Summer Might Actually be More Stressful Than Winter. Seriously!

Summer Might Actually be More Stressful Than Winter. Seriously!

If you find summer stressful, you’re not alone.


People tend to think about summer as a season for fun, relaxation and as an escape from the dreary cold days of winter.  


But there is some interesting research that confirms what so many of my clients tell me; summertime is stressful!

In fact, it actually might be more stressful than wintertime.

This study, done with female medical students, found that cortisol (the “stress hormone”) was higher in the summer than in the winter.  They had the women take saliva samples every 2 hours over a 24 hour period on two separate days in the winter and two separate days in the summer. 


While winter was expected to be the more stressful season, the participants’ cortisol levels were highest during the summer dates.


Researchers were not exactly sure why the outcome was so counter-intuitive and  they were surprised by the results. 


Do you find summer more stressful?


5 Reasons Why Summer Can Be More Stressful


1. If you are a parent, demands on your time and energy can be higher than during the school year.  You are out of your regular routine.  Childcare can be tricky to co-ordinate (or maybe your kid hates the summer camp you signed them up for).  Parenting guilt can run high.

It’s not uncommon for moms, especially in the summer, to beat themselves up and feel like they are failing their kids because they don’t have the time or energy to be creative and fun.   


2. If you’re more introverted, like 25-40% of the population,  feeling the pressure to have a super busy summer social calendar can be exhausting. 

If you’re the kind of person who needs time alone to recharge and prefer connecting in smaller groups over deeper conversations (hello, INFJ!) a busy summer social calendar might feel stressful for you. 

Friends might be wondering why you’re reluctant to plan or attend gatherings and you can easily end up feeling guilty (or just wondering what is wrong with you, since no one else seem to feel this way).

3.  Late nights,  patio drinks, and BBQ food can wreak havoc on your system.  While it sounds amazing in theory, being overtired and full of junk is never a recipe for feeling recharged and refreshed.  

4.  FOMO.  Before the days of social media, we could blissfully relax without thinking we were missing out.  Now thanks to Instagram and Facebook, we have real time images of all the things that are going on without us.  

Whether it is extended family that has gone camping without you or a girls night out  when you are home in your PJs, seeing that we have been excluded can hurt.  It’s easy to get caught up wondering why we were not invited along.

5. Insecurities about our bodies and physical appearance seem to peak in the summer.  There is so much pressure to be ‘beach body ready’ and to find cute summer outfits. It is tough not to get caught up in self criticism and feeling the pressure to look like a different version of ourselves. 


Here are a few things you can do to help with summer stress; 


1.Make a plan. Whether that is a plan to spend time in solitude, take your kids park or visit with friends and family,  cultivating some direction for your day can be so helpful.  Here are some helpful ways to ditch mom guilt and have some fun with your kids.


2. Give yourself permission to say no.  Not everyone is wired the same way.  What is workable for someone else,  might not be for you.  That’s OK!  


Being able to say ‘yes’ to things that matter most to you and say ‘no’ or ‘not today’ to things that might contribute to feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, plays an important part in finding greater balance in your life. 


3.  Instead of busyness and  rushing around trying to please others and meet their expectations, what about experimenting with mindfulness and being more in the moment.


What would it be like for you to intentionally be more present as you are going about your day.


I’ve been experimenting this summer with 10 minutes of silence.  


Find a quiet place.  


Sip your coffee slowly and really notice the taste.


Take in any smells around you.  Do the flowers have a scent?


Sit on the grass and notice the texture and sensation of the grass on your skin.


Notice any thoughts that come into your awareness. Without judgement, let them go and turn back to your mindful focus.


Notice what difference this makes.


If stillness is a challenge for you, start with shorter periods of time. 

If this still feels uncomfortable, which can be especially true for people with a history or trauma, try mindful movement like walking or stretching. Pay attention and engage all your senses while you do some movement. 


4. Learn to find greater compassion for yourself.  It’s perfectly natural that if you see people having fun without you that it would being up feelings or envy, sadness or loneliness.  Why not try experimenting with self-compassion? 


One way to begin to develop greater compassion and kindness for yourself is through a loving-kindness meditation.  Here are 18 Reasons why this practice can be helpful, including reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, and improving self-compassion and positive emotions. 




If you feel like you need some more help managing your emotions and schedule this summer, so you can be the kind of mom you want to be, let’s connect. You can book a free 15 minute consultation online or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to schedule an appointment.


