By Kevin A. Sensenig

The mind and body are inseparable. But so is the person and the tree outside the window.

They might be distinguished in terms of time: at this time, both mind and body are functioning
together, and the tree is not (now) visible. Yet, it is mind and body and tree that is functioning.
So what is relevant, at any given time? So long as the tree is (safely) outside – and not through – the
window (say from a strong wind), perhaps one’s contemplation is relevant, considering the room or a
book before one. Or perhaps one’s consciousness-and-action (one) are relevant, to an act. And is this
act one of not yet having gone, going, or having gone? Recall again that in an act, consciousness and
action are one.[1]

Or perhaps the tree is firmly standing, and the sun is up, and there is the clear sky and a shadow on the
ground: and you can see the tree, and notice, and reflect.

Is a realization relevant? Do things seem the same, or similar? Do things seem different, or has there
been a change? Is there another person in the room and is there the relational, with or without that
person?  These are all perceptions of the mind, and the mind is inseparable from the body.

These types of things serve to define or guide or raise awareness of where we find ourselves here in the
world, and what we ascertain or work with. Such reflection is, I feel, useful in determining deeper
truths and perceptions; and these in terms inform our further thoughts, and speech and action. How

This indicates ways we can work with what I call ‘all of the above’, and provides one potential
background for it. Mental states, emotive states, intentional states, and physical states. Thought space,
energy states, perception, speech and action, and patterns of speech and action. The relational and the
infinite-relational between things. The issues of the mental, existential, social, societal, experiential,
and physical. The grades of dilemma or centeredness or joy we might have for these; and including
significant dilemma, part dilemma, no dilemma, and no-dilemma.

The philosophical, the spiritual, the psychological, the speculative on how we think and why, the
narrative, open dialogues, the medicinal, and financial and social resources may in all or in part serve to
be part of this.
Your situation, or a situation you’ve found yourself in, may be relevant; and so might your own or
another’s contribution to your then-situation, or present-situation, or future-situation. Many things may
be involved, including you; and again if you can penetrate to the infinite-relational, you may see more
dynamic possibilities and realities emerge.

When we start to scrutinize these things, and our feelings and perceptions, and our thought, speech, and
action, as things to consider, and their results and outcomes, and what is really happening in the
relational, we may be able to help sort and straighten things out. Greater clarity and deeper insight
might be a goal and natural outcome.

We as individuals are involved. Others are involved. The mental and the physical worlds are involved.
We might seek to be participant in this world, and look for resource and reflection and engagement to
be able to do so. With just the right type of waiting, or action, or reflection, this type of thing may
happen, and you may find yourself participant in a new or different way. This type of reflection – and
stillness or latent activity or manifest action – may lead to joy and centeredness, out of dilemma and
sadness, or to help others, out of compassion or lovingkindness, or simply a desire to share an informal

I’ve been through the psych system. I’m still working with it. Meaning and orientation were key. I’d
suggest looking to those among your psych team and organizations and advocates, family and friends,
church and mosque and temple and sangha and secular group, and in society, who can provide these.

Along with ‘all of the above’.

All the best.

1. These comments on an act, consciousness, and action are from Nagarjuna, in his book
“Fundamental Wisdom Of The Middle Way”, translated by Nishijima. Nagarjuna was a ca. 250 CE
Indian Buddhist meditator and philosopher.


My Bipolar Story

Written by Greggo

I used to be mentally ill, now I’m mentally fit.

We’ll cover to that “used to be” in a bit. First let me share the beginnings of my fall into bipolar madness.


 In 1992, while living in Los Angeles, a depression appeared in my life. Without expecting it and without knowing why, I would cry. It happened most frequently during my morning commute. Then in the parking lot outside my job, I would push it down and go in to work. One particular life event triggered the emotional fits: my thirtieth birthday. Turning 30 meant real adulthood. But I didn’t feel grown. I still felt like a baby. I yearned for parenting from a father who had never taken care of me (and never would).

Two options came to mind as curative measures: check into a hospital, or move back to New York City. I chose the latter. In New York my family and friends, i.e. my support system, would sustain me.

