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New Standards for Workplace Mental Health

Are you employed? Ever been bullied, harassed, or felt psychologically unsafe at your work due to work overload, poor work / life balance, unclear expectations and instructions?

I imagine you scored a perfect 2 out of 2 on that little quiz. Sadly, too many employees (and employers for that matter) have experienced the consequences of working in a psychologically unsafe and unhealthy environment.

In a recent poll, conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, most respondents stated they had experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace. Most of us think of bullying as overt and forget the more subtle and covert forms it can take. Exclusion by a group of coworkers, constantly having a coworker point out your excellent work ethic in an attempt to make you feel guilty for working hard, etc.

On Wednesday of this week, the Mental Health Commission of Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Standards Association and BNQ, released the National Standard of Canada – Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. The Standard basically provides employers with an outline and necessary resources to initiate the development and implementation of a workplace mental health program. I had the privilege of chatting about the Standard and the importance of employee mental health on CTV News.

Things aren’t going to change overnight. We need to be patient with our employers. We need to help employers with the process. If we want our employers to take action, we too must take action. It is unfair to place sole responsibility in the hands of our employer. Remember, they are human too. Humans who need support, guidance, compassion, patience, and love. I understand that all employers are not created equally and thus, finding compassion for a manager, supervisor or employer who treats you unfairly is a big ask. I encourage you to take another perspective. Perhaps they’re not just a meany out to get you. Perhaps they’re dealing with issues, perhaps even mental health issues, that you’re completely unaware of.

I encourage you to download the Standard from the Mental Health Commission’s site. Read it. Share it. Come up with some ideas on how to go about implementing it. Call in support – the Canadian Mental Health Association is here to help.



Understanding Mindful Eating

Good morning!

I am currently enrolled in 30-day mindful eating course via email. Say what? Yes, participants receive emails from the instructor everyday that contain a message on mindful eating.

Yesterday’s email (that I read today) struck me. It asked us to determine our “drug of choice”. My instructor shared a personal story about her love affair with chocolate. It asked us to think about why we go to that drug – what motivates us, brings us to the fridge or pantry.

It struck me because I have been eating poorly as of late – buying chips (which I never do), eating more chocolate (chocolate is the go-to), drinking more alcohol (a glass per night, which is much more than my usual weekend drink), and more pop (I really don’t understand this one). It seems that I have many drugs of choice at the moment, perhaps too many.

It struck me because it made me think about my newly developing habits. Why am I doing this? I know, hours later, I do not feel good. I know I don’t sleep as well. I know how it affects me physically and emotionally. So why then do I continue to do it?

I’m human. I make mistakes. We all do. Yet, this is more than that. Food, right now, is my comfort tool. It is making me feel happy, if only for that brief moment. Until reading yesterday’s email, I never realized that I was a comfort eater.

It’s amazing what you realize when you sit back, breath, and assess the situation and ask “why”. I don’t particularly like the answer, but it will likely help me to better address the issue.

I encourage you to take time over the next week and pause before you eat something akin to your “drug of choice”. Ask yourself “why”. And while you may not like the answer, it may provide some insight into why you can’t drop the last 10 lbs you’ve been wanting to, or why you don’t sleep well, or why your mood continues to see-saw.

Happy eating and thinking,


On New Year’s Resolutions

Woo – I have been away from the world of blogging for far too long. It seems I took a major break from the holidays. Perhaps it provides an indication of how stressful my holidays were. Regardless, I am excited to be back. I absolutely love starting my day with a post.

So, how are you doing with the New Year’s resolution? Did you swear of chocolate? Wine? Coffee? Did you make a commitment to yourself that you will get up at 6 AM every morning to work out? To meditate? To clean?

I didn’t make any resolutions. I’ve never been able to keep them in the past and research shows that around 33% (or thereabouts) actually stick with it. Yes, I know, I’m priming myself for failure based on that stat, but I know New Year resolutions do NOT work for me.

Instead, I make resolutions throughout the year – anytime, anywhere. I’m proud to say that last year I decided to take better care of my hair and teeth. I started flossing and rinsing more, and washing my hair less. I also started getting it trimmed every three months (the hair, not the teeth). I believe there’s been a payoff – my teeth are still in my mouth and my hair is longer than ever and still on my head. Bonus.

But in all seriousness, I encourage you to take some time today to reevaluate your resolution. If you have sworn something out of your life (cigarettes, chocolate, etc.), I think you’re setting yourself up for failure. If you’re not, than all the power to you. But completely removing something, especially something that has been a part of you for a long time, will likely make you want it even more. Spend some time and make sure that the resolution you’ve made is realistic and that you have a plan for when you fall off the proverbial wagon. This will likely happen and you will likely beat yourself up – never a good thing when you’re trying to make a positive change.

Lastly, I would encourage you to spend some time thinking about why you have the habit you have. Why do you smoke? Why do you eat so much chocolate that you need to swear it out of your life (or all sugar for that matter)? Why do you stay up into the wee hours of the night and feel shattered the next day? Why do you do what you do?

With a better understanding of the why, you can start to break the cycle of the habit. If you know that you smoke before and after stressful meetings, you can take steps to find other stress relievers to better prepare. If you come to realize that you stay up late because you’re drinking too much coffee during the day, you know what needs to be done.

I must warn you, that when you do start to look at the ‘why’ some of the answers may be somewhat frightening. You may find out that you’re drinking an extra glass of wine a night because you’re unhappy with something in your life. You may realize that you’re constant self sabotage is because you don’t respect or really like who you are or who you’ve become. These are scary and often upsetting realizations and truths. Many put off taking time to understand the ‘why’ for this exact reason – the answer is sometimes too much.

While daunting, I encourage you to dig into finding the why. The answer may not always be pretty, but with an answer, you can start to make positive and beneficial change. I promise.

Happy resolution reviewing.


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