Understanding the Relationship Between Stress and Mental Health

Understanding the Relationship Between Stress and Mental Health

Understanding the Relationship Between Stress and Mental Health

Stress is a common experience that everyone encounters from time to time. Stress is a natural part of life, but it can become overwhelming when left unmanaged. While a little bit of stress can be motivating and helpful, too much stress can negatively impact our mental health.

High levels of stress can have a significant impact on mental health, leading to issues like anxiety, depression, and burnout. With the ongoing challenges of modern life, many people struggle to manage their stress levels effectively, leading to a negative impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between stress and mental health, common signs of stress, and effective strategies for managing stress to promote better mental health.

Signs of Stress: How to Recognize When Stress is Becoming Too Much

Stress is a natural response to the demands of daily life, but when it becomes overwhelming, it can have negative effects on both mental and physical health. Being able to recognize the signs of stress is essential to managing it effectively.

Physical Signs of Stress

Headaches and Migraines: Stress can cause tension in the muscles, leading to headaches and migraines.

Muscle Tension: Stress can cause muscle tension, leading to stiffness, pain, and soreness.

Fatigue: Stress can cause fatigue, leaving you feeling drained and lacking in energy.

Digestive Problems: Stress can cause digestive problems such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.

Sleep Problems: Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get restful sleep.

Mental and Emotional Signs of Stress

Anxiety: Stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, worry, and nervousness.

Irritability: Stress can cause irritability, making it difficult to control emotions and react calmly to situations.

Depression: Stress can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair.

Lack of Concentration: Stress can make it difficult to focus and concentrate, leading to decreased productivity and difficulty completing tasks.

Changes in Appetite: Stress can cause changes in appetite, leading to overeating or loss of appetite.

How Stress Impacts Mental Health

When we experience chronic stress, it can have a negative impact on our mental health. Prolonged stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and overwhelm. In addition, stress can exacerbate existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders and mood disorders.

Stress can also have physical effects on the brain. Chronic stress can cause the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for our emotional responses) to become overactive, leading to heightened anxiety and feelings of stress.

Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response, releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare the body to deal with the perceived threat. While this response can be helpful in some situations, chronic stress can lead to an overactive stress response and have negative effects on mental health.

Here are some of the ways stress can impact mental health:

Anxiety: Stress can lead to feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension. In some cases, chronic stress can lead to the development of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

Depression: Chronic stress can increase the risk of developing depression. It can also exacerbate existing depression symptoms.

Insomnia: Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to insomnia. Chronic insomnia can have negative effects on mental health, including increased risk of anxiety and depression.

Cognitive difficulties: Chronic stress can lead to cognitive difficulties, such as trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and decreased productivity.

Burnout: Chronic stress can lead to burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that can lead to decreased job performance, decreased job satisfaction, and increased risk of mental health conditions.

Coping with Stress in Motherhood: Unique Challenges

Motherhood is one of the most challenging roles a woman can undertake. It is a demanding job that requires a lot of emotional, physical, and mental stamina. Stress can impact a mother’s mental and physical health, as well as the quality of her relationship with her child. It can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start in managing stress.

The Impact of Stress on Motherhood

Stress can have a significant impact on a mother’s mental and physical health. The following are some ways in which stress can affect mothers:

Mental Health: Stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues in mothers. It can also cause them to have difficulty sleeping, eating, and concentrating.

Physical Health: Stress can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue. It can also weaken the immune system, making mothers more susceptible to illnesses.

Mother-Child Relationship: Stress can negatively impact the relationship between a mother and her child. It can cause mothers to be less responsive, less warm, and less nurturing towards their children.

Effective Strategies for Managing Stress and Improving Mental Health

Cultivating Self-Care Practices to Combat Stress

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become a common experience for many people. While it is impossible to avoid stress entirely, cultivating self-care practices can help individuals combat the negative effects of stress on their physical and mental health.

Self-care refers to the practices individuals engage in to promote their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engaging in self-care practices regularly can help you manage stress, prevent burnout, and promote overall well-being. Here are some reasons why self-care is essential:

Self-Care Practices to Combat Stress

Here are some self-care practices that can help you combat stress and promote overall well-being:

Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce stress by promoting the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood-boosters.

Meditation: Meditation can help reduce stress by promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.

Yoga: Yoga combines physical movement and mindfulness, making it an excellent practice for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Give Yoga with Adriene a try!

