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  • Teaching Kids About Positive Social Relationships to Improve Their Mental Health

    Children learn many habits early on in life. Many of those habits are what form their abilities, patterns, and behaviours as adults. Mental health habits are also formed early in life, and there are things you can do to encourage healthy mental habits in your kids. When you focus on the fact that mental care is just as important as physical care, your children will have a better understanding of how to make their overall well-being a priority. One aspect of mental wellness is having positive social relationships. Even when your children are little, you can encourage them to cultivate healthy relationships with family members, caregivers, and friends. What you teach them about relationships now will form how they view social interactions in the future. Why are positive social relationships so important for children? More importantly, what can you do to teach your kids about developing positive relationships for the well-being of their mental health? Why Socialization is Important Teaching your kids the importance of positive socialization at a young age will reap lifelong benefits. By interacting with other children, your little ones will: Develop a greater sense of who they are Learn about problem-solving Learn how to set boundaries Learn to have empathy for others Being around other people will allow your children to consistently grow in their social development. But, healthy adult relationships are just as important. When your children have caring adults in their lives, they’ll be more likely to develop secure attachments. They’ll have a greater sense of being valued and worthy of love. That might seem like a small thing now, but it’s crucial for your children’s development, and can help them become well-adjusted adults who are independent and confident. You can do your part as a parent by setting aside time each day to give your full attention to your little one – no phones, televisions, or other distractions. The social relationship between you and your child will likely be the first one they experience. Commit to being a healthy model for them so they know what to expect and how to act when they interact with others outside the home. Creating Socialization Habits There are plenty of ways to teach your kids about developing positive social relationships. Thanks to advancements in technology, they can connect with family members and friends from just about anywhere. If you’re not sure how to get started with these habits, try some of the following ideas: Using Skype or Zoom to catch up with loved ones Setting up “grandparent days” for your kids Walking through the neighborhood and saying hello to people they know Signing them up for a class or club Having friends or family members over for dinner When you create socialization habits in your children, they’ll have a stronger sense of well-being. Studies have shown that kids who enjoy close friendships in their early years tend to have lower rates of anxiety and depression than adults. Healthy relationships can even lead to a longer lifespan. Don’t be afraid to follow the natural interests and tendencies your child already has when you’re trying to create stronger socialization habits. Do they have a particular hobby? Try to connect them with family members or friends who share those interests. Do they enjoy sports? Sign them up for a team! By utilizing the things your children already enjoy, they’ll be more comfortable interacting with others and growing stronger relationships based on common ground and interests. How to Foster Positive Relationships With Different Groups of People Developing socialization habits in your children is about more than encouraging them to talk to people they know. It’s about teaching them how to form positive social relationships with almost anyone. Children need to know that we live in a diverse world, and everyone communicates differently. For example, many people are neurodiverse – they have a range of neurological differences. It’s estimated that 15-20% of the population is neurodiverse, many with conditions like autism, dyslexia, or ADHD. Some neurodiverse individuals don’t speak as much, while some are completely nonverbal and communicate in other ways. Teaching your children the importance of positive social relationships between neurodiverse and neurotypical people will help them with their communication efforts for the rest of their lives. When your children recognize that not everyone communicates the same way, they’ll be more likely to adapt to different situations. More importantly, they’ll learn how to be empathetic, and less stressed about these differences. The benefits of positive social relationships for kids are seemingly endless. Positive relationships will boost their self-esteem and their sense of worth while teaching them how to interact with different groups of people. With so much evidence pointing toward the mental health benefits of positive social relationships, it’s never too early to start forming these habits in your children, so they can enjoy the benefits now, and as they grow into teens and adults.

