ACT: A Mental Health Strategy for Overcoming Obstacles

Sometimes you are just rolling along and – WHAM! – you are broadsided by an unexpected obstacle. It might be a physical obstacle, such a being stuck in traffic. Or it might be another kind of obstacle, one that is more ‘internal’, an emotion or a way of thinking that is having a negative impact on you.

No matter the obstacle, there is a simple and practical strategy that can help you move through the obstacle and either get back on track, or find a new track all together!

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Feeling Unmotivated? Try These Tips to Get Re-Activated!

Last week, I had the honour of being interviewed on Jim Toth‘s show on GlobalNews CJOB 680 Radio. When setting it up, he said he wanted to talk about motivation; people are getting tired of ‘the longest winter ever’ and to top it off, our beloved hockey team, the Winnipeg Jets were not performing as many wished they were.

In the 11 minutes I was on air (click here to listen), I was able to share a few tips. Here’s a bit of a recap, and a little extra.

  1. Take a deep breath and give yourself a break. We have been through a very trying time in the last two years; a global pandemic, the emotional discovery of hundreds of children’s graves at former residential schools, and the war waged by Russia in Ukraine (to name just a few events). Just sit with it for a minute, breath, and congratulate yourself for getting through it – day by day.
  2. Focus on ‘what’s good’. Look around, what’s present in your life that is ‘good’ for you. The sunshine glistening on the snow, a great conversation with a loved one, a brisk workout, a warm shower, your favourite cozy socks. Notice those things and put your attention on them. Allow yourself to be energized by the good vibe they provide.
  3. Move ‘toward’ what you want. Jim mentioned that there were comments being made about the Winnipeg Jets’ performance; some fans commented that they seemed to have lost their ‘mojo’ (my word, not Jim’s). The Winnipeg Jets’ players are human beings, like all of us. If you experience an extended period of poor (or less than desired) performance, you likely begin to lose your energy. Part of that is because you are focused on the past; rehashing past poor performance can be very fatiguing (woulda, coulda, shoulda). So, instead, begin by just ‘allowing’ yourself to be where you are. Just allow whatever you are experiencing to settle. Then begin to move ‘toward’ what you want. While there is value in looking back and asking yourself what you might be able to do differently in the future, the key is to do that quickly and then to begin to MOVE TOWARD THE DESIRED OUTCOME IN THE FUTURE.
  4. Nourish your unit. Motivation is all about energy, and you need nutrition in order to have energy. You know the drill; eat, move, sleep. You don’t need me to remind you of what you already know. I like to snack on junk food like anyone else, but remember the old adage (I am not sure where it started, but heard it in frist year computer science 30 years ago) garbage in, garbage out’. That is true for not only what food, exercise and sleep you put into (invest in) your body, but also what thoughts you allow to take up residence in your mind.
  5. Pay attention. Consider adding a practice of meditation to your daily routine. You won’t believe me about how powerful this can be until your try it. Start with just a few minutes of quiet, connecting to your breath. You will be amazed at the energy surge that can come from a few minutes of ‘presence’, when you disengage from the internal chatter, and engage with what ‘is’. Learn to regularly ‘be where you are’. Even if you do not meditate, per se, just pause regularly to tune in and ask yourself how you are doing. If you are surfing social media, watching a movie, chatting with a friend, or walking around the neighborhood, stop and ask (or pause after you are done and ask) ‘How am I feeling right now? Did that add to, or detract from, my energy?’ Then, adjust accordingly. If what you are doing is not adding energy, try something else. And, move toward that!

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Not Crazy, Just Human: Cut Yourself Some Slack during the Holidays

Not Crazy, Just Human -Book Cover

Over the next several months, we will be sharing some of the learning from “Not Crazy, Just Human: Moving Through Trauma to Healing”.

This first excerpt is timely. The holidays can bring all sorts of joy and also all sorts of stress. Remember to be kind to yourself can help!

Cut yourself some slack

One day last summer, I went for lunch with my brother, Devin. I am so grateful that we have always been very close. (Other than when he was young and annoying, of course!).

While we ate our Thai food during lunch last summer, Devin shared about a time ten years ago when he went through a tough situation.

“You were there for me, Der. You were always there for me. I want you to know that I am here for you too.” That was good to hear. He continued, “One day, when things were getting better for me, we were out for coffee, and I started talking about the tough situation again. I remember you saying, ‘Oh, I wondered when that might come up again.’”

“Did I really say that,” I asked. “Like in a ‘mean’ way?”

“Yes,” Devin said. “It was as though you just wanted to talk about something else—about something good, and you did not want to keep talking about that same bad situation. I am only telling you this because it might be affecting you now …  if you are being impatient with yourself, if you are judging yourself, if you are trying to just get over this, it could be damaging you.”

I thought about that a lot when I got home. Thanks, Dev. That was a huge gift to me. Even though I do not remember saying that a decade ago (and really do not ever want to be that way with others who are sharing something with me), it was a good reminder that if I don’t want to be that way with them, I should not be that way with myself.

So ,,, when you feel challenged, worried or irritated, or when you say or do something you really wish you had not, remember to be kind to yourself. Pause, put your hand over your heart, and speak to yourself like you would speak to someone you love.