Relationships. This is what research is showing us:
“People who work on their relationships and stay in relationships are happier”, explains Dr. Waldinger in summarizing the Harvard Study of Adult Development that followed more than 700 men from 1938 until now. The research found that:
- Social connection appears to be a strong predictor of health and longevity.
- Isolation and loneliness on the other hand appear to be toxic. People experiencing more isolation have health decline earlier in life and brain function decline sooner.
- Relationships high in conflict are also bad for your health. Those satisfied in their marriages at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.
- According to Dr.Waldinger, “Staying connected and involved is actually a form of taking care of yourself, just like eating right or exercise.”
Here are some tips and tools to help your relationship thrive:
- Time together. In our hurried lives filled with children, work, activities, and smart phones, time together requires planning. Many of the couples in counselling simply are not getting enough time together. Prioritizing time with your partner reminds them that they matter to us. Within a week, spend time with your partner doing something you mutually enjoy or trying out something new.
- Daily check in. Healthier couples make time to ‘checkin’ with one another on a regular basis with your partner. Share personal subjects beyond parenting and household tasks. Listen to your partner’s personal perspectives and feelings. This will help you stay connected to your partner over the long haul.
- Put your device down. We are a inundated by a barrage of social media demands on our time. Turn off your notifications when you get home from work. When you see your spouse, with your actions, send them the message that they are your priority.
- Listen. Again our hurried lifestyle can interfere with the simple task of listening .Let go of your thoughts while you focus on what your partner is saying. Ask questions to further understand their perspective. Actively practicing empathy is another way you communicate to your partner that you care.
- Stay engaged with kindness. Conflict comes up in all relationships but it’s how we deal with that conflict that determines the health of our relationship. Research shows that anger and contempt are linked to higher rates of divorce. Couples that resort to criticism, yelling or withdrawing from the discussion are more likely to break up than couples that fight consistently. Staying engaged with respect is key to the health of your relationship.
- When should couples seek help?All relationships have their ups and downs but some factors such as finances, parenting and mental health are often the subject of reoccurring conflicts. Repeated versions of the same arguments over and over are a sign that it might be time visit a couple’s counsellor.
We hope this helps to clarify a few priorities for you when considering what you bring to the health of your relationship. Remember we can only control what we bring to our key relationships!
By Heather Bach MA, CCC
Bach Counselling Group
Wishing you all a restful and delicious summer.
Cameron Gibson is speaking at our local high schools helping youth deal with stress! Cameron has spoken about mindfulness and the strategies to move beyond stress at Carson Graham Secondary and West Vancouver Secondary School.
Date: January 9th/2018 and June 5th/2018
If you’d like Cameron to speak at your school contact us: email@example.com/ 604-904-0898
We all know that too often sleep either doesn’t come easily, or for last long enough. A recent National Sleep Foundation pollfound that adults need an average of 7.5 – 8 hours sleep a night. That sounds lovely, but how often does that happen for you on
consecutive nights? ….So many of us are consistently unable to shut off the minds once in bed; or we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t return to sleep. It’s frustrating! But why is this and what can we do to make change??
The same Sleep Foundation poll showed a downward trend in sleep with an average of 6.4 hours. The culprits? …..Not surprisingly two of the main offenders are nighttime internet use and/or doing work at home at night. Both are directly linked to poor sleep and poor sleep hygiene. And while anxiety and depression can make sleep more challenging, it’s well-known that less sleep is what makes both worse.
Sleep is key to overall good health and optimum functioning. So, here are the simple steps to take to improve your sleep.
- Set a consistent sleep and wake-up time. Go to bed at about the same time each night….that means you might need to avoid binging on that extra Netflix episode no matter how tempting! …Then get up at the same time each morning. As nice as it may be to have a long sleep in on the weekend, try to limit sleeping in to no more than an hour past your usual wake-up time. This will help to get your body into a healthy sleep cycle.
- Limit the caffeine. Avoid caffeine after noon. Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate and energy drinks. If you like a coffee, limit it to the morning.
- Limit the alcohol. While alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, it will cause disturbed sleep. The stimulating effect of alcohol on your body results in lots of tossing and turning in bed.
- Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. Keep work, texting, and watching TV out of the bed. This will train your brain and body to know that it’s a space for sleeping.