That cure included an extraordinarily therapeutic cross-country road trip with my mother. She flew to L.A. and helped me pack my apartment, then we hit the road for home.

Ten days driving across the United States gave us unlimited quality time to talk about everything that bothered me. I backed myself away from the ledge.

Fast forward a few years. I had relocated to Barcelona. The crying spells returned. My girlfriend had broken up with me. Heartbreak equals sadness equals tears.

But what stands out most to me about my five years in Spain is the fun: becoming fluent in Spanish and dancing salsa. The first time in what would become my favorite Barcelona salsa club, the music, the vibe penetrated and took up residence in my soul. When I danced, my mind turned off. I focused on the music and my dance partner, and not on the fact that I didn’t work regularly and didn’t eat enough.

I mention all this to paint a picture. I wasn’t just home alone slumped on the living room floor crying over lost love. A lot of good and a bit of bad filled those years. I just didn’t know where the bad came from or what it meant. At the time, I dismissed it as relationship woes.

I characterize those isolated depressive episodes as slides down the hill.

In 2001 I fell off the cliff.

My Bipolar Side

A suicide attempt got me hospitalized and officially diagnosed bipolar. Now I know what triggered it. My mother had recently died and, much more subtly, a relationship that on the surface had rescued me in Spain, turned out to be unhealthy. It was pushing all my buttons. I felt trapped. But not just trapped in the relationship, trapped in life. At the time, I didn’t (consciously) identify the root cause of the problem, and even if I had, I didn’t have the life-management skills to rectify the situation.

My diagnosis marked the official start of my journey through bipolar. From then until I declared myself cured in 2013 I experienced subsequent suicide attempts and hospital stays, job firings, an eviction, a divorce (which ultimately may have been positive, but nonetheless is disruptive) and many other jolts. Bipolar illness is characterized by extreme emotional ups and downs. The downs obviously mean depression. The ups don’t necessarily mean happy. The mania at the opposite end from depression is closer to a super-sizzle rush of emotions, too much and too strong to be considered positive. That’s bipolar illness: ups and downs to the extreme. Sometimes all in a month, week or day.

Fortunately, through that entire period, I also had the steady thread of a great support system, good fortune with varying regimens of medications, and years’ worth of quality therapy.

Mental Health America of Lancaster County

Part of that support entailed a weekly support group sponsored by Mental Health America of Lancaster County. They held a free bipolar support meeting where participants could talk about our experiences that week in particular or in general without fear of reprisals. No one gave us advice about what to do or not do, we just talked and shared. That process of talking and listening was therapeutic. We connected. We learned that we weren’t alone, that we were unique and not just statistics or undistinguished patients undergoing cookie cutter treatment modalities. We learned coping strategies and formed a supportive community of friends. Ten years after having participated in those weekly sessions, I’m still friends and in touch with group members.

My Personal Bipolar Cure

By 2011 I had improved to where I no longer needed meds. Then in 2013 I moved to Colombia. And kept getting better until mental illness ceased to be an active concern in my life. I left bipolar behind. How?

The primary impetus behind regaining my health grew out of an unforeseen consequence of the illness itself. Getting fired from a number of jobs caused financial instability. Lack of cash meant I couldn’t keep my car in optimal working shape. When registration renewal rolled around, the car needed repairs and maintenance beyond my sparse means. I sold the it and became a pedestrian. There were buses, but we’re talking Lancaster, PA, not New York City. Sometimes the next bus wouldn’t be for another two hours, or four hours, or until the next morning. I gave up my car, I didn’t give up my life. When there wasn’t a bus, I walked. I walked in good weather. I walked in bad weather. Sometimes I would walk as many as eight miles in a day. Wash, rinse, repeat, day after day for months.

Consistent exercise outdoors stimulated my body to produce the chemicals necessary for balanced, healthy brain functioning. Mood-stabilizing medication and anti-depressants stopped being necessary.

Those healthy practices stayed with me in my life in Colombia. I continued to progress to the point where therapy could also be eliminated.


