As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer and brighter, my excitement to extend our therapy services to the great outdoors continues to grow. In May 2019, I am proud to announce our Walk and Talk therapy sessions will begin!

When we created Roots in Wellness, our vision was to have a therapy practice where we would promote not only mental health, but physical and spiritual health as well. It is so important to us to look at this holistic picture of health. As such, we want to ensure that we are doing our best to encourage clients to view their own wellbeing holistically, and for us to have programs that facilitate this. This vision led to us developing and facilitating more holistic services such as our Mindful Yoga Therapy Group and Walk and Talk Therapy.

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So Why Walk and Talk?

I have always loved spending time outdoors on the trails, and have noticed for myself the incredible healing powers of nature. For me, walking the Main Loop of the Bruce Trail here in Hamilton is a meditative experience. Main LoopI’ve walked the trail more times than I can count and the trail is so familiar, but the sight of its streams, mossy rocks, and the Hermitage never get old. Given the healing benefits walking these trails has had for me, it seems natural for me to want to share this experience with my clients.

Walk and Talk therapy provides a unique opportunity to combine the healing forces of nature, physical activity, and psychotherapy all into one. From CNN, to Glamour, and the American Psychological Association, Walk and Talk therapy is becoming more widespread and its benefits for both physical and mental health are becoming more well-known.

Besides its physical benefits, Walk and Talk Therapy can also enhance the therapeutic process by allowing for a less-intimidating side-by-side interaction versus the normal face-to-face interaction that takes place in the therapy office. Walking in this position can sometimes help clients feel more comfortable, allowing for deeper sharing and an increased sense of connection with their therapist.

Walk and Talk Therapy also provides a fantastic setting to practice mindfulness and gratitude, given the beautiful and serene natural landscapes around us.Nature can be a great catalyst for creativity, allowing clients to view things from a different perspective and helping to facilitate inner growth.  

 

What About Confidentiality?

It is understandable that confidentiality is a concern for us and the clients we serve.

In Walk and Talk therapy, it is true that others may overhear the conversation as they walk by or we may see someone either of us knows on the trail.

Prior to beginning Walk and Talk Therapy, we will take time in-offIMG_1119.jpgice to review a consent form specially tailored to these confidentiality issues and discuss your comfort level with various options. We may agree to limit our conversation when in earshot of another person, and we will make an agreement as to how we will handle the potential situation of running into someone you may know. We may also discuss whether there are certain issues you prefer not to discuss at Walk and Talk therapy, instead opting to discuss those during in-office sessions. My goal is to make you feel comfortable so that you may get the most out of your therapy session, whether in-office or in the forest!

Who is Walk and Talk Therapy For?

Walk and Talk Therapy is for anyone who loves being outside and enjoys being physically active. It is for those who love to try new things, and who feel comforted in the presence of nature.

Walk and Talk Therapy is especially helpful for those who may feel restless during therapy sessions, or who do their best thinking when they’re on the move!

There is no one issue that necessitates or prevents you from participating in Walk and Talk Therapy – it is up to you which therapy method you feel most comfortable with! The beautiful thing is, Walk and Talk Therapy can start or stop at any time – it’s up to you to decide when and how many sessions you’d like to have versus in-office.

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To sum it up, Walk and Talk Therapy is a great way to address your overall wellness both mentally and physically.

To find out more information, check out our Walk and Talk Therapy page on our website at: https://rootsinwellness.ca/services/therapy/walk-and-talk-therapy/ 

I look forward to meeting you on the trails!

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

 

Sources:

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/09/natural-fit

https://www.cnn.com/2017/04/05/health/sw-walk-and-talk-therapy/index.html

https://www.glamour.com/story/why-walk-and-talk-therapy-works

Another week, another snow and ice storm. Cue the frustrated and tired sighs!

Although it’s an expectation that our Canadian winters are a little up and down (to say the least), the weather can still have a major impact on how we’re feeling.

Being cooped up inside all day means that we are generally less active and have less exposure to sunlight, fresh air, and other people. This can leave us feeling tired, lonely, and having an overall sense of sadness. You may notice that it’s difficult to get out of bed in the mornings, or to gather motivation for activities that you normally do. Sometimes everything can feel like a chore, from getting out of bed in the morning, making meals, or attending social obligations.