All my best,



15 Ideas To Help You Ditch Mom Guilt And Kid Boredom This Summer

15 Ideas To Help You Ditch Mom Guilt And Kid Boredom This Summer

Confession: There is somthing about summer that stirs up my mom guilt.  It’s not that I don’t love more time with my kids. I do.  But it’s the way things can spiral so quickly when I don’t have a plan and end up so far from the summer fantasies I have.


You see, all year long I think about summer vacation. You too?


Less driving and fewer schedules to follow.


I fantasize about lazy days in the sun without the pressures of the school year.


But unfortunately, when holidays start, the first few weeks can be a bit bumpy while we all try to find our balance. I can easily wind up feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, wondering how I will get through the 8 weeks that loom ahead of me.


Perhaps for you it plays out in your life like this…




6am: Kid: Mom….can I have Fortnite?
Mom (still sleeping): No, not this morning.
7am: Mom… can I have Fortnite?
Mom: No, not this morning. Let’s do something else…
7:30am: Mom… can I have Fortnite? We aren’t doing anything yet.
Mom: No, not this morning. I’d really like to do something with you….
7:45am: Mom….can I have Fortnite?
Mom: Where is the number for the guy that created this video game so I can call him and give him a piece of my mind… Now, what on earth can we do to have fun together…


Or maybe this just happens at my house……


But in all seriousness, this month in my practice, I have been strategizing with so many moms about how to keep living in line with their values (usually things like, patience, kindness, fun and love) while their munchkins are home with them this summer.


 If you are anything like the moms I work with, long summer days with kids at home and a routine is way less structured than during the school year can be a recipe for mom guilt.  


 You know that nasty feeling that is so easy to get caught up in after becoming cranky with your kids or realizing they have played way to many hours of video games this week (because planning can be a lot of work).  


2 Truths to Hold on to


1) Your kids need you to be “good enough”, not perfect.  In fact, way back in 1953, Donald Winicott, a British pediatrician and psychoanalyst observed thousands of babies and their mothers.  He came to realize that babies and children actually benefit when their mothers fail them in manageable ways. (like spending a beautiful summer day inside folding laundry and cleaning bathrooms).  So next time your kids complain that they are bored and there is nothing to do, you can remind yourself you’re benefiting them by failing them in a small way *wink*


2) Sometimes it just takes a little spark of creativity to help us reconnect with our values.  A little inspiration to stir us and help use reconnect with the kind of mom we want to be.   Stephanie (my awsome assistant) and I complied this list and offer it to you as a way to jumpstart your summer. 


Here are our TOP 15 IDEAS AND TIPS


Preschool and Younger


1. Pack the buckets, sand toys, towels, drinks and snacks and head to a nearby beach – preferably one that has a gradual slope to the water… Sometimes it seems like nothing can make your young ones happier than splashing in water and digging in the sand. No need to spend energy inventing fun once at the beach!


 2. Invest in a bike trailer (Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace are great places to pick up one affordably) and explore the nearby trails. Head to the Salt Marsh or the BLT Trails to enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. This is a great way to get exercise while making your children feel like royalty in their chariot. Plan for frequent stop requests as an animal or rock catches their eye.


 3. On rainy days, you can have great fun with your little ones by building indoor forts using pillows, blankets, tables or anything the kids want to include. Extend the fun by having snacks and reading books in the fort. Often, once the fort has been built, you can get your own work done while the kids imaginations continue to create their own fun in and around the fort.


 4. Visit a new playground at least once a week. It is amazing how excited this age group can get when you tell them the outing today is going to a new playground. Suddenly, you’re the best Mom. Use this list from FamilyFunCanada to make finding the next new playground easier.


 5. Is there just too much work to be done some days for you to leave the house? Don’t worry. Just get out some buckets, bins or whatever containers you have and fill them with water. If you have a sprinkler – that would be great too. Supply your kids with funnels, measuring cups, rags and maybe some floating toys and they will be squealing with laughter – especially if you let them get you wet near the beginning of their play.


Elementary School Aged Kids


6. Check out the Public Library. You might be familiar with their summer reading program, but did you know they have a ton of great programs (like mini-chefs cooking, Bright Labs STEM classes, SuperNova Science) ALL FOR FREE! My kiddo did a 2 hour!! button (think 90s style badge) making class last week. She loved it! Grab a coffee and a book (or your fav podcast) and chill at the library while your kids learn some cool things.


 7.  Check out the beaches at local lakes and oceanfront. Pack a picnic and some shovels and sunscreen and chill out at one of the more than 19 supervised beach locations throughout Halifax.


