Growing up in a fast-paced society, we tend to forget how to slow down sometimes. When we are always on the go, we barely take time to stop and question our self- how am I feeling today? 

There may be times when we cater to our families, children, friends, employers and relatives to the point where we disconnect from ourselves while in the process of trying to connect with everyone else. When the world tends to stress us out to the point where we get the feeling of being lost even when in a room filled with people, that truly becomes the breaking point. Why are we feeling so alone even when we are surrounded by people we love and care for? 

This is the time when your body, mind and spirit is longing for you to take care of yourself. 

The concept of emotional self- regulation is highly important as it can enhance long term mental and physical well-being. According to American Psychological Association emotional regulation is the ability of an individual to modulate an emotion or set of emotions. Emotional regulation allows us to guide our responses to powerful feelings such as anger and anxiety.

There are many ways to maintaining your mental and physical well-being daily. As a single mother, I know how busy my day can get managing a two-years-old, while trying to finish my daily house chores, my work, volunteering, and working on various projects. I can sometimes overlook my own health by just focusing on my daughter and getting the daily tasks done. However, over time I realized that neglecting my own personal mental and physical well-being was taking a toll on my daughter as well. If I am always worked up and anxious about getting work done, I am not giving the full undivided attention that she needs or I need for myself. Therefore, by working on some of the emotional self-regulation techniques, I was able to get out of this feeling of haste and actually take a breather for myself. This helped me to realize the importance of enjoying even few minutes or an hour of quality time that I could spare just for me and my daughter. 

I know I’m not alone in this experience, so I’ve created a list of some things I do in between my busy day to check in with my inner-self and help to make my mind, body and spirit peaceful.

I am a firm believer of mindfulness meditation. I am not talking about becoming a full yogi or doing some difficult yoga poses to fill in the role. Sometimes, I just on my prayer mat and I breathe slowly, inhale and exhale. I use a humidifier with a scent of my liking that calms my emotions and eases stress.

In the morning, I take my time and enjoy making a cup of coffee. I think about all the blessing I do have in my life. I feel blissful for having a flavorful coffee in my favorite cups which I have collected when I was traveling abroad. Even Just thinking about the beautiful places I have visited; gives me a feeling of calm and relaxation, helping me get into a positive mood and mindset. 

I use a humidifier with a scent of my liking that calms my emotions and stress before going to sleep. Sometimes, I take the humidifier into my work space when I feel restless. Certain smells can help calm our anxious behavior. Lavender calms the mind and balances the body with its sweet floral aroma. Peppermint is stimulating and uplifting. Tea tree is fresh, clean and soothes cough symptoms. Grapefruit is zesty, fresh and boost mood. Rose Geranium promotes emotional well-being with a floral touch.

As with many parents, there are times I feel guilty about not spending enough quality time with my daughter. Therefore, I decided to split the hour into 30 minute sessions with her. I take her for a regular walk where I explore the outdoors with her. This gives me the fresh air that I need and lets her explore into the adventurous world. She becomes my little Curious George. The other half hour I play with her inside our home and let her pick any activity that she wants to do. This could be simply playing hide and seek, or pretend playing with kitchen play set.  My happiest time that truly makes me feel grounded is before going to bed I spend few minutes just giggling away and acting silly with her. Just watching her laugh and smile truly makes me forget about the difficult challenges we face throughout the day. It makes me feel that life should not be as fast pace and busy where we make it to be. 

Therefore, just doing simple things can change your mind and behavior pattern which leads you to focus on your inner self because if you chose to ignore your own self, how can you assure to provide peace and happiness upon others around you.

Always, check in with yourself, and ask- How am I feeling today? I hope this question is helpful for encouraging you to follow through with some things that will lead you to have a blissful mind, body and spirit. 

By Aisha Malik, BA, MACP (Candidate)

Hello readers! 

