mental health

Taking Extra Care of Your Family Pets During Quarantine
Read through these suggestions for making the most of the COVID-19 lockdown with your pets and making sure they get the love they deserve.

Read through these suggestions for making the most of the COVID-19 lockdown with your pets and making sure they get the love they deserve.

The COVID-19 pandemic might be taxing on human beings, but it is a unique situation for the furry members of the family as well. Cats and dogs are experiencing an unprecedented period of time during which owners are home all hours, which can bring about a mixture of excitement and confusion. Though you’re likely showing a bit of extra love and affection to your pets lately, there are specific ways you can encourage a calm, relaxed attitude when things are tense. Consider these tips and learn how you can best take care of your pets during lockdown.

Pets with a Ton of Energy

Is your dog running around the house more than usual? Have you noticed that the pup is more demanding of your attention throughout the day? Most of the time, dogs are conditioned to be chill during the day when owners are at work or taking care of errands. This is evident in the bursts of energy that a dog has when the family returns to the house. Of course, this is no longer the case for most households. With the family constantly present, a dog might not know how to react and need to suddenly work through these emotions.

While the simple solution to an overactive pup is a walk, you’re definitely not going to be able to keep up with the demands your dog is placing on you during this time. Instead, try to dedicate small chunks of time to play whenever possible. Helping your dog work through its excitement in a healthy, controlled way can limit the odds of the habit persisting throughout the entire lockdown.

A Cat With a Message

Cats are fickle creatures with seriously vindictive personality traits. If you offend a cat in a specific way, you can expect feline retribution. What’s worse, you might not realize what you did wrong. Since most cats are solitary ambush predators that don’t enjoy being in a crowd all day, your constant presence in the house might be seen as an affront. This can manifest in many ways, including a kitty who decides to forego the litter box in order to send you a specific message. Missing the litter box on purpose is a sign your cat is literally pissed.

Since you can’t talk this problem out with your cat and you can’t leave the house the way you usually would, you need to get creative with your approach. In most cases, the cat will decide to pee on items of personal significance to you. This can be shoes, a piece of clothing, or even furniture. To curb the habit, invest in a spray meant to deter cats from this action. When your cat gets a whiff of the spray, it will likely stop showing its frustration in this way.

The Loneliness Is Real

People need other people. Science shows that physical contact and emotional connection play an integral part in a person’s overall health. What most people don’t realize is that the same can be true for pets. Dogs in particular become accustomed to receiving attention from other humans during walks and outings. When this comes to a halt due to social distancing measures, the dog might feel or act depressed from this lack of contact. Showing your pup some extra love during moments when he or she seems bummed can help to distract from whatever lethargic feelings have come about.

While cats and dogs might be loving the added hours with the family, there are bound to be some bumps along the way. When you notice a peculiar habit developing with your pet, address the issue and come up with a sensible solution. Showing this level of love and attention to your furry pals can be a good way to make this difficult time easier on even the smallest members of your group.

Staying Grounded During Upsetting Times
Especially during this time of pandemic, it can be easy to feel less grounded and unsettled, so consider these suggestions for regaining focus.

Especially during this time of pandemic, it can be easy to feel less grounded and unsettled, so consider these suggestions for regaining focus.

Life can easily throw some surprises your way when you least expect it. If you find yourself distracted all the time with a total lack of focus, it could be because you’re not feeling as grounded as you normally are. This happens to almost everyone from time to time, so there is no need to get frustrated with what you’re experiencing. From suddenly becoming less coordinated to finding yourself daydreaming more often than not, there are a number of reasons feeling ungrounded can impact your daily routine.

Though it might come as a surprise, there are many different ways for you to stay grounded and feel stable again. All you need to do is take a moment to explore some of these simple practices and see what tactics can bring you back to reality when you need the help.

Get Up and Move

Exercise can do wonders for a restless spirit. When you can’t gather your thoughts or feel totally unfocused, a bit of physical fitness might be able to help. On one hand, taking advantage of this idea can be a fantastic way to focus your mind on a very specific task. When you start running, lifting, or spinning, it can force your body to start producing hormones like serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter associated with sensations of contentment and well-being. Adding exercise to your routine can also help you find stability with a consistent activity on your schedule.

Fitness can also be something of a distraction from whatever is distracting you. Though you might struggle to find a way to stay grounded when you’re thinking too hard about your current state, it becomes a lot easier when you dive fully into a specific task. You don’t need to hit the gym to make this happen, either. Go out for a run, do some yoga in your living room, or do whatever else helps you to find your center when you need grounding.

