Tag Archives: Self-Care

Procrastination: Tips to Stop Waiting and Start Doing!

Infinity time spiral 15267876“I”ll do it later.” – the anthem of the procrastinator. Too often later never comes around or we wait so long that we have to scramble to get things done. Procrastination can be the monkey on your back that you feel you just can’t shake off. The best thing to do is to understand why you are procrastinating and work from there.

There can be numerous reasons for procrastination. One may feel as though they do not have the skills or tools needed to complete the task, so it is put off. The task could also seem unimportant, thus lacking the motivational qualities for you to start working on it. Another common reason for procrastination is a fear of the outcome. You may have been in the same situation before and things turned out poorly, so, you are avoiding the outcome by avoiding the task. On the other hand, it may be that you have no clue what the end result will be, thus you are steering away from the potentially perilous unknown. What is important here is to note that the act of procrastination varies between tasks and people. We don’t procrastinate on everything and we don’t always procrastinate on the same thing in the same way. So how can you decrease the possibility of procrastination? Know yourself.

One of the best things to do is to NOT label yourself a procrastinator. We tend to act in self-confirming ways. So if you think you’re a procrastinator, you will procrastinate. The second thing to do is to recognize why you are procrastinating and correct the issue. If you think the task is too boring, find meaning in it. Yes, the 12 page essay on cyberbullying may be tedious, but consider all of the information you will gain that will help you keep your future children protected from it. If you feel like you are lacking a skill, see this as an alarm to spring into action and find the proper resources to solve that issue.

By changing your perspective of procrastination so that it is an alert rather that a barrier, you can change your slacker ways into proactive ones.

When A Family Member Has A Mental Illness

selfcareThere’s lots of information out there about different mental illnesses and how to find help or treatment for them.  But what is often missing is advice for you on how to cope when it’s your child or another family member who has the mental illness.  Perhaps you’ve connected this person with great resources and treatment is progressing as expected, but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t a ripple effect created that impacts you and your family.  Here are three tips for helping yourself, while you’re helping your family member.

Accept your feelings.  You might feel shame, anger, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment.  All of these feelings are normal.   It’s hard to let go of the dreams we have for our children or our families, and sometimes a mental illness gets in the way of those dreams coming true.  Maybe it will help to know that everyone in your position runs through a gamut of emotions; you’re not alone (even if it feels that way).  Sometimes life is challenging in ways we don’t expect, and in those cases, we just do the best we can.  Under these circumstances, advocating for your ill family member and taking care of the business of running your family can seem like an enormous responsibility at times, but remind yourself that anyone in your shoes would feel the same and that you’re doing the best you can.

Develop coping strategies.  There are going to be lots of things you can’t control, so get control where you can.  Whether it’s regular exercise to offset stress, or a monthly night out, or a few minutes with a book before bed, do what you can to impose a little bit of order and structure to your days.  Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have; it’s important to fill your tank up, too, in order to be able to give your best to your family.  You deserve to have moments of relaxation, and joy, and peace, so create those moments in whatever way you can.

You may also need some coping strategies for dealing with your loved one’s behaviour, either at home or out in public.  Plan ahead for these situations as best you can, and remind yourself that it isn’t personal.  Don’t let public pressure or the judgment of others keep you from doing what you know is best for your family.  Have a plan in place for the unexpected, so you’re not derailed by a crisis.

And finally, stay connected.  Maintain a relationship with your partner; don’t let that become a casualty of the illness.  You’ll feel better if you believe that you have a partner in all that you’re going through, so keep that relationship strong.  Seek out support from others who can relate to your challenges or who are reliably there for you, whether that’s an association or support group, a therapist, or a friend or family member.  It’s hard not to worry about being judged for what your family member is doing or experiencing – sometimes people are not very compassionate about the struggles of others and worry only how it might impact them.  Don’t let this get you down or lead you to shut down about your struggles.  It’s not your responsibility to educate every thoughtless person you meet, but at the same time, staying quiet and not sharing your story keeps the whole topic out of conversation and continues the cycle of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Mental illness can have far-reaching effects on a family, but don’t let it define you.  Know that you’re doing the best you can in exceptional circumstances, have a plan in place and strategies to cope, and don’t let yourself become isolated.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Are you a Therapist? Why Self-Care is Even More Important for You

I-Love-Me-written-in-sandThe practice of psychotherapy is unique, creative, and multifaceted. Although therapists are trained to care for others, we often do a poor job of care for ourselves. Self-Care is defined as the integration of a therapist’s emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health. In essence therapist self-care encompasses understanding and attending to the needs of one’s self; balance in one’s life; the quality of one’s life; serves as protection against burnout; influences client care; and is related to connecting to social support systems.

