What are the Mental Health Benefits of Being a Sports Fan?

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

It’s May 2019 and a remarkable thing has happened in our fair city of Toronto, the province of Ontario and our great country of Canada in general:

The Toronto Raptors are going to the NBA championships!!

Full disclosure: I’m fully a “band-wagoner” fan when it comes to basketball and the Raptors. Sure, I was around and excited when Toronto got our very own basketball team 24 years ago. Even went to some games back then, but my sports beating heart undoubtedly belongs to baseball and our embattled Toronto Blue Jays.

That said though, I am fortunate to live downtown and experienced the pure joy and excitement of the Raptors winning over the Milwaukee Bucks to advance to the championships.

It reminded me of the time that the Toronto Blue Jays won back to back championships in the 90’s and my parents and I made our way downtown at the time to walk down Yonge Street. We cheered and gave everyone we passed by high fives along the way. It was an incredible feeling to be a part of this city- and nation-wide celebration.

I was in my teens then and I was a baseball fan before the Jays won the championships. But that experience of belonging and happiness of celebrating along with everyone cemented my commitment to being a Jays fan, it seems, for life!

Being a fan Jays fan has helped me feel like a part of a community of baseball lovers and also, specifically those who love the Toronto Blue Jays.

It’s allowed me to have the ability to make instant connections with others, gives me a break from working when I might take a few minutes to see what’s going on in the baseball world and also the ‘inside baseball’ stuff that’s helped me conceptualize what it takes to being not only a professional athlete, but how the business of baseball appears to be run.

So with the Raptors stirring up the pride and loyalties of many of us here in Toronto, I thought it would be fun to discuss how it can be helpful for mental health to be a dedicated sports fan.

As we know, participating in playing sports can be supportive of mental health and overall wellness… 

But How About the Benefits of Being a Sports Fan?

Being a sports fan can be good for social, emotional and psychological health, even though there can also be a stereotype that sports fans can overindulge in beer, fast food items and snacks. 

While this stereotype can be true of some fans, there are also other fans who are also actively involved in physical and social activities because of their dedication to sports, playing and following as fans.

Four Benefits of Being a Sports Fan

1 – Studies have shown that fans who actively support a local team tend to be socially engaged and have higher self-esteem.  There is a built-in connection with others locally.

2 – Other studies have shown that being an avid sports fan can improve language skills, since fans often have conversations and discussions about sports — whether expressing opinions or translating what they witnessed into their own words.  It’s a much more detailed and conversational discussion than talking about the weather.

3 – A team’s wins and losses can affect energy, mood and hormone levels, such as dopamine and testosterone. 

4 – As we talked about habits in a previous post, sports teaches us that success comes as a result of continued and dedicated repetitions.

Within sports are inherent lessons about the ups and downs, fairness, playing by the rules, the human stories of disasters and triumphs, that’s also true of each of our life experiences, too.

It’s About Balance – Three Warnings of Being Too Invested as a Fan

But like anything else, it’s possible for anyone to be too invested in any sports or sports teams to the point that individuals may be using them as too much of a distraction or have negative impacts in other areas of their lives.

1 – Be aware that it has been reported that sports fans can get so emotionally involved in intense competitive situations which can then trigger cardiac issues, like a heart attack and also have an impact on mood.

2 – There can also be issues of being so involved as a fan, that an excessive amount of time can be spent on following sports to the detriment of relationships, and personal and professional responsibilities.

3 – Overindulgence in alcohol and less healthy foods, which can lead to less than ideal overall health, which will also impact mental health and mood.

Sports, at its best, are a reflection of life but with specific constraints, rules and stats, so that it’s often a relatable escape. As always, the key is to find the right balance.

In my case, as I’m just jumping in right now as the Raptors are about to enter into their first championship in franchise history, I’ll be throwing on my new Raps gear and cheering them on with the rest of super fans here in Toronto. Go Raps!!

What are the Results from Wellness Wednesday Hosts Taking the Big Five Personality Test?

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

A couple of weeks ago on Wellness Wednesday, along with The Spin’s hosts Michelle Sturino and Barry Davis, we discussed what the Big Five Personality Model is and some of the details around it.

Broadly speaking, it’s a way to measure and get a better understanding of the unique differences each of have in our personalities. This is done through getting a measurement of five specific personality traits, which is why it’s called the “Big Five Personality Model”.

At the time, I know that all three of us expressed an interest in learning more about our specific personality traits. To satisfy our collective curiosity, we went ahead and completed the Big Five Personality Test and we’re going to be talking about our individual results today.

And as mentioned previously, these personality models and tests can provide insights about our individual tendencies and if we choose, give us some ideas around specific areas of improvement. Or they can simply be something fun to talk about with friends, family and co-workers.