Spending time with loved ones: Spending time with friends and family can help reduce stress by providing a support system and promoting feelings of happiness and joy.

Engaging in hobbies: Engaging in hobbies can help reduce stress by providing an outlet for creativity and promoting relaxation.

Getting enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to promote overall well-being.

Eating a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet can improve physical and mental health by providing essential nutrients and promoting overall wellness.

Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques

Mindfulness is a practice that has gained popularity in recent years for its ability to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. It involves paying attention to the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. By doing so, individuals can gain a better understanding of themselves and their emotions, which can help them manage stress more effectively.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves focusing on the present moment and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. By doing so, individuals can gain a better understanding of their emotions and develop a greater sense of self-awareness. Mindfulness is a useful tool for managing stress because it can help individuals become more aware of their stress triggers and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Here are some mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques that can help you manage stress effectively:

Mindful Breathing: Mindful breathing involves focusing on your breath and observing the sensations of the air moving in and out of your body. This practice can help you feel more relaxed and centered. Give Insight Timer a try. It’s free and has so many great mindfulness activities to explore.

Body Scan Meditation: Body scan meditation involves focusing on different parts of your body and observing any sensations or discomfort. By doing so, you can become more aware of tension in your body and release it.

Mindful Walking: Mindful walking involves walking slowly and focusing on the sensations of your feet touching the ground. This practice can help you feel more grounded and present. Check out this 10 minute mindful walking meditation.

Loving-Kindness Meditation: Loving-kindness meditation involves sending positive thoughts and feelings to yourself and others. This practice can help you develop feelings of compassion and reduce stress. Here is one by Kristin Neff.

Mindful Eating: Mindful eating involves paying attention to the taste, texture, and sensations of the food you are eating. By doing so, you can develop a greater appreciation for food and reduce stress related to eating.

Seeking Support: The Importance of Connection and Community

Stress is an inevitable part of life, and it can take a toll on our mental and physical health. While self-care practices and mindfulness techniques can be helpful in managing stress, seeking support from others is also crucial for maintaining good mental health. Connection and community can provide a sense of belonging, reduce feelings of isolation, and offer a support system during difficult times.

The Importance of Connection

Humans are social creatures, and our need for connection with others is essential for our well-being. Connection with others can provide a sense of belonging, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improve our mood and overall quality of life. In times of stress, connection with others can offer emotional support, encouragement, and a safe space to share our experiences.

The Importance of Community

Community refers to a group of people who share common interests, values, or goals. Community can provide a sense of purpose and belonging, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, and offer support and encouragement during difficult times. Joining a community can be an excellent way to meet new people, engage in activities that bring joy, and develop a support system.

Supportive Relationships

Supportive relationships can help us manage stress and improve our mental health. A supportive relationship involves mutual respect, trust, and empathy. It is a safe space where individuals can share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment. Supportive relationships can provide emotional support, encouragement, and a sense of belonging.

Professional Support

Professional support can be an essential part of managing stress and improving mental health. Professional support can include therapy, counseling, or coaching. A mental health professional can provide a safe space to discuss stressors, develop coping strategies, and improve overall well-being.

You Can Cope Effectively With Stress

Stress can have a significant impact on our mental health. Particularly in motherhood, managing stress effectively is very important because it can impact your mental and physical health, as well as the quality of relationship with your child. Effective strategies for managing stress and improving mental health include self-care, social support, mindfulness, time management, and seeking professional help. By implementing these strategies, you can better manage stress, improve your mental health, and create a healthy and positive relationship with your children.

If you find yourself struggling with stress and are in need of additional support, consider seeking the help of a professional therapist. At Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy, we offer a safe and supportive space for women to work through their challenges and develop effective coping strategies. Contact us today at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more about how we can help you restore balance, renew your energy, and revive your spirit. Take the first step towards a healthier and happier you today.

How to Cope More Effectively With Anxiety

How to Cope More Effectively With Anxiety

Are you tired of feeling weighed down by the relentless burden of anxiety? Does it seem like anxiety is constantly holding you back from enjoying life to the fullest? If you’re struggling with the impact of anxiety on your mental health, relationships, and daily functioning, you’re not alone. Anxiety can be overwhelming and debilitating, affecting millions of people worldwide.  There are practical coping strategies that can help you overcome the challenges of anxiety and learn how to cope more effectively.

