New Roots Therapy Blog

Thoughts on Life, Love, & Wellness! New Posts Every Wednesday.

“I had a black dog, his name was depression”: A Powerful Visual of One Man’s Experience Living with Depression

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One of our goals for this blog is to post new content every Monday. Unfortunately, this week has been particularly hectic and, as such, we didn’t have time to prepare an original post. Given the circumstances, we thought we would use this as an opportunity to instead share a video that we love! We’ve shared this video on our Facebook and Twitter pages before, but we wanted to share it again here because we feel the message of the video is so profound, it deserves sharing again.

This short video depicts Matthew Johnstone’s experience of living with depression. The use of metaphor to describe his experience with depression, “a black dog”, creates a striking image of what it is like for many people who live with this mental health issue. We hope you will find this video to be not only informative, but also inspiring.

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Overcoming the Winter Doldrums

Written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

As the end of January approaches, many of us are feeling broke, worn down, and cold!  By now, the holidays are long gone and the feelings of optimism and energy we may have felt at New Year’s have begun to dwindle as the realities of work life, bill payments (“I spent HOW MUCH on holiday gifts?!”) and cold, dark days hit us.  If this sounds familiar to you and you’re looking for ways to get re-motivated, the following list of budget-friendly ideas may be helpful in boosting your mood and energy levels and helping you get through the winter doldrums:

  1. Too cold to go outside?  Bring nature indoors with potted plants!  Indoor plants are well known for having many health and mood-boosting benefits, such as:  reduced stress, anxiety, and fatigue; increased memory, attentiveness, and feelings of well-being; increased oxygen levels to help improve breathing; purified air; etc.  Indoor plants can also help to increase feelings of compassion and purposefulness, by giving you something to care for.  Another way to bring nature indoors and help boost your mood:  create your own composition of nature sounds at naturesoundsfor.me.  This free, interactive online tool lets you listen to compositions made by other users, as well as create your own mix of nature sounds!
  2. Plan a games’ night in with friends.  This is inexpensive and fun!  It’s easy to isolate ourselves in the chilly winter months.  However, socializing and connecting with loved ones is a natural mood booster.  Also, consider making standing dates with friends and/or family members to keep your social calendar active and keep the winter “blahs” in check.
  3. Get your vitamins.  Certain supplements have been linked to mental and emotional well-being.  For example, Vitamin D, B-Complex Vitamins, and St. John’s Wort are all said to aid in the treatment of depression.  If you’re considering taking any vitamin supplements, always speak to your doctor first.
  4. Start your day with gratitude.  Research shows that gratitude is linked to greater feelings of happiness, increased resilience, and stronger relationships.  When we take the time to acknowledge what is good in our lives, we create space to experience more positive emotions.  There are many ways to practice gratitude throughout the day (e.g., saying “thanks” in-person if possible, or mentally; writing 3 things that you are grateful for each day in a gratitude journal; etc.).  In the book, “Five Good Minutes”, the authors Jeffrey Brantley (MD)  and Wendy Millstine, suggest starting your day with the following gratitude practice:
  • Breathe mindfully for about a minute.
  • Set your intention.  For example, “May this practice open my eyes in wonder and appreciation.”
  • Breathe mindfully for a few more breaths.
  • Now reflect on something in your life that works or supports you.  For example, “My heart is strong”, or, “My father is well”, or, “My e-mail got through”.  Quietly say thank you.
  • Reflect on something that – in its absence – is good.  For example, no toothache, or no sickness in a loved one, or no hurricane or tornado.  Quietly say thank you.
  • End by opening your eyes and moving gently.

For more information and techniques about mindfulness and mindful breathing, check out mindful.org.

5.  Exercise is well known for being a natural mood booster.  If you can bear it, bundle up and go for a walk a few times a week!  Or, check out your local recreation centre to see if they have an indoor track.  As well, certain yoga postures have been linked to greater balance, not just physically, but with our moods as well!  Check out these “Mood-Boosting Yoga and Breathing Postures” for an illustration of poses designed to decrease depression, anxiety, and stress – and increase confidence, clarity, and energy!

How do you get through the winter blues?  Share your ideas in the comments below!


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The “Holiday Blues”: An Invitation to Practice Generosity…with Yourself!

Written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

Ready or not, the holiday season is here again! Shopping malls are decked out in tinsel and lights, and radio stations have begun to play round-the-clock festive tunes.  There’s no denying it: the season of good tidings is officially upon us.

For many people, this truly is “the most wonderful time the year” – the holidays are a time of togetherness, celebration, and generosity of spirit.  It’s a time for reconnection and lightness of heart.  Yet, in the midst of all the holiday spectacle, many folks will find themselves experiencing a little less than “good cheer”.  In particular, research has shown that an increase in depressive symptoms is not uncommon around this time of year.  Often dubbed “the holiday blues”, such depressive symptoms may include (but are not limited to): increased feelings of sadness, loneliness, grief, fatigue, stress, and suicidal thoughts.  These symptoms may emerge as the result of any number of stressors.  For example, stressors can include:

  • Financial pressures related to gift buying
  • Expectations about the “perfect” family get-together
  • Increased family conflict and/or distressing dynamics amongst family members (or perhaps the absence of family members and loved ones, altogether)
  • The “hustle and bustle” of time constraints and a generally hectic pace (including traveling on a limited schedule, navigating crowded shopping malls, etc.)

There are a number of tips available online for coping with the holiday blues.  For example, the Mayo Clinic offers 10 suggestions for minimizing holiday stress, including:  making a budget in advance, acknowledging your feelings, setting boundaries, and reaching out for help as necessary.  You can read the rest of their tips here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress/MH00030

At New Roots Therapy, we hope to offer one simple message to those of you experiencing the holiday blues: in this season of generosity and kindness, don’t forget to be generous and kind to yourself as well!  A gift of permission to take it easy on yourself might be just the thing you need to reconnect with the joys of the holiday season.  “Taking it easy” might look differently for different people.  For example, it could mean limiting your spending, or deciding not to travel this year, or asking for extra help with food preparation.  Whatever it means to you, we’re hopeful that you’ll take the time to reflect upon your own needs during the holidays, and give yourself permission to practice generosity with yourself.

If you notice that your depressive symptoms are lasting longer than the holiday season (i.e., longer than two weeks), or you have concerns that you might be experiencing clinical depression, you may wish to consider speaking with your family doctor or mental health care provider.

If you wish to speak with one of our therapists, please contact our office at:

info@newrootstherapy.com

905-665-8150