Category Archives: relaxation

5 Ways to Calm Down When You’re Angry

The next time you feel angry, try these 5 simple steps to help you deescalate your anger and feel calm.

1. Step Back and Ask Yourself. When we’re angry, it might be difficult for us to take a step back for a second and think about the situation. But in attempting to do so, it can help us find the source of our anger. Try to figure out WHY you are angry, and in the process of doing so, you are likely to calm down. By finding the source of your anger, you might come up with some strategies that work for you to regain a sense of calm.

2. Think of the Bigger Picture. Sometimes we are faced with situations that might be stressful. When this stress builds up inside of us, we are likely to get upset about things that we usually find trivial. By thinking about the bigger picture, we might realize that we are actually stressed out and not even angry to begin with.

3. Problem-Focused Approach. Some of the anger that we feel is often a result of a problem that we are facing. So in order to get rid of the anger, it is beneficial to focus on solving the problem that is the root cause of the anger that we are experiencing.

4. Listening to Music. Listening to music (any type of music that you like) is always helpful at getting your mind off of your anger. After you’re done listening to music, it is highly likely that you will feel relaxed.

5. Take a Walk in Nature. Studies have found that nature boosts happiness and reduces stress and anger. Most of us have busy lives, so even if it is just sitting down and looking at a river or some stress in nature, it is completely worth it. Feeling happy and relaxed is what we owe ourselves!

By: Ghinwa El-Ariss

Ghinwa El-Ariss holds an Honors Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto. She will be pursuing her Master of Science degree in Psychology at Trent University starting September 2017. She is passionate about Psychology and the Environment. She hopes that her blog posts help you learn a bit about her and her take on certain things. Most importantly, she hopes that you enjoyed what you read!

The Selfie Culture – An Invitation to Take a Break

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It is 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.”
– Brene Brown

I meet many young people who answer the following questions in the following way. ‘Do you compare yourself much to others?’ ‘Yes, all the time.’ ‘Does it happen on social media?’ ‘Yes, constantly. On Instagram mostly.’ There is something going on in society today that is creating a lot of pressure for young people when it comes to their appearance, self-image, and emerging sense of self. While it would be wrong to make a direct link between social media use and rising anxiety levels, it would be even more foolish to believe that the growing use of social media, among young people, is not having an impact at all.

The selfie culture has become a normal part of life for teens and many pre-teens growing up in the 21st century. However, the constant posting and viewing of selfies can prevent a young person’s journey towards discovering who they really want to be in the world. When I speak to young people in therapy about selfies, a lot of what they are trying to achieve with their posts is approval from others and a sense of self-worth. But what if seeking approval from others was let go of for a while. What would fill that space? From asking young people, it is my understanding that a break from selfie taking and thus from Instagram, leads to lower levels of anxiety, which creates space for a more enriched relationship with the developing self.

There is freedom in switching off from the constant viewing of celebrity air-brushed pictures. It allows space for a more coherent view of what it means to be ‘you’, a person of value in your own right, a person who does not need the approval of others in order to know their worth. There is something very freeing about making the choice to be authentic. However, many young people are faced with the pressures of trying to fit in and needing to be like somebody else (i.e., the popular ones or the rich and famous ones). In idolizing these superficial features in others, young people can lose sight of their own value and never feel fulfilled with themselves.

Teenagers are at a sensitive stage of their psychological development. They are in the stage of identity development, which makes them extremely self-conscious and constantly in tuned with feedback from others, especially their peers. You can imagine then how difficult it must be for teens to take a break from the selfie culture, as it gives them so much feedback and information about themselves and others.

This Summer might be the perfect opportunity for you to take a break from this selfie culture and focus on yourself. Even coming off just one social media site for a while can have an impact on how you begin to feel about yourself. If you believe that Instagram boosts your self-esteem because of the positive feedback you receive, it is worth noting that it’s not healthy to become reliant on social media for self-confidence. Confidence should come from within and not be influenced by anyone or anything. Anyone who believes that their worth is dependent on the feedback they get on their selfies is at risk for negative psychological consequences. So be careful and take a break. Your self-esteem will thank you for it.

By: Anne McCormack

Anne McCormack is a Psychotherapist based in Dublin, Ireland. She is the author of ‘Keeping Your Child Safe on Social Media: Five Easy Steps’ available here http://www.easons.com/p-4740342-keeping-your-child-safe-on-social-media.aspx.

