Webinar: Managing Stress and Emotions During Challenging Times

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00:00 Introduction

06:36 Managing Stress and Emotions

07:53 Today’s Topics

09:40 What’s happening?!

13:43 Review your list to see: what do you have control over?

21:25 Changes you may notice in Yourself

23:59 Signs of Stress to Distress

26:38 Resilient People

28:00 Power Model

29:09 Positivity

32:17 Offer

34:14 Write

40:18 Exercise

43:15 Recharge

49:48 Resources

51:24 Questions & Answers

00:00 Introduction

Hillary: Hello, everyone, my name is Hillary and I work for EHN Canada, which stands for Edgewood Health Network and we are Canada’s premier provider of private mental health and addiction treatment. So, it’s been really important to us to give highly valuable information in this time of need. We’re in strange, unprecedented times. I know everyone’s heard that, I feel like I’ve said it 1000 times, just because it’s the topic of conversation. But we thought, because things are really difficult. We’ve been speaking to a lot of our patients and families and potential patients and health care providers and we know that the current pandemic is affecting people’s mental health in some pretty profound ways. We’re all isolated and quarantined and it can be really triggering for people and so it was really important to us. This is our first webinar or seminar for everyone and it’s been really important to us to give, you know, provide really, really useful information and to have a space to air some of your feelings and your grievances and to come together as a community and online tools have been extremely helpful for that. I don’t know how many of you have been using online tools to come together and gather with family or friends or certain groups, but I know it’s been really helpful for me. I feel like I’m attached to my computer constantly now, which has its own set of problems, but we have technology on our side at least. 

So, we, our counsellors, you know, have been extremely busy helping our patients. We wanted to bring in a friend and a subject matter expert to deliver lots of valuable information for you today. So, a friend of EHN and an amazing presenter. I’d love to introduce Christine Burych today and she has presented for EHN Canada before, providing coaching and leadership. Her clinical background is also very impressive. So, I’ll give you her bio now and then I’ll let her take it away. Christine is a top tier leadership consultant, and executive coach. She enables leaders to create and everyone else too, maybe everyone’s a leader here or maybe not everyone’s a leader here but she helps people create collaborative, productive and mentally healthy workplaces and I would underline that little last bit which is so important these days. She’s helped more than 9000 senior leaders and 50 big name companies get past their blind spot and improve their mental resilience and grow their leadership presence. So, her career spans 25 years. She used to be a frontline community mental health clinician, so she’s actually worked at CAMH and she was Acting Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development, which is quite the title, at Canada’s largest academic mental health facility and I again, I think we all know where that is. Christine has held senior positions in HR and organizational development, and she facilitates and teaches and has coached and led clients and families, community members, volunteers, employees and executives, all across public and private sectors. So, we brought in the most qualified person today to help give you as much information as possible to navigate these unprecedented times, navigate these difficult waters, take care of yourself, build resilience. Christine has worked really hard to make this an interactive webinar. We’re working through this process. So, bear with us and give us plenty of feedback. This is our first webinar to the public, to everyone and we’re really, really excited about it and you guys are going to be what makes it great. So, please throw things in the chat. If you have questions for Christine, just a little bit of housekeeping. There is a Q&A bar at the bottom. Please pop in there and I will moderate, a little bit. So, if I see a question that’s pertinent to what she’s going through right now I will, you know, stop and have that question answered and if not, don’t worry, we will get to that at the end, we’ll make sure that we have everything answered for everyone. So please do participate. Come into the chat and say hello, make sure you’re saying hello to all panellists and attendees. If you want to say hello to everyone, if you just want to say hello to us, then you can keep the chat menu as send chat to panellists alone, but don’t be afraid to say hi, or to put in some thoughts and feelings into the chat if you’re comfortable doing that and I think that’s everything and we’re gonna let Christine take it away.

Christine: Great. Thanks. Hello, everybody and welcome. It’s so wonderful to have so many of you on the call today, which is awesome. Do you like my background? I’m in the library. No, really, I’m in the library. But sometimes I don’t want to be in the library. Sometimes I like, right now I feel like getting on my private jet and I’m just gonna, like fly away somewhere. Okay, so really, I don’t have a private jet. I’m not flying away. I’m not even in a library. But I’m going to come back to the library because I kind of dig it. So, one of the things with Zoom meetings, and for those of you who are working from home, you’re probably finding yourself like you’re on meeting after meeting after meeting. So, I always see like, what fun things can we do a little bit. I also have these great cut outs. I couldn’t get to the basement fast enough to pull them out today. But the last webinar I did, I had Prince Harry, can I still call him Prince? I guess he’s still a prince. But Harry and Megan, were with me. I had JFK. I had Mother Teresa. I had The Pope and I had a few other characters, oh, Harry Potter and so they were in the background behind me and people kept saying what’s with your characters, and I was doing a leadership program at the time. So, I was like, well, who better than to have a bunch of interesting leaders to talk about. So, I don’t have any special guests with me today. You are all our special guests. So, thank you for being here. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to read through some of this, just at the beginning, please have paper and a pen with you because I’m gonna have you actually doing some stuff. You’re not gonna listen to me talk for the next 50 minutes. I mean well, a good chunk of that, but I also want to have this as engaging as possible.