Why do we Experience Anxiety

Anxiety is a complex emotional and physiological response to perceived threats or stressors. It involves the activation of the body’s stress response system, which is designed to prepare the body to respond to potential dangers. When we are feeling anxious, our body has shifted from the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” system, to the sympathetic branch of the nervous system, also known as the “fight, flight, freeze or fawn” system.  The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for preparing the body to respond to perceived threats or stressors by initiating the stress response and is activated during times of stress, danger, or intense physical activity.

There are two pathways to the activation of our stress response one is through our prefrontal cortex (the logic centre of our brain that is located iin the forhead region over our eyes) and the other is activated through the amygdala/thalamus (although the amygdala is actually involved in both paths). The amygdala pathway is often referred to as the “low road” (see video below by Russ Harris) and when the brain detects a sensory message of danger via the thalamus, it automatically sends this information to the amygdala.  The amygdala then shares the message and rapidly activates the other parts of our brain and our body to prepare itself to respond to a threat with a fight, flight or freeze response with the release of cortisol and adrenaline.  If a person notices that they are feeling anxious for no apparent reason, this is a sign that the amygdala pathway has been activated.  

The second pathway involves the prefrontal cortex, which is the thinking part of the brain.  This pathway into the stress response, known as the “high road”  is a response that is activated on a more conscious level through the evauation of information, either our thoughts or in our environment.  This danger can be real, remembered or percieved.  These thoughts from the prefrontal cortex then activate the stress response by sending a message to the amygdala about the danger that needs to be responded to.  

Watch this video below by Russ Harris who explains more about these pathways into the experience of anxiety.


Signs of Anxiety

Anxiety is a common and normal human emotion that we all feel from time to time. However, when anxiety becomes chronic or overwhelming, it can significantly impact our daily lives and relationships. Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways, and symptoms can vary from person to person. Here are some common signs of anxiety to watch out for:

Physical Symptoms

Rapid heartbeat or palpitations

Sweating or trembling

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Dizziness or lightheadedness

Fatigue or muscle tension

Insomnia or difficulty sleeping

Emotional Symptoms

Feeling overwhelmed or out of control

Excessive worry or fear

Difficulty concentrating or focusing

Irritability or restlessness

Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations

Negative self-talk or self-doubt


How to Cope More Effectively with Anxiety

Here are some practical strategies that can help you cope more effectively with anxiety:

1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being present and fully engaged in the current moment, rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety symptoms.

2. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity can be a powerful tool for managing anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, and can help reduce stress and tension in the body.

3. Connect with Supportive People

Talking to trusted friends or family members about your anxiety can help you feel less alone and more understood. Consider joining a support group or seeking therapy to receive professional support and guidance.

4. Practice Self-Care

Self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

5. Challenge Negative Thoughts

Negative self-talk and self-doubt can contribute to feelings of anxiety. Practice challenging these negative thoughts by focusing on evidence that supports positive beliefs about yourself and your abilities.

When to Seek Professional Help to Cope More Effectively With Anxiety

While these coping strategies can be helpful for managing anxiety, they may not be enough for everyone. If your anxiety is interfering with your daily life or you’re finding it difficult to manage on your own, consider seeking professional help. A therapist can provide additional support and guidance in managing anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety is a common experience, but it doesn’t have to control your life. By recognizing the signs of anxiety and taking steps to manage it, you can feel more in control and improve your overall well-being. Consider incorporating some of these coping strategies into your daily routine and don’t hesitate to seek professional support if you need it.

If you’re struggling with anxiety and would like support in developing coping strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy. I am here to help. Contact us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more.

Silence Your Inner Critic

Silence Your Inner Critic

We all have an inner critic.  What is an inner critic, you might ask?  Your inner critic is that voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. It’s the voice that points out our flaws and shortcomings, and makes us feel inadequate or ashamed.

This voice may have developed in childhood from overly critical or negative parenting.  It may have developed as a result of childhood or relationship trauma.  Perhaps it seems like its only recently developed out of stressful workplace situations.  Regardless of the origin of your inner critic, learning to silence it, or at least not be led by it, is important.

While some degree of self-criticism can be helpful for self-improvement and growth, too much of it can be harmful to our mental health and well-being. Learning to silence your inner critic can be a difficult but important step in building a more positive relationship with yourself. In this post, we’ll explore some of the reasons why it’s hard to silence your inner critic, and offer some strategies for overcoming it.

The Problem of Self-Criticism

Self-criticism can be a pervasive and damaging pattern of thinking that can impact our self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. Whether it’s negative self-talk, perfectionism, people pleasing, or avoiding asking for your needs to be met in relationships, self-criticism can take many forms and can be a difficult pattern to break.

