The summertime is when many of us take vacations from work – whether it’s a staycation, camping, or somewhere exotic. Sometimes, it is the case that even after a vacation, you still feel stressed, fatigued, down, or unmotivated. You may begin to ask yourself – am I burnt out? Is burnout even possible following a vacation?

YES!

Burnout is characterized by symptoms such as low motivation, stress, feelings of anxiety or depression, fatigue, and an overall loss of interest in work or other activities. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently categorized burnout as an “occupational phenomenon”, further recognizing how widespread this problem has become.

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So how did I become burnt out?

Burnout occurs when an individual experiences chronic stress, usually from the workplace, that has not been well managed.

Someone who experiences burnout is usually someone who works long hours, does not take many breaks, eats lunch at their desk while still working, and has troubles disconnecting from work even after getting home. This may look like checking work email or voicemails during personal time, or finding yourself thinking about work while a loved one is talking to you. Does any of this sound familiar?

The good news is, burnout is reversible and you do not have to live this way! The first step in working to heal burnout is recognizing that it’s present – so you’re already one step closer to doing something different!

If you’ve identified burnout as a problem for you, it may be helpful to try out a few of these tips to help get your burnout back in check.

  1. Take your breaks.

Believe it or not, we get breaks at work for a reason! Even short breaks at work can be extremely effective in giving your brain some downtime and feeling refreshed.

Make optimal use of your breaks by taking them at a place that isn’t your desk or your workstation. Go to the break room, take a walk outside around the building, or visit a surrounding park or café to get a change in scenery.

While on your break, do something that is truly pleasurable to you such as walking, reading a book, meditating, or a hobby. Make sure that you also give yourself time for the necessities, such as eating lunch or a snack and staying hydrated.

2. Turn off the phone.

It can be so tempting to check your phone during a break or even after work for work emails, text messages, or voicemails. adult-annoyed-bar-105472Unfortunately, when we are constantly checking our phone, we aren’t allowing our brains time to just rest and relax which can increase our chances of feeling burnt out even more. If you have a work phone, turn it off during your breaks and when you get home from work. This allows you time to truly unwind, and be more present with your personal life.

3. Separate work time and personal time.

As I mentioned in my last point, turning off your work phone while at home can be a great way to separate work time and personal time.

Other ways to separate work time and personal time may include adding a transition ritual to your routine between the time you leave work and arrive home. child-couple-cyclist-1128318A transition ritual may look like changing out of work clothes and into more comfortable leisure clothes, completing a mindfulness practice, or stopping for a workout at the gym between work and home. These types of rituals can be a great signal to yourself that the workday is over and that the time ahead is for your own personal enjoyment.

 

4. Reconnect with what’s important.

There are many reasons why we work so hard at our place of employment. Some of the obvious ones may be that we want to please our employer, that we want to earn a promotion, or be somebody that others at work can count on.

However, work isn’t the only thing we have going on in our lives! Many of us have friends, families, hobbies, communities, sports, and spirituality that is important to us as well. If you are feeling burnt out, it can be invaluable to reconnect with these other values, recognizing that although work is an important thing in many of our lives- it is not the only thing.

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In sum, if you are feeling burnt out you are not alone. Almost all of us experience points in our lives where we feel overwhelmed and stressed about work. I hope that these tips are helpful in finding ways to help cope with burnout, so that you can get back to living the life that’s important to you!

If you feel you are still struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to find out how individual counselling may be helpful for you. I can be reached by email at Kayleen@rootsinwellness.ca or by phone at 289-689-7194.

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

Sources:

World Health Organization (WHO): https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/burn-out/en/

 

How to Focus More on Health, Wellness & Happiness, and Less on How you Look in the Mirror

Well, here we are – the final installment of Overcoming Negative Body Image. So far, we’ve discussed:

  • Negative body image
  • How to stop being so hard on yourself
  • Appreciating your body
  • Re-framing self-talk
  • Myths and facts about healthy eating

Now that we’ve talked about some of the psychological aspects of body image, I want to talk about what we can do from a physical standpoint in order to move towards being healthy. Of course, working on how you view your body is important, as is working on your food intake, but what about exercise?