- Take a break if you can’t sleep. If you find that you can’t sleep after lying in bed for about 15 minutes, then get up and do something quiet and relaxing; read a book or listen to music. Don’t watch TV, don’t surf the net, and don’t work or text. These stimulate you. When you feel sleepy then go back to bed. If you still can’t sleep then get up and repeat these strategies. Don’t worry…you are training your body that sleeping (not thinking or tossing and turning!) is what happens in bed. And if you wake very early in the morning, use this same strategy. And, no matter what time you fall asleep, still get up at the same time in the morning.
- Stop the worry! Have you found that the worries seem to start the moment your head hits the pillow? Try keeping a notepad next to your bed so that when you have a thought or a worry you can jot it down. Then come back to it the next day. If you find you’re still thinking about it, simply remind yourself that you’ve already planned to deal with it tomorrow; not now. Worries generally seem bigger in the night, so leave it until morning when you’re rested.
- Take medications as prescribed. Always take medications as they are prescribed. Check with your pharmacist or family doctor before trying an over-the-counter medication for sleep, and never take a sleep medication that is prescribed for someone else.
Restoring healthy patterns of sleep won’t happen overnight 😉 ….. Give it time and it WILL happen. We’re here to help you achieve your goals.
Michelle Moloney MA, RCC
Anxiety rates are on the increase.
Here are some tools to help manage the uncomfortable sensations and thoughts that accompany anxiety.
- Acknowledge and accept your anxiety. Fighting and judging your anxiety will only increase your discomfort and distress. Allowing the sensations of anxiety while telling yourself that, “this is in fact okay”, may seem counterintuitive but worth a try. Breathe and notice that you are okay regardless of the discomfort.
- Exercise– Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity releases chemicals in your brain that improve mood and promote relaxation. Simply getting active for a 20 minute brisk walk daily is a great place to start….start today, one walk!
- Take a break from your busy mind that is one of the key symptoms of anxiety. Pull your attention outside of your mind to your environment, to the temperature, the lighting, the sensation of your walking, the feeling of a leaf in your hand, and/or the taste of your food. This is an immediate tool to slow down your mind and bring your attention to the present where nothing bad is occurring!
- Observe your self-talk and invite compassionate reassuring statements over negative thoughts. Do this simply for a few moments and notice the difference. Remember experimenting with different ways of responding to anxiety is key.
- Give yourself some relaxation time doing something you enjoy. For example, A bath, petting your pet, reading a few pages from a book, chatting with a friend you enjoy. What do you enjoy doing and how can you do this for yourself today.
Remember, you are not alone in dealing with anxiety. It is a common experience. Give yourself the attention you need to help calm your mind and body today.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
Mindfulness has been found to decrease racial bias and judgement.
Cameron Gibson, part of the BCG counselling team, speaks on Youth & Mindfulness at the Hope Centre’s Mental Health Breakfast on Jan 12th. In his presentation, Cameron Gibson will explain the neuroscience behind mindfulness, and the effects of stress and the stress responses. He will review relevant and recent research showing the health benefits of mindfulness in everyday life for children, youth, and adults. Furthermore, Cameron will present research showing the effectiveness of mindfulness in treating mental health diagnoses like anxiety depression, ADHD and eating disorders.
Cameron will illustrate the process of using mindfulness and invite the audience to participate with techniques using breathe, the body scan, and bringing attention to thoughts, sensations and feelings. He will discuss different types of mindfulness applications to be used in daily life, and approaches for those struggling with anxiety. Cameron will conclude with research highlighting the prevalence of anxiety in children, and functional tools for parents helping their children more effectively cope with anxiety.
Cameron Gibson is a mental health counsellor here on the North Shore with the Bach Counselling Group. He treats youth and young adults dealing with anxiety, depression, developmental disabilities, and ADHD. Cameron’s family immigrated to Canada from Scotland at the age of six, settling in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. After his work on fish farms outside of Gold River in his early twenties, Cameron decided to combine his passion for skateboarding with his interest in mentoring youth. He taught skateboarding to at risk and developmentally disabled youth. For eight years Cameron has worked with non-profit organizations, applied behavioral analysis youth residence and the Vancouver School Board. More recently he joined the Bach Counselling Group and the Broadway Youth Resource Centre while finishing his graduate work in Counselling Psychology. Cameron practices Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and brings his training in this evidence-based method to youth and young adults with great success. With this training MBSR has become integral to his work with clients.
