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Conquering Self-Doubt

 

Self-doubt is that awful voice in our head that tells us we can’t do something, that we won’t be successful, or that we will fail.  Self-doubt is something that builds over time, maybe it developed from a chaotic childhood, a parent we couldn’t please, a time we failed at something, a relationship that didn’t work out, a rejection from a job, or even a person or loved one. Most of us deal with a form of self-doubt at some point in our lives.

It is amazing to me how quickly our brains can automatically turn to doubt. These automatic thoughts often leave us stuck and holding ourselves back from achieving goals, when we should be taking risks in either our jobs or relationships and enjoying a fulfilling life.

So what do we do to conquer self-doubt?  The process itself isn’t an easy one, but can be very rewarding if you are able to consciously make an effort to combat it.  Here are some tips to help you conquer your own self doubt

1. Recognize it exists – recognition is the impetus for any change. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. When self-doubt rears its ugly head, pay attention to it. Acknowledge that it’s there, but work toward identifying that these negative thoughts aren’t facts.

2. Challenge the thought – if you went on a date with someone and they didn’t call you back, is your first assumption that the rejection was because of you? What if the person’s mother fell ill? Or their ex-partner contacted them and wanted to reconcile and give the relationship another chance.  What if you got rejected for a job? Not because you weren’t qualified but because the company decided to take a different route due to budget cuts. There are many explanations that have absolutely no connection to you or your worth.

3. If your doubt is related to past mistakes, then acknowledge them, but remind yourself that the past is in the past. If we attempted something in the past and weren’t successful, it doesn’t mean that we won’t be successful now.  We have grown since then, we have looked back on what didn’t work, and we have experienced some new learning since then. Instead of looming in your doubt, remind yourself of the things you did to overcome the failure from the past.

4. Think of some positive thoughts. Instead of looking at only what could go wrong, ask yourself what could go right.  Give yourself some positive messages. Why are the negative ones the only ones you are allowing in?

5. DO NOT COMPARE. In the age of social media this is an important one.  You have no idea what is happening in someone else’s life, they may have a great partner but hate their job, or may be dealing with a sick child or ailing parents.

6. Remember that we aren’t only our failures, we are also our successes. If you weren’t successful at something reflect on what you would do differently the next time.  For example, if you don’t feel you did well at a job interview, how might you go about it differently next time.  Could you practice with someone? Do more research about the position?

Self doubt exists in all of us, maybe at different times and for different reasons, but all of us have it. The key is to work towards combating the things that are holding us back or keeping us stuck and causing us to beat ourselves up.  If you continue to struggle, it may be best to speak with a therapist. They can provide you with additional tools to help you overcome self-doubt.

 

Written by Bliss therapist Tammy Benwell. Learn more about Tammy and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here.

If you liked this article on self-doubt, you might enjoy these too:

 

Are you ready to speak with a therapist about some of the self-doubt you’ve been experiencing? We’re happy to help! Get in touch with us here.

If you’re interested in booking your first appointment at Bliss, you can do that here.

 

 

Why You Should Consider Yoga and Meditation

 

It is estimated that one in five adults will experience a mental illness in any given year with anxiety disorders as the leading cause. Mental illness is recognized when an individual shows ongoing signs and symptoms of stress that affect their ability to function. Mental illness may impact a person’s mood, behavior, and capacity to think or concentrate.

While those suffering from mental illness may feel alone, lost, or incapacitated, research has shown that along with diet and exercise, mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation can offer amazing benefits that may help some to reduce and/or manage symptoms of mental illness.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is one of the oldest body-and-mind practices in the world dating back nearly 5,000 years. Through the use of body positions and postures, breathing techniques, and mindful meditation, yoga provides several benefits to help manage your mental illness. Here are three.

Improves Heart Rate Variability

Heart Rate variability is based on how your heart rate varies when you inhale and exhale. A higher variability is an indicator of physical and mental resilience. Studies show that practicing yoga for as little as six weeks shows an improved heart rate variability as well as a lower resting heart rate; two indicators of a strong stress-response.

Cultivates Positive Thinking

Mental illness is often identified by chronic or frequent bouts of sadness, emptiness, and irritability that impacts a person’s ability to function. Studies have shown that the physical and mindfulness of yoga actually changes the long-term effects of how your brain responds to depression, in some ways acting as a natural antidepressant.

Creates Better Understanding of Self

The mindfulness and mental development promoted by yoga helps a person realize “shadow” qualities they did not know they possessed. Whether those qualities are empathy toward others, confidence, the ability to overcome obstacles, or greater control over mind and body, yoga can open profound possibility.

 

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is the practice of achieving mental clarity and emotional calm through mindfulness and awareness techniques. The goal of meditation is to bring a person into the “now” while putting aside the stressors brought on by overthinking the past and future. Here are three ways meditation can benefit mental illness.

