It’s February 14th…which means the romantic comedies and love songs have been playing on repeat for the past few weeks on television and radio, the jewellery commercials have been in full force to remind you of the “perfect” gift of diamonds, and the stores are littered with all shades of pink and red. It’s Valentine’s Day. For some, this day can be exciting and romantic. For others, this day can bring about feelings of loneliness and sadness. And for others, this day is just Thursday.Continue reading “Valentine’s Day: The Day to Celebrate LOVE for everyone”
Organization isn’t about perfection. It is about efficiency, reducing stress & clutter, and saving time & money, & improving your overall quality of life.Christina Scalise
There are many constants that I like to emphasize during my counselling sessions. Some are based on theory, some on personal or professional experience. Regardless of the presenting issue, I have three principles of stress reduction that I like to encourage all of my clients to embrace:Continue reading “My 3 Principles of Stress Reduction: Putting my words into Practice”
Another year has come and gone, most likely with some highs and lows. It can be very easy for us to “filter” and direct our focus on our most difficult times, but recalling the steps forward, regardless of whether they are significant strides or tiny steps, is always helpful in maintaining hope for the year to come. And so, here is my Year in Review: the Good, the Not-So-Good and the Hopeful.
In collaboration with Caron Leid, an international speaker and advocate, we are embarking on an exciting opportunity to publish a book about the narratives of caregivers and families who have experienced struggles with managing their loved ones with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Our vision is to share and inspire individuals who are also going through this experience and provide validation and support from people who have developed resiliency and strength throughout the process.
So this is an official CALL OUT to those who want to contribute to this project. We are looking for written entries for our book that can reflect on various aspects of caregiving. This can include topics such as grief and loss, compassion fatigue, self-care and self-compassion, and aspects of these diseases that cannot be found in textbooks. In other words, we are looking for lived experiences.
Additionally, our hope is to not only compensate those whose entries are chosen for the book, but also forward a percentage of the proceeds to an exciting foundation that is in development as we speak, which will focus on helping caregivers receive the support that they need during this journey.
With the end of the school year approaching, there is always excitement about summer vacation. But with this, is the seemingly gigantic obstacle that needs to be overcome before the bliss of sunny days and freedom: exams. Your teen may be experiencing some anxiety about this time of the year because of the cumulative projects and upcoming exams. You may see more irritability or expressions of stress and frustration rise in their words and their behaviour. Just remember that it’s only temporary and once that final exam is completed, the excitement of summer will return!
During this time, I always try to remind myself when working with my teenage clients that it can be a very stressful time. I try to incorporate strategies to help in managing test anxiety, whether or not they believe they experience it. So, I wanted to share a few main points that I find to be helpful with surviving exam time:
1. Studying requires breaks! Our brains can only retain a certain amount of information before it begins to shut down on its own. Therefore, even though we are entering into our third hour of studying, the likelihood of remembering is quite low. So take those breaks to give your poor brain a rest, please.
2. When we “blank out” during exams, it is usually not because we are unprepared. It is usually because our anxiety is so high that it is interfering with our ability to remember. If this is the case, it is important to enter the exam environment in a calmer state. Right before the exam, put away the notes (you’re not going to learn anything new in the next few minutes) and focus on relaxation. Sit and listen to your favourite song, sketch in your sketchbook that you haven’t used in a while, watch a television show. Bring your anxiety down from a 10 to a 7. It will make a big difference.
3. Try to reframe your thoughts if they are negative. If you think that you are going to fail, remind yourself of the good (or “okay”) marks you have received in this class so far this semester. Instead of focusing on what you still don’t understand, think of the things that you studied and know backwards and forwards. If you think that it will be a long and grueling process, remind yourself that you will be on summer vacation in less than a week. This time tomorrow, this class will be done and over!
4. Before you start writing anything down on your exam, read over all of the questions and take a deep and slow breath. Exhale all of the worries and remember all of the work that you have put forth to get there.
5. Get a good night’s sleep and eat something small before the exam. Fatigue and exhaustion will make it very difficult to focus, formulate your thoughts, understand the questions, etc.
6. Once the exam is over, IT IS OVER. Don’t spend too much time thinking about the questions and whether or not you got this one right or that one wrong. Leave it in the classroom and take the night off if you can by doing something enjoyable.
7. If you feel panicked or anxious before your exam, remind yourself that it’s normal to feel this way. It may not mean that it is because you are going to fail. But it is definitely a reflection of your desire to do well, which means it is important to you.
Below is a link to a pdf file that has a lot of helpful strategies to prepare for exams and write them. I give this to my clients all the time, even if they are not worried about their exams.