  • Learning to Build Empathy

    Have you ever been at a show where the actor or musician has flubbed a line, and found yourself inwardly cringing on their behalf? Or found yourself in tears during a sad movie? Empathy is at least part of what’s going on there. Broadly, empathy is about our ability to share in and accurately understand what’s going on inside of another person, especially how they’re feeling – almost as if it were happening to us. So, when we find ourselves squirming uncomfortably in our seats or getting sniffly in front of the T.V., it’s an empathic, “Oof, I feel you, I get you, I can imagine what you’re going through” kind of reaction. Why does empathy matter? So much of being human is unavoidably social, and our ability to experience and express empathy is vitally important for navigating our social worlds. Empathy can help us form and maintain connections, be more willing to help or support others, and less likely to hurt them. You can think of empathy as a kind of social glue; it helps us stick together. But unlike glue, we can’t pop out to the store and buy some more empathy. Can we become more empathic? We can, however, become more empathic. On average, some people may be more or less empathic. For example, people whose parents were responsive to their feelings and needs, supportive, and less controlling in childhood tend to be more empathic. However, how empathic we are changes depending on the situation we’re in – for example, if we’re in a conflict or if we’re stressed or rushed, we’re far less likely to express empathy. Bottom line: empathy can change, and we can find ways to change it for the better. How can we become more empathic? Researchers have identified several ways to build or increase different aspects of empathy. Here are two big ones: Practice perspective-taking It’s easy to develop tunnel vision, where we can’t really see beyond ourselves. So, to build empathy for others’ lives and experiences, practice perspective-taking: Sit down and write or think about what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes. Be as detailed as possible. Ask yourself, “If that were me, what kinds of thoughts, worries, fears, hopes, dreams, or wishes would I have? What kinds of feelings would I have? Would I feel tension in my neck? Would I feel hot and flushed or cold and clammy? Would my heart race? What kinds of situations could I be experiencing that would make me feel that way?” Watch videos, vlogs, interviews, or documentaries relevant to the experience or person that you want to empathize with. Expose yourself to a wide range of people from different walks of life – for example, by visiting different places, talking openly and honestly with different people, reading their blogs, or following them on social media. Sometimes our empathy fails because we see someone as “other”, too different from us to relate to – opening up our social circles, finding commonalities, and understanding where differences come from can help. Know and take care of yourself It may seem contradictory, but to see and understand another person’s perspective and express our empathy with care or compassion, we need to be in a good place emotionally and we need to have clear emotional boundaries. So, it’s important to practice self-care. When we’re stressed or over-burdened, we don’t have the resources to be empathic towards others. Fill your own cup so that you’re better able to help someone else fill theirs. It’s also important to recognize what does and doesn’t belong to you. Research suggests that people who don’t have a clear sense of themselves are more likely to become distressed and overwhelmed when they’re around someone who’s distressed. And once we’re distressed, our focus is back on ourselves and making ourselves feel better, rather than on the person in front of us. To express empathy, we need to be able to differentiate between “Me, happening to me” and “Not me, not happening to me." Especially if you’re often exposed to others’ distress, all of these things – prioritizing taking care of yourself, setting appropriate boundaries, and distinguishing between what does and doesn’t belong to you – become even more important in the long-term. Without them, you’re likely not only to struggle with empathy but to be at higher risk for full compassion fatigue – which can involve feeling like you have no empathy left and experiencing things like physical and emotional exhaustion, numbness, irritability, depression, and anxiety. If you're trying to support another person through a difficult or traumatic event, reach out to your EFAP for support. We're here to help.

  • Nourish Your Mental Health

    With everything going on in our personal lives, work lives, and the world, it can get quite overwhelming. And sometimes, our best coping mechanism becomes distracting ourselves or pushing forward rather than turning to self-care. For Mental Health week this May, Canadians have the opportunity to prioritize mental health. There are many factors that can impact our mental health, but did you know that food and nutrition also play a role? Check out these 5 foods that can help you nourish your physical and mental health: Nuts & seeds: They are great sources of healthy fats, fibre and plant-based protein. But that’s not all! Nuts and seeds also have a compound called tryptophan which helps produce the mood-boosting hormone, serotonin. They are also great sources of zinc, which is associated with lower rates of depression when consumed in adequate amounts. Good sources of tryptophan and zinc are almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, herring, and mackerel, are incredible sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, fatty fish are rich in the omega-3s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which may decrease levels of depression. To reap these benefits, eat fatty fish twice per week and you’ll get all the DHA and EPA you need. Coffee: If you’re someone who loves coffee, it may help you stay alert, but also put you in a good mood. Some studies have shown, coffee increases the release of dopamine, A.K.A the “feel-good” hormone. Although research is still needed, caffeinated, and decaffeinated coffee may have this affect. Enjoying a nice cup of coffee in the morning can do great things for your mood, just make sure to monitor your intake. Dark chocolate: Chocolate’s delicious taste, smooth texture and pleasurable smell alone can put people in a good mood. It also contains some caffeine, and is rich in flavonoids, a group of plant pigments that may increase blood flow to the brain, boost brain health and lower inflammation (all of which help regulate mood). So, add 1-2 squares of chocolate to your oatmeal, shave them onto your yogurt, or enjoy them with some fresh fruit for a mood-boosting snack. Fermented foods: Natural probiotics and good bacteria are made during the fermentation process of foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Therefore, these foods are great for our gut health. Research has been showing that when our gut is healthy, our brain is healthy. So, enjoy fermented foods to improve not only your gut health but your brain health, too! If you’d like to incorporate some of these foods into your diet, contact your FSEAP Registered Dietitian today. Through personalized care, a well-stocked resource bank and check-ins, you will have the support and motivation to keep you going this month and beyond. Your dietitian will be there every step of the way to discuss your goals and provide you strategies to help you succeed. So, nourish your mental health and contact your FSEAP Registered Dietitian today.