Connect to Your Surroundings

Some people experience feelings of not being grounded in more intense ways than others. If you feel like you’re totally disassociated from what’s happening around you, then you can take more immediate action through a few simple ideas. The next time you start feeling upset, take a moment to breathe and look around the room you are in. Slowly take note of items in the room as your gaze passes them, focusing on physical attributes like color, size, shape, and texture.

You may even find it useful to move about the space and touch items, if possible. Often, when we don’t feel grounded, it is because we are lost in our minds on some level. By giving yourself time to connect with the physical properties of the world around you, it can help to put you back in touch with reality. Some people find counting can also help in this situation. Count each item in the room as you notice it, and you may find the repetitive nature of the task puts you back in a state of contentment before long.

Discover Personal Meaning

Finding meaning can also prove invaluable when you feel lost and not grounded. If you are at work or school when you start feeling these sensations, a great way to ground yourself again is by taking a look at a picture or memento that holds meaning to you. Gaze at pictures of family, friends, pets, or places that elicit positive emotions in you. This is another simple tactic that may refresh your mind and aid you during this time.

Though feeling lost in life can be troubling, there are many ways to regain your composure and move forward. Learn what techniques work best for your needs, and you may discover the perfect way to ground yourself when you feel unwell.


Jewish Perspectives on Mental Health
Religions haven’t always handled mental illness with compassion and kindness, but how do modern Jewish Canadians deal with such challenges?

Religions haven’t always handled mental illness with compassion and kindness, but how do modern Jewish Canadians deal with such challenges?

The Canadian Mental Health Association states that one in five Canadians is impacted by mental illness each year. With Canada’s estimated 392,000 Jewish people comprising about 1% of the population, many Jewish individuals will also face mental health challenges. Religions haven’t always handled mental illness with compassion and kindness, but how do modern Jewish Canadians deal with such challenges? Answering this question requires an overall look at mental health in Canada and Jewish perspectives on the issue from both the past and present.

Mental Health Issues in Canada

Mental health in Canada is a complex picture. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) estimates around 8% of adults will suffer from major depression and 5% with suffer from anxiety disorders. Even direr is the CMHA’s revelation that at least 50% of Canadians will have experienced mental illness by age 40, but nearly half of individuals dealing with anxiety or depression never seek professional help. While these figures are disturbing, they’re due to many factors, including lack of access to care, stigmas surrounding mental illness, and fear of discrimination.

Historical Jewish Perspectives

My Jewish Learning explains that classical Jewish texts encompass a wide range of viewpoints on mental illness. The Tanakh contains several Hebrew words that are often translated as “madness.” One key word from Deuteronomy is “shigaon,” an antecedent for the modern Yiddish term “meshuggeneh” that means “crazy.” This state of mind is framed as divine punishment for failing to heed God’s word. The Talmud discusses concepts such as mental competency in legal contexts, and the word “shoteh” denotes someone who is severely detached from reality.

On the other hand, it’s been suggested figures such as King David, Job, Hannah, and Elijah may have struggled with depression. These individuals are usually depicted in a more compassionate light. Chabad mentions the term “machalat hanefesh,” which refers to mental illness and is translated as “illness of the soul.” While it may not accurately reflect the involvement of the brain and body, this phrase can describe the depths of suffering that people experience.

Fighting Stigmas, Finding Answers

Nearly every religious or cultural community contains negative beliefs about mental illness. Some examples in contemporary English words include “crazy,” “idiot,” or “nutcase.” Dr. Neal A. Lester at breaks down how these are damaging and ableist, describing the ways in which they can potentially dehumanize people with mental health struggles.

While similar stigmas exist within Jewish communities, there also seems to be a greater overall openness towards mental health challenges and solutions. My Jewish Learning discusses a few studies revealing that Jewish people tended to exhibit more positive attitudes towards counseling, psychotherapy, and other forms of professional mental health assistance. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism published the Reform Movement’s position on mental health, which calls for several objectives in government, synagogues, religious schools, youth programs, and communities to help those with mental health challenges:

  • Destigmatizing mental illness
  • Training and education
  • Greater community support
  • Better access to housing and care
  • Ensuring fair treatment, safety, and legal rights of mentally ill prisoners
  • Ending workplace discrimination
  • Increased focus on prevention and treatment

Changes are occurring within Orthodox Jewish communities as well. One key objective is removing harmful stigmas, which can lead to isolation and secrecy. Advocacy groups are taking the lead, such as Relief, which researches providers and offers referrals, and Chazkeinu, offering peer-led support for Jewish women.

