(902) 472-2972 info@landingstrong.com
Two steps forward, one step back

Two steps forward, one step back

They may reappear when you least expect it.  Just when things were getting better, a symptom returns, reminding you of a past that you had hoped was left behind. 

What does it mean when old symptoms reappear?  

Even when you’re working hard on your recovery, it’s normal for symptoms to occasionally come back.  

It’s really hard to feel like you’re not making forward progress, or that you’re not recovering even though you’re doing the work.  But we know that recovery isn’t linear.  Our symptoms serve as indicators that our total load has crept up higher than is healthy.  By paying attention to it, we are able to examine the areas of our life that need to be addressed.  

There’s a lot of background stress these days, so don’t be surprised if the buffer is thin.  The amount of stress we can handle under normal conditions isn’t the same as what we can handle during challenging times.  Instead of judging ourselves, let’s try to practice compassion.  See if there is anything you can do to lighten your load, and remember… this too shall pass.  

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Dawn of a new beginning

Dawn of a new beginning

Today is the day things start to return to normal.  The dawn of a new beginning.  Stores will open.  We can go out for dinner again.  Heck if I’m lucky I may even score a haircut in the near future.

When we are faced with threat, it’s normal to be hesitant to step back out there.

It’s like falling off a horse… it can be hard to get back on.  The problem is, if we don’t, it will be hard to get back into a normal routine.  A natural recovery curve happens after any traumatic exposure.  It’s natural to want to hide in order to keep ourselves safe, but we will never really know that the danger has passed until we leave our rabbit holes. It’s only by putting ourselves out there, that we are able to know that we can experience new things without negative consequences.  

If we avoid going out, we never learn that it’s safe. That’s when we get stuck.

So I encourage you to go out.  Do it safely, of course, practicing social distancing and proper health precautions.  But take the steps necessary to restore a semblance of normalcy to your life.

Enjoy the beauty of the sunrise.  Laugh with a neighbour.  Share a meal with a friend.

Warm regards,

Embracing the power of positive change

Embracing the power of positive change

My dogs are completely ridiculous.  When I come home each day, they charge towards me at top speed, so filled with glee that they can hardly contain themselves.  They are so excited that they start jumping on one another in a playful Ninja manner, the little dog trying to nip the haunches of her older sister in an effort to reach me first.  They quickly become a blurred black and white explosion of play and energy, forgetting the fact that they were even coming to see me. 

When they are relaxed, it’s not uncommon to see them mirroring one another, their bodies unconsciously copying the posture and mood of the other.  What we are witnessing is co-regulation in action.  Because they are close, the mood and actions of one significantly affects the mood and actions of the other.

Co-regulation is that moment by moment interaction between the central nervous system of one person (or dog) with another.  

When you laugh, I laugh with you.  

When you cry, I feel the heaviness in my chest, and instinctively reach out.

Being in close proximity with one another during this COVID crisis, we can’t help but have a profound effect on those around us.  Our central nervous systems are in synchronicity, constantly interacting, bouncing off one another and mirroring emotions that we may not even be aware of.  How I am feeling has a huge effect on my household, and how others are feeling affects me.  At this time in particular, it’s incredibly important that we are aware of the manner in which we are contributing to, or detracting from the health and well-being of those in our circle.

Co-regulation doesn’t just happen in person.  It can also travel through the internet.  Another person’s anger can transmit virtually.  So can joy.  I’m careful in deciding which news to watch, because in general, bad news sells.  This morning CTV focussed on new vaccination efforts, miracle plane landings, and funny bad haircuts, and I started my day off with a smile.

I invite you to take the time to notice what you are feeling, and set an intention about the mood you want to spread to those you love.  Attached is a fun exercise called “Cookie breathing” developed by Liana Lowenstein which might help.  Try practicing, and see if you experience an internal shift.

Warm Regards,
Belinda

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

Being the architect of my universe

Being the architect of my universe

I fully enjoyed my holidays, but have to admit…the thought of returning to work is somewhat daunting. 

I can’t help but think of the large to do list awaiting me.  The tightness in my chest serves as a reminder that I may be expecting too much of myself.  I don’t think I’m alone in this regard.

“I am the architect of my universe,” I remind myself.  “If I don’t like the way something feels, it’s no one’s job but mine to change it”. 

I decided to set aside some time this afternoon and draw up lists.  Get those “to do” things out of my head and onto paper.  I assigned them priorities. The list isn’t actually as long as I thought.  

The beauty of the sun glistening on the lake reminds me that deadlines are arbitrary.  There is really nothing that is urgent: no one is going to die if I don’t get it all done immediately. Instead of things I have to do, I’ll view my tasks as things I can feel good about accomplishing.

Most importantly, I’ll make sure to add a bunch of fun and creative things to my list.  If this is to be my job description for the next year…I want it to be creative, engaging and enjoyable.

I add an extra list…creative hobby ideas, and feel myself lighten.

Changing the world might be important, but so is enjoying the day 🙂 

Warm wishes,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong

What Inspires You?

What Inspires You?

I had a first responder in my office this week who totally inspired me.

In his journey of recovery, he’s picked up a new hobby. It’s healthy, active, and encompasses much of his free time when he’s not working. He wonders if this new obsession is healthy. He’s been great about being home when his partner is home, but in his down time, he’s all over this new passion.

I asked him about his drinking, which had been reaching alarming levels in the past few years. Attending choir practice is a routine form of debriefing where he works.

“Funny you should mention that,” he responded. “I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to drink. I’m down to one beer day.”

“How about your anxiety?” I asked.

“Been too busy to think about it,” he grinned.

Sounds to me like recovery. Recovery isn’t about not doing things. It’s about replacing unhealthy habits with more positive alternatives. Things that bring us joy.

That’s one of the reasons we are incorporating leisure pursuits and physical activities as core elements of the Landing Strong programming. We know that development of hobbies and interests is not easy, particularly when life feels overwhelming.

So we do it together. Have a wonderful long weekend and Happy Canada Day!

“Can you have too much of a good thing?”

“Can you have too much of a good thing?”

“Mom can we go to Italy?” my daughter called out to me when she was little. Wondering why she would ask such a thing, I enquired further, “Why do you want to go to Italy honey?”

“Because it would make me happy,” she replied.

“Happy?”

“Yes happy!” she explained, staring at me like I was missing the obvious.

“But why Italy?” I prodded. “Because mom, that’s where they make Nutella, the Nutella Factory is in Italy, and Nutella makes me happy so we should go there.”

The basic wisdom of her logic touched me. So simple. Going to the people and places that make us happy. I’m not talking about quick gratification… the quick sugar high that comes from eating half a cheesecake in one sitting, or a buzz after too many beers. I’m talking about the pleasure of an evening spent with someone we care about, or doing something that fills us with joy. Mindfully constructing our day so that each contains an element of beauty.

PTSD, anxiety, and depression are all about avoidance. The only problem is, the withdrawal that is associated with protecting ourselves also eliminates new possibilities… like visiting the Nutella Factory.