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Shift Spotlight
January 28, 2021
Let's Talk Mental Health

Shift Team

Co-founders of Shift Collab hold handwritten signs that say "I am worthy", "I am capable", and "I am enough as I am".

Every Action Counts

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day, so let's talk! Join the conversation to support people living with mental illness, while also driving up Bell’s donations to mental health programs just by getting engaged.

We champion making mental health a normal part of everyday conversation, so the National awareness today is incredibly valuable. Click here to join the conversation with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

What does good mental health look like to you?

Good mental health to me looks like authenticity. Living your own truth and not the expectations of others. Be authentically you.  - Suzette McLarty

The ability to successfully cope with everyday challenges and prioritize our own needs. - Ayesha Hussain

Good mental health can be supported by good mental wellness activities. These activities can sometimes seem small but the decision to engage in small day to day healthy habits can have a major impact on our wellness. For example, a daily routine that ensures I eat at regular times, 30 minutes of exercise and some time for journaling. Or it could be maintaining connections with loved ones and sharing my struggles and seeking support. It could be taking my medication as prescribed and attending therapy regularly. Mental wellness for me is about doing what I know helps me to feel good (even on days when I’d rather not)  - Megan Rafuse

Good mental health is similar to good physical health- it’s helpful to share what you’re going through- it’s like going to the mental gym and ‘working out’ those feelings. - Andrika Rook

For me, mental wellness is accepting my circumstances, and being willing to work with what I have, to get to where I want to go. It means I honour my energy, my values, and practice self-compassion. - Melody Phu

Mental health is good for me when I can chat with friends and take some time for myself. - Jennifer Burt-Yanoff

"Good mental health" means accepting that we can’t possibly do it all. It means being compassionate with ourselves when we are struggling and reminding ourselves that it’s okay to lean on our supports. - Dorian Schwartz

Good mental health is the ability to express and manage a range of positive and negative feelings we all experience. In addition, having quality and meaningful connections with important people in your life helps with, in my experience, good mental health. - Aneesa Gill

Good mental health is an ability to bring yourself back from life’s biggest challenges - Sean Ferkul

Inner-peace, contentment and wellbeing that radiates outwardly. - Tracy King

It looks like rolling with the waves of life and having compassion when you fall in. - Meaghan Sawka

A collaboration of thoughts and emotions that produce a "gratified" me. - Wayne Gray

Good mental health looks like the ability to feel our emotions deeply, understand them, and process them in healthy and helpful ways. - Erin McLeod

It is the ability to feel and express both positive and negative emotions.  - Melissa Di Fonzo

What do you do to take care of your own mental health?

I try to take each moment as it comes and live in the "what is" rather than the "what if".  I have really seen a difference by adopting an " I'll cross that bridge when I get there" mentality.  - Suzette McLarty

I find daily meditations really help calm down the over-active chatter in my mind. It was so hard at first that I avoided doing it. It was a real game-changer once I let go of my need to "get it right" or "perfect", and just showed up for myself.  - Laura Bloom

I take medication and have worked to challenge my own perception and stigma around what it means to take mental health medication. I wear glasses too and both are necessary for my body to function optimally. I am practicing setting limits and boundaries around my time and capacity- saying no means saying yes to something else. I read, go for walks, eat well and attempt to be consistent in my daily schedule. I also spend a lot of time connecting with loved ones - both seeking support and giving support. - Megan Rafuse

I walk in nature and spend time outside. - Andrika Rook

Taking responsibility for my self-care by communicating needs and boundaries with others. Physical exercise and mindful movement are major necessities to maintaining my mental health, but saying "no" has been the most defining strength in recent years.- Melody Phu

Go for daily walks and do face Yoga. - Jennifer Burt-Yanoff

Taking care of our mental health means something different for everyone. For me it means doing something creative everyday, scheduling alone time, and journaling when I feel overwhelmed. - Dorian Schwartz

Take time each day to do something for myself. Often this means ensuring I take time to get outside and go for a walk even if just for a few minutes. - Erin Hooks

I cannot emphasize the importance of taking care of my body contributes my mental health. Having a good sleep hygiene and patterns, preparing and enjoying nutritious meals, and keeping hydrated are simple yet highly valuable elements that contributes my own well-being! - Aneesa Gill

Sometimes it can be as simple as being present with the ones you love - Sean Ferkul

When I was younger I discovered that I needed a physical outlet to deal with my stress. Exercise has always been my go to for overall wellbeing. - Lezlee Lindzon

