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01 Dec

Tips for Getting the Most out of the Holiday Season

Holiday Zen

Each year we start to see articles pop up everywhere about holiday stress and how to survive.  This year we’d like to take an optimistic stance and set ourselves up for a wonderful experience.

Focus on the journey

What we really mean is let an experience be your gift. Childhood memories and adult memories are built on things we have done and people we have shared them with.  A gift of snowshoeing, dance lessons, or maybe just an IOU for a home cooked meal when someone needs a break. Being kind and thoughtful is what really matters. An afternoon creating that terrarium with a friend will mean more than a scented candle.  The laughs, the fun and the social connection builds a bond and it is a priceless gift.

Relax

The one thing most of us never have is time to relax and just be.  Use the time during the holidays to have that much needed pajama day.  Enjoy binge watching on Netflix or reading that book that has been sitting on the shelf waiting for you. Use those things you have been saving for a special occasion like that specialty soap, beautiful candle or a bottle of wine. This is your special occasion. Relax, rejoice and restore.

Meditate

Whether you are a veteran or a newbie, the holidays are the perfect time to meditate.  You can try something new with a tapping meditation from Jessica Ortner for a stress-free family gathering.   

Tapping is Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT.  A great website for more information and some tapping exercises is The Tapping Solution.

Tapping therapy is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy…..(The Tapping Solution)

Stay Positive

No need to anticipate what hasn’t happened or may not happen at all.  Search out the happy moments and choose to focus on those.  Giving less energy to the negative things can help you take you power back and see the holidays through a different lense. Staying positive leaves little room for the negative energy or others that can weigh us down.  Stay in the moment and enjoy.

12 Nov

Resilience: A Powerful Tool for Growth

Resilience is a buzz word these days in health and wellness.  It is what separates one person from another in terms of outcome.  If we look at two people with similar circumstances, each has experienced adversity and challenge but one seems to have not only gotten through it but they seem happier, stronger and full of gratitude. What is the difference, why has one done so much better than the other? One word….Resilience!

Resilience really is a tool kit of coping strategies.  Having strategies and healthy coping skills is what creates resilience, consequently it is what makes us bounce back. In some theories there is a belief that life’s adversities bring a lesson.  The question is what is this situation telling us?  What can we learn from this? Lessons can be  about an infinite number of things, the need for self care, connection, gratitude or perhaps compassion for others.  Resilience brings growth and expansion in our world view.

In the resiliency toolbox we find items such as optimism, ability to problem solve, self-belief and social support.  We may have strengths in some of the areas but can build on the areas that need more development. Here are a few key fundamentals of resilience.

Laughter

Sense of humor is a consistent factor in the many articles about resilience.  When was the last time we laughed at our own challenges? Using humor doesn’t mean that you are ignoring what happened but you are relieving stress and tension with laughter.

Find Connection

Humans are social by nature, we need social connection as a basic need.  We can create a network where we feel safe and loved.  Find the people that get you, find your tribe. These are the people who laugh at your jokes, don’t care if your house is a mess and generally just appreciate you for you.  They are out there and they will be the ones who come forward when you face adversity.

Be Optimistic

Focus on your own personal strengths.  Look for the positives in the situation.  Someone who is going through weekly cancer treatments told me that they were grateful that they got to meet so many other people with cancer and that their situations made them filled with hope.

Attitude

Let’s face it , attitude is everything.  The minute we tell ourselves we “can’t” or “won’t” we erase all other options.  Leave the good options on the table and believe that you can.  Know that we can take action and create a “can do” list.  We don’t need to be defeated we can move ahead by learning, gathering information and making a plan.

 

Do you wonder how resilient you are? In the article 5 Best Ways to Build Resiliency, author Jessie Sholl provides a quiz that you can score yourself to see how resilient you are.  If it looks like you need a bit of work in the resiliency department, you can help yourself or see a counsellor who can help you build resiliency skills such as problem solving, use of humor and focus on learning.

