Phoenix Integrated Health Professionals
Counselling - Massage - Reflexology - Yoga
Posted on October 10th, 2018

​It’s World Mental Health Day, and around the office we’ve had lots of discussion about how people can work to improve their mental health and well-being, and some points that we find are important to add to the discussion!


Mental Health ≠ Mental Illness

Mental health: a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

Mental illness: health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

While both are important and both need attention, it is important to note the difference between the two. Mental Illness needs attention in the same way that physical illness does—we need to care for the person who is ill with therapy, medication, or other methods of treatment (often a combination of things). Mental health, on the other hand, just refers to what state that aspect of your health is. Just as you can be “in shape” physically, you can be “in shape” mentally.

Working on your mental health is a preventative measure—you build strength in your mind by doing things regularly that improve your health in the same way that you do physical exercise to prepare your body for activity. This will make it easier to manage if you do happen to have a mental illness or if you deal with stress etc. Remember: Mental Health is for EVERYONE.

Mental Health Is Just As Important As Physical Health

In the same way that heading out for a walk and some fresh air is good for your body, things like meditation and mindfulness are good for your mind. When we create a preventative lifestyle, the likelihood that we will be affected by poor mental health goes down. Spend some time thinking about what you could do to work on your mental health and build your resiliency! There are some great ideas here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201705/3-exercises-build-mental-strength-in-just-5-minutes


Mental Health Is Not A "One-Size-Fits-All" Approach

When we work on our physical health, there are many different approaches—do you enjoy CrossFit or Zumba? Weightlifting or running? Chances are you have a preference when it comes to exercise, and it took some trial and error to figure out what you enjoy and what you don’t. Spend some time trying different things and see how you feel about them. While some people love a seated meditation in silence, others like guided meditation sessions or even meditative walks. Some people love visiting a therapist to discuss their life, while others would prefer a coffee with a close friend. Find things that feel good to you and you’ll be more likely do (and enjoy!) them regularly to improve your ability to cope with stress.


On this awareness day, spend some time thinking about your needs and how you can fit something for your own mental well being into your schedule. And remember, if you’re struggling or would like some further insight into how you can improve your mental health you can always reach out and book an appointment with us at 780-842-3112. 

-Kendra

Posted on September 11th, 2018

It’s no secret that my favourite time of year is fall. But outside of the scarves, warm drinks, and colourful trees, there is so much more to my love of Fall.

I find after a summer of fun and indulgence, Fall is a time to settle back into routine and structure. With that change in mindset, I find myself revisiting goals that I have for myself. I find that Fall is the time that we can look at them with a bit of renewal after the fun of Summer. Honestly, I think it’s better than January 1st because our goals are a) coming from a place of structure and routine, and b) we’re at a place in the year that everyone else is getting back into the swing of things, so it isn’t hard to find the solutions we need. I also find that it is easier to get started on goal setting when the days are still longer than they are in January.

So, what does a Fall New Year look like?

Challenge Yourself!
  • Challenge the ideas you have about yourself and your success
  • What do you REALLY want? Less stress? More fun? More time for friends?
  • Finding your “why” is probably the most important step.
  • You can return to your “why” whenever you feel discouraged or face setbacks.

Create A Good Mindset
  • Creating a Growth Mindset in your life is important to goal setting and self-improvement.
  • Growth Mindset allows you to think in terms of your life being a constant act of learning, rather than having a finite ending to learning and goals.
  • Creating this mindset allows you to think of each setback as an opportunity for learning and can help you avoid quitting if goals don’t go the way you hoped.

Goal Setting
  • The first priority is to set some goals. What would you like to achieve by next summer? Better balance? More mindfulness? To learn to Salsa? Write them down.
  • Create SMART goals. They will be...
  • Specific (What is it you want?)
  • Measurable (How will you know you’ve achieved it?)
  • Achievable (Set your sights high enough for challenge, but no so high that you can’t reach your goal)
  • Relevant (Why is this important to you?)
  • Time-sensitive (What is your deadline?)
  • When in doubt, just start with a list—maybe it’s a bucket list—and narrow it down from there.
Recognize Your Roadblocks
  • Be true to yourself--if you hate mornings, don't plan to exercise then just because you "should". Find time to work on your goals when you're happy and motivated.
  • Finding the chaos to be too much? Try to lift some stress by preparing things beforehand and making lists/using a planner. Plan your meals, prep what you can, prepare projects before their deadlines, etc. 
  • Have a close friend or family member motivate you through your struggles. Let them know that you often quit two weeks into new goals and have them check in with you, for example. 
  • Be true to who you are, and structure your goals around who that person is.