  • 10 Tips for Boosting your Mental Health

    The state of your mental well-being can fluctuate from day to day. Some days you may feel like you can take on the world, while other days, you may never want to leave the bed. It’s important to manage your mental health even when you are in a good mood. Building a routine will help you create habits to stay on top of your mental well-being. The following tips will help you manage your mental health to experience more happy days. 1. Stay Active Physical activity improves your mood and overall health and reduces stress and anxiety. You can plan exercise around your mood and energy levels. When you have more energy, you can run or bike. When you have less energy, you can walk or do yoga. The options are endless! If exercise is new to you, consider LIFT Session through your EAP. Based on your level and goals, you’ll be guided through a digital program built specifically for you! 2. Eat a Healthy Diet Did you know that certain foods can support your mood? Try incorporating nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, and peanuts into your diet. Foods rich in omega-3s, beans, leafy greens, avocados, and berries can also boost mood. To help you feel your best, talk to a Registered Dietitian through your EAP program for personalized nutrition recommendations. 3. Get Enough Sleep It’s important to build a regular bedtime routine and get your body used to a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Expose yourself to natural light during the day and darkness at night. Avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine right before bed. It’s best to watch TV in another room before bed and use your bedroom as the sleep zone. 4. Practice Self-Care Self-care looks different for everyone. There are four areas to consider: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care. Allot a time in your day to do the activities that make you happy, whether that means devoting 1 minute or 1 hour of your day. Aim to do one type of self-care daily. For example, one day, you chose to do mental self-care and emotional self-care for the other. 5. Build Social Connections It’s crucial for your mental health to stay connected with the people in your life. We are social beings! Social connection can help us regulate emotions and lower anxiety and depression symptoms. While face-to-face connection is the best, you can call or text a friend daily to socialize. 6. Practice gratitude Grateful people are more energetic and enthusiastic in what they do. Studies have shown that people who often show gratitude are happier and less depressed. If you pause to think about the positives in life, you can probably come up with something, no matter how small it may seem. Mental health therapists recommend keeping a gratefulness journal for a reason. 7. Perform Acts of Kindness Lift your spirits by helping someone in need or by “paying it forward.” There is no better surprise than getting to the Tim Hortons window and finding out the car ahead of you paid for your drink! Giving compliments and doing activities like shoveling for a neighbour are free ways to show kindness. 8. Reduce Screen and Media Time It's not good for your well-being to spend hours and hours on your devices. If you find it challenging to step away from your phone, you can try scheduling an electronics break into your day. You can set up an alarm to remind yourself. 9. Set Boundaries Boundaries help you keep energy for yourself so you don't burn out. You can create different boundaries in various areas of your life, depending on your priorities and situation. These include material, physical, mental, and emotional boundaries. “No” is a complete statement; it needs no explanation or justification. Start saying no to small, low-risk things for practice. If you need more help setting boundaries, Life Coaching can help you work towards your goals for change and overcome challenges. 10. Seek professional help If you continue to struggle, you may benefit from seeking professional guidance. Our effective short-term counselling for individuals, couples, and families can address concerns such as relationship challenges, traumatic experiences, substance use and addictions, grief and loss, or any challenge you or your family currently face. Reach out to your EAP for support. We’re here to help.

