Archive of ‘General’ category

Pets and Mental Health

Does your pet bring great joy into your life? Does it help you make it through the day or achieve a sense of a calm at night? Do you love your cat or dog so much that you can’t wait to get home and play with them? Pets are family for many of us and we grow to love them dearly. Simply put, they are a very important part of our lives. Domestic animals can also be very helpful when it comes to helping people maintain their mental health.

Exercise and Socialization

Depending on what type of pet you have, you will have to go outside to take them for walks. Many people suffering from anxiety and depression often cocoon themselves in their home; having a pet ensures that they will go outside a few times a day.

Going for walks with a dog also increases the chances of socialization. Pet owners will often greet and spend time talking with each other. This can lead to new friendships and support systems. It can also make the affected person feel more confident about themselves and their ability to converse and benefit from company.

Stress Reduction

Your cat probably drives you crazy at times, but they possess that magic weapon that makes you forgive and forget: purring. When cats turn up their engines, it can be a great stress reducer, as can cuddling with your pet. Soft, fluffy, and warm is an excellent combination when it comes to stress reduction. Some people even sleep better when their pet is close by in bed.

Reduce Loneliness

People with mental health problems often wall themselves off from the rest of the world out of a sense of shame. While they are working through this challenge, having a pet can often keep them company and better able to fend off attacks of loneliness.



Why Do Children Run Away from Home?

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: their child has seemingly run away from home and is nowhere to be found. There can be many reasons why this happens, but they can be very difficult to process at the time because of fear and anxiety. If your child has left home and you are not sure why, here are some possible circumstances that may have led to their decision:

Family Problems

This is the main one. The family dynamic has changed due to alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, or some other cause that has made the child feel unsafe at home.


The child may be suffering abuse at the hands of one or both parents, and/or a sibling. This could be in the form of violence, sexual molestation, or degrading verbal abuse.

Substance Abuse

If a child is drinking or doing drugs, that can negatively effect their behavior, how they are doing at school, and their interactions with friends. Parents can respond with punishment and pressure, causing the child to flee their home.

Peer Pressure

Bullying has always been an issue for children, but this problem has increased seriously in recent years due to the internet and the ease with which one can bully a peer. This abuse can also be taking place at school and the authorities there are sometimes unable or unwilling to help.

School Problems

Kids doing poorly in their classes or frequently clashing with teachers may feel that they have to get out, but do not have the option of dropping out because of parental pressure. Also, the parents may demand a level of academic performance that is beyond the child’s ability and they respond to that pressure by running away.

While most police will not consider someone officially missing until 24 hours have past, some will make concessions if the person is a minor. If your child is missing and you have checked everywhere and with everyone you know, call your local police department for assistance.


Practicing Good Car Health

If you have ever owned a car in your life, you know full well how convenient and liberating it can be. You also probably know how expensive it can be. Whether your bought your car new or used, chances are you would like it to last as long as possible. Here are some tips that can help to make that a reality:

Regular oil changes

Your oil is basically your car’s life blood. It keeps everything lubricated and functioning properly. Just like contaminated blood is not good for the body, dirty oil is bad for your car. Make sure you get the oil changed every 5000 km or every six months, whichever comes first.

Rotate your tires

Leaving your tires in the same position for many kilometres is a bad idea because they will wear out faster. This is especially true of the front tires. Have a mechanic rotate your wheels every 10,000 km. That will help your tires to last longer and make for a safer drive.

It is also a good idea to make sure that your wheels are aligned properly. Improper alignment will also cause them to wear out faster. Most any mechanic should be able to do that for you.

Regular service checks

Just as you go to the doctor every year for a physical, it is a good idea to do the same for your car. Have you ever broken down in the middle of nowhere? Not fun, was it? While some things cannot be prevented, many breakdowns are simply the result of problems that were not caught before they became detrimental to the car’s basic functioning.

Regular checkups with a qualified mechanic can mean such problems are caught before they progress to such a state. Preventive care is well worth the time and money for anyone who cares about their car.

Is Sleep Really That Important?

We will bet that you have heard from childhood about just how important a good night’s sleep is, but we will also wager that you may not know the specific reasons why. As it turns out, there are quite a few reasons why a good night’s sleep can make a major difference in your life.

Here are a few to remember:

You will have more energy

This one just makes common sense: the better rested you are, the more energy you will have. That will make it easier for you to do all of your day-to-day activities. Proper rest can also go a long way in helping you to maintain your physical and mental health. You will also be less likely to end up with such serious conditions as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease.

You will eat healthier

Tying in with the previous point: when people are running low on energy, they often turn to sugary foods and caffeinated drinks in order to keep going. These almost always have nothing good for you and are usually filled with empty calories that will simply cause you to gain weight.

You will be safer

People who are tired are not as alert. This makes them more likely to get into accidents, either when behind the wheel or even just walking down the street.