Find things that you’re truly passionate about and spend some time thinking about what you want and WHY. And as always, if you need some guidance and support, give us a call and book an appointment! We’ll have you on your way in no time.
 
-Kendra

Posted on June 20th, 2018

​A good night’s sleep is one of the most important things to have as a base for overall wellbeing. Did you know that just one week of insufficient sleep can increase stress, and have an effect on immunity, inflammation and overall health? Poor sleep is associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety, higher risk of heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, and strokes?

Sounds scary, but not to fear! Improved sleep can be achieved by employing some fairly small changes in your sleep hygiene. In the same way that we’d get smelly and sick (and probably lose some friends) if we didn’t employ regular old body hygiene and wash ourselves, we can get sick and tired if we don’t employ some good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is just taking the time to employ some good practices/habits so that we have a good night’s sleep and
a good day of alertness to follow. Below are some tips to get you started:

Good morning sunshine!
Where better place to start talking about sleep than to talk about waking up? Natural sunlight is one of the best ways to wake up in the morning. Open the blinds wide and embrace the sunshine! While this can be difficult in Alberta in the middle of winter, there are alarm clocks you can purchase that slowly wake you with blue light, which is stimulating and helps our body’s natural sleep/wake cycle do what it needs to do to get you out of bed (aka: circadian rhythm). Enjoy the sunshine and listen to the birds sing while you wake up and enjoy a wholesome breakfast.

Say no to Joe.
Although that midday cup of coffee might smell oh-so-good coming from the break room, try and avoid getting a jolt from caffeine after 2 P.M. (at the latest). While coffee has a lot of health benefits, the caffeine can have a major impact on your sleep. One study showed that caffeine that was consumed even 6 hours before bed affected sleep amounts by over an hour! Opt for decaf if you need a warm drink, or even better drink some tea or water.

You need to move it, move it.
You already know that exercise is incredibly important to overall wellbeing and health. But did you know being active during the day will help you sleep at night? Keeping active during the day can increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep, which is the most physically restorative sleep phase. It increases sleep amount, relieves stress and anxiety, and helps with insomnia. Spending time in deep sleep also boosts immune function and supports cardiac health. Just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week can improve your sleep!

Make a plan.
Create both a sleep ritual and a sleep schedule. While this can be tough (let’s be realistic, you won’t always sleep in the same environment, and late night adventures come up!), try and stick to it most of the time. It's important to try and go to sleep and wake up at about the same time. Like I said, things come up and realistically we can't always be in bed at the same time, but it's important to stick to the schedule as much as you can.  Create a good sleep ritual that revolves around calm and quiet. Don’t do anything strenuous or exciting. A good way to boost your body’s natural release of melatonin is to have a nice warm shower about a half hour before bed. Our bodies need to cool down to release that melatonin, so causing your body to warm up and cool down can help that release occur. Spend some time meditating or doing some breathing exercises or calming yoga. Put on some cozy pajamas. Crawl into bed and enjoy the dark and silence as you wait to restore your body for all the exciting things you are going to do tomorrow.

Don’t go into the light!
Keep your phone in its home! Last blog post I wrote, I talked about giving your phone a home. Like I stated earlier, blue light wakes our bodies up—opposite what we want in our beds. Find a good home for your phone, tuck it in, say goodnight, and go to your bed techless.

Don’t try too hard.
Don’t spend more than about 20 minutes in your bed trying to fall asleep. Yep, you read that right. If it is taking you more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, get out of your bed and do something VERY boring. Re-fold your dishcloths. Count the stars. Lay on the floor and belly breathe. Listen to a podcast about the colourful history of wicker basket weaving. Give yourself 10 minutes to be very boring, and head to bed again. The more you condition your brain that your bed is for sleep and not laying and thinking, the faster you’ll fall asleep in the future.

Take deep breaths.


Breathing exercises don't need any kind of special equipment. You can do it laying down or sitting somewhere comfortable that has no distractions. It might seem silly that breathing can help--you do it all day! But some breathing techniques actually alter brainwave activity, helping you lower stress and get right to sleep. One of the simplest ways to do this is to practice "Breath Counting". You simply focus on your breath going in and out. Start by taking a deep inhale (make sure your belly is expanding), exhale slowly and count "one". The next inhale/exhale, count "two". Go all the way to 4, and repeat. Breathe in peace, breathe out stress. 

The key message is that your brain loves habits and routine—it’ll love it when you create a healthy routine for sleep. Creating sleep hygiene that increases deep sleep is a good habit to start so you can ensure that the basis for your overall wellness is solid. As always, if you need some help getting into healthy sleep routines or help with your overall wellness give us a call at 780-842-3112, and we’ll help you out!