It’s safe to say that many of us don’t feel like we’re at the top of our game during the winter months.

pexels-photo-713070Although there’s not a whole lot we can do to influence the weather, we can definitely influence how it affects us.

The following are some tips I’ve gathered that I’ve found helpful to keep my mood and energy levels in check over the winter months.

 

Exercise regularly.

In the summer, many of us are naturally more active with walking, running, swimming, outdoors sports, and outdoor household chores such as gardening or mowing the lawn. In the winter months, we tend to do fewer activities and spend more time indoors. This may mean that we are lacking endorphins that our bodies create when we exercise, leaving us feeling less-than-stellar.

Find an exercise routine that works for you and your schedule. You can check out our blog post about Staying Active in the Winter for more tips and ideas on how to stay active in the winter months.pexels-photo-373984

 

Use a therapy lamp.

We experience a LOT less sunlight in winter months as compared to summer months. This can leave us lacking in vitamins such as Vitamin D, which may be contributors to low mood.

Therapy lamps mimic the same type of light that the sun emits in the morning, helping us to feel re-energized and happier overall. It’s recommended to sit in front of a blue light for approximately 20-30 minutes per day for optimal benefit.

CR-Health-Inlinehero-Bright-Light-12-15These lamps can be purchased at many retailers including Costco or Amazon, such as this one: https://www.amazon.ca/Verilux-VT10WW1-HappyLight-Liberty-Compact/dp/B00K08ZDBI

 

Try supplements.

Similar to blue light lamps, supplements can be another great way to substitute important vitamins we may be missing during the winter months. Vitamin D drops are a common supplement to take during the winter months. However, it is always best to speak to your doctor about which supplements are best for you and your individual needs.

 

Make time for friends and social activities.

When the weather is at its worst, many of us opt to stay indoors in “hibernation mode” to avoid the cold and snow. Sometimes it feels good to hibernate, but if we isolate ourselves for too long it can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and decreased motivation.

Instead, plan activities with friends such as coffee dates, fitness classes, or a paint night. If you’re looking for more inspiration, Groupon or Meetups can be helpful for finding fun and local activities in Hamilton.

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Get a check up.

At times we may be feeling down as a result of vitamin or hormone levels being out of whack. It’s never a bad idea to arrange a check up with your family doctor and to have blood work done in order to see if anything is off.

 

Hopefully you find these ideas helpful in coping with the winter blues.

We know how difficult this time can be, and you’re not alone in how you feel. If you feel you could benefit from talking to a therapist, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

On the bright side – Spring is only 27 days away!

By Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

2019 is finally here, and if you’re anything like me, you have a long list of New Year’s resolutions!

Every year I start off by writing down what I want to achieve. Once I fine-tune them, I put the list somewhere where I will frequently see it, usually in a journal or day planner. Having the list somewhere visible allows me to keep them in mind throughout the year. Where will you put your list so that it is easy to see, everyday?

 

Setting Smart Goals

I start off the process by jotting down my intentions. This year I am planning to prioritize self-care while I finish my Bachelor of Social Work degree. Last semester, my self-care (regular exercise and healthy eating) took a back seat to my schoolwork. This approach didn’t work for me. and I became tired and run down – I definitely wasn’t performing at my best. I have realized that prioritizing self-care will be very important moving forward, as I won’t have a break leading into my final semester in the spring. Keeping a healthy focus by setting some clear goals around fitness and diet will help me cope with the heavy workload and high expectations.

After I write down my intentions, my next step is to turn them into SMART goals. By using a Specific, Meaningful, Adaptive, Realistic and Time-framed approach, I ensure my goals are clear and achievable. For more information on creating SMART goals, check out this SMART goals worksheet. After I have created my specific goals, I will prioritize which are the most important to start with. In the past, I have found that trying to work on too many goals at once can be pretty overwhelming and can end up making me feel less motivated in the long term. My more recent approach has been to start small. Focusing on just one of my goals at the start has allowed me to be more successful.

This year I will be starting off by focusing on scheduling more time for self-care. For me, this means going to the gym regularly, cooking healthy meals, meditating, and getting enough sleep. If I were to start working on all my goals today, I would easily become overwhelmed and would probably end up giving up on all my New Years resolutions! I find that an all-or-nothing mindset doesn’t work well for me. It’s much easier for me to start small and add more when I know I can handle it. So, my first SMART goal is that I will book myself into a minimum of three one-hour classes each week at my local gym so I can run, ride the exercise bike, row, and connect with my friends, which will help keep my stress under control.