You will be more creative

If you are feeling good and mentally alert, you are more likely to do good, interesting, and creative work. This applies to your job, hobbies, and even life in general.

You will find it easier to make decisions

ever try to make an important decision when you are tired? It can be really difficult when you cannot keep all the important factors in mind. If you regularly get a good night’s sleep, it is not only easier to make decisions, but you will be more likely to make the right ones.

Signs that You Need a Vacation

Everyone who works hard on their job knows that eventually they need to use those vacation days. However, they sometimes don’t realize it until things start getting out of hand. Here are some signs that you need a break from work, say, like this:

Physical Strain

Extended periods of heavy work can actually cause damage to your body via repetitive stress injuries…or worse. If your body is telling you it needs a break, it almost certainly does.


You may pride yourself on always doing a good job, but if you find that you are making errors on a regular basis now, this may be the time to start making some travel plans.

It’s Becoming Too Much Too Often

Working in the modern world usually means having to keep a number of balls in the air. If you are constantly multi-tasking – and failing – then you should take that as a sign that it is time to slow way down and use some of those accumulated holidays.

Chronic Fatigue…or Insomnia

Are you no longer bouncing out of bed and heading for work? Do you find yourself essentially dead on your feet when 5:00 rolls around? You guessed it: you need a break.

The opposite is also true. Do you find that your normal, effective sleep pattern is failing you and you are sitting up in the wee hours of the morning? Do you dread work so much that your body and mind just won’t relax? Not a good sign. Better book a flight to somewhere warm.

You’re in a Perpetual Bad Mood

No one is happy all of the time, but if you find yourself angry and unpleasant more than happy and hopeful, your balance is definitely off. Negative mood can have a bad effect on the quality of work and your personal interactions. Give yourself – and your co-workers – a break by taking a break.

Depression in Seniors

Senior citizens face a number of challenges that you and I may not have considered. When you are young and in good health, life seems easy and challenges are easily surmounted. However, as we age, both our mind and body slow down, which can make tasks that were previously simple much tougher. That additional burden, combined with physical changes that make us seem less attractive desirable, can lead to crippling depression.

While depression is common in senior citizens, many do not receive the proper treatment they require to overcome it.

Health Impacts

It is widely accepted that depression lowers one’s quality of life, but it can also negatively affect physical health. Studies show that depression in the elderly can lead to an increased risk of death following a major health event like a heart attack. When we are depressed, we tend not to take proper care of ourselves, even though that is just what we should concentrate on in the wake of a major health scare. As with other age demographics, depression also increases the likelihood of suicide.

Social Isolation

When we feel down, we are less likely to spend time with friends and family, even though such interaction would likely help make us feel better. Seniors have an increased challenge here as decreased mobility and placement of some in old age homes makes it difficult to get out and about. That can make social interaction less infrequent and more dependent on other parties to maintain such a connection.


Lack of sufficient sleep can both lead to depression and be a common by-product of it. When we feel tired and out of sorts, everything about life seems tougher and that makes it more difficult to function day-to-day. Improper amounts of sleep can also cause health problems, which in turn either lead to depression or can increase it.

Can I Eat Junk Food in Moderation?

You don’t have to be a news junkie to know that the government and various scientists are constantly warning us about the dangers of junk food. And really, aside from very specific data, we should already realize that a diet of soda, red meat, and greasy fries is not doing us any good.

However, what about moderation? If you only drink once in a while, that doesn’t make you an alcoholic, right? What about, say, only having Kentucky Fried Chicken and a chocolate sundae only once a week? Would my health still be fine if I exercised that type of self-control on a regular basis?

Empty Calories

Junk food is considered to be empty calories: food that provides calories for you, but have few, if any, beneficial effects for your body. The amount of recommended empty calories varies from 120-330 per day, depending on age and gender. Generally, the older you are, and if you are male, you are allotted more empty calories. However, that limits goes up with the amount of exercise you do. In other words, the more exercise you do, the more potato chips you can have.

Health Issues

The more sugar you consume, the more likely you are to gain weight, develop diabetes, have a heart attack or stroke, etc. So, in general, if you really wish to avoid serious health problems, you should try to keep your junk food consumption as close to zero as possible. If you want to consume a bit of junk food, the odds of health issues rises.


By this, we don’t mean cheat on your diet by having nothing but junk. We mean mixing junk and healthy choices together. For example, if you really must eat a bag of potato chips, wash them down with a glass of water, rather than a can of soda.

Are Canadians Really as Nice as Everyone Thinks?

There are a number of stereotypes when it comes to our country, but the one I encounter the most is that Canadians are nice to a fault. That we apologize for everything and always defer to everyone else. Some even say that it indicates we have no spine.

There are certainly more important things to worry about than being perceived as overly nice. In fact, isn’t politeness a desirable quality? It certainly is, though in apparent accordance with our deferential nature, not all Canadians see that as a positive thing when it is pointed out.