Merging Pathways – Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton Locations

“Speaking with a mental health professional is no longer associated to one experiencing a crisis. Having a therapist is now a part of a healthy lifestyle” – KMA client

In thinking about the differences between the population, age groups, and many different concerns that I see at our Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton locations, I realized how similar we all are in terms of our human behavior. We are all striving to be happy, content, and peaceful with our work and the many relationships in our life. Where we differ is in the path we take towards feeling better about ourselves. Some choose to find their path on their own and some choose to seek professional help.

As an intake therapist, I am fortunate enough to have spoken to many people of different cultures, age groups, and populations. The one thing I find that the people at both our Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton locations have in common is that all of them are seeking to speak with a professional in order to maintain a fulfilled life, regardless of their presenting concern.

Let us take a look at the statistics below with regards to the gender and age groups at our Liberty Village vs. Yonge & Eglinton locations.


Both locations have a higher percentage of females, but as you can see, the male population is not far behind. Clients of both genders are willing to connect with mental health professionals to help them grow in their personal and professional life.

 

The Yonge & Eglinton location is becoming a residential area with growing families and so I witness more couple clients compared to the Liberty Village location.

 

In terms of the population and age groups, statistics show that both Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton have a higher percentage of people between the ages of 20-25 years.

 

 

As an intake therapist, I am very proud to see that people are willing to talk about their feelings, insecurities, anxiety, depression, and challenges in their relationships. People are motivated to speak with a mental health professional to develop some strategies to maintain an emotionally healthy life style.

Hats off to all of you for trying to be the best version of yourself! It takes courage to talk about your feelings and thoughts and prioritize self-care.

Even though Liberty Village and Yonge & Eglinton are two different locations, I still choose to call them Merging Pathways because the challenges I see people face are all similar in nature with varying intensities and lengths of time.

Check out this article for more information about KMA Therapy: http://www.datingadvice.com/for-women/kimberly-moffit-associates-offers-constructive-relationship-counseling-in-toronto

By: Zainab Adil Gandhi

Zainab has completed her Masters in Psychological Counselling, specializing in Marriage and Family therapies. She is a member in good standing with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

Zainab has had 6 years of experience in counselling with Adults, Couples, Parents & Children. She understands that for clients to speak to a complete stranger about their concerns is very challenging. Therefore, her approach to counselling and therapy is client centered. She works with empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard to make sure that the client is extremely comfortable and in a very happy space. It is important to her to establish a good rapport to be able to bring about a healthy change in her clients. She believes in the ‘Human Potential’ that each client brings with him/her. Zainab chooses to be a facilitator in the process, where she guides the clients with her education and experience.  Once she has made the client comfortable in the session, she then moves ahead to use a Cognitive, Behavioral or an Emotional orientation, depending on what the client is willing to receive at that point in time.

Zainab has experience working with issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, bullying, parenting challenges, marital concerns, divorce, building healthy communication, relationships, balancing work and life, and dealing with a death of a loved one. She loves to use a variety of visual aids with her clients, which will help them understand their concerns more effectively. Her ultimate goal is to make sure the clients can be independent and cope with their problems efficiently.

 

Learning to Take Care of Yourself

It was around January when I came to the decision that I needed to start doing what I wanted to do, for myself and no one else. I had spent the past year of my life consumed by work, graduate school applications, job searches and resumes. When I look back now, I realize that somewhere along the way I had stopped doing the things that I loved and stopped taking care of myself because I was so focused on being “successful” so soon after graduating from university. Ultimately, this took a toll on my health and well-being. My days were centered around emails, applications, and coffees. I lost sleep worrying about whether or not I had done enough to advance myself during the day. Ultimately, I neglected my own feelings and desires for my future. After experiencing one of the most overwhelming days of my life, I decided to take a step back and walk away from the routine I had gotten myself into for the past few months. I decided that something needed to change because my happiness had become so inconsistent.

The first thing I did was I bought a blank journal from our local bookstore and wrote down all the activities I wanted to try during my spare time. Soon after, I found a volunteer position at my old yoga studio, where I could attend as many classes as I wanted to in exchange for helping out the instructors a few times a week. As you will soon realize, I love yoga and I swear by its magic-like remedies. Practicing yoga is something that I’ve been doing since I was young to help with my anxiety, as it helps me find clarity. In addition to yoga, I began swimming again, a sport that I started soon after I learned how to walk. Equipped with a waterproof iPod, it has been my go-to activity when I’m feeling stressed. I also decided to take up rock-climbing, which to my surprise is something that I look forward to challenging myself with every week.

