Mindful stress reduction strategies and exercise 

When stress becomes overwhelming and you become stuck in a constant loop of negative thinking, it can seem nearly impossible to minimize these persistent feelings. Fortunately, there are helpful methods to reduce stress, many of which involve practicing mindfulness when exercising. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can be easily utilized when doing a myriad of exercises and will help you focus on the here and now instead of dwelling on what has already happened. Mindfulness and fitness can go hand-in-hand together and will enable you to shift your focus elsewhere to help decrease high amounts of stress.

Here are ways you can practice mindfulness when exercising and the number of benefits it can provide. 

Three senses

When you begin to exercise in any function and feel stress rising so much that it is taking you out of the current moment, you can use your three senses–sight, sound and touch. Ask yourself, after a few deep breaths, what are three things you can currently hear, see and feel? Incorporating this mindful technique while you exercise can level your stress and remove you from a place of rising anxiety. 

Breathing

Before any activity where mindful focus is required and necessary, like any exercise, you should take a few minutes to practice and regulate your breathing. This is particularly important if you find your stress levels increasing before exercising because taking slow, deep breaths can effectively remove yourself from your own frantic thoughts. Though it isn’t just simple breathing that is necessary to help induce relaxation and calm, you have to breathe deep enough to engage with your diaphragm. A good way to practice stress-reducing breathing is to lay on your back and place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, where you will then begin to inhale for four seconds and exhale for six seconds. 

Reminding yourself why you’re exercising 

After you finish your breathing exercises and begin your workout, it’s important not to rush your routine. While you may have more tempting plans ahead, you should focus on what you’re doing when you’re exercising and why you do it. Continuously center your mind on the present instead of the past or future by reminding yourself why you’re exercising right now and how it is currently helping you in all regards. 

Focus on your body

In the midst of any workout, your mind is bound to wander. To keep yourself engaged with what you’re doing, focus on the movements of your body. What are your triceps doing as you do pushups? How do they feel? How do your legs feel when you jogging, and how are they moving? Ask yourself these questions regarding the movements of your own body to incorporate mindfulness-based stress reduction into your exercises. This will help connect you with your body and will give you a healthy chance to check in with yourself as well. 

Set your intentions

When you begin your exercise, set your daily intentions and say them aloud to yourself. This can reduce any anticipated stressors of the day as it will force you to focus on that one intention at the moment. Setting intentions for your workout can help you maintain your focus on your exercises instead of dwelling on something else. 

Cool down

Once you complete your workout, always take a few moments to cool down. Stretch the muscles you just exercised and inhale and exhale slowly for a bit to regulate your breathing and keep yourself in a relaxed state as you set off for whatever you have planned next. 

Balance: Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.

Worries, anxieties, and general stress can consume our minds, impacting our overall health. Whether we are worrying about the future or preoccupied with our past, connecting with our present surroundings using mindfulness can reduce stress and improve mental well-being. Mindfulness means being aware of your feelings, thoughts, and all five of your senses. It also means staying in the moment and focusing on how you feel in the here and now, rather than dwelling on something else. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can relieve everyday stressors and should be practiced every day. 

Here are five easy and accessible ways to practice mindfulness with your thoughts to reduce stress. 

Gratitude 

Thinking of all the positives in your life and how grateful you are for them can push the negative thoughts away, at least for a moment. Allowing yourself to feel gratitude for what you have can be a forceful and powerful way to push positive thoughts to the forefront of the mind. Thinking so positively about your present will enable you to curate a more thoughtful and positive future and can reduce any initial stress that has weighed you down.

Breathing

Mindfulness-based stress reduction can be particularly impactful when we stop and focus on our own breathing. Because breathing is so instinctual, you may not notice how daily worries and negative thoughts can bleed into how we breathe. To stop what you’re doing and focus on the breaths you are currently taking; you can assess if your breaths are shallow or deep. 

