Self-Care 101

What is self-care?

Self-care is the practice of purposeful and self-initiated actions and attitudes that contribute to our general well-being. It is taking care of our physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellness through actions, intentions and behaviours that increase our overall wellness. Self-care is not selfish. It is not self-indulgent or self-serving. It is crucial. We know this and yet things still get in the way…

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I hear you. We've got all the excuses!

“Are you kidding me?! I don’t have time for self-care!”

Life is busy! I get that. However, I’m going to go ahead and de-bunk this excuse right now and tell you that practicing self-care does not have to take up a lot of time. I’m not telling you to go on a 4 hour hike in the name of self-care. Taking even a few minutes out of your busy day to focus on your breathing or do a quick grounding exercise will help you to shift your body and mind into a restorative mode and you will be able to be even more present as you go about your busy day!

“Self-care is too expensive!”

I will readily admit that a spa day sounds like the epitome of self-care. Most of us can’t regularly do this, however, so we need to remind ourselves that self-care does not need to be a trip to the Maldives or a luxurious day at Casbah. Self-care can be as simple as going for 10 minute walk with your dog. Or treating yourself to your favourite chocolate when you get home from a productive day.  Or telling your husband that you’re taking the night off mom-duty to go for dinner with your girlfriends. Whatever is going to help you re-charge your battery, do that.

“Taking time to care for myself would be selfish!”

 Here’s the thing: You cannot pour from an empty cup. If you aren’t taking time to care for yourself, those who depend on you will ultimately suffer. You want to take care of those around you but you are no less important than them. Perhaps self-care wasn’t modeled for you in your family. Maybe there was an air of shame or guilt attached to people taking time for themselves. Wherever this belief may have come from, the fact is that we are going to do a far better job of taking care of others if we are also making an active effort to be compassionate and kind with ourselves.

What are the benefits of engaging in a self-care practice?

  • Enhanced productivity! Self-care can help you become more productive because your time has been prioritized in such a way that lends itself to your top priorities. When we stop saying “yes” to every request that comes our way, we create space to pursue the projects and relationships that are most aligned with our needs and values. When we have less on our plates, we are more able to concentrate on the things we really want to invest ourselves in.
  • Better physical health! Have you ever noticed that when you are overwhelmed with demands, you tend to get sick more often? There is some evidence that engaging in self-care activates our parasympathetic nervous system which means that our body switches into a rejuvenating state and increases immunity.

  • Increased self-awareness and self-esteem! Engaging in a self-care practice involves reflecting on what brings meaning and purpose to our lives. It requires us to look within ourselves to determine what aspects of our lives need to be accepted and committed to in order to meet our goals. It also requires us to check in with ourselves regularly to see what components of our lives right now may need to be adjusted in order to feel most fulfilled in our lives.

So, you want to implement a self-care practice? Where do you start?

There are 5 pillars of self-care: physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual. 

Physical

  • Exercise.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Have a bubble bath.
  • Get outside.

Emotional

  • Spend time with those whose company you enjoy.
  • Stay in contact with loved ones.
  • Write in a journal or get a mindfulness colouring book.
  • Notice and acknowledge your inner experience.
  • Connect with a mentor or therapist that you feel comfortable with.

Social

  • Call a friend or family member and chat.
  • Join a club or group that interests you.
  • Sign up for a class or workshop at the rec center and get to know others with common interests.
  •  Go out for coffee with a friend or partner.
  • Get down on the floor and play alongside your child.

Spiritual

  • Download the Calm app and do a mindfulness exercise.
  • Explore your values and beliefs through journaling.
  • Make time for reflection and solitude.
  • Get outside and spend time in nature.
  • Find a spiritual community that resonates with your belief system.

Intellectual

  • Go pick out a new book to read or re-read an old favourite.
  • Listen to a podcast on something you’re interested in.
  • Do a crossword or a puzzle.
  • Take breaks during the workday.
  • Set goals and review progress regularly.   

What kind of barriers do you find when trying to engage in self-care day to day? What kind of self-care practices work for you and how do you make it happen? This week, pick one pillar that you find particularly challenging and try a few activities. Notice how you feel before and after. 

Kristen Hamilton
4 Advantages of Online Counselling

So you’ve decided to go to counselling and in your research you’ve stumbled upon online counselling. What is it, you ask? Basically, online counselling, also referred to as telehealth, involves meeting with your counsellor online via a secure video chat platform (think Skype) for your session instead of going to an office. Research has shown that online counselling can be just as effective as the traditional in-person, office-based therapy. Curious if online counselling might be a fit for you? Read on to learn more about 4 of the potential advantages to online counselling that will help you determine if this might work for you!

