Tag Archives: Change

How to Change an Emotional Relationship with Food

5-Tips-for-Heart-Healthy-Snacking-700x395Bored? Stressed? Waiting? What do many of us do when this happens? EAT. Many of us tend to fill time with eating or use it to relieve stress. Often we’re not even hungry or we choose to snack on easy but unhealthy choices. These choices can make our self-esteem plummet, and can even result in us feeling guilt, remorse, or depressed. Here are a few tips and tricks to try and change an emotional relationship with food.

Drink water. Carry a bottle of water around and if you have an urge to snack, drink water first. It’s easy to misread our body’s signals and think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. By avoiding eating unnecessary or last-minute foods, we also avoid feelings of guilt and remorse, which helps reinforce our confidence to make positive and healthy decisions.

Be mindful. There’s a bowl of chips in front of you and before you know it, it’s empty! We’ve all done this. We at times unconsciously snack when it is immediately available just because it’s there. Stop and be aware. Stay in tune with yourself and your senses, rather than going on autopilot.

Understand your urge to much. Part of making healthier decisions is understanding what is driving us to certain behaviours in the first place. If you find yourself relying on eating to fill time, your urge to much may be coming from boredom – in this case, one tactic is to try to find something else to do. If you’re eating to relieve stress, it may be time to explore another stress-relieving activity such as yoga or walking. Once you’ve identified your personal weak-spots, be prepared for situations that challenge you: Keep a book in your bag, so you read rather than munch. Have nothing to do? Go for a walk instead of making a sandwich.

Understand that Change Takes Effort: An emotional relationship with food doesn’t just change overnight or with a lazy approach. It’s a process that can take months and even years to understand and implement. And this change takes effort and preparation. For example, If we arrive thirty minutes earlier than expected at our destination, many of us will stop at a corner store or shop and pick up something to snack on in order to kill the time. By carrying a healthy snack with us each day that we’ve prepared in advance, like a bag of nuts or some chopped up celery, we can prevent ourselves from picking up that chocolate bar because we already have something to snack on.

A lot of the challenge we face lies in the fact that it is easier to buy that bag of chips than to cut up those peppers. Change isn’t always easy. Just keep in mind that at first it may be a nuisance, but eventually it’ll seem like you have always lived like this. New behaviours practiced often become habits, so by choosing the right behaviour just a few times, we can create a pattern that will lead to a whole new series of healthier choices.

5 Tips to Help Deal with Sassy Kids

kids-on-grass-2It seems to be that there comes a time in every child’s life when they transition from a cute and loving child, to a snarky and sassy tween or teen.  In this phase, kids go from good-natured to short-tempered, accommodating to resisting, happy to hold your hand to embarrassed to even be seen with you.

 

Let the eye-rolling begin.

Some parents roll with this change with remarkable good humour and grace; the rest of us may end up resorting to less-than-helpful responses to our kids.  If you think you may fall into that second category, here are five tips for getting your relationship back onto a better path.

1. Take a deep breath and don’t take it personally. 

Yes, it’s true that sometimes our kids can find just the right thing to say to cut us to the quick.  But they’re not necessarily trying to wound us that deeply, they’re often just trying out different ways of relating to others and seeing which ones give them a feeling of control and confidence.  It’s ok to respond calmly with something like, “That was very disrespectful.  I don’t like being spoken to that way, and I’m going to leave the room until we can agree that we’ll speak to each other more pleasantly.”

2. Harness the power of role modelling. 

As much as parents like to joke about the “do as I say, not as I do” method of parenting, children don’t tend to see the humour in it.  While there’s no doubt they can quite effectively push our buttons, a part of them is watching us to see how we’ll handle it.  Our kids look to us to learn how to behave in the world, and if we respond to them with anger, or an attempt at control by trying to put them in their place, then they learn that this is an effective way of responding to someone who is upsetting them.  While it might not seem like it in the moment, continuing to model respectful behavior towards our kids (and ourselves) does give them a blueprint for how to stand up for themselves appropriately and how to navigate difficult conversations.