Once you focus on your breathing, you should practice helpful breathing techniques by inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds after. Repeat however many times you want until you feel more relaxed.

Setting daily intentions

When you wake up, you should set intentions for the day to help you focus on who you are in the moment and who you want to be in the future. These intentions can consist of any personal goal you want to achieve for yourself or for others around you. These mindfulness-based intentions can include practicing self-care for the day, exuding compassion to others, pursuing your passions, or anything that you think will help better yourself and make you feel good. 

Observe your own thoughts

Throughout the day, you can practice mindfulness by stepping back and observing your own thoughts. Understand how your thought processes can fester into negative thinking when you stop and observe. Further, by using this mindfulness method, you can distance your feelings from your current thoughts, where you can easily let them go before they begin to stress you out. Throughout the day, you can practice mindfulness by stepping back and observing your own thoughts.

Understand how your thought processes can fester into negative thinking when you stop and observe. Further, by using this mindfulness method, you can distance your feelings from your current thoughts, where you can easily let them go before they begin to stress you out. 

Check-in with yourself and your body

On a daily occasion, you should take a break from whatever you’re doing and check-in with yourself and your body. Connect with your five senses, forcing yourself to react to the present. Make mental notes of what you smell, hear, touch, see, and taste to bring back to the here and now. And when you check in with your body and feel any underlying aches, ask yourself if you’re holding any tensions that need to be released. 

CTA: Balance: Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.

Witnessing your partner or a loved one suffer from an injury can significantly change a relationship and erode the mental health of all parties involved. While you may not have been injured yourself, caring for a loved one or partner who has can take an emotional toll. Trying to sift through the collective trauma between your loved ones and yourself is complex, and learning to cope is particularly important.

If dealing with an injury of someone close to you is becoming emotionally taxing, here are some methods that can help you cope. 

Having a support system

Surrounding yourself with loved ones aware of what you and your partner are going through can take away some of the weight you are carrying. Taking the time to spend with loved ones away from your injured partner will also give you time to relax, vent your emotional grievances, and allow you to feel their earned support. Asking loved ones to care for your injured partner when you are unable can also give you time to yourself without the threat of exhaustion consuming you. No one should ever have to go through times of stress without relying on loved ones who will help curate a healthy, positive environment for both you and your injured partner. 

Set boundaries

When supporting someone that has suffered from an injury and the trauma that results from that, you also need to keep your own health in mind and set boundaries. Caring for your loved one day in and day out, or if your loved one is prone to lashing out on bad days, you must consider how these accumulated events might impact your mental health. Setting clear and ardent boundaries with your loved one can reduce the risk of a contentious relationship forming and exhaustion. Don’t push yourself too much and tell your loved one what your expectations are in how they treat you. 

Coping mechanisms

Adopting coping strategies for you and your loved one can help you sustain a healthy relationship. Breathing techniques, meditation, avoidance of negative thoughts, and wishful thinking are healthy coping mechanisms to reduce stress and pessimism that might arise after an injury. Taking time out of your day to do any physical activity can also be great in reducing stress, and setting aside light activities to do yourself or with your loved one can enhance your relationship.

Don’t neglect self-care

When caring for a loved one with an injury, it is vital not to neglect to tend to yourself as well. Do things you enjoy, whether by yourself or not, and perform tasks that will better your wellbeing. Self-care can include following a skin-care regime, cooking, reading, or any activity that brings you joy. When pouring yourself into caring for another person, you should always set time aside to fulfill your own needs. 

Seek professional help

If you find your mental health declining after the injury of your loved one, talking to a therapist or visiting a local mental health clinic sometimes is necessary to improve your health. Talking to a professional can give you coping mechanisms that can be helpful for you and your loved one to adopt into your daily lives. The more you can cope with the traumatic injury of a loved one, the more you will be equipped to help them manage as well. 