  • Managing Re-Entry Anxiety and Stress

    Mask, travel, and vaccination restrictions are lifting, leading to a mix of emotions and uncertainty for some. You may be happy to see some restrictions lift and yet, think it is too soon for others. "Re-entry anxiety"(Siegler, 2021) is considered to be an adjustment related manifestation which suggests that it will take time to adapt to the change, manage your feelings, and connect with others again. The source of re-entry anxiety includes worries about the increased risk of infection, changing social pressure and expectations, building a new routine, and increasing uncertainty about how to progress forward. If you are struggling to adjust, it is important to acknowledge your emotions, monitor your behaviours, and go at your own pace. 4 ways to reduce re-entry anxiety and transition to your new normal: Challenging your thinking It is normal to feel worried from time to time, but chronically worrying can often be unhelpful if we don't face the core of the worry. Learning to identify our self-talk is essential as our perspective and our mindset play an important role in our mood, bodily sensations, and our behaviour on a daily basis. Take the time to write down your thoughts and identify how accurate or helpful they are. Are your thoughts predicting the future, or assuming the worst might happen? Taking time to assess the value and the impact of our self-talk can help us to process it and see things from a new, more balanced, perspective. Try to focus on the present moment and the things within your control, including things you can do to cope, keep yourself safe, and manage your emotions. Further, it is helpful to focus on the positives or opportunities when faced with adversity, such as recognizing that you've coped with this before and that you now have the chance to strengthen your sense of resiliency further. Remember, the irony with adversity is that it is the very experience of surmounting challenges that create our resilience. Improving your behaviour Taking care of your overall wellbeing can help you to cope with change and uncertainty, and reduce the impact of stress and symptoms of re-entry anxiety. Ensuring that you are getting enough quality sleep, healthy food, and exercise is the foundation of improved mood, motivation, and wellbeing. Even if things get busy, strive to build in regular, intentional, activities of self-care, relaxation, and decompression, and acknowledge your accomplishments daily. Even if your schedule of activities has now changed, commit to finding a way to build even the smallest routine into one part of your day, whether that is being consistent in your sleep, eating, work, or self-care routine. Building familiarity and expectation into one aspect of your day can help to manage uncertainty. Facing social pressure and expectations Remember that the experience of the pandemic and restrictions lifting is different for everyone. For you, it may not be helpful to compare or have the same expectations of others that you do for yourself. The way you interact in the coming months will still look different than before the pandemic. Before engaging in social events, have an honest conversation with friends and family about what feels comfortable for you to ensure there are no surprises or unintended conflict. Being aware of everyone's worries and expectations can help to ensure you are all respectful of one another and on the same page. Being prepared can help you to feel more comfortable and ready to set personal boundaries if others are pressuring you to change your behaviour. Reconnecting socially may feel uncomfortable at first, especially with those whose expectations are different than yours, but pace yourself and try not to avoid it entirely. Avoiding things that make us uncomfortable can feel easier, but in fact, can make us feel more anxious and challenged to face our fears. Exposure to your fear allows you to accurately evaluate the risk and reduce the overall symptoms of anxiety. Managing your return to work As more employees are returning back to the workplace, remember that what might feel to you like "steps in the right direction", may bring an enormous amount of stress and anxiety for others. Having self-compassion and respect for the choices of others can go a long way in reducing conflict and stress. This includes the leadership team that is responsible for making difficult decisions in an uncertain and changing situation. If you are feeling nervous about returning to the workplace, speak with a coworker or manager that you trust. They may be able to help you to manage your emotions, feel connected, and offer solutions to ease your worries. Flexible working hours, a gradual return to the workplace setting, or a hybrid work model may be options to gradually build up to a full-time return to the workplace. It is normal if you are still unsure of how to keep yourself and others safe, and how you can progress safely forward. Understanding your workplace policies and following health guidelines can help you to feel more confident and comfortable in your decisions. If you are experiencing stress or difficulty navigating this transition, the EAP can help you find the support you need to manage your emotions and your re-entry experience. Source: Siegler, D. (2021, July 27). Reentry Anxiety. Psychiatric Times. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/reentry-anxiety

