Hamilton, ON


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Back to the Basics

Back to the Basics Graphic
There are many times throughout people’s lives where they reach a point where everything seems out of control and overwhelming.  You may find yourself struggling to function, questioning most decisions you have made and feeling as if you are losing yourself. When these things occur, I always encourage people to go back to the basics.  The pillars of well-being are sleep, nutrition, socialization and movement.  When one of these things is out of balance it can make us more vulnerable to our emotions and everyday stressors.  When starting out with someone I always try to assess these four areas and try and figure out where improvement can be made.

  1. Sleep:  sleep is a tricky area to work on  Many factors can impact how we sleep including hormones, anxiety, appetite, exercise, bladder and gut function, etc.  Exploring sleep hygiene with your doctor, therapist, or another health professional is always a good place to start to see if small changes can be made.  Some of these changes could be limiting device exposure an hour before bed, eliminating caffeine after a certain time, limit or cut out napping, or exploring I-CBT ( a therapy for insomnia).

  2. Appetite:  fueling our body is a very important aspect of health.  I have seen many people get stuck in a cycle where they do not eat because they do not feel hungry or they binge to manage emotions.  Our stomach works as many other muscles in our body.  It needs training to be able to take in more or feel full.  Many people have complicated relationships with food and exploring this can always be a important step for wellness.

  3. Socialization:  when we are feeling stressed and/or have low motivation, often we do not prioritize talking and being around people.  We get urges to isolate and be alone.  However, as humans, we are social creatures who need connection to flourish.  Introducing small areas of meaningful socialization can help people notice a difference in their mental health.  This could be visiting a coffee shop and seeing a barista you like, sending a text message to a loved one, or scheduling an activity.

  4. Movement:  when one of my clients is staying in bed all day I always start to look at ways that we can incorporate a routine and getting out of bed.  Staying in bed, although it feels good for the short term, usually ends up making us feel worse.  Although brushing our teeth, bathing, changing clothes, or going grocery shopping all seem mundane, these activities have an important role in our lives.  When we prioritize these things, we begin to feel less overwhelmed by them and notice how good we can feel when we take care of ourselves.  If someone already has a pretty good routine, it could be about joining an activities, going for walks, or trying something new.

Small steps can be taken to improve each of these domains.  Focusing on gaining control in these areas may lead to small improvements in our functioning overall.  Often, mental health is not something that is conquered quickly, rather it is an accumulation of small steps that add up over time to make a noticeable difference.

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