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.


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.


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.

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.


28 Feb

10 Tips To Stress Less

We all have stress in our lives.  Some weeks are more stressful than others.  These helpful tips give us some ideas about what we can do for ourselves so that we can stress less.  As the weather gets better, getting outside for a bit of fresh air and sunshine with a friend can help us feel better.  Go for a walk or maybe even a bike ride.

What about getting involved in volunteering?  This doesn’t have to be an ongoing time commitment.  If you are short on time, choose an event or specific fundraiser to volunteer for. In Niagara the Big Move Cancer Ride gives you some great options.  You can set a goal and ride 25, 50 or 100 km or you can volunteer for the day. Exercise, meeting a few new people and raising money for a great cause makes for a really great day!

Take time to realize that there are certain things you can control in life and focus on those.  We can manage our thoughts and create a more positive life.  Although we don’t have control over others we do have control or how we respond or what we think about a situation.  If you find yourself stuck and feeling out of control, check out this list of The Only 7 Things You Can Control In Life.

Breathing is one of those things we don’t think about but we do have control over our breath.  Breathing exercises can help to slow your stress response down and help you relax. Try a few of these in 6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10.

If stress does become too much, ask for help.  Contact your EAP provider or call for a personal counselling appointment.  There are people that can help you stress less so just pick up that phone and your slightly overwhelmed self will thank you.


07 Dec

Thriving not just surviving the holidays!


The hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings excitement and sometimes dread all at the same time. There are parties to go to or not go to, shopping, decorating, spending time with friends and family….oh and unrealistic expectations!  Yes, during the holiday season we can set ourselves up for failure by thinking we should be able to perform incredible feats in a single bound.  So instead of feeling sick, resentful and exhausted during this happy season why not create a plan for success?!  Yes, thrive during the holiday season instead of just surviving.

Set Obtainable Goals

Can you really be in 3 places at once?  Remember every time you say yes to something it means saying no to something else. Don’t over schedule yourself or your family.  Take a look at what needs to be done and the time that you have to do it in.  Establish priorities and let go of the extras.

Choose One Holiday Activity Just For You

Have you always wanted to take that Christmas baking class or learn how to create a holiday urn?  Save a little vacation time and sign yourself up.  Take a break to do something that replenishes your emotional bank account.  Plan it early so that nothing else gets in the way. You will be thankful that you did.

Limit sugar and alcohol

As tasty as those sugar cookies or glass of wine might be they can actually drain our energy and create a bit of a boomerang effect with our mood.  For those of us who love food we have to strategize on how to avoid too much sugar during the holidays.  Here are a few good tips from blogger Stephanie Stiavetti from The Culinary Life to help. It’s not about depriving yourself….as  they always say, anything in moderation.

Stick to your budget

Thoughtful gifts don’t need to be expensive.  Do it yourself essential oil roller balls or bath bombs can be used for sore muscles, to uplift mood or as help for a pounding head. Who wouldn’t love a low maintenance mason jar terrarium you made yourself!? Maybe a gift certificate for a nice dinner at your house or a few hours of babysitting to help a new mom have a break.  Be creative but don’t break the bank!  We have listed lots of great DIY ideas on our Holiday Pinterest board to get you started.

Spend time with the people you enjoy being with

We can spend so much time trying to fit everyone in but sometimes the people that give us the most joy can get left out.  The friend who you’ve been trying to catch up with, your partner who you never seem to have couple time with, or your neighbour who makes you smile with their amazing life stories.  Choose who you spend time with wisely and give yourself permission to limit the activities that don’t make you happy. Incorporate these strategies and you should be well on your way to thriving this holiday!



Culinary Classes at Willow Cakes and Pastries, Niagara on the Lake http://www.willowcakes.ca/events-culinary-classes/

Winter floral arranging Workshops, The Watering Can, Vineland https://www.thewateringcan.ca/shop/workshops

Sugar Addiction: Avoiding Sugar During The Holidays, The Culinary Life https://www.theculinarylife.com/2009/avoiding-sugar-during-the-holidays/

25 Essential Oil Rollerball Blends and Recipes for Families, Blog: Redefined Mom http://redefinedmom.com/essential-oil-rollerball-blends-recipes-for-families/

Thriving During the Holidays, LSA Pinterest board,   https://www.pinterest.com/lidkeas/thriving-during-the-holiday-season/

6 Essential Tips for Surviving the Holidays, Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-tsilimparis/6-essential-tips-for-surv_b_6116234.html


20 Sep



Image from Sideways Thoughts, Mindfulness Defined

We hear the phrase mindfulness used a lot these days.  In counselling we find our clients often struggle living in the past and worrying about the future.  We occupy our minds with thoughts and many of them can be negative.  What might happen if we were mindful and present living each day with awareness, purpose and without judgement?

In an article by Chad Renando, Mindfulness Defined he talks about a phenomenon he calls the $20 Snickers bar.  After reading this I realized how much I related to what he had to say.  The idea of buying a chocolate bar with a $20 bill and getting change for the bill.  Once that bill is broken down it seems like we have more money and for some reason we spend it more easily.  Ask us what we spent that twenty on and we’ll likely wonder where it all went. The author points out that our attention works similarly. We start off being attentive, ready to face the world but there are demands throughout the day for our attention.  It becomes fractured and we pay it out like the twenty until we have nothing left.  We end our day feeling tired, irritable and likely somewhat exhausted. What if we  instead start our day with purpose and intent , making choices about where to focus our attentions? Harnessing our attention and energy, getting to decide how we spend it.

The key is slowing down.  This seems counterintuitive to what we think we should be doing. In our fast paced society we need to take time for ourselves and recharge from our busy lives.  Time magazine’s, The Mindful Revolution suggests that “finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently.” We are busy, hyperconnected and overscheduled. Stopping to just be and stepping back from all those whirling thoughts can transform your life.

Recently a local big box store had a shipment of adult coloring books that were based on mindful stress reduction.  They sold out immediately and now local book stores are finding it hard to keep them in stock.  The trend is for adults to pick up those crayons or colored pencils and relax and be creative.  Coloring books for adults…who would have thought that would be therapeutic?  I must say I have tried them myself and it stills the mind, slows things down and it really is fun.  Still not convinced, read  Adult Coloring Books are the New Mindfulness. 

All It Takes Is 10 minutes, is aTed Talk with Andy Puddicome that suggests that 10 minutes is all you need to get calm and clarity in your life. There are many resources available these days to help get you started.  If you use technology there are some free mindfulness apps that you might want to take a look at.  Website Mindful.Org has videos and articles that cover areas such as mindfulness at work and mindful eating.  Life Hack has a Mindfulness Meditation Mini Guide for those new to meditation.  On our Lidkea Stob Pinterest board you will also find a Mindfulness and a meditation board with articles and videos. So take a deep breath, grab a tea and think about how you might use these tools to be more mindful in your life.  I suspect you will be glad you did.

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