Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Bell Let's Talk Day: Stress Tips and Boundaries

Bell Let's Talk Day: Stress Tips and Boundaries

Holiday Stress Tips….

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….unless you are burnt out, over spending or anxious about seeing a family member!

The holidays are wonderful, but they tend to come with some added stress for most of us.  It is mostly because people tend not to have a lot of boundaries at this time of year.  We believe we should put others’ needs ahead of our own; after all it is the season of giving, right?  Well, your therapist would tell you something different.  At this time of year it is especially important to have some healthy boundaries.

Our team at Bliss Counselling would strongly suggest using the following tips as a helpful guide to get you through this difficult time of year.

1.    Try not to take on too much. When possible, encourage people to bring a dish if you are hosting, or if you are visiting, try not to cram in going to too many places in the same day. Burning yourself out will not make your time enjoyable.
2.    Say no!!!  If you feel like you have too many things on the go, it is ok to say no.  No is an answer all in itself.  You can always suggest another day or time in the future.  Christmas Day is December 25th but we don’t have to fit everything and everyone into this ONE day.
3.    Don’t spend too much.  Some of the most valuable gifts don’t include a price tag.  One of the traditions in my family is an experience gift. Make your own gift card and suggest a day of tobogganing and hot chocolate.  You will never regret spending time with your loved ones.
4.    Don’t isolate yourself.  Some people find the holidays challenging because they feel left out.  It is always good to get out rather than to stay at home.  Find a place that brings you some joy.  Walking through a park with Christmas lights or going somewhere you can listen to music.
5.    It’s ok to honour lost loved ones, or those we can’t be close to during the holidays. 
6.    Try and stick to some of your daily routines that make you happy, like working out or enjoying a good book.
7.    If you need to take space because you are upset at something that a family member said, or just overwhelmed with the number of people around you can always go for a walk or drive, or find a quiet space to sit alone.  It’s ok to take a break from everything. 
8.    Make sure to check in with your partner prior to saying yes to things.  This is always a good check point and allows your partner to be a part of the planning process.  They may also provide you with a healthy reminder of when it might be time to say no to something.

Tammy Benwell is a Registered Social Worker who holds an undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Waterloo and Master’s degree in Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University. Her formal training focused on interventions for individuals, families, and groups, across various therapeutic orientations.
Ms. Benwell has been afforded extensive opportunities working in mental health, supporting clients with various mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and trauma. Tammy can assist individuals with relationship struggles, codependency, infidelity, separation and divorce, substance abuse, low self-esteem, family concerns, and life transitions. She has additional training in the areas of trauma counselling, and has been trained in EMDR through the Niagara Stress and Trauma Clinic.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Travelling tips

If you are planning on escaping, take a few minutes to read over some tips and tricks so you arrive to your destination healthy and happy. 


When flying, drinking adequate water is important. You are spending a long period of time in a confined space with recycled air, reduced oxygen and low humidity. This will seriously dehydrate you. As you know, your body requires water to perform properly. If are trying not to drink water, because you do not want to use the tiny bathrooms, you might pay a heavy price dehydrating yourself. Being dehydrated will worsen the physical symptoms of jet leg, trouble sleeping, fatigue, irritability, headaches, tummy upset and trouble focusing. 

It is also a good idea to avoid liquids that might further dehydrate you, such as caffeine and alcohol, and overly salty and processed foods/snacks. 

So take home message, drink plenty of water before you board the plane, during and after your flight. It will help you fight jet leg, lessen muscle cramping and keep your skin hydrated. 


Packing healthy snacks that you are used to eating in your every day diet will help you, and your gut, during the trip. You want to avoid overly salty and sugary snacks which will dehydrate you and lower your immune system. 

Instead focus on snacks that will give you the energy boost without the sugar. Look for snacks that are high in protein and contain healthy fats. This will keep you satisfied longer. 

Some great options would include;

  • Trail Mix- build your own with your favourite seeds, dried fruits and nuts. 
  • Protein Bars or Balls- Look for bars with low sugar such as Lara bars or Vega Bars. Avoid just fruit bars as they will not give you the fats or proteins you need, just a sugar spike..and then crash. Protein balls are quick and easy to make as well. Check out chocolate protein balls and cookies and almond cups

  • Granola Clusters- Homemade packed with seeds, sunflower (or nut) butter, spices and some dried fruit. I have made two varieties from Oh She Glows and they are both delicious snacks and additions to smoothies. 


The noise and lights are very distracting and unavoidable when you are trying to catch some zzzzz's  and pass the time. 

Make sure to pack a sleep mask, to block out the over head lights and give your eyes a break from the blue light devices. 

To tune out the noises around you, pack some ear plugs or noise cancelling head phones. This way you can have some downloaded guided meditation, sleep music or calming sounds to help transport you out 
of the air plane cabin. 

Bringing along a natural sleep support like melatonin to help you rest up during the travels can also be helpful, especially if you are changing time zones.  


A lot of germs are crawling around the cabin and the last thing you want when you arrive at your destination is to fall ill. 