Chemlah: Compassion and Mercy

While stigmas surrounding mental illness still remain, many Canadian Jewish communities strive to eliminate them and help those impacted receive the assistance they need. “Chemlah” is a Hebrew word that can reflect compassion in a divine sense, especially towards those who are vulnerable. Such compassion is essential to bring about understanding, support, and healing.

Boost Your Health Before Your Wedding With These Dietary Tips
You should focus on your health and overall well being in order to look and feel your best on your wedding day, and eating right can be key.

You should focus on your health and overall well being in order to look and feel your best on your wedding day, and eating right can be key.

Preparing for your wedding can easily run you ragged. When you’re overwhelmed by all of the various tasks associated with planning for your big day, it can be important to stop and take a moment to think about your health. Foregoing your own wellness for the sake of your wedding can do a lot more harm than good. To walk down the aisle and look your best, you need to concentrate on your health and do whatever you can to stay in the best possible shape. Luckily, most of this comes down to what you eat.

By focusing on the right foods and drinks, you can boost your health without much effort. Look over these tips and discover what you need to include in your diet before your big day arrives.

Eat Healthy Fats

Brides and grooms all over the world spend countless hours trying to get physically fit for their weddings. Most, if not all, are also looking to shed a few pounds. While cutting excessive fat out of your diet could seem preferable, it might surprise you to learn that there are certain fats you should definitely be eating more of when you’re looking to improve your health. Avocados, for example, contain a substance called oleic acid, which researchers have labeled a “good” fat, and its ingestion can lead to a number of important health improvements.

Oleic acid is known as a monounsaturated fatty acid. Research suggests oleic acid can support heart health and reduce inflammation, both of which can be huge perks when it comes to looking and feeling fantastic for your wedding day! On top of these benefits, avocados also contain a number of vital minerals and vitamins, including vitamins E, B5, B6, C and K. Adding an avocado to your daily diet can be a great way to improve your health without sacrificing delicious foods.

Drink Some Apple Cider Vinegar

Recent years have seen more and more people turn to the power of apple cider vinegar. Also referred to as ACV, this pantry staple contains a number of health-boosting properties. Starting your day with a shot of ACV mixed with water can do wonders. Apple cider vinegar encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria, helping to keep your digestive system operating in an optimal way. Outside of simply drinking ACV each morning, you can also use the liquid in a range of home beauty remedies!

One simple and effective way to make ACV a part of your beauty regimen is by adding it to your bathing ritual. If you like to take baths, consider adding 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to the water the next time you want to soak. When you sit in this mixture for about 15 minutes, your skin absorbs the healthful compounds found in ACV. Research suggests this type of soak can soothe irritations and leave your skin feeling softer, smoother, and ready for your wedding day.

Sip Some Green Tea

Finally, your mental health is just as important as your physical wellness. A cup or two of green tea each day might be able to help. According to experts, green tea contains theanine, which is said to minimize stress. Research surrounding green tea also suggests that regularly consuming the beverage might improve cognitive functions and critical thinking skills. The next time you are too frustrated to deal with planning, try brewing a cup of this tasty elixir.

To look and feel your best for your wedding, it is important to focus on what you are putting into your body in the weeks and months leading up to the big day. Be sure to consume the right foods and drinks to stay in the best shape and feel less stressed.


Get Out in Nature to Change Your Brain
Researchers believe that spending time in nature can offer many health benefits, especially for those dealing with mental illness.

Researchers believe that spending time in nature can offer many health benefits, especially for those dealing with mental illness.

More than 50 percent of people live in urban areas. This number is projected to increase to about 70 percent by the year 2050. Urbanization is linked with progressive mental illnesses, but researchers do not understand why. A recent study found that the participants who spent about 90 minutes in nature had less neural activity in the area of the brain associated with mental illness over those who just walked through urbanized areas. These researchers believe that spending time in nature can offer many health benefits, especially for those dealing with ADHD, anxiety or depression. In an earlier study, psychologists asked participants to spend four days in a nature setting without access to technology. At the end of the four days, the participants had a 50 percent increase in their creative thinking and ability to solve complex problems. These researchers believe that noisy and polluted environments negatively impact the brain.

Activity in Nature Is the Best

Most of us are aware that exercise increases our ability to deal with stress. In another study, researchers at the University of British Columbia found that light aerobic exercise increased spatial and episodic memory in older women. Not only is getting out in nature good for your brain, but when you actively do something that increases your heart rate and moves your muscles, it has increased benefits of releasing endorphins, boosting mental power and reducing anxiety.