3. Take a time out. 

We often get into the habit of believing that every parenting issue must be dealt with immediately.  But the reality is that sometimes we all need space to cool down, before we can get a real handle on the situation and think about the big picture.  It’s ok to tell your children, “We’ll talk about this later,” and then follow through and do it.

4. Catch them being good. 

You may have heard this phrase before; it’s something of a staple in parenting.  If we catch more flies with honey, than we want to be on the look-out for opportunities to acknowledge and appreciate those times when our kids express themselves assertively while still being respectful.  They don’t have to be talking to you; if you happen to overhear a conversation between two of your children, or one of your kids and a friend, it’s ok to pull your child aside later and quietly let them know that you thought she handled herself very well in that difficult situation.

5. Keep a healthy perspective.

While you may worry that the attitude demonstrated at home may be transported out there into the world at large, you can breathe easy knowing that it typically isn’t the case.  Kids generally reserve their worst behavior for family (lucky us), and they have a pretty good idea of what would and wouldn’t be considered acceptable with friends and other adults.

These little moments may not be the best part of parenting, but hang in there.  Keep in mind that a strong relationship is your best insurance against the dismissive and disrespectful attitude from our children, so don’t lose touch with them.  Find opportunities to chat and share, create little moments of connection, and soon the scales will start to tip in the other direction.

 By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Panic Attacks 101: How To Cope

sun-set-maldivesPanic attacks are tremendously exhausting and frightening experiences. Some people experience these rarely, while others may experience frequent and persistent panic attacks. Whatever your situation, here are some keys to working through panic both during an attack and before another one occurs.

 

1. Know what’s happening in your body when you panic. Get familiar with your physiological markers and symptoms for panic and know what happens for you. For example, some people might hyperventilate and feel tightness in their chest while others might feel nauseous and experience tunnel vision.

2. Remind yourself that your symptoms are not dangerous (read my other blog post here for more information). Once you know what it feels like in your body when you panic, you can remind yourself that you are having a panic attack and the symptoms you are experiencing are uncomfortable, but not threatening.

3. Identify your triggers for panic. Here is where a therapist can really help you to slow down the process and figure out what started the path to panic. When they happen again, you can take a step back and notice it.

4. Take steps to refocus your attention. If you’re feeling like you’re about to panic, or you’re in the midst of a panic attack, engage in activities that are soothing and that refocus your attention away from your body. Some examples: sing your favourite song, have a cold glass of water, start naming things you see and hear around you.

5. Use self-talk to help cope and calm down. A coping phrase might be: “This is just my body feeling anxious”, or  “I can get through this”. A therapist can help you make coping phrases specific to your panic and in your own words. Repeating your coping phrase is going to help intercept some of the cognitive triggers that lead to panic like “my heart is beating so fast I think I’m going to have a heart attack”. Once your coping phrase has helped to stop the other cognitive triggers, the anxiety cycle will begin to slow down.

You will notice that relaxation (such as deep breathing) is not included in this list. The reason behind this is that panic often stems from too much focus on your body and feared thoughts related to the sensations in your body. In other words, panic can occur when we panic about panicking. For example, if you try to do deep breathing during a panic attack, chances are this is what will happen in your head: “Okay I’m going to breathe slow and steady … My breathing isn’t slowing, I can’t get control of my breathing, what if I hyperventilate?” Notice how the thoughts became more anxious, which will perpetuate panic. In light of this, the best antidote to panic is learning not to fear it through greater understanding and self-talk. If you struggle with panic, try these strategies out and find a therapist who can help you further.