 

Strengths

In addition to developing SMART goals, I believe one of the best tools you can use to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions is yourself. When you think about it, you know yourself the best! You know what has worked for you in the past, and you can probably even name things that haven’t worked. This can actually be a great starting point. If you already know what doesn’t work, you can start to come up with new creative solutions that will work.

 

Uncover Your Strengths

I ask myself these questions when I am trying to figure out how I can use my own strengths to achieve my goals. How would you respond to these same questions?

  1. Reflect on your past accomplishments. How did you achieve these goals?
  2. What was easy? What was harder to do?
  3. How did overcoming past challenges make you stronger?
  4. What skills and resources did you use to overcome the challenges and help accomplish your goals?
  5. What would your friends and/or family members say are your best qualities?

Reflecting on your strengths and your past successes can be really helpful when working towards your future goals.

 

Motivation

Maintaining motivation has always been tricky for me when it comes to my New Year’s resolutions. One year can be a long time to stay motivated. Understanding that motivation can be difficult is helpful! Here is what I have learned along the way:

The most important thing is that everyone is motivated in different ways. For example, one of my past resolutions had been to go to the gym at least 4 times a week. I am a person who is typically more externally motivated. In other words, I realize that I need external pressures to hold myself accountable. So, in order to achieve this goal, I ended up joining a group fitness class. That way I couldn’t just show up to the gym, run on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then pack it in without doing much to really enhance my overall fitness. I have made connections in the group class, can participate in group activities and challenges, and we can cheer each other on. I must also book my classes ahead of time to ensure I get a spot. And I am unable to cancel my classes (within eight hours) without an additional charge. All of these steps encourage me to plan ahead, show up, and work towards my fitness goals.

 

Visualization 

Visualization is also a good technique that can help you to picture your path to success. Take time to think about how you will approach a goal, the steps you will need to complete, and then imagine yourself achieving the goal. Imagine how it will feel, what success looks like, and how good that success will be!

 

Be Kind to Yourself

After listing my goals, I try to be mindful of two things: “Be kind to yourself” and “Take care of yourself”. Above all else, these are the two most important intentions for me and they take priority over everything else. Realistically I know I am going to make mistakes. I am going to get off track, and I am probably going to struggle. I have learned to accept that this is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay! Being kind and forgiving to myself throughout the process will only set me up to be even more successful.

 

By Chris Henderson

Chris is currently studying Social Work and will graduate with his Bachelor of Social Work in June 2019.   He previously earned a BA in Criminology and a Diploma in Police Foundations, where he developed a keen interest in social welfare and human behaviour.   Chris is passionate about exploring ways to enhance physical and emotional health, and empowering people to be the best that they can be! 

It’s officially fall and the colder weather is already here. Many of us stay active in the summer months by going for walks, swimming, running outside, gardening, or engaging in other outdoor activities. The winter months can provide a challenge for staying active, as it’s often cold outdoors and we can’t do a lot of the things we enjoy in the summer.

As a result of this, we often become much more sedentary, spending more time indoors watching television (it is football season after all) and snacking. This can lead to weight gain, depressed mood, and an overall decrease in your well-being. You may not realize this, but being sedentary, spending more time at home, and decreasing your activity level can not only affect your overall mood, but it can also increase your level of anxiety (Otto & Smits, 2011).

For those of you with a year-long gym membership, continuing to be active likely won’t be a problem. But if you’re not a gym rat or you can’t afford to pay for a gym membership all year round, we’ve compiled some additional ways you can stay active this year!

Join an Active Team or Club

downloadOrganized sports don’t exist exclusively for children; there are many adult sports and activity leagues, especially in big cities. Often these are recreational leagues that require little to no prior experience or expertise. Joining something like this may give you an opportunity to learn a new skill, meet some new people, and stay active over the summer! Here are some local (Hamilton) leagues that I found with a quick Google search:

  • Soccer World Hamilton: Offering soccer, baseball, football, and drop-ins
  • Wentworth Arenas: Offering soccer and hockey
  • Average Joe Sports: Offering co-ed recreational basketball, dodgeball, flag football, floor hockey, soccer, softball, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and youth sports
  • City of Hamilton: Information on badminton, swimming, volleyball, and basketball leagues
  • Sport & Social Club: Offering floor hockey, basketball, curling, dodgeball, fitness classes, flag football, hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, and water polo

Organized sports can sometimes be expensive, but by doing a search in your home town you may find some drop-in leagues available as well.