In fact, given the common brashness of some Americans (particularly given the current climate and president), I think our comparatively mild demeanour is certainly something to be cherished. That familiar American “We are the Best!” mantra cannot help but instill an inferiority complex in its neighbours, but it shouldn’t, particularly given the terribly misguided course that country is currently on.

Cynical folks might say that our politeness is really more the result of a defense mechanism. After all, if you are around people that you must spend time with (or wish to spend as little time as possible with), it’s a wiser strategy to be nice than brash.

However, I think that politeness is the default position for many Canucks I know. Maybe it is a natural result of  having to survive brutal winters that run for half of the year (or more); if you help your neighbour, they are more likely to be there for you in your own time of need, right?

So, to answer the question posed in our title…there is no scientific proof that Canadians are as nice as everyone seems to think, but there is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence to back that up. That is good enough for me, but I fully respect your differing opinion. Because I’m Canadian and I’m not always right.

How to Make the Most of Your Lunch Break

Most of us find that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. One way to combat this is to make more efficient use of the time we do have available. Depending on where you work and your agreed-upon schedule, you may have anywhere from 30-60 minutes for your lunch break. If it’s only a half hour, that doesn’t leave you with much time to do more than eat. However, if you have an hour, that leaves you with a good 30 minutes that you can also use for other things you wish to accomplish. Here are three suggestions on how you can spend that extra time productively:


If your company has a gym on site, go and use the tread mill or get on an exercise bike. No equipment on-site? Get that 30 minutes of recommended daily walking in. If you like to jog, go for a short one around the area. A change of scenery will probably help you be more productive after lunch.

Don’t just sit in the cafeteria for an hour. Make more productive use of your lunchtime!

Eat Outside

Don’t get to spend enough time outdoors with your current schedule? Try eating outside for a change. If your company does not have an outside seating area, bring a blanket and have a picnic with your co-workers. Sunshine and fresh air are very good for you; this allows you to get in your daily quota and can help revitalize you for the afternoon.

Stop Looking at Screens

The average American and Canadian spends an inordinate amount of time each day looking at screens: smartphone, computer, tablet, TV, etc. Give your eyes a well-deserved break during lunch and read a book, go for a walk, meditate…do something different that will help both mind and body decompress.

How to Ask for a Raise

There are certain aspects of having a job that are very straightforward: you need to show up at a certain time, you have certain deadlines to meet, you must be respectful to your colleagues, etc.

Then there are other aspects that are not so cut and dried. One of these is how to ask for a raise. It can be a nerve-wracking decision because you don’t always know what is going on with the company’s finances or just how favorable your supervisors view you.

If you think the time has come to ask for a raise, here are some tips on how to go about it:

Is It Time to Ask for a Raise?

In general, you really only expect to get a raise once per year. If you just had one six months ago, you really should wait awhile before seeking another.

What Kind of Person is Your Boss?

Is your supervisor the type of person who always believes in getting to the point? Or is he or she someone that you need to approach in a gradual, thoughtful way that allows you to reinforce your value to the company in their mind? Knowing how to initiate the topic increases both your confidence and chances for success.

Have a Figure in Mind

You probably have an idea regarding how much more you would like to be making, but is it realistic? Your company may be doing well enough, but is it doing so well that you think it’s reasonable to ask for another $5 an hour? Choose a figure that is between the top end of what you would like to make and the minimum you would need to continue working there.

These are the basic steps. Try to ask for a raise before your next review as it will likely be too late for that calendar year if you wait until after. Good luck!

Four Things You Should Do First Thing in the Morning

Getting out of bed in the morning can be a real chore for some people…and I’m really not in a position to criticize anyone in that camp. As I get up in years, and a night’s sleep becomes less and less satisfying, mornings are more likely to elicit a groan than a smile.

It’s always good to have a steady routine as they helps to keep you on track. That routine needs to consist of positive and productive things, of course. Have trouble getting motivated in the morning? Here are some things you should start doing:

Get Up Early and Always at the Same Time

I can feel some of you wanting to check out already, but there is really some good thinking in this approach. It’s simple: the more time you have in the morning, the more productive you can be. Getting up at the same time everyday helps your body adjust to that inevitability and can improve the quality of your sleep.

Leave the Coffee and Go for Water

Yes, caffeine gives you that boost, but we all know it’s addictive. Try to ween yourself off of coffee and other caffeinated beverages in exchange for good old fashioned water. H2O re-hydrates you and that helps your body function at its peak; coffee actually does the opposite.

Exercise Before Work

This is another great way to clear your head and energize your body before the rigors of the day. And doing it before work ensures that it gets done.

Make Your Bed

As a child, this always seemed especially pointless to me: who other than me will see my messy bed? The point is that it actually helps to make you more organized. Also, at the end of a long and busy day, it’s more appealing to climb into a fresh and tidy bed than some sloppy mess.