Hearing the term “self care” can trigger an automatic eye roll from some, who think of self care as the cliche bubble bath, face mask, or other stereotypical things they may have seen in media. Self care seems to be a buzzword these days, with more and more people using it on social media, television, and marketing. But what does self care actually mean?

To us, self care is something that you do to be a good friend to yourself. Self care activities are things that make you feel recharged, energized, and more like yourself. These activities can come in many shapes and forms. The examples below are just a starting point for the possibilities of self care activities that you may do.

Self Care Ideas

Physical Relationships Creativity Spiritual
·Go for a walk

·Try a yoga YouTube video

·Join a house league for a sport of your choice

·Have a dance party in your kitchen

· Have a warm bath

·Do stretches

·Make a warm cup of tea

·Organize something in your home

·Go to bed early to get 8 hours of sleep

·Get a Massage

·Drink more water

·Spend time in the sun

·Text someone

·Call someone

·Go for coffee

·Tell someone how you feel

·Tell someone why you appreciate them

·Cuddle with a loved one

·Create boundaries – say “no” and express your needs

·Turn off your phone after a certain time

·Limit time on social media

·Play a board game with loved ones

·Go on a date with your significant other

· Journal

·Get an adult colouring book

·Paint

·Make a card for someone

·Look up and make a new recipe

·Take art lessons

·Take dance lessons

·Repurpose an object

·Learn a new skill on YouTube

·Visit the library or book store

·Start a blog

·Work on a home project

·Do some gardening

 

·Spend time in nature

·Meditate

·Pray

·Journal

·Listen to meaningful music

·Find and listen to podcasts that inspire you

·Look up and save inspirational quotes

·Visit a sacred place

·Create a sacred place in your home with candles or scents

·Watch the sunrise or sunset

·Help someone

·Volunteer

 

Did any of these surprise you? Are there some that you are already doing, but never thought of it as self care?

Our challenge to you is to pick at least one of these activities to do for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be a daunting process that requires a great deal of time and energy! Even one small self care activity like ensuring you’re getting enough water or sitting outside can make the world of a difference.

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

kayleen@rootsinwellness.ca

For those of you who like to run, you know that nothing compares to the feeling you get when you’re outside running with the sun in your face and the wind at your back. But for many, running can seem like a chore, especially at first, and it can be difficult to get over that hump.

So, if you’ve thought about running, tried it, and decided you hated it, then this article is for you!

At First – It Sucks!

When you first start running, especially if you’re carrying some extra weight, it can really suck. You feel like you’re constantly struggling to breathe, your muscles ache, and you may even end up with a headache afterwards.

Let me tell you – this will pass! Any time we begin a journey to weight loss, fitness, or health, there’s always a period of feeling uncomfortable while our bodies adjust. Stick with it, even for just a few weeks, and you’re likely to see improvements in how you feel.

If you don’t, here are some reasons you may be feeling sluggish or achy during/after a run:

  • You’re dehydrated: make sure you drink lots of water before, during, and after a run; your body needs to be hydrated!
  • You haven’t eaten enough: many people enjoy running while fasted (meaning they haven’t eaten in a number of hours), however this doesn’t work for others. If you’re feeling really tired following a run, check your calories and make sure you’ve got enough fuel to get you through your workout and the rest of your day
  • You’re doing too much all at once: it’s okay to start small. We always want to push ourselves, but make sure it’s within reason. If you’re unsure, speak to your doctor about a good starting point, or hire a personal trainer

When I first started trying to get healthy, the first couple of weeks felt like torture. But I didn’t go from no exercise at all to running 25km a week. I started playing volleyball again, going to the gym a little more, then I joined soccer, and eventually got a home gym and started running most days – and that took me a year to progress to! This journey in itself is a marathon, and you need to pace yourself. Stick with it and I promise you won’t forget it.