After filling up my time with activities I enjoyed, I proceeded to write down my goals for the future and how I was going to achieve them. Doing this helped me realize that some goals were too unrealistic and some were goals I had outgrown. It helped highlight the goals that felt intuitively right and it gave me a place to start. With advice from a friend, I then wrote down what I most wanted to achieve. After looking at my list, it became clear that I wanted to spend more time with my family and friends, so I now dedicate my Sundays to spending time with them.

Now don’t get me wrong, these changes did not happen overnight. However, I took the time to think about what I really wanted to change in my life in order to move forward in the best possible way. I had to learn how to clear my mind and dedicate time to learn about myself and figure out what makes ME happy. But most importantly, I had to learn how to accept the place I was in and not rush things. This doesn’t mean that I no longer have bad days, because I do, but rather that by making these changes I’m slowly learning what I need and I’m at a better place than where I started.

Going through this transition, I have realized that learning how to take care of ourselves is one of the most important skills we can have as individuals. Taking care of our bodies and our minds helps keep us resilient, independent, and motivated to overcome the struggles we are faced with and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves, without taking away from our happiness. So if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or feel that your heart needs a little TLC, first take a break. Sometimes when we get overwhelmed, we aren’t able to see the big picture or think clearly about what we need to feel better. Sit and think. Make a list. Try new things (e.g., rollerblading down the lakeshore, joining a pottery class, anything you’ve ever been remotely interested in doing). If it helps bring your stress level down, it’s worth it!

Next, remind yourself that you can only do so much. This is so important. If something is weighing you down, sometimes letting go is the best thing to do in order to start feeling better. We often hold onto too much, try to do too many tasks, or set too many goals. Try to set one goal at a time, the one you want to achieve the most, and tackle it! Focusing on one goal helps you achieve it faster and better because you’re not exerting all your energy being stressed.

Finally, listen to your intuition. Your body knows how much it can handle and it will let you know when you’re doing too much and neglecting self-care. When you start feeling overwhelmed or stressed, that is your body letting you know that it needs a break. If you remain mindful of your own needs, than you’ll be happier and more productive in the long run!

By: Eliza Watts

Eliza graduated with a degree in Psychology and a specialization in research from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is a passionate mental health advocate whose goal is to help others through her own personal experience.

Why Valentine’s Day can make you feel Anxious

170112799Valentine’s day is a day dedicated to celebrating LOVE with those closest to you. However, for a lot of us without relationships this can be a day filled with fear, anxiety, and sadness because we might feel like we don’t have anyone to celebrate with. Even for those of us in a relationship, this day may create a lot of stress and anxiety. It can be confusing to have these thoughts and feelings when you are in a happy relationship and feel pressured to be happy and exude feelings of love. I will be exploring some of the reasons for these thoughts and suggesting ways to combat them to prevent them from becoming harmful to you/your partner.

1. You FEEL pressured to be a perfect couple and have the PERFECT date.

Both in the mass media and on our social media feeds we are constantly being flooded with pictures and images of ‘happy’ couples, decadent gifts, extravagant dates, etc. These images can make us feel like we need to live up to these standards in order for our relationship to be worth something. Trying to live up to these high standards is unrealistic and can be a source of stress and anxiety. Just as in other aspects of the media, the misconceived notion that happiness is about money and material wealth is a lie. I encourage you to stay true to yourself and your partner and do something you both want/love to do, rather than trying to show the world how ‘perfect’ your relationship is. That could mean going to the movies, going out for dinner, or even staying in and ordering a pizza in your PJ’s. At the end of the day, whatever you end up choosing, you will always have fun together!

2. You FEEL pressured to show your loved one you care.

The very reason for the day is to express the love we always feel for our partners (also, family, friends, etc.). For some of the same reasons as above, Valentine’s Day can put pressure on us to find a way to go above and beyond in expressing our love. We have to plan the perfect date, pick out the perfect gift, and even ensure that the ‘I love you’ message we give or send to our partner is perfect. Some of us rely solely on the material objects to convey this message, while others also want to say it or write it in a note or card. Don’t get hung up on what to say or how much to say, just write down how you truly feel. Remember that this isn’t a test or a contest between you and other couples, or even between the two of you. Anything you could possibly say in a card on Valentine’s Day, I’m sure you’ve already said to your partner and will continue to express through the course of your relationship. Valentine’s Day should not be a day to measure your commitment to your partner, but more of a fun day to self-indulge!