Let’s do a quick recap regarding each of the individual personality traits which can be remembered by the acronym: OCEAN

It stands for: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Each of these traits is measured between a scale of 1 to 100%. To keep our test results consistent, we all took it at Truity.com.

Openness to Experience (inventive or curious versus consistent or cautious)

Openness describes an individual’s tendency to think in complex, abstract ways.  People high in Openness are creative, unconventional and artistic. Whereas those who are low are more practical, conservative and conventional.

Average is around 58%
Michelle: 62.5%
Barry: 81%
Mio: 100%

Conscientiousness (efficient or organized versus easy-going or careless)

Conscientiousness describes a person’s tendency to be persistent and determined in achieving their goals. People high in Conscientiousness are orderly, ambitious and dependable.  Those who are low are spontaneous, impulsive and disorganized.

Average is around 55%
Michelle: 75%
Barry: 73%
Mio: 69%

Extraversion (seeking outside stimulation versus preferring internalized introspection)

Extraversion describes a person’s tendency to be energized by being around other people versus being by oneself. Those who score high are energetic, enthusiastic and excitable. Those who score low are more reserved, calm and introspective.

Average is around 51%
Michelle: 94%
Barry: 96%
Mio: 65%

As an aside specifically regarding the Extraversion personality trait: there were quite a few people who visited the SolidWellness blog following our discussion on Wellness Wednesday about the differences between Introverts and Extroverts, so it’s my feeling that this is an area of interest for folks.

I was also extremely grateful to get some feedback that it was helpful for folks to hear that having needs as an introvert and to take the time for self-care was a valuable reminder.

Agreeableness (friendly or compassionate versus challenging or detached)

Agreeableness describes an individual’s tendency to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs. Those who score high are accommodating, helpful and selfless.  Those who score lower are competitive, argumentative and brash.

Average score is around 63%
Michelle: 71%
Barry: 69%
Mio: 60%

Neuroticism (sensitive or nervous versus secure or confident)

Neuroticism describes an individual’s response to stress. Those who score high are more anxious, moody and self-conscious. Those who score lower are more stable, resilient, optimistic and self-confident.

Average score is around 54%
Michelle: 23%
Barry: 56%
Mio: 23%

What Did These Results Mean to Michelle and Barry?

We were short on time and unfortunately, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to discuss their thoughts on their results.

However, what I feel I learned from Barry and Michelle sharing their results and getting a little slice of their take on them, was that I was given a sneak peak at some of the challenges that come with engaging in work that is consistently open to other people’s opinions, and the potential impact this can have.

I am not only thankful for this opportunity to speak to more people through my contribution to The Spin’s Wellness Wednesday, but I am also grateful for Barry and Michelle who do what they do, day in and day out, for the benefit of those of us who are looking to maybe have some company during the drive home or to learn something new by listening to their podcast episodes.

Core Personality Pattern Tendencies for Michelle, Barry and Mio

The one result we didn’t share on air was one of other results that Truity provides after taking the Big Five Personality test, which is called the “Core Personality Pattern

Michelle’s Core Personality Pattern
Barry’s Core Personality Pattern
Mio’s Core Personality Patter

In reference to what I mentioned above about Michelle and Barry doing the broadcasting work they do… putting themselves out there as they do.

From the results shown here from both of their Core Personality Patterns, they skew very heavily toward Empathic Idealist. In other words, they’re not just doing it for the glory, but because they empathically genuinely care about others.

Again, I would really like to thank them both for allowing me to share their results here.

As previously discussed, it is possible to use these test results for self improvement.

A couple of examples:

If you score low in Conscientiousness, you may find that you are having some difficulties with staying consistent with responsibilities and being reliable, which may have some undesirable impacts at work, school or in relationships.

Or if there is a lower score in Agreeableness, it can be reflective of having more tensions and conflicts in various relationships, which again can impact many areas of your life.

Because these tendencies are not set in stone, having an understanding of your tendencies can help you identify possible areas you would like to see have change and growth.

Interested in Taking the Test Yourself?

If you’re interested in taking the same test we took, head on over to Truity.com. You can take the test for free, but there is also an option to pay for more details regarding your results.

What’s Your Attachment Style and How Can It Help to Improve You and Your Relationships?

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

What are Attachment Styles?

In the past few posts, we have been discussing personality traits that are more nature, than nurture. In other words, we have been primarily discussing personality traits we are born with, as opposed to having been influenced by our environment.

Today, we are talking about Attachment Styles which is a theory based on the belief that much of who we are especially in relationships, both strengths and challenges, we have as adults can be connected back to some aspect of our childhood.

“Attachment” refers to the specific way in which we relate to other people.

Attachment Styles are based on research that have shown that the type of relationship we had with our caretakers or primary adult influencers as children have a very strong effect on the kinds of connections and relationships we have adults.

How Can Understanding Your Attachment Style Help You?