 8. Take your exercise outside WITH you kids. It can be so hard for me to carve out kid free time to exercise in the summer months. You too? It occurred to me the other day as one of my kiddos scootered after me on my run that I should drop the struggle and include them in my exercise time more over the summer. That way we can all come back sweaty and ready for a run through the sprinkler.


 9. Have you ever been to Long Lake Provincial Park? This is a new favourite of ours! With bike/walking trails, swimming and kid friendly kayak and paddle board rentals, it is so fun!


 10. Try a new recipe. My kiddos love cooking but I am not a huge fan of clean up. Making banana ice cream (seriously. It is delicious) in our food processor is a win-win.


 11. Movie Nights….well, ok these can be done any time of the year, but last week we realized how long it had been since all 5 of us watched a movie at home together. The school year usually has at least one of our crew off running in a different direction. I bet this happens in your house too. Everyone from my terrific teen to down to the super seven year old loved being together watching and snacking.


 12. Spend some time at the Halifax Emera Oval. With free gear rentals, they have you and your kiddos covered.


 13. Have you been to the new Discovery Centre? Wednesday nights are free!  What better place to go in rainy or crazy hot weather, so your kids aren’t cooped up in the house. You can all learn something new.


 14. Bet you didn’t consider an outing to Pier 21 and the Seaport Farmers Market as a great rainy day combo? Spend the morning exploring the exhibits in the museum and then head next door to the Farmers Market to browse and find some lunch. There are always delicious eats to be had and you can pick up some yummies for supper too!


 15. Explore the Bedford Waterfront and let your kids play at the recently rebuilt DeWolf Park. This is our favourite spot on hot, muggy days as the breeze from the basin is amazing. On your way home pop by Chicken Little (behind the Chicken Burger) for an ice cream cone. They usually have dairy free soft serve too for anyone who is allergic or is avoiding dairy. Yum!


 Bonus:  Podcasts for kids.  We just discovered this one on a long drive, but it would be equally good for a day that you want to curl up on the couch.


 Yes, its true you may feel like summer requires more effort and planning and your kids may still ask endlessly for Fortnite…. but, my guess is you’ll feel like you’ve been more like the kind of mom you want to be, and made memories that will last you all for a long time to come.


 If you feel like you need some more help managing your emotions and schedule this summer, so you can be the kind of mom you want to be, let’s connect. You can book a free 15 minute consultation online or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to schedule an appointment. 


All my best,




I Want to Leave, He Wants Couples Counselling

I Want to Leave, He Wants Couples Counselling

If you’ve landed on this page after searching “I want to leave but he wants couples counselling”, you are likely feeling confused, hurt, frustrated and lonely in your relationship. 

Grappling with the difficult choice of whether to stay in a troubled relationship or leave, is not easy.

After all, when you got together, you had the intention of staying together. 

Even though you know it’s cliche, you really did hope to live happily ever after.

Yet, despite all your hopes and dreams in the beginning, and all your good intentions now, there are days when it seems impossible to continue. 

You’ve lived through too many battles and experienced so many unresolved hurts.  It’s no wonder, at least intellectually, you’re considering moving on.

If you’re wrestling with thoughts of leaving your relationship, you’re not alone.  A study of by The National Divorce Decision-Making Project that surveyed married individuals (ages 25-50) found that 1 in 4 (25%) survey participants reported some recent thoughts about divorce. Of those that had recently thought about divorce, 40% have spoken with their spouse about these thoughts.

Perhaps you are considering sharing these feelings with your partner or, maybe you’ve already made your thoughts known. 

Either way, what’s clear is that they don’t agree with the decision to break up. 

I want to leave he wants couples counselling discernment counselling Bedford Halifax

It’s not uncommon for me to get a call from a prospective client asking “I want to leave, he wants couples counselling.  What should we do?”  

It’s been my experience, that this conversation is often what prompts couples who have let frustration, disconnection and resentment build up in their relationship for a long time, decide to seek couples counselling.  

Because it has been hard for so long, it makes perfect sense that one, or both, of you are skeptical or unsure if counselling can help.

Even if one or both of you have very little hope that things can be different, if you are both are open to exploring the possibility, couples therapy can be very helpful.

However, there are some situations when traditional marriage & couples counselling is not going to be a right fit:

  • If one person is having an affair and does not want to leave their affair partner
  • If one person is committed to separation/divorce and has their mind made up
  • If one person is not willing to attend couples therapy. Attending therapy is not something you want to pressure or talk your partner into. 
  • If there is intimate partner violence and you don’t feel safe 

Can couples therapy help us?