How do we move towards our goals of being healthy without going overboard or being unsuccessful? What if we get too obsessive about it? What if we set our goals too high and we fail?

These questions can be daunting, and I think we’ve all experienced some form of this. When I first started running to help supplement my weightless efforts and improve my cardio fitness, I went too hard too fast and injured myself, which meant I had to take some time off. This was terrifying to me because I was so afraid of gaining the weight back. But I just kept in mind what my goals were, and really put my energy into focusing on my nutrition. Once I was healthy, I went back to running and gradually increased what I was doing instead of doing too much too fast.  

There have been a few things I’ve learned along the way (some the hard way!) that I think might be helpful:

Reframe Your Goals

Sometimes the goals that we set for ourselves can be unrealistic or be difficult to quantify or attain. We may want to be ‘skinnier’ or ‘curvier’, or want to have the body we had in high school. These types of goals are difficult to quantify or measure as we go, and it’s hard to tell when we’ve reached those goals.

While it’s okay to have a general goal of wanting to lose or gain weight, reframing your goals to be more in line with what your values are might be more effective. For example, if you want to be able to go hiking with your friends without getting winded, perhaps a walking program would be a good start, and the goal could be more focused on your performance in terms of walking or hiking.

If you’re thinking right now that you’d like to be healthier in general, think about what that really means for you. Do you want to eat more veggies? Move around more?

Focusing more on increasing these behaviours can help us move towards specific goals that are less focused on how we look or the number on the scale. In turn, we may be less likely to be critical of ourselves if we’re less focused on our appearance.

Set SMART Goals

You may have learned about SMART goals in school, but if you haven’t, it’s just a way to think about our goals that breaks them down and makes them a little more specific. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: the goal is not vague (I want to run 2km)
  • Measurable: you can measure your progress (I can use a GPS watch to measure my distance)
  • Attainable: within the confounds of what you can do; not unrealistic (I can run 2km in 3 months)
  • Relevant: it’s something that’s important to you (I want to run to play soccer again)
  • Time-based: it’s not open-ended (I want to run 2km by September 1st)

The difference between a SMART goals and a ‘regular’ goal may be the difference between success and failure. It’s important that we are clear with ourselves about our expectations, and that we set goals that are realistic.

Consider the difference between these two statements:

  1. I’ve never run before but I’d like to run a marathon some day
  2. I’ve never run before, so I’m going to start training to run a 5km race next year

The first one almost sounds like a dream; something you’d daydream about while sitting on your couch. The second one sounds actionable. It’s something you can realistically see in your future. The best part about these types of goals is that you can break them down even further!

Running a 5km race by next year may seem really daunting if you haven’t run before. But if you break that down over the next 52 weeks and map out a plan to gradually increase your running distance, you can focus on each week as it comes. The ultimate goal doesn’t change; you’re just helping to set yourself up for success.

Make changes because you love your body, not because you hate it

This is a big one. We often talk about how much we dislike our bodies and wish we could change them. But why not make changes because we love our bodies instead? That doesn’t mean you have to love every inch of your body, but maybe you can work on appreciating your body, and reminding yourself of the importance of self-love.

Start running because you’d love to see the amazing things your body can do. Eat more veggies because you know your body deserves to be nurtured. Cut down on snacking on junk because you know that healthier snacks make you feel good, and you deserve that!

Again, consider the difference between these statements:

  1. I need to be more healthy so that I can lose weight and not be so fat – I hate my body
  2. I’d love to lose some weight and start moving more so that I can nurture my body and really use it to its full potential

The first sounds discouraging and intimidating. Everything about it is negative. You need to do it, instead of you’d love to do it. The second one sounds almost exciting. Imagine what you can do and how your body might feel if you can make these changes? Sounds better than self-depreciation, if you ask me!