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22 Oct

No more Sad Desk Lunch: Lunch ideas that will get you away from your desk

We have a phenomenon that is know on social media as ” sad desk lunch”.  Many of us are guilty of it, eating with one hand while keyboarding with the other.  We convince ourselves that we absolutely need to get the work done and somehow we believe that we can be productive.  We think that taking 20 minutes for a change of scenery and to eat well means we are “less than” as an employee.  Our perception is that if you are in your office that you are working.

Who are we kidding, eating lunch in the same spot that we work all day is not making us more productive.  Taking a break is good for our mental and physical health.  Shifting our brain and moving our bodies to another location is a good thing.

Ways we can keep lunch interesting.

  • Change things up, make a lunch date once a week with a friend or colleague. Put a reminder in your calendar and set a date.
  • Organize the office to pitch in for a team salad bar once a month. Ask each person to sign up to bring in an item.  These can include things like black beans, feta cheese, olives, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, hard boiled eggs and of course lettuces. An office salad bar can last the group for a couple of days and encourages everyone to get together for lunch.
  • Start a Pinterest lunch idea board. Check out our Lunch Ideas board for inspiration.   Create a board with easy healthy lunch ideas that you will look forward to.  Bento box style lunches are kind of an an adult version of lunchables.  There are boxes online  and even a the local bookstore, that make this portion controlled, variety filled  way of eating , fun and aesthetically pleasing. These lunches will be the envy of your co-workers and you’ll want to show them your fabulous meal instead of eating at your desk.
  • Plan an office delivery day from your favourite Thai or Pho takeout on a Friday.  One person can take orders and payments and many restaurants will deliver right to your door.  It takes the pressure off having to make lunch on a Friday and brings the group together.

 

08 Oct

There is Power in Positivity: 4 Things To Get You Started

 

There is great power in positivity. Whenever I ask a client what they want to see more of in their life, they seemed stumped.  We are very good at knowing what we don’t want, finding the negative and wanting to dwell on it. It seems to be human nature, the idea that if we can just go over the negative stuff we can find the answer.

The answer really is identifying what brings us joy and spending our day identifying the positive and trying to focus on an abundance of just that.  Let’s face it, being positive has never made anyone feel worse!

Learned optimism is something you can teach yourself. A quick Google search shows that on any given day our brain makes about 35,000 decisions.  Now imagine if those decisions were focused on the positive. We could choose the decision that brings us more joy, the one that makes us feel happier.

Make a Conscious Choice

Every morning when you get up, set your intention for the day.  Is it going to be a good day or are you going to choose stress and negativity? Start by remembering what you are grateful for and that can guide you in setting your intention. It might be that you are grateful for the beautiful fall weather.  That might mean that your intention is to enjoy every moment you get to spend in it.  Maybe park a bit further from the office or step outside for lunch.

Embrace Positivity

Find out what positivity is all about.  Add a few positivity pages to your Facebook likes.  This will populate your Facebook feed with good things when you check it.  You will start to notice that those negative headlines disappear and are replaced with new ideas and ways to be positive.  We like to follow Happify  because they share tips and thoughts to help us bring more happiness into our life. Positive Energy + is another  great page that is filled with inspiring quotes and positive media stories.

Choose You

One of my favourite blogs is Positively Present.  Dani’s tips are simple, honest and very practical. In her article on making positive life choices, she suggests listening to your instinct and doing what is best for you.  How often do you do something that doesn’t feel right but you do it anyway? It may not be the best decision for you but it is the easier choice that won’t ruffle any feathers.

Do Something You Have Never Done Before

Make it fun, do something that you wouldn’t normally do.  Attend an auction, volunteer at a food bank, go see a car race, have your eyebrows shaped, take a cooking class, speak in front of a large group……the list is endless but it has to be unique to you.  If you are one to put everyone before yourself then focus on doing something for you, if you never step outside your comfort zone then take a leap or if you are stuck in a rut and never do anything different then think outside the box. Ask a friend who knows you well for some suggestions and you will be well on your way to a more positive and happier you

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17 Sep

Muse the brain sensing headband: A modern approach to Meditation

The Muse headband is a modern gateway to learning to meditate and calm your mind with a bit of guidance. This headset tracks your brainwaves and provides EEG- neurofeedback.