By: Beth Moore

Beth Moore Counselling & Psychotherapy

Surviving a Quarter Life Crisis

2009-09-cover-puzzle_tcm7-84442The first years of adulthood or “real life” is often a time of excitement and thrill. We are trying to become established and individuated. We are making big life decisions. We are out on our own for the first time. These are supposedly the best years of our lives, but what often gets overlooked is just how difficult this period of time can be for a lot of people. Alongside the thrill and excitement are often feelings of inadequacy, confusion, and anxiety as we move through the transitory phase. Rest assured, if you feel this way you are not alone. Many twenty and thirty-somethings will face this quarter-life crisis where there is a seeming disconnect between what is happening in our lives and what we want to be happening in our lives. Here are some tips to help survive this transitory phase:

Create Your Own Path and Stop Comparing Your Life to Other People

We develop ideas about the type of relationships we have, the stage of our career we should be in, and the commitments we should make based on societal pressure and norms that have been developed in our family and social circles. It may seem that everyone around you is excelling in their career, falling in love, and utterly satisfied with their lives but that doesn’t mean you need to be in the same place. If these are goals that you have then by all means strive for them, but try not to let the accomplishments of others be injurious to your own self-esteem. Life is not a competition. It’s okay to feel unsettled and unclear on what you want. Clarify your own hopes, dreams, and needs. Decide what will make YOU happy, and go for it.

Set Goals and Make and Action Plan

Set goals for yourself relating to all areas of your life (career, personal, relationships, etc.) and break them down into specific ambitions for short, medium, and long term (think – 1, 5, 10 years from now). Ask yourself what specific actions need to be taken in order to reach each goal. By making small sub-goals you can make things manageable and stop you from feeling overwhelmed. Creating an action plan will make you feel proactive in control, and accomplished. BUT…

Don’t Get TOO Caught up On a Timeline

We face a lot of pressure to accomplish things in our lives within a certain time frame and when we miss that “deadline” we are left feeling like we have somehow failed. We need to make plans for the future in order to stay motivated and excited about our lives but it’s important not to get too focused on time. You may have decided that you want to be set in your career, own a home, and be married by the time you’re 30, but if you’re too rigid in that timeline you’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t work out that way. Or worse, you may make decisions that are consistent with the timeline but not necessarily consistent with what truly makes you happy in life. Draft a personal and reasonable timeline for the goals that you have but be flexible if you encounter bumps it the road. You don’t need to have your whole life figured out by the time you’re 30 (and in all honesty, you probably won’t). Things will happen as they are meant to happen.

Talk it Out

It’s common to feel alone during this transition phase of your life so make use of the connections you have to other people. Opening up to friends, family, or a mentor about your struggles and you may find they’ve experienced similar crises in their lives.  It’s okay to have doubts or be dissatisfied with this period of your life. But it’s important to figure out what isn’t working for you in order to make positive changes in your life. Sharing your problems with others may lead to a wealth of advice and support in a time where guidance can be paramount to success. If you’re feeling really lost, it may be helpful to speak to a therapist to help you establish what you want out of life.

Define Success in Your Own Terms

Many of us have come to equate success with status and money. Instead of letting that be the sole definer of success, think about all the ways you can measure your own success. Perhaps it’s the feedback you receive from peers and colleagues, the difference you make in the lives of others, or the fact that you live a well-balanced life. Your definition of success should be reflective of all of your values rather than just financial gains. Acknowledge all of your achievements, past and present, to remember you have a number of things to be proud of.

By: Catherine Kamel

counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapy

3 Ways To Lessen Your Anxiety About Your New Relationship

Toronto Psychologist Healthy RelaitonshipsYou are in a new relationship. It’s magical yet unpredictable. Things seem to be going great but you may not always know what tomorrow might bring. You may have some concerning thoughts. Is trust a problem? Will the spark fizzle out in a few more months? Will your partner commit to you forever? Do you want to marry this person?

There are countless reasons why a person might be feeling anxiety in his/her relationship. However, anxiety early in a relationship often stems from issues such as commitment and trust.

It will probably be helpful to have a meeting with yourself to examine the source of your anxiety and think about the meaning of your nervousness.