For many women, self-criticism can be a pervasive and damaging pattern of thinking that can impact their self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. Their inner critic is constantly judging and criticizing them, focusing on all their flaws and mistakes, and leaving them feeling inadequate or insecure. 

The Perfectionism Trap

You may believe that by being hard on yourself, you can prevent failure and achieve success. Failure feels as though it’s a personal flaw or a reflection of your worth as a person and the solution to this is to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘t’ to make sure you get it right.  While perfectionism may feel like a safe coping strategy that will help you avoid disappointing yourself and others, it is in fact a trap.  

While in the short term it may have some pay offs (which is why people continue to do it), in the long run this can sabotage your ability to achieve your goals.  Kristen Neff, a leading researcher on self compassion has found that “people who are compassionate to themselves are much less likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed, and are much more likely to be happy, resilient, and optimistic about their future. In short, they have better mental health.” By recognizing the ways in which perfectionism contributes to self-criticism, we can begin to shift towards a more self-compassionate mindset.



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Silence Your Inner Critic

Here are 5 strategies to help you cope more effectively with your inner critic;

1. Practice Mindfulness

Over time, your inner critic can become a deeply ingrained pattern of thought that feels automatic and difficult to control. You may have been criticizing yourself for years, and it can be hard to break the cycle. Your brain is wired to reinforce patterns of thought and behavior that are repeated over time, which is why breaking a habit can be so challenging. To overcome this, you need to create new neural pathways by practicing new patterns of thought and behavior. In order to silence your inner critic, you must first become aware of it. You cannot change what you are not aware of, right? And this is where mindful self-awareness comes in.

One strategy for breaking the habit of self-criticism is to become more aware of your inner dialogue. Start paying attention to the thoughts that go through your head throughout the day.  Mindfulness is really just the practice of being present in the moment and observing our thoughts and feelings without judgment. By cultivating mindfulness, we can become more aware of our self-critical thoughts and learn to respond to them in a more compassionate and balanced way. In addition, mindfulness teaches us that we are not our thoughts, we are the observer of them. Notice when you’re being self-critical and allow those thoughts to pass withouth holding onto them or idnetifying with them. This is a powerful shift that can change your life.

2. Diffuse from the Inner Critic

When we notice a self-critical thought, we can try not to hold onto it so tightly. This is referred to as diffusion in ACT (Acceptance and Committment Therapy) . Steven Hayes is a prominent psychologist and the founder of ACT.  In his work, Hayes has emphasized the role of the “inner critic,” According to Hayes, the inner critic is a normal and natural part of the human experience, but it can become problematic when we start to believe its messages and allow it to dictate our behavior. In ACT, the goal is not to eliminate the inner critic, but rather to learn to relate to it in a different way, so that it has less power over our thoughts and behaviour.

When you’re caught up in your inner critic’s thoughts, it can be hard to see them for what they are – just thoughts. Defusion techniques can help you step back from your thoughts and observe them from a more objective perspective. Some defusion techniques include:

  • Saying your thoughts out loud in a silly voice
  • Imagining your thoughts written on a cloud that floats away
  • Thanking your inner critic for its input, but acknowledging that you don’t need it right now

3. Embrace Imperfection

Perfectionism can be a major source of self-criticism, so learning to embrace imperfection is an important step towards reducing self-criticism. By accepting that mistakes and flaws are a natural part of the human experience, we can let go of the need to be perfect and focus on self-acceptance instead.

Part of embracing imperfection is also refusing to fall into the comparison trap. In a world where 24/7 social media would have us believe that everyone else is smarter, thinner, richer and generally better than we are, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others. But doing so only gives your inner critic weapons to use against you.

Russ Harris is a well-known author and therapist who is also a leader in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). In his book “The Happiness Trap,” Harris emphasizes the importance of avoiding the comparison trap, which is the tendency to compare ourselves to others and judge our worth based on external standards or achievements.

According to Harris, the comparison trap can be a major source of unhappiness and dissatisfaction, as it creates a constant sense of inadequacy and a never-ending cycle of striving for more. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, Harris suggests focusing on our own values and goals, and striving to live in accordance with them, regardless of how others may be doing. This helps us to embrace our imperfections but also to live more fully as the person we want to be.