Okay, I will admit that I was a bit skeptical when I heard about a headband that could read your brain waves and help you meditate better.  I am sort of a tech geek so my curiosity got the better of me.  My online search found it on sale at a big box supplier.  I ordered it quickly and easily while on the go.  It arrived a few days later and I was feeling pretty excited. The box touts Muse as “your personal meditation assistant”.

The set up was easy, there is an app to download onto your smart phone or tablet.  It led me through the start up and explained how to wear my headband and calibrate it.  The first session I was clearly distracted with my thoughts, “am I doing this right?” “should it be louder or softer?”

You receive feedback during your meditation with the rainfall getting louder or the winds picking up as your brain wanders.  The rainforest quiets and the birds chirp when your brain is calm.  There are points to be earned and goals to reach.

My five minute session found me only collecting a few birds and experiencing a whopping 22 recoveries!  With the first trial run behind me, my second session was more of a success.  I racked up the calm points and instead of having recoveries I had 22 birds this time.

The feedback is helpful and honestly speaks to the competitor in me.  We all love rewards and it is gratifying to be able to see your progress over one short week. Multiple users can utilize the head band as all they need is a Muse account.

Although it is early in my meditation practice with Muse to definitively say how this will impact, my observations so far have been promising.  I find myself more focused and able to find more clarity among all the white noise in my head.  The “to do” list in my brain has quieted and when it does gear up too much I actually want to reach for my Muse and take 5 minutes to meditate and bring myself back.

Next week’s goal is to use it in short periods of 5  minutes over my day.  I will try doing it in the morning, at lunch and prior to bed time.  After that I will try only one 15 minute meditation and see what the difference is for me.

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04 Sep

Bullet Journal: Getting Started

It’s back to school time and for some of us that means the start of a new year.  We love all of those shiny new day planners but they are never quite right.  They don’t offer enough options for the things we need to keep in one place. The bullet journal offers the individualization and organization that sets the year off right.  To be honest bullet journaling speaks to the inner nerd who loves lists and planning.

What is a bullet journal?

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system.  It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

The bullet journal is really quite a creative and easy way to manage our lives, create goals, track habits, and even prioritize self care. It isn’t a one size fits all solution, rather it allows each person to incorporate what they need in their planner. You create the type of journal that fits your needs.

What we love the most is that it is forgiving and it evolves each week as we figure out what it is we need and what we really love.

What do I need to start?

Start with a notebook. If you aren’t sure if this is for you, start with an inexpensive notebook that you can try for a month to see if this is a system for you.  I chose to jump in an make a commitment with a Leuchtturm 1917 Bullet Journal.  Inside you will find a key that is already started, pages that are numbered and have dot grids, index and future log pages and some instructions.  Any notebook with dotted or lined grids will work.

Chapters Indigo has a bullet journal page with instructions and supply ideas. A ruler for creating your template, a good black fine marker pen and colored markers and pencils will help you get started.  Extras include Washi tape, stickers and stencils to help create colorful layouts.

Bullet Journal Basics

There is a basic framework for the Bullet Journal or Bujo as some call it.  The basics are:

  • Index
  • Future Log
  • Monthly Log
  • Weekly or Daily Log
  • Collections which are really the extras that make it even more personal,  lists, trackers, goals

 Index

The Index keeps track of what pages everything is on so you can find them at a glance.  Keep your index clear and simple. The index grows as you add more things to your Bujo.

Future Log

The future log helps you look ahead to things coming up in your life.  It is where you can list birthdays, events and appointments so you can see them at a glance. There are a lot of options for how this section might look in the article Future Log Inspiration.

Monthly Log

This is usually found at the beginning of each monthly section. This section is usually a 2 page spread and can be used to set and track short term goals.  It is also one of the first places you can get creative and add personality to your journal. You can try a different layout each month.

There are lots of ideas to get you started on our Pinterest board Bullet Journals or in blog posts like 16 Bullet Journal Monthly Layouts.