If you had to choose one of the above to say to a friend or family member, which would you choose? Likely you’d choose the second one to try and encourage them and help them move forward with compassion and love. It’s important that we treat ourselves with the same level of love and compassion.

It doesn’t have to be about beating ourselves up. If we can start to reframe our goals and reframe the reasons that we do things, we give ourselves so much power to make meaningful changes in our lives.

It takes some time and it’s important that we be patient with ourselves. But if you keep working on it, you can make some meaningful changes in your life and start moving towards your values – and loving yourself even more!

Jennifer Thomson

RP, MACP, CPT, FNS

Relationships are hard!

We have all heard that before, but what does that mean? Why are they so hard? Should they be? Must they be?  You know the old saying “the best things in life are free”, but ‘free’ doesn’t always mean easy! Some of the hardest things in life take the most care and effort, and consequently, bear the sweetest fruit.

So, the story goes: once upon at time, we grew up, built relationships, fell in and out of love, made mistakes, made them again (and sometimes again), picked ourselves up, and kept going. That is a far cry from fairy tales we grew up with about some enchanted forest, magic spells, and white horses that bring us to our ‘happily ever after’. The truth is, real relationships don’t work like that, and we tend to learn that the hard way because nobody writes stories about never-ending compromise, flexibility, and more patience and understanding than sometimes feels humanly possible. Doesn’t exactly make for a great bedtime story, right?! But the reality of love is that those are often the very qualities it takes to make things work – not glass slippers and fairy godmothers! The fact is, there are many great and wonderful things about love and relationships, and there also challenging and difficult aspects too. Commitment, trust, understanding, partnership, communication, sacrifice, and intimacy come with both concerted effort and great rewards.

As we build a relationship with another person, we contribute to the dynamic with parts of ourselves. In the beginning of a new relationship, we tend to choose the best parts to put forth. Perhaps as we become more comfortable with another person and build trust and security, we begin to share the less desirable parts and dissonance can arise within the relationship. We may ask ourselves, “Who is this person?”, “Why didn’t I see this before?”, “What happened to us?”, or “How did we get here?”.

It is important to remember that each person in a relationship is a WHOLE person, not their partner’s ‘other half’, and that we contribute what we have to offer (or not) to the relationship between us.

So many times, we make the cardinal mistake of believing we can change another person. The truth is, we can’t force a person to change, and ultimately, we have no right! We are only in control of ourselves, and the contribution we make to our relationship with that other person – not the other person themselves! Perhaps better questions to be asking if we can to make changes are: “What am I bringing to this dynamic?”, “How have I changed over time?”, or “What could I do to make things better?”.  It is a basic human need to be heard and understood. There are many therapeutic approaches to couple and family counselling that aim to deal with the hurt, anger, resentment, defensiveness, and boundary and communication issues, that come along with managing relationships. The Gottman Method and Emotion-focused therapy are two of the most well-known and aim to get to the core of the emotions involved in loving relationships. Many of the issues that lay deep in the heart of problem relationships are hidden and masked by symptoms like arguments, nagging, lies, betrayal, blame, manipulation, lack of intimacy, hurtful words, and accusations.  

Healing the relationship between couples and families in therapy takes effort and commitment from all parties, and starts with getting to know each person, both as an individual and as a member of a partnership. Therapy offers no magic spells or potions, but tools for understanding and helping a person putting forth the best they can to make things work. The journey through therapy isn’t always easy but, like relationships, it takes hard work and has the potential for great rewards. It all starts with aiming for everyone to simply be heard and, more importantly, understood.

If you feel your relationship may benefit from counselling, you can contact me here.

By Chelsea Avram, MACP Candidate

On May 11th last year, we officially launched Roots in Wellness! We are so thrilled to be celebrating this special milestone.