Now almost at the end of 2018, by all accounts I’m thriving. That might not be the exact right word to use. I’ve had ups and downs, but nothing compared to that experienced at the peak (or valley!) of my grapplings with bipolar. Am I always happy? No. But who is?! Don’t we all have down days? Tough days? Mondays? My ups and downs are those normal to any 21st century human, and I’ve moved through them without medication, therapy, hospitalization, and even without stopping the day-to-day hustle called life. Hmmm, maybe thriving is the right word.

I haven’t written about bipolar in nearly all my five years in Colombia. Bipolar is my past and these days I get to focus on my present: living in and traveling around a beautiful, South American country.

That’s it. The story ends with me smiling and happy. My life is balanced. That sounds like cured to me. It certainly feels like cured.


Greggo is a writer living in Colombia, South America. He blogs about his experiences (including those connected to bipolar) and Colombian culture and lifestyle at On Colombia  He also helps folks relocate to Colombia or otherwise improve their lives right where they are.

“On Colombia” link to his blog:


Help bring mental illness out of the closet.

Written and Submitted by Kathy Swisher

May of 2018 was the 15th anniversary of my Dad’s suicide. 

A very similar story, although I wasn’t lucky enough to have had my family stand by me through that incredibly difficult period. When I got the call at work, I was frozen, catatonic, I couldn’t speak, move, nothing. My partner, Shell, came to pick me up and take me home. The very thought of going directly to my Dad’s house was out of the question. I had not seen my Dad for 18 months prior to this event. 

Why? Because I couldn’t stop trying to get him help and he didn’t like it. I was ostracized for reasons that never made sense to me then or now. No one in my family believed that he had Mental Illness or they chose to ignore it. I was never to know which. Time has passed and wounds have healed, but I will never forget the pain my families decisions caused me. 

My Dad was never formally diagnosed, but it was easy for me (a consumer) to see what he would have been diagnosed with had I been successful in getting him to seek help. His Mental Illness had morphed into something dark and unpredictable after 911 happened. I believed that he had anxiety issues, bipolar, ptsd, and a form Schizophrenia. He was hearing voices at that point (after 911). He had no support as my Stepmother never believed that he had a mental illness at all. It was an incredibly difficult journey that may not have happened had I been successful in my attempts to get Dad help and had some sort of support from my siblings and Stepmother. That was not to be. 

Dad was the 3rd suicide on that side of the family in 30 years. To this day, mental illness still lives in the closet. I continue to fight to bring it into the light of day within my family. I have a brother who is diagnosed but non-compliant, a brother who has Schizo-affective disorder and is institutionalized, my other siblings have mental illness of varying levels, although they would never admit it. If you can do anything within your own family to bring mental illness out of the closet and into the open, find a way to do it!!! You may save a life as a result. 

Too many people are ending their lives too soon and it is shameful to think that you could have done something about it and chose not to. Their lives are too important. Thanks for letting me have a small voice here. I appreciated your story/journey. Peace~

Kathy Swisher 


Thoughts On Illumination This Morning

Thoughts On Illumination, This Morning
By Kevin A. Sensenig

This morning I looked again out the window in my apartment and saw that the sun had illuminated a spot on the otherwise dark-grayish woods, and that some of the tree bark shined brightly.  As I studied the subtle yet striking image, it brought to mind how we can find illumination in what someone is saying, has said, or has written.  We can also find illumination in the world and space around us.  We can find illumination in music.  Where do you find illumination?  Is it in what your friend is saying?  A therapist?  A psychiatrist?  A government leader?  A philosopher?  A novelist?  A musician?  A teacher?  A parent?  A scientist?  It occurred to me how there are so many ways that we can sense, see, perceive, find meaning in, and work with that which illuminates.

A further thought occurred to me.  If the woods are dark, it obscures things, and it hides things.  We do this too.  Of all our vast experience, each of us shares only a little with anyone at any one time.  We are careful, or spontaneous, and we share what we feel like, or want to, or feel obligated to.  This hiding is only natural, and in fact the thing ‘concept’ works in this way, as well.  When one concept comes into view, others will recede, or appear as interconnected webs of construct, the unfolding, and meaning.  One concept may hide another, and that other may appear later.  Or the first concept may reference a second, and that yet another.  Fields of concept may work this way, or each concept distinctly, “unto itself’.  When either the hiding we have is present, in its natural or intelligent way, or concept hides concept, and its relational occurs, illumination may appear, as either an expression that you do in fact make that suits a situation, or as another concept that one can work with, and that concept finds expression.