Balance: Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. By utilizing a biopsychosocial model, we specialize in assessing, preventing, and treating factors that can negatively affect your brain health. This includes keeping in mind the biological (e.g. genetics, neurochemistry, medical conditions), psychological (e.g. mood, personality, coping skills), and socio-environmental factors (e.g. culture, social support, education) that individually and collectively impact our well-being. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.

According to the Canadian Pain Task Force Report from March 2021, nearly eight million, or one in five Canadians, suffer from chronic pain. Because of the immense number of people who are suffering, chronic pain has been deemed a public health emergency. These numbers have increased as the population ages, making it explicit that chronic pain isn’t just an isolated issue. Daily life when suffering from pain can become gruelling and dysfunctional, which is why managing chronic pain is so vital. Ascertaining ways to manage your chronic pain can assist in diminishing emotional grievances and can make functioning in your day-to-day life a little easier. 

Here are some helpful methods to manage your chronic pain. 

Meditation and breathing techniques

Adopting meditation and breathing techniques into your daily life is a useful method that will help ease your body into relaxation and reduce some of your chronic pain. Ignoring all your current thoughts and focusing on your breathing while repeating a mantra or phrase will place your body into a more relaxed state. Practicing deep breathing is another way to ease any tensions that could exacerbate your pain and reduce it significantly. Sitting in a quiet spot can help you find the tranquillity needed to allow the effects of deep breathing exercises to work for you. 

Exercise

Although resting is important to do when you suffer from chronic pain, too much rest can also increase your pain levels. To minimize pain as much as you can, incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine can increase muscle strength and flexibility. Ask your healthcare provider what types of exercises are safest for you and what would work best to help manage your chronic pain.

Acupuncture

For chronic conditions like headaches, lower and upper backaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and menstrual cramps, acupuncture is a good way to relieve these acute aches. Acupuncture is performed to release endorphins, which are the chemicals that block out feelings of pain. Acupuncture can be a conducive way to decrease pain and it can also work as a preventative measure to avoid the risk and reduce the severity of migraines, cluster headaches and neck pain.

Stress reducers

Significant stress and anxiety can all contribute to worsening pain. Learning to manage your stress can also be helpful in managing your chronic pain. Taking the time out of your busy schedule to do relaxing activities that you enjoy, like listening to music or reading, is an affordable and easy way to lessen the stress you may endure during the day. Stress reduction is an assured way to alleviate some of the chronic pain you suffer from.

Therapy

Receiving therapy, whether physical or psychological, can greatly reduce both physical and emotional pain that is caused by chronic suffering. Numerous physical therapies can teach you to perform stretches and strength-building techniques that will help you manage your pain. More so, seeking help for your mental health can improve the ways you cope with your chronic pain and the mental health struggles that may derive from it.

Managing your pain

Chronic pain can feel completely consuming as it impacts every aspect of your life. Improving your suffering may feel may seem improbable, but it can be done through various daily methods. Chronic pain doesn’t have to define your daily life, and taking small steps to minimize and manage your suffering can be incredibly helpful.

Balance: Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. By utilizing a biopsychosocial model, we specialize in assessing, preventing, and treating factors that can negatively affect your brain health. This includes keeping in mind the biological (e.g. genetics, neurochemistry, medical conditions), psychological (e.g. mood, personality, coping skills), and socio-environmental factors (e.g. culture, social support, education) that individually and collectively impact our well-being. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.

When life circumstances become too stressful, sometimes it is necessary to tend to your mental health by taking time off work. Forcing yourself to work as your stress builds can contribute to emotional and physical illness. Luckily, mental health leave from work can help you recuperate when you most need it. 

The process to attain this type of leave can seem daunting at first, but once you know where to start, you can begin to take steps to take leave from work that will significantly benefit your mental health.