06:36 Managing Stress and Emotions

Christine: Today we’re gonna talk about managing stress and emotions. So, what I don’t want is for you to be experiencing any stress on this webinar. So I’d like you to sit back, relax, take it all in if you’ve got some chaos going on behind you, people running around, asking for snacks and you can’t figure out how to heat up your coffee without making noise on the microwave. Don’t worry about any of those things. Just do what you got to do. Let it all happen. We’re gonna just talk about how we’re going to deal with some of those things today. So, I run a leadership consulting company as was mentioned before, I have a background in mental health, and I have spent years kind of merging my worlds together. So for a long time, I worked purely in mental health, frontline for first 10 and then I worked at CAMH and when I moved out of clinical work, when I went to CAMH, I moved into the world of HR and organizational development, leadership development, and really discovered my passion and what I love to do so now I’ve learned how I can bring all those worlds together and helping, primarily I work with leaders and organizations, but you could be a leader at home, you could be a leader anywhere, youth groups, wherever you may volunteer. We’re all leaders in some way, shape, or form. So today, I’d like to take you through these topics.

07:53 Today’s Topics

Christine: We’re gonna first start with recognizing some of our emotions and how our emotions impact stress and recognizing some of the signs of stress and how when we have a build-up of stress, it moves beyond stress to distress and then the good news after all that is we’re going to talk about some strategies to help us to remain resilient. Yes, we are in unprecedented times. It’s now three, four weeks. I don’t know how long I’ve been in this house. It’s been a long time. I personally, I’m in the States right now and I live in Toronto. So, I’m disconnected from my family, my kids, my son, okay I’m just gonna share a little bit about me. My youngest son in the middle of all this, was in his last year university. He had six weeks left to go before exams, and he decided, when school got cancelled. He called me two weeks ago on a Monday and said, Mom, I’m moving to Vancouver and so on the Thursday he moved to Vancouver. I never even got a chance to say goodbye. So, I will say that some of that created some additional stress and I had to recognize some of the emotions that I was dealing with. The other thing I was dealing with is my mom lives in a nursing home. She’s 92. We got an email the other week saying that there were three residents in the nursing home that have been tested positive for COVID and one of them has been taken to hospital. So of course, that’s created a lot of stress. Now, I’m not the only one who’s dealing with stuff, all of yours as well and maybe in the chat function, you can write, do any of you have extra toilet paper? Because I’m down to my last three rolls, and there’s no more. I’m in the state of Vermont. I’ve been to five different stores. No one has toilet paper, but apparently, we have leaves, it’s all going to be fine. So, and thinking about our emotions, this is where now we get to play. So, if you have a piece of paper and a pen, if you would, please pull it out.

09:40 What’s happening?!

Christine: What I’d like you to do is I would like you to spend some time right now, writing all the things that are causing you stress or concerning you. You should probably have at least 10 things you can think of. So, I’m going to give you two minutes to start writing all those things out. All right, let’s stay quiet two minutes, write down all the things that are causing you stress or concern. I see a hand raised. Now that I have a hand raised. How do I answer your hand raised? If you have a question, if you want to just type it in the chat function for me right now, if you had your hand up. All right, and I’m just gonna have you wrap that up. Then as you think about the things that are causing you stress or concern right now. What are some of the emotions, and just write them down? What are some of the emotions that you’re feeling in relation to those particular stressors? Yeah, and so I’m going to ask you if you can please now start typing in the chat function. I’d love to know some of the things that are causing you stress right now and what are some of the emotions related to that? So, are you really stressed? Yeah. Fear. Home all day with their spouse and no break. Doing a webinar tomorrow on how to work from home with your significant other, might want to come on that one. People feeling sad, anxious about money. Frustration, yeah loss of control. No income right now. Yeah, job security. Feeling useless. Overeating, frustrated. Not having a schedule. Scared of another relapse. Feeling like everything is just happening at once, being alone. People are concerned about their children, their own health. Feeling anxious, sad, helpless. Lonely. Yeah, thank you for sharing. Excess sleeping and bad daily routine. I can attest to that one. Yeah, trying hard, nothing’s working. Yeah, dealing with withdrawal. Uncertainty, sad. Missing your friends. Yeah and being alone. Thank you for sharing. There’s a, there’s a lot of emotions related to stress and I just I wanted to talk about stress for a minute and what stress is, is the lack of control we have over things and this is the heightened sense that we’re feeling is that we’re not really sure when is this going to end? There’s a lot of uncertainty right now and there’s a lot of things that we can’t control and so when you look at the bucket that you’ve written, so that the list of things that are causing you stress, on that same piece of paper, I’d like you to draw three columns. 

13:43 Review your list to see: what do you have control over?