For Questions and/or an appointment, book on our website or Cameron can be reached at:
Location: The Hope Centre, 1337 St. Andrews Ave, NV
Date: Jan 12th at 8am
Most emotional eaters dread the holiday season with its treats, food focused social events and hyper buffets. That’s because food is the socially acceptable addiction, compulsion and even obsession. For emotional eaters, this can make the holidays a time of self-loathing, complexity and strain. We hope these few tips can help you more successfully negotiate this seasonal food-fest:
- Plan, Plan, Plan! And write down your danger zones.
Danger zones are those times, people and places that are most challenging for you; when you find yourself walking away feeling out of control and beating yourself up having eaten too much for your own comfort. So, when you know one of these dangers – places, people or times – is approaching, PLAN how you will get through with minimal harm to yourself. Yes, I mean food harm. Those might be times when your behavior with food has you riddled with guilt and even wishing to hide from your loved ones. If the buffet or a larger meal event is your danger place, ask yourself, “What can I do to manage at this meal-focused event?” Make a plan ahead of time.
Make a list of items that take from 2-minutes to a full day. These items are things you do for yourself where you are a priority, where you feel loved and cared for by that most important person, you. This will increase your attention to balance at a time of year which is all about giving and taking care of others. Emotional eaters are typically caregivers and their weak spot is self-care. Remember when you are cared for, you have more to bring to your loved ones.
Emotional eating is closely linked to anxiety. So, slow down…..and breathe. Take notice of how you are feeling in your body. Notice that you are okay for that moment when all you need is to breath.
Emotional eaters are so overly focused on others, they often forget to notice and take care of their own boundaries. Ask yourself, “Where is my limit?” Perhaps you can only stay at that family event for 1.5 hours rather than 5. Take care of yourself. Emotional eating is the body’s way of getting your attention and telling you that something is wrong. You have limits, so slow down and listen to them. And make your plans with full consideration of those limits. Assertiveness is simply declaring your boundaries. Following through with these limits is simply asserting your needs with yourself and with others. You have a right to this so take that small risk with those who care for you and be more assertive today, and throughout the holidays.
- Take a risk.
Take risks with family and friends even when they are not used to you setting limits. Emotional eating is one way for us to hide from the risks of interpersonal intimacy. Take the risk to let them know you’re experimenting with some limits or boundaries and that you appreciate their willingness to support you.
- Plan, Plan, Plan 2.0.
If you have a danger food that you know weakens your resolve, plan around it. Be honest with yourself about your vulnerability with certain foods. It’s OK. Plan accordingly and don’t have this food in your house over the holidays. Ask your family for support with this. Their understanding will surprise you
- Don’t restrict!
This may sound crazy but we know emotional eaters chronically restrict in attempt to counter their emotional eating behavior. Restricting radically increases emotional eating behavior. Eat every 2.5-3 hours, even if it’s simply a small handful of nuts.
- Slow down…..eat mindfully.
Taste, smell, see and notice the texture and sensation of each bite. Enjoy your food while you are in relationship with it. Be present. Rather than food being a substance you use to distract and harm yourself, let it be an experience you appreciate. Your task is to find a more peaceful and harmonious relationship with food and yourself. This is possible!
Taking care of yourself makes you a better partner, mother, father, friend, daughter, son, brother, sister, cousin….
Even though the holidays is hyper focus on food, this season is really about connecting with our loved ones and making time to celebrate our relationships by sharing quality time together.
Enjoy this holiday season celebrating moments with Peace and Love.
Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health conditions in children according to Statistics Canada. It is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, although these symptoms vary. ADHD usually arises in the preschool years but is typically identified in the elementary school grades. Drop out rates for these kids are higher. Proper assessment of ADHD and dealing with the disorder are critical because approximately 75% of children will continue to have the diagnosis through adolescence and over half continue into adulthood. So how do we as parents deal with our kids who display these symptoms? Parenting is challenging enough. But parenting a child with ADHD takes even more patience, strategy, energy and support.
