Starting the season of giving

Starting the season of giving

Starting the season of giving

This week a news report spoke of the challenge many people are having making ends meet.  Food banks are being accessed at record levels, and countries around the world are feeling the impact of global warming on food supply.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead, I chose to focus on appreciation for what I do have, the ability to extend some of that abundance to others.Inside the entrance of Landing Strong, we’ve planted a magic giving tree.  Under it, are placed a few donations for the local food bank.  It’s our hope that these few items will multiply to the point where food spills out into the lobby.  We invite you to contribute to its growth.  When the world feels too big, just remember how small efforts can create a ripple effect of positivity.Happy December,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.Executive Director, Landing StrongPS. Please don’t forget to enroll now for upcoming programs: Date Night Thursday, December 8 from 6pm-9pmMaintaining Health Thursday, December 15 from 9am-3pmStop Faking Good Start Feeling Good: Emotions Management          Co-ed group starts Wednesday, January 11 and runs for five weeks          Women’s only group starts Friday, January 13 and runs for five weeksCreating Confidence and Clarifying Strengths          Starts Tuesday, January 10 and runs for five weeksManaging the Cultural Divide          Starts Thursday, January 12 and runs for five weeks All programs are being offered in person. Please let us know if you have interest in on-line delivery for any of our programs and if we have enough people we will offer on-line as well.

I am not enough

I am not enough

I am not enough.

It’s belief that many people with PTSD hold. A wish that somehow, they could have/should have done more. It’s only by seeing the enormity of a problem that we are able to truly appreciate how big it is. Suddenly our efforts feel small.Those who are injured in war or times of conflict tend to be quite silent about their experiences. So deep runs the shame that they wanted to do more. Recently a veteran shared a wonderful Helen Hayes quote with me:We relish stories of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to someone too.If you were injured in service to your country, whether at home or overseas, you have been part of a united contribution that defines the Canada we are proud to call home. We can never truly know how efforts may have shaped our lives. Your contributions did matter, and you are someone’s hero.

Warm regards,

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

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

Keeping your head above water

Keeping your head above water

I’m not a surfer, but I have a world of respect for those who have mastered the skill. It’s a sport that’s both thrilling, and terrifying.  

We took a family trip to Florida once, and devoted ourselves to learning to surf.  I did manage to get up a few times, but when I fell off, I wasn’t prepared for the crushing blow of the waves that snuck up from behind, pummeling me further under.  Just as I was coming up for air,  a massive wave would crash on top of me, leaving me coughing, disoriented, and gasping.  I just couldn’t catch my breath.

In many ways, recent news has been like that.  Just when we think we’re starting to get a handle on the latest events, another wave comes pounding down upon us, leaving us reeling. Canada (and Nova Scotia) has suffered another devastating loss with the recent crash of a Cyclone helicopter off the coast of Greece.  Our hearts and prayers extend the the families of those who who were on that flight.  The military is an extended family, and any losses or injuries cut deeply.

If we didn’t care, it wouldn’t hurt so much.

I don’t recall a time when there have been so many repeated waves of challenge and tragedy in such a short space of time.  At least not in my generation…and not in this country.

It’s important to acknowledge that there’s a backdrop to all of these current events.  Personal challenges or struggles each of us face in our immediate circles.  Family members who are sick or struggling, losses that people can’t formally grieve, economic hardship and uncertainty.

Yes, it is important to stay informed.  But it’s equally important not to oversaturate oneself with the news.  I’ve spoken with many veterans and first responders in recent weeks who’ve been glued to their televisions trying to get a handle on the steadily changing state of things.  Doing their best to be prepared.  After all, knowledge is power.

Or is it? If we watch too much, it starts to control us.  Maybe it’s time we cut way back, limiting our news exposure to a few basics.  Taking a break entirely, or limiting our exposure to a few minutes per day so that we gain the latest highlights. 