I can hardly believe I’m sitting down to write this blog post.  While writing a blog isn’t new to me, I’m thrilled to be contributing to Roots in Wellness – as a blogger and a student!  I’m the latest Masters in Counselling Psychology student to join the incredible Roots in Wellness team and I couldn’t be happier to be on board and ready to begin connecting with clients. 

Everyone has a story.  And if you’re reading this, chances are you might want to share yours.  To be seen and heard, to be found and healed.  I want to empower clients with their unique strength and courage to live an authentic life where they aren’t surviving – they’re thriving.  And while the vision of a fulfilled life is different for everyone, my goal is to guide and support you to explore your life and awaken you to grow through what you’ve gone through. 

Especially recently, I’ve heard from more and more people about how they are experiencing increased anxiety.  The current state of the world gives reason enough to bring a flood of intense feelings.  I want to help people who are experiencing anxiety, stress, trauma and depression.  If you’ve been feeling angry, sad, anxious, lost, stressed, reactive, unmotivated or don’t find joy in the things you once loved, know that you aren’t alone.  In a fast-paced world that has created a burnout culture, the question likely isn’t “are you feeling stressed or anxious?”  Rather, “how stressed and anxious are you feeling?”  I’m here if the time is right to put yourself first, stop living on autopilot, examine what will bring about meaningful change and take the steps you need to live a fulfilling life. 

I encourage others to give a voice to their stories because I believe every story should be heard – and because I’ve experienced the healing power of expressing my own story.  Although I have enjoyed a decade-long career in corporate communications, it was a life-changing event in 2013 that gave me the courage to pursue a profession in the mental health field – a dream that had long been on my mind.  My health history provides me with a unique, intimate perspective into the trauma associated with a cancer diagnosis.  I was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer in my late twenties and it’s that experience that called me to follow my heart and my passion for connecting with women affected by cancer.  Whether it be the pain of surgeries, fear of cancer treatments, the effects of a diagnosis in every facet of your life, or dating post-cancer, my hope is that you, too, can embrace life after cancer. 

I’m a guest blogger for the incredible non-profit organization, Rethink Breast Cancer.  To read a bit about my story, read my latest blog – An Unexpected Love Story – at this link: https://rethinkbreastcancer.com/an-unexpected-love-story/

Using a customized approach, I provide clients with a safe space and guide them through reaching their goals.  I believe that the therapeutic relationship should be rooted in trust, compassion and empathy.  My main therapeutic approaches are customized for each client and include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness techniques and narrative therapy.  I offer online therapy from Hamilton, Ontario through an online video counselling platform. I am under the supervision of Kayleen Edwards, Registered Psychotherapist at Roots in Wellness.  

Healing is possible.  I would be honoured to take that journey with you and work together to explore your life, establish goals and bring about change that matters to you.  Using the premise of accepting instead avoiding, and being mindful of your thoughts and feelings, you will experience the joy of living as your most authentic self.  From unlearning unhelpful patterns to embracing self-compassion, I’ll support you in finding out who you truly are and the courage to embrace it.

Contact:

cassandra@rootsinwellness.ca

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

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

YES!

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

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So how did I become burnt out?

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

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

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

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

  1. Take your breaks.

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

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

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

2. Turn off the phone.

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

3. Separate work time and personal time.

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

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

 

4. Reconnect with what’s important.

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

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

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

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

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

Sources:

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

 

In these first few weeks of adjusting to the new daylight savings time, we may notice our sleep schedules are affected. Having one less hour can definitely throw off our bedtime routines, leaving us feeling tired and foggy throughout the day.

To help get you back on track, I’ve compiled some of my favourite strategies for ensuring that your nighttime routine leaves you feeling rested and refreshed the next day!

 

Go to bed at the same time each day, and wake up at the same time every day.

Constantly-changing bedtimes and wake up times can cause us to experience jet-lag type symptoms, leaving us feeling groggy and tired during the day. As hard as it may be, try to set an alarm at the same time every day, even if you don’t have to get up that early.

