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Making the best of a bad situation

Making the best of a bad situation

How are you holding up?  These are uncertain times indeed.  
When I go to the grocery store, I like to play a game.  Which line is moving the fastest?  I scope out the cashiers, check out how efficient they are, how much they’re talking with their customers, and how full the carts are of the people in line ahead of me.  I’m talking about the sophisticated, mathematical equation that predicts grocery-store line waiting time.  Even when the lines are long, I can tolerate it if my formula predicts an acceptable outcome.  In a way, I’m inserting a degree of control over a situation which might otherwise cause internal stress.  
The current situation we’re facing is challenging, because there are many uncertain variables which seem to change on an hourly basis.  I haven’t been able to figure out the mathematical formula that tells me when life goes back to normal.  My gut feeling, is that this is going to be a long line.  
I tried asking google home to set an alarm for when COVID-19 will be over, a reassuring voice informed me that the alarm was set for 7pm the next evening.  If only it were so easy.  
So there are many things I’m not able to control, but there are others that I know I can.  I’m doing my best to create a semblance of normalcy in my daily working life.  I have been able to learn to use video conferencing for counselling appointments.  Not bad for an ol’ dog.  It may have been stressful, but I think I’ve got it.  
As for outside of work, I’m going to focus on those things I can control.  Doing art, organizing my house, planting an abundant garden.  I’m even thinking about trying to make crumpets from scratch.
Let’s make the best of this, we’d love to hear what fun things you’ve been doing to cope. 

Warm wishes,

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

The business of getting better: part 5

The business of getting better: part 5

The freedom of choice.
Many years ago I attended a work seminar where the facilitator spoke of the importance of developing a Plan B for any major venture you take on.  His words struck a chord, for at the time I was working in a federal penitentiary.  I wasn’t sure how long I would remain there.  Every day, I was surrounded by people who repeatedly reported how many years they had until retirement. 
“Good morning” they would greet me cheerfully, “only six years left ‘till retirement”.  

It was the institutional running joke, with people reporting the time they had left on their “sentences” prior to being released.  Like the inmates they were supervising, they were serving life sentences on the installment plan. 
This prompted me to develop a solid Plan B.
From that moment forward, every day that I went to work became a choice.  I could continue, or I could change, but I would not allow myself to complain about it because I had the freedom to exercise my will.
Even now, every day I go to work knowing that I have options.  My Plan B may not make much money, but it’s always less stressful and generally involves doing something creative. Somehow, that allows me to go to work each day with joy, owning the decision to be there.
It may be your Plan B involves taking time off work so that you can take proper care of yourself. That in itself is a plan.

Warm regards,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Love your muffin top

Love your muffin top

As I view the dark days of winter in my rear view mirrors and think about the months ahead, I find myself contemplating bathing suit season.  That’s right, the dreaded time of year when we’re held accountable for our mid-winter indulgences.  I admit it, I put on a few pounds.  My stomach isn’t flat the way I want it to be.  Could it be encroachment of the dreaded Muffin Top?

I found myself defaulting to considering quick weight loss strategies, accompanied by uncharitable thoughts about myself and unkind words about my body.  “There is absolutely no reason,” I think, frustrated with myself, “why I shouldn’t look exactly like I did in my twenties.  I just need more discipline!”  I seem to be overlooking the fact that I’ve had a few kids and it’s thirty years later.

Okay, I’m a psychologist, I should know better.  Enduring change is built on love and compassion, not hatred.  History holds countless examples.

But I’m still human. It was Mackenzie, my daughter, and our Landing Strong Director of Community Engagement and Wellbeing who reminded me of this.  I made a comment about being displeased with my muffin top, to which she replied:

“Remember, the top of the muffin is the best part”.

The wisdom of these words struck deep, for I know in my heart that I am in the best years of my life. Instead of internally criticizing, I’ll focus on practicing loving compassion.  A person who loves her body cares for it, exercising it regularly and nourishing it with whole foods and a rainbow of colour.  A person who struggles with their body doesn’t connect with it or use it much, viewing food as the enemy.  This makes enduring change very difficult.

I think our relationship with our bodies very much reflects our relationship with ourselves and with life in general.  With courage, love, and compassion, we’re able to leave the dark days of winter behind.