Putting distance between ourselves and the news does not mean that we don’t care.  It’s evidence that we do.  Because we care so much, it’s important that we don’t immerse ourselves in it.

So if you can, this weekend, turn off your electronics.  Go for a walk.  Bake, cook and be creative.  It’s a great time to make some flower boxes in preparation for transplanting your indoor garden outside.  Ride a bike, enjoy a hike and take some time to enjoy the signs of spring.  

Take some time to catch your breath, allowing ourselves to realize that this too shall pass.

Warm Regards,
Belinda

Snow day

Snow day

Do you remember dreaming of snow days as a child?  I’d cross my fingers in hopes that school would be cancelled.  Snow day.  These two beautiful words evoke excitement and anticipation, with the thought of an unstructured and unsupervised day laying ahead.  Even as we grow older, the freedom associated with snow days persists.  Some of us might make a last-minute rush to the grocery store to stock up on storm chips.  Others might curl up on the couch for Netflix marathons.  
 
Although I know that heavy snowfalls will precipitate massive cancellations in my client schedule, I have to confess… a part of me gets excited.  I’ll have a whole day of no structure, and little supervision.  What kind of trouble can I get myself into, I wonder?
 
Okay, I know I’ll end up using this time to catch up on overdue work.  But it’s incredibly satisfying knowing that I don’t have to. 
 
At Landing Strong, we recognize that snow days aren’t as much fun for everyone.  Driving in such conditions is stressful.  For those of you in first responder roles, we acknowledge that you are putting your coats on as we are coming home and taking ours off.  For this, we thank you.  
 
Snow days are a reminder that the emotional meaning of current events is coloured by the lens of past experiences.  What might be positive for one person could be alarming or stressful to another.  Trauma is like that too. 
 
Trauma isn’t about what happens to us, rather, it’s the personal meaning of the event in the context of our lives that’s important. 
 
That’s why we can’t judge others’ reactions to things when they differ from ours.  We haven’t walked in their shoes, or seen things through the lens of their experiences.  By seeking to understand, we diminish the aloneness of their experience. 

Warm wishes,

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

Small flakes big snow

Small flakes big snow

This week I looked out the window and noticed a flurry of tiny snowflakes making their way down from the skies. Weather forecasters were calling for a large storm, and I knew that was going to make for a complicated day at the office.

“Small flakes big snow” one of the clients mentioned on their way out, “get your snow shovels ready!”

I’ve heard that expression before, and wondered about its origins.  Is there some ancient wisdom I’m unaware of that would allow me to be able to better predict my day simply by looking at the size of snowflakes?   A few minutes of google research later, I realize it’s not quite so simple.  Warmer temperatures lead to higher water content, and thus larger flakes.  Colder atmospheric temperature forms smaller flakes because there isn’t as much sticky stuff to hold the flakes together.  So in a way It’s true: if it’s warm outside it isn’t likely to stay snowy for long…it might turn to slushy wet stuff or rain.  Small snowflakes and lower temperatures are a sign that whatever falls is likely to hang around for longer.

It strikes me that change is a bit like the snow.  If we try to do too much too soon (large flakes) it isn’t likely to be lasting.  Small repeated steps in the right direction, however, accumulate over time and can lead to a mountain of change. If we turn the heat up on ourselves too quickly, it’s not sustainable.   If I want to take up running, for example, and start by trying to run 5 km at once, it’s likely too much.  Sure I did it some years ago, but that doesn’t mean my body will recognize that movement now.  A series of small steps, building up over time will increase my stamina so that I’m better equipped to do the run.  Maybe a better goal is to start walking 10,000 steps a day instead.   If I want any positive change to be lasting, easing in with gradual small changes is the way to go.

Keeping in line with our New Year commitment to self-compassion, I will embrace my inner (running) warrior, and enjoy pleasant walks through the snow this winter. Enjoying each small flake as it accumulates into something bigger. Maybe you will too?

Warm wishes,

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