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

Therapy dogs are becoming more commonplace in universities, hospitals, retirement homes, and more recently, airports. Personal therapy dogs have also widely been used with individuals who experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, and physical health concerns such as blindness, autism, and diabetes, to name a few.

According to Psychology Today, bonding with dogs is said to have benefits such as reducing stress levels, decreasing perceived loneliness, and increased overall life satisfaction.

Similarly, a study by McConnell et al. (2011) found that pet owners had improved self-esteem, were more physically fit, less lonely, more extraverted, and less fearful than people who did not have pets. It seems clear in the research that having a pet significantly improves overall wellbeing, including both physical and mental health. But what does this look like in real life?

 

When we adopted our dog Callie, the impact on my life was almost immediately noticeable. These are the major differences I noticed:

 

I’m more active.

We generally walk Callie twice a day, every day for 15-30 minutes each time. Prior to having a dog, I definitely did not walk regularly or spend as much time outdoors. This is especially true in the winter and when it’s raining – times when I never would have gone for a walk on my own before having a dog.IMG_0762.JPG

I’ve noticed now that if I don’t get our walks in, I feel it! I feel more fatigued overall, and sometimes I notice feeling more anxious. It’s funny to me how I wouldn’t think of missing Callie’s walks, but that before having her it didn’t cross my mind to make walking a regular part of my daily routine.

 

I’m more social with neighbours.

Prior to having a dog, it was pretty rare (if at all!) that we saw neighbours or stopped to talk to them on the street. After having the dog, we have definitely noticed increased social interaction with our neighbours. I now know the names of some neighbours (and their dogs!) whom I wouldn’t have known if we didn’t have a dog.

 

I live more in the moment.

Anyone who has a dog knows that dogs are exceptionally good at stopping to smell… well, just about anything. Having a dog has been an excellent reminder to stop and appreciate the little things. When I’m walking Callie, I like to leave my phone at home so I can be totally present with her, noticing all of the sights, smells, and sounds during that time.

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I’m happier overall.

When you come home from a long, difficult day and there’s someone running at the door to meet you, dancing around because they’re so excited you’re home – it’s pretty difficult not to be happy! Callie’s presence adds excitement and joy to our home, even on days that are more difficult.

 

Although there are many benefits to having a dog, having a dog isn’t for everyone and it’s not a decision that should be made lightly. It’s always a good idea to factor in time and money available for caring for a pet, and understanding that it is a big commitment.

If you do decide having a pet is right for you, I strongly recommend adopting over shopping! There are so many wonderful pets that are waiting at shelters or rescues for their forever homes.

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Below are some links to organizations local to Hamilton that may be worth looking into:

Hamilton/Burlington SPCA:          https://hbspca.com/

Brant County SPCA:                       https://www.brantcountyspca.com/

Ugly Mutts:                                       http://www.uglymuttsdogrescue.com/

Lady Bird Animal Sanctuary:         https://www.ladybirdanimalsanctuary.com/

 

By Kayleen Edwards, MA ,RP

 

Sources:

McConnell, A.R., Brown, C.M., Shoda, T.M., Stayton, L.E., & Martin, C.E. (2011). Friends With Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101(6).

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/toronto/article-torontos-pearson-airport-enlists-the-help-of-therapy-dogs-to-help/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/canine-corner/200906/health-and-psychological-benefits-bonding-pet-dog

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