Pets and fireworks don’t mix

22382403_10213144851508211_6562001469831516731_oFireworks went on sale recently and even though Guy Fawke’s night is over people are still setting them off each night. Most pet owners dread this time of year. Our wee darlings and big tough pets alike crumble into anxious dribblers.

My ditzy fluff-ball Zac (pictured with his favourite toy pig) whimpers and tries to hide behind my legs. I heard swaddling them helps them feel safe. I tried a tight-fitting jersey which seems to work a treat during fireworks, thunderstorms, earthquakes etc.

Find out more:

Mental Health Week 2016

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week

1 in 5 New Zealanders are diagnosed with a mental illness, including myself, meaning every New Zealander comes into contact with someone who is affected. That is why I feel it’s very important that we talk about and discuss mental illness, breaking down stereotypes, stigmas and barriers.

The focus for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Connect with Nature for Good Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Mental health awareness week 2016

“Research has shown that spending time in nature is great for mental and physical health. Evidence proves it makes us happier, decreases feelings of depression and anxiety, improves concentration, buffers against stress, makes our lives meaningful and reduces health inequalities related to poverty.”

As part of a Mental Health Awareness Week there is a “lockout” organised for lunchtime today. We’re all encourage to get outside, rain or shine, and into the fresh air.

Being in nature helps me unwind, relax and practice mindfulness, which is still something I am working on.

I’m lucky to work for Christchurch City Libraries and to be surrounded by excellent resources. There are some other fantastic resources out there.  Here are some of my favourites:

Cover of Taming the black dogTaming the Black Dog: a Guide to Overcoming Depression, Bev Aisbett

A witty and simple guide.  You can have a laugh while also getting helpful tips to managing depression.

The Mindfulness Toolbox, Don Altman

Although this is intended for mental health practitioners it is full of practical, achievable activities for those using self help.  I love that I can choose and print out one of the over 40 handouts and work through it at my own pace.

Cover of Why can't I stop?Why Can’t I Stop? Reclaiming your Life From a Behavioral Addiction, Jon E. Grant

An interesting look at behavioural addiction’s (gambling, internet, OCD etc).  Offering insight and helpful advice.

Reading in Mind Book Scheme, of which the Christchurch City Libraries is a proud partner.

The scheme recommends books, eAudiobooks, eBooks or DVDs about a wide range of mental health issues. The books are selected with the advice of mental health professionals and the Mental Health Foundation of NZ.

Reading in mind logo

More information and help with mental health

Outreach & Learning Team

Beat those Winter Blues

Are you finding the gloomy days and cold nights are getting you down? I’ve come up with some blue-busting winter warmers to drag you out of the doldrums:


There. I said it. It’s essential. Yes, I can hear you moan! Nothing warms the body up and produces happy brain chemicals like moving. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, a gentle stroll can do it. Christchurch City Council’s Sport and Recreation page has walks, fitness centres, bike, beaches and boating, activities, leisure clubs for older adults pages full of info and contacts.

Find a local club in CINCH or simply walk the dog, dance around the house to some cheerful tunes or get exercising with friends.

Get out of the house

Now this is a simple one. Withdrawing from day to day social contact with your fellow humans can have a negative effect on your mood. Yes, it’s cold out but there are warm places to go such as your local library! Ensure that you socialise with your friends and family regularly or find a social group on CINCH.

Brighten up your house

Let more light in by opening curtains and trimming trees. Ensure your body gets light by sitting by the window. Less light in winter can affect your mood.

Help others

Volunteer your time. Helping others is great for our own mental health. It gets you out of the house, socialising and you may even get some exercise too.

I just can’t do it!

Is depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress stopping you from having a positive outlook and fulfilling life? Visit your doctor/counsellor and these organisations to get help getting your life back.

More resources from our catalogue

Helping Canterbury kids with anxiety

A new resource for parents, teachers and the children of Canterbury to help children cope with anxiety was launched recently. Maia and the Worry Bug (for families) and Wishes and Worries (for classroom use) are two picture books that make up an anxiety management resource.

Maia and the Worry Bug is about the worry bug that moves in with Maia and her family. It makes them worry about all sorts of things. Mum worries about whether the family are safe, Dad worries about whether Mum has fixed the bookcase to the wall properly and if the emergency kit has everything it needs, and Maia doesn’t want to leave the house. Their worries get so bad that they finally have to come up with a way to get rid of the worry bug for good. As well as the story there are also exercises and discussion questions in the back of the book for families to work through together.

The Worry Bug project is the brainchild of two Christchurch women; psychologist Julie Burgess-Manning and teacher Sarina Dickson, with illustrations by the wonderful Jenny Cooper. The books were made possible by receiving funding from the Canterbury Community Trust and Canterbury Earthquake Appeals Trust.

The resource will be given out free to all new entrant – Year 4 children and classrooms in Christchurch city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts in Term 3.

