Admin 04 Aug , 2021

Information gathered and prepared by A. Balind MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker, Portage Medical Family Health Team


Self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves, the words we use to talk to ourselves and the beliefs that you have about ourselves.  Our self-esteem can change depending on the moment and the situations that we find ourselves in.  The good news is, we can work to strengthen our self-esteem to help increase our mood and reduce any anxiety or insecurities that we may have.

Low Self-Esteem
Here are some ways that someone may notice or feel if their self-esteem is low:

How you might think How you might feel How you might act
  • Critical thoughts about yourself, your abilities, or your future.
  • Worries that you won’t be able to cope or fearing the worst.
  • Thoughts that you are not good enough.
  • An image of yourself as ‘worthless’ or ‘lesser’.
  • Negative self-talk, e.g. “I am ugly”“I am boring”“I am stupid”.
  • Low
  • Sad
  • Deflated
  • Hopeless
  • Picked-on
  • Un-confident
  • Anxious
  • Tired
  • Not try, for fear that you will fail.
  • Try too hard to prove yourself / overcompensate.
  • Avoid people, places, or situations.
  • Criticize yourself.
  • Dwell on your failings.

What changes our self-esteem?
May things can have an impact on our self-esteem over a period of time.  The following are just a few examples:

  • Early childhood experiences– this can be the praise or neglect a person may have had as a child.The words that parents/guardians/supportive persons have a strong impact.
  • Other’s expectations– do people expect things of us or put pressure on us that we do not like or want.
  • Peer groups– Do the people we spend time with lift us up or push us down?
  • The praise, encouragement, praise and/or attention we receive – is there anyone in your life, including yourself, that provides this? Or only in a negative way?

What keeps our self-esteem going strong?
The beliefs that we have about ourselves and what we continue to tell ourselves can either increase or decrease our self-esteem.  When one’s beliefs about themselves are challenged, we tend to resort to some safety measures as follows:

  • Self-talk: try to speak kindly and gently to yourself. “next time I need to pay more attention so I don’t mess up”, “I did my best and I am proud!”
  • Rules that you set for yourself: make sure that you are 70-90% confident that you are able to meet the rules and goals that you set for yourself. If your confidence is not that high, change the rules and goals to meet that percentage.
  • Future thinking: try to recognize only certain outcomes and not all of the potential things that could happen. Plan for the good and the bad outcome.
  • Facing situations: make your best effort to deal with problems as they come up, it will keep your motivation high and stop the problem from getting out of control.
  • Friends/family: Surround yourself, when possible, with like-minded, supportive, positive people that care for you in the way that you care for them.

Movement “Medicine”

Admin 07 Jul , 2021

Information gathered and prepared by A. Balind MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker, Portage Medical Family Health Team

Mental health is something that we all have and that we all have to work on.  It is a state of well-being.   A great way to make sure that you have good mental health is if you enjoy life, feel that your life has a purpose and that your life has ups and downs.  Some people think that having strong mental health means that you are happy all of the time.  This is not true and unrealistic.  Having control over your mental health means that you are able to experience all emotions, even the difficult ones from time to time.

Moving your body regularly can help to improve your mental health.  Many people have heard of “runner’s high”, which is a state of happiness people may feel after a long run.  The good news is, you do not have to run to get this good feeling. Going for a walk, doing jumping jacks, playing with a pet or taking the stairs can give you the same good feelings.  Any activity that is going to get your heart beating and increase your breathing will help to improve your mood if you are feeling sad, nervous, worried or just numb.

Science has shown that for people with Anxiety and/or depression exercise and movement can reduce your symptoms.  In fact, it can boost your mood after only 10-15minutes of activity! However, you don’t need to have depression or anxiety to find the benefit from this.  We all need to work on keeping well, both physically and mentally; some regular movement can make a big difference!

Why Stretch?

Admin 02 Jun , 2021

Information gathered and prepared by A. Balind, MSW, RSW
Clinical Social Worker Portage Medical Family Health Team


            Do you stretch?  Often people forget to stretch, do not stretch properly, or do not understand when or why they should stretch.  Stretching daily along with before and after exercise is important for people for the following reasons:

  • to prevent getting hurt
  • recovery from injury
  • lower stress
  • increase flexibility
  • keep the range of motion in joints
  • keep muscles long and lose

It is also important to understand how to stretch properly.  Here are some helpful tips to make sure you are stretching properly:

  • move at a comfortable speed
  • do not tug or bounce
  • hold stretches for between 10-30 seconds each
  • stop your stretch once you feel tightness in that muscle
  • if it hurts, stop- it should feel good
  • do not hold your breath- counting out loud can help to make sure you’re breathing properly
  • stretch all muscles in the body- large and small

Knowing which stretches to do and what will be helpful for you can be tricky.  Speaking with your doctor or health care provider may be helpful.  They may give you stretches to try or refer you to a Physiotherapist.  The internet can help to show you stretches to try and how to do them safely as well.  Here are some helpful websites:


The Portage Medical Family Health Team staff will be happy to help you learn or find more information about stretching and exercise.  Just ask us!