  • Giving Social Support

    When a traumatic event has impacted a colleague or co-worker, it can be challenging to know how best to help. Most people recover more quickly when they feel connected and supported by others. Some choose to share their thoughts and feelings about what happened, while others may feel that quietly spending time with others feels best. You can help a co-worker cope with the impact of a traumatic event by reaching out, spending time with them, and listening carefully. "The most respectful attitude you can offer someone is your unconditional interest." Rosalene Glickman, Ph.D. Remember, there are many reasons people may avoid asking for social support. They may not know what they need or feel embarrassed or “weak” that they are struggling. Some may worry they will lose control and that others will be disappointed or judged. Others may feel they will be a burden to others. Some may not ask for support because they doubt that it will be helpful or believe that others won’t understand, or they tried to get help before and felt it wasn’t there or didn’t help. Sometimes, asking for help means thinking about what happened, and they want to avoid remembering. Some may not know where or how to get help. Here are some tips to help you feel more confident reaching out to support a colleague. When giving social support, be sure to: Show interest, attention and care. Find a good time and place to talk where you are not likely to be interrupted. Avoid having expectations or making judgments. Be respectful of individual reactions and ways of coping. Acknowledge that this type of stress may take time to resolve Help brainstorm positive ways to cope with their reactions Talk about expected reactions to traumatic events and healthy ways to cope. Believe the person is capable of recovery. Offer to be there to talk or spend time together as often as needed. When giving social support, avoid: Giving advice without listening to other’s concerns or asking what would be most helpful for them Rushing to tell someone that they will be okay or that they should “get over it.” Talking about your own experiences without listening to the other person’s story. Stopping the other person from talking about what is upsetting them. Acting as if they are weak or exaggerating because they aren’t coping as well as you or others are. Telling them, they are lucky it wasn’t worse. Here are some suggestions for when it doesn't seem that the social support you or others are giving isn't enough or helping. If someone is avoiding social support, let them know that experts say that avoidance and isolating are likely to increase their distress and that social support can help them recover. Encourage them to get involved in a support group for people who have similarly been affected by a traumatic event. Suggest that they consider talking with a counsellor, a medical doctor, or their clergy and offer to give them a ride or go with them. Enlist help from others in your mutual social circle or workgroup so that you all can take part in supporting the individual. Invite them to talk to their supervisor or HR department about the company resources or benefits available, such as an Employee Assistance Program, to help them recover from a traumatic event. Lastly, remember to attend to your well-being. Supporting others who are struggling can take a toll on your energy. Keep tabs on your stress level and follow your self-care plan to keep you healthy.