Good luck to all and I hope this post was helpful to you!!
I am very excited to announce that I am now able to provide direct billing for clients who are covered for Registered Social Workers with GreenShield Canada and SSQ Financial Group! For more information, please feel free to contact me.
Supervision Services & Consultation
I am also excited to begin providing supervision services and consultation for Registered Social Workers. Services will be available via telephone, video consult, or in person in Orangeville or Georgetown.
Contact me for more information!
It is officially the “day of love” – it’s Valentine’s Day. For some, this is a very important time to spend with loved ones and celebrate our relationships and connections. For others, this can be a difficult day, especially if we feel disconnected or alone. I am a firm believer that Valentine’s day is simply just a day, and that if we value our relationships with others, whether romantic, familial or platonic, we should celebrate this everyday. But one relationship we tend to forget most is the relationship that we have with ourselves.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
Jean Shinoda Bolen
As we approach the end of the holiday season and the beginning of a brand new year, some of us challenge ourselves by reflecting on all the things we want to change about our lives. It could be our physical health (“I want to be healthier, more physically fit, and have more energy”) or our emotional well-being (“I want to be happier, calm and relaxed”). We view January 1st as a baseline to which we can compare ourselves on December 31st. If you are anything like me, I tend to set goals for myself that I “know” I have the time and energy to complete. I find myself “should”-ing and “must”-ing about all of the things that I truly believe in that moment are achievable. And then life happens. And all of my “shoulds” and “musts” become precipitators for feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and frustration.
This year, I am going to try something very different. My goal is to make myself a priority. This is far beyond the “Year of Me” that I have tried to start for several years, where I set goals for myself to achieve that focus on different aspects of my life. Making myself a priority simply means that I will try my best to give myself equal attention as the other aspects and responsibilities of my life. This means that the relaxation and self-care time that I hope to “fit into” my life will now be scheduled. I will let go of the “shoulds” and “musts”.
For example, one of the goals that I have made for the last three years (at least) is to begin reading for leisure again. I happily go to the bookstore and pick out two or three books that I have always wanted to read and then I go home, put them by my bedside and wait until nighttime. Then, I go about the rest of my day. I cook dinner, eat dinner, attempt to clean up, and relax in front of the television and catch up on the shows that I have previously recorded (or Netflix…there is almost always time to watch Netflix it seems). By the time I get to my bed, I look at the books as I yawn deeply and my eyes sting of fatigue. If I can get a paragraph or two in, I am asleep before I can turn the page. I tell myself that I will do it tomorrow…if I have the time. And then the next day, the same things happen. Until a few months pass and I have still not read the first chapter. Insert “shoulds” and “musts” and feelings of guilt and shame. So, if I follow the idea of making myself a priority, I will schedule reading time into my schedule and follow through with it, just as I would do with scheduled meal times and work hours. I will go to my bed earlier. Even if it is for half an hour, it is now a personal appointment.
In my personal and professional lives, I have learned that there are often times when the things that we hold dearest to us are the ones that we often set aside when we believe that there are things that we “should” or “must” do instead. Spending quality time with our family members often occurs when we have time at the end of the day after running all of our errands and completing all of our chores. And just like the situation with my lonely books at my bedside, we often run out of time and cannot fit it in, promising ourselves that there will be more time tomorrow. Letting go of the “shoulds” and “musts” is reminding ourselves that the dishes can be done after the kids go to sleep. They will still be dirty at 9:30 p.m. Or giving ourselves permission to sit and drink our cup of tea until it’s completely finished. It only takes ten to fifteen minutes. The countless cups of half full tea that turned cold because I was trying to multi-task and completely forgot about it is unbelievable!
It seems like an easy enough goal, right? To schedule time to spend with my family and do things for fun? The actions are not difficult. What I may struggle with most will be reminding myself of my “shoulds” and “musts”. Challenging these negative thought patterns (a.k.a. Thinking Traps) by asking myself, “Do I really have to do this now or can it wait a few minutes or hour?“, will take practice. But I am up for the challenge. Besides, taking care of ourselves reminds us of our self-worth and value. It’s time for all of us to remind ourselves of this. So, read that chapter you have been meaning to read. Go out for coffee and catch up with friends whom you have not seen in a while. Watch your favourite television show with your partner. Play with your kids. Make them all personal appointments that you cannot cancel. Let go of your “shoulds” and “musts” and focus on your “wants” and on yourself.
The newest issue of Embracing the Powerful Mind Newsletter is out and it focuses on New Year’s resolutions and online counselling. It also includes exciting information about my extended office hours.