Making sure you wash your hands pre boarding, on the plane and when you get off is key when trying to eliminate exposure to germs. Some other methods to keep the bugs at bay would be to;

  • Pack your carry on with some natural boosters like Vitamin C or a combination like St. Francis Deep Immune. This will help combat anything that might try to latch onto you. These can both be started before travel and after to help keep your immune system strong.
  • When traveling to a country with foreign foods or if you are planning on eating foods out of your 'norm', bringing along good quality probiotics is a great idea. This will help protect your gut so the experience is more enjoyable. Probiotics can survive at room temperature for a few days but when you arrive you want to make sure you put them in the refrigerator.  

  • Finally, a golden rule when flying is when you get to your destination you want to shower, to scrub off any microbes,  and strip off all your travel clothing to go right into the laundry for a wash. 


Sitting for a long time can cause discomfort and cramping of the muscles along with possible risk of blood clots. You want to make sure you do some movements, especially for your lower legs, when you are on the plane. 

Consider wearing compression stockings for part of the flight to help with blood circulation and decrease swelling and stiffness in your feet during your journey. 

Another easy thing would be to do some mini exercises such as calf-raises, toe gripping and ankle circles. Getting up and walking the aisle is also a good way to get the blood pumping and stretching out your entire body. 

We hope you find these tips helpful in staying healthy during travel so you fully enjoy your well deserved time off. This list does not replace individualized health advice. You should talk to your healthcare provider before travel.

A Naturopathic Doctor can provide you with high quality supplements and know your medical history to find out what plan is right for you.  

Making sure your body is also ready for the journey ahead is a great de-stresser idea so that you leave the aches and pains behind. Booking in for your massage therapy, osteopathic, physiotherapy or chiropractic appointment prior to taking off ensures your body is ready. Your team of practitioners can re-align your body, de-stress and loosen your muscles for the journey and the activities ahead. They can also give you individualized stretches to do on route or when you land. 

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Resolution & Good Intentions


It's that time of year again where we take stock of the last year and start to look towards our goals and resolutions for the new year. It's a great time to reconnect to your values and decide which direction you want to focus for the coming year.  Have you ever set a resolution you haven't achieved? We are all guilty of what I call 'The new year resolution dilemma'. It happens when we set ourselves lofty, and somewhat, unrealistic goals. How we set up our goals is just as important as the goals we choose. Here's a few things to consider while you plan for the year ahead:

Set realistic goals - Real change comes from small and sustainable changes. If you are looking at changing your diet or exercise regimens or learning a new hobby its helpful to keep in mind that these are lifestyle changes and should be a part of a balanced life. Be mindful of your language as you set goals - they are meant to prop you up and support your growth not to tear you down! 

Plan for real-life - There will be days when you are short on time, feeling sick, having a bad day or even on vacation. Have a backup plan for the days when life is happening so you can do a little something every day towards your goal. Did you get derailed? That's okay - life isn't about being perfect it's about being resilient. Have a plan for how you will keep yourself accountable when you have stopped making progress towards your goals. Don't let yourself get stuck in the shame spiral -setbacks happen and the best way to overcome them is having a plan! 

Have check in's - The best way to know if you are on track to meet your goals and keep your motivation flowing is to have check-ins along the way. Make sure your goals are measurable and revisit them frequently. I like to review my goals monthly as this allows me to notice where I'm doing well and what I have been neglecting before too much time passes and I lose momentum. 

Good intentions

Generally, new years resolutions are made for changes we want to make but often we focus more on end results or vague, sweeping resolutions instead of how we are going to get there or why we want to make the changes we do. It is also common to fall into the trap of making New Year's resolution from a negative place, instead of positive intentions.

For example, probably the most common New Year's resolutions is losing weight. Great, but what does this really mean and why are you making it your goal. When it comes to weight loss goals, think about why you want to lose weight. Is it because you want to feel better, have more energy or just be healthier? Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, focus on why you want to achieve this goal and changes that need to be made to reach those goals. This is also the important part of setting resolutions from a positive place instead of a negative- if the focus is on feeling better and how you are going to achieve that, it's a much more positive mindset than, "I weigh too much I need to lose weight."

Rome wasn't built in a day and neither are lifestyle changes. It has actually been shown to take any where from 2 to 8 months to form a new habit (not the often quoted 21 days). So, set small changes and focus on those one at a time to ensure a lifestyle change vs a crash course that doesn't last. 

Try setting smaller, monthly changes that combined will help you reach your end goal. In the case of weight loss, for example, instead of vague "I want to eat healthier", quantify it. Maybe it's I want to eat 5 servings of vegetables a day, or I want to only have treats on the weekends or even I want to have only 1 cup of coffee/day. Focus this one goal for the entire month before adding another change.

Don't throw in the towel if things get off course or you mess up. Studies have also shown that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” Building new habits is not an all or nothing situation, it's a process.

Remember there are many factors that affect any resolution. If we look at the weight loss example again, yes, diet and exercise are the most common things that people think of, but there are other factors that will affect this goal- stress reduction, sleep, caffeine intake, water intake- just to name a few.  All of these are just as important when it comes to sustainable lifestyle changes and reaching your goals.

The new year is definitely the most common time for people to set goals and plan to make changes, but remember every day is a new opportunity. Even if you veer off course, you can recommit any day of the year!

Happy New Year and here's to reaching whatever goals you are hoping for in 2019!