At the time we started Roots in Wellness, Jennifer and I were both working at other jobs and uncertainty was front and centre. Our dream was to create a practice where we could integrate services for both mental and physical health, using Jennifer and I’s unique sets of skills and education. In reality, we had no idea how launching a business would go, how long it would take to build a caseload, or where this little business would end up in a year!

One year later, we reflect on what it has looked like so far.

Getting to Know the Community

When we first started, we prioritized building our caseloads and becoming acquainted with the community around us. Although I was born and raised in Hamilton, my entire therapy career up until that point was centered in Burlington and the GTA. This meant starting from the ground-up to build a professional network and gain a better understanding of the resources around us so that we could better help our own clients.

We visited doctors’ offices, local businesses, and met with other local practitioners. Through these conversations, we’ve increased awareness for mental health, discovered further resources in our community to help foster wellbeing, and met some new friends in the process!  

Taking the Leap

On July 27th, 2018 I left my full-time job to pursue working at Roots in Wellness full time. I strongly believe that leaving one’s salaried, full-time employment for entrepreneurship is one of the scariest, challenging, and EXCITING leaps that one can take. My hat goes off to anyone who has experienced it before!

It was strange at first having whole days to focus on the business, as I was so used to multi-tasking day and night when I was at my previous job. I found it to be freeing but also sort of intimidating that I had all of this time to work with and delegate when I would do what. I slowly figured out what worked best for me, scheduling working hours for seeing clients, doing administrative work, professional development, and networking time.

Finding a Balance

One of the things I found most important for me early on (and to this day!) was to separate home time and work time. I have a separate cell phone for work, and since I started the business I’ve been in the habit of turning off my work phone at the end of the day and keeping it off on evenings and weekends. Spending quality time with family, friends, and myself has always been something I’ve valued, and I feel that having this separation is essential to making sure I am the best person I can be both in my personal life and as a therapist.

What I’ve Learned

If I could go back and give myself advice in those first six months of private practice, I would tell myself to try and become comfortable with being more uncomfortable! Soooo many aspects of private practice were uncomfortable, from the up’s and down’s of busier versus quieter weeks, writing blogs, not knowing what type of content to post on social media, and being “on my own” in terms of all clinical decision-making and administration. I think there was a part of me that expected I “should” have just had a full-caseload private practice at the end of the second month, and be confident in everything I was doing – while that couldn’t have been further from the truth!

I believe that accepting your own vulnerability is an essential part of chasing any dream. We have no way of knowing with complete certainty whether it will all work out, and this fear can feel immobilizing. Part of what has helped keep me moving forward has been to accept that I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t predict the future. I do my best to take things one day at a time, and focus on doing what I can to further my dream while also knowing that part of it isn’t up to me. You can put a pile of work into your dream, but it still takes time, patience, and maybe a little bit of fate to make it happen!

From Jennifer

You all may have noticed that I am not as active on social media or with Roots in Wellness in general. What many of you may not know is that I actually have a full-time job in the business field that keeps me busy much of the time. But, I couldn’t bear to not have therapy as a part of my life, and Kayleen and I make a great team.

Kayleen has said it well – creating a business is hard but it will make you strong and it’s something you can feel amazing about. I am so unbelievably proud of where Roots in Wellness is, and how Kayleen has managed to grow her caseload so quickly.

I am not from Hamilton, but the opportunity to serve this wonderful city, in particular the LGBT+ community, has been an honour, and I wouldn’t want to practice anywhere else. I am so excited for what the future holds for Kayleen and I, Roots in Wellness, and our community. I am lucky to have a business partner who understands me (good or bad!) and works with me to get things done and help this business grow. I look forward to showing all of you what the two of us can do, and continue to offer community resources for those in need. Thank you!

Thank you!