Other researchers have studied the effects of nature on ADHD symptoms. Dr. Frances E. Kuo and Dr. Andrea Faber Taylor found that activities carried out in natural green environments had the effect of reducing ADHD symptoms. Their findings held consistent with both genders, different ages, severity of diagnosis and across geographic locations. Children with ADHD had better attention spans after spending time in nature. Kuo and Taylor suggest encouraging kids with limited focus to play in “greenspaces” as a supplement to traditional treatment.

One PhD with Texas A&M University found that nature helps the body heal faster. Patients who had just gone through abdominal surgery were studied based on the view out their window. Those who could see trees and nature out their window healed faster and had fewer complications than those whose window overlooked a brick wall. It’s believed that greenery and fountains in hospitals also assist in healing. Some researchers have suggested incorporating nature views and pictures in rooms where a natural view is impossible. Many architects are incorporating this research into newer designs, not only in healthcare settings, but in workplaces and schools as well.

Getting Started

Canada has a wealth of parks and recreation areas where families can go to experience nature for themselves. Just like if you were starting an exercise program, you don’t want to be too intense at first. Hiking is a great activity that everyone can usually enjoy. You might even be able to take the family dog with you. However, you shouldn’t tackle that 5-mile hike until you’ve completed a shorter hike once or twice. Make sure you have the right equipment. Another reason hiking is popular to get out in nature is that you usually only need some good shoes, a hat, a water bottle and layered clothing. Most people have this equipment on hand.

When you’re out in nature, put the cell phone in your backpack or leave it in your car. Talk to those you’re with and enjoy the view. Get away from your technology and urban life every so often to refresh your mind and heal your body. If you can’t get to one of the great national parks, find a local park where you can walk. Even those small pockets of green have been found to have a positive effect on your mind and body.


Dance Away the Blues: Movement and Happiness
The next time you have the opportunity to dance, you should take it! It must might improve your mental health and physical fitness.

The next time you have the opportunity to dance, you should take it! It must might improve your mental health and physical fitness.

Have you ever met someone who absolutely hates dancing? You might even be this person, willing to spend an entire wedding in your chair rather than getting up to dance. While it takes all sorts to make the world, there are some traits that might be more damaging to the spirit than most people realize. By not engaging with the act of dancing when given the opportunity, you may very well find your emotional state in a frazzled or downright unpleasant place. Luckily, there are ways to remedy this!

There has been a lot of evidence released over recent decades to suggest that dancing does a lot for the soul. Though it might seem silly to throw your body around to music, here are a handful of reasons to change your attitude and get on the dance floor right away.

Get Physical

Right away, it can be important to focus on how dancing helps you on a physical level. According to some research, the act of dancing may be an important step toward keeping your heart healthy. Dancing often gets the heart beating a bit faster than normal, the same way that it does when you are engaged with a simple run or other exercises. Pumping your heart at this rate might be crucial for maintaining a strong and healthy cardiovascular system.

The beauty of using dance as a form of exercise is that it doesn’t feel like exercise. In fact, most people feel pretty good when they dance. The freedom of being able to move your body to the music in whatever way you wish is known to produce positive feelings. While there is scientific evidence to back this up, it often can be a bit more practical to stand up and start dancing to see the effects of this activity for yourself.

Everyone’s in the Dance

Dance is also an activity that is able to connect people. When you are on a dance floor or in a studio with a variety of people all moving their bodies in various ways, it can create a contagious feeling of excitement. There is something about dancing with others that can bond people together in an unspoken way. You stop thinking so much about what you’re doing and start reacting in an intuitive way, reading how other people’s bodies are moving and responding with your own in kind.

Whether doing it alone or with a group, remember that the act of dancing is a form of expression. This can be important to remind yourself so you do not get stuck on how you appear while grooving. In fact, it is exactly this fear of getting the dance wrong that strikes fear in many and keeps them from engaging. Remember that you can dance however you want, regardless of technique or aim. Just stay safe and mind your hands around strangers, and you’ll be good!

Don’t Slouch! 

Finally, there is a bit of evidence out there to suggest that dancing might be able to help you stand straight and tall. Some studies conducted over the years have led researchers to believe that dancing helps a person to better understand how to move his or her own body. Connecting with your body in this manner can, in turn, help you realize when you are slouching or holding your weight in a way that is doing damage. While not a cure for bad posture, the evidence suggests it definitely can help to get out there and move.

The next time you find yourself sitting on the sidelines while everyone else is engaged with getting down and having some fun to their favorite songs, try to get involved. While it may not change your life, dancing can definitely provide some needed joy.