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4. Cultivate Self-Compassion

You would never treat others the way you treat yourself. Begin to treat yourself with the compassion you would a small child or a friend in need. No one is perfect. But all of us are worthy of love, kindness and respect. By learning how to show ourselves more love, kindness and respect through the practice of self-compassion.

 Kristin Neff is a pioneering researcher in the field of self-compassion and has developed a model of self-compassion that includes three core components:


Self-Kindness: Being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than being harshly self-critical.


Common Humanity: Recognizing that suffering and feelings of inadequacy are a natural part of the human experience, rather than feeling isolated or alone in our struggles.


Mindfulness: Observing our thoughts and feelings with openness and curiosity, rather than getting lost in them or suppressing them.


Neff has found that increased self-compassion carries all the benefits of self-esteem (happiness, less depression, etc.) but without any of the down sides (not sustainable and can lead to narcissistic qualities).   Social Researcher Brene Brown notes that self-compassion helps increase our likelihood of being more vulnerable and able to connect with others.  Here are some interesting clips of Kristen and Brene talking together about self -esteem and self-compassion 

On her website,  Kristin Neff offers a number of beautiful  exercises and practices for cultivating self-compassion, including guided meditations, journaling prompts, and other tools that can help individuals learn to treat themselves with greater kindness and understanding. 


Seek Support

Finally, it’s important to remember that overcoming self-criticism is a process that can take time and effort. Seeking support from a therapist or counsellor can be an invaluable resource for learning to manage self-criticism and developing more self-compassion.  If you’re tired of hearing that nagging voice inside your head that tells you you’re not good enough therapy can help you break free from a loud inner critic and negative self-talk and cultivate a more positive mindset. Discover practical tips and strategies for quieting your inner critic and embracing self-love and acceptance.  

If you are struggling with self-criticism and would like support in cultivating greater self-compassion and a more balanced perspective in your thought life, Restore Renew Revive Counselling & Couples Therapy is here to help. Don’t let your inner critic hold you back from the life you were created for. Contact us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more and schedule an appointment today.

3 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships

3 Ways to Improve Communication in Relationships

Communication is an essential component of healthy relationships, but many couples struggle to communicate effectively.  Often when emotions are running high, this becomes increasingly difficult to do and many couples report struggling to communicate effectively in their relationship. This can be for a number of reasons including childhood trauma, previous relationship traumas (including betrayals) and never having learned how to regulate emotions when they are hot.

People often are unaware of why they react the way they do in difficult conversations and are unable to ask for their needs to be met in a clear way. What often happen instead is that they get stuck in negative patterns of anger, criticism, indifference or shutting the conversation down. Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT) refers to this as the negative cycle. When couples get caught frequently in the negative cycle, they become discouraged about their relationship and feel increasingly disconnected from each other.

Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and even relationship breakdowns. Whether you’re dealing with conflicts, navigating differences, or just trying to connect with your partner, improving your communication skills can help you build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. In this blog, we’ll explore why good communication is important and three strategies for improving communication in relationships, so you can cultivate deeper understanding, trust, and intimacy with your partner.

Good communication is important for several reasons:

Good communication is essential in any type of relationship, including romantic ones. In a romantic relationship, effective communication helps to build trust, increase intimacy, and maintain a strong emotional connection between partners. There is never perfect communication in any relationship, however, it is possible to recognize when you are getting off track in your conversations and take a break, slow down or regulate your own internal state so you can better attune to your partner. In Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy this would be described as negative cycle deescalation or being able to recognize the negative cycle and stop it before it takes over the conversation.

Here are some specific reasons why good communication is so important in a romantic relationship:

1) Builds trust: Communication builds trust between partners. By communicating openly and honestly with each other, partners can build trust and feel secure in their relationship.

2) Helps resolves conflict: Communication helps resolve conflicts in a healthy and constructive way. When partners communicate effectively, they can identify the root cause of conflicts, express their feelings and needs, and work together to find a resolution.

3)Increases intimacy: Communication increases intimacy between partners. When partners communicate openly and honestly, they can share their deepest thoughts, feelings, and desires, which can strengthen their emotional connection and intimacy.

4) Fosters emotional support: Communication fosters emotional support between partners. When partners communicate effectively, they can provide emotional support to each other, which can help them cope with stress and difficult times.

5) Promotes shared goals and values: Communication promotes shared goals and values between partners. When partners communicate openly and honestly, they can share their goals and values, and work together to achieve them.

6) Builds a stronger foundation for the relationship: Communication builds a stronger foundation for the relationship.