Christine: It actually might help if I show you what the three columns are that I want you to draw, I want you to draw one, that on the top of the column, it says total. On the middle column, it says some, and on the third column, it says none and then I’d like you to look at your bucket of things that you’ve written down and just say so what do I have total control over? Put those things in under the total. What do I have some control over? And what do I have no control over and just start to look at what are the things that you have control over, some control over and no control over? Take a minute to do that. Now that you’ve started to write your list, what are the things that you have total control over? And if you want to type them, your sobriety, your attitude, yeah. Cleaning, me time. Great. What else? Do you have total control over? Self-care, spending time. Oh, somebody’s got a rabbit. That’s nice. Yeah, your thoughts. Yeah and what are some things that you have no control over? Other people’s recovery, yeah, the future, being away from friends and family, yeah. Other people’s recovery, this virus, this COVID, relationships, children, job losses, yeah, whether you have new clients or not, your income, emotion. Other people’s emotions, the economy. Being cooped up in the house. Addiction. Livelihood being taken away. Yeah, thank you for sharing. So, what I wanted you to see is that we spend a lot of time creating stress around things that we have no control over. Well, the things that we have total control over is our attitude and how we react to things. Those are things that are totally in our control. The stories we tell ourselves, until we figure out that they’re stories, we see that a lot of that is out of our control, when it’s really not. It’s our reaction and it’s the way we think about things. The things you have no control over are mostly everything else. I have no control over toilet paper. I’m just going to use that one because we’re all talking about it these days. I have no control over what Trump says. I have no control over what Justin Trudeau says, I have no control over the borders being locked down. I have no control over not being able to get on a flight. Yet those things caused me so much stress and then when I look at it and think how much time do I spend stressing over things that I have no control over? 

That is the very definition of stress. Stress is created because we feel that we have a lack of control. So really one of the antidotes to stress is to look at what do you have control over, my livelihood may be taken away from me right now. So what do I have control over? What can I do in the interim? So if I’m losing my job, if I’m feeling like, my recovery is in jeopardy, what are the things that I have control over? And a lot of it is around my behavior, but my behavior is related to the way I think, and my emotion. So just getting a sense of what emotions you’re feeling right now, how you’re feeling? And then what do you have control over? I do this exercise once a week, because I need to be reminded, no matter how much I teach this stuff, I need to be reminded, what do I have control over and what don’t I have control over? I’ve been waiting for something on a delivery from Amazon for some meds that I need and I haven’t received it and there are days where I want to flip out about it and I’m like, I can’t, I have no control and it eats away at your mental bandwidth when we let those emotions ride like that. So, first thing is, just to help regulate. So, for those of you who are in recovery or have gone through treatment you might be very [inaudible] when we look at our emotions, do you recognize where you feel your emotion? Do you recognize where it shows up in your body? See, our body feels 1/300th of a second, and we think 1/10th of a second. So, at times, our bodies are feeling our emotions much faster than we’re thinking them. So just thinking about where do I feel my emotion. So, I can tell you for myself when I’m feeling anxious and anxiety, I feel the emotion here. It feels like something is sitting on me and it’s really hard to breathe and when I am angry, my emotion comes from my gut. It feels like Mount Vesuvius and it just wants to erupt and so I recognize that when I’m starting to feel those things in my body, and I’m going to come to anxiety first because it seems to one that a lot of people are feeling right now, we are starting to feel anxious. Some ways that we can unhook or un-trigger ourselves when we’re starting to feel like that is first notice where you feel it in your body. The second thing is when you notice it in your body name, the emotion. When you name an emotion, it has less of an intensity. 

So, if I’m feeling anxious, and I can name the anxiety, it’s already got that much more distance away from how I’m feeling about it. Using mindfulness practices, if any of you use mindfulness practices, one of the third ways is to move away from just labelling the emotion to actually distancing yourself from emotion and that kind of requires some mindfulness practice, but what it looks like is, oh, I feel angry, oh, there’s anger. So, I don’t own the anger. So, first piece is to identify it for yourself and the second is not to own it. Oh, there’s anger. I don’t have to be angry; I don’t have to be anxious. Now, if I’m experiencing an anxiety disorder, then the regulation around those emotions aren’t as easy and I just want to come to the difference between if I’m feeling anxiety, which anxiousness is something that all of us feel versus the difference with an anxiety disorder. So, you’re here I want to give you a little bit of the physicality of the difference. If I am feeling anxious, I might have a pit in my stomach and as soon as I know what’s caused or triggered that anxiety, then when that goes away, then I stop feeling that way. If I’m living with an anxiety disorder, that feeling is there all the time, I wake up in the morning that pit in my stomach is there. I go to bed with that pit in my stomach. So, it’s not just because I’m thinking about something. It’s with me as part of the disorder. So, I want to make that distinction, the things that I’m going to be sharing with you today are how to manage symptoms of anxiety or when you’re feeling low. Not when you have a disorder. So, I hope that that’s clear. All right, so thank you. So, I see there’s some people who are just getting on. Great, welcome. Happy to have you. We’re just talking about some things that contribute to our stress. I have a Q&A. So how do I deal with stress? All right, we’re going to be talking about that in the next minute. 

