5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues this Season

The christmas season may seem warm, cozy and even full of cheer. But for an increasing number of Canadians and others in the northern hemisphere seasonal depression may begin to strike in these winter months.

With significant pressure to be spending time with our families and loved ones, the season of giving can be an extremely stressful time for anyone who experiences social anxiety or depression.

This doesn’t even begin to get into the financial struggles that come along with this time of year, the increasingly dark and dreary weather (lack of vitamin D is proven to cause mood issues) and the possible relationship or familial tensions which are exaggerated when we put pressure on ourselves to “have it all together”.

So how can we make the most of the season, whatever it may bring, and overcome those winter blues? Well, as a therapist who has worked with seasonal depression for years and also suffered myself with some of the symptoms experienced alongside the lack of sunshine…. I have come up with my top 5 list of tips for positive mental health throughout the winter season:

  1. Get active – it sounds cheesy and repetitive but people are at their most sedentary in the winter months and simply going out for a walk, doing that lunchtime yoga session or walking on a treadmill may be just the boost you need to get out of your winter funk.
  2. Socialize – when we experience stress our bodies have natural mechanisms that produce more oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and we crave the comfort of social interactions. Sometimes sharing your time with someone you care about can truly ease the burden of the winter blues.
  3. Ditch the Junk Food – When we are cold our bodies naturally want to pack on the pounds and keep us warm. It can also seem easier to grab something from the drive thru or eat that cake at the office christmas potluck….but by doing this we are actually affecting our blood sugars, moods and causing ourselves to feel lethargic – all of which contribute to the winter blues.
  4. Engage in Seasonal Mindfulness – With the season of consumerism and chaos we can forget about our normal routines and it is easy to neglect living in the present moment.
  5. Take your Vitamins – Ensuring that you get proper nutrients can be challenging in the winter months, one example alone is that we will get naturally less vitamin D as it gets darker and colder.

So what are you waiting for? Take care of yourself this season…and make the most of all of the amazing things that winter brings along with it!

Your friend and Therapist,


Why Anger is Healthy… But Needs To Be Understood

Why Anger Is Healthy… But Needs To Be Understood

Anger is healthy.

It’s ok…let it sink in for a moment, because this may seem hard or even impossible to accept as being the truth.

We are hardwired from a young age to believe that anger is a truly negative emotion and that it speaks to a lack of self-control and some deficit in our inner character. The truth is that anger in itself is not negative. Anger is an emotion and in itself…I believe no emotion is BAD to experience. Anger is simply a feeling; an emotional response to a perceived injustice in our lives or a series of bodily sensations that occur in response to a stimulus.

Just like sadness, joy, focus, guilt or confidence…ANGER in itself does not get us into trouble, make us go into a rage or cause that argument. Anger is your body’s signal that “I’m not ok” and what happens next is where it’s up to you what you choose to do with it. So in this blog I want to discuss for you what anger “is” and how the anger cycle works and then  give you some tools for monitoring your own anger response.

The anger cycle:

There is a great illustration of an Anger Cycle on a website called  and i have added it above the blog as well because it highlights perfectly the cycle of anger and how it is activated, maintained and leads to negative behaviours. I am also going to explain each part of the cycle here but check this out if you like visual tools!

1)      Trigger: Anger is triggered usually by a situation, comment, memory or even an observation. The trigger is very important as if we do not know what triggers us, it is hard for us to modify our own behavior. Some triggers will not seem important to other people, but your triggers are your own and it is important you acknowledge all of them as they often connect to your values, beliefs and life experiences.

2)      Thoughts: What happens next is that we interpret and perceive this trigger through our own LENS (our culture, gender, age, experiences, beliefs etc) and how we view the world and we start creating thoughts about it.

Example: You get cut off on the highway by a man driving a big truck. You have experience dealing with men in big trucks that is inherently negative. Your thoughts go to a place where you begin to think “this is a bad guy” “people in trucks are so entitled” “I feel wronged”.

3)      Emotions: Next you have an emotion that is created by your thoughts. At this time your emotion would likely be anger. But anger is often accompanied by other emotions such as rejection, sadness, disgust, grief or even being overwhelmed. It is important to notice all of the emotions felt when experiencing the triggered thoughts and not just the anger.

4)      Physical symptoms: physical symptoms follow emotions often due to the adrenaline response our bodies have to threat. Symptoms may include increased heart rate, sweating, headache, feeling sick, clenching fists or shaking. Notice the symptoms you experience when you know your body is getting angry and be aware of them as this will HELP you to notice your anger response…before it turns into a rage behavior.

5)      Behavior: the final step in the cycle is that you react to the threat, the thoughts and the physical sensations with a behavior. I quite often like to refer to anger as the emotion – and rage as the response. Not all responses qualify as rage but responses like: yelling, criticizing, attacking or fighting would be.

