Suicide Prevention

A teen in my neighbourhood took her own life over a week ago. My heart goes out to her family, friends, and her school community who is grieving her loss and wondering what they could have done to prevent her death.

Just today I met a woman who recently lost her son, who took his own life. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to go through each day knowing that your child is gone. And wondering what you could have done, if you had only known what was REALLY going on in your child’s mind. This is every parent’s worst nightmare.

In Canada, suicide is the second highest cause of death for youth aged 10-24.

Suicide prevention isn’t a term that I use often because it evokes our fear of losing those closest to us, however, for some parents and teens that fear is very real.

Suicide prevention strategies might seem like something that only a few people, in very extreme situations, or teens labelled as “high risk” might need.

Today, I’m inviting you to think differently about suicide prevention by thinking about your own Mental Health.

Mental Health is important for EVERYONE because we all face difficult periods in our life. The loss of a family member, losing a job, divorce, having to move, all of these stressers have an impact on our mental health. The pressure on adolescents to be successful at school and be successful socially is intense, and teens don’t always have the understanding that their difficult times are only temporary.

I know that many teens roll their eyes when we talk about mental health in schools, because they feel like it doesn’t affect them. Or their deep shame about  their own internal dialogue prevents them from reaching out for support.

This is why we NEED to embed mental health education in the high school curriculum.

As an English Language Arts specialist, I know that literature allows us an amazing opportunity to explore the thoughts and behaviours of fictional characters to open an continue on a conversation about mental health that can last weeks and months, instead of minutes or an hour.

Understanding mental health through fictional characters also helps us understand that mental health is not an individual issue, but that there are environmental, social, and physiological factors that can impact our mental health.

Mindfulness practice is also a way for students AND teachers to learn the strategies necessary for checking in on their own thoughts, and learning to shift their thoughts in a way that supports their mental health. Whether you’re a teen, or an adult, EVERYONE needs to check in with the thoughts they’re having on a consistent basis. Mindfulness practice gives you that time and space to check in with your thoughts.

The Canadian Mental Health Association describes 5 characteristics of Mental Health, which are

  1. Ability to enjoy life
  2. Resilience
  3. Balance
  4. Self-Actualization
  5. Flexibility

CLICK HERE to take the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Health Meter to really check in with your own mental health. Only YOU really know your heart and mind.

You deserve a life that FEELS GOOD!

Yours in mental health,

Deanne

P.S. The first step is admitting your mental health status to yourself. The next step is reaching out for support. For immediate, 24 hour support call kids help line.

The real reason why I started Gratitudeworks

I’ve spent 14 years working with teens EVERY DAY as a high school English Literature ( or as we say here in Calgary, English Language Arts) teacher.

In my local school district, students have been reporting increasing levels of anxiety and depression each year. In my last semester of full time classroom teaching, two of my students were hospitalised for their mental health. It was then that I realised that my purpose was no longer to be a classroom teacher, but to teach teens, parents and teachers how to incorporate strategies into their lives that would support their mental health.

We’re all so busy, worried, frustrated, and overwhelmed and

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

I’m on a mission to transform the lives of teens and parents LIKE YOU through

SIMPLE

DOABLE

SUSTAINABLE practices to improve the quality of YOUR LIFE.

Mindfulness is one of those practices.

I know that going to a concrete building swarming with teens can wear you down! Mindfulness practices, whether that is quietly drinking a cup of tea, or sitting for meditation for 5 minutes, or 20 minutes,  are what have sustained me in the busyness of school for years. Research has shown that mindfulness practice is effective in improving sleep, lowering stress, and improving self-compassion. No only do our thought about ourselves improve, but our perspective about life shifts to be more positive with mindfulness.

In October 2016, I interviewed Dr. Dzung Vo, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital, and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, Canada. Dr Vo  has created a mindfulness based stress reduction program for TEENS as a response to the stress and depression that he is seeing in his teenage patients in Vancouver, Canada.

If you’ve got 3 minutes, I invite you to CLICK HERE and watch the video on Dr Vo’s mindfulness for teens website, the video is called “Youth Voices” where you’ll hear from REAL TEENS about how mindfulness has transformed their lives.

On his website, Dr. Vo also shares REE DOWNLOADABLE GUIDED MEDITATIONS

If you don’t have time to try some of these meditations right now, just pull out your calendar and schedule in 15 minutes later today to check them out.

You deserve a life that FEELS GOOD!

Be well,

Deanne

 

 

TIME magazine’s got Mindfulness covered!

MINDFULNESS: The new science of health and happiness is the title of TIME magazine’s most recent special edition.