This is profound, and occurs in a mental- and thought- and awareness- and being- space.  It is of- you, and of- others.  This resonant, subjective experience could be so significant to realize, and may awaken an entire logic and creativity, all to its own.  And this is another way to be participant in this world.



A Day In The Life

A Day in the Life

Written By Gail L Stoltzfoos

A Poet and Writer In Mental Health Recovery

Author of:  My Treasured Gifts from God


To relate one of my days as a bipolar I must

begin the night before as I settle into my bed.

It’s often a coin toss whether it will be “sleep or bust”

long nights spent awake are the ones I most dread.


Best intentions, a sleep aid, even total exhaustion

are no guarantee that it will be sweet rest that I’ll find.

Thinking ‘mind over matter’ will the battle help me win

often does nothing to help, and isn’t that awfully unkind?


Looking into the next day’s calendar then has to become

an exercise in rearranging tasks for that much needed nap.

Sometimes it all seems too much to bear – I just go numb,

worn out from this endless dance I am always trying to tap.


When I worked, my brain would seek for some excuse

that would satisfy a boss’ query without telling the truth

that I suffer from a disorder that puts my head in a noose –

forgive if the imagery is too coarse and rather uncouth.


Who wants to tell others you were awake all night

as you ‘cycled high’ within your sick, racing mind?

Mentioning mental disease is met with that look of fright,

or worse, with harsh words both uncaring and unkind.


Now it’s morning and as others face their new day,

I’m trudging through the motions, daydreaming of sleep.

Once again wishing there could just be a simpler way

to live as others do with a set schedule I could keep.


The house needs cleaning, the mail pile is shockingly high

as I settle in front of the tube ignoring the undone chores.

Facing any small task today simply makes me sigh

as I escape the world cocooning safely indoors.


Feeding my hungry husband seems to be such a bother;

harder still is hiding myself behind this mask I wear.

Worried he’s wishing he would have married another;

fearful he will take notice and seek my emotions to bare.


Guilt my constant companion as the evening settles in –

I’ve accomplished nothing – almost too worn out to care.

Depression my first feeling as the next day I begin;

often content to remain idle as I simply sit and stare.


The ‘crash and burn’ is worse than any hangover

ever felt when young enough to chose that wrong path.

At least this disease does keep me straight and sober!

Adding drugs or alcohol would be very, very bad math.


The reality that this is how I will always and ever be:

relying upon medicines to adjust my daily mood

is, perhaps, the biggest ‘downer’ that saddens me.

Yet, the key to overcoming is to not just sit and brood.


Does it seem an endless hamster wheel existence to you?

Without my God to sustain I would be quite a mess!

He provides strength and courage; walks with me too –

 easing my pain as he does my life sweetly bless.


My trials are minuscule compared to what so many face

who struggle with handicaps; awful injuries that maim.

This truth humbles me; forces my mind to staunchly brace

against the truth that it’s my bewildered mind that is lame.


I am thankful for the times I live in which do offer me

medicines that help control this frightful disease.

In days past I’d have been imprisoned; not living free…

this fact alone thankfully brings me to my knees.


Yes, it’s challenging to live as if on a roller coaster:

soaring high, feeling low – emotions oft’ beyond my control.

That’s why I keep blessings written in view on a poster;

asking the Lord’s protection for my struggling human soul.


I Am The Shooter

Written on March 5, 2018 by anonymous teen who hopes to create a better understanding.

White. Six feet tall. Male. Patient is prone to anger and aggression while having a low tolerance for frustration. He has a history of anti-social behavior resulting in issues with the criminal justice system and a rejection of societal norms. In addition to this, the patient displays signs of having a substance abuse disorder as well as chronic mental illness.

