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Tips for Living a Happier More Mindful Life

By Bliss Specialist Kelly

Happiness is an inside job and a choice you must take FULL responsibility for.

Rekindle your spirit

Take the time to indulge in self-care and reconnect with the things you love and that bring you happiness. Whether it’s reading, listening to music, watching a funny movie or spending more time with your friends. If you are strapped for time, wake up earlier! Waking up earlier allows you to cultivate a morning ritual that will allow you to prioritize and set the tone for your day.

Embrace your mistakes as opportunities for growth

We learn the most from our most difficult experiences so embrace your mistakes as valuable lessons that will help you grow and improve. “Resolve to transform your stumbling blocks into stepping stones and vow to turn your wounds into wisdom” – Robin Sharma

Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness is a great act of spirit and personal courage. Forgiveness does not mean that what happened was okay, it just means you no longer want to carry the hurt. Every moment you devote to thinking about someone who has wronged you is a minute you have stolen from a much worthier pursuit, like attracting those people who will help and support you.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.”
– Mark Twain

Unplug from the negative

Be more selective of what you decide to watch and what you choose to read. Read some positive articles online and do not watch as many news stories for a while. Don’t underestimate how your mind and mood can be influenced by the input all around you.

Surround yourself with supportive people

Surround yourself with people who are happy themselves and who support you to be happy. If you are around people who are happy their emotional state will be infectious. Being around people who are chronically unhappy and refuse to see the positives will make it much more difficult for you to cultivate your own happiness. It is important to support your friends in times of need but be mindful of energy vampires.

Maintain an optimistic attitude and revise your mental conversation

Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negative thinking. If you can slowly make the shift, it can make a dramatic difference in your life. More people fill their heads with negative thoughts and criticisms than positive thoughts. Start by paying attention to your thoughts more and dismiss what you do not want to think about.

Have an attitude of gratitude

Train yourself to notice all the awesome stuff about your life by creating a daily gratitude list. Writing things down is a powerful practice to clear the clutter in your mind.

Learn to say ‘NO’

The stress that results from feeling overwhelmed can severely dampen one’s happiness and wellbeing. Before you commit to anything or anyone, ask yourself, does this serve my highest good? If the answers is no, then get comfortable with saying ‘NO’.

Get outside your comfort zone

Trying something new requires courage, it opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new, it keeps you from becoming bored, and perhaps most importantly, it forces you to grow.

Be solution focused

Life is filled with ups and downs, next time something goes wrong, spend your time reflecting on solutions that will help get you closer to your goals and dreams instead of wasting time focusing on what is going wrong.

Practice self-love

Self-esteem is intrinsically connected to happiness, so it is important to build self-esteem through practicing self-love and self-acceptance.

Be kind to your body

Make sure you drink enough water, eat nutrient packed foods and do some form of exercise a few times per week. Try something simple like going for a walk, stretching or body-weight workouts.

Enjoy your journey

You need to be present enough to enjoy your journey. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have. You must be willing to loosen your grip on the life you have planned so you can enjoy the life that is waiting for you in this moment. Develop present moment awareness and you will begin to feel much calmer in your life.

Much happiness <3

Ten Strategies to Manage Stress

By Bliss Specialist Kelly

If you are like most people, stress will be something you encounter on a daily basis. We seem to go from day to day with enormous levels of stress bearing down on our shoulders, triggered by an array of scenarios — some logical, others not. Learning to manage this powerful emotional and physiological response to adverse or demanding circumstances is paramount in living a well-balanced, healthy and HAPPY life!