As well as Maia and the Worry Bug we have some other great resources in the library to help children cope with anxiety:

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

In my case it wasn’t Ms Woolf but her namesakes. After all I’d been raised on European children’s literature and these critters featured a lot. Admittedly never in the Secret Seven or Famous Five, but I had a fertile imagination and the night time was when those boyos promoted themselves to driving cars and generally getting round on two legs. Leading to a terrified wail in the night.

Cover of Phobias or The Way of The WorrierFears, irrational or otherwise – a lot of us have them. Fear of spiders, arachnophobia. Why and when did spiders produce such fear in some of us? Robert the Bruce wasn’t turned off from his close encounter, far from it. And of course there’s “aratnophobia”. I’ve seen someone clear a metre-high-plus bench top in one leap, to escape a rat. Needless to say the rat was legging it in the other direction equally as terrified. In his case quite rightly, as he bought it in the end and she came down off the bench.

Then there’s Hitchcock’s movie, The Birds, which reduced parts of a generation to a jellied mess whenever a large flock of starlings or similar gathered nearby.

Cover of Freeing Your Child From AnxietyIt has been suggested that one in six of us suffer depression or a chronic anxiety disorder and there are plenty of books in our libraries on the subject that would suggest this might not be too far off the truth. In Phobias or the Way of the Worrier Tim Weinberg looks at the range of phobias – from common to bizarre. He examines scientific and psychological research to make sense of this strange world. And he shares his own journey in overcoming his fear of heights.

Anxiety, fears and phobias are not all limited to adults either. Freeing Your Child from Anxiety has easy, fun, and effective tools for teaching children to outsmart their worries and take charge of their fears.

Christchurch City Libraries have Conquer Your Fears and Phobias for Teens currently on order.  Holds or reserves can be placed on this book now.

Nerves and butterflies are fine — they’re a physical sign that you’re mentally ready and eager. You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that’s the trick. ~Steve Bull

Christmas – It’s a mixed bag this year

At the risk of bringing a bit of a damper to the celebrations, I think it’s important to acknowledge that for many people Christmas is a bit of a mixed bag this year.  On the one hand there is the chance to celebrate, and to kick back with friends and family; on the other there is the ongoing nature of daily lives affected by damaged homes, uncertainty and loss. It really is a time to take care of ourselves and each other.  Perhaps you are feeling overly anxious, a bit grouchy, stressed, overwhelmed, sad, or all of the above!  Considering the year we have had all of these feelings are completely understandable.

The self-help section of the library has some fantastic material that could help.  Sometimes ‘self help’ evokes bad press,  but in this collection there is plenty of good solid sensible advice for those of us in need of a bit of care and understanding.

Don’t forget to use our CINCH database if you feel that you need to find someone, or an agency with whom you could talk to. Our Earthquake recovery page on the library website might be worth looking at again, as it has many agencies that are still working actively in Christchurch.

You might also want to check out some of these titles:

All blacks don’t cry by John Kirwan.  Personally I think this man should be nominated for a knighthood!  A very personal story that normalises depression and offers hope.

Dealing with depression by Caroline Shreeve.  Some books on this subject proclaim one approach as providing the magic cure – this one gives a good overview of a number of strategies  including medication and alternative therapies.

Cover of "5 survivors"The mindful way through anxiety by Susan Orsillo and Lizabeth Roemer.  The authors describe how to gain awareness of anxious feelings without letting them escalate.  Lots of stories, self-quizzes and step-by-step exercises.

5 survivors: personal stories of healing from PTSD and traumatic events by Tracy Stecker. Theauthor outlines the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the progress of each survivor.  Those living with untreated PTSD may see themselves in these stories and realize they are not alone. It is also useful for friends and family of those who have been  impacted by the trauma, and aims to give more intimate understanding of a loved one’s struggle and pain.

Still feeling shaky?

A year after the beginning of the big earthquakes in Canterbury, many of us are still suffering the effects on our well being. There have been positive outcomes such as a stronger community bond, but also adverse reactions.  Some of us still have housing, employment and family issues to contend with. All the while our media is showing us the ever-growing empty sections of our city’s heart.  Islay McLeod’s recent article in The Press describes her reaction of gut-wrenching sadness and despair.

There are many professional and community groups offering help. Search Community INformation CHristchurch (CINCH) website for counselling, stress, insomnia etc. Canterbury Health Info has a page dedicated to earthquake stress,  common responses and coping mechanisms.

We have resources in our libraries for post traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety, insomnia. Through the library’s website  (using your library card number and PIN) you also have access to Health and Wellness Resource Centre. Key features of this database are:

  • Quick links to hot topics and top searched conditions;
  • Over 3,000 top medical journals and general interest publications with the majority in full text;
  • Medical newspapers, newsletters and news feeds;

Sometimes involving ourselves in a sporting or relaxing activity can help with stress and enable a good nights sleep. Running, yoga, meditation and  short breaks away all help.  Don’t forget you can always chat to your doctor about any concerns.