The other thing that really motivated me was doing a 5k, without any training. Now, you don’t want to do this in a way that you’re going to injure yourself. But what I mean is, I had the intention to start running so I signed up for a 5km race, thinking that would motivate me to train. It didn’t. But AFTER I did the 5km race, and realized that running 5k really isn’t that bad, I was motivated to improve my time. What I learned was that the first 2km are the worst, and then you sort of get into a rhythm. So, sign up for a 5km race by yourself or with a friend, and see where it takes you!

Proper Footwear

Wearing proper footwear is so important when we’re running – if we have unsupportive footwear, we can end up with a multitude of problems. If you’re not sure what to get, don’t worry; I didn’t either! If you go to a store, you’ll notice there are dozens of brands with hundreds of different shoes, all claiming to be for ‘running’. The sales associate may be able to help you, especially if you have a specific issue, but there will still be many choices. It may also depend on where and how you’re running – if you’re running indoors on a treadmill versus outside on a sidewalk versus on a trail, you may require different types of footwear and support.

It’s worth the money to invest in a good pair of running shoes, both for running outside, on the treadmill, and for weight lifting and other types of workouts. We need to have support for our feet and ankles in order to avoid injury. Personally, I have a pair of Sauconys, which I love. They’re super comfortable and lightweight.

For more information on which shoes to buy, check out these articles:

In general, as long as you don’t have any pre-existing medical issues, and you go with a shoe that is made for running, you should be okay (please consult with your doctor first). Go to the store, try some on, and you’ll find a pair that you like.

A Running Plan

It can be really helpful to have a plan when you’re running. Many people get discouraged because they go out and notice they can’t run for very long, and are often winded. If that’s you, then starting on a specific running plan might be helpful. Typically these are found in apps that you can get on your phone, that offer a gradual progression to running a 5k, for example.

Here are a few of my favourite running apps:

Couch to 5k Running App

Strava Run and Cycling App

Runkeeper App

 Map my Run App

 FitBit Activity Tracker

For those of you who aren’t into technology, here are some running plans that are available online that you can follow:

Having said that, I don’t actually use a running program, and never have. They’re just not for me, and I like to go at my own pace. I have a FitBit and when I started running, I was much further along in my running abilities (due to soccer) than most programs start you at. I simply run based on how my body feels, ensuring that I’m pushing myself along the way. It’s been successful for me, and I continue to reach personal records on a regular basis.

Be Patient

Patience is a virtue – one I admit I often don’t have. When I do something, I typically go all-in and I want to get results FAST. That meant that, for me, I wanted to constantly improve and reach personal records every time I ran. Now, this in itself isn’t a bad thing. A drive to run and improve is great – but you need to ensure you’re listening to your body.

I went from running once a week at soccer, to doing that plus 5km four times per week. Not surprisingly, I got injured. My physiotherapist suggested that I had simply done too much too fast, and my body couldn’t keep up. I developed tendonitis in my hip and had to cut back on my running quite a bit. Not only that, but it affected my game at soccer and took a long time to heal. Go slow, do this gradually, and don’t expect your body to do more than it can do. This takes time and it’s worth it in the end if you go slow and steady.

Don’t Pressure Yourself too Much

I’m someone who, even in the best shape of my life, hated running. Now I love it and it’s the thing that I turn to for stress relief, self-care and relaxation for myself. Having said that, running isn’t for everyone. Some people do not enjoy running, and that’s okay!! Lots of people talk about running as the best form of cardio, but there are so many alternatives. So, if you hate running, or just don’t want to run, here are some really great cardio alternatives:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Cycling indoors
  • Sports
  • HIIT workouts

I encourage everyone who is willing and able to get out and try running. Try it with a friend, on a trail, or on a treadmill, and see how it goes. Everyone is different and has different preferences, but the idea is that we’re moving our bodies and being healthy!

 

Jennifer Thomson

Registered Psychotherapist

RP, MACP

Have you often thought about coming to therapy, but then… didn’t? Many things can get in the way of making the call and showing up to that first therapy session.