1. Become Self-Aware
  • All too often people become accustomed to living in a constant state of stress. Self-awareness is the process of become aware and paying attention to how often in a day you find yourself having stressful reactions or thoughts. Once you are able to identify your stress triggers you can start to make changes to minimize stressful situations.
  • It is important to note that stress can impact different people in different ways. Stress can manifest itself in a variety of physical, psychological or emotional responses. These responses include: headaches, digestive issues, restlessness, fatigue, negative thoughts or feelings, anxiety, etc. Pay attention to what your mind, body and spirit are telling you.
2. Wake-up Earlier
  • If you can set your alarm 15-20 minutes earlier in the morning then you can start your day with a sense of calm. A peaceful beginning to the day will assist you in setting the tone for the remainder of the day.
  • Spend those few extra minutes either relaxing or prioritizing and organizing your day. If you are running out the door forgetting your lunch, keys or child’s backpack you are more likely to feel stress throughout the day. Make more time for peace.
3. Find the Right Pace for YOUR Family
  • Parenting, in general, can be stressful. Take some time to set the expectations and baseline pace for your family. It is normal for this pace to ebb and flow, but it is up to you to plan and create stability that everyone can take comfort in.
  • If you want to slow down, make one small change that will have an impact on enhancing quality family time. Whether it’s walking your child to school, having family dinners or arranging a family game night.
4. Make Your Health a Priority!
  • Self-care is crucial! A healthy diet with plenty of water, a good night’s sleep and regular exercise will help your body to better-handle stress.
  • Avoid junk food and processed sugar. Sugars only provide the body with a temporary spike in energy and remember to drink more water.
  • If you are not sleeping well your body will naturally go into stress mode. So next time you consider staying up late to get everything done, think again, because it will only increase your problems. Sleep is truly an amazing medicine!
  • Move it or Lose it! Try to exercise for thirty minutes 3-5 times per week. Take the dog for a walk, go for a quick run or swim, take a short yoga class, hit the gym or DANCE.
  • And if you need some support in exploring lifestyle solutions, book an appointment at Urban Wellness
5. Practice Relaxation Exercises
  • Whether you are sitting at a desk all day or running around after your kids remember to release tension with frequent breaks to stretch your neck, shoulders, back and hips.
  • Take time throughout the day to breathe deeply! This will assist you in getting oxygen into your blood which will keep you energized.
  • If you find you are dealing with racing thoughts, try a three-minute meditation to help you re-focus. A headstand or handstand can also help to ground your-self and assist you in finding balance (literally).
6. Learn to Say ‘No’
  • It is natural to want to say yes and help out wherever and whenever possible. When we over-commit and take on too much we increase our risk of stress reactions and burnout. If you have a lot on your plate get comfortable and confident with graciously saying “NO”
  • By saying ‘NO’ you are practicing self-love and self-care, which will give you more energy, control and self-confidence.
7. Quick Wins
  • The never ending “To-Do” list can become overwhelming and contribute to feelings of anxiousness and hopelessness. Next time you find yourself in a state of over-thinking stop and pick one thing that you can do right now to take control of your situation.
  • Take action by focusing on ‘quick wins’ to build momentum.
8. Process Your feelings
    • More often then not, we tend to sweep our true feelings under the rug instead of processing and dealing with them. We tend to judge ourselves or make someone else responsible for the situation we may find our self in, contributing to feelings of stress.
    • Slow down and consider what your feelings are telling you. Try to look at every situation as an opportunity for growth and learning.
    • Therapy is also wonderful to do this as well! Therapy is not only reserved for those in crisis or struggling with problems in their lives. Yes, we see clients in tough times and times of heartbreak however we also see people in times of peace and in times of love and growth. While some individuals may see a therapist out of necessity it is something that everyone can benefit from, like going to the gym, we don’t necessarily need it, but it has the potential to optimize our lives. I believe therapy is a gift people can give to themselves, their life and to the people they love <3
9. Practice Gratitude
      • Spend time reflecting on what you are grateful for! This will reduce the amount of time you spend comparing yourself to others or thinking about what you may be lacking.
10. Have FUN!
      • It is important to treat yourself, experience pleasure and even indulge once in a while. After all what are we working so hard for if not to enjoy our lives outside of work?
      • It is paramount to nurture your inner child and create time for play, silliness and fun.
      • Remember to not take yourself too seriously. Along with sleep, LAUGHTER is AMAZING medicine!

Be kind to yourself!

Top 10 Tips for University Students

By Bliss Specialist Jenna

1. Get Organized.

Set yourself up for success. Get a planner. Get a calendar. Highlighters. Pens. Notebooks. Do you know where your classes are? A little time spent preparing yourself will make that first month a little less stressful.

