relaxing”. I think it is all about perception. Being "productive" can look different on me than on you. When one works towards shifting the way they perceive "productivity", they can challenge those feelings of guilt.
You are always doing something and your worth is not defined by how productive you are.
Small wins are important, too.
Types of therapy that don't focus on talking:
Animal-assisted Therapy - uses animals to support people with recovery or cope better
Aromatherapy - uses plant extracts to improve well-being of mind, body and spirit
Art Therapy - uses creative expression
Dance Therapy - movement without words
Music Therapy - listen, sing, play, write and/or compose music and/or poems
Online Therapy - many providers offer sessions via online chat or texting
Somatic Experiencing - focuses on body before the mind, the goal is to release stress from the body and foster connection between the body and internal experiences
Re: the Power of Self-Compassion and the Problem of Self-Criticism
"The power of self-compassion is not just an idea – it’s very real and actually manifests in our bodies. When we soothe our own pain we are tapping into the mammalian care-giving system. And one important way the care-giving system works is by triggering the release of oxytocin. Research indicates that increased levels of oxytocin strongly increase feelings of trust, calm, safety, generosity, and connectedness, and facilitates the ability to feel warmth and compassion for ourselves. Oxytocin is released in a variety of social situations, including when a mother breastfeeds her child, when parents interact with their young children, or when someone gives or receives a soft, tender caress. Because thoughts and emotions have the same effect on our bodies whether they’re directed to ourselves or to others, this research suggests that self-compassion may be a powerful trigger for the release of oxytocin."
"Self-criticism appears to have a very different effect on our body. The amygdala is the oldest part of the brain, and is designed to quickly detect threats in the environment. When we experience a threatening situation, the fight-or-flight response is triggered: The amygdala sends signals that increases blood pressure, adrenaline, and the hormone cortisol, mobilizing the strength and energy needed to confront or avoid a threat. Although this system was designed by evolution to deal with physical attacks, it is activated just as readily by emotional attacks by ourselves or others."
Grounding techniques help control anxiety or uncomfortable symptoms by turning attention away from thoughts, memories, or worries, and refocusing on the present moment.
Sharing a grounding exercise with you on this beautiful day. Pause, take a few breaths and bring your attention to the following:
Thank you HardFeelingsTo for these goodies! I can't wait to use them with clients. 🤍
You are worthy of slowing down to take care of yourself and you do not always have to use your downtime decisively.
It is true, one of the best teachers in life turns out to be death. No person or situation could ever teach you as much as death has to teach you. While someone could tell you that you are not your body, death shows you. While someone could remind you of the insignificance of the things that you cling to, death takes them all away. While people can teach you that men and women of all races are equal and that there is no difference between the rich and the poor, death instantly makes us all the same. My favourite book, The Untethered Soul, teaches people to feel grateful to death for giving them another day, another experience, and for creating the scarcity that makes life so precious.
It was a dream visiting Terre Blue Lavender Farm! Beyond its beautiful blooms and divine scent, lavender offers many benefits such as: decrease stress and anxiety, aid sleep/sleep quality, as well as act as a natural antibacterial and antiseptic.
Working through grief and loss of clients during COVID-19:
You have a client you have been seeing for some time. It was an appointment or two on a weekly basis, then they felt ready to see you bi-weekly. The therapeutic relationship was beautiful. It felt exciting to see your client grow and overcome so much; becoming the person they wanted to be. Then they don’t show up to their virtual appointment and it seems odd. It is not like them. You email, call, and leave a voicemail. No response. You watch the case and death counts on the news rise but you are cautiously optimistic. Then you learn a former client dies and you start to worry. Before you have a minute to process this loss, you are informed that another client has passed. You start to stay up at night thinking about different scenarios - suicide risk, relapse, COVID...then your phone rings. The voice on the other end is trying to keep it together as they inform you that your client is no longer alive.
It could have been an overdose, completed suicide, an accident, cancer, or even COVID. What matters is that you have feelings and may not know where to put them. As therapists, we have faced so much loss over the past year and a half. We give so much love and effort towards our clients, we need to normalize doing the same for ourselves.
• If there is a virtual service or celebration, and you feel comfortable, attend. If not, think about how you would like to honour the memory of your client.
• Take some time off or schedule a few hours to process your thoughts and feelings. Don’t you dare forget that you deserve to take up space in this world too.
• Journaling may be a way for you to receive revelations as you write. We encourage our clients to do it all the time! Some suggestions taken out of an article by Jill Johnson-Young “When your client dies: What do you do? Our new world of COVID” -- What was left that is unfinished? Were there things you wish you could have said to your client? Were their goals or aspirations they had or you wished for them that are now never going to happen? Are you experiencing a response to how they died? Is it bringing up old stuff for you? Fears about death? Losses you never processed in your life?
• Be true to yourself. Everyone has been touched by COVID some way. Find a support group or therapist. Yes, even helping professionals need help! Authors read books by other authors.
• Carve out time for self-care. How are you taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually on this day?
This beautiful piece of art was made by a former late-client of mine. If you and/or a loved one are in need of support, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. There are so many resources available.
Stay safe. Love, Ameena.
Here are a few tips to honour the "me" in "merry" this holiday season!