21:25 Changes you may notice in Yourself

Christine: So, some things that I’d like you to think about is what you might notice in yourself. So because we notice things in our body faster than we noticed them in our minds, and I just want to say your minds are really powerful. We can rationalize a whole lot of things and stress is one of those things that show up in our body, so our body is giving us cues constantly. So, start to check in with yourself what’s happening, so one is are your sleeping habits changing? You know a little earlier somebody said they’re sleeping habits are slipping in longer. Yes. Are you sleeping more? Are you sleeping less? What’s happening with your regular cycle of sleeping? Are you using? Are you drinking more? What are your eating habits like? Typically, when we’re under stress, we’re either craving carbs or salty or sugary things and so are we eating differently? I have to say for myself, I don’t bake very much. I tried to stay away from gluten as much as I can. Since this, I’m going to call it stay at home has been happening. I’ve been baking corn bread. I didn’t even know how to make corn bread. I’ve been eating. Oh, I’ll just share with you. I went on Pinterest. I made avocado brownies. Vegetable should never be put into a brownie. So, waste of a good vegetable, waste of a good brownie. So anyways, trying all sorts of new things and eating, now I know why they call it the COVID-19 nineteen, because I think I’ve put on about five pounds in the last two weeks. So yes. What are you eating? Salty chips. Me? Miss Vicky’s salty and vinegar, anyways, so eating changes your mood. So, what’s happening with your moods? Have you noticed that you’ve got less patience for people, you might be snapping more quickly with people around you, just like the simplest things are starting to trigger you? So, start to recognize what’s happening with your mood. Weight, well, that’s obvious based on our eating habits and then have you noticed that, yeah, some conflicts are starting to happen or relationship issues? I’ll say so, we have been, it’s called COVID-19 because it started in December 2019. So, I was also wondering that. Conflicts, yes. So just how are you noticing you being around people and especially if you’re in the home with people all the time? Short tempers for sure. So, if you start to notice this, the other thing I’d like you to think about it so now we have some stress, but how do we know when stress is moving from stress to distress? We may have a couple of things that look like this. 

23:59 Signs of Stress to Distress

Christine: So emotionally, you may be feeling low, frustrated, angry, more sensitive, defensive, ashamed, insecure, guilty, restless, hopeless, or helpless. Thoughts? We may be more worried about the future. Self-blaming, really comparing and I guess as we go online and social media as well, I have been bombarded with, hey, five steps on how you can be happy during this and five steps you need to be doing and how to build your business and I feel like I am just being bombarded by messages of things I should be doing, could be doing. Maybe now it’s just a time for us to give ourselves a bit of a break too. We don’t have to be everything to everybody, and maybe giving ourselves a little bit of radical self-acceptance. Maybe we’re not perfect right now. There’s a lot of things that are happening all at the same time that people are trying to manage with maybe a little self-care, or a lot of self-care is what we need. So, the self-blaming, catastrophizing. This is never going to end; the end of the world is coming. The ruminating thoughts are the ones that consistently, I almost call those like, word worm where it’s stuck in your head or song worm and it just goes, plays over and over and over, that’s ruminating, your thoughts are racing. Physically, you may be feeling aches and pains, cramps spasms, increased heart aches, maybe stuff’s going on with your stomach. Pins and needles in your fingers. Dizziness, insomnia, feeling sluggish, restless, maybe exhausted just from being exhausted and then behaviorally, again, increased usage, under or overeating, withdrawal from life, nail biting, snapping at people, difficulty making decisions, was working with someone last week and she said, you know, I’m really struggling. I’m having a hard time making decisions and I don’t know what’s wrong and so we started looking at it. I was like, stress will do that to you. Stress, all this is eating up bandwidth in your brain that doesn’t allow you to make good decisions right now, makes us very tired. So, we’re not doing the things that we need to do. Yeah, exactly. I’m just looking at some of your comments, being exhausted from being exhausted. Yeah, I love some of the positive stuff. Yeah. Fantastic and so how do we take some of these things? I want you to just take a minute look at this. Have you noticed an increase of any of these things? And if so, there is something that we can do about this. Let’s look at resilient people. So, I love that somebody said we’ve got this. So yeah, how do we build some resiliency? 

26:38 Resilient People

Christine: So, one of them is around having a positive attitude and I’m going to go through all of these but having a positive attitude, being good at setting boundaries and setting boundaries maybe me time, like I need time for me. So right now, in the next hour. I’m unplugging from technology and I’m going to take care of me. Being flexible, little bit more like we might be needing to ride the tide right now. You may feel like you’re in a raft and you’re going down some serious waterfalls or eddies and white-water rafting. There are times when it smoothes out and when we fight the current, it’s harder on us. So maybe right now, riding the tide a little bit and being a little bit more flexible and having strong social connections, we’ll talk about that and people who are and for people who are aware of their own personal strengths. So what strengths am I bringing to the table? What am I good at? Because what happens is, when we’re in that place of being overwhelmed and having a lot of stress, then we forget about the things that we do well, because everything becomes a catastrophe. So thinking about what do we do well? 

28:00 Power Model

Christine: Let’s talk about how we are going to put all this in perspective. So this is something called the power model and the power model offers five things that can help you to build resilience on a daily basis and again, I want to make the distinction of, if you’re in a place where you’re dealing with, and you’re in recovery, and mental health issues are coming forward, then the things that I’m going to be teaching and sharing with you right now will help you to try to stay in a positive state and in a healthy mindset if we look at the continuum of mental health. So, there’s good and then temporary mental health problems, and then we move to mental health disorders. If we’re in the active mental health disorders, then these things can help but they won’t necessarily do everything that you need to help you to get back into good mental health, that also will need to be coupled with other treatment modalities that you are currently using. So, when I talk about this power model, I’m talking about when we’re in the temporary mental health problems. So, let’s look at the five things that we can do that will help. 