  • Your EFAP and How to Access Services

    The right help, at the right time. Your EFAP offers a number of confidential, free services and supports to help you and your family to strengthen your mental health, enhance your well-being and build your resilience. Accessing services is easy. Ready to help, our intake and crisis lines are staffed and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, login to your employer's myFSEAP account to submit a service form online. Our network of qualified counselling professionals and consultants is able and ready to support Canadians from coast to coast. Our team is ready to provide quality interventions, guidance and strategies to assist you in managing the potential stress and worry of living in challenging times, in addition to the variety of concerns Canadians face every day. Counselling FSEAP's EFAP counselling provides effective short-term, professional counselling for individuals, couples, & families to support you with a broad range of mental health issues & concerns. 24/7 Access & Crisis Support​ Available - Scheduled appointments available as telephone, e-counselling, or video sessions - Immediate telephonic crisis support & stabilization, crisis counselling, assessment, & referral services. - 1.800 Voice & TTY accessible from anywhere in North America - Multi-lingual Work-Life Balance Services In addition to our counselling services, FSEAP also provides a variety of work/life balance services to help employees manage work & personal life responsibilities & reach their goals. For more information or to access these services, please visit myfseap.ca or call FSEAP’s Intake Care Centre. Our work/life services include the following: Career Counselling Provides coaching, information on self-care strategies, consultations, planning, assessments, strategies for employment, career advancement, retirement, & other related career topics. Child/Eldercare Consultation Offers consultation & assistance with finding community resources to help clients take care of their families. Financial Counselling & Consulting Assists clients with credit counselling, debt management, tax planning, budgeting, setting financial goals, preparing for retirement, & managing changes in personal situations. Legal Consultation Connects clients with a practicing lawyer in their area of need for a 30 minute telephone consultation on a broad range of legal matters. Life Coaching An alternative to traditional counselling therapy, our coaching service provides guidance for clients & employees at all levels to achieve personal & professional growth. Health Coaching Individualized help from a health coach offering a holistic approach to help participants make lasting positive lifestyle changes over the course of 12 weeks. Nutritional Counselling Provides consultation with a Registered Dietitian for a broad range of nutrition topics. Smoking Cessation Support Provides essential information & links to local services in addition to counselling & life coaching supports. Health & Wellness myfseap.ca Search through a library of health & wellness articles on topics such as health & well-being, family & relationships, life, work & career. FSEAP provides an online health & wellness resource library, offering articles, e-newsletters, videos & podcasts, e-books, learning modules, & links to web resources for employees' self-study online. Mobile App (Available from the App store for Apple and Android devices) The app offers a convenient way to access important information about EFAP services, as well also valuable self-help information to support you on your journey to make life, work better. With myFSEAP mobile you can: Contact the EFAP (by phone or by submitting an online service request) with the touch of a button. - Login to view information specific to their benefit - Review EFAP services details & FAQs - Access FSEAP health & wellness newsletters - Conveniently access to self-help online resources & tools

  • The Importance of Clarifying Your Values

    “A highly developed values system is like a compass. It serves as a guide to point you in the right direction when when you are lost." Idowu Koyenikan Values are your fundamental beliefs about what matters most to you. They help clarify what you can’t live without and help guide your behaviour, life, and work and are fundamental to living a life with meaning and purpose. When you know what’s most important to you, you can more easily zero in on your priorities and determine where your boundaries lie. Furthermore, your values can help you decide how you want to live your life and help you assess if your life is heading in the direction you want. They can also help you make the right decision when faced with a tough choice. For example, if spending time with family is a core value for you, you might decide to turn down a job requiring overtime or a lot of travel. Examining and clarifying your values, and pinpointing why they are important to you, can help you be better prepared to meet life's challenges. They help you distinguish between what’s important and not and guide you on what’s right and wrong. Having a strong sense of your values is like having a road map to guide you through life. The importance of living your values Living your values means being the truest version of yourself in all areas of your life that matter to you. However, not living in congruence with your values can have a negative impact on our resilience and emotional well-being. This misalignment between your core values and actions can: · Leave you feeling stressed, uncomfortable, and out of alignment with your true self. · Result in anxiety, anger, feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or other negative feelings. The misalignment between values and actions is often the time when you feel conflict. These experiences of conflict can be due to external forces, such as when life or work demands overwhelm your system, and you act or behave in ways that are inconsistent with what you value. For example, I may value kindness and compassion but not treat others with kindness and compassion when I am stressed or overwhelmed. When you know what values drive you and consistently behave in ways that align with your values, you experience greater clarity, fulfillment, and self-awareness. This self-awareness can help you better understand what leading a meaningful life looks like and is key to discovering a life of meaning and purpose. Values fuel the sense of purpose, give you drive, energy, and optimism to live your best life and guide you on what matters most during adversity and challenge. The importance of rediscovery Our priorities and values tend to change over time. Therefore, becoming more conscious of your true, current values is important because they are the best guide for living a better, more authentic life. Steps to clarify your values Step 1: Reflect on your life and experiences to identify when you felt happiness or joy, proud and most fulfilled or satisfied. What contributed to these feelings? Try to find examples from both work and personal life. Identify times when you were happiest or experienced the most joy. · What were you doing? · Were you with other people? Who were they? · What other factors contributed to your happiness? Identify times when you felt proud. · What were you proud of? · Did others share in your pride? Who were they? · What other aspects contributed to your sense of pride? Identify the times when you felt most fulfilled and content. · What need or desire was fulfilled? · What was it about the experience that gave your life meaning? · What other factors contributed to your feelings of fulfillment? Step 2: Reflect on times or situations when you felt out of alignment with your values. It might also be a time when you felt conflict or a sense of disappointment. What were you doing? What did that situation look like or feel like for you? Don't judge yourself for these moments. They are opportunities to learn from, and they can help you get back to your authentic self. Step 3: Review the list of examples of core values on the next page and check every value that resonates with you. Write in others that you think of that are not on the list as well. Then, select the values that most accurately describe your feelings or behaviours. Step 4: Categorize values into related groups. Review the list and see if you can group values into categories. For example, honesty, transparency, and integrity are related and could be put into one group. Step 5: Identify a theme for each group. Once you’ve categorized your identified values into groups, choose a word that best describes that group. Next, list the core value and, in paratheses, list the corresponding or similar values for context. For example, honesty, transparency, and integrity might be categorized as (truth). Step 6: Rank the values in order of importance. In this step, it may be helpful to ask yourself which values are essential to life? Or select the first two values and reflect on them. Then ask yourself, if you had to act on only one of these values, which would I choose? Keep working until you have your list in the correct order. Then, set them aside for a day or two. When you come back to them, do they still reflect your core values? Step 7: Reaffirm your values. Do they fit with your life and your vision for yourself? · Do you feel good about yourself when you see your top three values? · Do you feel proud if you think of sharing your values with others you look up to? · Do these values represent things you support, even if the choice to do so isn’t popular? Additional Resource: Clarifying Your Values (PDF)--Adapted from Tobias Lundgren’s: The ‘Bulls Eye’ Worksheet (The Happiness Trap (Russ Harris): Link to PDF

