Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Cleaning Your Mental Health

Spring has sprung here in Ottawa, but you'd never be able to tell with all the snow we've gotten this week!

While the Spring represents a breath of fresh air, closet cleaning, opening windows, and planting gardens, it's an excellent time to think about "spring cleaning your mental health".

What are some ways that you can get started? 


With it being tax season, it's a great way to look at your finances.  Are you in the place where you want to be financially, or does like cause you stress?  Sitting down to revisit, or come up with a budget is a great way to get started on your goal.  If this is a scary adventure for you, look at speaking to a Financial Advisor, or a trusted friend or relative to help you.  There is no harm in asking for help!


The dreaded 9-5 job is a big stressor in many lives.  Or lack thereof even.  Spring is a great time to rework your resume if you're looking for a new job, or to re-energize yourself in your current work.  Are you happy, but a little bored at work?  Consider asking your boss if there is any new project you can dive into.  Are you between jobs, or simply out of work?  There are many career opportunities online, and headhunters will be able to target your strengths to help you find an amazing job.


Are you feeling lost in your relationship?  Winter can play a factor in this, with being in hibernation and snowed in during the colder months.  As we start getting warmer outside, it's a great way to reconnect with the ones you love.  A walk, run, a new activity such as soccer or something fun could reignite a spark in your relationship.  If you're in a relationship that is physically, mentally or emotionally abusve, we are here for you, and there are many places that can help you.  For more resources, you can call us at 613-238-3311. 


After being cooped up with hot chocolate, movies, and indoor activities during the winter months, your kids may be bouncing off the walls waiting for the warmer weather.  The City of Ottawa has excellent day & sleep away camps, outdoor activities that are light on the wallet, and more.  As a family, if a vacation is in dire need, now is a great time to sit down together, and decide where to go.  If you have a budget, give your kids options (one for each kid) and put them into a bucket, and pull one of those options out.  This way, it's a family choice, and everyone is happy in the end!  Have fun planning, and take lots of amazing pictures to remember your getaway.  If a "stay-cation" in the plans, there are so many fun things to do in our beautiful city!

Time for YOU

You're busy.  Whether it's work, family, friends....sometimes all you want to do is relax.  Remember that being too available sometimes can wreak havic on your body.  Make sure that you are taking care of yourself with proper vitamins (ask your doctor), getting regular check ups at your family doctor, exercising, eating well, and sleeping at least 6-8 hours a night.  You are just as important as everyone else, so make sure to treat yourself well!

As always, we are here for you, regardless of what you're going through.  Give us a call at 613-238-3311 to speak with one of our amazing volunteers, and we'll listen to everything you have to say.

Happy Springtime!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Summer Training Opportunity!

Check out this amazing opportunity to do a condensed version of our training
 (same hours, just done in 7 days!)
Apply to be a volunteer with the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region today at

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Chocolate Affair

Looking for information on our amazing fundraiser - "A Chocolate Affair" ?

Tickets on sale NOW by calling
Leslie at 613-238-1089 x 222

Guest Post - Laura

As we continue to post our own blog posts, we have been reaching out to those dealing with a mental health illness or disorder to talk about how they deal and cope.  Today's post comes from Laura, who has suffered from depression most of her adult life. 

This month I moved.  I have two major deadlines at work.  By March 31 I will have travelled to New York, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.  I have a workshop that I have to participate in and will be evaluated on and I’m nervous.  I’m the maid of honor in two weddings this summer and my duties for those wedding have ramped up.

Needless to say, I’m a little stressed.

As someone who has suffered from depression for most of my adult life, stress and I don’t always get a long.  There are some people that are incredibly productive and resilient during the most difficult times.  Their able to turn stress and anxiety over something into fuel and drive.  For me stress can upset all sorts of things and impact my sleep, my weight, and my general emotional well-being.  There was a time in my early twenties where any stressful situation paralyzed me.  It made navigating the ups and downs of life extremely difficult.

For people that suffer from a mental illness of any sort - scratch that - for ANYONE – learning how to deal with stress in a healthy way can be difficult.  I’m no expert, but in this post I’d like to share a few things with you that I have learned to be incredibly helpful in dealing with stressful times and have helped kept my physically and mentally well.

Reach Out

The first and most important lesson I have learned is that I need emotional support during times of stress.  When I have a lot going on in my life, I know that I have the tendency to feel the weight of it all emotionally.  I get teary, maybe I’m not sleeping as well and in order to build my resilience I need to have an outlet.  For me that outlet comes in the form of a professional with whom I speak twice a month.  Its important that I have someone that helps me to reflect on what’s going on for me and suggest helpful strategies to work through times of difficulty.  A really good friend, family member, coach or mentor can also be a good person to reach out to if speaking to a professional isn’t your thing.  Sharing our challenges can be a good outlet and can go far in helping us unload some of the emotional weight that stress can cause.

Eat well

Pass the peanut butter chocolate ice cream.  Seriously.  Give it to me. 

I have been known to eat my feeling in times of stress.  Anything delicious gives me temporary comfort.  Unfortunately it ultimately it makes me feel a whole lot worse. In order to get through times that are challenging mentally our body needs the proper fuel.  The best thing that you can do is to show yourself some love by taking time out to eat healthy and nutritious foods.  You’ll feel better, operate better and chances are you’ll sleep better if you’re filling your body with whole, nutritious foods instead of a pint of ice cream.