The description could be for any one of the ascending number of school shooters, or other mass shooters for that matter, that America has witnessed in the 24 years since my birth. On the other hand, my parents would also read a description of their son. In fact, after one nationally acknowledged shooting, my mother commented to me that she used to worry that I would be one of those kids (she has since said she doesn’t remember, but it’s not the type of thing you forget when your mom says). She did not mean a victim. 

When a psychiatrist told me at the age of 15 that mental illness was something I’d probably struggle with the rest of my life, I was in no state of mind to hear it. This was after two years of dealing with it either on my own or with outpatient therapy. I was angry and informed my parents that I was not going to see him again. There may have been some profanity and name calling edited out in my retelling of how I handled the news. 

Less than a year later I become addicted to self-mutilation in the form of cutting myself while barely eating and sneaking shots of vodka when I could before extra curricular school functions where I’d have to be social. I personally doubted that I would live to see high school graduation, especially since a few years earlier I had attempted suicide twice. While I have managed to get treatment, the years since have seen downward spirals with various amounts of self-medicating, run ins with the law including an arrest for DUI, and a stay in a psychiatric hospital for being suicidal. 

This past year I read Dave Cullen’s definitive work, Columbine, which was written in 2010 investigating the details of the shooting that took place in April of 1999. It was an intensely disturbing read where, through Dylan and Eric, I came to grips with a reality about myself: I am the shooter.

I am the person who becomes a scapegoat for those on the right who need someone to pin the latest tragic shooting on; the person who those on the left ‘de-legitimatize’ and stigmatize for cheap political points by calling into question Trump’s mental health; and I am the person who this country has repeatedly left behind because there is no mentally ill voting block or lobbying presence. 

In a time when oppressed groups are making their voices heard and the raw privilege of white men is being fully exposed, the irony is not lost on me that I, a white man, feel envious of movements like those of Black Lives Matter and #metoo/Women’s March. I am envious that no one questions that they are fighting for something, that there is wide recognition of their struggle. While not everyone agrees with them, there is a common social consciousness related to them that those of us fighting mental illness are not afforded. 

We, the mentally ill, account for over half of all prisoners in the US (which has more prisoners than any other country), making the prison system the largest treater of mental illness in the country. To add injury to insult, we’re also significantly more likely to be the victim of police brutality.

A disproportionate number of us end up living in poverty, often without the means to receive or seek treatment. Many of us, especially those who are without treatment, struggle to hold down jobs for extended periods of time. In many cases, those of us who do not receive treatment end up self-medicating with various forms of drugs and/or alcohol which exacerbates our condition. A significant percentage of the homeless population are persons who have mental illness.

In the end, over 40,000 people take their own life each year in America and almost all of them suffer from mental illness. The most common method of suicide? The gun. Roughly half of people taking their life choose a gun as their passage of choice. Its efficiency makes it devastating and leaves few surviving the attempt. Each year over 20,000 of us pull the trigger on ourselves, accounting for two thirds of all gun fatalities. 

Ted Bundy said in his death row interviews, “Society wants to believe it can identify evil people – or bad or harmful people – but it’s not practical. There are no stereotypes.”  He was right. 

It has become the narrative and the stereotype that the white mass shooter is mentally ill, which adds to the public perception and stigma that we are violent and dangerous. Yes, some shooters who hurt innocent people are mentally ill, but our country- our society for that matter- should keep in mind that while that may be the case, almost all mentally ill shooters take only one life.

I am the shooter. 


Finding Strength; Lessons From An Ice Hockey Game

By Kevin A. Sensenig

I was once watching an ice hockey game, and the defense was having trouble finding position,
and was outnumbered. Their opponents were pressing in with their offense. But the defense kept
pushing back, until it could find enough players to form a coherent setup, and proceeded to
defend quite well. I also learned something: I learned to recognize a weak defensive setup, and
then recognized a strong, distributed defense, where all the plays were covered. So I learned
something about ice hockey.

