ECC Group Blog: Key Takeaways From Our Session of Grief & Loss

Our Grief & Loss Sessions were sold out, but we wanted to provide a summary of the key takeaways for those who were not able to attend. We recognize why this is currently our most popular session right now with COVID-19, and it’s why we started our Community Connect program in the first place. The amount of grief and loss people are experiencing is definitely overwhelming, so we hope this blog can be a way for you to still gain valuable experience from our important sessions. 

This blog helps define grief and what it may look like for individuals during this pandemic, and provides some useful tips on how one can manage their grief or loss. Let’s get started!

The first thing to understand about grief is that it’s a response to loss. We often associate grief primarily to the loss of a loved one, however, it can be triggered by any loss of something that is meaningful to an individual, such as a relationship, a job, loss of health, loss of environment due to a move. This global pandemic has especially impacted individuals with unexpected losses that were meaningful to one’s life. It’s okay to still be grieving this type of loss. 

Grief is a highly individual experience and as such, the process and the ways to cope must also be individual. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, however, there are some helpful ways to deal with grief. Certain ways will resonate more with some than others. It’s about implementing those you feel will help you through the process. 

Here are six helpful tips on how to manage your grief and loss: 

  • Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your pain. There is no time limit on this but things do get better. 
  • Know that you are not alone. The people who care about you want to be there and help.  They may not know how. Tell them. 
  • Understand that many different and sometimes unexpected emotions will emerge during your grief journey. Accept these as they are a healthy part of the process. 
  • Continue to take care of yourself physically. A healthy body is better equipped to deal with emotional upset. 
  • Engage in spiritual activities and draw support from your faith.
  • Seek out ways to honour that which you are grieving.  For example, if you’ve lost a loved one, write them a love letter. If you’ve lost your job, write in a journal what you loved about it and what you hope for your next job. 

While this may not be the virtual session you were wanting to attend, we hope this blog can still provide you with some important insights and understandings on these difficult emotions that so many people are experiencing right now. This blog is a great starter point, and you can always book an individual session with one of our professionals to manage your grief and loss. We are still offering lots of dates for our Beyond the Blues and Stress Balance sessions, so be sure to register in advance to reserve your spot!

Valentine’s Day Tips for Couples & Singles

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which means you may be feeling some pressure to make the day memorable or work on improving your relationship this month. If you are single, you may be feeling extra lonely without as much connection and interactions with the people you care about in your daily life. With this global pandemic, we know how much our individual and partner relationships may be struggling with these challenges. Trying to balance these feelings around the holiday dedicated to appreciating your relationship or yourself may be hard, but we have some tips we want to share to help aid the overwhelming feelings so you can focus on growing whether you are in a relationship or single! 

For The Singles

First, here are the five best things about being single right now: 

  1. Opportunity to know yourself, recognize your personal strengths and celebrate your independence.
  2. Time and freedom to accomplish the things in life you want without having to consider someone else’s schedule, hopes and dreams.  Use it wisely. 
  3. The positive outlook that you still have the opportunity to choose your mate. The world is your love oyster. 
  4. You can cultivate your friendships and build these to have life-long lasting power. 
  5. You learn to love yourself first and only then can you love someone else and receive their love effectively. 

February is a great time to learn about love languages, whether you are with someone or working on improving yourself! 

Do you ever think about how you show love and how you like to receive love? Most people show their love and affection for their partner in the same way they like to receive it as we make an inherent assumption that everybody wants to be shown love in the same way we do. In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman (2015) identified five key ways that people like to be shown love. Take this love languages quiz and ask your partner to do the same! You can share the quiz with your friends or family if you are currently single to feel more connected during the holiday Discuss your results so that each of you knows how best to show your love for the other!

And remember…hold on when you get love, and let go when you give it (Millan, Seligman, Cranley, McGee, Campbell, 2012). 

For The Couples

This pandemic has definitely changed the way quality time can be spent with a person. This Valentine’s Day is no different, but we have some tips that may help spark some inspiration and ease on how to connect with your partner and grow in your new situations! 

Here are some tips for relationships struggling with distance:

  • Plan a romantic phone call or video chat with your favourite dessert and drink nearby 
  • Share three things you love and appreciate about your significant other 
  • Talk about something you both would be excited to do once you reunite 
  • Share your favourite memory together 
  • Let them know you miss them, and that you can’t wait to see them when it’s safe to do so!

Here are some tips for relationships struggling with being in close proximity: 

  • Plan a relaxing alone time activity for your significant other to show your appreciation 
  • This could be a candlelit bath, grabbing them their favourite book and meal, or giving them time to wind down in the comfiest part of your living area 
  • You can find a way to get out of your space by spending time outside together on a walk, in the park or supporting any local spots that are open right now
  • Doing this small gesture of allowing them to relax and recharge with their favourite things is an excellent way to show you care and love them! 

Resolving Conflict

Do you fight with your partner to win? Or do you fight to seek understanding and resolve the issue?  