Improves Sleep

Insomnia is a leading cause of mental illness causing a disruption in your circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. Meditation helps to reduce insomnia and improve sleep quality by focusing your mind on the now rather than the past which cannot be changed and the future which is unpredictable. This awareness helps to place perspective on your surroundings and ease your mind of daily stress leading to a sounder sleep.

Reduces the Chemical Cytokines

Cytokines are inflammatory chemicals that your body releases in response to stress. They can have a negative impact on your mood and emotions. In fact, one scientific-based study on meditation showed significant measurable signs of positive thinking and optimism.

Can Control Pain

How you perceive pain has a direct connection to your state of mind. For people who experience mental illness, their perception of pain can be elevated while experiencing stressful conditions. Meditation has been shown to increase brain activity in areas that control pain. In fact, meditation is used to manage chronic pain for people with terminal illnesses such as cancer.

Yoga and meditation whether practiced independently or symbiotically have been shown to improve the negative effects of mental illness by creating mental and physical awareness, improving sleep, and directly impacting your body’s chemical imbalances to create a positive mental state of being. So, if you’re looking for a mindful way to manage mental illness, ten minutes of yoga or meditation is a great start.

 

About the Author:  Laurie is a writer based on the east coast who enjoys spending her days writing on health and wellness topics. In her free time, she loves doing anything that gets her outdoors breathing fresh air.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Mindfulness Practices from Powerful Women

 

Being stress-free in the 21stcentury is not all that easy. The pressure from work, family, exercise, studying and leaving some time to hang out with friends can be quite overwhelming. Our mind is constantly working, it has no pause, and the worst thing is that it is always creating different scenarios, making us feel anxious and depressed. It all sounds so negative and scary but with some tips on mindfulness, you can be one step closer to living a better life. 

There is a big difference between being lonely and alone

Loneliness is the number one reason behind depression, according to many people. Not having somebody to share your troubles with or simply talk can severely damage even our brain function in addition to making us depressed. However, keep in mind that being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you are lonely. In fact, research shows that it is good for us to spend some time alone. The philosophy behind this is that we will get to know ourselves better. We will be in touch with our needs and wishes. When It comes to relationships, we will be sure that we are a part of it because we want to be, not because we are lonely and in need of a companion. It might sound cheesy, but get to know and love yourself first, only then will you be able to have meaningful connections.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Self-criticism can be a good thing if used correctly. You should look at everything you do objectively and you shouldn’t praise yourself if you have done something wrong. But there is a line that has to be drawn somewhere. A line where you will stop with negative thoughts and turn more towards self-support. Whatever the reason may be: you haven’t accomplished something you wanted to by a certain age or you feel like a failure in some way, always keep in mind that there is time. So, give it some time, pick yourself up, and start from where you left off. Simply by trying you will feel much better.

Overthinking is our biggest enemy

Rationalizing your problems, tasks, and everyday life is very effective. Thinking ahead also. However, overthinking is something you should step away from. By doing that we are creating additional problems that we don’t already have. As opposed to doing this, stay in the present. Think about what your current situation is, and, to put it simply, go with the flow. Learn to resolve your problems once they really do become a problem, not in advance. Take some burden off yourself and enjoy life day by day.

Pampering yourself is not a luxury

A connection exists between your mind and body, even scientists think so. Before thinking about taking care of your body, make some time for your mind as well. Simple things are quite effective, like reading a book, decorating, listening to music or being with people who inspire you. Once we have settled this, the body will follow, although it wouldn’t hurt to help a bit. Even if you think that you are indulging way too much if you book a spa treatment or get a manicure, the truth is that sometimes this kind of spoiling is exactly what you need.

In addition to being in touch with your nature and character, it is important to take care of your physical appearance in order to feel good. It doesn’t need to be anything luxurious as long as it is within natural product lines. Even better, something like cruelty free makeup lets you take care of your appearance while still feeling good about the products you use. And don’t worry, because there is a big market to choose from.  

Breathing exercises and mediation

If you are into meditation or yoga, practicing it is most certainly beneficial for both your physical and mental health. But don’t get too caught up in the traditional meaning of meditation. If you like lying on the bedroom floor and listening to music or cleaning to help with anxiety, then, by all means, do it. It can be your own version of mediation. The form is not important as long as it makes you feel better.

The whole concept of mindfulness is not to suppress our thoughts, but to enjoy experiences in life without overthinking.

 

Written by: Sophia Smith

Sophia Smith is a beauty blogger, eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer and food enthusiast.  She is focusing on minimalism and good quality. Her other hobbies center around her love for nature, well-being and living in balance. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her blogs and articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including: Life Goals Mag, Savant Magazine, Secret Garden, Bonvita Style, Cause Artist and Book Meditation Retreats.
You can find out more about her writing by following her on:  Facebook  Twitter  Google +

5 Tips to Feel More Grateful and Blissful

 

No one is immune to the stress of everyday life. The grind we face at work, the conflicts we encounter (and often cause) in personal relationships, the dissatisfaction with our selfhood – it all plays havoc with how aware we are of the true beauty that life holds. We miss the grateful smile of a waiter whom you tipped, the elderly couple celebrating their half-a-century of togetherness, and we’re blind to the beauty of an urban sunset, too busy rushing to catch our bus.