Go Swimming Indoors/Aquafit

swimming-659903_960_720Swimming is a fantastic aerobic exercise, and most cities have an indoor pool that offers lane swimming, classes, and free swim. This is something you can do on your own or with the whole family! The city of Hamilton has a list of local pools that you can check out by clicking here.

Most pools have the option to get a membership for the year or season, or pay per visit, decreasing the overall cost to you.

Attend a Yoga Class

Yoga_Class_at_a_Gym3Yoga is more than just meditation and stretching. For those of you who have never done yoga, it can be an intense workout and can help you with strength, flexibility, and the connection between body and mind.

Kayleen holds regular drop-in yoga classes in Hamilton, and we periodically hold yoga-therapy groups. There are also a number of other yoga services in Hamilton, and you can do your own yoga at home using YouTube!

Workout in Your Home

weight-loss-1207555_960_720You have to have expensive equipment or a lot of space to do your own aerobic workouts at home. You can work up a sweat and build muscle by doing bodyweight workouts or using household items as weights, such as jugs of water, water bottles filled with sand or rice, cans, etc.

If you’re not sure where to start, HIIT workouts are a great start as they are short but high intensity, so they get your heart rate up and really make you sweat! You can also make your own workout plans. Some exercises you can do that require no equipment include:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Jumping jacks
  • Push ups
  • Sit ups
  • Planks
  • Mountain climbers

There is really an endless list! There are many resources online where you can find pre-made workout plans or even fitness videos on YouTube. Make sure that you check with your doctor first to ensure that you can engage in any exercises you’re unfamiliar with.

Go Outside

run-1096683_960_720Winter can suck, but there are often really beautiful sights to see in the winter time. If the weather isn’t too bad, you can go for a walk outside on a trail or in your neighbourhood. You can also look into outdoor skating rinks in your area, or go to a lake or pond near your home that has been cleared to be safe for skating on. These can be fun family activities, or things you can do on your own!

If it’s not too cold or icy, you can even take elements of your home workout outside, and do some running, skipping, or your entire workout in the backyard. You can also try out some fun winter sports, such as snow shoeing, downhill, or cross-country skiing!

Get a Gym Membership

download (1)The idea of going to the gym can be daunting, and sometimes the price can be an even bigger deterrent. But a $50/month gym membership at a fancy gym isn’t your only option. There are many smaller gyms around that offer cheaper monthly fees, such as Planet Fitness and Fit4Less, or discounted rates based on your income such as at the YMCA.

Not only that, but many gyms have an option to put your membership on hold or only have it for certain times in the year, so that you can use it in the winter and put it on hold in the summer. The advantage to going to a gym is that:

  • It gets you out of the house
  • You have access to expensive equipment you may not have at home
  • You can often attend classes
  • Some offer free orientations to help you get acquainted
  • You have an opportunity to be social

Practice Gratitude

My last tidbit of information or advice is to practice gratitude. The idea that winter sucks can really get us down and cause us to lose motivation and not put in the effort to stay active. Practicing gratitude for family, friends, our environment, and where we live can help us move in the direction of more positive health. Rather than seeing winter as a gloomy time where you can’t go outside and nothing gets done, think of it as an opportunity to try new things. Remind yourself of how lucky we are to live in this beautiful country, and think of all of the positive aspects of winter, such as Christmas time, more time with family, fuzzy warm sweaters, and football season!

 

References

Otto, M., & Smits, J. A. (2011). Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being. Oxford University Press.

https://soccerworldhamilton.com/

https://wentwortharenas.ca/

https://www.averagejoesports.ca/sports-leagues-hamilton

https://www.hamilton.ca/parks-recreation/recreation/sports-fitness

https://hamilton.sportsocial.club/sportsoffered/

 

Jennifer Thomson

Registered Psychotherapist

RP, MACP

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