2. Settle Into Your Living Situation.

Have roommates? Discuss boundaries/expectations. For example: What can I do to make living together more comfortable for you? Make your space your own. If you are living at home still, maybe this is the time to add a study space and create an area where you can focus.

3. Find The Resources.

Look into all the services that are available to you on campus and utilize them. Meet the TA’s, figure out how the library works, join a study group. Universities have an abundance of support – but they won’t find you, you need to be proactive and reach out to them.

4. Make School Your 1st Priority.

It is your choice to be here. It is a big financial decision and it will be your life for the next 4 years. University is your full-time job, so balance your social decisions with your primary goal. In considering balance, although school is priority number one, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. Be present in the experience and really make it a goal to enjoy this time in your life. The late night studying, the cafeteria food, those special prof’s – will all be wonderful memories one day.

5. Get a Part-Time Job, Join a Social Club or Volunteer.

This is a great way to meet people and have a little fun but make sure to set limits on the time spent on these social activities. Having a weekly commitment will help you stay organized, bolster your resume and enhance your connection with your community.

6. Watch The Partying.

Be mindful of the dangers of binge-drinking. Safety should always be a priority. Be sure to do a check-in with yourself after a late night. Did you really feel more confident and social while drinking? Is being tired and hung-over worth it? Plan activities where alcohol isn’t the main focus. Check out this Wiki-How for great tips on preventing binge-drinking.

7. Make Healthy Choices.

Sleeping, Healthy Eating and Exercise are the foundations of feeling well. Use your gym membership, work on making a few health food choices throughout the day and get a sleep routine in order. Taking care of your self will make writing papers and taking tests a little less draining.

8. Know Your Program.

Do the research on what your program will look like in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year. Are you inspired and excited? First year is typically an introduction period and specialized courses come in the final years. You should be looking ahead and understand what that will look like for you. Meet with your Academic Advisor to clarify what your journey will be like. If it’s your major – be excited about it or for the opportunities it will create for you.

9. Reflect on Your Expectations.

A self-directed learning environment takes a bit to get use to. It will not be easy in the beginning, but you will find your way. A great way to gauge your success is not based on your high-school grades but on the class average of that course. If you don’t understand, you need to ask questions. The best advice: attend lectures, take notes. Read the assigned chapters, take notes. Take notes of your notes. You’re preparing for the exam the whole way through, not just the week before.

10. If Your Struggling, Overwhelmed or Unsure – Get Help.

University is a stressful time, full of changes and challenges. Don’t struggle in silence. Reach out and ask for help – there are so many caring and supportive people on and off campus – ready and willing to help you. Depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide are common on campus – don’t let the stigma of mental health challenges be a barrier, once you are connected to the appropriate resources, these stressors can become manageable.

Here are two Helpful Links:

This Blog brought to you by Bliss Specialist Jenna
Bliss Individual and Relationship Counselling offer a Student Discount (services may be covered under your extended or school benefits plan). Call us at 226-247-4123 or email us at info@bliss-therapy.org to set up an appointment or complimentary consultation.

Periods, PMS, and Planning for Pregnancy – Guest Blog from Dr. Chanel Cressman

Many of my patients come to me for hormonal support; from issues concerning the regulation of their menses, decreasing PMS symptoms, coming off of birth control, to preparing for pregnancy. All of these issues relate to the health of our hormones.

Regulating hormones can be a tricky business. From estrogen and progesterone balancing in the ovaries, to the impact of cortisol and stress, to the overarching function of the thyroid and its role in metabolism – these all play a role in how our periods play out. Deciding where to begin and how to positively impact these concerns is where the ‘art’ applies.

As an ND, I am lucky to have many tools for addressing hormonal concerns. From supplementation, to diet and lifestyle support, there are many roads to choose from. However, I often utilize Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture in these cases.

TCM has been established for over 1000 years and was developed through the examination of live human beings. As such, the TCM perspective offers solutions that meet both the physical and mental/emotional concerns of a woman’s cycle. As any woman suffering from PMS could tell you, pre-menses can be an emotional time. So addressing both the physical as well as the emotional symptoms is a must.

If you’re interested in learning more about TCM or how acupuncture works, drop by the clinic for a free 15-min consult!

