Tag: Toronto Mental Health Services

How to be Happy and Get the Most Out of Life!

By Natasha Sharma

Problems, as we all know, are a reality of living. Life can be unpredictable and will most certainly be stressful at one point or another. But it is how we respond to changes and solve a problem that have the most impact and influence to the quality of our lives, as opposed to the actual problem itself. In my practice as a Psychotherapist, I have worked with many individuals and families of all ages, ranging from issues as harrowing as psychological trauma in small children to more commonplace issues such as conflict in the workplace, or dating and relationship issues. Over the years, I have come to realize that a problem is a problem, relative to the unique context of a person’s life and individual phenomenology. Which is to say that they exist – or do not exist – based on our own personal circumstances and subjective experiences of life.

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Does Everyone Have a Mental Illness?

By Natasha Sharma

The answer to this question of course is ‘No.’ Nevertheless the percentage of people diagnosed and dealing with a mental illness increases with each passing year. Certainly over the years, due to advances in society and technology, we have become more aware of the biological and psychological markers of mental illness, and more willing to recognize it. Another reason put forth to explain the rise of mental illness is the idea that we currently live “in more difficult times” than previously. I don’t agree with this. The reality is we now live in arguably the easiest times in the course of human history, and we seem to have lost some of our “toughness.” But I’ll save that last point for another article. Sure, we have our fair share of problems (faster pace of life, career burnout, environmental concerns), but I wouldn’t trade these problems in for the ones our ancestors had (such as world war and widespread disease) any time soon. And we are no more pre-disposed to mental health issues now than we were then. So what is really going on here? Are we all getting sicker? Or do we simply need to understand the difference between a mental illness and a normal response to the experience of life? I think it’s the latter.

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Top 4 Ways Social Media Is Killing Your Relationship

By Natasha Sharma

How many times in the last hour have you checked in with any Social Media platform on which you have a profile? Once? Twice? More than 10?? Studies show that people between the ages of 18 and 64 currently spend an average of about 3 hours per day on Social Media sites. That’s a little over 11 minutes each hour, figuring a 16-hour day. That works out to an average of about a minute for every 5 minutes. And that equals almost 20% of our waking lives! If we are going to dedicate that much of our precious time to something, it would be wise to understand and evaluate the quality of our experience.

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Relax! It’s OK for Your Kids to be Angry with You

By Natasha Sharma

Early on in my practice as a psychotherapist, I worked with a lovely but troubled young family from Maryland. These were parents of an 8-year old child who struggled with his mood. He often had emotional ‘melt-downs’ at school and home that involved severe tantrums and oppositional behaviour. One evening when they came to see me for an appointment, the boy was wearing a t-shirt that read: “My Family is Afraid of Me.” Funny enough in a tongue in cheek sort of way. But for this family it spoke volumes about their issues. This was a trio where the power dynamics were consistently in favor of the child. Every effort was made by his parents to ensure he wouldn’t become upset or angry or dislike the outcome of something, even if that meant never saying the word “no” to him. When I gently confronted his parents about this, their response was simple enough: “We don’t want him to be mad at us.”

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5 Quick Tips to Boost Your Mood

By Natasha Sharma

As the summer starts drawing to its inevitable close, many people find themselves feeling a little glum. And who can blame them? There’s something about warm wind and long, lazy days in the sun that seem to make time slow down. And for a few short months, it seems we all gain the ability to mentally stand still for a moment. We stop fretting over the past, and worrying about the future. We get outside more, we see friends and family more, and there are endless opportunities for pure, unadulterated fun! For a change, we can be light, carefree, and almost entirely in the present. Whatever gets you down here and there, it’s worth noting that everyone feels a little ‘blue’ at times. In moderation and when proportionate, it’s as natural a part of the human condition as almost any other emotion. Slight downturns in mood usually pass within 1 or 2 days, and this reminder in and of itself is often helpful. In those moments where we could use more of a pick me up, here are some tips for a booster shot to the old amygdala:

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The 4 Pillars of LIFE: What we can ALL do to promote our own Mental Health

By Natasha Sharma

In my clinical practice as a Psychotherapist, I’ve worked with many individuals and families of all ages, ranging from issues as harrowing as psychological trauma in small children to those as commonplace as conflict in the workplace. Over the years I’ve come to realize that a problem is a problem, relative to the unique context of a person’s life and individual phenomenology. Which is to say that they exist – or do not exist – based on our circumstances and subjective experience of life.

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The Human Condition and Mourning the Loss of Empathy

By Natasha Sharma

It’s been several weeks since the public funeral of Elijah Marsh, a Toronto toddler who wandered out into the snow in the middle of the night and died of hypothermia. In the aftermath of this heartbreaking tragedy, many an opinion has been expressed in the media about it, ranging from criticism of the amount of money raised for the Marsh family in an online fundraising campaign to cover funeral expenses, to criticism of the perceived cultural phenomenon of mourning the loss of people we don’t know. As a Psychotherapist and mental health expert, and after reading various articles in the media, most notably, a recent piece from a well-known Globe & Mail reporter, I felt compelled to respond with a different perspective on this matter.

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The Importance of Being Selfish

By Natasha Sharma

Can being selfish ever be a good thing? Well, it depends on your definition of ‘selfish.’ The common understanding of what it means to be selfish seems to be the idea of someone looking out for his or her own interests and needs at the expense of others. It’s the last part of this definition – at the expense of others – that makes selfishness the pariah of personality traits that we try to aspire to. But aside from that, the rest of the definition seems pretty reasonable. What is so wrong with looking out for our own interests and needs? In fact being selfish – in the truest sense of the word – means self-awareness and self-care. We are all naturally motivated to be selfish by this definition, and yet so many of us adopt a different understanding of it or are taught to consistently put the needs of others before, and sometimes at the expense of, ourselves.

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Be Good. Feel Great.

By Natasha Sharma

Some years ago – actually it was quite awhile back – I spent a day working as a volunteer at a local Toronto mission. My mission: To assist under-privileged people and families with their collection of free groceries and toys for the holiday season. I am sure on some level I had wondered if doing this would make me feel as though I had helped someone or some people in a small way. However I walked away that day feeling a bit confused.

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Top 3 Causes Of Holiday Stress

By Natasha Sharma

Back when I was a psychology grad student at Johns Hopkins, I took a class with a special focus on anxiety. Somewhere in the textbook for this course, there was a rank ordered list of stressful life events that could potentially lead to psychological distress, fittingly called a “stress scale”. As I scanned the list, I saw many of the usual suspects: divorce, dismissal from work, taking on a major mortgage or foreclosure of a house. Then my eyes flashed across a word I wasn’t expecting: Christmas. Incidentally, it ranked as more stressful a life event than experiencing a minor legal infraction! At first, the foolish student in me laughed, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense.

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