Stuck in the dark corner of judgement and shame, we remain immobile. Change escapes us.
I’ll think of you all as I wander the nature trails with my dogs, enjoying the buds of spring and bursts of colour.  I won’t focus on what I don’t want, but on what I desire, and allow that path to gently guide me forward.
Partners in recovery,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Getting out of your comfort zone

Getting out of your comfort zone

If you go on a trip, where do you like to go? 

To a beach resort, where cold drinks are brought to you by the side of a pool?  Or backpacking through a mountain pass, discovering tiny flower buds as they push their way through barren soil towards the sun?  

Do you like things packaged, and neat?  Or are you comfortable with uncertainty?  

This April, I plan to escape for a week to somewhere hot where everything is done for me.  Perfect. 

Next Summer, I hope to backpack the rugged coast of Newfoundland with some good friends, hopping from cove to cove searching for hidden gems.  I don’t know what we’ll find, but I know there will be great fun in the searching.  Being connected and together is an important part of the journey.  

I’ll get something different out of each trip.  At the warm resort, I’ll get relaxation and catch up on my reading.  On the adventure trip, I’ll probably be uncomfortable at times but learn more about myself and those around me.  That’s the trip I’ll most remember.  I need both, but if I don’t get out of my comfort zone I’ll stay pretty much the same.  

In any journey, we have the power to decide how much risk we’re ready to take on.  Increasing numbers of you are signing up for our workshops, and becoming involved with the Landing Strong community.  Even after one day, we see change.  

Life’s always smoother when things stay the same.  It’s in our response to disruption that true growth takes place.  

Take a moment to check out the workshops available this month. 

Warm thoughts from the Landing Strong Team,

Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Founder, Landing Strong

Old traditions, new routines

Old traditions, new routines

I have a confession to make. I love Christmas, it’s the simple things that make it special really…like the smell of my mother’s traditional shortbread recipe filling the house as we play good tunes and decorate cookies together. Although my mother is gone, the smell reminds me of her love. Or watching cheesy Christmas movies together and participating in family fitness bootcamps. It’s a time when we all take time away from our busy lives to connect. My kids will come home, we’ll cook some good food together, and maybe have a kitchen dance party or two. In this busy life, and despite the many events of the season, for me, it’s a time of reflection and appreciation.

Have you noticed how easy it is to fall into routines in our daily lives that place the needs of others ahead of our own? We form patterns that might not be sustainable, often leaving us discouraged and exhausted. I’m reminded of the importance of taking time to “refill the well” before the supply runs dry. It’s an aspect of our wellbeing that’s often neglected.

If we don’t make a conscious effort to destress at the end of each day, the cumulative effect of what we carry in our lives can become increasingly difficult to hold. That’s why doing something we enjoy each day is so important. We are offering two programs in January, both designed to build resilience and help us stay strong.

For First Responders and Veterans living with PTSD, anxiety or depression, we have the “New Year, New You” workshop on January 11th.

For Caregivers, friends and family of these First Responders and Veterans, we are offering Part 1 of our “Care for the Caregiver” series on January 7th for those who weren’t able to attend the first series.

We hope that you will join us.

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season.

Warm regards from the entire Landing Strong Team,

New growth

New growth

On Saturday night, my husband Joe and I had the pleasure of attending the Festival of Trees in Halifax. This black-tie event is a gala fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.  Each year, a forest of stunning trees is admired and auctioned off.

Joe and I have a tradition of bidding on the tree that is beautiful but isn’t being noticed.  It often sits there quietly, waiting to be claimed, but for some reason is overlooked.  Over the years, we have amassed quite a forest.  With the opening of Landing Strong, I thought it would be nice to take one of our trees to the new centre.  When I brought this up to Joe, I could see evidence of the love in his heart for all of our trees.  Parting with any one of them would not be possible.  The only option was to find another evergreen in need of a home.

We were successful. When I saw the tree, I immediately knew it belonged in our office and would find a home with us.

Along with the tree, we hope that many people might take root in our community.  Like the enchanted forest, we will create something magical.

In the spirit of new growth, we would like to tell you about what’s in store for you over the next few months:

  • Today marks the launch of our program, “Care for the Caregiver”. This is the first in a series of day-long workshops.  Don’t worry if you missed the first one, each is offered as a stand-alone.
  • In the month of December, keep an eye on your inbox for useful tips around managing the holidays in a healthy and low-stress manner.
  • Early in the new year we will be unrolling a menu of programs designed to support you on your journey of health and recovery.Connect with us onsocial media for news on these exciting initiatives.




Ps. Special thanks to Compass Group Canada for including us in this special evening.