I have felt so lucky to have the support of family, friends, and my “biz bestie” – Jennifer, the other half of Roots in Wellness – throughout this process. Having the support and encouragement of others who care is so essential to keeping your spirits up, doubts in check, and momentum moving forward. I am so grateful for all the phone calls, messages, and lunches shared with my biz bestie. Her never-ending love and patience with all of my questions and fears will never cease to amaze me, and I feel so lucky to have shared this experience with her.

Jen and Kayleen

I don’t think it’s always easy to get into business with a close friend, but if anything the past year has only made our friendship stronger. I truly believe that people enter our lives for a reason, and I am so glad that she is a part of mine.

We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the first year of Roots in Wellness, and are so excited for all of the things that are to come! In the coming year, we will be expanding our services to include Walk and Talk Therapy, more Yoga Therapy group programs and workshops, and Nutritional and Fitness consulting thanks to Jennifer’s new Nutrition and Personal Training Certifications!

We feel so privileged to do the work that we do, and to have met all of the wonderful people we have in the process. From other therapists, healthcare professionals, and all of our amazing clients – we are grateful for each and every one of you and the new things you teach us each daily.

We hope this post has been helpful in learning a little bit more about us and our story. If you take away anything from our story, let it be this: following your dreams is one of the most scary and also one of the most incredible things you will ever experience.

There is no guidebook, no set path – just limitless potential to do what feels meaningful to you. If you are waiting on a sign to act on your dreams, this is it! You have the power to make your dreams happen, and there are so many amazing people in our community to help you along the way. Please do not hesitate to reach out if there are things we can do to help you along your path.

With love, respect, and gratitude,

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

Body Positive, or Unhealthy?

Being body-positive is so important to ensure that we are caring for ourselves, but what happens when it goes too far?

If someone is severely underweight or severely overweight, but happy with their bodies, is that okay? What if they have underlying health problems as a result of their weight?

This problem often arises because we don’t always have a good picture of what it means to be a healthy weight, and the idea of what our bodies are supposed to look like can be extremely distorted. While measures such as BMI can be helpful in determining a healthy weight range for someone of a given age and height, the reality is that everyone’s body is different, and certain weights may not be realistic for some people compared to others.

So what does all of this mean? The crux of it is that while we want to be body positive and love ourselves regardless of what’s on the outside, we also have to be realistic, and we want to strive for healthy lifestyles.

That leads to the next question… what does it truly mean to be “healthy”? While this may seem like a complicated question, it’s actually quite simple.

In order to be healthy, it is recommended that you eat a variety of different foods (balancing macro and micronutrient intake), and exercise regularly. There is a lot of misinformation about health and nutrition out there, so I want to take some time to dispel some of these myths.

Myth: I have to eat a low carbohydrate diet in order to reach or maintain a normal weight

This is a very common myth that many people believe. With diets like Atkins and the Keto diet, there has been a lot of talk about low carbohydrate diets being the only way (or best way) to lose weight and be healthy.

While this is certainly an option for many people and many are successful using this method, it’s not recommended by most professionals. There are a few reasons for this, especially that it’s likely not a sustainable diet. As time passes, people are more likely to gain the weight back later on once they stop eating low-carb, as is the case for many diets that include dietary or food restrictions (Insel, Ross, McMahon, & Bernstein, 2013).

 Additionally, low-carb diets may be ineffective because of how our bodies work. Carbohydrates are actually quite useful! Our bodies use carbohydrates for fuel and many internal processes, including digestion and absorption of important vitamins and minerals.

Not only do most health professionals not recommend a low-carbohydrate diet, but the golden standard ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat), suggest that the majority of your calories should come from carbohydrates (Insel, Ross, McMahon, & Bernstein, 2013).

If you want to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, the best way to do so is to eat a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fats from a variety of different sources. If you want to lose weight, decreasing your overall intake of food is the best way to lose weight and stay healthy. MyPlate is a great resource to help you pick meals and foods that balance essential nutrients for our bodies. Stay tuned for part 3 of this blog series for more tips on how to lose or gain weight, depending on your goals.