Weekly Log

This format is often the style of choice.  If your life is very full and your schedule changes from day to day and hour to hour, you may then wish to use a Daily Log.  For most of us however, a 2 page week will work.  An option that some have used is a combination approach.  If there are some days that need their own page, then give it to them but you don’t have to commit to one style on a regular basis. Try 25 Satisfying Bullet Journal Layouts to Sooth Your Soul for some inspiration.

the_bulletjournal_addict / Via instagram.com

bujoriri / Via instagram.com

Collections

Collections are exciting and fun and what makes the Bullet Journal your own.  This is where you can create habit trackers, gratitude journals and anything else that helps keep you on track with your goals.

We have filled our Pinterest board with lots of ideas to get you started.  Spend a rainy afternoon and set up your first Bujo and enjoy all of the options and freedom it has to offer.

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13 Aug

Parenting 101: Take care of you so you can take care of them

Counselling with parents often has a theme that starts with talk of exhaustion,  frustration and feelings of inadequacy.  Parents strive to do more with less.  They have less time, less sleep and sometimes less patience.  Quite honestly they put themselves and their own self care at the bottom of the “to do” list.

There is a whole market out there with “mommy” bloggers providing tips with meal planning, children’s parties, cleaning and even full sets of printables for household management. There are some pretty incredible ideas which any of us could use if we only had the time.  Time is precious for parents in particular as they feel the crunch of work, family, social and emotional.  Many parents of young children describe feeling overwhelmed and have an emotional bank account that is well into overdraft!

Relax: Remember your own needs

Parenting can be fulfilling but also draining.  You will be be a more patient parent if you recognize your own needs.  If locking yourself in the bathroom for twenty minutes with something to sip on and some essential oil in your bath is the key to becoming calm again, then do it.  Ask your partner or  a friend to watch the children while you de-stress.  A bit of relaxation can do wonders for you.

Restore: Take a day for yourself

“What” you say, “a day for myself?! That’s not possible!” In an article from the Washington  Post one stay at home parent took a day to go for a drive with music blasting, dance with their cousin and just take time for them.  Restorative time is key, it is what builds that emotional bank account.

Rejuvenate: Do something that makes your heart race

This might mean to get yourself moving at the gym or it might mean a walk in nature with a camera.  Do something you love.  This can include the kids because they are a big part of what makes your heart soar.  Take a family class or just plan an outing that you will enjoy as much as your children will. When the heart is full, life’s challenges don’t seem quite as difficult.

So, Relax, Restore and Rejuvenate and you will be ready to go again. You will be a kinder but firmer version of yourself, the parent you would like to be.

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31 Jul

Letting Go of Anger: 5 Tips

Recognize the emotion

Learning to recognize the emotion for what it really is can be tricky.  Anger often isn’t really anger but rather another emotion that is presenting itself in a different way.  Common feelings that may be the cause of a blow up can be sadness, fear, anxiety, grief or even depression. Stop for a minute and think about what has been going on in your life and what might really be the trigger. Naming the emotion can help you get to the root.

Use mindfulness

Being mindful when we’re angry might be difficult but it can help us to find the calmness and grounding that we need. It is a strong emotion but the self awareness that comes with being mindful can be helpful in managing our anger. There are some steps you can take such as becoming aware of your body and noticing your thoughts.  Slow your breath and still your body. Being aware of your body’s response can help you recognize the symptoms early before it becomes of nuclear proportion.

Take a minute

Sometimes when we are angry we need to give ourselves a time out.  Taking a minute or a day doesn’t mean that you are avoiding the issue, it means you are giving it the weight of importance it needs.  We need to process our thoughts and think about our response so we can focus more on solutions than being caught up in the moment and acting on emotion. Adult time outs can really be invaluable.

