18 May 2023

Self-Care vs Self-Soothing


Surely someone has suggested that you do more “self-care.” Such as, taking time to have a bubble bath, get a massage, or watch your favourite show. While they are trying to be kind, it feels like the recommendation misses the mark. This is because we have grouped together activities that soothe us and activities that care for us.

Self-soothing is activities that help distract us and provide comfort during a difficult time. These are things such as smelling the flowers, getting a massage, comfort foods, playing your favourite video game, having a bubble bath, bingeing your favourite show, singing loudly, or taking a break from responsibilities. In the simplest way, these provide an escape during distressing times.

Whereas self-care is activities that give us meaning and support our growth. Going to therapy, getting appropriate medical care, getting enough sleep, exercising, having boundaries, eating healthily, and connecting with people that provide reciprocal care, are all examples of self-care activities. It is a way of prioritizing your own well-being.

It is important that self-care is a daily habit or ritual. Starting off the day with care and self compassion makes you better able to navigate any of the difficulties that life may throw at you during the day.

Christine Miserandino in 2003 came up with the Spoon Theory. It was this idea that each day we have a certain amount of spoons to get through the days activities. For example, let’s say you have 12. Activities such as getting ready for work, getting the kids to school, commuting to work may each take two spoons; then you are left with six spoons for the remainder of the day. Then by the end of the work day you have no spoons left. You are on empty and drained. 

Self-soothing may be useful to then comfort ourselves to get through the rest of the day. Whereas Self-care may help extend the spoons, reducing the cost of each activity.

One isn’t better than the other, it’s a matter of timing. Sometimes self-soothing will be the most beneficial activity, and other times it may be self-care.

Just remember that it is important to prioritize yourself. Schedule time in your calendar so that you can practice self-soothing or self-care. If you don’t, you just might forget to.

26 April 2023

12 Ways To Reduce Anxiety


Anxiety is one of the most common mental health concerns, affecting up to 20% of Canadians over their lifetime. It can happen at any point during the lifespan, and impacts your thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and body.

Anxiety can be helpful, such as when we see a bear on a path. Anxieties job is to alert us of the danger and to keep us safe and alive. Anxiety becomes problematic happens when our body is preparing for a threat that isn’t actually there, or the reaction is disproportionate to the stressor, such as a math class.

Problematic anxiety gets in the way of being able to do regular work or school activities, gets in the way of relationships, and makes the individuals world smaller. If this is happening to you, or someone you care about, consider talking to your family doctor, counsellor, or a mental health professional.

Sometimes we need to calm the mind in order to calm the body; and other times we need to soothe the body to calm the mind. 

Here are some tips on how to manage and reduce anxiety:

1. Meditation: Allows us to slow down and calm our body and mind, keeping anxiety at bay. It doesn’t have to be a meditation marathon, even just five to ten minutes is beneficial.

2. Exercise: Regular exercise can lower our stress levels making us better able to manage our anxiety.

3. Breathing: Practicing breathing deeply, all the way to our belly, helps alleviate stress and can lower our heart rate.

4. Reality Check: Using thought challengers of “do I have good reasons that something will go wrong?” or “is there a chance I am over worried?” or “what would I do for a friend having these thoughts?” can all help challenge anxious thoughts.

5. Time Limit: Having a set aside worry time for 5-15 minutes gives a space, albeit limited, for anxiety to have a voice – but it only gets a voice during that time. You may need to remind anxious thoughts that they are only allowed during a certain time.

6. Eat Healthy: Reducing sugar foods and eating a balanced diet can help our body be healthier to fight off anxiety.

7. Limit Caffeine: Caffeine elevates the body and can magnify anxiety struggles.

8. Pet: Cuddling and petting your dog or cat can help regulate and soothe the body. Pets can be very nurturing.

9. Spend Time With People You Care About: Sharing space with people who make you feel safe, seen and understood can help soothe the body and manage anxiety. Not to mention, it feels good to be around people we care about and who care about our wellbeing.

10. Sleep: If we don’t get enough sleep, we have less gas in the tank to be able to manage the days stressors, including anxiety. Making sure you get adequate sleep can help reduce anxiety.

11. Music: Listening to soothing music – whatever that may be – can help calm our body and mind.

12. Journal: Journaling can be very cathartic. There is something wonderfully freeing that happens when we allow our anxious thoughts to go from our mind to a piece of paper.

Give some of these a try to see what works, or what doesn’t work for you. It’s trail and error; but also takes practice.

If you want to learn more about anxiety, Anxiety Canada is an excellent resource.

18 January 2023

Wellness Wednesday: Navigating BC's Mental Health Services for children and youth.

Kelty Mental Health created an excellent video on how to navigate BC's mental health services for children and youth.

Trying to figure out what to do can be difficult and overwhelming as a parent/caregiver.

This video talks about the four ways to start getting support for your child having a mental health struggle.

1. Family Doctor or Nurse Practitioner

2. Your child's teacher and/or school counsellor

3. A private mental health worker (counsellor or psychologist)

4. Child and Youth Mental Health, or Indigenous Child & Youth Mental Health.

If you have any questions about connecting yourself or your child with mental health services, please feel free to contact me.

07 December 2022

Wellness Wednesday: December Self-Care Ideas

The days are getting shorter and shorter which can make it difficult to think of ideas of self-care. 

Here's a list of 20 ideas. Pick three and give them a try!