Happy sleeping!

-Kendra

by Kendra Barss on June 13th, 2018

​Technology is everywhere. If you’re here, you’re reading this on a screen. Chances are, you stumbled across this post while scrolling Facebook and are reading it on your phone or tablet. Screens aren’t inherently bad--we use technology to connect with others, to learn, to grow, and to find the things we need (Google maps anyone?). But more often, we use technology to disconnect. We use it as a tool to take our minds away from the day, and into the world of our friends beautifully filtered HGTV-worthy home images, perfectly behaved clean children, and meticulously put together meals. We use it as an escape from our present moment.

Statistics are showing that people are living with more stress, depression, and anxiety than ever. They’re a by-product of our busy, fast paced, technology driven world. We even have a word for the fear of being without our phone—Nomophobia. But how the heck do we find a way to function without our phones when they’re such an integral part of our lives?

Making a few simple changes can help balance out our need for technology and our need for mindful presence in our day-to-day lives:
  • Schedule time with your tech.
  • Give your phone a home.
  • Fall in love with the “Do not disturb” feature
  • Find a mindful hobby

Schedule time with your tech. Decide that you’re going to spend time with your phone, enjoy it, and then let it go. Ideally, this time will be at least an hour before you go to bed, and not immediately after waking. Pick a time, schedule it into your day, set a timer, and stick to it. Enjoy your time surfing Facebook, or connecting with people who are elsewhere. When you put it down, maybe make some time to be face-to-face with that friend.

Give your phone a home. Again, ideally, your phone should be away from your sleep space (good sleep hygiene is important!). Find a place that your phone can stay in your house that isn’t immediately visible (to avoid the temptation to use it), but accessible if you need to make a call. “Put it to bed” at night in its spot, and keep it there when you’re not on scheduled phone time. An added bonus is no more searching for where it went!

Fall in love with the “Do not disturb” feature. Do a little digging in your settings and see what your phone can do. Most smartphones these days have this feature. Pick a time at night that the phone doesn’t alert you. If this causes anxiety, start small—shut off notifications from 10:00 PM-6:00 AM. Gradually lengthen that time. There are often features that you can set to allow “urgent” calls and texts through by prompting the person calling to indicate that it’s urgent. Check out your settings, and if you’re having trouble you can always consult a friend or Google it!

Find a mindful hobby. What will you do with all this free time!? Find a hobby that keeps you present and mindful. Try colouring, doing puzzles, sewing, cooking, moving (yoga is great!), or read, keep a journal or even try and memorize a poem! Spend time in nature, really look at the sights around you, and enjoy the smells and sounds. Look at the clouds, and see what you can imagine. Let your thoughts float by like the clouds do, and spend some time meditating.

Spend some time thinking about how spending more time “in the now” can benefit you and the people around you and see if you can build it into your lifestyle! If you need some help building a life you love that is centered in true well-being, health, and happiness, you can always call the clinic (780-842-3112) and book an appointment. I’d love to help you out!

-Kendra

Posted on May 17th, 2018

​Join us this summer for GO GRRRLS, a fun way for girls to learn about themselves and navigate the world we live in today.  This program is for girls ages 10-12.

Sessions will be 1 week long, and will be offered July 16-20 and August 13-17. 
We will be gathering from 1-4:30 PM daily during your week of choice, with a healthy snack offered every day. We’ll celebrate completion of the week with a Friday afternoon pizza party!
 
Monday: Who Am I?
*Finding your strengths and being confident in who you are

Tuesday: Positive Mindsets and Mindfulness, Handling Stress
*Learning about meditation, inner locus of control, positive outlooks and how it affects our everyday, and how to handle stress in a healthy way when it arises

Wednesday: Media Messages and Positive Relationships
*Navigating social media and fostering positive relationships in our lives

Thursday: Healthy Body, Healthy Me (Body Image, drugs and alcohol, age-appropriate sexuality)
*Learning about good nutrition and healthy exercise, creating good body image, try some yoga, learn about drugs and alcohol, and the straight facts about puberty, sex, and consent.

Friday: Planning for the Future
*Using your strengths and passions to plan for the future and find hobbies you enjoy now.  We’ll wrap up with a pizza party this day!

Cost is $350 per participant (Receipts can be written for reimbursement to submit to extended health benefit plans).
If you have any questions or would like more information or to register, please call us at (780) 842-3112, or email phoenixcounselling08@gmail.com. 





Categories
no categories