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Creating a daily/weekly self-care plan would be a great way to start giving attention to and managing your self-care. Take some time to ask yourself what you need on a daily basis to refuel and reset in order to operate at your apex in your clinical work. However before you do that, please take a few moments to explore your current thoughts and practices about self-care.

Therapist Self-care Self-Assessment

1. How important is self-care to you?
2. What do you need to refuel and refocus daily?
3. What shifts do you need to make to meet your self-care needs?
4. How would your clinical work be influenced if you were attending to your self-care?
5. How would your personal life be influenced if you were managing your self-care?

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The practice of self-care is an intentional, ongoing, and advantageous practice. Although the above-mentioned statement may seem obvious, it is easy to fall into a routine of daily life which may deny the energy needed to attend to caring for the self. Caring for ourselves deserves to be looked upon from the perspective of resource management. Likewise, therapists must continually develop and cultivate their most precious resource which is ultimately themselves.

By: Tequilla L. Hill

HillTequilla

How to Balance Personal Care and Raise a Family

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in Toronto

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in Toronto

When I first started my undergrad studies 13 years ago I attended school with a famous retired movie actress from London, England.  She one day asked me out to lunch and took me to a very swanky restaurant in Toronto and gave me the best advice I have heard till this day.  She told me all about her life as an actress and then when she married and become a wife and mother.  She told me “Dayana always remember, if you don’t take care of yourself first, then you won’t have anything to offer your children when you are spent”.  At that time I was 20 years old and the world was my oyster.  Marriage?! Please!! I was never getting married or having kids!! I was going to go to graduate school, be a famous psychologist (in my mind) and raise my three dogs!  However for some reason those word always remained.

Now let’s flash forward 13 years later.  I currently have three children all under the age of four, one dog, a husband, a house to maintain, a private practice to work in and I’m applying for my Ph.D. next year.  Needless to say my “never getting married or having kids” theme went out the window with raising my three kids instead of dogs at this point.  However the one thing that has never changed for me regardless of how busy I have become is remembering to take care of myself.  Don’t get me wrong at times I have completely forgotten about myself when life became too hectic.  However all it took was one look into the TTC subway window doors for me to say “wow you should have really combed your hair this morning”.  For anyone who rides the subway, you completely understand what I am saying here.  My friend calls it the “subway window check”.  That when you begrudgingly cram yourself into a tiny tin subway cart and turn around to stare out the window and you catch the first glimpse of what you really look like in the morning.  Or more like what you really look like to the world.

Part of raising a family means having very little time for your self. Nonetheless, part of maintaining a healthy attitude and outlook on life is providing personal care for yourself in order to maintain a beautiful mindset.  Beauty at the end of the day is a mindset.  No amount of makeup or clothes you wear will ever make you feel beautiful if you don’t already believe that within your inner self.   However how you look and physically feel about yourself does play a big role on your attitude and outlook.   So lets look at four areas where small changes can help!

Time

No matter who you are, what you do for a living or how many kids you have; we all have the same amount of time in a day, 24 hours and no more.  How you divide your time and how you manage it is up to you.  Part of what happens when you start providing no personal care for yourself is when we stop carving out time to do this.  Make sure you take time out during your busy day or week to do something awesome for yourself.  My children normally nap during the day from 12pm-2pm.  During this time I will read a book, nap, paint my nails, do my hair, pluck my eyebrows or whatever needs to be done on me.  I don’t always get to do this all the time, however when I do get the time I take advantage of it.  Dishes will always need to be done and laundry will always need to be folded.  But if I look more like the disheveled house maid and less like the one that owns the house, well then maybe I need to take a step back and re-evaluate my time.  Since time is limited for everyone scheduling in a “you” day even if it be for an hour can really make a difference.

Sleep

There’s an old saying “manage your time or someone else will manage it for you”.  I use to love to sleep in.  Sleep to me is the best thing ever created.  However once I had children, I realized that my sleep schedule was now being dictated accordingly to my children’s sleeping patterns.  Someone once told me “you can either accept the fact that after having kids you will never truly have uninterrupted sleep for a while, or you can fight against it and frustrate yourself even more”.  Once I realized the truth in this speech, I gave up the idea of sleep on my schedule and readjusted my thinking and time frames.   I can’t say I get 6-8 hours of sleep at night.  Last week I got 4 hours in two days because of work and the kids.  However, I can say that I no longer carry a negative mindset about sleeping.  I now realize that my sleep will be affected for a while and the best thing I can do is adjust my attitude towards it.  I also bought really good concealer to cover up those dark under eye circles on days that I don’t get much (or any sleep) like last week!