Here are a few tips you’ll find helpful:
1. STAY CALM
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying calm as one of the best supports you can give your child. ADHD is a neurological difference, therefore reacting to your child as if they are doing these things on purpose is destructive. Dan Siegel, a pioneering UCLA psychiatrist, emphasizes the importance of attachment relationships for brain development. He explains how the child’s brain responds to the stress of an upset parent’s response:
Children with ADHD tend to lash out more when they are frustrated. When a parent is outwardly upset, the child’s sympathetic nervous system engages, leaving them to either further escalate or retract. This is the natural fight or flight response. So, the result will likely be negative for both of you if you don’t stay calm; more arguing and/or raised voices. It’s likely you’ll find yourself in a bigger mess than when you began. So pay attention to yourself, especially if you are quick to escalate and react. Teach children ways to express their frustration constructively by your example.
Your role in helping your child calm down is essential in supporting them to think more clearly. Staying calm is critical in helping them to develop neuropathways (“wiring their brains”) to develop effective critical thinking skills. If you or your child are too excited to engage in logical reasoning, then it’s up to you, the adult, to take a ‘time-in’ (some moment to calm), before revisiting the issue. By doing so, you can support your child’s development of more effective reasoning skills.
Active listening will also help your child calm down. You need to be calm to offer authentic active listening. You are your child’s primary attachment figure, and when they feel heard by you it helps them calm down. This isn’t always easy, but it is very important and it works.
Your child needs to know that they can trust you to help them. They need you to be consistent so that they can live their lives with some measure of predictability about what will happen and how you will react.
2. SET LIMITS TO YOUR OVER FUNCTIONING BEHAVIOURS
Again, monitoring your own behaviour is key to providing positive support for your child. If you’re inclined to be worried and in turn over function, remind yourself that the more you do for your child, the less they learn to do for themselves. This will ultimately frustrate them. Remember your role is to support their healthy functioning.
However, children with ADHD are slower to develop in the area of executive functioning, namely time management and organization. They will need you to provide greater structure and follow through to help them succeed. For example, during a homework session, it’s fine to ask “Do you need more lined paper?” But taking your child’s pencil and saying you’ll both work on theit math can be problematic and disempowering for your child. It’s fine to help, but doing the work for them can undermine confidence.
If you’d still like to keep an eye on your child during homework, sit close by to help them focus but bring your own work to the table. This will help them learn about independent self-regulation.
3. SET STRUCTURE FOR DAILY FUNCTIONING
Structure helps reduce disorganization, distractibility and anxiety. Use strategies and tools for organization and time management, such as charts, lists, agendas, post-its, calendars, timers, reminders and alarms. Set a consistent time to do homework, with certain privileges available when the work is complete. Reward charts for young children and calendars and planners for older ones, with clear rules and routines, effectively provide external supports for internally challenged children.
It’s best to avoid imposing pressure as much as possible. It can be stress inducing. But what does pressure-free structure look like?
Avoid using threats or unreasonable deadlines or punishments that contribute to hostility, fear or drama. Start with smaller achievable tasks. Then review and celebrate those small successes. This will build confidence and assist your child in seeing where they are winning with school, and with you!
4. YOU CAN HELP YOUR CHILD MAKE WISE CHOICES THEY FEEL GOOD ABOUT
ADHD can be anxiety provoking. Predictability and a sense of control is an effective remedy. So, when dealing with an issue or decision that your child must make, provide them with just 2-3 positive options from which to choose. Again this lessens the stress, but supports the development of their critical thinking. Creating some structure for them to make decisions is less anxiety provoking and more likely to result in their success and confidence. With this, you’re helping your child learn to focus on what they can control.
More tips to come!
Start Date: May 15th, 2016
Location: Our primary location at 15th and Lonsdale in North Vancouver
Hi Friends and Parents,
I’m excited to let you know we are starting our first Mindfulness for Youth Program. We are looking for youth 13-15 years who are interested in learning more about how their brain works and how to work with their brains!