By communicating openly and honestly with each other, partners can build a strong and resilient relationship that can weather the ups and downs of life. But this often feels easier said than done.



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3 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Relationships

Be Fully Present

Active listening means giving your partner your full attention and really hearing what they are saying. This means putting aside distractions and avoiding interrupting your partner while they speak. Make eye contact and fully listen to what the other person is saying and how they are saying it.

This is important because mirror neurons, which are specialized cells in the brain, are perceiving the expression and engagement of the other person below the level of our conscious awareness.

These neurons are thought to play a role in empathy, social cognition, and imitation. They play a role in understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. For example, when one partner in a conversation expresses sadness, the other partner may activate mirror neurons that help them feel and understand the other person’s emotions.This can be helpful in building rapport and trust with the other person.

Overall, the role of mirror neurons in communication is still an area of active research. However, it is clear that these neurons play an important role in understanding and interpreting nonverbal cues, which can be a critical component of effective communication.  For this reason, it is very important to be fully present in your conversations.

If you’d like to learn more about mirror neurons Marco Iacoboni, author of the book “Mirroring People” has a very interesting lecture on this topic.


Validation means acknowledging your partner’s feelings, even if you don’t agree with them. This can help your partner feel heard and understood, which can improve communication.

Avoid arguing or debating with the person about their feelings. Instead, focus on understanding their perspective and finding common ground.

Try offering support and encouragement to the person, even if you don’t agree with their perspective. Let them know that you are there for them and that you care about their feelings.


Take Responsibility for Your Feelings and Actions

Taking responsibility for your own feelings can help avoid blaming your partner for how you feel. Share with your partner about the impact of the situation on you and how it is to be in your shoes.

Be open to feedback from the other person, and be willing to listen to their perspective. Accepting feedback can help you understand the impact of your actions and make positive changes in your behavior. Acknowledge your mistakes and express a willingness to make amends.

These are just some of the ways you can improve your communication with others. You may also want to seek the guidance of a couples’ therapist who can offer you even more strategies and a safe space to share your feelings. 


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Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy

Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a form of therapy that focuses on improving emotional connection and communication between couples. It is based on attachment theory, which suggests that humans have a basic need for secure emotional connections with others.

In EFT, the therapist helps couples identify and express their emotions, understand their patterns of interaction, and create new ways of communicating and connecting. EFT has been found to be effective in improving relationship satisfaction, reducing conflict, and promoting emotional connection in couples. It can be helpful for couples who are experiencing a range of difficulties, including communication problems, conflict, infidelity, and other issues.

If you are struggling with communication in your romantic relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Marcy Daniels, MSW, RSW can provide you with the support and guidance you need to improve your communication skills and build a stronger, healthier relationship. Contact her today at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://restorecounselling.ca to learn more about our services and how she can help you


The Many Effects of Childhood Trauma in Adulthood

The Many Effects of Childhood Trauma in Adulthood

Childhood trauma not only impacts the person in their early years, but it continues to impact them into adulthood.  The focus of this blog is to explore the effects of childhood trauma on adults.

Childhood trauma is a common problem that affects many people in Canada.  Indigineous people, older adults, folks in the LGTBQIA+ community and immigrants are more likely to have experienced trauma in childhood.  Statistically, 3 out of every 10 Canadians over the age of 15 has experieced physcial or sexual abuse before the age of 15.

This is significant because trauma in childhood can  have a profound impact on an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as their ability to form healthy relationships. The long-term effects of childhood trauma can be devastating, leading to a wide range of mental and physical health problems that can affect a person’s quality of life for years to come.

For individuals who have experienced childhood trauma, the effects can be especially challenging to overcome. Many people struggle with trust issues, intimacy issues, and difficulty forming close relationships. They may also experience chronic health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, and may be at increased risk for mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How Childhood Trauma Affects People in Adulthood

Here are some of the most notable effects of childhood trauma in adulthood;

1) Forming Healthy Bonds and Relationship

Childhood trauma can have a significant impact on adult in love relationship and on attachment styles. Secure attachment is characterized by a sense of safety, trust, and comfort in relationships. However, childhood trauma can contribute to developing insecure attachment styles;  anxious or avoidant or disorganized attachment.  Research suggests that our early experiences with our caregivers shape our attachment styles and strategies.  Often people who have experienced childhood trauma engage in behaviours from  one of the 3 forms of insecure attachment styles.