Stop the negative unhelpful thinking train before it crashes. I do this by stopping and recognizing if my thoughts are true, valid, rational, positive or negative. I will re-direct my attention to thoughts of gratitude and grounding truths. Such as, I am safe, and learning to love myself more. I then inhale fresh new energy, and exhale out old stale unwanted energy. - Tracy King

I connect to genuine people, play with my cat, go camping and watch funny TV. - Meaghan Sawka

I'm deliberate about being thankful for the simplest of things... reflective appreciation is so undervalued. - Wayne Gray

I find that my mental health maintenance requires a multi-faceted approach. This involves, maintaining connections with friends and loved ones, keeping up with an exercise routine, eating balanced meals throughout the day, paying attention to my emotions, and striving for work/life balance. I find that it's most important to check-in with myself, as my needs, and I can meet those needs, continue to evolve, and change. - Mitch Evans

Professionally I have colleagues to debrief with. Personally I have a counsellor I talk with when I need to, I journal vigorously, and I learn continuously. Education is a value of mine and has always challenged me to reframe and adapt new and healthy ways of understanding. - Erin McLeod

Take time each day to sit in silence and connect to my feelings - Melissa Di Fonzo

I find comfort in focusing on a simple task that I can control. Shoveling the sidewalk, cooking a meal, going for a job. Each lets me dance with the most basic challenge of all: Staying grounded in the now. - Jordan Axani

What is a motto or idea that gives you reassurance when you’re having a difficult time?

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. - Suzette McLarty

I do NOT have to believe all the things I tell myself. If my thoughts are hurting me, I know the chances are that there's a lie I'm telling myself. So, I choose another thought - one that doesn't hurt so much. And, I look for reasons to believe that new thought instead. - Laura Bloom

Everything is temporary: emotions, thoughts, struggles - Ayesha Hussain

Even though this struggle feels so real in this moment, I continue to learn that by allowing myself to go through these feelings that they get easier over time. I'm honouring myself by allowing myself to feel this way. - Andrika Rook

All I can do is my best. Whatever that is. Right here, right now. - Melody Phu

That help is available....just reach out and ask - Jennifer Burt-Yanoff

When I'm having a difficult time I remind myself that "every emotion serves a purpose". - Dorian Schwartz

I find it helpful to remind myself- Staying positive doesn't mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that there are better ones coming. - Erin Hooks

This too shall pass! This motto helps me understand the temporary nature of challenging and difficult times.

Fav quote: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there’s footprints on the moon.” - Anonymous - Aneesa Gill

Take your time. - Sean Ferkul

Things are not permanent and there are always possibilities to move forward and make changes.  - Lezlee Lindzon

Happiness is like a light switch, we can decide to switch it on. - Tracy King

That whatever is happening, no matter how challenging, will eventually end. - Meaghan Sawka

A circumstance can only define me if I give it permission to... permission denied. - Wayne Gray

Never never never give up. I've got it tattooed on my arm. - Erin McLeod

Melissa, you're always doing the best you can - Melissa Di Fonzo

"Be gentle with yourself." - Sarah Hurley

During difficult times it can be easy for us to listen to our harsh inner critic. As humans, we can be really hard on ourselves while being more forgiving of other people. Imagine we were all as kind and forgiving to ourselves as we often are for other people? 

Remembering that nothing I do, whether it's a success or total failure, will define me. I define me. - Jordan Axani

What would you say to someone struggling with a mental health issue?

There is no shame in asking for help. Asking for help doesn't make you weak or "less than". 

Maintaining our mental health should be as socially acceptable as maintaining our bodies. Our brain is the boss of our bodies. It runs the show and controls just about everything we do. Taking care of it should be a priority, not an option. 

“I will never understand why every organ in your body gets support and sympathy when it is ill, except for your brain.”  -Suzette McLarty

Even when it doesn't feel like it, there are answers all around you. If you can't see them, try taking a step back to look through someone else's eyes, or ask for help from a trusted friend or professional. - Laura Bloom

You're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone. There are a lot of supports available and you don't have to wait until you are "that bad" to seek support. Wellness is a practice and we don't expect you to have it all sorted out before seeking support! - Megan Rafuse

You are not alone. - Andrika Rook

You aren't alone and there is help. - Melody Phu

How can I help you? - Jennifer Burt-Yanoff

It is hard, it is unpleasant, and I hear you. - Aneesa Gill

Take your time. Go at your own pace. Never doubt that there is a weight and history pushing you forward. - Sean Ferkul

It is okay to struggle, that is part of life. Reaching out for support is the first step to taking care of ourselves.  - Lezlee Lindzon

The struggle is real, and I would like to support you by understanding your concerns and experiences. You are not alone and this is not your fault. I hope you begin to feel better. - Tracy King

It's hard work but the work is worth it. - Meaghan Sawka

When it comes to mental health struggles, silence is never "golden" your voice is. - Wayne Gray

You don't need to deal with this alone, there is strength in asking for help. - Mitch Evans

The struggle is real- to struggle is to be human. Suffering doesn't have to be part of it though. There is support and skills we can all learn to alleviate suffering and cope with struggle. - Erin McLeod

You’re not alone.  - Melissa Di Fonzo

Even if you aren't sure what's going on or what you really need, saying something is never the wrong move.  - Jordan Axani

What is an internal challenge that you've had recently? 

