Tag Archives: mental-health

Life Skills and healing through animals.

Manitoba entrepreneur helping kids and youth dealing with mental illness.

People with animals at home know the feeling of unconditional love pets can provide.  Now that same unconditional love is being used to help adolescents with emotional and mental difficulties to get well. Continue reading Life Skills and healing through animals.


kinesiologistWhat happens when you go to a kinesiologist?
First, you get to keep your clothes on – big bonus!
Second, the doctor reviews your lifestyle and medical history.
He then moves your arms and or legs into different positions, applying gentle pressure.
This gives him information about your muscles and how they are responding.

Kinesiology, or human kinetics, is the study of human movement.

So what, you say. How does that get me a job?

The answer is that if you’re interested in being an athletic coach, a personal physical trainer or want to design athletic equipment, kinesiology is your course of study. If you are interested in rehabilitation services, working with the elderly or cardiac patients, kinesiology should be on your learning list.

Even if your goal is computer animation, the study of human kinetics can only enhance your ability to produce lifelike images.

Most of the above postings take self-confidence and leadership ability. You should be strong enough to lift fifty pounds or more if you are working with patients. And being able to work as a team is an important skill if you are interested in the medical side of the employment possibilities.

To be a full blown kinesiologist, it helps to have a background in physiology, anatomy, biomechanics, biomedical engineering, and psychology; at any rate, you need four years of post-secondary education to get into the schools of kinesiology and you should enjoy scientific research.

Canada grants a professional designation to kinesiologists; the U.S. does not. The world’s first kinesiologist department was developed at the University of Waterloo. Created out of the study of chiropractic medicine, modern kinesiology was developed in the 1960s. An American chiropractor, Dr. George Goodheart discovered that muscle testing could reveal vital information about what was happening to the body.

The practice aims to restore balance in the body. According to the International College of Kinesiology, “When kinesiologists are faced with pain or a knotted-up muscle they test several muscles for equality of strength on both sides of a joint (or the spine). If they test and find a muscle tests weak on one side of the body compared with the same muscle on the other side, they work with body energy reflexes to re-strengthen the weak muscle.” Kinesiologists call this muscle balancing.

Imbalance can exist nutritionally, emotionally, physically or chemically all of which will manifest itself in muscular stress.

There are many places in Canada that offer studies in kinesiology: University of New Brunswick, University of British Columbia, University of Manitoba, University of Alberta, Queens University, Western and McGill, to mention just a few. Red Deer College also offers a certificate course in Kinesiology with their sports program.

Although the study of this science goes back to Aristotle (384 to 322 BC) who is called the Father of Kinesiology, kinesiology is a bit of a new-age approach to medicine, taking into account the whole body rather than just treating a specific symptom in one part. It will no doubt be at the leading edge of medical studies for the future, especially in a day of an aging population where movement and how to maintain it becomes increasingly important.

Benefits of Taking Vacation Time

by Ada Slivinski

Summer is a time many of us associate with time off, but many Canadians are not taking full advantage of their vacation days. Canada is one of the most vacation-deprived nations according to a 2014 survey by TD bank, which found that only 43 per cent of Canadians report using up all the vacation days they are entitled to. This occurred even though 93 per cent of Canadians said they thought vacations were important to be “happy.”
Many of those who did not take vacation days said it was because they could not afford to but research shows that time away from work is not only important for your personal health and wellbeing but also has benefits for your employer. These benefits don’t change based on how long you’re away or how far you go. Vacations are not a frivolous luxury, they are important for self-care and productivity. Here’s why you should go ahead and book that getaway:

Better physical health

Getting away can help your physical health. For both men and women, studies show that taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will significantly lessen the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks. The opportunity to regroup and reset that a vacation provides can also help you ditch some negative habits. Vacations are one of the most successful times to implement lifestyle changes because old cues and rewards are no longer present. It is also easier to get more sleep, eat better and get more exercise when you’re not rushing around in your daily routine.

Improved mental health

One of the main benefits of vacation time is that it can improve your mental health. The reduced stress allows the body and mind to reboot and recoup in ways that they couldn’t if they were still under pressure. The human body is not designed to run at full-tilt around the clock. A period of rest brings you back up to optimal functioning. Family vacations also improve and strengthen family ties, which has a positive impact on mental health and your overall sense of wellbeing.

Increased productivity

Employees who take vacations are more productive. Upon returning from vacation, workers are likely to put more emphasis on the work they have to make up and have a renewed energy to pour into their job. Being away from a regular work routine and in a different space gives you a fresh perspective that helps generate new ideas and come up with innovative solutions to problems.

Lowered risk of burnout

When employees work too hard for too long they are likely to reach a breaking point and leave altogether. This means employers end up paying to train someone else to replace them. The biggest price employers pay for burnout is the loss of talented people and there are tolls burnout takes even before the stress it reaches a breaking point. Employees approaching burnout are likely to start taking more sick days and report “feeling disconnected” at work. By encouraging their employees to take full advantage of their vacation time, employers can reap the benefits and the overall work environment will become more enjoyable for all.

Artist promotes discourse on mental illness with Lossy

“It’s not very often that a conversation will centre around mental health,” observes multidisciplinary artist Benj Funk. “The goal (with Lossy) was just to stimulate discussion.”

His most personal project to date, Lossy involves audiovisual expression as well as a personal blog invoking what his reality has been dealing with schizophrenia.

“I am trying to give insight into what it was for me,” he says. “I think it’s been the project where I’ve been most honest.”