Feeling angry is quite okay

Let’s face it, we all get angry. Feelings happen and they happen to all of us.  The key is how we manage this powerful emotion.  We should never push it down and let it go unchecked because it will find its’ way to the surface at the most inopportune times.  So, be angry but be honest with yourself about who you are angry with and why.  Dealing with an issue early can stop you from losing your mind in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Use it as a motivator

Believe it or not, anger can actually be an incredible motivator.  Use the energy in a positive way by channeling it towards something you want to change or accomplish. In The Upside to Anger: 6 Psychological Benefits of Getting Mad, the author mentions that research supports the theory that anger can push us towards our goals. By using it as a motivator we can turn a negative into a positive.

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10 Jul

Key Ingredients for a Healthy Relationship

What is the key to a healthy relationship?  Clients often ask counsellors about their personal relationships, making the assumption that we have perfect relationships.  We are all human and there is no perfect relationship but maintaining a healthy relationship is a solid counselling goal.

Respect

Respect each other’s opinions.  It is not unusual to find yourself in a relationship with someone who may look at life differently than you do.  Communicate with each other and find out what they think and why they hold that view.  Even if you still disagree, respect them as an individual and be open to having different views.  Different does not mean they are wrong.

Laugh

Just know that there will be some challenging times in any relationship because it is part of life.  We may have disagreements, deaths, illness, job loss…honestly there will be too many things to count.  Humor can lighten the load and diffuse a situation.  Even the most serious times have room for a bit of humor.  Couples bond when they share laughter or an inside joke. A Time Health article suggests that couples who laugh together are happier and tend to have higher quality relationships.

Compromise

Let’s face it, we all want to get our own way.  In a healthy relationship people learn to find a middle ground.  Look at all of the options and consider what might be possible.  Agree on a solution that you both can live with.  Problem solving together helps see another perspective and you will get to know each other even better.

Nuture

A relationship doesn’t grow and thrive without some nurturing.  Be kind to each other and give back.  Day to day life can be repetitive and we can take each other for granted.  Pick up his favourite dessert after a tough day.  Surprise her with a note in her lunch bag.  Take a walk together and talk about your day.  Share one good thing that happened, don’t just talk about the negative things.

Value

Value the person you are with. Being supportive and encouraging to each other is vital in creating a strong relationship. In a healthy relationship you not only value each other but you value your relationship. Encourage them in to pursue their own interest and be their biggest cheerleader in their journey.

Book a counselling appointment

We’ve touched on just a few components of a healthy relationship.  From time to time in a relationship we might need help.  A good time to book an appointment to see a counsellor is when you are feeling out of sync, disconnected or maybe you just want to keep nurturing your relationship to ensure it is growing and flourishing.  Call 905-684-5050 for an appointment.

29 Jun

Dealing with Difficult Family Members

Let’s face it we all have them! With summer holidays in full swing it means barbeques and family get togethers.  We know that not all families are perfect and it is likely that you have at least one family member who can be a bit challenging if not outright difficult.

Live Bold Bloom shared some great strategies that we’d like to expand on.  Believe it or not, our difficult family member is likely unhappy and unsatisfied with things in their own life.  Be kind and show them that you care.  Take a minute to listen and help them find some good in their day.  Modelling positive behaviour and gratitude for life demonstrates there can be good in all situations.  This type of behaviour may help them reframe what is going on for them and help them find that silver lining.  It will also lower your own stress levels.

If positivity fails then we may need to look a bit deeper. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from negative people and their dark energy.  Creating boundaries can be difficult but gratifying when we set and maintain them.  Limit the time you spend with them and don’t feel you need to make apologies.  Your wellness is important and practicing good self care is important. Set a time limit on how long you can stay at the family birthday and stick to it. Talk to family members you enjoy being with and limit your exposure to others.

While it can be easy to fall into the trap of engaging in their bad habits, be mindful.  If you find yourself gossiping about your 3rd cousin, stop and excuse yourself from the conversation.  Take time to reboot and adjust your attitude.  We all know that nothing good can come from a negative attitude so just hit the re-set button and go back to your positive boundaries and behaviour.

Our last thought is to give yourself permission to let go of the notion that there is such a thing as an “ideal” family.  Embrace the family you have in all its’ quirkiness. Whatever you do just remember that a little humor can always serve you well at that family reunion.

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