  • The Benefits of Having a Budget

    What do you think when you hear the word “budget”? Do you associate the word with negative feelings and connotations? That may be your reality if you’ve never experienced the benefits of budgeting. Without a budget set in place, it can be easy to lose control of your spending habits. 50% of the country is struggling financially, and 50% has no budget. Coincidence? Not likely. A budget shows how you are spending your money now and helps you save to spend it in the future. So, in reality, a budget is just a spending plan. Wow, doesn’t that sound and feel so much better! If you are looking for ways to manage your finances, here are a few simple tips. 1. Have a budget If you don’t have a budget, you are not in control of your life; your money is. Without a budget, what do you do when you want to spend any money of significance? You turn to your money and essentially ask it for permission and say, ‘can I spend you.’ The second you do that, you lose control. By having a budget, you reverse that relationship. With a budget, you tell your money what it will do for you. A budget puts you in control! 2. Understand wants versus needs Something you need is required for survival - food, clothes, shelter, transportation. Something you want is a ‘step up’ over needs. I need runners; I want Nike. I need a place to live; I want a 5,000 sq. ft mansion. There is a dividing line between wants and needs, called ‘the things I can afford.’ Most of us are lucky, and the things we need and the things we can afford go hand in hand. If we are fortunate, the things we want and can afford also go hand in hand. We get into trouble when the things we want fall onto the wrong side of the things we can afford. What do many of us do then? We go, ‘well, I want it, but I can’t afford it, so I will put it on credit.’ I have some news for you, if you can’t afford it now, you can’t afford it 30 days later when the bill arrives! Not understanding our wants versus needs is how many of us get into trouble. 3. Track your expenses It is very important to track your expenses as it shows you how you are really spending your money. If you don’t, all you are left with is the wish list, and wishing doesn’t pay the bills! And yes, you must track everything! ‘Oh, come on,’ you think, ‘Do I really have to track everything? I mean, what is a cup of coffee here, a muffin there?’ If you lose track of just $5 a day, you will lose $1,825 a year! I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to lose almost $2,000 a year just because I couldn’t be bothered to track my expenses! So, have a real spending plan because, at the end of the day, a wish list just won’t cut it! Having a budget (spending plan) is a key aspect of life. Check out this free excel-based budget spending plan! The template asks some questions upfront; these are important to answer as they will help the system provide you with some personalized recommendations. Just fill in the blanks, and away you go! If you have some challenges getting everything to balance, many of the expense sections have hyperlinks to take you to advice-based articles focused on that particular expense item! It is a great tool that even comes with some fancy charts and graphs – enjoy! Tim St Vincent CEPF, C.I.M. (Hons.) Financial Educator, Credit Counselling Society