One of the most common things to get in the way of setting up a therapy session is the fear of the unknown. Often, people aren’t sure what to expect the first time they attend a therapy session, including where to go, what their therapist will be like, and what will happen during the session. This is especially compounded if someone is suffering from anxiety or depression, two symptoms that can make leaving home pretty difficult.

We are here to help clarify what you can expect during your first session with us!

Before the appointment: You are always free to phone or email us to ask us questions before booking any appointment. Once you have decided to book, you may choose to book a free 15-minute consultation call, or to book the one-hour session first. These both can be booked either online, or by phoning or emailing one of us.

Location: Our office is located at 428 Aberdeen Ave. in Hamilton, Ontario. The closest intersection to us is Dundurn St. and Aberdeen Ave. A good landmark is the Aberdeen Tavern, which we are next door to. You can park in the driveway if there is space available, or parking is also available on the road free of charge.

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Office: Our office is located in the lower level of the building. When you arrive, please enter through the side door to the left of the building and go down the stairs to get to our office. You can have a seat in the waiting room, where we have magazines and music to enjoy while you wait. Generally you will not be waiting long, and we should be out to get you in less than five minutes.

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Start of appointment: If it is your first appointment, there are some housekeeping items we have to go over at the start of the appointment. The main one is signing our consent form, which is a formal agreement to enter into a therapeutic relationship with one of us. We will review the form with you verbally, and then give you a chance to review the form on your own to ensure you understand. Please feel free to ask questions – it is important that you feel informed and that you fully understand consent to participate.

During appointment: Have a specific issue you’d like to address in the first appointment? Great! Not sure what to talk about? That’s okay too! We will always ask if there is a specific issue you were hoping to work on or discuss during the first session, so that you don’t feel it is just us asking questions. If you aren’t sure of what to bring up first or there isn’t something specific you can think of to discuss in the first appointment, we will usually ask more questions about the difficulties you have been experiencing so that we may have a better understanding of how to help.

However, it’s also important to us that the whole appointment isn’t just asking questions, and that you feel you are receiving help and ideas right from the start. We will generally give some suggestions or ideas as to what we can work on, and then give you the option to choose what you feel would be most helpful for you. Therapy that is a collaborative effort between you and your therapist is our goal, instead of the therapist just leading the way!

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End of appointment: At the end of the appointment, we may assign “homework” for you to think about or work on for the following week. This homework is always optional, and is totally at your discretion as to whether you have the time and feel if it would be beneficial for you or not. We will also usually discuss what we feel would be beneficial to work on during our next session, so that you have an idea of where things are headed.

We will ask you if you would prefer to book your next appointment then, or if you would prefer to have some time to think about things and email us after to book. We will then process payment, whether it is made via cash, cheque, credit card, or e-transfer. We will then provide you with an invoice, which you may submit to your extended healthcare benefits insurance provider, if applicable.

All in all, you can expect our therapy appointments to last approximately 50 minutes, give or take.

We hope this post clarifies the process of working with us and that learning this information may empower you to take steps towards your own healing.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact me at (289) 689-7194. I’d love to hear from you!

Kayleen Edwards

Registered Psychotherapist

We often have clients, family, or friends ask us – what’s the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychotherapist? These titles all sound so similar, it’s no wonder people get confused! We thought we’d write a quick blog post to help clarify.

Psychiatrists

  • Medical Doctor with mental health specialty
  • Registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)
  • Can prescribe medication
  • Can diagnose Psychiatric/Psychological conditions
  • Can provide mental health treatment
  • Private practice, hospitals, and institutions

Psychologists

  • PhD in Clinical Psychology
  • Registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO)
  • Can not prescribe medication
  • Can diagnose Psychological conditions
  • Can provide mental health treatment
  • Private practice, hospitals, and institutions

Psychotherapists

  • Master’s Degree in Psychology, Counselling, or Psychotherapy
  • Registered with the College of Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)
  • Can not prescribe medication
  • Can not diagnose Psychological conditions
  • Can provide mental health treatment
  • Private practice and institutions

Social Workers

  • Bachelor or Master’s of Social Work
  • May be registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW)
  • Can not prescribe medication
  • Can not diagnose Psychological conditions
  • Can provide mental health treatment
  • Private practice and institutions

 

It is important to note that mental health services by any of these practitioners is likely not covered under OHIP unless seen through a hospital, school, or doctor’s office. However, any of these services may be covered under your extended health benefits. Most extended health care plans specify the type of the practitioner that you can see in order to get fees covered, so it is often helpful to understand the difference.