29:09 Positivity

Christine: So, the first thing is around positivity and looking for good requires practice and I want to say it requires practice, because we’re hardwired for negativity. Our brains are hardwired for two things. One is to maximize pleasure and the other is to minimize danger and threat and we are under threat much more often than we are under pleasure and so we have many more threat receptors that are looking for danger and so when we go into what’s called negativity bias, and so when we see things from a negative perspective, then it’s hard to look for things that are positive. So, one of the ways that we found people to be able to look for things from a positive perspective is to look for the things that they have to be grateful for. It does take three things to override one negative, so there is a three to one ratio. So, saying three things that you have to be grateful for. So, you know what, just as we’re on right now, I would love to hear from people. What’s something that you have to be grateful for? Do you want to type that in the chat function? What is something that you are grateful for? Family, being sober. Being alive. Yeah. Not having any family sick. That’s great. The cat, I love that, animals are so soothing right now. Support of family. Music, I love that. Praying. Oh, that’s great. So wonderful. So, you have things to be grateful for and again, when things don’t look good, fresh air and we’re struggling, finding things to be grateful for it. I start my morning every morning thinking about the things, the three things that I’m grateful for. And I go to bed every night saying the three things that I’m grateful for. Catch yourself when you go on autopilot into the negative. So as soon as you hear yourself in the thought going down to something negative, catch yourself, go, that’s a negative reframe. How do I bring this back to being grateful? And then ask yourself sometimes, is it true? So, when you see something that’s happening, and you’re making a negative story about it, so my oven went out, and it’s a gas oven, and I’m at home, so I need to cook. I can’t cook while I’m home. So, the first thing I started getting really upset about it. The guy was supposed to be here three hours ago. So right away, my mind goes to, where is he? Where is he? He’s not coming and then I started thinking, I can’t cook. I can’t eat. There’s nowhere to, all the restaurants are closed. There’s no takeout. I’m in a small town in Vermont. I’m not in Toronto or in a large city. There’s nowhere here to eat. So, I’m like, what am I going to do? And then I just go back to, is this true? Am I not going to be able to eat? Is there nothing in my refrigerator? Of course, I have a microwave. Of course, there’s other ways I can prepare food. So just starting to question and ask yourself when we start to go into negative, is it actually true? Okay, so that was ’P’ for positive.

32:17 Offer

Christine: Next thing I want to go to is “O” for offer, what can you do for others and what I’ve been finding in it’s been really interesting research is that people fare better when they’ve gone through something that they’re able to help and support other people. So, helping to take the eye off of you and onto other people, helps you to feel better. So like today’s webinar, when I was asked to do the webinar, I was really happy to do it because I’ve been wanting to do things where I can give back and be of service to others. I don’t know any of you. I’m so delighted that so many of you who are on here today and I’m hoping that you’ll get something out of this and what I find is, just offering whatever skills or talents that people have, creates value. So, volunteer and volunteering does not mean you have to leave your house. What can you do from your home? What can you do for your next door neighbors? Join a group. Now there’s a lot of things online currently, where you can join a group, how can you support each other? So, for those of you, I’ve been seeing lots of you have been through recovery. So, if you’ve been through recovery, how can you support others who are going through something? How can you be a mentor to them? How can you coach? And then spend quality time with those that matter? So who is your tribe? Who are the people that you like to spend time with? And how can you catch up with them? I mentioned that my son moved to Vancouver, my other son’s in Toronto, all of my family’s in Toronto, except for my partner and myself who are here. So, we’ve been doing Zoom calls, we have been doing dinners with each other which has been great. I’m seeing people are doing home packages for parents in the area. Well, that’s so great, so their kids can continue learning, that’s wonderful. Eating disorders, support groups on Zoom, I think all of us have had to learn how to move all of our social connections onto Zoom, or onto some sort of social media platforms where we’re using technology, so great. So, doing things for others. 

34:14 Write

Christine: I’m going to go on to the next one, the next one is writing things down. So I had mentioned that stress is caused, predominantly because it’s our lack of control around things and so I also find that when you’ve got a lot of things that are going or things that are troubling you or things that are concerning you that we keep them in our head. When you write, it actually helps you to, (a) clean up some space in your brain for other things, but it also gives you a semblance of control when you can see what you’ve written down. So I like to write down the three things that I’m grateful for and that’s why I had you write it. I also prefer people not to use computers when you’re writing things, because we create a stronger neurological connection between our thoughts and actions when you use a pen and a paper. So, when you actually write your notes, so I’ve got some papers here, if I’m writing notes, I will remember things much better than if I typed them on the computer. If I’m listening to a webinar like this, I’m probably doodling. The doodling is really helpful because what it does is, when you go back to look at your notes, three weeks later, or a month later, the doodle will bring you back to an emotional state while you were listening to this, and it’ll help you to remember because our emotion is in the limbic system. So, in the part of the brain that has our memory, it’s in the limbic system, which is also where our emotions are. So, emotion, and memory are interconnected. So, doodle while I talk, it might help you to remember whereas if you are typing on the computer, it doesn’t give you that same emotional connection. You go read something you wrote, it doesn’t evoke the same emotions. 