There are 2 lessons here: 1) it can take some time, and strategy, to set up a coherent defense, or
position; and 2) one can learn from weakness, and recognize a strong position, what that looks
like.  This all occurs also in the mind. Thus, by reviewing the picture of events, perceptions, and views
as they unfold, about this or that in one’s life, one can set up a relational picture that is stronger
and more dynamic, and better prepared, and more deeply participant. One can see the individual
people and perceptions and how they are relative, and how this applies. Also, one can recognize
the weak perception or viewpoint, or language, and better understand, “Aha! That’s how I can
work with such and such.”

Such moments are palpable, and carry a real sense of “being-with”
events and people and thought and speech and action, within and part of the world around one.
This may be helpful in the case of dilemma. It is within dilemma that we can recognize a need. It
is within both dilemma and not-dilemma that we can be actively part-of with the world, and
participant with it, including others, perceptions, and events. Resources, including from others,
and mental resources, are key.


Considering Alternative Paths Toward Mental Health

Considering Alternative Paths Towards Mental Health 

By Jane Sandwood

It is interesting to see conventional science turn increasingly to ‘mind-body’ pursuits such as yoga, Tai Chi, or meditation, to enhance mental health. It might have something to do with the fact that research over the past decade has been so conclusive; these activities have been found to reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, leading them to be recommended in various settings, including cancer recovery, substance abuse rehabilitation, and even treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this post, we take our cue from doctors who are increasingly opening the doors to spiritual pursuits, in an attempt to highlight the connection between spirituality and mental health.

Spirituality: The Missing Link in Mental Wellbeing

Various studies have been carried out on the link between spirituality and happiness. One 2009 study suggested that spirituality (rather than religious practices) determined how happy children were. Another groundbreaking 2010 study, meanwhile, found that there is a ‘secret ingredient’ in spirituality that makes us generally happier. The key, it seems, is stress relief, as well as the support we often receive from fellow believers.

It is vital to differentiate spirituality from religion. In essence, spirituality involves believing in a powerful life force that unites all sentient things and does not necessarily involved organized belief systems.

There are many ways to deepen spirituality: one is through nature, which psychologists like Jung believed to be crucial to making human beings understand our essential need to believe in something deeper.

Practises such as tarot readings can boost our mental health as well, not because they are meant to help us discover future events, but rather, because they boost introspection: the ability to better understand our own beliefs, desires, and actions. Tarot and other ‘energetically based’ techniques such as Reiki also encourage us to use our own intuition, which many practitioners believe is like a muscle that needs to be used often to be enhanced.

Finally, yoga, which is a deeply spiritual pursuit, has been found to lower symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, leading it to become the ‘it’ activity for stressed-out executives and employees alike.

Art Therapy

This therapy is used particularly in settings in which communication and self-awareness needs to be enhanced, such as is the case in substance abuse rehabilitation. One of the most powerful features of art is its ability to be interpreted in many ways. Therapists often use works created by patients to point out their ambiguous feelings about quitting the use of substances. Often, it is not a clear-cut decision, and it is important to address the negative feelings people can have about taking this important step.


Through this therapy, clients/patients enter into a heightened state of awareness and deep relaxation. The uses of hypnotherapy extend beyond stress reduction. They include battling phobias, quitting smoking and other addictive habits, and making other important lifestyle changes.

Music Therapy

Listening and playing music reduces stress, helps us access our creativity and emotions, improves our memory and boosts our cognitive abilities in many ways. Psychological and neuroscientific research has pointed to a link between musical training in childhood and the enhancement of verbal abilities and general reasoning skills, but it never is too late to avail of its benefits.

Research on older adults, for instance, found that music can promote better mood, offer opportunities for social interaction, increase communication in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, and reduce stress and anxiety. Benefits arise even when we just listen to music, so make sure to enjoy a few minutes of your favorite sounds a day.

So-called ‘alternative’ means to better mental health are increasingly gaining ground in conventional settings. It is vital to embrace the benefits of these practises as well on an individual basis, so we can help keep stress-related illness such as depression and anxiety at bay.