While it’s true that all of your troubles and their gravity can cause you emotional turmoil, we all have the ability and numerous opportunities every day to become more open to the wonders of life and feel genuinely grateful for them. It’s like finding your little safe haven of bliss in the eye of a storm: and here are the five ways to become more attuned to your inner child, one amazed and grateful for life even amidst chaos.

Find your words

Our mind is shaped by the words we use to describe ourselves. When you find yourself feeling guilty over a mistake you’ve made, you further exasperate the emotion and hurt your self-perception by “rubbing it in” with harsh language and self-deprecating thoughts. It becomes automatic, so we curse and complain and punish ourselves for the smallest of failings, no matter how human they are. We set impossible standards and expectations. And we always focus on our shortcomings, even when we do succeed.

Being more grateful should start within, by choosing a different language to describe yourself and your accomplishments. Would you ever use those stern words to comfort your friend for their recent failure? You wouldn’t even use the word failure in all likelihood. Start writing your words down, and start reshaping your self-descriptions with more love and more encouragement. It will ultimately help you perceive yourself as the worthy, imperfect, incredible person that you are. 

Nurture your closest bonds

As our lives develop, we spend so much of our time on distractions rather than our life’s substance and its deepest meaning. We’ll spend more time scrolling our Facebook feed than talking to our loved ones, or watching TV instead of visiting our family. Our parents are perfect examples of this digital abyss we’ve fallen into: they have helped us build our independence, and now we find ourselves mesmerized by the irrelevant, too busy to express our gratitude for such unspoken gifts.

While it’s true that holidays shouldn’t be the only time to show our gratitude for our family members, if you take the time to peruse through Mother’s Day gifts in order to find the perfect one for your mom, you’ll let your actions speak for you to express your gratitude. When it’s evident from the gift itself that you haven’t treated it as another chore, but as an opportunity to express your love, your family will know and appreciate the gesture. Remember, every day is Mother’s Day. So perhaps while we wait for May 12th, a phone call is in order?

Take a deep breath

The fact that some things go without saying, such as your mom’s love and affection, does not mean that we should take them for granted. Breathing, for instance, is a perfect example of something we take for granted that has an incredible ability to heal us. One of the best ways to nurture your mindfulness every day is to include breathing exercises paired with affirmations.

They will not only help you soothe your anxieties in the moment of practice, but they’ll also help you become more mindful of your every moment of every day. You’ll start noticing your stress triggers and you’ll have better control of your experience, you’ll learn how to let go of resentment and focus on the present moment.

Forgive yourself as well as others

While we’re on the topic of resentment, we spend too much of our time stressing over what we’ve done wrong or what was done to us in the past. The simple truth is that the only way you’ll ever have the chance to enjoy your present is if you let go of the past – it has already shaped you to an extent, we all have moments we regret, but they needn’t taint our present and our future as well.

Forgiveness is the only vessel we need to give ourselves a chance to fully enjoy our present, and the only vessel we need in order to outgrow our past self. If you let anger or regret permeate your entire life, you relinquish control to those negative emotions and the events that have caused them – forgiveness means taking back control over your life.

Make a difference

Finally, sometimes we need and should get a different perspective in order to fully grasp the value of our lives. Ask what you can do for others, how you can make a difference for others, and let your ego deflate a little bit – you and I are not the only creatures that matter in this universe. If you can do something to help others, whether it’s helping your elderly neighbor clean their garden or donate your clothes to those in need, you’ll quickly contribute to a valuable cause and give yourself a new vantage point, one of appreciation.

 

Life is indeed too short to spend it on resentments. Use these simple tips to help yourself feel more grateful, and you’ll unleash an avalanche of bliss into your life, no matter how many hardships you face in the future.

 

Written by: Sophia Smith

Sophia Smith is a beauty blogger, eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer and food enthusiast.  She is focusing on minimalism and good quality. Her other hobbies center around her love for nature, well-being and living in balance. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her blogs and articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including: Life Goals Mag, Savant Magazine, Secret Garden, Bonvita Style, Cause Artist and Book Meditation Retreats.
You can find out more about her writing by following her on:  Facebook  Twitter  Google +

Group Therapy -Spring 2019

You are longing for a more fulfilling sense of connection with yourself and others. You want to improve your relationships and maybe even feel better about yourself.

Making meaningful connections is hard for you. You often wish you could connect in a more deep and meaningful way with others.

Perhaps you have noticed a recurring pattern in your relationships that you would love to change or understand better. You know you need to get better at creating healthy boundaries, but you have no idea where to start.

And social situations—UGH! You often struggle and feel anxious. You would like to know how you relate to others, but do not have anyone to give you an honest (and kind) opinion.

What if you had a safe and supportive space to explore your feelings, connect with others, and practice new behaviours to help you create more fulfilling relationships?