Myth: I have to take up running or other high-intensity exercise to be healthy

General recommendations for adults and exercise is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and get a gym membership – there are many different things that you can do to stay active! Some of these include:

  • Walking at a moderate to brisk pace
  • Cleaning
  • Working a job that requires physical labour, such as housekeeper, mechanic, or factory worker
  • Doing yoga
  • Swimming
  • Gardening
  • Shoveling snow
  • Cutting the grass, and many other household chores

Getting enough exercise is important to ensure that our bodies are strong. Moderate exercise helps us maintain bone, joint, and muscle strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health, and increases endorphins that make us feel good!

Not only that, but studies have shown that getting 30 minutes of exercise per day can help reduce your risk of health problems, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, and even many types of cancer (Mayo Clinic, 2018).

Myth: I have to be within a certain weight range to be healthy

It’s true that BMI (body mass index) is a common method of determining whether or not someone is in a healthy weight category based on their height an age. While many healthcare professionals use this as a baseline to determine if someone is over or underweight, it is important to note that it is not a tried and true method to determine someone’s overall health.

Tom Brady
CJ Anderson

In reality, there are many factors that contribute to someone’s weight, including genetics, body-fat percentage, and bone structure. Consider this: Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots, is 6’4” tall and weights approximately 225lbs. Based on BMI, he is overweight. However, Tom Brady is an elite athlete who has 6 Superbowl rings; we would be hard-pressed to suggest that he is unhealthy. The former running back for the Los Angeles Rams, CJ Anderson, is considered obese by BMI standards, and he played against Tom Brady in the Super Bowl last year!

Of course, most of us are not Tom Brady or CJ Anderson, and are not elite athletes. However, what this illustrates is that BMI is not always the best way to determine whether or not someone is healthy.

Instead of using BMI, try setting some goals for yourself based on the performance of your body, what you’d like your body to be able to do, or goals you have for your future.

Myth: I can’t have treats or eat the food I like if I want to be healthy

I think this myth scares a lot of people because honestly, food is SO GOOD and the thought of having to restrict or cut out certain types of foods can be upsetting. But I have good news! You don’t have to cut anything completely out of your diet in order to be healthy!

As I mentioned before, being healthy is all about getting a variety of nutrients from a range of different foods. Health is all about balance. Do you have to cut out McDonald’s from your life and give up those sweet, sweet chicken nuggets? No! Should you eat chicken nuggets every day? Also no.

Have a sweet tooth? Eat some chocolate. Just don’t each excessive amounts of chocolate every day. If you’re trying to lose weight, a big part of the difficulty can be training your body to eat smaller portions. In addition to portion control, it can be beneficial to get a better balance of different types of food in your diets, such as fruit, vegetables, protein found in meats or meat alternatives, and whole grains.

Myth: I have to be skinny and look like models and actors in order to be considered healthy

The media fills us with images of thin women and muscular men, suggesting that that’s how ‘normal’ or healthy people look. But this isn’t always the case, and the goals and ideals for one person may vary drastically from another person’s.

Consider the body image differences between an NFL linebacker and an acrobat. Both are arguably fit and healthy, but the physique goals for the NFL linebacker are likely going to be very different from that of the acrobat. The linebacker may be focused more on size and strength, whereas the acrobat might be focused on strength and flexibility, and not gaining size.

Again, health is about what you do, not necessarily about how you look. Think about what you want from your body, and what you want it to do. Is that in line with how you envision yourself looking? As always, you should consult with your doctor before making any food or exercise changes.

In our next edition of this blog series, we will explore how you can work to focus more on health and your personal goals, and less on how you look in the mirror.

References

Insel, P., Ross, D., McMahon, K., & Bernstein, M. (2013). Nutrition (5th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

Mayo Clinic. (2018, December 14). Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

Jennifer Thomson

RP, MACP, CPT, FNS