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1. Comfort

Starting the therapy process can already feel daunting and being able to meet with a counsellor in a place where you feel comfortable, like your home, office or even car, can make it easier to open up and talk about your thoughts, feelings, concerns that are bringing you to therapy.

2. Flexibility

Life is busy. Trying to figure out when you’re going to fit in another appointment can be a huge barrier to accessing counselling. Online counselling can be an excellent alternative as it allows you to fit in a session around your schedule. This can be a lifesaver for busy parents, working professionals and for those who prefer to access supports online over in person. Babysitter cancels? Feeling sick? Instead of cancelling or rescheduling, an online session can accommodate for many of these situations as you determine where you are most comfortable seeing your counsellor. This may mean not even having to leave your home or find backup childcare. Counsellors who provide online therapy also tend to have more flexible schedules and may be able to offer sessions outside of the standard Monday to Friday 9-5.

3. Confidentiality

Who wants to run into their neighbour, or worse, their boss, after attending a therapy session? Online therapy provides an additional level of confidentiality, especially if you live in a small community. Online counselling may also reduce barriers for those who aren’t yet ready for their family members to know they are accessing support, with the ability to meet with your therapist when/where you feel most comfortable and secure.

4. Selection

Research has shown that it’s the relationship you develop with your therapist, rather than the specific modalities or interventions they might use, that is the real key to positive therapeutic progress. Online counselling also means that you’re not limited by geography when choosing a therapist, allowing you to find a therapist that has experience and expertise in the issues or concerns you are seeking help in.

If you're thinking about engaging in online counselling or have any questions, feel free to contact us to learn more! If you're ready to get started, why not book now?

A Little About Liz

Have you ever wondered what your therapist does in their free time? Are they a real human with issues, goals, dreams, just like the rest of us? Does she partake in the occasional glass of cabernet or a craft brew? Do they really meditate or use those relaxation exercises they taught me last week? Why did they decide to do this for a living? So many questions! Well, here's a little about me to prove that I'm a real person too:)

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Who is the most influential person in your life?                              

I would have to say my grandma. She is the most kind, compassionate and strong woman I know. She and I definitely share a passion for learning and education and she has been my number one supporter in my journey this far.                             

What did you want to be when you grew up?

For me, being a therapist was something I knew I wanted to do from a young age. I have always been interested in human behavior and exploring why we do what we do. Supporting those around me and providing a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings is something that I get joy and fulfillment from and have been naturally drawn to. Being able to be a part of someone’s journey is something that I appreciate on a daily basis, being invited into stranger’s lives and witnessing the inner strengths that people are able to harness to move through difficult and painful situations, is an honor for me.                                                             

What do you like to do?                              

I very much enjoy working out, mainly strength training. Going to the gym was not something that I always enjoyed and was basically a chore that I would put off most days. By setting goals, researching how to work out effectively and committing to myself, I have truly developed a passion for working out. I've also noticed how much of a positive impact it has on my mood which helps keep me motivated. I also love spending time with my toddler, taking things slow, hanging out at the park and being silly. I also really enjoy hanging out on patios with my girlfriends having a beer:)                        

What are you working on?

Right now I’m working on personal development. Through the process of building a private practice I have developed an interest in business, something I never thought I would say, and have been reading and listening to podcasts about starting and growing a business regularly. I’ve also been reading more about coaching and teaching at a post-secondary level.   

If money were no object, what would you do with your life?

I would spend my time learning new things. I would love to be a “professional” student and could see myself exploring classes that are outside of my comfort zone. I also love being on campus, going to the library and bookstore. I’m definitely a bit of a geek that way.

What is the book you have recommended the most to clients?                               

Attached. If you’ve ever had questions about why you seem to fall into the same old relationship patterns no matter what, this is the book for you. It is well written, provides tips and skills and anyone could benefit from reading it, in my opinion.

What’s something you’re really into right now?                              

The enneagram. Kristen encouraged me to find out my number and I have been intrigued by it ever since. I find that it offers a lot of insight into our personalities and the motivations that drive how we interact in the world.                              

If you could have only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be? 

Pizza, 100%. There are so many options for toppings and it magically shows up at my door in 30 minutes.

How would friends describe you in 3 words?                     

Empathetic, supportive, and caring.                     

So that's a little about Liz, thanks for reading!