Understanding your attachment style is helpful because it can offer insights into why you feel how you feel in relationships now, based on how you felt and developed during your childhood.

It can help you to understand where your emotionally limitations may be and what can be changed to improve all kinds of relationships, including romantic relationships, relationships with friends, children, family, authority figures and so on.

An individual’s attachment style can also be closely connected to self-esteem. Using what you can understand from your attachment style, it’s possible to address certain deficits which can also help with a better sense of self confidence overall.

What are the Main Attachment Styles?

I consider the main four Attachment Styles to be: Secure, Anxious, Avoidant, and Disorganized.

• Secure attachment (approximately 60% of the population) is connected to feeling confident and generally have healthy, close relationships.

Anxious attachment (approximately 15%) may be the source of the need to people-please and at times, being too possessive.

Avoidant attachment (approximately 20%) is associated with being isolated and emotionally distant.

Disorganized attachment (approximately 5%) is associated with being detached and conflicted in relationships, often as a result of having traumatic experiences during childhood.

What Tendencies are Associated with Each Attachment Style?

If you suspect that you might have some anxious, avoidant or disorganized attachment tendencies, some difficulties you might encounter are:

Someone with anxious attachment tendencies can be known to have a Preoccupied Personality. Where they can be insecure and critical of themselves, often looking for approval from others. These individuals often are worried that they will ultimately rejected, so even when receiving reassurance, there can still be a deep lack of trust of others.

Those who are avoidant can have dismissive patterns in relationships as adults. They tend to be loners and might consider emotions and relationships to not be as important. They can also be more cognitively-dominant and suppress feelings.

Individuals with disorganized attachment may exhibit tendencies of what’s described as a Fearful-Avoidant Personality. Those with disorganized attachment may have disconnected from their feelings as children, and have likely continued to do the same as adults. It can be a challenge for these individuals to feel a sense of balance within themselves and likely also have difficulty having close and trusting relationship with others.

What can be Done to Develop a More Secure Attachment Style?

As I often say, self-knowledge can be empowering and provide you with a starting point so that you can make better sense of what’s possible for self-improvement.

Moving toward more of a secure attachment style, can not only enhance your romantic relationship, you may also get along better with friends, family, and those you work with.

Some things to keep in mind:

Conduct an inventory. Do you avoid getting close to people? Do you worry about being left out? Most of us have an intuitive sense of areas where we can improve, but it can also be helpful to take a test like the one available on Dr. Diane Poole Heller’s website, she is an attachment and trauma expert.

It’s possible to move toward having a more Secure Attachment style.

While adjusting your attachment style will require some effort, it can be helpful to intentionally make sense of your childhood experiences to be able to rewire your brain to feel more secure with yourself and others.

Books that are helpful resources include: Daniel Siegel’s Mindsight or Attached, by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.

Counselling or therapy with a psychodynamic (a style of therapy where childhood experiences are included in the therapeutic process) therapist can also be helpful if you see troubling patterns in your relationships or you have childhood issues that you want to sort out.

What is the Big Five Personality Inventory?

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

With a name like The Big 5, I know that it can pique people’s curiosity, so I thought it’d be interesting to discuss here in more details about the Five Factor Personality Model.

Many people are familiar with Myers Briggs Type Indicator tests, but The Five Factor Model of Personality or the Big Five is another model that can help you have a better understanding of yourself by understanding your personality traits.

At the very least, it’s a fun discussion point to be had with friends, but it can also be a self-assessment tool to help you understand deeper patterns in your life.

Personality traits are natural tendencies, but they can be improved upon by understanding and possibly working on emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain traits.

I think it’s important to note that traits does not mean that our ultimate potential is set in stone, but it can give you a sense of where your baseline is at the moment.


While there are other personality trait models, the Five Factor Model emerged as one that is widely accepted as describing the more essential personality traits. 


Not only can it be interesting to learn more specifically about your traits, it can also pinpoint strengths, as well as areas of improvements if you are finding gaps in certain areas of your life.

For instance, if your score is very low in conscientiousness, it could be that you have a tendency to be disorganized and not meet deadlines at work. Having it come up in a test like this can give you an insight that it could be an area of improvement to work on.


The Big Five Personality Traits can be summed up the acronym: OCEAN and each trait is measured between a scale of 1 to 100%.

Openness to experience (inventive or curious versus consistent or cautious).

Openness describes an individual’s tendency to think in complex, abstract ways. 
People high in Openness are creative, unconventional and artistic.
Whereas those who are low are more practical, conservative and conventional. Average score is approximately 58%.

Conscientiousness (efficient or organized versus easy-going or careless).

Conscientiousness describes a person’s tendency to be persistent and determined in achieving their goals.
People high in Conscientiousness are orderly, ambitious and dependable. 
Those who are low are spontaneous, impulsive and disorganized.
Average is around 55%

Extraversion (seeking outside stimulation versus preferring internalized introspection).