In adulthood, anxious attachment patterns can play out in romantic relationships, leading to difficulty forming secure and healthy attachments. Anxious attachment in romantic relationships is characterized by a strong need for intimacy and fear of rejection, abandonment, and separation. Individuals with anxious attachment tend to rely heavily on their partners for emotional support and reassurance, and may become highly distressed when their partner is not available or responsive to them. They may also struggle with jealousy and clinginess, and often experience feelings of insecurity and doubt in their relationships. They may become overly dependent on their partners for emotional support.

On the other hand, adults who have experienced childhood trauma may also exhibit avoidant attachment, characterized by a tendency to withdraw from relationships and to avoid emotional intimacy. These individuals may struggle with trusting others and may feel uncomfortable with vulnerability and emotional closeness.

Avoidant attachment is typically formed in childhood through experiences of neglect or emotional unavailability from caregivers, or through traumatic experiences such as abandonment or loss. In adulthood, these attachment patterns can continue to play out in romantic relationships, leading to difficulty forming secure and healthy attachments.

Avoidant attachment in relationships is characterized by a tendency to avoid closeness and emotional intimacy with a romantic partner. Individuals with avoidant attachment may feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness, may have difficulty expressing their feelings or needs, and may prioritize their independence and self-sufficiency over their relationship. Avoidant attachment can make it difficult to form deep, meaningful connections with romantic partners, and can lead to a sense of emotional distance or disconnection in relationships.

Someone who grows up in an environment where their caregiver, who is meant to nurture and protect them, is also a source of fear can develop an fearful/avoidant or disorganized attachment style.  Disorganized attachment perhaps less often spoken about than secure, anxious or avoidant, but it equally important type of attachment to be aware of.

This style of attachment behaviours can develop in response to experiences of trauma or abuse in childhood. Disorganized attachment is characterized by a lack of clear patterns of behavior in relationships, as individuals with disorganized attachment may display both avoidant and anxious behaviors in relationships. They may also exhibit erratic or unpredictable behavior, and may struggle with self-regulation and emotional expression. People with a disorganized attachment style still want (and I would argue, need, since we are wired biologically for connection) to have someone to be close emotionally, however they struggle to to ever let their guard down and be truly vulnerable with their partner.

It’s important to note that the impact of childhood trauma on attachment styles is not universal, and individuals may develop different attachment styles depending on a variety of factors, including their experiences after childhood and their personality traits. It’s also important to remember that insecure attachment styles are not a life sentence, and it is possible to develop more secure attachment patterns in adulthood through therapy or other forms of personal growth and self-awareness.




2) Challenges with Parenting

Individuals who have experienced trauma may face unique challenges when it comes to parenting.  This can show up in many different ways, but a few examples of the impact of childhood trauma on parenting include;

1. Difficulty regulating emotions: Trauma can make it difficult for individuals to regulate their own emotions, which can impact their ability to respond calmly and effectively to their children’s emotional needs. If somone is cut off from their own emotions it can also be very difficult to attune to someone else and according to relationship expert Dr. Erin Leonard, attunement and empathy are what helps children to trust and open up to their parents.

2. Re-experiencing trauma: Trauma can cause individuals to re-experience traumatic events or have flashbacks during moments of intense emotions with their own children which can make it difficult to be fully present with their children. Perhaps loud noises, like a child banging a toy on the floor or an infant’s prolonged crying can be distressing to a nervous system that has experienced trauma. This can lead to the parent reacting from being triggered rather than a more mindful parenting response.

3. Negative self-image: Trauma can impact a person’s self-esteem and self-image, which can make it difficult to feel confident in their ability to parent effectively. The Postitive Parenting Project explains that when parents have high self-esteem, they tend to be more optimistic and to transmit that positive mindset to our children.  These parents have more likely been raised in an environment of praise and warnth and it tends to feel more natural for them to offer the same positive reinforcement to their children. Conversly, people who grew up in homes that were high in criticism may be more likely to point out to children what they have done wrong or how they could have done better or forget to celebrate their successes.

It’s important to remember that people who have experienced trauma can still be effective and loving parents. Being aware of our past and the potential impact that it may have is part of developing self awareness and can be what motivates people to learn new skills and strategies and to heal their past trauma.

3) Developing Health Conditions

Have you ever heard of an ACE score? Your ACE score tallies the number of adverse events you experienced in your life before the age of 18. Take the quiz here. In fact, an NIH study found that found that adults who had experienced 4 or more ACEs showed a 12 times higher prevalence of health risks such as alcoholism, drug use, depression, and suicide attempts.