If you’ve been wondering about the benefits of tuning in to the power of the present moment, just flip through the mag and you’ll read about how mindfulness can help to:

Save yourself from stress

Help students “get an edge” in the classroom with sharper thinking and more self-control

Boost kindness

Rest your brain from multitasking

Improve sleep

Release happy chemicals(endorphins) in the brain

Help your digestion

Reduce pain symptoms and migraines

WOW!

Mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation are also being embraced by hospitals to help patients heal and manage pain, as well as major corporations such as Nike and Google to help with employee productivity (a happy employee is a productive, creative, and engaged employee).

It’s true that paying attention to the present moment, using all of your senses is SO SIMPLE. But it’s also so easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of life that we overlook the power of SLOWING DOWN, and FOCUSING IN on just ONE THING

One breath

One sound

One beautiful sunrise.

I hope you’ll find at least 5 minutes today to savour the present moment and focus in on just ONE THING.

“Mindfulness is about putting down our juggling balls for a little bit. It’s about embracing the beauty of monotasking” – Mary Elizabeth Williams

 

Be well,

Deanne

Teens choose electric shock over spending time alone!

I was just reading Growing Up Mindful by Clinical Psychologist Christopher Willard,  and I was SHOCKED (forgive the pun) when I read that, “A recent study found that young men would rather receive ten minutes of low-level electric shocks than spend ten minutes alone with their thoughts, without electronics” (pg 3, Growing Up Mindful)

This is the heartbreaking truth for many of our teens today: They would rather CHECK OUT with social media, shopping, eating, drugs, etc, than CHECK IN with their own thoughts and emotions.

WHY? Because they have never been TAUGHT how to CHECK IN, and SHIFT their thoughts and emotions.

Checking in with your own thoughts and emotions is a CRITICAL SKILL for life which generates:

  • Authentic CONFIDENCE
  • Healthy BOUNDARIES
  • Healthy DECISION MAKING
  • EMPOWERMENT

If you are a TEEN, or the parent of a TEEN, It’s time to learn how to

CHECK IN to your authentic confidence (this doesn’t mean taking over the room, it means knowing what you stand for and not second-guessing yourself)

CHECK IN to your POWER and WISDOM

You’re invited to CHECK IN to Power Centers: Unlock the power of your LEGENDARY SELF by learning to CHECK IN not CHECK OUT

This 8 week program will guide you step-by-step through a process of CHECKING IN with yourself

CLICK HERE to register

In this 8 week series, you’ll learn how to

  1. Accept yourself
  2. Balance Creativity and Discipline
  3. Develop Authentic Confidence
  4. Love yourself
  5. Speak UP
  6. Trust yourself
  7. Connect to your Purpose
  8. Set Healthy Boundaries

I’m SO excited to share this with you!

CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

With gratitude for YOU!

Deanne

P.S. We start on Tuesday, February 21st, so don’t delay! CLICK HERE to register

What’s your current AWESOMENESS level?

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to just be so AWESOME?

DO you sometimes wish for a user’s manual to YOUR life?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tap into your LEGENDARY SELF?

You know, the parts of you that are the most awesome, the most funny, the most talented, and to make your decisions from the centre of your own awesomeness?

If you’re ready to UNLOCK the POWER of your LEGENDARY SELF, then join me for a FREE webinar training to take the first steps to YOUR authentic power.

Saturday, February 18th at 9:00 am PT

CLICK HERE to register for YOUR LEGENDARY SELF: Rock solid strategies to live YOUR life not someone else’s

In this webinar you’ll learn the first steps in

1.       Accepting yourself

2.       Balancing Creativity and Discipline

3.       Developing Authentic Confidence

4.       Loving yourself

5.       Speaking UP

6.       Trusting yourself

7.       Connecting to your Purpose

8.       Setting Healthy Boundaries

I’m SO excited to share this with you!

CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

With love,

Deanne

Looking for UNSTOPPABLE CONFIDENCE?

hey self”

“yeah”

“you suck”

****************************

“Hey voice in my head”

“yeah”

“tell me something you like about me”

“you, uh…well…”

*****************************

“Hey voice in my head”

“yeah”

“you suck”

***************************

Get OUT of this cycle of thought and turn that inner critic into your inner coach.

Join me for HEART POWER for teens: Transform your inner critic into your inner coach for authentic confidence.

This is a 3 part webinar series.January 31, February 7, February 14, 2017

CLICK HERE to register

I look forward to seeing you there!

Deanne

Finding Fulfillment in an Achievement-Driven World

What

What if you knew how to create

a fulfilling life for yourself

no matter what circumstances arise?

