Tag Archives: stress management

5 Tips to Make Your Holiday Season Better

Posted on December 10, 2021

By Heather Bach MA, CCC
Director, Bach Counselling Group

Although the COVID-19 situation improved compared to last year, holiday celebrations will still be faced with some challenges. Whether you’re adjusting your holiday plans for a smaller table setting or trying to visit your family and friends, different perspectives regarding COVID may add to holiday stress.

Here we’re sharing five tips, tools, and strategies to help make your holiday season a positive and memorable one!

1. Check-in with yourself! Invite uncomfortable feelings with compassion

Mug cup and cookies

It’s normal to have feelings of grief and discomfort this season. The key to getting through the difficulty of negative emotions comes from letting there be space for these challenging feelings to be dealt with compassion.

Validate the challenges that have been presented to you and your loved ones. Notice your inner voice and imbue a tone of compassion as you allow moments of discomfort with a welcome and gentle reception. Welcome the unwelcome for a few moments at a time. And with compassion, identify what you need for comfort ensuring your choices are healthy in nature. (Maybe delay that extra glass of wine?)

Take some much-needed time out for yourself where you are resting, pursuing a hobby, or interest you find relaxing, interesting, and enjoyable. Take a moment now to schedule some time for you to rest, restore and simply be.

2. Focus on what you can control

Focusing solely on what is out of our control fosters anxiety. Pull your attention back to the things in your life that you can control, in the here and now. This can include focusing on your weekly routine, some special new holiday plans with loved ones and/or your to-do list.

Resist thinking too far ahead. An anxious brain is fed by attempting to control the future, the uncontrollable…and this is a surefire way to maintain and elevate an already-anxious state. Your brain and anxiety respond well to structure and routine.

You can also simply pull your attention to the sensations of your breath. Now this is something that is predictable, something you can trust to be there from moment to moment.

3. Practice virtual gratitude for loved ones

Although the restrictions on gatherings have been loosened, there are still some who are vulnerable and will continue to isolate during this season but it doesn’t mean that you cannot show your friends and family some appreciation. Find new creative ways to show your gratitude with special letters, cards, homemade gifts or take advantage of online gift-giving services to keep the tradition of gifts alive no matter where your loved ones are across the globe.

Schedule that Zoom gathering and make an extra effort to recognize those with additional challenges to physical closeness and reach out as a part of your practice of extending compassion and in the spirit of the holiday season.

4. Spend time outside doing physical activity

Without question, the relationship among mood, anxiety and fitness is strong. Research has clearly established the connection between regular physical activity and elevated mood. Plan different ways you can stay active: two walks a day, run, stationary bike, weights, online fitness, yoga… or whatever works for you to maintain and/or grow your level of activity.

5. Schedule your Holiday traditions

Keep the holiday spirit alive – bringing forward some of your favourite traditions. Whether it’s cookie baking and decorating, a holiday puzzle, a classic holiday recipe or a walk around a neighbourhood displaying seasonal lights, you know what you enjoy most. Be sure to schedule these markings of the season in your calendar!


Remember, you’re not alone. Let’s all reach out a little further this year to those in need of a little extra support. And if that’s you, let friends and family know you’re struggling. Allow them to help you by listening, by being there. And if you or someone you love is struggling to manage now or through the holiday season, reach out for help. We are here for you.

Whatever you choose over this season, we wish you and your loved ones a very warm, gentle and sweet holiday season.

With love,
Heather Bach and all of us here at BCG.

Challenging Times: 5 Ways to Boost Your Resiliency

Posted on July 7, 2020

To say these times are challenging is an understatement. We are facing the complexity of a pandemic, political unrest, socio-economic uncertainty, and a diverse set of other related stressors all at the same time. Many of the associated life changes have been out of our control. Increased discomfort and anxiety are a normal response to lack of control and certainty! So, how are you responding?

Here are few things that will build resilience and help you not only respond to stressors with a greater degree of strength, but also with a sense of personal growth.

Resilience is the ability to cope and thrive in the face of adversity; to use challenges to foster strength and even prosperity. Resiliency is not just about accepting struggles and making mistakes, but rather it’s about a willingness to lean into challenges, reach out for help, and learn from the difficult times. If you want to improve the way you handle adversities and achieve personal growth, you may seek counselling.

Being resilient helps you bring your attention to the present of what you can control so that, in turn, your decisions with respect to stress are more rewarding.

Here are 5 ways to build your resiliency and thrive in the face of challenges:

1. Reflect on the story your mind is building about your challenge.

Often our minds create a story that feeds into a fear that projects more distress about the future.  Ask yourself how often you use catastrophic language like, “always” or “never.” And when you do, experiment with re-label your thoughts, ‘My anxious story.’ Then draw your attention back to the present moment and ask yourself what you know to be true right now.  What is the reality? Ask the question “Am I safe at this moment?” This will cultivate a greater degree of awareness of how “the story” is running in your mind and how, “it”, not necessarily reality, is influencing your state. We can decide whether to frame and interpret challenges with fear and overwhelming language or with a different story that incorporates our strength and perseverance.

2. Identify what you can control.

Focusing solely on what is out of our control fosters anxiety. Pull your attention back to the things in your life that you can control, in the here and now.

3. Seek support and cultivate your social community.

We are social beings, so being socially disconnected naturally creates an increase in anxiety. Acknowledge the need to feel connected and seen in the context of safe relationships. A sense that you are part of a community builds greater resiliency.

4. Welcome challenges, setbacks and emotions without judgement.

Acknowledge your challenges and feelings just as they are without making them “wrong.” On the contrary, “welcome the unwelcome” with open arms and all the loving kindness you can muster. And give them room to be seen and explored by you.

5. Be touched by what you are feeling.

Take the time to notice your feelings instead of brushing over them as if they weren’t there.  Feeling those emotions, whatever they may be, is essential to overall health. What is accessible is not about getting rid of the feelings, but rather getting to know them intimately. Give them space and be inquisitive. Shutting out our emotional challenges causes increased distress and anxiety. Engage with those feelings and be in relationship with how you are doing, both emotionally and physically. This builds your inner knowing and in turn your overall emotional strength and well-being.

Resiliency varies from person to person and it can very well be an acquired skill. But we are each capable. Take the time to develop and grow your resiliency in the face of any setback or hardship. And if you are struggling to overcome a traumatic and challenging event seek professional help. Post trauma symptoms respond very well to professional treatment. Therapy can help you develop a greater sense of resiliency as you work through the daily and worldly stresses we currently face.

There is no time like the present. And the current present seems to be providing us with plenty of opportunities.

Check out our series of “PAUSE: Mindfulness Practice with Heather Bach” on IGTV, Facebook and YouTube to cultivate your awareness and inner peace. 

Stressed Out: Strategies to move beyond stress

Posted on June 5, 2018

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: info@bachcounselling.com/ 604-904-0898

Mindfulness for Youth Program

Posted on April 29, 2016

Mindfulness For Youth ProgramStart Date: May 15th, 2016
Location: Our primary location at 15th and Lonsdale in North Vancouver
Rate: $235

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.