Research studies on the effect of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) consistently show that it decreases relationship distress. These improvements not only happen during therapy, but continue after therapy has concluded. 

EFT is an evidence based therapy rooted in attachment science and neurobiology.  Studies such as “Soothing The Threatened Brain” confirm, through the use of modern science, that therapy can help shape loving feelings between partners and change the way our brains respond to threat and pain.

Marriage counselling can help you;

  • Identify behavioural patterns that are keeping you and your partner stuck 
  • Help each partner can gain new insights about their primary (softer) emotions and learn to communicate these in the relationship
  • Resolve conflict effectively  by first having you experience successful communication in session and showing you how to do it between sessions too
  • Deepen your sense of empathy and connection with your partner as you begin to know them more fully


should I end relationship counselling Bedford Halifax

I Want to Leave and he Wants Couples Counselling.

You may not be 100% sure that you want to pursue a separation, but you are sure that you do not want to go to couples counselling to talk about restoring your relationship.  

You have expressed your desire to leave but your spouse wants to go to couples counselling. 

Discernment Counselling is designed for you.  

Unlike traditional marriage  & couples counselling which is aimed at rebuilding your relationship, Discernment Counselling is designed to guide you and your partner, through a series of conversations to help you conclude what direction you will move in. 

These conversations help couples, where one person is “leaning out” of the relationship and the other is “leaning in”. Or, in other words, both partners do not have the same goals for their relationship going into therapy. 

How does Discernment Counselling Help Me?

Discernment counselling helps both partners look at their contribution to the state of the relationship.  Part of a Discernment Counselling session is spent 1:1 with a therapist. 

If you are the “leaning in” spouse, you will learn new skills to help you cope effectively in the midst of these difficult circumstances. You will also explore some of the ways you have contributed to the challenges you currently face in your relationship. 

If you are the”leaning out” spouse you will gain greater clarity concerning the difficult decision you are making. The objective of discernment counselling for the “leaning out” spouse is, in part, to help you consider all the implications so that you can feel more certain that you are making the best choice possible.

Following 1:1 time, the three of us will meet together to discuss what each of you have learned in your individual meetings and help you evaluate if you are ready to commit to a course of action- to pursue a separation or to commit to a 6-month course of couples therapy. 

Discernment Counselling is a short term form of help (up to 5 sessions) and is considered successful when both partners have an increased understanding of what went wrong in the relationship and how they want to move forward.

discernment counselling couples counselling  Bedford Halifax

Will this help me decide if I want to leave?

Making  the decision to stay married or to separate is a very difficult and complex. An experienced relationship therapist can help you individually to sort through your own thoughts and feelings, but, they do not know your partner or their side of the relationship.  

The benefit of Discernment Counselling is that there is a specific roadmap for the therapist to follow.  It is a structured process that can help both of you look at your relationship and the decision you face more objectively  It gives both of you emotional support through the process. 

By the end of the Discernment Counselling sessions, you will have explored these 4 key questions;

-“What has happened to your marriage that has gotten you to the point where separation/divorce is a possibility?” 

-“What have you done to try to fix these problems so that you didn’t get to this point? It might be things you tried individually, as a couple, or with outside help.”

-“What role, if any, do your children play in your decision making about the future of your marriage?” 

– “What was the best of times in your relationship since you met? A time when you felt the most connection and joy in your relationship.” 

If you’ve been struggling with a strained romantic relationship, marriage & couples counselling can be very helpful. I invite you to reach out for a free 15 minute consultation to see if we’d be a good fit to work together, to help get your relationship back on track.I have completed training by the Doherty Relationship Institute as a Certified Discernment Counsellor. I also have extensive training and experience as an Emotional Focused Couples Therapist.
3 Ways Individual Counseling Can Help Your Marriage

3 Ways Individual Counseling Can Help Your Marriage

Even happily married couples can hit obstacles along the way. Did you know that individual counselling can be helpful, even when your partner is not interested or able to attend couples therapy.

John Gottman, is an American psychologist, researcher and clinician who has studied divorce and marital stability for more than 40 years.  He found that couples are in distressed relationships for more than 6 years before seeking help. That is a long time to struggle.

In my clinical practice, people often tell me that they have waited to come to therapy until their partner was willing or able to seek help.  The person who has been waiting, often expresses a mix of relief and frustration when their partner finally agrees to come to counselling.  They feel like they have been wrestling with the problems in their relationship all by themselves for a long time. 

 Many people assume that when their partner is unwilling or unable to come to therapy, that they have to wait tho see a therapist until both people can see one together.