It is very normal to experience some anxiety and worry during the early part of your romantic relationship. In a way, it’s a good sign. It means that your relationship is meaningful to you and that you are allowing yourself to experience some vulnerability. However, it can be uncomfortable and unhealthy to experience too much anxiety so here are three ways to bring more calm to your exciting romantic experience:

1. Examine your partner’s actions

You might feel as if you want your relationship verbally validated very regularly. However, depending on the person, this may not happen as often as you would like. Instead, look at other ways your partner tells you that he/she wants to be in the relationship. There are many ways of expressing affection other than through words and these ways can be even more powerful. Recognize the small things your partner does for you. Basically, if a person wants to be in your life, he/she will make the effort to stay there.

2. Communicate

If a relationship is starting to feel too all over the place and causing you stress, it might be time to sit down with your partner to discuss your relationship. Gently inquire where your partner’s thoughts and feelings are at and check to see if you are both on the same page. This type of conversation might be best down in a private and relaxed setting when it is an appropriate time for both of you.

3. Try to develop balanced thoughts about your relationship

The harsh reality is that many relationships end. Therefore, it might be important to value your relationship for what it is now and recognize its importance even if it will end one day. Try to remember that even if you feel a relationship ended in failure it is still a valuable lesson for the future. Remind yourself that even though you might be very sad if your relationship does not work out, you will be able to recover and move on. Empowering yourself with balanced thinking allows you to have more control over your thoughts and emotions. When you have more control over your thoughts and emotions it may help you feel more control over your anxiety about your relationship.

In the end, it is always a leap of faith!

Best of luck with your relationship! 🙂

By: Danielle Taylor

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Emotional Sunburns

purple-beach-sun-setWhat is an emotional sunburn?

Think about your last trip to sunny Miami!

There, you are soaking in the sun, partying and having the time of your life.

Then, you arrive back to cold Toronto with a painful and blistering sunburn only to have to cover up in layers, long pants, turtlenecks, extra sweaters, boots and long down filled coats.

Your friend greets you at the airport and in his excitement to greet you after your trip, he gives you a big bear hug. Ouch!!!

Not realizing that you have a sunburn on every part of your body, you scream and push him away.

What did he do? How does he feel? How do you feel?

He had no intention of hurting you and did not realize what was covered up underneath your bulky winter clothing. Yet his hug still caused you to scream and pushed him away.

Most people are walking around weighed down with their emotional sunburns. These are individual areas of sensitivity. They are our bruises from our past. They come from past negative experiences; experiences with our family, friends, and lovers.

Many people do a great job of covering their bruises up. Often, no one can see them on the outside and no one knows about them except for you. Sometimes you may not even realize how the past is affecting you in the present.

Your partner doesn’t know about all your emotional sunburns and how they are affecting you today. Next time you have a strong emotional reaction of anger, sadness, anxiety or any powerful feeling to a situation that doesn’t seem to warrant it, take some time to question your reaction and determine if your response is triggered by the present situation or perhaps if it is triggered by a past experience or relationship. Stop and think of the reasons pushing your reactions and identify your emotional sunburns.

If your current relationship is healthy, strong and safe, start sharing your experiences with your partner and work together to help to see how your past is affecting your current relationship. Your partner can become more sensitive to your reactions and you will begin to realize that what happened in the past in not reoccurring again in the present and slowly you will be able to let it go.

Keep in mind emotional sunburns are more painful than your bad burn at the beach last summer!

If you are experiencing an emotional sunburn, especially one that isn’t healing, you may want to invest in working with a therapist to help identify and work though these past hurts. This might enable you to live with renewed emotional equilibrium, without being pulled back into the past.

By: Ilana Brown

IB

Join Kimberly For An Interactive Twitter Party!

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Are you tired of this freezing weather?! When the the sun is only an occasional visitor and the temperatures have us running for the indoors, we often just want to be at home. Home fills us with those comforting and cozy feelings of welcome and warmth. We can cuddle up on the sofa with a book, light candles and sip tea in front of a crackling fire place; an escape from the harsh real world. Home is where our loved ones gather and together we can feast on home cooked meals in an elegant family dining room. Our bedrooms provide us with a safe haven for rest and sweet dreams. Have you created a “nest” for your family? Need inspiration? Look no further than Urban Barn!