Liz Hagerty MSW RSW                

A Little About Kristen

Have you ever wondered what your therapist does in their free time? Are they a real human with issues, goals, dreams, just like the rest of us? Does she partake in the occasional glass of cabernet or a craft brew? Does she actually meditate or use that relaxation exercise she taught me last week? Why on earth did she decide to do this for a living? So many questions!!

 kristen hamilton counsellor counselling therapy white rock rcc the wellness collective

Hi, I’m Kristen, of The Wellness Collective, and I am a real human. Nice to meet you! Liz and I thought it might be fun to introduce ourselves with a few questions that kind of highlight our interests, preferences, passions, etc.

So here I go….

So, why did you decide to listen to people’s problems for a living?

Therapy is so much more than just listening to people’s problems. I have known that therapy was to be my path since I was 14 years old and found myself sitting on my own therapist’s couch. I struggled with depression and chronic pain, which made it incredibly difficult for me to go to school, focus and stay motivated. My therapist provided me a safe space to explore healthy coping strategies whilst validating my pain and modeling self-compassion. As time progressed, my mood improved and we started exploring other areas that are super important to teenage and young adult development, like the importance of having healthy boundaries, healthy communication and healthy attachments. It became very clear to me that, like my own therapist, I wanted to spend my own time and energy helping youth and adults find their way and overcome their struggles.

Why do you love being a therapist?

I love being a therapist because I love seeing people grow. It’s a profound privilege to walk alongside my clients and hold their hope until they can walk on their own. My job is not to be your life-long therapist. My job is to help you become your own therapist and be able to start coaching your own inner voice when it comes to coping, managing and overcoming the obstacles life throws at you.

You have an entire day off with no appointments, no groceries to pick up and no deadlines. How do you spend it?

Wake up. Make coffee. Listen to a podcast or read. Go for a walk at the beach with my mum, or a quick spin on my new spin bike. Lunch at the Wooden Spoon. (That California Eggs Benny is bomb). A patio hang with my girlfriends. (I do love me a glass of rose on a warm day!) I’d finish my day with a family BBQ where I can catch up with my family and play with my nieces.

If your best friend were to describe you in 3 words, what would they be?

Thoughtful, creative and funny.

What are you most excited about right now?

THIS! I’m super excited to be stepping out into the business world (scary!) with my best friend and business partner, Liz. We’ve literally shared an office for the past 18+ months and sat not 6 feet apart for hours (and hours) on end. I’ve never met anyone else who has so closely aligned with how I enjoy working with clients and the population of clients I am passionate about working alongside. We also have a lot of fun working together and know how to throw down when the work is done!

What is your favourite thing to spend money on?

Oh dear. I am a sucker for skin products – masks, scrubs, moisturizers, cleansers. All.Of.It. And stationary. I love fun notebooks, agendas, pens, etc. 

If you could go out for a glass of vino or espresso with one person, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would most want to kick back with Henri Nouwen. Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest who studied psychology and wrote many books about how his own struggles were instrumental in helping those he counselled and mentored. I came across Henri Nouwen’s writing when The Inner Voice of Love was given to me to read following a difficult breakup. I felt inspired to explore my own identity and how I want to be in relationship with those around me. I went on to read some of his other work and found that his writing tackles a number of universal themes that come into play throughout the lifespan, including loneliness, anxiety, insecurity, love, loss and self-compassion. And if Henri wasn’t available, I’d hit up Kristen Wiig for a cocktail.

What’s something you’re really into right now?

The enneagram! Our friend, Vanessa, enthusiastically introduced us to the enneagram about 6 months ago and I’ve been researching, reading and diving in ever since. Making friends and family take the quiz, listening to podcast after podcast on my commute, typing cartoon characters and celebrities. By the way, I'm a 9, with a 1 wing, if you happen to also be an enneagram nerd. :)

If you made it this far, congratulations! I appreciate you taking the time to support The Wellness Collective. In future, we hope to put out weekly posts about everything counselling and life-related! :) If there are any topics you'd like us to cover, send us an email !

- Kristen Hamilton, MA RCC

Introducing The Wellness Collective

Hi! We are Liz Hagerty and Kristen Hamilton of The Wellness Collective! We offer counselling, coaching and clinical supervision in White Rock and downtown Vancouver. Later on today, we will be posting a little bit of information about us. We hope you'll follow along on here as we write about various mental health and relationship topics. Our goal is to post 3-4 times a month so if you have any topics you'd like for us to cover, please feel free to send them our way by clicking here! We also have an online booking system hooked up so you can easily and conveniently schedule or cancel appointments at the click of a button!

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Stay tuned!

- Liz and Kristen