So, write things down. Also do a brain dump. If you just find that you’re feeling overwhelmed in your head is heavy. You know that feeling where you’re just heavy? Do a brain dump, write down all the things that you were thinking, kind of like at the beginning, when I asked you to write down all the things that were creating stress for you, once you see it, it already gives you a semblance of control and then, third one is mind mapping. So right now, for some of you who are concerned about your jobs and finances, or if you’ve lost your job. Mind map some decisions and if you don’t know what a mind map is, basically it starts with a circle and in the circle, you write down your thoughts. So, it might be like find a new job and then you start from there, what are all the things I need to do to find a new job or to find out if I am actually going to get fired? Talk to my boss, you know, go online to find out the status of things, talk to my HR person and if I am looking to mind map other things, I can start looking at, what are all interrelated connections of the things that I need to do to mind map those decisions. So, I hope that helps, writing. Sorry, if I seem disconnected when I’m saying it’s because I’m reading things at the same time that I am talking, which is never good to do multitasking, but I’m trying to stay on top of what’s happening in your Q&A and actually, I’m going to go to Q&A for a second here. 

“My friends make me feel stressed out because of the negative comments I have to hear; how do I deal with this?” So, one of the reasons that talking to your friends might make you feel stressed out is because maybe you feel like you don’t have the answers for them. Or their negative comments over and over again, is starting to create negative comments for yourself. So, one of the things when I’m listening to people who are really negative, sometimes people just need a validation of how they’re feeling. So, before I jump to any kind of solution focused or anything else, I just might say to them. You know, I’ve been listening to what you’ve been saying for the last couple of minutes and it sounds like there’s a lot of things that you’re dealing with and you’re feeling really frustrated. There’s a lot of negative comments that I’m hearing, and I just want to acknowledge for you that I hear that you’re in a tough position right now. What do you think would be most helpful to you? And so ask them what they need and maybe if they just want to vent, you might want to just say, you know, I appreciate that it’s challenging for you and when I hear all the negative comments, and you stuck in the negativity, it’s also making me feel negative or stressed out. So in the time that we’re talking together, I’d like to know how we can have more positive conversations and ask them for what they need. You don’t want to just cut people off or maybe if you’ve got friends who are constantly negative and you found that they haven’t been helpful to you, maybe limit the amount of time that you’re spending with them. 

Now we’re going to come back to the question on mind mapping. I wish this that I could, I’m afraid to go to the whiteboard, because I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to my presentation. So I could actually show you what a mind map looks like, you can find these online. But it basically starts with a circle and a question like, “do I need to find a job?” And then from there, then you just start, it’s almost like a spoke, you draw a line out with another circle, “talk to boss,” like what are all the things I need to do to find a job? “Find out first what my unemployment insurance or employment insurance allocations might be like,” “where can I go get some subsidy right now?” You just start looking at all the different things that you need to do and then from there, the next bubble. So, if it’s, I need to talk to my boss to find out if I’m losing my job, “when will I call my boss,” “what do I need to ask my boss?” “What’s the script I’m going to use?” So, it’s kind of like you just do the interconnections on it. I don’t have anything on my site with a mind map. 

Let me come back to that one and see if I can go online and find you somewhere I was somebody like really good at googling right now, Google mind maps and if you do images of mind maps, we can pop it up and if you can click and paste it, we can click and paste it into the chat function. Okay, great. 

40:18 Exercise

Christine: So, the next one I want to go to is around exercise. Now, this is kind of a no brainer. We all know exercise is good for us, yet we choose, well, not all of us, but many folks choose not to do it and I’ll say I was one of those folks for the longest time. I don’t like going to the gym, so I had to find out what exercise do I like to do and why I don’t like to do exercise. Now, I also know that exercising is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain. It has immediate results and it releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline, which are things that help you feel good and so it also can increase your ability to think, concentrate and focus for up to two hours afterwards. So why wouldn’t we do more of this? Every day go climb some stairs. If you happen to live in a condo and you don’t have any stairs, walk in circles while you’re on the phone. So, if I wasn’t doing a live video webinar, I put my earphones on and every time I have a meeting, I just walk and talk at the same time. If you can, get outside and be with nature, not with crowds, but just be out there with nature for a couple of minutes. It’s so beautiful to hear the birds singing right now and if you are sitting a lot, especially if you’re working from home, get up every 90 minutes, we should be getting up for 90 seconds and stretching. Oh, if you have a dog that’s even more wonderful because the dog doesn’t care about our stay at home right now. The dogs need to go out, so out as much as possible.

Hillary: Sorry to interrupt, Christine. But someone had a question about any apps to help keep someone track with mental health or exercise, any sort of healthy motivation app resources.