To help everyone create their own perfect nesting space and to celebrate the re-opening of the revamped Urban Barn Leaside which is opening on Saturday, February 21st, Kimberly is having a Twitter Party!!

We hope you can join Kimberly as she will talk all kinds of tips and tricks to making the most of your family time as well as one-on -one time right at home!  Of course, what would a Twitter Party be without prizes!!  So much fun!  Mark your calendar right now – this party is happening this Thursday night and we’d really like to see you there!

Here are all those details again so you don’t miss a thing!

Date: Thursday Feb. 19th at 8 PM EST

Follow: @urban_barn, @KimberlyMoffit & @SassyModernMom

Hashtag: #UrbanBarnLeaside

Please RSVP using the linky below.  See you soon!

*Please be sure to enter your Twitter Handle “@yourTwitterhandle” in the Link/Blog Title field, and your Twitter URL “www.twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle” in the Link Field*



Using Stress As Fuel

1508603_562271617241727_784370639884440769_nOver the last 15 years, I have suffered from anxiety, depression and restlessness. 150 mg of Effexor
was part of my daily regime and for 12 of those 15 years I didn’t question the medication. I’d seen five therapists and accepted that I would always be “this” way.

So why change? In all honesty, I went away for a week to an all inclusive and knew I’d be drinking. It says on the bottle do not mix with alcohol, so I decided to listen (for the first time). I didn’t take my meds for the entire week and thought the anxiety was offset by the sun and booze. Acuna-Ma-ta-ta right? When I returned, I forgot to re-start taking the Effexor. I couldn’t even tell you how long I had gone without it before having a little anxiety “episode”. Only then did I realize my symptoms had not changed and I was med free! I had been pumping my body full of synthetics altering my hormones for this long and now what? My anxiety was still there and I chalked it up to a pity party of there’s something wrong with me.

Over the last 3 years I’ve been on this journey of discovery, and will be for the rest of my life. So far I’ve learned association is everything! What we associate certain emotions to, shapes how we react. We are typically taught that when we are “stressed”, feelings of anxiety and/or depression increase. We typically associate anxiety with negative, destructive thoughts. Sound familiar? Let me ask you this: How do you know you are stressed or anxious when you are? What are the emotions you experience? How does stress manifest itself with you? Some of us get chest pain, the shakes, excess sweat, the desire to isolate ourselves and the list goes on. These are emotions that we can all experience at any time and there is nothing wrong with them or us! How we handle those emotions is what truly defines who we are.

I think we have all heard of the body’s response known as “Flight or Fight”. When we are in a stressful situation our adrenal glands kick in, signaling the body to prepare itself. Usually, the go-to reaction is flight and we succumb to the notion of anxiety/stress being bad. But what if when we start to feel the chest compression and clammy hands we change our association to oh this my body telling me to prepare itself, to gear up and use this as fuel to push on? It’s our choice how to perceive that reaction. What happens when you’re on a roller coaster or meeting a crush for the second time? Similar emotions? I bet your perception of that experience is different though. How you associate the time of the emotions to the action changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always in the fight mode. Sometimes I simply sit in front of my essential
oil diffuser and breathe deep. My bed can also be very persuasive. BUT, every time I choose to
use the anxiety and stress as fuel, I am one step ahead. I choose to think I’m fortunate to experience
anxiety. It prevents me from being a procrastinator. It enables my drive and fuels my desire to constantly be better!

I hope the next time you start to feel your throat close, you lose your breath or your hands start to shake you remind yourself these feelings are good! My body is preparing itself to fight and I will use this as fuel!