Each of these types of practitioners is typically trained in some capacity to address mental health concerns, and is registered with a regulating body to ensure that they are practicing ethically and within their scope of practice. Regardless of who you choose as your therapist/counsellor, the most important factor is the therapeutic relationship, and how well you connect with your therapist. Research has shown that the therapeutic relationship is more important than education, length of practice, type of practitioner, or modality of practice in determining success in therapy (Lisa Firestone, 2016).

Remember, it’s okay to talk to a couple of different practitioners before you choose, and it’s okay to switch therapists should you meet one that doesn’t work for you.

We know – this can be confusing! Here is a chart to summarize:

 

Designation Can Prescribe Medication Can Diagnose Psychiatric Conditions Can Treat Psychiatric Conditions
Psychiatrist Yes Yes Yes
Psychologist No Yes Yes
Psychotherapist No No Yes
Social Worker No No Yes

 

References

Lisa Firestone, P. (2016, December 22). The Importance of the Relationship in Therapy: How a strong therapeutic alliance can lead to real change. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201612/the-importance-the-relationship-in-therapy

Kayleen Edwards

Registered Psychotherapist

RP, MA

When deciding whether to talk to a therapist or not, you may have the thought – what’s different about talking to a therapist than talking to a friend? Why invest the money, when I can talk to my friend for free?

While it’s true that friends can be great sources of support, there are some times when we need a little bit more. Here’s how a therapist is different than talking to your friend:

1) A therapist is specifically trained in mental health.

This is probably the biggest advantage of seeing a therapist. Therapists are specifically trained in understanding psychological issues, in addition to various treatment methods. Understanding psychological issues means that we can understand specific symptoms you may be experiencing and how these impact your life. Sometimes it may be difficult for a friend to understand, and we may hear things like “You need to just get over it”, “Don’t think about it” or “Cheer up”. This sometimes serves to isolate us more, making us feel as though we aren’t being heard or that there’s something wrong with us for not being able to not think about it.

This is where a therapist comes in. As therapists, we understand why you feel this way and can offer techniques and tools to help. Whether it’s specific techniques and strategies such as mindfulness, or simply listening compassionately and holding space, we are specialists in helping you to cope with these difficult situations.

2) A therapist can provide an unbiased perspective.

A feedback I often hear from clients is that it feels good to get a fresh perspective from someone who wasn’t previously close to them. This can be helpful sometimes because it means that sometimes we can notice or catch things that friends haven’t noticed before. As therapists, we are specifically trained in noticing how bias can get in the way of helping others. We are experts at checking our own bias, and knowing how to handle our own thoughts and feelings to prevent them from negatively impacting the therapeutic relationship.

We are also going to ask you the tough questions when necessary, where your friend may not. We do this because we know that at times you need to face something that may be difficult, and in order to do that, we have to ask questions that may feel probing or uncomfortable. We are here to help you to work through these difficult questions and move forward on your path to living a better life.

3) Therapists are bound by confidentiality.

Confidentiality is at the core of a therapeutic relationship. We are bound by confidentiality regulations set forth by our respective colleges (e.g. the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario), and uphold these standards each and every day. We know how important trust is, and you can rest assured knowing that when you’re talking to a therapist, what is said will stay between the counselling office walls.

These are only a few examples of the differences between talking to a therapist and a friend. All in all, both are helpful to talk to! Talking to friends and therapists can be a great way to feel heard, hear a different perspective, and create a deeper connection with yourself and others.

Kayleen Edwards

Registered Psychotherapist

MA, RP