The link between experiencing adverse childhood events and chronic disease is also becoming increasingly clear. For every increase in the ACE score of 1 point, risk for developing an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and many others goes up by 20%.

An ACE score of only 2 increases the chances of being hospitalized for an autoimmune disease by 70 to 80%.

For this reason it is very helpful to work with a holistic mental health practitioner who is able to help you explore the physical and mental health aspects of having experienced adverse early live events.


4) People Pleasing and Lack of Boundaries

Because as humans we are biologically driven to form an attachment with a caregiver, even when they also a source of critical, shaming, neglectful, or abusive behaviour, children learn to adapt to their circumstances. This can often present as people pleasing, perfectionism and appeasing that has roots in childhood which carries into adulthood and relationships.

This behaviour is often described as the fawn response. This term was coined by licensed psychotherapist Pete Walker, MA in his book “Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving.”

which describes a way of responding to a threat by trying to ‘disarm it’ becoming more appealing to the threat. Dr. Arielle Schwartz noted that In many cases, children will then turn their negative feelings toward themselves. As a result, the anger fuels self-criticism, self-loathing, or self-harming behaviors. In adulthood, this process can evolve into depression or somatic symptoms of pain or illness.


Getting the Help You Need to Move Through the Trauma

The impact of childhood trauma on adults can be profound and long-lasting. Trauma can shape our beliefs, behaviors, and relationships in ways that can be difficult to overcome without proper support and intervention. However, it’s important to remember that healing and recovery are possible. By recognizing the ways in which trauma has impacted our lives, seeking out professional help, and building supportive relationships, we can begin to address the underlying issues and work towards healing and growth. It’s important to approach the healing process with patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to confront difficult emotions and memories. With time and effort, it is possible to overcome the effects of childhood trauma and move towards a more fulfilling and empowered life. Remember, it’s never too late to seek out help and begin the journey towards healing.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by childhood trauma, know that help is available. At Restore Renew Revive counseling & couples therapy, we specialize in providing supportive, compassionate therapy services to help individuals and couples heal from trauma and overcome life’s challenges. Marcy is trained to use evidence-based techniques to help clients build resilience, work through difficult emotions, and develop the skills they need to live their best lives. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 902-702-7722 or visit our website at https://www.restorecounselling.ca 

Don’t wait to take the first step towards healing – reach out to us today.

How to Navigate Infertility

How to Navigate Infertility

Films and television shows would have us believe that conceiving a child is the easiest thing in the world. For some this may be true. But for many couples, getting pregnant seems almost impossible.


And so we seek the help and guidance from fertility specialists, convinced modern technology will help us create the family we’ve been dreaming of. We begin treatments with the hope that one of them will finally take.


Along the way, we feel a multitude of emotions, from shame and guilt to fear and sadness. Oh, and let’s not forget the unmitigated mental exhaustion.


If you are going through your own infertility journey and can relate to all of this, here are some tips to help you navigate:


You’re Not Alone

If all of your friends are having babies, your relatives have had babies, and it seems like the whole world (but you) is having babies, understand that you are not alone. In fact, one in six couples in Canada struggles to get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy.


Focus on the Present

Often, experiencing challenges with conception make it very easy to slip into thought patterns of predicting or anticipating the worst or dreaming about how life will be at some future moment. Being present in the now will help you appreciate what you presently have and lower the impact of stress on your body.



The healthier you are, the better your chances of becoming pregnant. It’s easy to let stress build-up, and then give in to those comfort food cravings. But now is the time to take optimal care of your mind, body and spirit. Eat whole foods, drink plenty of filtered water and get plenty of rest. Stay away from toxic people and situations and prioritize your well-being.


Connect with Others

It’s not always easy to discussing infertility with family, friends, or in the workplace. Often, people want to keep these challenges private to avoid having to have difficult conversations or getting unsolicited advice. However, keeping all this to yourself, or just between yourself and your partner can feel very isolating. Consider connecting with resources such as FMC Atlantic provinces Support Groups


You may also find it helpful to speak with a therapist who can help you navigate the powerful emotions you and your partner are feeling. I help couples who are struggling with infertility talk more clearly with each other about what they are going through and find ways to navigate this difficult and potentially discouraging journey more effectively. I’d love to help you.





Even Miracles Take a Little Time: How to Navigate Infertility the Smart Way


How to Navigate the Emotions of Infertility

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