Beauty

Beauty is really skin deep.  However with all that being said, if your outside reflects more like you have been hit by a tornado of sharks (hey I saw the movie) then few people will approach you thinking you have actually been hit by a tornado of sharks.  When I was growing up my mother always said “Dayana the day you have kids you will cut your hair short in order to save on time”.  I have three kids and the youngest is 9 months old.  My hair touches my lower back.  I have no plans of cutting it soon.  Sure does it take time to wash, dry and style? No doubt.  However I know short hair does not suit me and I will not affect my own self esteem simply to save time.  Instead, in the last four years of raising my children I have made it a point to always crave out time during the week to keep my appearance reasonable. Sure at times I have not always looked the greatest, but those days have only been far, few and in between.  If I can take time out to shower, eat and dress and then I can also take a few extra minutes to comb my hair and slap on some lip gloss.  Your appearance speaks volumes about you.  The last thing I want is people wondering if I live an unhappy life because I constantly look like I rolled out of bed. Rolling out of bed is not a look.  Period.  How you see yourself in the mirror reflects greatly on what is going on inside you mentally.  So pay attention to your appearance as your children see it as well.

Mindset

Your mindset is either your greatest weapon or worse enemy in keeping up with your personal care. If you believe giving up all rights to yourself and devoting them solely to your kids and household will benefit you then be careful, as everyone burns out with no personal care.  This is like the workaholic who never stops working and neglects themselves for the sake for other duties.  Everyone crashes and burns when they “don’t stop to smell the roses”.  My kids need all my love and attention and I make sure to give it to them.  However if I offer nothing to myself and I am spent with nothing to give them, then what exactly am I am offering them if I am all burnt out?  This is how frustration, resentment and depression can potentially set in.  In my practice I have seen many parents burnt out because of lack of personal care.  Make sure to always take care of yourself, there is only one of you and many people depend on your better wellbeing.

By: Dayana Romero

Dayana Romero

How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep

How to Get a Better Night's Sleep Toronto - Toronto Psychologists at KMA Therapy

How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep Toronto – Toronto Psychologists at KMA Therapy

Evenings can be a daunting time for those of us who have trouble sleeping. I’ve received countless questions over time on how to get a better night’s sleep. Whether you’re up worrying through the night, a restless sleeper, or just have trouble falling asleep, these tips are for you!

1. Keep Active During the Day: One of the most proven ways to sleep better at night is to get a light amount of exercise during the day, whether a long walk, lightly cleaning the house, doing laundry, or even stretching. Vigorous exercise is even better for sleep – if you’re up for it, try yoga, running, or my personal favourite for mental health, swimming (with a visit to the sauna or steam room after!)

2. Create a Bedtime Routine: It might sound juvenile, but establishing a set routine that occurs each night before bed is proven to send triggers to your brain, which makes you feel more sleepy. Whether it’s reading a book for 30 minutes, listening to calming music, or writing in your journal, this activity will likely become enjoyable for you in time.

3. Drink Something Warm: Warm milk, hot water with lemon, and herbal tea all have something in common. They all have the ability to make us feel sleepy – and that’s not just because milk contains tryptophan (which can be encouraged with foods that are high in carbohydrates such as a cookie) and together produce serotonin in the brain. These physiological benefits are outweighed by the psychological association of something warm with comfort, relaxation, and health. If you include a warm drink in your bedtime routine, you can also reinforce sleepiness!

4. Find an Outlet to Deal with Worry: Whether seeking the help of a therapist or friend to help you sort out what’s bothering you, writing in a journal, or tackling the worrisome thoughts head on by addressing them, it’s important to deal with problems when they come up. Otherwise, they can follow you into the bedroom, and that can have a negative impact on not only your sleeping habits, but also intimacy with your partner.

5. Practice the Art of Self-Care: Find a place or environment that helps you calm your mind and visit it often. My personal favourites? Attending yoga class, visiting the spa on a regular basis, taking walks in nature, and even going for massage therapy improve overall relaxation, which in turn helps you get a better sleep.