Imagine feeling more connected to the important people in your life. Picture yourself communicating in a way that feels good to you and helps you to feel seen and heard.

Envision that you are excited to sit down and have conversations with your friends, family, or your partner and are confident in your ability to be supportive of others, while asking for the support you need.

Finally!  Visualize feeling better about yourself and creating and deepening the relationships that matter most to you.

You can do all this in Group Therapy.

Group therapy is a powerful tool for growth and change.

In therapy groups, you will use the group format and a proven process as a mechanism to help you explore, heal, and change through developing and examining interpersonal relationships in the group.

What to expect:

7 Weekly Sessions: You will meet your group once per week for 90 minutes for 7 weeks.

Small Groups for Multiple Perspectives: This group will consist of 6-10 individuals who meet face-to-face to share their every day struggles and concerns with two registered social workers and relationship therapists, Kelly and Melissa.

Support and Encouragement:You will tap into the power of this group with the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement, and feedback from other individuals in a safe and confidential environment.

Deepened Self-Awareness: You will have the opportunity to deepen your level of self-awareness to learn how you relate to others and to practice new ways of being in a relationship with others.

Topics That Matter Most To You: You will enjoy the unstructured nature of the group. Instead of covering one specific topic for each group session, you can focus on a particular theme or issue that’s important to you.

Practice Giving Support:You will become more supportive in your personal life as you get a chance to give support and feedback to others.

Are you interested in joining us? Great! We’d love to have you.

Join the waitlist here and you’ll be the first to know when our Spring group opens up!

Coverage: For many people, group therapy with a social worker (MSW or RSW) or psychotherapist (RP) is covered under their insurance plans.

 

THE GROUP AS LABORATORY 

In trying these new ways of interacting with others, the important thing is to do something that feels difficult. Old, familiar ways of behaving will probably not result in productive experiments. Moreover, a new behaviour may seem difficult at first, but with practice, it gets easier. Then the new behaviour may be added to your repertoire-your range options-and it’s available whenever you need it.

 

Stop the Worry Trance and Simplify Your Choices

I’m currently renovating my living room and wanted to paint the walls a shade of white. There are almost 100 different shades of white. I felt overwhelmed while at the paint store, I wanted to choose a colour that would make the living room lighter and brighter. I decided to pick “pebble white”, but questioned whether I had made the best decision or not.

You may not be experiencing a paint dilemma right now, but perhaps you have had to make a choice related to your health, school, parenting, finances, relationships, work, travelling or planning an event recently that resulted in anxious feelings. Research is showing that more choices are leading to increased accounts of self-blame and depression.

The happiness equation by Neil Pasricha describes that, “We are exhausted by making decisions. We want to go to the movie theatre with the most movies playing, we like the restaurants with the long menu. Having more choice reduces our happiness. We get decision fatigue. We avoid the decision or we make a bad decision and we always worry we made the wrong choice.”

I really started to understand choice fatigue after travelling to India. I travelled to the Himalayans and stayed at an Ashram. I used the same plate and spoon at every meal. I had a bucket of water to wash my clothes at the end of the day. I wore the same clothing almost every day. It was a cultural adjustment at first, however I enjoyed the simplicity of it, which created more clarity and focus.

There is a reason why Steve Jobs wore a black t-shirt every day, and the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, also embraces a simple clothing style. Simplifying your clothing choices at the start of your day gives you more brainpower for other decisions.

Researchers at Columbia University discovered a striking pattern while looking at the verdicts reached by judges in the Israeli court system. Prisoners that were seen in the morning for charges of fraud and assault received parole 65% of the time. Prisoners who appeared late in the day for similar cases received parole less then 10% of the time. There were other common variables noticed in the study, if the judge had taken a lunch break, the cases after the break-received parole 60% of the time. Each choice you make depletes your energy. As you become more fatigued, you’re more likely to make decisions with less clarity. If you’re curious about other choice fatigue research studies, then you may want to read the book Willpower by Roy Raumeister and John Tierney.

There is a Ted Talk on the paradox of choice by Barry Schwartz, which describes that choices can produce paralysis instead of liberation. I didn’t fully understand this until my experience in a third world country. When I was staying in India there was only one store in walking distance. At the store there was only one face wash to choose from, you were lucky to find a roll of toilet paper, and only one cold beverage was available – coconut water. Unlike the corner stores here in North America, where we are inundated with 100 different drink options, having only one choice made the selection process very easy. This saved me time, mental exhaustion, and overall I appreciated every drop of that delicious cold coconut water.

Having an abundance of choices can lead to depression. When you enter a grocery store and have over 100 different drink options, you can feel paralyzed over what choice to make. Once that choice is finally made, then you may even start to ponder if a different choice would have been better, which can lead to self-blame and depression.

So, what can you do to combat the choice fatigue that leaves you exhausted day after day? Below are seven daily tips to create more brainpower!

1. Eating the same thing every day. I enjoy eating oatmeal every day, and when I start to get bored I spice it up with some cinnamon, almond milk and apples!