Teens are suffering from anxiety and depression in record numbers. Teens are under immense pressure to achieve high grades, high status in their social groups, and a long list of extra-curriculars. Parents are under pressure to perform at work, and to provide their teens with all the opportunities at sports, and dance, and drama, etc. etc., that they need to be “successful”. We are living in an achievement-driven world. We reward people for their athletic accomplishments, their physical appearance, their wealth, and their credentials. Many people who are admired for their talent, beauty, fame, and wealth are MISERABLE. So, the question is, how do we find fulfillment in an achievement-driven world?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t set goals. Everyone needs something that they are reaching for so they continue to grow and develop. Maybe, just maybe, all of this striving for something in the future needs to be balanced out by some time spent enjoying the moment.

How can I learn to enjoy the moment?

 

Stick with me, my friend, I’ll show you the way.

Parents, you need to show your teens that ADULT LIFE IS ENJOYABLE.

Teens, if you can learn to balance out striving for your goals with an ability to enjoy the moment, then you will have an AMAZING LIFE and save yourself from the anxiety and burn-out suffered by many of your peers, and the adults in your life.

What if you could really ENJOY your life?

 

Processing emotions for a PEACEFUL heart

What gives you mental PEACE?

The other day I had a rare opportunity to sleep in. I could sleep for another hour, but my mind wouldn’t let me. My head was just too full of spinning thoughts to have any chance of falling back to sleep. So I went downstairs to the treadmill and ran. The rhythmic motion of my body and the exertion of elevating my heart rate moved my anxiety out of my head, through my legs and arms, and OUT. After my run I was able to look at my to-do list with a solution driven-mindset, instead of looking at it through a lens of anxiety. None of my problems went away. What DID go away was the anxiety that was blocking me from taking the next step toward my goals.

I don’t love to run. I’m not an athletic person. But I have realised that physical activity is ONE of the ways for me to process my emotions so that I can have PEACE of mind. When I haven’t exercised, I start feeling worried and stressed.

This awareness did not come to me overnight. It wasn’t until I started developing a mindfulness practice that I became aware of the signals that my body and mind were sending to me that I needed to process my emotions.  I needed to NOTICE my emotions (and not just hide them) before I could learn how to process them. By learning to take small moments to actually BE in the present moments, I’ve learned to notice what I’m feeling. Before mindfulness, my emotions were like a beach ball that I was trying to hide under water. It took a lot of energy to keep pushing my emotions under the surface, and inevitably, I would get tired, and POP! Up surfaced all the emotions I’d been trying to hide, usually at a time when I was NOT prepared to handle them. When my anger and frustration and resentment popped to the surface, EVERYONE noticed my emotions, I would cry, or snap at my kids or my partner, or internally fume with resentment. Yikes! I’d think. How did I get here? Why did that one little thing set me off?

Practicing mindfulness has helped me to notice how I’m feeling at multiple points throughout the day so I can acknowledge my emotions and take care of them before they build up. It’s not that I don’t feel frustrated or angry anymore, it’s that I notice those emotions sooner, so I can identify WHY I’m feeling that way, and do something about it.

Here’s how YOU can start to notice your emotions:

  • Take three deep breaths and ask yourself “How am I feeling right now?”
  • Sit for 2 minutes and look out the window and tune in to your emotions
  • Write out your to-do list and then ask yourself “How does this list make me feel?”
  • Look at the emojis on your phone and ask yourself “What am I feeling?”

Once you’ve established WHAT you’re feeling, you need to figure out how to PROCESS that feeling.

How do you process your emotions?

  • Do you MOVE? Breathe deeply, talk, dance, run, kickbox, wrestle.
  • Do you use WORDS? Talk with friends, write in a journal.
  • Do you escape into STORIES? Watch a good movie, play video games, read a good book, or watch sports to go on an emotional journey so you can feel the range of your emotions.

After you’ve taken some time processing your emotions, you can reflect from a more resourceful mindset about what got you into that highly charged state. This is the time when you might need to take action in your life by making a phone call, scheduling some time for yourself, or setting a boundary. This way, you are truly responding to the circumstances of your life.

The skill of NOTICING your emotions and the skill of PROCESSING your emotions are critical for teens who are experiencing their emotions on high volume. Often we feel like our emotions are happening TO us, when in reality, our emotions are moving THROUGH us, to give us information about what we need to attend to in our lives. The more adults who can remind teens that their emotions give them VALUABLE INFORMATION, and the more adults who can help teens find a way to PROCESS their emotions, the more resourceful our teens will become. Teens will understand that their emotions aren’t happening TO them, they are happening FOR them to pay attention to their needs.

A peaceful heart can be cultivated by noticing and processing your emotions.