I've been struggling with navigating some complex health issues (and now pregnancy) during the pandemic. I spend a lot of time at doctor's appointments and am struggling with time management between taking care of myself and my innate nature to want to care for others and support my company and colleagues. I’ve had to work hard at managing my need for control and allow space to be cared for. Allowing others to care for me is a practice I’m not used to- but it’s been surprisingly uplifting, energizing and has helped me be more vulnerable. - Megan Rafuse

I am missing sharing meals with family and friends. - Andrika Rook

Missing large family vacations together - Jennifer Burt-Yanoff

I had imagine my life to be very different than it is now - so dealing with frustrations when life does not turn what you anticipate to be - and that's okay! - Aneesa Gill

Lack of motivation - Sean Ferkul

Lack of scheduled activities and structure. I have not replaced my yoga, and exercise routines and now my energy is lower. - Tracy King

Feeling close to burn out. - Meaghan Sawka

Feelings of isolation and staying motivated have been a couple of the most recent of challenges. - Wayne Gray

Lately, I have been struggling with defining what success means to me as an individual. I think we been socialized, to understand success as reaching economic goals and social milestones, and when you begin comparing yourself to others, this seems like an accessible benchmark. Though I think we can also agree that the accumulation of assets and the more often arbitrary social milestones, such as marriage, may not bring us the life satisfaction that we had hoped for. I had found that The ceiling for my current goals, would later become the ground-floor of future goals, and to that extent, I had found that I was on an endless treadmill of attempting to attain success. Lately, I have been trying to be more mindful of the comparisons I make, and how I understand success. I am attempting to shift my understanding of success to focus more on finding balance, meaning, and satisfaction in life. Through this process, I have been forced to evaluate what brings me, authentic satisfaction. - Mitch Evans

To not be overwhelmed by negativity and fear on social media- yikes! - Erin McLeod

Quieting my inner judge - Melissa Di Fonzo

Isolation tends to snowball. I've been shying away from friends and family more than I'd like during COVID, and it takes a lot for me to pull my head up and remember that so many of us are feeling the same way. - Jordan Axani

What is something you used to help you while you were struggling? (Advice you got, a coping technique, or a reframing practice)

Accept what you have capacity for. - Suzette McLarty

I try to remember the basics- am I hungry? Tired? Or need to express something? Sometimes that will quickly solve the problem. Beyond that, I use a lot of CBT strategies to help with reframing my thinking, engaging in behavioural strategies and connect with others. And it's all a practice- I won't feel good the first time trying and that's okay! - Megan Rafuse

I find myself turning to my breath. I do deep breathing to help me calm my thoughts and feelings of anxiety. We sometimes forget when we feel anxious that we have our breath as a resource for helping us calm down and feel grounded. I breath in for 4, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. - Andrika Rook

When I'm struggling with a heavy emotion, I accept that it is a part of being human and drop any self-judgment about it. To help me through it, I imagine that the emotion is an ocean wave. Next, I label which part of the wave I'm at: Rising, Cresting, Crashing, Rip Tide, Gently Washing Back to Shore. Every emotion has a start and and end. - Melody Phu

Boxed breathing - Jennifer Burt-Yanoff

Sharing my issues and struggles with someone I trust and feel safe with, who will hear me out, and  be present with me. - Aneesa Gill

I practice a meditation on everyone that has ever given me love. Those gone. Those still here. And those that have not entered into my life yet. - Sean Ferkul

There is no failure, as long as you have learnt something and grown.  - Tracy King

Connected with a former prof and looked into new training opportunities. - Meaghan Sawka

A daily 20-minute walk listening to an audiobook or my favourite music playlist has been a real welcome. - Wayne Gray

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Including boundaries around my engagement with social media including modifying settings, awareness of my emotional state before, during, and after engagement with social media. Put in red flags that are indicators to stop and take a break. - Erin McLeod

Self compassion.  Anchoring myself to my heart. - Melissa Di Fonzo

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