Summer is nearly over and the cooler autumn weather has begun to set in. Here in Ontario, many of us have started to move our activities indoors. But in this time of Covid-19, the shift indoors could also mean an increased risk of infection.
If we follow the public health guidelines and practice good self-care we can minimize that risk, but if we make poor health choices we risk becoming ill or infecting the people around us.
A recent study…Continue
Added by Marcia Sirota on September 15, 2020 at 12:06pm — No Comments
It’s August, and school will be starting shortly. Parents everywhere are faced with a real dilemma: “Do I send my kids to school and risk them catching, and potentially spreading, Covid-19?” Or, “Do I keep my kids at home and risk being unable to earn a living?”
Parents are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Here in Ontario, public health figures are decrying the large class sizes in the provincial government’s back to school plan, and the…Continue
The Black Lives Matter protests are continuing into their second week with no signs of abating. And that’s a good thing. It reminds me of the #Time’sUp and #MeToo movement, when things reached a tipping point and there was no turning back. No-one could pretend any longer that there wasn’t a real problem and that things absolutely had to change. The same has happened since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
As a white…Continue
I just had an uncanny experience: a recent radio interview went all Meta on me. I was speaking to the host, Devon Peacock, about negativity bias – our tendency to focus on the negative over the positive – and suddenly, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember a word.
The word was Cortisol…Continue
Added by Marcia Sirota on June 3, 2020 at 10:00am — No Comments
So, you’re at your wit’s end. The four walls are closing in, your kids are starting to drive you crazy, you’re losing patience with your spouse; your finances are in a shambles and you can’t find a moment of peace to be by yourself. Or, maybe you’re living alone and you're so lonely and isolated that you just can’t bear it. What do you do when after more than eight weeks of social distancing you’re on your very last nerve?
People have been getting up to some strange behaviour lately.…Continue
As all the experts talk about the serious physical health risks of the Covid-19 pandemic, I want to talk about the equally serious risks to our mental health. The fact is that this pandemic is stirring up our deepest, most primordial fears around survival.
Every human being has these primal survival fears – of death, of being alone, of not having enough money, and of living in a dangerous world. Many of us in the West have been fortunate…Continue
Added by Marcia Sirota on April 13, 2020 at 3:54pm — No Comments
Right now, in the midst of the global pandemic, people around the world are feeling frightened, helpless and out of control. We have no idea what’s coming, whether on a personal, familial, economic or societal level. Here in Canada, this is a relatively new and unpleasant experience for most of us.
In our well-to-do first world country that prides itself on a robust social welfare system, many of us assume that life here includes a good measure…Continue
Out of balance?
Recently, I interviewed entrepreneur and author, Nir Eyal for my Ruthless Compassion podcast. He talked about how technology is an absolute necessity but that like anything else we find helpful and enjoyable, we can find ourselves out of balance when using it.
We don’t even…Continue
The hysteria we’ve been feeling lately over the arrival in North America of the novel coronavirus reminds me of the fears that we had around the SARS crisis in Toronto in 2003 and the Ebola virus in 2014.
If you lived through either of these times you can probably recall how freaked out people were during these outbreaks. Many Canadians over-reacted to situations that turned out to be not nearly as bad as they’d thought.
With the latest…Continue
They say that November is the cruelest month but I’m putting in my vote for January as a close second. All across Canada and the United States, a harsh and gloomy winter is upon us. Ontarians have been experiencing an unseasonably mild winter suffering pelting rains that have flooded many an unsuspecting basement, while British Columbia and Newfoundland are having record-breaking snowfalls. In Florida, frozen iguanas are falling out of trees.
Added by Marcia Sirota on January 30, 2020 at 11:00am — No Comments
The New Year is here again and it brings to mind a former patient – let’s call her Jody. Every year, toward the end of December, Jody would read me her list of New Year’s resolutions and then a week or two later she’d show up at my office with a downcast look and her shoulders hunched over in shame. She was despondent and embarrassed because yet again, she was unable to keep even one of her resolutions.
Whether it was going on a diet, starting an exercise program, clearing out her…Continue
Added by Marcia Sirota on January 4, 2020 at 10:13pm — No Comments
We all want happiness and we think that it’s so hard to come by but really, it’s not. It’s just that we’ve been looking for it in all the wrong places. We think that we’ll be happier if we have more money, power, fame or influence. We think we’ll be happier if we’re richer, more attractive, or if we have nicer stuff. None of this is true. Of course, we need a certain amount of money in order to be secure, but it’s been proven that more money can’t bring us more happiness.
After years of being a psychiatrist and dealing with depression and other mental health issues, this is what I’ve learned: When someone is depressed, there are things you should say and things you shouldn’t say.
1) “I see that you’re having a hard time.” People feel better when they’re understood and not judged or…Continue
Relationships aren’t always easy. Sometimes they go smoothly, and we feel like things are effortless between us and the other person, but sometimes we encounter someone who can really make a lot of trouble for us.
Quite often, there are signs of trouble early on. We can protect ourselves from the difficult people if we pay close attention to these “red flags.”
If we don’t pay attention to the red flags that warn us of a difficult person in our presence or if we’re in denial…Continue
Difficult people can make life really miserable for us. They can cause us a lot of stress and prevent us from achieving our goals. They’re often tricky and manipulative and adept at getting the upper hand. This is why it’s so important to be able to recognize these problematic individuals and to learn how to deal with them as quickly and strategically as possible.
After Labor Day, when we’re back at school and at work, we’re still bringing some of that summertime relaxation into the…Continue
The last weeks of summer are winding down. September will be here before we know it and it’ll be back to the old grind and the crazy-busy mindset of the new fall season.
Summer is great because we have the opportunity for quiet time to check in to ourselves and cultivate self-awareness. When we’re chilling out at the cottage, on the beach, in the backyard or at the local park we get a chance to contemplate the things we haven’t had time to think about during the busy…Continue
These days, I've been thinking a lot about why people are so polarized and so angry and hateful toward one-another. The right wing of politics has tremendous animosity toward the left and vice-versa; race relations are at an all-time low; Poland is lately declaring certain communities “LGBT-free;” and it seems like every other day we read about people harassing or bullying random strangers on the street for reasons of pure intolerance.
Not that long ago, we'd come far in terms of…Continue
Added by Marcia Sirota on July 28, 2019 at 7:57pm — No Comments
A lot has been written about the kinds of people who choose to lead a cult. Like Charles Manson, Jim Jones or Sun Myung Moon, these are power-crazed narcissists and sociopaths, highly invested in manipulating and controlling others to do their bidding. It’s not enough for these individuals to have personal power; they’re compelled to have others bend to their will.
But what causes a…Continue
For many, many human beings, it’s painful to see the truth about our loved ones, and most especially about our parents and our partners, so we choose instead to go into denial.
Denial is a powerful human defense mechanism. We deny that the pain in our chest is serious because we don’t want to believe that we have heart disease. Unfortunately, when we deny a problem, we can’t fix the problem, and this is why far too many people suffer and even dies of untreated heart…Continue
Lately, I’ve been noticing how a lot of people who are in abusive relationships have a habit of minimizing the bad behavior of their abusers. They rationalize and justify the other person’s behavior and it allows them to tolerate the unacceptable.
It’s sad that people are being abused but it’s even sadder that those who are most vulnerable seem to be protecting their abusers and creating justifications for their hurtful behavior. These victims of abuse need to see the truth of what’s…Continue