4 Exercises that Will Blow Away the Winter Blues

By Jane Sandwood

As the leaves fall down and the air grows colder, do you feel yourself becoming sluggish and blue? Well, this might be because you’re experiencing the winter blues. As a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the winter blues is characterized as low mood, depression, and exhaustion associated with the lack of sunlight during winter months. It affects 14 percent of the United States and can put a real downer on your holiday season.


However, you don’t have to be consumed by the winter blues. Instead, you can beat it with daily exercise. Check out these four workouts that are sure to help you feeling happier this winter.

1.  Run a Marathon

Exercise promotes positive mental health and running is one of the best ways to harness this positivity. Running outside provides you with much needed Vitamin D to increase your body’s energy level. However, if you’re like most of the world, it can be hard to motivate yourself to run outside in the cold. Therefore, you should sign up for a marathon to motivate you to train. The best way of getting over the blues is to not let it bring you down. So, by spending more time outside, your brain will reinforce the idea that you’re going to embrace all of the seasons. 

2.  Swimming

A great way to beat the winter blues is to take up an activity that isn’t affected by the weather outside. By swimming in an indoor pool, you’re working your whole body which can increase energy and reduce low mood. After your session, head to the steam room or Jacuzzi to get some warmth to stimulate the summer season.

3.  Sign Up for a Dance Class

According to Psychology Today, dancing improves brain functions, forces concentration, and promotes cognitive learning. By signing up for a class you’re also getting out of your home and meeting new people. Dancing in social settings can release endorphins that reduce stress, pain and the winter blues.

4.  Ski or Snowboard

Embracing the change in temperature and climate can do wonders for your mood. So, take advantage of the snow and head to the slopes. Skiing and snowboarding will make you feel as though you conquered the season and have been scientifically proven to reduce chemicals that fuel symptoms of depression. Snow sports also combine aerobic activity and strength building, which is known to improve mental clarity and help you think.

You don’t have to be cooped up inside your home this winter. Instead, embrace the cold season and beat those blues.


Social Media & Technology: The Impact on Mental Health

Social Media & Technology: The Impact on Mental Health
By Jane Sandwood

Thinking about a healthy lifestyle to aid mental health often focuses on diet, exercise, and sleep – and with good reason. All these factors have been proven many times over to impact on an individual’s mental wellbeing, as well as their physical health. 

However, it is also important to look at behavioural factors. The enormous growth of technology, smartphones, and social media in recent years has also been proven to have an impact on mental health, with studies finding positive correlations between high ‘smartphone addiction’ scores and depression levels, anxiety, and sleep quality. 

Technology in your day

Be mindful about your technology usage and think about how you can manage it better. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to go off-grid and shun everything powered by electricity, but you can achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle by doing things in moderation. Think critically about your technology usage during the day and what you can do to make less stressful.

  • You might not be able to avoid technology at work, so be sure to schedule in regular breaks away from your desk for a short walk or chat with a co-worker.
  • Reduce email stress by setting aside blocks of time to deal with them, rather than responding to each one as it comes in.
  • Try switching off your phone – work or personal – for a few hours in the evening or at weekends, to reduce the temptation to be constantly checking it.

There are several different programmes which you can add to computers or smart devices which monitor and restrict your usage of other apps, helping you to disconnect more fully. 

Sociable or stressful

Social media is a particular facet of modern technology which can have a big impact on mental health. While great for connecting friends and family around the world and enabling sharing of photos and videos on a huge scale, it can come with a price. A study carried out on undergraduates in Utah reported that Facebook use is linked to participants’ impression that other users are happier and more content about life. 

Becoming fixated on the physical appearance, material possessions, or life experiences of others in comparison to oneself can exacerbate many mental issues including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should deactivate all your accounts, as the ease of contacting friends and family for support is a great tool. Instead, reflect on your usage of different platforms and maybe take a break from actively posting, liking, or commenting, and use direct message functions instead for a while.

Effectively combatting mental difficulties is a different process for everyone. Adopting a holistic approach and reviewing diet, exercise, and sleep patterns is a good place to start – and while technology and social media are unlikely to single-handedly cause mental issues they can certainly exacerbate the problem, so being mindful about your usage of those platforms is also advised.