2. Wearing the same thing. I choose to wear solid colours, and will wear the same cozy clothes each week, rotating approximately 30 items.

3. Embrace daily routines. I enjoy making myself a schedule for the next day the night before. I will plan out a yoga class to attend in the morning, make a grocery list and will meal plan every Monday. I make one soup every week, and will make an abundant amount to take to work with me each day for the week.

4. Limit choices. Fewer choices lead to more time for other things. Reserve your energy for time that matters. I enjoy attending a yoga class before going to work. The yoga instructor creates the flow and instructs me to move from pose to pose. I feel energized when I leave and have more focus and clarity for other decisions during my day.

5. Single-tasking. Schedule time each day to check your email and provide a response. I check my email twice a day, once at 7am and again at the end of the day. I allocate a 30-minute window to go though my email and provide a response. I keep this time distraction free so I can focus on each person to provide the best response.

6. Focus on your intention instead of the outcome. When I injured my IT Band, I had difficulty walking for almost two months. I really wanted my leg to heal so that I could be pain free and move about my day easily. I felt disappointed and sad that it wasn’t healing faster. I had stopped my yoga practice and started float therapy. In order to address the disappointment that I was experiencing, I changed my mindset. Instead of focusing on the outcome I focused on my intention, which was to relieve stress and sooth my pain. Once I became intention focused, I valued and enjoyed the experience of float therapy much more. I stopped focusing on the outcome and enjoyed being in the moment, floating on water like a frog lounging on a lily pad.

7. Trust your intuition! Recently during my home renovations, I was debating whether or not I should keep the popcorn ceiling in my living room. I made a poll on Instagram to see what others thought, but before looking at the results I had already made the decision to embrace the popcorn ceiling.  Many people voted not to keep the popcorn ceiling, which made me ponder whether or not I was making the right choice. In the end, I stayed true to my decision to embrace the popcorn ceiling because it not only saved me time and money, but also added character to my living room.

Have faith in the decisions you make and trust your gut!

 

“May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

 

Written by Bliss therapist Stacey Harris.  Learn more about Stacey and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here!

8 Simple Ways to Love Yourself More This Year

 

It may be a new year, but self-love is always in vogue. If one of your goals is to appreciate yourself more, then you’ve come to the right place. These 8 simple ways to love yourself will get you feeling more comfortable in your own skin than ever before.

  1. Fit in some self-care everyday

Self-care isn’t a once-a-month gig. To properly cultivate a sense of equilibrium and inner wellbeing, you need to dedicate at least 30 minutes per day to taking care of number one.

You weren’t born to serve others, and the least you deserve is half an hour of uninterrupted me-time to get you ready for the next day. What you do to relax is entirely up to you. some people adore a long bath, while others prefer a good book or TV series.

  1. Take yourself on a solo break

For many people, even the act of sitting in a café and having lunch alone is a big step. It can take some serious willpower to forget about what other people think of you, and to just luxuriate in being alone. Once you do, though, it’s the most freeing thing in the world.

When you’ve graduated from the solo café trip, you might consider taking yourself further afield. When’s the last time you travelled by yourself? Maybe it’s time to do that European walking tour you’ve always dreamed about.

  1. Believe that you can, and you will

People who grab opportunities, take chances, and doggedly pursue their ambitions truly succeed in life. They don’t always win, but they never shy away from fighting for what they want. This kind of determination nurtures the soul just as much as any pampering night.

Take inspiration from the women you know who thrive in typically male-dominated sectors or industries. Determined women have risen to the top ranks of trucking companies, and have become CEO of a law firm. These ladies needed self-belief to get where they are, and set a fantastic example for the rest of us.

  1. Stop putting yourself down

Humility is a virtue. When you’re modest to the point of actually denying your talents and achievements, however, self-destruction can ensue. Enjoy celebrating your wins! That new promotion or personal triumph needs recognition – most of all, by you.

  1. Figure out the kind of exercise you actually enjoy

Think back to the types of activities you enjoyed as a kid, and determine the type of exercise which will make youhappy. There are so many inside-out benefits to getting active!

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others

There’s no better testament to the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy” than social media. Although these platforms were created to better connect us with others, they’ve actually turned out to be detrimental to our self-esteem and wellbeing. Consider whether it may be time to take a break from comparing yourself to thousands of curated social media platforms.

  1. Treat others as you would treat yourself

This doesn’t mean whitewashing your own flaws, but accepting them as a part of you,along with the good.

Be objective in your relationship with yourself so that you don’t get lost in the mire of self-loathing. Forgive your past mistakes, and cultivate a sense of positivity about the future. Perhaps most of all, become your own best friend.

  1. Make your life a story

Committing the daily events of your life to pen and paper is a way to value your personal narrative. Writing in a journal can be a fantastic way to step back and reflect. What’s making you happy? Alternatively, are there parts of your life you need to change?