Signs of mental stress

If you find yourself consistently anxious, sad, or angry and are plagued with thoughts of constant worry, these can be emotional symptoms of worsening mental health. When these symptoms begin to fester and impact your physical health, where you’re often suffering from headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems, it should be a definitive sign to take action. Knowing the signs that stress is manifesting into physical symptoms and mental distress will let you know that it is time to seek leave from work to prevent ailing health. 

These varied symptoms can impact your quality of work and your interpersonal connections. Your mental health should not be disregarded, and if you suffer immensely from these symptoms, taking a mental health leave from work could be necessary. 

Doctors appointment

Once you recognize the symptoms of ailing mental health, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider to receive documentation that will help you get mental health leave. Be honest with your healthcare provider about the physical and emotional symptoms you are experiencing. Providing details that might be uncomfortable to share will help your doctor grasp the extent of your mental health troubles. Additionally, contacting a mental health professional can provide you with coping mechanisms to help you manage overwhelming stress. Consult your nearest mental health clinic to receive guidance and care. 

It may seem unfair that you need such detailed documentation from a doctor to prove you should be granted leave, but it is a crucial and proactive step in alleviating your troubles. 

HR and your employer

Requesting mental health leave will require you to talk to your HR department head and your supervisor. Requesting leave is a process that can vary depending on the company you work for, which is why reading your workplace guide or handbook can inform you on who you should contact and what documentation is needed. 

Bring your documentation from your healthcare provider to this meeting. Generally, you need to be direct with your HR department and supervisor as you request leave for health reasons. It would further help if you came prepared to answer questions about how workplace stress has ultimately impacted your health. Be open and honest about your troubles and communicate how you are learning to cope.

Mental health leave

As soon as you’re able, begin the process to receive mental health leave from your job. Many employers require notice before you can take leave, and many HR departments will guide you through this procedure. You should also check to see if you’re employers offer disability insurance that you may qualify for. 

Caring for your mental health should be a top priority, and alleviating stress by taking mental leave from your work is the right step to take. 

Balance: Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. By utilizing a biopsychosocial model, we specialize in assessing, preventing, and treating factors that can negatively affect your brain health. This includes keeping in mind the biological (e.g. genetics, neurochemistry, medical conditions), psychological (e.g. mood, personality, coping skills), and socio-environmental factors (e.g. culture, social support, education) that individually and collectively impact our well-being. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.


Mindfulness practice and meditation may seem like synonyms at first glance since meditation employs mindfulness, and mindfulness practice owes a great deal to meditation. But it helps to understand the distinction when you’re looking for ways to complement conventional psychological treatment.


What is Meditation?

Mindfulness is a practice derived from more traditional forms of meditation. In traditional forms of meditation, there are a few schools of thought, and many more technical pointers. But the goal remains the same: generate a harmonious mind frame and get in touch with your spirit and surroundings.


Some schools of thought take it even further. They aim to attain a mental state empty of thought for various aims within mind cultivation. However, such schools of practice may not be compatible with everyone due to differences in philosophy and personal aims. But Mindfulness experts can leverage all traditional techniques to make practice methods fit a broader part of the population. Enter mindfulness practice.


Mindfulness entails complete presence in the moment by observing one’s current experience with open curiosity and a willing readiness to accept one’s surroundings and future. It combines traditional meditation techniques with bodily awareness to teach people how to embrace the current moment with heartfelt acceptance. According to rapidly accumulating research, regular mindfulness practice indicates improved stress management abilities through functional and structural changes in the brain.


Shot of a mature psychologist making notes during a therapeutic session with her patient

Stress management skills may help us recover swiftly from adverse conditions while also maintaining our cognitive, emotional, and physical health directly, allowing you to do more than just consult with a psychologist. You can take control and benefit from a regular practice, improving your experience when you do get facetime with a psychologist; it allows you to shift from over-reliance on breakthroughs to steady and gradual progress.


Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) puts you in the driver’s seat, and can aid in the regulation of emotions (such as anxiety, sadness, and anger), the effective use of cognitive capacities such as attention and memory, and the management of health issues (e.g., blood pressure, pain, sleep disturbance). Mindfulness skill development may be beneficial to anybody who wants to learn how to handle stress more efficiently in their everyday lives, off of the therapy couch. And it’s better suited to someone who’s never even heard of meditation before.


Fortunately, mindfulness practice is quite suitable for a broad range of patients. Moreover, it’s accessible online and in-app as a part of more general virtual psychological care. With mindfulness practice, you can maximize your psychological health potential and minimize debilitating psychological issues from anywhere. Ready, set, meditate!


 Balance Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. By utilizing a biopsychosocial model, we specialize in assessing, preventing, and treating factors that can negatively affect your brain health. This approach includes keeping in mind the biological (e.g., genetics, neurochemistry, medical conditions), psychological (e.g., mood, personality, coping skills), and socio-environmental factors (e.g., culture, social support, education) that individually and collectively impact our well-being. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.

Pandemics are a mixing pot of social, societal, personal stressors. Fear levels are bound to go up as it’s natural to worry about anything from falling ill to struggling for basic needs. Aside from the threat of disease, pandemics can easily interrupt the complex supply chains supporting large populations in urban centers like Calgary. Psychologists are here to help patients who think that these pressures might be getting to them.


The Pandemic’s Psychological Pressures

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a long ordeal, uprooting the psychological environment most Calgarians enjoyed pre-pandemic. While we all wish things could go back to normal, a significant part of the balancing act that is psychological health involves learning to live with the pandemic’s external pressures. 


A significant part of the damage the pandemic has caused us is rooted in fixation. Generalized Anxiety Disorder strongly correlates with a fixation on the possible outcomes of the pandemic, especially in those younger than 35 years of age. Without meaning to oversimplify things, it’s like the old adage, the thing to fear is fear itself; the thing to worry about is worry itself. But what can you do about it? Because worry won’t help you.


Profession and work environment can also significantly influence your anxiety levels. For front-line workers, especially healthcare workers, the pressure to work longer hours with less time off, at greater than average risk of contracting disease, also drives higher anxiety levels.


How You Can Benefit from Psychologists’ Assessments

An unrecognizable mid adult woman listens as the cheerful mature adult male counselor gestures and speaks

The biopsychosocial model of psychology drives and informs Balance Psychology & Brain Health Center. To improve our brain health, we need to take a holistic approach to the psyche, including biological, psychological, and socio-environmental issues.


When we conduct a psychological assessment, or cognitive assessment, we can identify factors within your control and factors well outside of your control. Doing so illuminates what action plan items can help—and what maladapted coping mechanisms within yourself you might’ve ignored before the pandemic. Optimizing yourself can mitigate the pandemic’s external influence, which is well within your control.


As the pandemic rages, the ability to conduct psychological care can be impacted by emergency legislation barring people from businesses deemed non-essential. In addition, there could be some risk gathering at places of business, even a psychology practice. Patients looking for help with pandemic anxiety can also consider virtual psychological care to get help when they need it, no matter where we are with lockdowns or transmission risk. There’s a lot you can do to get away from anxiety, even in the middle or end of a pandemic!


Balance Psychology & Brain Health can help you find balance in your life by maximizing functioning and minimizing disability through holistic, evidence-based, and client-centred care. Calgary cognitive psychologists and neuropsychologists Calgary offer cognitive assessments, behavioural therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy in Calgary, and insomnia therapy in Calgary. By utilizing a biopsychosocial model, we specialize in assessing, preventing, and treating factors that can negatively affect your brain health. This approach includes keeping in mind the biological (e.g., genetics, neurochemistry, medical conditions), psychological (e.g., mood, personality, coping skills), and socio-environmental factors (e.g., culture, social support, education) that individually and collectively impact our well-being. Call (403) 764-0771 today to book at our neuropsychology clinic, chronic pain clinic Calgary or MCI clinic Calgary.