 

Avoid your phone and bright lights from electronics while you’re in bed.

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There has been substantial research which suggests that blue light exposure emitted from electronics such as phones or computers negatively impacts the quality of our sleep at night and how alert we feel the following morning (Chang et al., 2015).To limit blue light exposure, try and make an “electronics-free” bedroom rule, leaving your devices elsewhere during the night. If you use your device for an alarm, consider placing it out of arm’s reach or purchasing an old-fashioned alarm clock instead.

 

Avoid all caffeine for 3-6 hours before bedtime.

aromatic-close-cup-1417945 (1).jpgIt’s no secret that caffeine is a stimulant, and having caffeine too close to bed can keep you up at night. Caffeine takes approximately 6 hours to be fully processed through your body, so it is ideal to try and avoid caffeine a few hours before bed.

This includes tea, coffee, pop, and chocolate! Instead, opt for non-caffeinated, herbal teas such as camomile.

 

Make sure your room is dark and quiet.

Melatonin, a sleep hormone that also serves as an immunity booster, is produced when we are in darkness. To encourage the production of melatonin, try and eliminate all light from your room by using blackout curtains, closing the door if there is a light in the hallway, or removing/placing masking tape over any small power lights from electronics (e.g. on a TV). It may also be helpful to try wearing a sleep mask, which has the dual purpose of blocking light and inducing feelings of relaxation by adding gentle pressure to your face.

 

Hide the clock display.

I found this one to be the biggest game-changer for my sleep! Staring at the clock during the night counting down all of the minutes we aren’t sleeping adds to our overall anxiety and in turn, makes us significantly less likely to fall asleep. alarm-alarm-clock-analogue-280257Not only that, but studies have shown that how much or how little we sleep doesn’t matter so much as how much we think we slept. Draganich and Erdal (2014) found that how much participants thought they slept either hindered or improved their performance on cognitive tasks. In other words – what we don’t know about our sleep may not hurt us!

 

Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime.

Research has pointed at the connection between physical activity during the day and improved quality of sleep. A study by Sherrill et al. (1998) demonstrated the strong connection between physical activity and improved quality of sleep in participants who experienced sleep disorders. city-exercise-fashion-373984 (1)Physical activity is good for us in so many ways, and sleep is just yet another reason of why we need to incorporate physical activity into our routine! Try to aim for 20-30 minutes of physical activity per day for optimal benefit. However, try and make sure that this exercise occurs at least three hours before bed time, as exercise can be stimulating and make it difficult to sleep!

 

If needed, write down to-do’s before bedtime in a room that’s not your bedroom.

If you find that you’re a list person who tends to think of things they need to do, or buy, or say, in bed – chances are it’s going to make things quite difficult to sleep! Instead, write down lists of these things before bed, or write your thoughts in a journal. It’s important to do this in a place outside of your bedroom, so that your bedroom doesn’t become associated with all of these to-do’s and potentially difficult thoughts or feelings. After writing your lists or thoughts, leave the list in a room that is not your bedroom and return to your bedroom to sleep.

 

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We hope these tips will be helpful for you in encouraging a good night’s sleep! Like any new habit, making changes takes time so it is always best to try and implement one or two of these changes at a time instead of trying to change them all at once. Attacking these habits slowly but surely ensures that they will become a long-lasting and natural part of your routine. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself credit for implementing these healthy habits.

By Kayleen Edwards, RP, MA

 

References

Chang, A., Aeschbach, D., Duffy, J., & Czeisler, C. (2015). Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. PNAS, 112(4): 1232-1237.

 

Draganich, C., & Erdal, K. (2014). Placebo sleep affects cognitive functioning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 40(3), 857-864.
Sherrill, D., Kotchou, K., & Quan, S. (1998). Association of physical activity and sleep disorders. Arch Intern Med. 158(17): 1894-1898