Christine: Yeah. So, there are great free apps that you can download right now if you’ve got Apple. There are fitness ones. I’m trying to think one. Let me go onto my phone and give you an idea of a couple that I have, and I don’t pay for these. So, one’s called Workouts. One is called Fit something, where is the other one. I can’t remember. But yes, that helps, too. So, you can go into the Apple store and you can download a number of apps for free. One that I think I paid $35 for, it was called One and Done. I found it on Facebook, because I don’t like to work out. It’s seven minutes. Seven minutes a day I can do, and I feel really great afterwards. So, anything that you can find along those lines that just help you to stay accountable and gives you like, hey, go do this. I’ll say now there’s a lot of free things because people are offering them on. Yeah, YouTube is offering workout videos, great yoga videos, things along those lines. Great. So, exercise. 

43:15 Recharge

Christine: The last one I want to talk about is giving our brains some downtime. Because we are really plugged in and connected with technology right now, because it’s our way to stay connected with everybody. Your brain also needs some downtime. Now, your brain is like your cell phone battery. We’re supposed to power down our technology every two days for maximum battery shelf life. Now, I don’t know about you, I very rarely power down my phone because I use it all the time. So, I just keep plugging in and recharging it. You ever noticed that after a while your battery doesn’t work as quickly and after like an hour, it’s starting to deplete. So, your brain is a little like that. I thought this was really interesting that after 50 hours, your productivity decreases, and mistakes increase. So, after 50 hours of work, we’re not any good and not very helpful. And you have 60,000 thoughts a day and 90% of those are repetitive. So, what’s good, let’s unplug our brain. So, I’m going to give you some of the things I would that I do, I would never suggest to you to do something I wouldn’t do myself. So, for the last four years, I have meditated, and I have meditated every single day. I use apps. So, the app that I like most is called calm.com and Calm is offering free access to their app right now. I think usually it’s $60 a year. I love that particular app. 

I experience something called “monkey mind.” So, my monkey mind I have a hard time shutting down. Years ago, I had experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and I find that under times of stress that it triggers it really quickly and I become hypersensitive to things and so with that, the anxiety as you can imagine, gets pretty high and it can get out of control quite quickly. So for me to manage that, what I’ve discovered is (a) recognizing when I’m starting to feel it, but the meditation for me, so I found that when I use the app, there’s this wonderful woman’s voice, her name is Tamara Levitt and her headspace is also great. It’s just a personal preference on the voice. She tells me what to be thinking. So meditating isn’t about eliminating your thoughts. It’s just about noticing your thoughts and so when I found that distinction, oh, I didn’t have to have a clear head because I got really frustrated trying to clear my thoughts. It’s not about having an empty head. It’s around, noticing your thoughts and coming back to breathing. So, when I do that first thing in the morning, I found it to be really helpful and here’s why. When you wake up in the morning, your cortisol levels are at their highest first thing in the morning. So, your cortisol levels are your stress hormones. So, if your stress hormones are here, and the first thing that you do during your morning is get on social media or emails, you have just elevated your cortisol levels even that much higher. You are starting and living your day from a high stress point. So, it takes an hour for your cortisol levels to go back down to baseline. So, I would encourage you first thing in the morning, don’t check your social media. Don’t be looking at your phone and reading the news. Now God forbid is not the time to be reading news first thing in the morning. I get the CP-24 alerts or CTV alerts. Every hour they are going off with like doom and gloom of like, here’s the newest COVID-19 things happening in Quebec and how many people are dying, that is not helpful for me to start my day off well, so meditating, and if you’re not a meditator, if you spend the first 10 minutes of your day, lying in bed, I lie in bed to meditate. Lying in bed, thinking of the things that you’re grateful for and the things that you’re looking forward to that day and it could be as simple as having a hot cup of coffee. It doesn’t have to be like something profound, it could be very small and consider having an hour a day tech-free where you just shut it down. Like maybe it’s during dinner or maybe whatever, just shut it down for one hour, and having a solid bedtime routine, really important. 

I listen to different meditations every day. But now I found in the last six months or so, I’m at a place where I don’t need to listen to the meditations. I can do 20 minutes to half an hour on my own. So some mindfulness for those of you who’ve never tried it before, I can’t recommend it enough and the one thing I can say is that, again, there’s no right or wrong in mindfulness, you can’t pass or fail. It’s just a practice of practice. The whole point of meditating is to recognize how much goes on in your head, and then anchoring it back to breath, or back to something you can touch. For those who have experienced trauma, or have high anxiety, breathing. Being anchored to breath is challenging, because you feel like you can’t breathe, and you feel like it’s actually evoking that panic attack. So, grounding exercises like touching your feet on the floor are really helpful to people or touching something like holding a rock. So, when you notice that your thoughts are going all over you just say to yourself, hold the rock, so that you’re touching something. All right, so these are the five things in terms of helping you to be able to create daily routines and all of this shouldn’t take you longer than 20 minutes a day to be able to do this. The reason it’s important to practice building resilience on a daily basis is this is a marathon that you’re running. You’re running a marathon, this isn’t a sprint and so it’s not helpful to just be building your resilience once and that’s it, like I work really hard and I worked out for an hour on the weekend. So that’s it. No, this takes time and the reason that you want to build your mental resilience is because when there’s a lot of stress that’s happening or anxiousness that’s happening around you, when you are resilient, it helps you to reset quicker and that’s the goal of what we want to do. We want to be able to get to a place where we can reset quicker.