Extraversion describes a person’s tendency to be energized by being around other people versus being by oneself.
Those who score high are energetic, enthusiastic and excitable.
Those who score low are more reserved, calm and introspective.
Average is around 51%.

Agreeableness (friendly or compassionate versus challenging or detached).

Agreeableness describes an individual’s tendency to put the needs of others ahead of their own needs.
Those who score high are accommodating, helpful and selfless. 
Those who score lower are competitive, argumentative and brash.
Average score is around 63%.

Neuroticism (sensitive or nervous versus secure or confident).

Neuroticism describes an individual’s response to stress.
Those who score high are more anxious, moody and self-conscious. Those who score lower are more stable, resilient, optimistic and self-confident.
Average score is around 54%.


How can the results of the test be used for personal development?

There is a lot of different take-aways from these kinds of personality test results.

But using the test results to identify areas of improvement can be be helpful for overall well-being.

One example is that if someone scores lower on Neuroticism which would mean that working on emotional resilience or fitness to maintain more inner balance and sense of self, can improve quality of life by feeling more stable in general.  


Free test can be taken at the Open Source Psychometrics Project website.

Or a paid one that provides a lot more personalized test results can be found at a website called Truity.com

What are Introverts and Extroverts? What are the Differences Between Them?

On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.

Extroversion and Introversion are Innate Personality Traits

We all have specific personality traits (this would be more of the “nature” parts of who we are when we think about “the nature vs nurture” influences) and we all fall somewhere on the spectrum between being more of an extrovert or an introvert.

But they are exactly that: Personality traits.  Traits are something that are innately true of who we are.

I think about the difference between extroversion and introversion as measured by the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or The Big 5 Personality Traits, which was developed by psychologist Lewis Goldberg, a personality model most commonly accepted in use today.

For what it’s worth, to understand the differences between extroverts and introverts provides us with the opportunity to understand ourselves, as well as others, a little bit better.

The Main Difference between Extroverts and Introverts

Again, it’s important to remember that we all fall within a spectrum.  But we can talk about the main differences to better understand and identify the differences. 

THE MAIN THING is that extroverts get energy from being social and being around others, while introverts refuel by solitary time, away from people.

Or another way of putting it is, do you have more of a tendency toward focusing on the outer world or the inner world?

Here’s what to know about the two polar ends of the continuum and determining where you fall:

Extroverts are commonly described as gaining energy from the external world and socializing, may seem “always on the go”, get tired after spending too much alone, and often have the ability to think while speaking.

Introverts are frequently introspective, have fewer and deeper connections, and often prefers to think first and talk later.

Being introverted and being shy are two different things. (No, they aren’t the same thing.)

Everyone regardless of being an introvert or an extrovert can experience shyness, which can be described to be more of a social-related stress or anxiety.

So shyness can feel uncomfortable, which can have a negative component to it.

On the other hand, fulfilling the need for an introvert to be alone is a relief, as opposed to it being a negative in anyway.

Of course, introverts CAN also be shy, but ultimately they are two different qualities.

Emphasis on Extroverted Qualities in Western Culture can Create Difficulties for Both Extroverts and Introverts

Expectations for extroverts to be leaders and always being “on”, while introverts are often encouraged to have more extroverted qualities socially and professionally

There is more understanding about the differences between introverts and extroverts and as they say, “knowledge is power.”

And with a better understanding that we are all unique individuals and talking more about it as we are today, allows us to embrace ourselves and other people’s differences.

With that said, it’s helpful to have a good understanding of whether your traits lean more toward introversion or extroversion, which can help with choosing a line of work more suited for you, the same can be true for relationships, too

For instance, as we talked about on the Spin with Barry Davis and Michelle Sturino on Wellness Wednesdays, there’s a reason why the the two of them, as extroverts, chose broadcasting, while I, as an introvert, has mostly been working more one-on-one with people in our respective lines of work.

Relationships and Connections Between Extroverts and Introverts Can be Challenging Due to Differences in Traits and Needs

It’s helpful to understand the differences of others and it’s a good reminder to cultivate empathy and compassion for all of our individual uniqueness

This can especially be true with partners and family members.

It’s possible for introverts and extroverts in families and relationships to find a happy place and it’s all about respecting one another’s unique needs.

1 – Be curious with one another: Ask questions about each other’s preferences with a genuine curiosity for each other’s different needs and work toward finding a mutual area that can work for you both.

2 – Don’t avoid having these kinds of discussions. Your relationship will be stronger for having discussed and to have an understanding of each other’s differences than to try and sweep them under the rug. Understanding on all sides can go a long way.

Curious about where you might fall in the spectrum between extroversion and introversion?

There is a pretty comprehensive online test available on the Psychology Today website.