Profile Pic medChanel Cressman BSc, ND
Urban Wellness Studio
40 Francis St South
Kitchener, ON N2G 2A2
(P) 519.603.0545
(F) 519.603.0551

Getting the Most out of Summer while Looking After You

Summer brings longer days, warm nights, barbeques and backyard get-togethers, outdoor markets, and blooming gardens. Some people have the benefit of vacation time during the summer months or a more relaxed work environment. However, for many, summer can be just as busy and demanding of time and energy as the rest of the calendar year. Though your responsibilities may not lessen with the coming of warmer weather it might be beneficial to take ten minutes to think with purpose and intention about how you allot your time, attention, and energy this summer. Your goals need not be overly complicated, and in fact, the summer might be the ideal time to focus upon attainable goals. For example:

If you are in school this summer you might focus upon thinking thoroughly about how you will approach a major assignment as soon as it is assigned. Commit to genuinely exploring and thinking critically about the topic as opposed to completing it as quickly as possible (at the last minute!) just to get it done.

If you have children you might focus on playing outside with them more or working outside while they play nearby. You might also consider fostering an interest in the natural environment by picking one topic to explore together (even for thirty minutes) and conduct research on—e.g. ant colonies, the influence of different weather systems upon regional weather, invasive plant species.

If you are attempting to respond to multiple demands and handle multiple projects at work, you might consider carving out an hour or two to tackle a piece of work that facilitates all of the others—e.g. Making a skeletal outline of your responsibilities, prioritizing them, and then skimming through and sorting emails according to your deadlines.

If you are grappling with issues in your personal life that seem to be taking over your thoughts, you might consider giving yourself permission to take a daily ‘vacation’ from the issue. This vacation is merely an amount of time where you focus your thoughts upon something else in your life—e.g. exercising for half an hour and tuning into how your body feels with each of your movements, or look up You Tube videos of a favourite comedian, or for an hour, listen to music closely and try to focus upon hearing all of the lyrics or all of the instruments involved.

Whether your summer will be filled with relaxation and leisure pursuits, hustling to fulfill multiple roles and meet various expectations—or a combination of both—the summer of 2014 might provide you with a wonderful chance to approach your life with a new sense of intentionality, and hopefully, Bliss!

By Bliss Specialist Heather

Happy International Women’s Day!

In celebrating this years theme for International Women’s Day- EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IS PROGRESS FOR ALL- I would like to ask you to contemplate that thought for a moment…
What would equality look like in your everyday life; in your significant relationships; in your community; and in your world? By taking time to be mindful of how we operate in the world- in how we treat ourselves and others- we can help this theme move from an ideal to a reality. In therapy it is often said that the only real change that we can create is change within ourselves. In honour of International Women’s day I would urge you to look at how you treat significant women in your life and consider what you can do for them on March 8th to show your appreciation for the important roles that they play in your life.

Sincerely,
Jess Crowe MSW RSW
Bliss Specialist

To read more about about International Women’s Day please follow the links below:

Combatting the Post-Holiday Blues

Now that the holiday season is over and the presents are unwrapped, family has returned home and the sweets have been gobbled up, it is time to return to the normalcy of the day to day.

Many people struggle to participate or even meet the expectations of holiday events, while others deal with feelings of guilt for indulging in excess. It is not uncommon to feel emotionally and psychologically drained by the holiday expectations surrounding family gatherings, friendly get-togethers and work functions. For others, the end of the holidays may symbolize a return to solitude or sadness. Indeed, depression following the holidays has become so common that it has been coined as “post-holiday blues”.

We would like to give you some tips to help alleviate the blue feelings and get yourself where you want to be.

  • Anticipate Some Let Down.

    The holiday season was probably a busy time that had the calendar loaded up with family, friends and other social expectations. Possibly there was time away from work, where your schedule was freed up to do things that you loved. Now routine is back, family and friends have returned to their schedule and kids are back to school. It is okay to feel glum, but it is important not to let these feelings take over, try to…

  • Generate Actions.

    Call that friend you did not (or even did) see over the holidays and meet for lunch. Take a furry friend for an evening winter walk, nightly. Book a weekend winter getaway with a partner or friend. Start training for a spring half marathon. Plan for tomorrow to make it easier to leave the holidays behind.

