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The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Eve has become more than just a holiday or a time to party for many of us. We look at it as not only a celebration of the past year, or in the case of 2020, a celebration that it is finally over, but also as a chance for a fresh start. So while we go into the new year with resolutions and the best of intentions to keep them, it doesn’t take most of us very long to give up. In fact, about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. One possible explanation for this is that many people tend to be hoping for a quick fix instead of realistic, achievable, and lasting change, and therefore lack the necessary motivation and commitment to keep their resolutions. 

When making resolutions simply in the spirit of celebration without any real thought into what it takes to achieve them, the enthusiasm and effort felt at the beginning of the year begin to quickly wane. With our inevitable lack of progress towards achieving our resolutions, we soon end up reverting back to old habits. This can be very discouraging and lead many people to believe that they simply do not possess the necessary skills and abilities to achieve positive and lasting change, but maybe the reality is that most new year’s resolutions are flawed to begin with. By setting a specific future date to implement changes implies that we will only begin to make changes once that date arrives rather than doing it now, and there is simply no logic in that. All of us are works in progress so we should strive to implement change into our lives on a regular basis, not just once a year. 

So instead of making resolutions this new year, incorporate healthy behaviour into your everyday life by setting goals along with strategies for achieving them. The difference between a goal and a resolution is that a resolution is a decision to (not) do a specific behaviour while a goal is a series of planned out steps designed to help you achieve the end result you are aiming for. In this respect, creating specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals, instead of new year’s resolutions, is the key to long-term success and growth. Below are some guidelines for how you change your life for the better starting today:

  • Decide and commit to making a change.
  • Start immediately, do not wait for new year’s day to come around. There is no better time than the present moment.
  • Set realistic goals and when necessary, break them down into smaller, more easily achievable goals. Once you start achieving these smaller goals, you will be motivated to keep moving towards your bigger, seemingly hard to reach goals.
  • Document what you want to achieve.
  • Have a strategy or system in place for achieving your goals and identify possible obstacles or areas for potential set-backs. Your enthusiasm and motivation may wane over time but you can mitigate their effect by having a plan in place to push through. 
  • Be as specific as possible when setting goals and make sure that they are specific, measurable, and have a deadline. 
  • Understand that true purpose of what you want to achieve.
  • Do not overshoot! Select the 1 or 2 goals that are most important to you and focus on them. Once you see that you are able to achieve these, you will be more motivated to continue setting goals and working towards improving your life – throughout the year. 
  • Adopt a mindset of absolute belief and faith that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.

Starting 2021 with no New Year’s resolutions can be a liberating experience of getting what you really want. By setting goals throughout the year, you are giving yourself permission to make incremental progress and enjoy the process instead of getting wrapped up in the outcomes. Small steps become enjoyable and you adopt a growth mindset instead of judging yourself for perceived failures. Real change comes when you know your desired outcome and commit to making your goals a reality. Get everything you want this year and every year, by deciding to set and achieve goals that truly matter to you.

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The Reason You Feel “SAD” During The Winter

The winter season is now upon us, which for some may mean a noticeable  change in our mood. With the sun setting early now and the cold weather taking over, it’s not uncommon to  experience a decrease in motivation and more frequent depressive episodes during this time.

The month of December shines light on Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as the acronym, “SAD”. This disorder is a type of depression that arises during the change in season. Most people who experience SAD feel their energy being depleted and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. On the rare occasion, people may experience depression caused by SAD during the spring or early summer months too. 

Symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feelings of depression as the winter season progresses
  • Low energy
  • Lack of sleep or oversleeping
  • Losing interest and motivation
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss/gain
  • Sluggish and anxious feelings 
  • Suicidal thoughts

The cause of SAD may be due to the reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter months, a decrease in serotonin levels due to the lack of sunlight, and the body’s level of melatonin becoming disrupted.

If you experience severe symptoms of SAD and do not get treated, it can possibly lead to worse problems such as:

  • Problems at work or school
  • Substance Abuse 
  • Extreme suicidal thoughts or behaviour 
  • Other mental health disorders

Light therapy, medication and psychotherapy are options of treatment you may want to look into if you’re experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Of course it is normal to have some days of feeling down, but if you feel it an overwhelming amount of times and just can’t get yourself back to normal, you should highly consider seeing a doctor or counselling service. 

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Safety Planning for Victims of Domestic Abuse

It might seem overwhelming to prepare a safety plan when you wish to leave an abusive relationship. Here are some tips for those who are thinking about starting their path to a safer place: 

  • If it is safe to do so, always have a phone accessible and know what numbers to call for help, including friends or family and your local shelter. Know where the nearest public phone is located. 
  • Plan and practice with your children and identify a safe place where they can go during moments of crisis, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house.  
  • Back your car into your driveway when you park at home and ensure your gas is at a full tank. If possible, keep the driver’s door unlocked with the rest of the doors locked to allow for quick access to the vehicle. 
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know about your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you might need their help. Give them clear instructions on who you do or do not want them to contact in moments of crisis, including law enforcement. 
  • When preparing to go to a shelter, if you can, call ahead to see what the shelter’s policies are. They can give you information on how they can help, and how to secure a space when it’s time to leave. 
  • Have a backup plan if your partner finds out about your plan. 
  • What to bring:  
    • Driver’s license or Ontario Photo Card 
    • Social insurance card 
    • Health card 
    • Birth certificate and children’s birth certificates 
    • Financial information 
    • Money and/or credit cards (in your name) 
    • Checking and/or savings account books 
    • Protective order, if applicable 
    • Copies of any lease or rental agreements or the deed to your home 
    • Car registration and insurance papers 
    • Health and life insurance papers 
    • Medical records for you and your children 
    • School records 
    • Work permits/passport/visas/immigration papers 
    • Any legal documents, including divorce and custody papers 
    • Marriage license 
    • Medications and refills (if possible) 
    • Emergency items, like food, bottles of water, and a first aid kit 
    • Multiple changes of clothes for you and your children 
    • Emergency money 
    • Address book 
    • Extra sets of house and car keys 
    • Pictures and sentimental items 
    • Valuable items, such as jewelry 
    • Safe cell phone, if necessary 
    • Numbers of your attorney, local domestic violence program or shelter, local doctor’s office and hospital, criminal legal resources, children’s school

You might want to consider keeping copies of these items at a friend’s place so it won’t raise suspicion if found by your abuser and in case your abuser decides to destroy these items as they may anticipate your plan to escape.

 No matter the severity of your situation, just know that you are not overreacting or being drastic. Signs of abuse can begin to show up in small ways, so it’s important to be mindful, watchful and prepared at all costs. You are not alone. There is a world of support to help and encourage you through your circumstance.

For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/plan-your-safety.html