The cycle of anger can repeat itself over and over again unless you decide to learn your cycle and take control of it right at step 2) your thoughts about the trigger. Noticing your thoughts, emotions and physical symptoms is where YOU get to either take control…or allow the addictive behavior of rage to take over.

To stop yourself from a rage behavior it may be important to:

–          Take a 20 minute time out – the length of time it takes the body to fully calm down when activated by anger

–          Do a breathing meditation

–          Write down the injustices you are feeling

–          Punch a punching bag

–          Go to the gym

–          Phone a trusted friend or support to vent

–          Go for a walk

–          Draw your anger

–          Squeeze a stress ball

These are just SOME ideas about how you can deal with anger, but there are many more. The most important thing is that we notice the emotions we are feeling and understand WHY they have been triggered. It might not be possible to communicate them when we are escalated by the anger response…but we can come back to a conversation later or write down what we are feeling for another person to see.

The main point is that anger isn’t bad, we need to let ourselves experience it and acknowledge that we feel it. What is bad is rage and we need to reach a level of self-awareness and coping skills that we have less rage responses and less negative behaviors associated with anger.

Thanks for Reading…and don’t forget to Love Your Life!

Your friend and therapist,



Why Low Self-Esteem ISN’T Permanent!

Why Low Self-Esteem ISN’T Permanent

I am writing this blog because I talk to a lot of people who have social anxiety. For me, social anxiety is primarily a diagnosis of self-esteem and a highly treatable disorder in this sense. Self esteem although it causes mental health symptoms, is often a disorder of thinking… in that it is controlled by the thoughts we have about ourselves.

If you have downloaded or read my free introduction to anxiety you will know that low self esteem is a build up of negative self experiences, negative experiences with others and beliefs about how we “should” be/look/behave etc. Some of us, like myself born with a facial deformity, have innate insecurities that over time can become even bigger when people make continued comments about this particular feature.

If you struggle with low self esteem a really great place to start can be to understand that thoughts you have about yourself are not always facts. Our minds are often flooded with opinions about things we like, do not like or find okay. If you start to understand how you value yourself….you will begin to see that it is subjective. You may value yourself really low on the subjective scale of value and worth, but others view you extremely high.

In fact, maybe you think of others in positive ways who have very low thoughts about themselves. This is often because their experience of the world has been one that has judged or demeaned them…over time this becomes their truth and builds up into low self esteem.

So where do we start on the road to changing this?

1) Start complimenting people … how often do we truly share our positive views of others with them? Do you more often share complaints or concerns than affirmations? In starting to share compliments and positive feedback you will begin to reframe negative thinking, you will help boost the confidence of others and ultimately you engage in a process of self esteem BUILDING in your community of friends, family, colleagues etc.

2) Notice what you like about yourself. Instead of being so hard on yourself start to notice some of the positives even close to as much as you notice the negatives. If you need more tips with this check out my video on self-care and self esteem tips.

3) Make yourself accountable for facts vs opinions. Start acknowledging when your thoughts contain objective facts or if they are actually just opinions you hold about yourself. Then notice if they are actually negative opinions! REMEMBER: WHEN YOU START BEING ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS YOU GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR EMOTIONS.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget
Love. Your. Life

Your friend and Therapist,

You Could be Making your Kids Anxious…and this is Why

You Could be Making your Kids Anxious…and this is Why

Lately anxiety has become a buzzword. It is used in varied situations and people place the term “anxiety disorder” on anyone who shows a symptom of “nervousness”. Many know that I currently do child and youth therapy in my practice and is an area that I absolutely love. I believe children are the pathways into tomorrow and we need to build them up… but one thing I feel like I do fight against is the notion that because a child feels a healthy amount of nervousness before a test, that they have a clinical type of ANXIETY.

Even in the DSM 5 (the diagnostic manual for all disorders related to mental health) a diagnosis of a general anxiety disorder (not a specified one) means that a person must have excessive worry for at least six months and that the worry must be challenging to control as well as accompanied by some physical symptoms (3 at least, to be precise).

This is why I feel hesitant to label children who to me, are experiencing a healthy level of nervousness…as being anxiety disordered. Infact, below a certain age I will only refer to this as worry in front of the child and work on externalizing the worry as a 3rd person to help it make more sense for children e.g: your worried talk, worry dragon, worried person etc.

When we make buzzwords and then function around the label of disorder…it is my view that it feeds into making our children feel “less than” and they begin to believe that this “disorder” is intact, their destiny. But when we talk about anxiety symptoms as worry that tries to take over….and give kids tools for responding to their “worried talk” we empower them to cope with anxious symptoms and avoid being overwhelmed with anxiety disorders/ maladaptive coping in their later years.

If we explain to children, and understand ourselves, that every human being experiences the “adrenaline” response to a feeling of threat…and that these symptoms, while uncomfortable, are also normal….we give them great power by normalizing what they are going through. Life is not always comfortable and learning to cope with this now creates resilient children. If we as adults are not aware of our own nervous energy and our own anxiety…we can pass this onto kids. If we don’t have control of our own anxiety responses…we cannot expect our children or the children we encounter to be calm and in control of their own responses.