Leading a Balanced Lifestyle for Self-Care

Admin 09 Apr , 2021

Information gathered and prepared by H. Wiens MSc., RP.
Registered Psychotherapist Portage Medical Family Health Team



What is self-care and why does it matter? Self-care includes all the things you do to take care of your well-being in four essential dimensions, which include emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual health. Each of these dimensions is achieved by making the addition of the following components to daily life: hobbies, career, partner, education, physical activity, children, community activity, reward system for the self, social structure, spirituality, support groups, and extended family. Self-care is essential for managing stress, emotions and preventing burnout.

Hobbies:  A hobby is an activity that explores our creative side as we learn to cook, bake, paint, take photographs, play a musical instrument, or engage in any other arts and crafts. This not only provides pleasure but also cultivates self-esteem as we discover ourselves in the type of activity we choose to pursue. It gives us something fun to do during our leisure time and allows us to learn new skills as well as relieve stress by keeping engaged in something we enjoy. The best way to cultivate a hobby is to try something new. The world is full of activities that we can explore and adopt as our own. Once we find a hobby that we truly enjoy and are passionate about, we become hooked. It becomes part of our lives and captivates us in a very personal way.

Career:  Choosing a satisfying career plays an important role in determining life satisfaction. Online resources such as interest inventories and aptitude tests assist with career exploration. Selecting the right career provides meaning and purpose when learning new skills, which lead to achievements that in turn build self-esteem and confidence.

Partner: Cultivating a nurturing relationship with a partner extends life by as much as eight years. Create satisfaction by planning quality time together, accept each other’s differences, cultivate an atmosphere of appreciation, do loving acts of kindness, and have realistic expectations.

Education: For personal or professional development, you may wish to learn something new regularly to nurture your intellect, which helps diminish the risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s as new synapses within the brain are being created. You may choose from any topic that is of interest to you from history, to biographies, politics, keeping up with world events, learning a new recipe, a language, playing a musical instrument, do it yourself projects, or any type of arts and crafts.

Physical activity: Exercise is a main component of wellbeing, longevity, and mental health. Thirty minutes of daily activity acts as an antidepressant as the brain creates serotonin that makes you feel good, as well as dopamine that motivates you to complete your workout and any other tasks you may have planned for the day. Weight-bearing exercises diminish the risk for osteoporosis and build muscle mass, which is the furnace that burns calories to prevent weight gain. Cardiovascular exercises, which are exercises that are done at a pace in which you would have difficulty having a conversation, strengthen the heart muscle, and circulates blood and oxygen to all organs for optimum functioning. Research has shown that cardiovascular exercise diminishes the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Children: As parents it is important to carve out time for family life, as well as scheduling time with each child, to develop individual relationships, and create secure attachments. For others that do not have children, mentorship and support may be provided to our extended families, neighbors, our friends’ children, or through community programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada.

Community activity: Volunteering provides a sense of purpose and meaning and provides perspective when donating one’s time, resources or contributing to an organization financially. This provides an opportunity to make meaningful connections with others, which counteracts stress, depression, and anxiety.

Reward system for the self: Eating a balanced diet of five to eight handfuls of fruit and vegetables, as well as the size of a deck of cards of protein daily provides the body with the nutrition it requires to maintain cell function, brain chemistry, as well as muscle mass and bone density for optimum physical and emotional health. Seven to nine hours of sleep allows the body to repair, rebuild and detoxify. Keeping the body hydrated with six to eight glasses per day provides the liquid needed to transport oxygen to cells, cleanse the vascular system, helps joints and muscles remain flexible, and increases concentration and overall energy. Planning fun daily allows the body and mind to take a break from the tasks of daily life, for an opportunity to become refreshed with a rewarding and pleasurable activity.

Social structure: Having plans to get together with a friend or a group of friends provides that sense of anticipation as we have something to look forward to. Having fun, sharing hardships, and having individuals that have been a part of your life creates community and a chosen family. Research has indicated that this is significant in reducing the risk for heart disease, as being in the presence of friends diminishes stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we can maintain these friendships via social media platforms or meeting with safety protocols in place.

Spirituality: Research indicates that those that believe in something greater than themselves have fewer incidences and shorter bouts of depression and anxiety. It provides a sense of community and assists in providing support in life’s most difficult moments, as well as answering existential questions such as the purpose and meaning of life and the process of transitioning into the afterlife. Having a relationship with a higher power via prayer or meditation, reading books that nurture your faith, and joining a faith community will connect you with your essence and provide you with purpose and meaning.

Support groups: During life’s most difficult moments such as when we have encountered the loss of a loved one, a job, or transitioning into a new phase of life, it is helpful to seek out the assistance from a group of people that are also going through similar life experiences. Listings of specific types of groups can be located by contacting In Communities (211) or online at

Extended family: Staying in touch with relatives does not mean we have to agree with their religious or political views but instead allows for a sense of belonging and stability by discovering our cultural identities and histories, to find a sense of appreciation, not only for others but how we came to be who we are.

Developing each of these categories is a life’s journey into self-discovery towards a balanced lifestyle for physical and emotional wellbeing. Have fun developing each of these categories into something meaningful and beneficial to you, that allows for individuality and self-expression, and that is flexible to ever-evolving and changing needs. Enjoy the process of creating the life that you envision for yourself!


Additional Resources: