Hello, my name is Kat and I am so thrilled to be a part of the team at Roots in Wellness for the next 7 months! A little bit about me…

I am currently in the final stage of my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology degree through Yorkville University, completing the practicum portion. While I am in the last leg of this academic journey, I have been in the helping field for over 15 years. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Brock University, and a Child and Youth Worker diploma (Accelerated) from Humber College.

I have always known I was meant to work with people, helping others to find the voice that may be hidden, to advocate for themselves and their needs. Originally, I thought I was going to be a teacher – that is the role I would always play as a child, and what I envisioned as I grew older. Then one day, I met someone who told me about the program they were in at Humber and introduced me to what a Child and Youth Worker/Counsellor was. I immediately began researching the program and how I could register, having to be on the waitlist and interview to be accepted. I remember my very first day sitting in seminar, hearing my professor tell the class about her experiences working with clients. I just knew I was in the right place, and couldn’t wait for my own experiences!

Flash forward to my first shift at my first placement – a residential setting for receiving and assessing children and youth. I was so nervous, but even more excited! By the end of that 8-hour shift, I knew I had made the right decision. Having the opportunity to spend time with those that need a little extra support in reaching their potential, role-modelling appropriate relationship dynamics and most importantly, being an ear to listen and an ally in developing their skills was life-changing for me.

Over the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of working in a varity of different settings and environments, with amazing clients and exceptional teams. Some of my past work experiences include Children’s Aid Society, Thistletown Regional Centre, Syl Apps Centre, Sick Kids Hospital, Southlake Regional Health Centre and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

Although I have worked with many clients of all ages, in the past, I have specialized in children and adolescents (ages 10 and up) who are struggling with anxiety, depression, self-expression, low self-esteem, parent-child conflict, peer relationships, self-harm tendencies and behavioural concerns. For over 10 years, I worked with children and adolescents struggling with disordered eating and body image concerns, both at Sick Kids Hospital and Southlake Regional Health Centre, in the Inpatient program as well as Day Treatment.

My passion for my work has only increased over the years, with each new experience and journey that I have encountered. When I am able to help someone realize their self-worth and identify their core values and beliefs, how this can impact their life and how to make changes to move forward and live the best version of their life – it fills up my cup and makes my heart smile. Working one-on-one with individuals, as well as working with families, in a private practice setting is something I am honoured to be able to do. I believe the client is the expert when it comes to their own life, and I am here to provide support and guidance along the way. Together, we will work towards developing goals and achieving success.

When I am not working, and not doing schoolwork (which, to be honest, is not very often these days!) I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading the newest fiction book, taking my pup Zoey for walks, attempting to keep my plants flourishing, picking up my very basic level of knitting, and anything related to Harry Potter. I have also recently started spin class from home and feel like a (indoor) road warrior already!

Thank you for taking the time to read up on a little bit of myself. If anything resonates, please feel free to reach out! I can be reached by phone (416) 903-7185 or by email at kat@rootsinwellness.ca.

 

~ Kat

As therapists, we recently find ourselves in our own real-life experiments, hearing echoes of the things we have been asking our clients to do for themselves, and now more than ever, we need to make sure we are also walking the talk.  We are into week four of social distancing (really physical distancing), and in complying with government recommendations, most therapists (and all four of us) are offering online or teletherapy, in place of in-person sessions. Teletherapy is emerging as the new normal (perhaps long overdue).

In light of this, we’d like to address some recent trends we’ve noticed might impede our mental wellness during this COVID-19 containment period, and provide our practical guidance.

Our top five tips and trends include:

  1. Privacy: Finding creative spaces for privacy, for online therapy and for when you simply need space.
  2. Structure: The importance of creating structure for yourself during uncertain times.
  3. Responsibility: Helping your non-compliant loved ones accept the importance of self-isolation, and check in on healthy boundaries.
  4. Flexibility: How to ‘roll with the punches’ by increasing cognitive flexibility.
  5. Regulation: Recognizing how fear and other emotions show up in our behaviour and what we can do to help ourselves deal and heal.

1.  Finding Privacy

Privacy for therapy

When you imagine ‘therapy’, chances are you envision a cozy, quiet, office with a live therapist. A private space, where you could safely talk about whatever experience you need to unpack, or whomever, you needed to talk about.

In week three of sheltering at home, hanging out non-stop with our family members, therapy may feel like a more urgent need, but more difficult to achieve.  Online therapy might take a bit more preparation, but don’t let the initial challenge of looking for private space get in the way of getting the support you need. Some ideas for finding privacy are:

  • Talk to your family about taking a call and needing privacy.
  • Pick a quiet room (even a closet, or the bathroom will do!).
  • Carpeting can help buffer noise.
  • Put a noise machine or radio on outside of the room, or download a white noise audio file on another device.
  • Put a towel or pillow at the base of your door.
  • Wear earbuds or headphones, so your therapist’s voice is for your ears only.
  • If there’s a specific sensitive subject, you can create ‘code words’ to use with your therapist.
  • Go in your car, park at a park, or in a spot with publicly accessible wi-fi (your therapist should be providing the secure platform to access).
  • Looking for free wi-fi? If your own driveway doesn’t work, try the parking lots of your local coffee shop, fast food restaurant, Rogers or Bell store, or other public wi-fi spot (we find generally, Starbucks works best).
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your therapist about your specific needs or concerns – we’re learning new tips and tricks every day as well to help meet your needs. As an essential service we can also explore an option for face-to-face sessions if extremely necessary.

I just need alone time!

Some of us are just looking for privacy for ourselves, especially if you already worked from home and were used to a quiet house, are an introvert, or are just simply losing your marbles (which is totally understandable). Try:

  • Setting pre-specified “quiet time” in closed rooms (see section below on Creating Structure),
  • Take a bath (lock the door!),
  • Sit on balcony, or get going on some yard work,
  • Go for a walk/run,
  • Talk to each other about the overall noise in the house at different times of day.

2.  Creating Structure

During uncertain times, when there isn’t a great deal of order externally, we can create structure internally, at home, which can help buffer the stress caused by uncertainty.  Some of us have this skill from our jobs, and the rest of us suddenly have to create it.  Here are some strategies for creating structure:

Focus on your values

Keeping your values in mind as you navigate your new normal is something we’re all figuring out how to do. Your values are things that light you up, when you feel you are being true to yourself.  If you align with those five to ten values regularly (like connection, family, patience, creativity, loyalty), you’ll feel less stuck. We need to give ourselves permission to create our own daily structure based on our individual values.

Some ways to do this include:

  1. Look at what sort of activities you’d be doing normally, and identify which of your values line up:
    1. Sports: exercise, fitness, social
    2. Visiting: family, friends, relationships
    3. Writing: creativity, art, alone time
  2. Once you have a list of things you value, see if you can come up with new ‘physically distanced’ ways of fulfilling these values:
    1. Sports: going for a run or walk outside; doing a home workout video (with friends on video chat).
    2. Visiting: video chatting with friends and family daily; going for a physically distant walk with a friend.
    3. Writing: find quiet time and place each day for yourself to write; find inspiration in what’s going on around you.
  3. Structure your day in a way that incorporates all of these things that are important to you. Write out a daily schedule, with specific time blocks for all of the activities that keep you feeling healthy.

Be Kind to Yourself

You don’t have to follow the same routine as before. If it makes sense to sleep in an extra hour and it’s not going to negatively affect your day, then sleep in that hour. Allow yourself the time and space to adjust to this new life.

Try Something New

There are lots of changes to absorb, so it makes sense we’re going to also change. The restaurants are closed but you can still have a date night with your partner – you’re going to have to be creative. Try new routines, an activity you’ve never done before (like online therapy!), or do more of something you often don’t have time for. Get out of your comfort zone; after all, we’re all a little uncomfortable right now, aren’t we?

Get on the Same Page

Family meetings might be awkward and new, but they can be crucial at a time like this, where everyone is stuck in the house together, or shared family arrangements are thrown out of whack. Pick a night every week to have a family meeting – get everyone in the house involved. On paper you can chart the week with school, work, dinners, chores, and time for video games and quality family time. If you’ve never done it before, know it will feel awkward and you will receive ALL the eye rolls and “do I have to’s?”.

At the end of the week review it, look at what worked/what didn’t work and re-adjust for the week ahead.

Organize Yourself

For those of us who really value structure, or get carried away doing either not enough work, or too much, making sure you’re organized is important. Make use of to-do lists, alarms and reminders to help you structure your day. Put things in your calendar you wouldn’t normally put in (like standing up, or changing the laundry, looking into your partner’s eyes).  Most importantly, make sure you have balance and boundaries by setting specific working hours, self-care time, and family time. Take breaks during the day as well, even if you have to schedule them.

3.   Pandemic-level Responsibility (feeling over-responsible)

Feeling over-responsible for other people who are not your dependent children can be very tough. With all the stories in the news about which generation is tougher to manage during this pandemic, we had to wonder:  are some of us over-responsible adult children especially triggered right now?

While this experience can affect any generation, in psychology, we sometimes refer to the emotional state of being a ‘parentified child.’  Parentification describes a role reversal, where a child is obliged to act more like the parent should be (but isn’t) to their own parent or sibling. It can happen for various reasons, including parent physical or mental illness, parental alienation in divorce, enmeshed relationships, porous boundaries with parents for example.

Whatever the reasons, the child grows into an adult who feels generally over-responsible for caretaking of their now older or elderly parents, adult siblings and perhaps other people in their life.  This constant boundary crossing into other adults’ lives tends to cause problems for us in the long run.

How do we regulate our anxiety when we don’t have full control over what our parents and other loved ones do?  How can we exercise compassion and understand what we AND they’re going through?

  • Some of our loved ones may be afraid and their coping strategy to reduce their anxiety, rather than to face that this is real, is to downplay the crisis.
  • Acknowledging their fear response by helping them talk about what’s going on, rather than telling them what to do, may be helpful.
    • Recommend things you can do together virtually like facetime, can help.
    • Recommend a new hobby that doesn’t expose them to risk.
  • Most people don’t want to be told what to do, which can be distressing for the over responsible adult child, but we need to manage our own levels of distress first.
  • If we can be compassionate, patient (to an extent), and provide the right information, we have a better chance of getting through to our loved ones
  • Before you lock your stubborn friend or mother in a basement, remember to BREATHE (see Regulation below)!
  • If you’ve been trying to talk to them and your approach isn’t working, switch it up. Appeal to your loved one’s values. If they’re more worried about others than themselves, speak to that.
  • Remind them of their responsibility to help protect the health of others, including other loved ones, the elderly, and children, you need their help.
  • Hold your boundaries. Our parents often still think of us as children (so what if we act like children sometimes?), and this can translate to them not respecting our adult boundaries. It’s not their job to remember our boundaries folks, it’s our job to remind them.

4.  Flexibility, but the brain kind

Cognitive flexibility refers to our brain’s ability to switch from one train of thought, or way of thinking, to another, in order to adapt to a new situation. An analogy often used is switching between TV channels.  If you are set on only one channel, you can get stuck there, and miss experiencing all that is offered on the other channels. Cognitive inflexibility is something parents might experience with a child who struggles to transition from one activity to the next, or with someone who doesn’t like curveballs being thrown into their days that mess up their schedules or to-do lists.

Perhaps no collective experience like this pandemic has demanded new levels of cognitive flexibility from all of us. We are being required to bend and flex in ways we never knew were possible – whether we like it or not.  It’s possible some of us might be struggling more than others, especially if you are in touch with your extroversion, have had a hard time with change in the past (we all do, some more than the average cat), already deal with having a neurodiverse brain in a neurotypical world, or have had a highly structured job or office environment.

Acceptance and Commitment

We have some tips to ease into cognitive flexibility, adapted from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a version of CBT, focusing on accepting your emotions, and moving forward with your life.

A mental shift of acceptance of your fear: first we must understand our fear!

This may seem counterintuitive, as fear can be perceived as negative. Fear or anxiety comes with unpleasant physical symptoms, and sometimes also a steady stream of ‘what ifs’ and ‘shoulds’. Typically, when faced with something causing these feelings, we try to avoid it.

We can see feelings of fear and scarcity demonstrated in the grocery aisles: carts full of toilet paper, Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer. We are scared. We want to get rid of the yucky feeling, so we do what is efficient in the moment. Spoiler alert: Buying copious amounts of TP is not the long-term solution to feeling better – this is our way of trying to avoid – or get rid of – these feelings of anxiety in the moment.

The fear we feel about COVID-19 is real. While the feeling of fear and anxiety are unpleasant, some level of anxiety is normal and it’s what allows us to continue to be safe, self-isolate, and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

This is unchartered territory for you – and almost everyone – as we are learning to live through a global pandemic. It’s understandable you may have a heightened sense of worry and you may ‘freak out’ at times – that’s okay!

Remember in those moments that cognitive flexibility is a key factor to learn to live within a new normal. You can do the following to help you accept and feel your emotions, ground yourself, and move forward:

Accept

Practicing radical acceptance helps us understand that our emotions are normal, and accept that they’re going to be there no matter how much we try to avoid (and that, like everything, this too, shall pass).

  1. Remind yourself what you’re feeling is normal, and it’s okay to feel this way.
  2. Reality is as it is (the facts about the present are the facts, even if you don’t like them).
  3. There are limitations on the future for everyone (but only realistic limitations need to be accepted).
  4. Everything has a cause (including events and situations causing pain and suffering).
  5. Life can be worth living, even with painful events in it

Feel the emotion

Acknowledging and tending to our feelings, even the difficult ones, is what we need to ease the emotional pain.

  1. Name the emotion (if we can name it, we can tame it).
  2. Acknowledge all emotions are okay, they emote for a reason. If we pay attention to them, we can recognize the clues to help us figure out what we need (usually not more toilet paper).
  3. Talking about your emotions with people who can hold them with empathy and support (if you don’t feel like you have access within your limited connections right now, reach out for professional support, online of course).
  4. Recognizing we are not alone in our suffering, and being as kind to ourselves as we are to our friends and loved ones, is important. Noticing our shared common humanity is a step towards being more compassionate to ourselves.

5. Regulation

When we speak about self-regulation, we teach that ‘story follows state’ – that is, our body’s signs of stress (heart rate, dry mouth, nervous stomach, jumbled thoughts) inform the story our brain creates about how safe or unsafe we are.  Our society is living in fear right now.  Some of the behaviours discussed (TP hoarding) – include avoidance, denial and numbing (to deal with our unpleasant physiological agitation).  Sometimes distraction is okay – it takes away the emotional strain or pain in the moment. But feelings resurface when we push them down repeatedly.  If we stay disconnected and don’t share our fears with others, our fears also come with consequences adding an extra layer of shame.

ACT also informs helpful ways we can stay regulated.

Ground Yourself

In times of heightened emotions, it can be difficult not to panic. Grounding can help us get back in touch with the here and now, and focus on what we need in the moment.

  1. Use your senses to really focus on where you are in the moment. Focus on your surroundings, what you’re feeling in your body, take a few deep breaths, and remember that you are safe in this moment.
  2. Get out in nature and really experience your surroundings (what do you see, smell, hear, feel?).

Move Forward

Once we feel calmer, we can keep moving forward. Shift your focus to the controllables, and engage in activities that are in line with your values.

  1. Ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to help reduce risk for yourself and others?
  2. Engage in a pleasurable activity. Share a positive or informative post on social media to help spread happiness, kindness and facts; offer to help a neighbour or loved one; practice self-care by doing something for you.

Finally, remember that this will pass, and like all of the other difficult times in your life you will get through this!

Even being able to consider some of these strategies helps to build the muscle of cognitive flexibility, which is what builds our capacity for resilience and allows us to ‘roll with the punches’. Be patient with yourself, and remember any type of change takes time.

While not everyone experiences this, one trend we have noticed in particular across our practices (which spans the province), in particular increasing is comparative suffering.

Comparative Suffering

Increasingly, fear shows up in our behaviour in minimizing our own suffering by pointing out the “more important” suffering of others. ‘Rank ordering’ our suffering is yet another attempt at dismissing our own painful emotions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought this out in many of us. It sounds like this:

“I can’t be afraid for my children who are simply missing school, there are children in the world who don’t have adequate food or positive home lives”

 OR

“Why should I be tired and irritated after a long day of work, there are people who are out of jobs”

OR

“I shouldn’t be worried that I can’t go to my graduation, there are people who have had to cancel weddings”

This tactic of reducing emotional pain doesn’t make our unpleasant feelings go away, it adds another layer to it.  Now in addition to the difficult feelings – like fear and sadness, we also experience the feeling of shame: “I’m bad because I’m feeling sad when other people have it worse than me.”

  • Recognizing the importance of empathy for OURSELVES is helpful.  Feelings of empathy are not finite, there is enough to go around.
  • Letting go of shame allows us to more fully look outside of ourselves, which allows us to have a deeper sense of empathy for others.
  • The clearest way to give support and empathy to others is to attend to your own feelings.

Shame grows when we don’t express how we feel. When we can share our feelings with others, especially feelings of shame, and it is received with empathy, shame cannot survive, and we are free to connect with others in a healthy and supportive way.

Our Closing Thoughts

Noticing our emotional and physiological state are the first steps toward getting a handle on our emotional states. Are you getting easily irritated by the silly things your partner does, like the way he/she chews his food? Or eats her banana? Or having a shorter fuse when you see your children haven’t emptied the dishwasher?  Noticing this behaviour in ourselves is the first step to easing the emotions underneath our behaviours. We start our own regulation by first noticing, second regulating our physiological response and finally following the steps involved in tending to our emotions (see Feel the Emotion above).

It’s a strange time and we’re all going through it together. How we come together to manage both ourselves, AND support our families might require strategies from us that we haven’t used before.  While we all learn new things, figure out our new normal, know support is here for you. No one is meant to go through a pandemic (emotionally) alone, despite ‘social distancing.’ We’re mammals and humans aren’t wired to struggle alone. Reach out for help, go easy on yourself and your loved ones, and reach out for support, sooner rather than later.

Written in collaboration by Peer Supervision Group, OAMHP Members Mindy Bilotta, RP,Christina Crowe, RP, Christina Janiga, RP Jennifer Thomson, RP, otherwise known as The Kind Heart Therapists (and on a rowdier day, The Kind Heart Cult).

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

Losing someone we love is likely the hardest thing that any of us will ever do in our lives. Grief is such a strong and painful emotion, and it can be scary to think about. The loss of a loved one can turn our lives upside down and change our entire perspective on life. Societies often have rituals, such as funerals, to help individuals come together in times of grief and sadness, and these rituals can be so meaningful and important to our healing process.

If you’re grieving the loss of someone, I encourage you to read this post. Grief can be difficult and isolating, and there are often many mixed emotions. This post is meant to help you move through these thoughts and feelings in a way that is non-judgmental and allows you to heal.

We’ve all heard of the stages of grief before, but we believe that everyone has their own unique process, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The most important thing to remember is that you are allowed to feel everything you are feeling. Acceptance of what we are feeling is key any time we have any strong emotion, positive or negative. In other words, it is important to allow yourself to feel however you feel, without trying to restrict or minimize what you’re feeling. This tends to be fairly easy early on in the grief process, as we are expected to be sad or angry in response to the passing of a loved one. Later on, however, when others have seemingly moved on and you’re still in the depths of your despair, it can be more difficult to be accepting of how you are feeling.

It is important to remember during these times that you are not alone, and it is okay for you to grieve for as long as you need to. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that comes up. Perhaps do some mindfulness to really notice what thoughts and feelings are showing up. Often, when someone close to us passes, there are more complex emotions than just sadness; emotions that we don’t always talk about as a society. There may be anger, frustration, regret, hatred, or other emotions that you may think to yourself that you should not be feeling. We are here to tell you that these are perfectly normal feelings to have. The more that you try to make them go away or ignore them, the more persistent they will be. Instead of trying to get rid of these feelings, try holding them lightly. See if you can allow them to be there, and acknowledge that they can’t harm you. They are simply thoughts and feelings, and although they may hurt, you are in control of how they affect you. Hold them gently, and if you have difficulty doing so, it may be helpful to practice one of the following techniques to help you process these thoughts and emotions so that you may be able to hold them more lightly in the future.

1.    Write Down how you feel

Writing can be an extremely powerful action. While we don’t necessarily understand why, writing down how we are feeling and what we are thinking can help us sit with these thoughts and feelings more easily. It’s almost as if we are holding in all of this pent up emotion, and writing it down allows us to release it, and let go in a sense. This doesn’t mean that the thoughts and feelings are going to go away entirely, but that you may be able to better understand them, and begin to move forward.

You can start by writing down what you’re feeling in that moment, and just let your words flow. It may not be in full sentences, but rather specific words. You can try writing on lined paper, or you can use blank paper and colours and write things out the way that feels right. Notice how it feels when you write down those words. Notice what you feel in your body, and how it feels before you write it out versus after. See if you can do this without judgement of your feelings – recognizing that it’s okay to have any thoughts or feelings about the situation. Our thoughts and feelings will ebb and flow like waves in the ocean, and this is all part of the process.

2.    Write a Letter

While general writing can be extremely helpful, sometimes we feel as though we have unfinished business with someone who has passed, or we have things we wish we could have said to them. Writing a letter addressed to the person who has passed can be a really powerful exercise. You have an opportunity to say what you need to say, or what you’d like to say, in any way you want. You can address the person directly, and let them know how you feel about them, how their passing has affected you, maybe how they made you mad, or what you’ll miss about them.

Once you’ve finished your letter, you can save it somewhere, or let it go. Letting it go may be something like crumpling it up and throwing it out, burning it, burying it, or whatever feels right to you.

3.    Honour their Memory

This one is a little bit more vague, because it depends on the individual. This can be different based on the person who has passed and the person who is in mourning. Perhaps the traditional ritual of our society isn’t something that has helped you grieve and move forward, and there’s something else that you need to do. This is likely why celebrations of life have become so popular, because people often prefer to celebrate the life of the individual in a way they would have preferred.

If your loved one really loved animals, perhaps you may volunteer at an animal shelter in their honour, or donate some treats or toys. Maybe you go to their favourite restaurant and order their favourite food with some of their closest friends. Or maybe you plant a garden or a tree in their memory. You can choose to do whatever feels right for you, and whatever makes you feel closer to that person.

4.    Spend time with Loved Ones

Another advantage to celebrations of life is that it allows individuals to speak more freely and talk about the individual in candid ways. Spending time with others who loved this person and being able to reminisce about good times you all had can be extremely healing. While we expect sadness following the passing of a loved one, we often forget about how many positive memories we have with that person. When we spend time with others, it allows us to create a dialogue of positivity around celebrating the individual’s life while also allowing you to mourn their passing. Laughing about funny things that happened, remembering how sweet they were, and just talking about them in a positive light can help you move forward in realizing that this person had an impact in your life, and nothing can ever take that away.

5.    Be Patient with Yourself

This is probably the most important part. Everyone’s grief process is different, and you cannot rush your feelings. Furthermore, just because someone seems ‘okay’ on the outside, doesn’t mean they’re not hurting on the inside. You may decide to return to work and go back to a ‘normal’ life, and that’s okay. You may also feel really sad and cry often, and that’s okay too. Likely, you will have good days and bad days, and having a good day doesn’t mean you didn’t love that person – it just means you’re moving forward. Life is a rollercoaster of emotions, and we have to ride them out even when we’re grieving. So not only should you practice being patient with yourself and your emotions, but also compassionate. It’s okay to be happy sometimes, or angry, or sad.

All in all, every single person experiences and expresses grief differently. We don’t need to fully understand it, but we do need to practice being compassionate towards the process for others, as well as our own process.

Remember, there are people who love and care about you, and you do not need to go through this process alone. It is important to reach out to others during this time, whether that be family members, friends, coworkers, or a therapist. Grief is an extremely difficult and transformative life process, but also a sign of incredible love and devotion. As Thomas Campbell said, “To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die”.

 

By Jennifer Thomson and Kayleen Edwards