3. You FEEL like a bad partner if you don’t do something for them/you don’t know what to do.

Wanting to do something nice for your partner isn’t a bad thing at all. The only time this can feel uneasy is when you feel uncertain of what they’d like or uncertain if they’ll receive the message that you care and want them to feel loved. My advice would be to NOT overthink it. If you know your partner well enough, you’re bound to know a few things or dates that they’d like. All in all, I’m sure your partner will be happy simply with the idea that you thought about them and put time into planning a date or getting a gift, regardless of what you choose. If your partner is hung up on what you chose, there could be a reason for this. Do you express feelings solely through gifts, did you both set a limit that was or wasn’t met, or do they value your relationship only on gifts and dates, and not actual feelings? These are all questions that hopefully you don’t need to answer, but can be helpful if your partner is really unhappy when you try to do something nice for them.

The bottom line is: KEEP IT SIMPLE and HAVE FUN! If you’re single, take the day to treat yourself and relax! And if you’re in a relationship just tell your partner what you always do, that you love them, and be authentic if you are giving them a gift or going out. Happy Valentine’s Day!

By: Sarah Morrone

Sarah Morrone lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is an aspiring teacher and Registered Early Childhood Educator. Life has taken her on a little detour and is currently managing a cosmetics shop while writing, painting, and getting to know herself.

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Why Relaxation is so important

relaxation-day-ideas-e1438839299801In a fast-paced world, it can seem nearly impossible to ‘relax’- we are constantly ‘plugged’ in, there are deadlines to meet, plans to be made/followed, errands to run, etc. Relaxation can take on many forms and looks different for every person. To me, relaxation is any time my mind is at ease and I am not necessarily focused on a specific goal (or if I am, it is at a leisurely expense). Often times when I am relaxing, I may be doing more than just sleeping or sitting on the couch- I may be writing, reading, working out, or even shopping. Nonetheless, it feels good to zone out to some reality TV. In either scenario, the common denominator is always the want to do so and the state of mental enjoyment/ease/focus. Obviously some of these methods do require more mental energy, but they are not necessarily exhausting tasks. Working out, for example, can be physically and mentally demanding, but it brings the mind to a state of pure focus that can block out all upcoming events or deadlines that seem looming during work or other daily tasks and can have a great impact on our mental and physical health. On the flip side, watching TV can allow your mind to wander into the storyline and help distract/calm your mind. Relaxation can occur with others around, in these relaxing scenarios, but either way it is what happens internally that makes a difference in our daily working lives.

A metaphor that I like to use is to imagine a computer with millions of new windows popping open, while also trying to run a certain program. The computer will run slower, may have some technical issues, and will likely crash. Most of us experience these same problems when we don’t ‘power down’ for even a small amount of time. Just like sleep, relaxation plays a key role in regulating mood, concentration, and overall wellbeing. Taking time for ourselves allows us to decompress, destress, and can also allow us to feel rejuvenated so we can be productive in areas such as work or school. Using the computer metaphor, I like to think of relaxation as a computer on sleep mode, still hard-wired and aware of all internal data, ready to go at any moment, but pausing to use less [brain] power.

As much as we like to think we’re super-humans who can achieve anything, if we don’t get an adequate amount of sleep and are always on the go, our minds will become mentally exhausted. There have been times when I neglected my relaxation and not only did my performance in areas such as work falter, but so did personal relationships. Most detrimental of all was my relationship with myself- I was overwhelmed and began to feel like I was losing control of myself, of my mind. When we are in this state of mind, nothing becomes enjoyable and depression/anxiety are in full force. What’s shocking to me is that relaxation is not at the forefront of our society, but work and constant future goals are. This is not to say that these are not valuable, but it’s to suggest that the balance is not evenly weighted. It becomes up to us to find that time when we can wind down and do something for ourselves. With that being said, I ask that YOU find that time to drink a cup of tea in the quiet, read a few articles, or watch Judge Judy. These simple pleasures are just that, but also sooth and reset our minds.

By: Sarah Morrone

Sarah Morrone lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is an aspiring teacher and Registered Early Childhood Educator. Life has taken her on a little detour and is currently managing a cosmetics shop while writing, painting, and getting to know herself.

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