Never shying away from sharing his struggles, Funk’s first solo exhibit at Artbeat Studio drew on his battle with drug addiction and psychosis, but with his evolution in stability, he now feels ready to address his mental illness head-on as a subject matter.

“It just takes time to not judge yourself, I guess,” explains Funk. “The whole thing with stigma is it’s two-sided. You internalize that and you project that on yourself too.”

Funk feels the dialogue has become less judgmental regarding mental health in the media and elsewhere – but the most welcoming community he’s found has been on Tumblr, the host of his blog.

“I’m making connections with people and people are reaching out,” says Funk. “The amount of support – it’s not surprising, but it is eye-opening.”

When his exhibit opens Sept. 10 at La Maison des artistes visuels francophones, the immersive exhibit will feature (barring no interruptions) about eight to 12 paintings and his album of roughly the same number of electronic songs – plus, Funk plans to have a panel discussion engaging the public about mental health.

For his part, Funk is holding nothing back, blogging stories related to the shame and embarrassment he felt during his addiction (which prompted aggression), and giving vivid accounts of some of his hallucinations.

He shows talent for wielding the smaller stroke of a pen, and courage unveiling personal narratives. “There’s only so much you can say with a painting,” reasons Funk.

The exercise in treating his illness as a subject has also allowed him to delve deeper into neuroscience research, sharing some of the more momentous medical breakthroughs through his blog and helping educate followers along with him.

Benj Funk
Benj Funk

Funk hopes his project will establish solidarity with others fighting a mental illness – a recent Ipsos Reid poll revealed 53 per cent of young people are dealing with depression and other mental wellbeing concerns – and it’s powerful to gain insight from someone articulating their own journey.
The artist expects to continue in the vein of socially-conscious work like Lossy with upcoming projects. “I’ve kind of reignited a passion for advocacy,” he says.

While he has learned to manage his illness, his medication is not without its side effects – and it’s not foolproof. “The meds for me take care of 99 per cent of the symptoms,” he shares. “You’ll (still) hear a voice that you know isn’t in the space… I’ve learned how to take on those little battles.”

Perhaps the most poignant representation of his progress dealing with mental illness is his painting of a moon with six eyes hovering over a depiction of himself as he appeared just before he was hospitalized. “It physically separates where I was then and where I am now,” says Funk. “It’s almost like looking at your kid and thinking, ‘Things will get better.’”

Funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council and 100 Nons, Lossy will culminate in a solo art exhibit at the artist-run La Maison des artistes visuels francophones beginning Sept. 10. Visit lossy.benjfunk.com to follow Funk’s blog entries and the project’s progress.

Power down from work and balance your home life

1181363_88398639By Siobhan Carnegie

It’s never been so important to be tapped in at work – but your home life can suffer if you’re constantly receiving alerts on your phone, bringing your focus back to the workplace.
It’s important to be available for meetings, make time in your day for important phone calls and respond to emails, but you shouldn’t be expected to be attached to your phone at the hip outside of work time.
A study recently flagged by author Dr. Tasha Eurich found that half of employees feel that their workload is currently unsustainable. Thirty-three per cent also think about work the moment they wake up, and for 75 per cent, the thoughts creep in as they lay down at night to go to sleep – or worse, the thoughts keep them up at night.
If you’re starting to feel like your job is taking over your life, with consequences on your relationships, it’s time to try a proactive approach in getting the most out of your downtime.
Workers who have conflict at home are less healthy and happy – and can tend to take on destructive habits to escape rather than cope with the stress.
The following are a few ways Dr. Eurich suggests to stop your job from invading your home life:
1. Work smarter
Working more does not necessarily mean you’re being more productive. Think about some of the time you waste starting your day – firing up your computer, answering a load of emails, and leisurely strolling to the kitchen to pour a coffee.
You run into a coworker and gab for a few minutes, and when you get down to work, you get interrupted by another coworker with her own agenda.
Consider how many hours of your workday are actually productive, and see where you can eliminate time so you don’t have to stay overtime.
You aren’t more important or valuable if you stay at work for ten hours, it’s about efficiency.
To get more accomplished in less time, try Dr. Eurich’s One Less Thing Principle.
For every task, ask yourself:
• Can this activity be focused so less time is spent completing it?
• Can this activity be delegated to another person or group?
• Can this activity be stopped?
2. Take power breaks
Surprisingly, short breaks can help you refocus and maintain sharpness on your task. If you feel your eyes start to glaze over, try walking around the office or grabbing tea or a snack.
Taking quick “power” breaks actually speeds up your progress, and improves performance. Briefly taking a break from concentrating on the task will feel better, and the results are better too.
Powering down from work emails and calls can help you in the long run too. Plan evenings and weekends as a well-deserved power-down – maybe you can’t do this every evening, certainly not around important deadlines or work events, but aim for at least three evenings per week. And if you absolutely have to work on one day on the weekend around important deadlines, make sure you take the alternate day off. If you work on Saturday, make sure Sunday is spent relaxing and recharging, and spending some quality time with friends or family.
3. Work it out
Sometimes it’ll feel like the last thing you want to do is lace up and go for a jog after a long day of work, but the exercise really will give you a renewed dose of energy. And a fresh perspective. High-intensity workouts especially are proven to help reduce anxiety.
Exercise can also help you repair this work-family conflict, because your mood and energy is boosted by the exercise.
In a study of 476 workers, workers who exercised regularly were found to have less conflict between work and home.
It can be a strong way to mentally detach from work and recharge you to be present at home.