If you want more info about anxiety and tools to use in your own life and ways to help kids and others you know get a handle on anxiety… don’t forget to download my free guide you can sign up for it here:

Reviews on our Product “Becoming Zen”

We’ve been getting some great reviews on our latest product “Becoming Zen: A 21-Day Mind Detox for Anxiety” and we thought you might want to check them out for yourself here:

Supplement Police Review
James Stewart Review
Tamy Smith Review

We have already helped so many people to reduce anxiety and overcome stress in their lives ….and we don’t want you to miss out! If you haven’t heard… this course was written by me, a therapist, and is designed to help people to learn about the most important thing in their lives – accepting themselves and learning the tools to reduce stress and anxiety. Becoming Zen truly helps people improve self-esteem and relationships, but understanding that negative thinking can affect anyone and is very easy to change.

Remember if you haven’t got your copy yet…they are still available for an amazing price of only $9.99 for a limited time at right here


The ONE thing that is Killing Your Relationships – Hint: it is not conflict

One thing is KILLING your relationship, and it isn't conflict. Believe it or not conflict can be a healthy and resolving process in relationships with others....Watch this video to find out what is really destroying your connection with your loved one:

The three detrimental effects of Negative Self Talk!

WHY WE SHOULDN’T APOLOGIZE FOR OURSELVES: The THREE Detrimental Effects of Negative Self Talk!

As a therapist I deal with a lot of issues of low self-esteem and I hear negative self talk* regularly dropped in sessions. Women, men and even children in our culture have become so used to negative self talk as part of “conversation” that it just slips out “I obviously wouldn’t know what i’m talking about”, “as an ugly person i have just accepted that…”, “I’m not worth your time anyway”.

In a culture where no one wants to be seen as too arrogant, self absorbed or overly “confident” this is what we are reduced to. Minimizing ourselves in conversation to either make others feel better, so as not to seem arrogant or because we have only learned the negative traits of ourselves.

The problem is when we live apologizing for who we are it goes beyond a conversational level. If we are constantly apologizing and trying to belittle our positives, or play down our achievements – eventually we begin to believe this as a “truth”. The self-talk becomes not only conversational, but it becomes part of our daily practice.

We then begin to talk to ourselves like that ALL of the time. I discuss this topic in my course on Mindfulness “Becoming Zen” because I believe that this type of self talk is the equivalent of being in an abusive relationship on our self esteem. If we walk around all day putting ourselves down, the result is that we are basically mentally and emotionally abusing ourselves. I created my course to help men and women who struggle with self-talk and show them ways to develop a positive self image.

There are three main effects I see when negative self-talk becomes the “norm” in a person’s life and these are:

  1. Hopelessness – hopelessness becomes a baseline and the negative self talk becomes the persons sense of agency/ ability. If all they are exposed to is their own negative thoughts about themselves, then it creates a hopelessness and ruins their ability to cope.
  2. Goals are Lowered – The person experiencing the negative self talk will set their goals lower and feel less able to achieve what they want to out of life.
  3. Affect on friends and family – When negative self talk is the normal in a household or group of friends, it has a shared effect. Children also model the negative self talk about themselves and learn that this is the way to communicate.

But it doesn’t have to be hopeless – Negative self talk can be changed and I focus on this on my youtube channel as well “You Counselling” with weekly videos on agency and positive self esteem. One great way to begin your journey to positive self esteem is to begin journalling about one thing you appreciate or like about yourself each day.

You can sign up here for my free e-book and you will also be sent free gratitude journal templates to get started on your practice!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to LOVE. YOUR. LIFE.

Your friend and therapist,




Mental Health Vlogging – Why I do it?

Since I began Vlogging several months ago a lot of people have asked me why I do it.

My message is simple and that is that Mental Health doesn’t wait for you to have time to get in to see your therapist. It doesn’t always hit at the most convenient times and sometimes people just want an accessible way to work on their coping skills and feel connected.

It is not something I hide that throughout much of my childhood and teenage years I struggled with immense social anxiety. I was born with a facial deformity that left me feeling very self conscious and I moved all over the world. I believe that if I had had as much access to social media, connection and communities of people who had the same struggles as me that I would have felt more accepted, confident and OK with where I was at.

Many of the symptoms we feel are actually really normal. Most people deal to some extent with Anxiety, Depression or even confidence issues once in a while and the purpose of You Counselling and the You Therapy VLOGS are to remind you that ITS OK not to always be okay.

Don’t strive for perfection, just strive to be grateful for today and to embrace the present as it comes.

Most of all…don’t forget to love yourself. Imperfections and all. Because if you don’t…you give others the message that it’s okay not to love you as well.

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