The more we learn about the practice of mindfulness and the brain, the more we see that mindfulness is one of the keys to improving our ability to:
- manage stress
- perform better on tests
- improve concentration
- reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- increase overall wellbeing
With the incredible pressures and stressors on youth today, coupled with rising rates of anxiety in youth, we specifically designed this program to assist youth in changing the way they manage stress. Our Mindfulness for Youth Program brings knowledge and understanding through instruction and practice in a small group setting where youth will:
- Discover how to identify the difference between helpful levels of stress vs damaging anxiety
- Learn what a resilient and flexible mind is, and how it can be best developed
- Gain an understanding of stress and the brain physiology
- Develop tools to identify and better manage stress
- Take home a collection of mindfulness skills
Our first 4-week Pilot Mindfulness for Youth starts May 15th, 4-6pm at our primary location at 15th and Lonsdale in North Vancouver. Being a pilot program, we are offering the discounted rate: $235
This is a small group setting with very limited spots available. Please contact me with any questions and/or to register.
You have decided to make the difficult step to separate. You’ve decided to be mindful and collaborative in your separation. Now, how do you tell your children? Here are some sound guidelines to follow when speaking with your children about your separation.
- Be prepared. Timing is important. Once you have some concrete plans in place, you are ready to take the first step. Try to iron out as much of the detail as possible so when your children ask you questions, you are prepared with solid answers. Your kids will respond better knowing how their day-to-day lives will be impacted by this change.
- Book a family meeting. Let your children know you need to have a serious family discussion. Book this time earlier in the day when you can spend some time together following the discussion. Do not do this before bedtime.
- Know the plan. Be prepared to answer questions such as, “Where will I live” and “When will I see you?” You need to have already made the main decisions about the separation agreement: children’s schedules and living arrangements. Their input can be taken into account so they feel heard; however, the primary decisions are best made prior to this initial meeting. Again, this shows them you are working together in their best interest and it takes the bigger decisions out of their hands. Consider the parts of this situation they can control and let them know about these aspects. For example, “You get to choose the room colour and bed sheets for your new bedroom.”
- Tell them together. Modeling your ability to work cooperatively helps the kids feel more confident that you are both at the helm. This provides more certainty for them and allows them to ask you questions together, again providing a more secure base for this significant life transition.
- How much should I tell them? When your children have questions, do not speak to them about any details of the breakdown of your marriage but rather speak in generalities about how you will all move forward. “We have had some wonderful years together but sometimes couples grow apart. We have both decided that this is the healthiest decision. Sometimes adult love changes, unlike a parent’s love for a child that remains forever.” Reassure them that adult love is different than a parent’s love for their child.
- Be prepared for emotion. When your children have an emotional response, do your best to allow this and stay supportive. Let them know that it is normal for them to have feelings about such a change in their lives. If you have some emotion, this is normal. You can acknowledge your feelings and swiftly redirect the conversation back to the children and their response. Be kind and open to each child’s reaction. No one child is the same. Stay open and invite their questions.
- Similar to #3, know the plan. Discuss the upcoming changes to ensure the children know what will change and what will remain the same. Let them know about specific changes and begin to formulate a visual of how things will look differently and what will remain. Giving this information will help them settle. The unknown is hard. They will want to learn what they can and cannot control about this impending change.
- Be respectful and supportive of one another. This will go a long way to insulate the child from your adult conflict and protect their relationships with both of you. This can be very tricky. Kids often take on roles to protect their parents and take sides. This can be emotionally exhausting for kids and is not in their best interest. The more supportive you are of one another in this process, the better for the children. Do not talk to your child about what the other partner did that was wrong. Resist any temptation to blame your partner using your child as a sounding board. This will only set your child up for emotional stress and take they away from a healthier emotional life.
- Provide resources for your kids. Gather a few age-appropriate books on separation and divorce, read them with your children and leave them somewhere special so the kids can access them at anytime. Check in with them periodically to see how they are doing with the new information. Be aware of mood changes and keep your lines of communication open.
- Seek the help you need individually and as a family from professionals with the appropriate clinical expertise. Find other collaboratively trained professionals such as lawyers and financial advisors to support your family through a collaborative process.
Remember, working cooperatively with your spouse is the best for your kids. A collaborative separation and divorce will cost the family less emotionally and financially, and will keep your children’s wellness as something you and your spouse maintain as your central focus throughout this challenging time of transition.