When I’m busy with work or travelling I get tired.  Really tired.  As a result, exercise is usually the first thing that gets eliminated from the schedule – I make excuses because I think I just don’t have the energy.  I have learned again recently that this is probably the worst thing I can do.  During times of stress I need to carve out time to sweat.  It helps me shake my sillies out and re-focus.  It also helps me have more energy to keep on keeping on and to do the other things on this list - like making healthy meals and reaching out when I need to.  Endorphins are powerful things!

Theme Music

There are all sorts of studies that connect listening to upbeat or soothing music to improving one’s mood.  For me, a great song can help to distract me and ease tension and anxiety.  Over the past month I have made a conscious effort to turn music on when I’m at home or listen to my iPod more on the way to work to get the positive vibes flowing.  Right now I’m loving Lykke Li’s “I follow” – its upbeat and makes me feel like I can take on the world!


I’m not a great sleeper on a good day – ask anyone that has ever shared a bed with me!  I toss, I turn, I sleep walk, I talk – it’s a full day’s work in one night.  So when times get tough my sleep really suffers.  I have found that the best thing I can do during times of stress or just to ensure my resilience is listening to my body and trying to get as much sleep as I can.  I’ve read that turning off electronics (phone, TV, computer) and being conscious of what you’re reading before bed (nothing too heavy) can also have a positive impact your ability to get to sleep and have a restful sleep so these are some strategies I use as well.  Everything seems easier when you are well rested.

This too shall pass

I try to remember when times are tough that this too shall pass and I will get through those things that are challenging for me.   We need to remember to be kind to ourselves and do those things that make us feel good when work or our personal lives seem crazy stressful.  So this month I plan to listen to upbeat music on repeat, get good sleep, eat well and not sacrifice exercise in favour of work.  Maybe doing some of these things will be helpful for you too?

If you or someone you know, needs to talk, we're here 613-238-3311

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

We often hear about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder associated with those in the military, coming back from a tour, and having to deal with what they've dealt with oversees, seeing what they have seen, but PTSD can affect anyone.

PTSD can develop in any one of any age, following a traumatic event that has threatened your safety, made you feel vulnerable, helpless and unable to surface.

PTSD can affect those who have personally experienced the tragedy, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards.  Doctors, emergency workers, police, firefighters, paramedics are at high risk for experiencing PTSD.  Family members, friends, co-workers of those who have gone through the actual trauma can experience PTSD as well. 

Anything can trigger PTSD symptoms: a sound, a smell, crowds, the touch of something or someone, a voice, a room, dreams, and a change in routine.  Sometimes symtoms come out in a few short hours or days after the event, however PTSD can sneak up weeks, months, and even years later.

Traumatic events, like mentioned above, is something that has threatened your safety.  Examples of this can be: natural disasters, transportation accidents, sudden death of someone, sexual abuse or rape, physical & sexual assult/abuse, childhood neglect, kidnapping, & war. 

PTSD is a very unique and personal disorder for those experiencing it.  However, there are three key symptoms that indicate PTSD in someone.  Re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the trauma and increased anxiety and emotional feelings.

Those with PTSD can often experience "black outs" or "flashbacks" where they are back at the scene of the traumatic event, and either act out according to their current emotions, or revert back to how they were during that time.  These black outs can be potentially dangerous to the person in the moment and those around them.  It's important to seek help immediately if black outs are occurring. 

Treatment for PTSD can come in the form of therapy and medication, group therapy, and relaxation techniques.  Those dealing with symptoms should avoid drugs or alcohol, as it can act as more of a trigger than it does to "numb the pain".

Friends and family can provide love & support during this time, and encourage treatment.  Simply providing our phone number can be a step in the right direction for the affected person. 

PTSD is a serious condition, and should not be ignored.  If you or someone you know is dealing after a traumatic event or experience, please reach out.  Our phone number is 613-238-3311, and we're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Stream of Thoughts

When I was a tween/teenager, and going through a hard time, my mother encouraged me to write my feelings out.  "Stream of Thoughts" she would call it.  Then, if it wasn't in my diary, and I didn't have anything left in me to write about, to throw that paper away, symbolizing that I could move on from those thoughts.  I find myself more than 17 years since this advice from my mother, doing the same thing today, whenever I need to get thoughts out of my head, or be able to tell someone something.

Often, we hear that callers enjoy writing as a sense of getting their feelings out, but some don't know where to start.  Here are some great ways to get started:

  • Choose your topic.  If it's one issue that you are dealing with, go on that.  If it's a bunch of topics, write about one at once.

  • Physically use a pen or pencil to write on paper.  Writing on the computer or a tablet gives us too much freedom to delete what we're writing, because we may overthink, and try to protect ourselves or others, even if you're the only one seeing your writing.

  • Be in a spot where you can write without being interrupted.  This may be a difficult task, so even if it's somewhere you can write with minimal distractions is better than nothing.  You want to be able to focus on your thoughts, and getting them out.

  • The actual writing part can be done as you want it to.  Write in third person.  Write as you are writing a play or a script.  Write just random words.  Write upside down, backwards, in shapes, different colors, or any other method that will help you get your thoughts out.

  • Don't be afraid of your emotions.  You may experience anger, sadness, dispair, happiness, contentment, stress, and every other emotion while you're writing - but this is good!  These emotions are being captured by your words that are landing on the paper.

  • Keep writing until you run out of words.

  • When you find yourself finished with your writing, you can make the choice for yourself whether to keep what you've written in a safe place, share it with someone you care about, or throw it out.  This choice is completely yours and yours alone.

  • Take a deep breath when it's all said and done.  You deserve it after getting all of those emotions out.

We're always here to talk, any time of day or night, if you are ready to reach out.  Call us at 613-238-3311 to speak to one of our volunteers.