In Health,

Jenna Brooks

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Staying Connected To Your Tween

The-best-top-desktop-purple-wallpapers-purple-wallpaper-purple-background-hd-28If you’re the parent of a tween, you may look at parents of younger kids, out for a walk at the mall or on their way to school, and see the little ones willingly reach for Mom or Dad’s hand…and cry a little on the inside.  You may find yourself butting heads with your 10 year old and think, what happened to the little guy who was easily distracted by a hug and a game of Uno?  Gone are the days when you begged the kids to go play in the other room because you needed some peace and quiet!  Now you’re the one being shooed out of the room.  Sigh.  We know they’re growing up, but did it have to happen so soon??  We typically expect teens to be much more connected to and interested in their friends than in their parents.  But we need to not give up on them, because friends are not a good replacement for parents.  We need to stay connected, even if that connection evolves, so that we can continue parenting and leading our kids.  And that evolution starts well before they actually hit the teen years.

Step one: spend some good time together.  Between homework and racing kids to activities, it can be easy to become disconnected.  Start by making sure that not every interaction you have with them is a negative one!  If the only time you really seem to have their attention is when you’re disciplining them, you’ve got a problem on your hands.  A few kind words in the morning, leaving little love notes for each other, a little chat over tea in the evening, interesting discussions at the dinner table, and turning off the TV and the electronics during all those windows take little time but can pay back big dividends in a relationship.  It doesn’t have to be anything big, but create some good times together. Building in regular time with you and/or as a family – weekly game nights, perhaps lessons in a sport you can do as together – helps to give you all something in common.

Spend time getting to know your kids’ friends.  If you don’t know who your tween’s best friend is, make a point of learning, pronto.  Including friends in some of your fun family outings is generally painless and informative (and may make your tween more interested in participating!).  And as far as that goes, find out more of your tween’s other “favourites”.  Nothing makes a kid sigh in exasperation louder than having his parent go on about his favourite food/tv show/singer/movie, when the kid has already moved on and has a new favourite.  Don’t get hung up on who you think your child is; you might be clinging to an idea that’s outdated, which might lead him to feel that you really don’t get him at all.  Be curious about your kids and their evolving ideas and tastes.  It’s these little things that help kids to feel as though you’re really on their side, and that you’re okay with the independence they’re developing.

Your child is turning into an adult, so don’t be afraid to change the way you relate to him or her.  Share more of yourself; talk about your day, what your “favourites” are, what you’d really like to do over the next year.  I’m not saying you should talk to her like you would your best friend, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the insight and personality that’s developing in your not-so-little one.  And the relationship you cultivate now will keep you closer and more connected in a few years when she’s just that much older.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Coming Out to Family & Friends

Getting Over BreakupWow!

Congratulations on making this decision!  But isn’t it terrifying too?! Every experience of deciding to tell your social circle you are gay, lesbian or bisexual is different. It is also unpredictable. You may assume it will be okay because you have an open-minded parent, BUT there is a difference between being open to anyone else being LGBT and your own child. This can be a challenge for any parent.

I do not say this to scare you, but to prepare you. You will need to have either a trusted person in your life to talk to during this process or a professional to support you. This is especially the case if you come from a faith community or culture in which being LGBT is simply not accepted. It is important to keep in mind that this time is not just about you. Please recognize that you may be changing the perceptions and worldview of the people in your life. This will take time. Please be compassionate but ALWAYS expect and insist on being treated with personal respect.

If you have a family that is willing to work it through with you, you will need to create a safe place for the people in your life to say and ask what they need to in order to take this new information into their spirit.

Examples:

  • Your mother may wonder what she did wrong.
  • Your sibling may feel there is an important part of you they have never known and need to grieve this.
  • Your grandmother may worry about you and you being judged by others.

Yes, there are some stereotypes inherent here and it will be easy for you get angry. However, these are also real feelings and concerns for your friends and family members. If a safe place is created to explore this together, this can be a time to strengthen yourself and your family.

However, if the reality of your family is that it is not accepted, please remember that you deserve love and respect. There is support out there. I wish you love and light!

By: Lisa Shouldice

Lisa Shouldice