While I there is solid research that shows the effectiveness of couples counselling for resolving relationship problems, if your spouse is unwilling or unable to come, I would encourage you to consider coming to counselling on your own.  

Individual counselling can help you learn new skills and strategies to cope in your relationship. And while there is no guarantee that your partner will be responsive to your changes, individual counselling can help you feel like you are coping in the best possible way with the challenges in your relationship.

3 Ways Individual Counselling can Help Your Relationship.


1.  Identifying Behavioral Patterns

 Most of us are aware of our partner’s behaviours but less focused on our own.  

In a struggling relationship, it is not uncommon for the focus to be the other person’s behaviour.  But when you can’t seem to get them to change, the problems in your marriage can seem overwhelming and discouraging.

But here’s the truth. I have never met a someone who said their behaviour was transformed because their partner continually pointed out their flaws and shortcomings.

 If you are going to help things improve in your relationship, getting clear about your own steps in ‘the dance’ and making sense of why you keep going back to these same old unhelpful behaviours is so important.  

 Individual Therapy Can Help You Recognize Your Own Negative Patterns

 As someone who specializes in marriage and couples therapy, I am trained to help individuals recognize their own negative patterns and how they play out in their relationship.

 I can help you get clear about the kind of responses that you would rather give, even when things are strained between the two of you.

Individual therapy can help you learn to slow down your reactions so you can intentionally behave in ways that are more like the kind of partner you want to be.

 Individual therapy will help you make better sense of what happens to you emotionally in conflict situations.  You can learn to recognize triggers for behaviour that ends up getting you and your partner stuck.

 As a result, you will be empowered and able to take a step back during conflicts as they occur, preventing escalation.

 As a bonus, a therapist can also point out the strengths and resources they find in your relationship so you can leverage and learn how to nourish them.

 2. Change at the Root Level

Once your therapist has helped you identify negative patterns, they can then help you understand why they are happening and assist you in changing them. Most behavioral patterns are formed and ingrained when we are very young – before we become self-aware and before we’ve met our significant others.

 Our attachment strategies, how we seek to maintain closeness with others,  are formed early in life and have a lot to do with our first relationship with a primary caregiver.  

 Lesley Becker-Phelps, author of Insecure in Love: How Anxious Attachment Can Make you Feel Jealous, Needy and Worried notes that your current attachment style is probably the same as what was nurtured in your childhood relationships.  If you never experienced as sense of security in your relationship, were fearful of being rejected or had a desire for closeness you could never satisfy, you are likely to still struggle with some of these worries.  

 The ways in which people deal with these ‘attachment insecurities’  are known as attachment styles, which describe how you relate to yourself (how worthy you feel of being loved which can create anxiety) and significant other in a relationship (how much you feel you can rely on others which can create avoidance).  The 4 attachment styles; preoccupied, fearful, dismissive and secure, reflect varying characteristic of anxiety/avoidance.   You can read more about attachment styles in this awesome book.  

 Even if you have never experienced a close, connected relationship, you can develop a more secure attachment style known as “earned secure attachment”.  While this often happens in adult love relationships, earned secure attachment can also develop in therapy.  This happens because of several key events;   a strong alliance with your therapist.  and learning to become more self-aware and self-compassionate.  

 Having a more secure attachment style and a sense of compassion for yourself  can create a positive difference in your relationship.


3. Coping Strategies

We often reach for  unworkable coping strategies.  Things like opting out (not doing something or going somewhere), distracting ourselves (hello, Netflix binges!) and numbing ourselves with food, alcohol, drugs, etc. are all effective in the short term to get rid of uncomfortable sensations and emotions.

 The problem is that in the long term, overusing these strategies often leads us away from being the kind of person and the kind of partner we want to be.

The emotional pain of being in a struggling relationship can often lead people to get caught in a vicious cycle of overusing these unworkable coping strategies.

This impacts their relationship, leading to further conflict, which leads to more unworkable coping strategies.  Individual therapy can help learn new ways to regulate your emotions and find more compassion for yourself, both of which can have an impact on your relationship. 


While these things may not directly ‘working on’ your relationship, they can give you the emotional balance you need to do things differently. 


If after checking out this blog post you realize that you’d benefit from individual therapy to improve your relationship, let’s chat. I work with women and couples in Halifax/Dartmouth/Sackville and surrounding areas at my Bedford Office.  


 You can book a free 15 minute consultation  online or call Stephanie at (902) 702-7722 to schedule an appointment.


 All my best,



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