Is Mental Fitness the Answer to Climbing Canadian Stress?

Is Mental Fitness the Answer to Climbing Canadian Stress?

Inaugural Canadian positive psychology conference co-organizer says yes

Since she began implementing what’s called the positivity ratio in her life several years ago, Louisa Jewell has seen a significant boost in her mood, overall well-being and protection from depression.

Could this be the answer we as increasingly stressed Canadians are looking for, this intentional focus on shifting our negative to positive emotional balance?

If we take it along with the other solutions the relatively new field of positive psychology — from which this ratio hails — quite likely so, says Louisa, a people and organizational specialist with the Toronto-based consultancy Positive Matters.

“We need to start thinking mental fitness,” says Louisa — not just how to manage or deal with mental illness after the fact.

Evidence is overwhelming that many Canadians are not coping well. Whether it’s technology to blame or the greater demands people are placing on themselves, it’s clear we need new paths forward. Louisa refers to studies showing that stress-related illness has become the No. 1 reason for workplace absenteeism.

At the same time, neuroscience is proving the tight connection between our minds and bodies. For instance, more than 84 studies now indicate optimism has a direct impact on cardiovascular health.

Positive psychology adds a different perspective to the traditional psychology approach, which studies mental illness, focusing instead on a study of psychological health, wellbeing and happiness.

While some of its principles and ideas were in play long before, it was 14 years ago that positive psychology founding father Martin Seligman put the language and practices we see around it today. The field has blossomed worldwide since, with thousands of studies completed.

In the last year, a group of Canadian practitioners and researchers has undertaken to amplify its presence and effectiveness in Canada with the creation of a central research, networking and information-sharing body, the Canadian Positive Psychology Association.

Organized by the association, an inaugural Canadian positive psychology conference takes place July 20-21. Coaches, counsellors, organizational consultants, educators, psychologists, psychotherapists, students, researchers and parents interested in learning more about the la test positive psychology research and opportunities for its application should find it relevant.

“Certainly anyone interested in wanting to be more fulfilled, happier and psychologically resilient,” will find it of value, Louisa adds. 

Both the conference and subsequent she’s hoping to see — including a broader network of engaged practitioners and researchers, a new French-speaking community as well as more  educational symposiums geared to different professions — all align with the organization’s larger vision of improving the psychological health of all Canadians.

To learn more about the conference, click here.

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Michelle Strutzenberger

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