 

About the Author:

Harper is an adventurer, freelance creative writer and Japanese Anime geek. She loves nothing more than long bubble baths, unplanned getaways with her partner, Max, or kisses from their furry babies! You can visit her personal blog here– be sure to come say hi!

 

 

Single this Valentine’s Day? We’ve got you Covered!

 

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, it’s hard not to notice stores filling up their shelves with chocolates, stuffies, cards and everything pink and red. For those that soak up all the fun, loving, mushy sentiments, Valentine’s Day can be great! But what about those of you who are riding solo this year? Here are 5 ways to help navigate this Hallmark holiday:

  1. Check in with yourself.What emotions is this day bringing up for you? Once you have identified if there are any lingering feelings that you haven’t dealt with, you can begin to make space to process them. Whether it’s sadness, loneliness, relief or happiness, what are you feeling? Are you holding on to a past relationship, lover, experience, etc.? What do you need to heal and move forward? Valentine’s Day can stir this pot, so make sure you are being honest with where you are at, and what you need.

 

  1. Check in with your friends.Who else is in the same boat as you? Sometimes it can be helpful to know that there are others feeling the same way. Do you have other single friends that you could connect with? Or maybe even friends that are in relationships that don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day? Think about getting together and going out for a movie, dinner, paint night, dancing, a spa day, a yoga session or a killer spin class. If going out isn’t your thing, maybe you could have a low key night at home, or invite friends over for dinner or to hang out on the couch catching up.

 

  1. All my friends are coupled up, so now what do I do? Do something for yourself!Buy yourself those special chocolates you were eyeing earlier at the grocery store, take yourself out for dinner or order in your favourite dish. Do something that will make you feel good and empowered. We are our own worst enemies, and we can get wrapped up or lost in our own thoughts and self-judgments. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break. Remember that you are worthy of love and healthy relationships, but being single can be celebrated just as much as being coupled up; and Valentine’s Day gives you the opportunity for self-reflection and well-deserved me time!

 

  1. Check in with your family.Maybe you could use this day to have dinner with your parents, or to spend time with a grandparent. Do you have any nieces or nephews? Maybe you could babysit them while their parents go out. It could be fun to do cheesy crafts again, or decorate some heart shaped goodies!

 

  1. Limit social media.We all have those friends on our Facebook or Instagram feeds who create over the top posts on how great their partner is, and how loved they are. While that may be something they feel is important for them to share on their platform, it can feed challenging or unhelpful thoughts that you may be experiencing. Social media has the tendency to contribute to our need to compare where our friends are at in their lives and relationships with where we are. So, if you think you may feel triggered by seeing what your friends are sharing on Valentines Day, don’t spend as much time scrolling!

 

There isn’t a clear path to avoiding Valentine’s Day altogether, but there are definitely ways to help you navigate the day and get out on the other side. If you really do find yourself struggling with where you’re at right now and need someone to talk to, you can always connect with one of us here at Bliss Counselling.

 

Do you need some ideas of solo activities, or things to do with friends this Valentine’s Day? Check out these websites for things to do around KW!

  1. https://www.ammayoga.ca (Restorative yoga? Yes please!)
  2. https://www.hustlandflow.com/home (Kick boxing, spin classes, yoga and juice bar)
  3. https://www.socialart.ca (Get your paint on)
  4. https://www.dejavusalonandspa.ca (Pamper yourself)
  5. https://www.thewatersspa.com (Making me time)
  6. https://www.ginaspa.com (Focusing on yourself)
  7. http://adventurerooms.ca(Grab a team and try to escape these rooms)
  8. https://batlgrounds.com/axe-throwing-kitchener/ (Let it go!)
  9. https://www.ctrlv.ca/ctrl-v-waterloo-flagship/ (Whoa!)
  10. https://www.cineplex.com/Theatre/cineplex-cinemas-kitchener-and-vip?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=local&utm_content=CPXKitchenerVIP (Drinks, food, movies, sounds like a plan)
  11. https://apollocinema.ca (A gem kind of spot)
  12. http://www.princesscinemas.com (And they have a café too!)
  13. https://www.facebook.com/PatentSocial/ (Super Mario!)
  14. https://www.acepingponglounge.com (Ping Pong)
  15. http://www.crossroadscafe.ca (Board games)
  16. http://www.gamesontap.ca (More board games)

 

Written by Bliss sexologist Lindsay Kenna. Learn more about Lindsay and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here.

The Health Benefits of Living a Mindful Life

In the modern-day bustle of living, mindfulness doesn’t always come easy. We’re tired, distracted, and always rushing to get something done, and it’s rare for us to stop and take a pause, to really analyze everything that’s going on around us. But if we want to improve our quality of life, then mindfulness is necessary and we have to stop making excuses—it’s time to slow down and assess our situation, it’s time to start taking better care of our mental and physical health.

Becoming mindful is a process that brings many benefits, and if you’re interested in how it can transform you, we’re here to show you.