  • Eat, Sleep, Exercise.

    The holidays may have been filled with indulgence but now it is time to get back on track. Make good food choices that are nutritious and promote health (make treats the exception not the rule). Exercise is an important part of a healthy living, put one foot in front of the other, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day. Get good sleep. Develop a routine at least an hour before bed time that helps you to relax, not wind up.

  • Get Out and About.

    It can feel comfortable and become easy to stay in and hibernate during the winter months; however it is important to leave the den and find ways to socialize and stay connected to the people around you. The holidays are not the only time to for togetherness, make an effort to see friends and family.

  • Ask for Help.

    If it feels like the holidays and the weeks following have consumed your thoughts and led to depressed or anxious feelings, it is okay and important to ask for help. Make sure to tell someone how you are feeling, whether it is a parent, partner, friend or your doctor; be clear about the extent of your blues. Post-holiday blues are a real thing and not something that you have to tough through or experience alone.

Written by Bliss Specialist Melissa Reid MSW RSW

How To Deal With Holiday Stress

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”
— Bill Watterson

With the fast approach of the holiday season, life can get busy. It can get very busy. From getting shopping done to attending celebrations and parties – it’s not uncommon to look at your calendar and see that you’ve booked yourself solid.

So, what do you do now? How do you manage to survive these upcoming weeks? How do you intend to enjoy this time?

Here is an idea to add a little more cheer to your holiday.

Be mindful. Be present. Focus your attention in the moment – this will allow you to respond to the space around you with a grateful and caring attitude, not a reactive response built up from negative energy from the moments before.

Is the intention to enjoy and appreciate this holiday or to be so stressed and reactive that the season passes you by?

If you made the choice to be involved in a positive and grateful way; Here are a few basic steps to ensure that you enjoy the moments in this holiday season.

Step 1

Take a deep breath. Feel that breath inside your chest and let is slowly escape your mouth.

Step 2

Look around you, what are you doing at this exact moment in time? What does it sound like? What does it physically feel like?

Step 3

Pause. Reflect. What about this moment feels good to you? What about this moment are you grateful for?

Step 4

Repeat.

It can be that simple. So add this moment mindful practice to your Holiday To-Do List and set your intention to experience what this season means to you.

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”
— Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”

Written by Bliss Specialist Jenna Luelo MA

An Introduction Written by Owner and Founder of Bliss

I believe that our struggles are simply part of the human condition, everyone struggles with issues related to self-esteem, identity, navigating relationships, coping with various life traumas, managing stress or challenges in creating the life we want. Therapy is a healthy and proactive approach to dealing with challenges.

There are hundreds of reasons why I love what I do. I have seen what perseverance mixed with enthusiasm can accomplish and I feel honoured every day that I am able to support my clients in gaining clarity, feeling more confident and finding full satisfying relationships.

My primary goal in developing Bliss Counselling was to establish a premier resource in the KW community for relationship and sex therapy and tailored counselling services. This specialized therapy model provides support to individuals and couples while they work towards personal fulfillment and healthy relationships. In the development of Bliss Counselling, I pulled together like-minded therapists who were passionate about specializing in their designated areas of focus. I believe Bliss therapists offer clients a more tailored, engaging and enriching experience with therapy. Any persons wanting to improve the quality of their lives will benefit from Bliss Therapy.

The specialist’s at Bliss are committed to quality therapeutic practices provided in a collaborative effort with clients to improve emotional, psychological and relational wellbeing. I am committed to the continued development and enhancement of services offered by our confidential and comfortable boutique style practice.

Bliss Therapy will effect change by demystifying the stigma associated with counselling services and sex therapy. Bliss is about helping our clients to cultivate their emotional resilience, and resourcefulness, capacity to cope with stress and catastrophe. Bliss Therapy will help individuals to develop the strengths and virtues that make life more fulfilling, enabling our clients to thrive. It’s not about curing mental illness. The specialists at Bliss use evidence based practices to help individuals, families and couples to navigate crossroads to enhance health by reducing anxiety associated with relationships, illness, grief and loss, life stressors and life transitions.

I welcome you to get in touch with Bliss to book a free consultation today!

Sincerely yours,
Kelly

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