49:48 Resources

Christine: I want to give you some resources on these. So, some TED Talks people like TED Talks, Shawn Anchor, The Happy Secret to Better Work. Susan Pinker. When I talked about being around other people, she has this great TED talk on the place in the world where it has the largest number of people over 100 years old and it’s in an island off of Italy called Sardinia and the reason that they found that people live long there is because they had great social connections. They did things for each other and they took care of each other. So, having social connections, really important, we’re physically distancing. We’re not socially distancing. A couple of books if people are interested in some books, I really like Martin Seligman is more clinical. He is the father of positive psychology and his book is on Flourish, which is a great book if you want something that’s a more fun read. I’d say Dan Harris. He was a news anchor; I think it was with CBS in the US and his book is on 10% happier. I’ve listed some of the apps that you can use. For journaling, The Five Minute Journal is great. It really is five minutes. Self-assessments, things like Kolbe, Strengths Finder, Team dimensions, things along those lines that would be really helpful just to again, assess your own strengths. There’s also another one that’s free online called Via, and so if you Google it is called Via Strengths Finder. 

51:24 Questions & Answers

Christine: All right, so now that I’ve given you all those. I’d like to go to the Q&A now and see if there’s any questions that I can address. So, stress, proper routine, any free applications, mental health. You know, in terms of the mental health ones, I have been looking at two sites, one is called Mind Valley. So, if people are familiar with something called Mind Valley, again, it’s a mindfulness site, and Mindful.org. Those are two sites that I’ve been getting things from. So, there’s that. Let me see if there’s others that I’ve missed, example of a healthy bedtime routine. Okay, I’m going to turn this over to you. Anybody have any healthy bedtime routines that they want to share with us? Yes. Make your bed every day before you go back and do it. Yeah, drinking milk. A weighted blanket. Yeah, those are really great. No TV news, meditation, beauty creams and vitamins. Yes. Love it. Read a book. Yeah, these are great. So many of these things are exactly what I would do. So, I cut my cell phone off usually around 9:30. I read before I go to bed. I also try to go to bed the same time every night. So it’s usually somewhere between 10 and 11 and I make sure that the end of my day, so if any of you are living with somebody, the end of the day, my partner and I before we go to bed, we share the things that we’re most thankful about each other and our days with each other and that’s how we end our day. I also find I’m big into essential oils. So I have found that lavender oil on my pillows really helped to, there you go, massages, there you go. 

Great, “and any podcast recommendations?” I don’t have any podcast recommendations because I typically don’t tend to listen to a whole lot of podcasts. There’s one site that I have, and it’s called Pod Bean and then in the Pod Bean, you can look for all different. I like to listen to funny things. Yeah, Jay Shetty is wonderful. I like to laugh. So I will listen to comedy before I go to bed as well. Something that just again, gets me in a great mood and I also like dancing once in a while. But don’t tell anybody. I dance before I go ahead. All right. We’ve got about a minute left and I’m good. Thank you. I’m going to open it up any other questions. All right, so I’m going to ask you to type in your chat function. What’s one thing you’re going to do differently and start implementing because of today’s webinar? Great, meditate journal. Night-time routine, gratitude. Great, positive. Meditate, exercise. Wonderful bedtime routine, read a book, focus on your attitude. Look at LeBron James videos. Fantastic. Yeah, what you can and cannot control. That’s great. All right. That’s great. Well, I’m glad that there’s some takeaways that people can start implementing right away. I also wanted to let people know I will be sending out the recording of the webinar and just some key takeaways from today. If you don’t want to be included on that email, then if you could please let Hillary who might let him know? 

Hillary: Yes, that would be me. Can you hear me okay? Perfect. Yeah. You should have my contact when you signed up for the webinar. So, if you do not want to be included, please let me know and I’d be happy to not include you. That’s completely fine.

Christine:  Yeah and then if not, then I will send that all out to everybody and if you have any further questions, you can just email me back, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions. All right, thank you, everybody.

Hillary: Thank you so much, Christine. I don’t know if you can see me. I don’t know what Zoom is doing right now. Okay, great. I hope people got value out of this today. We want to hear what you thought. So please let us know. Because if we get positive feedback, then we’ll keep doing this. Again, this is our first, you know, support group webinar, where we’re giving you a lot of really useful information. I think Christine is an excellent presenter, glad to see that people are grateful and it seems like people thought it was really valuable. So, if you have any questions, I don’t know if we have any alumni on this webinar today. But, you know, if you have any questions about recovery, about mental health, about addiction, you know, to go to edgewoodhealthnetwork.com, you can contact me and I can put you in touch with the right people and we can. Yeah, I figured we might have some alumni in recovery because they speak the language of recovery today. But yeah, huge, huge thank you to Christine, who, again is doing this. She does this professionally and she did this for free for everyone today. So lots of kindness that’s coming out in these difficult times and I’m super, super grateful for that. So yeah, just let us know. Let us know what you’d like to see, and we look forward to seeing you on the next one.

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