You’ll become true to yourself

Humans are social creatures. While this is a good thing that makes it easier to live in a community, sometimes it can also mean the loss of individuality and a damaged sense of self—we try so hard to please everyone and it’s easy to get caught up in our thoughts, feelings, and insecurities to the point that they start ruining our lives. Rather than wondering what will make us happy in this moment, we think about what will look good, what will be socially accepted. Rather than nurturing our own unique selves, we attempt to stifle that energy and mold it into something more agreeable.

This is exactly what mindfulness can help with—instead of chipping away at your individuality, it can help you lift it up and remind you why it’s so important to stay true to yourself. Happiness doesn’t lie in pandering to everyone else, no matter how much you love them. It lies in the knowledge that you are the master of your own fate, and it’s on you to make the best of what life has to offer. 

You’ll learn how to take care of your needs

When you start nurturing your spirit, you’ll remember that you must take care of your needs before doing anything else. Mindfulness will help you realize that taking time off and doing things that are good for your health isn’t a mere indulgence. No, it’s absolutely essential. If you want a good example of how important it is to develop self-care strategies, look at Asian cultures. In China, there’s a great emphasis on things like massage therapy, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy as a way to improve wellness. A lot of people have developed a habit of going to a good spa salon when life gets overwhelming, and it’s becoming as common as going to a doctor when you get sick. It’s not just a treat, it’s a health strategy.

If you want to care for yourself, consider doing something similar. Figure out what ails you, what needs to be fixed, what kind of things relax you and make you happy. If reading books puts you in a good mood, the find the time to read. Exercise, eat well, and do what needs to be done to keep your mental and physical health in good shape.

You’ll reduce anxiety in your life

Since all of these things are connected, living in the moment and focusing on what’s right in front of you will undoubtedly make you a lot less anxious. You won’t keep worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet, you won’t keep remembering embarrassing mistakes from the past. You’ll look at what’s happening right now and you’ll know how to enjoy it.

Your relationships will improve

Once you’re connected to the energy around you and all your needs are met, it’s a lot easier to practice empathy and understand those that are close to you. Patience and gentleness that come from being mindful open up a path towards better communication, and very often talking it out with your loved ones is all you need to improve your relationship. Knowing yourself will also help you know other people better—you’ll understand their fears, insecurities, and generally what makes them tick. You’ll know how to deal with an unpleasant situation and create stronger bonds. Years of pent up anger and bitterness could finally dissipate because you’ll learn how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and you’ll learn to let toxic people go and stick only to those who release positive energy into your life.

You’ll feel more attractive

Mindfulness means being in control of your emotions and knowing your own truth. Instead of being plagued by doubt and insecurities, you’ll be able to let those go and embrace and celebrate all of your positive sides. The confidence gained from that is a huge boost to how good you feel in your own skin. You’ll simply become aware of your own worth, and that is something unshakable.  

Leading a mindful life is within your reach. Through meditation, self-care, and other activities that help you live in the moment. Once you learn to let go of the past and stop fretting about the future you’ll be able to finally see what’s going on around you—a whole world of beauty and success that’s just waiting for you to embrace it.

Written by: Sophia Smith

Sophia Smith is a beauty blogger, eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer and food enthusiast.  She is focusing on minimalism and good quality. Her other hobbies center around her love for nature, well-being and living in balance. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her blogs and articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including: Life Goals Mag, Savant Magazine, Secret Garden, Bonvita Style, Cause Artist and Book Meditation Retreats.
You can find out more about her writing by following her on:  Facebook  Twitter  Google +

Holiday Stress Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… unless you are burnt out, over spending or anxious about seeing a family member!

The holidays are wonderful, but they tend to come with some added stress for most of us. It is mostly because people tend not to have a lot of boundaries at this time of year. We believe we should put others’ needs ahead of our own; after all it is the season of giving, right? Well your therapist would tell you something different. At this time of year it is especially important to have some healthy boundaries.

Our team at Bliss Counselling would strongly suggest using the following tips as a helpful guide to get you through this difficult time of year.

 

  1. Try not to take on too much. When possible, encourage people to bring a dish if you are hosting, or if you are visiting, try not to cram in going to too many places in the same day. Burning yourself out will not make your time enjoyable.
  2. Say no!!! If you feel like you have too many things on the go, it is ok to say no. No is an answer all in itself. You can always suggest another day or time in the future. Christmas Day is December 25th but we don’t have to fit everything and everyone into this ONE day.
  3. Don’t spend too much. Some of the most valuable gifts don’t include a price tag. One of the traditions in my family is an experience gift. Make your own gift card and suggest a day of tobogganing and hot chocolate. You will never regret spending time with your loved ones.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself. Some people find the holidays challenging because they feel left out. It is always good to get out rather than to stay at home. Find a place that brings you some joy. Walking through a park with Christmas lights or going somewhere you can listen to music
  5. It’s ok to honour lost loved ones, or those we can’t be close to during the holidays
  6. Try and stick to some of your daily routines that make you happy, like working out or enjoying a good book
  7. If you need to take space because you are upset at something that a family member said, or just overwhelmed with the number of people around you can always go for a walk or drive, or find a quiet space to sit alone. It’s ok to take a break from everything
  8. Make sure to check in with your partner prior to saying yes to things. This is always a good check point and allows your partner to be a part of the planning process. They may also provide you with a healthy reminder of when it might be time to say no to something.

 

Written by Bliss Therapist Tammy Benwell.

 

We know that the holidays can be stressful, and hope that these tips can provide some guidance to those experiencing anxiety during this busy time of year. If you’re looking for further support and wish to speak with a Bliss specialist, you can book an appointment here.

How to Manage Stress at Bedtime

Everyone deals with stress. It’s a part of daily life. And eight in 10 Americans say they feel stress sometimes or frequently during the day.

Stress is a natural reaction to challenges. When we’re stressed, we get a boost of energy with an elevated heart rate and higher blood pressure. It’s nature’s way of offering support as we deal with threats or challenges. However, experiencing stress all day every day is not good for your health, and can result in increased cardiovascular risk, smoking, overeating, and headaches. Common sources of stress include politics, money, work, violence, and crime.

But for some people, stress is debilitating, and can interfere with sleep quality. We may stay up at night thinking anxious thoughts, or find it difficult to get good quality rest while feeling particularly stressed.

In fact, it’s common for adults who experience high stress to say they don’t sleep enough because their minds race at night. And 35 percent of teens, 31 percent of Millennials, and 27 percent of Gen Xers say stress keeps them up at night.

And although stress can so easily interfere with sleep, getting a good night’s sleep can relieve stress. When we’re well rested, we’re more mentally and physically prepared to face the challenges of the day at full capacity. If we’re short on sleep, we may struggle to concentrate, manage emotions, or deal well with fatigue.

What to Do to Relieve Stress and Sleep Well

Combining stress relief and healthy sleep habits can offer a better night’s sleep and may improve your stress levels throughout the day. Take these steps for relief:

  • Manage stress with relaxation practices. Proven stress relievers may make it easier to calm down and relax before bed and get a good night’s sleep. Practice yoga or meditation as part of a bedtime routine to wind down and release tension before it’s time to rest.
  • Keep a journal next to bed. If stressful thoughts at night are a problem, a journal may help.
  • Address fears. It’s ok to feel scared at night sometimes. Dark shadows, strange noises, and general uneasiness plague adults as well as children. Consider comfort items, such as a nightlight, which may make it easier to feel more secure at night.
  • Commit to healthy sleep. Good sleep can support stress relief, so practice healthy sleep habits. Keep a regular sleep schedule and maintain a regular bedtime routine. Steer clear of pitfalls including late night screen time and caffeine.
  • Get support for stress. No one has to go it alone when dealing with stress. Talk to friends, family, and counselors who can help when working through stressful situations that call for help.
  • Eliminate stress as much as possible. Overdoing it can easily lead to stress, so it may be a good idea to cut back. If possible, eliminate stressful activities and prioritize commitments.

 

Stress and sleep often go hand in hand, so improving one can often improve the other. Focus on managing stress and practicing healthy sleep habits to support good mental health.

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

What Does it Mean to be Authentic?

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

– Brené Brown

 

Being authentic means feeling comfortable sharing your flaws and failures as much as your triumphs and successes, and that you don’t need to be liked by others to feel as though you matter. It is a true recognition that you matter regardless of what others think, and being able to embrace your weaknesses as much as your strengths.

Being authentic means not striving to be what others expect us to be, or even what we think we are supposed to be, but rather loving the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. It means knowing that we can form opinions on our own, and to voice those opinions in a way that holds true to our values. Most importantly, being authentic means staying true to our core values, even when they are different from someone else’s.

We have all had those moments where we faked being happy when what we really wanted to do was fall apart. Why do we do that? Because we have been programmed to believe that who we are isn’t enough, and that how we feel isn’t ok. We are taught very early in life that people will only truly like us if we present them with something that feels good to them. This fear often holds us back from being authentically ourselves.

Imagine arriving to work, and when asked “how are you today?” you actually respond with how you are feeling; “I am feeling awful, my kids were having complete meltdowns” or maybe it sounds like, “my morning was horrible, my husband and I got into an argument”. Most of us would never say these things, even though they are exactly what we are experiencing and feeling. Of course there may be some people you aren’t willing to share that information with, and that’s okay too! Being authentic means doing and sharing what we feel when we want to, and with whom we want to share that with. Being authentic means not being scared to share those feelings in order to make others more comfortable, and sharing what we want to based on what we may need in that moment.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that being authentic isn’t something that we have to search for, it is being exactly who we are. To each person this will look different, and that is what is so beautiful about authenticity!

 

Written by Bliss therapist Tammy Benwell. Learn more about Tammy and get her secret “Tips From the Couch” here.

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Do you have any questions for us? We’re happy to help! Get in touch with us here.
If you’re interested in booking your first appointment with Bliss, you can do that here.

 

 

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