When someone is addressing a problem, it can be easy to hear the language they are using as a direct attack or criticism. In those moments, we often stop hearing what they are saying and jump into “defensive” mode whereby we’re formulating our response in our head and not listening. Our defensive mode can additionally lead to offensive responses all of which creates a negative communication cycle. Nobody feels heard or understood, leading to added frustration and no resolution.  

Effective conflict resolution begins with effective communication. We must listen to each other attentively, ensure we’ve understood correctly, and respond with honesty and kindness. Doing so will allow each other to be vulnerable in a safe environment where collaboration can occur to resolve the issue.

“Communication leads to understanding leads to collaboration.”  (L. B. Pearson). 

It can be easy to get caught up in the issues, anxieties and pressures of Valentine’s Day whether you are in a relationship or single. However, during this global pandemic, the most important test has demonstrated that showing love and care for your partner or yourself is what matters most! Prioritizing these relationships right now might seem daunting, but it’s more manageable than you think, and it can start with something as simple as these tips we’ve laid out! 

ECC Group Blog: The Value In Group Support Meetings

Every person can benefit from some form of support in their lives, but a lot of people lose out on the opportunity by not knowing the full potential and values that come along with taking that first step. 

At Elpizo Counselling Services, our Community Connect virtual programs are dedicated to providing accessible services that can bring comfort and ease to any person, and more importantly, add value to overall well being. Group support meetings are the perfect way to introduce a no strings attached method of seeking help and relief for tons of issues that are more common than you think! 

Here are 5 valuable reasons to consider trying one of our support groups:

  • Group atmosphere is laid back, comfortable and a no pressure commitment 
  • Connect, listen, and exchange with others who are experiencing the same struggles 
  • Free opportunity to test out counselling services and methods 
  • No anxiety or fear of sharing your struggles with people in your personal life 
  • Judgement free zone with realistic and manageable ways to incorporate support

Our support groups are relevant and applicable to all kinds of situations, homes and lives that have been negatively disrupted by COVID-19. The goal of these sessions is to provide guidance and support during these uncertain times and to demonstrate how harmless it is to seek and find the help you need. 

There is so much to gain from our Community Connect support groups than just these 5 reasons. Just know that whatever struggle you are going through matters, and that you aren’t alone. 
Take that first step in seeking support by checking out our Stress Balance and Beyond the Blues Community Connect sessions happening throughout February and March!

Podcast: Understanding Mental Health With Ruth Baah-Gyebi

Earlier this month our very own Ruth Bahh-Gyebi was welcomed onto the The Good Health Cafe podcast hosted by Nikita Boston-Fisher to talk about how COVID-19 has impacted mental health, how to offer support and what the therapy experience is like. 

The Good Health Cafe podcast’s goal is to give you tips on how to navigate the healthcare system and easily understand other matters of public health. As we know, the healthcare systems and public health can be pretty confusing with different terminology used and The Good Health Cafe podcast aims to bridge that gap.

In an interview before the podcast, Gyebi and Fisher discussed how to prioritize your mental health during the pandemic. Below are some fantastic tips that Gyebi gave to help your mental health this year, that you can try while stuck at home during the lockdown. 

  • Try new things – candle making, arts and crafts from the dollar store and podcasting are all things that I tried for the first time this year.
  • Take breaks – take a pause to go for a walk. If you have some vacation time, use it. Do what you can to give yourself a chance to rest and recharge.
  • Reconnect with old friends and make new ones – call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to see how they are doing.

Gyebi also gave a couple of great tips you can try out for the current holiday season. One of those great tips is to gift a visit to a mental health professional to yourself or a loved one. If you’re interested in giving such a gift, Elpizo Counselling has experienced therapists and counsellors that are willing to work with you to get the best help, feel free to call 877-355-7496. 

If you are interested in listening to the full podcast and learning more about mental health and the therapy experience, click here.

The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Eve has become more than just a holiday or a time to party for many of us. We look at it as not only a celebration of the past year, or in the case of 2020, a celebration that it is finally over, but also as a chance for a fresh start. So while we go into the new year with resolutions and the best of intentions to keep them, it doesn’t take most of us very long to give up. In fact, about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. One possible explanation for this is that many people tend to be hoping for a quick fix instead of realistic, achievable, and lasting change, and therefore lack the necessary motivation and commitment to keep their resolutions. 

When making resolutions simply in the spirit of celebration without any real thought into what it takes to achieve them, the enthusiasm and effort felt at the beginning of the year begin to quickly wane. With our inevitable lack of progress towards achieving our resolutions, we soon end up reverting back to old habits. This can be very discouraging and lead many people to believe that they simply do not possess the necessary skills and abilities to achieve positive and lasting change, but maybe the reality is that most new year’s resolutions are flawed to begin with. By setting a specific future date to implement changes implies that we will only begin to make changes once that date arrives rather than doing it now, and there is simply no logic in that. All of us are works in progress so we should strive to implement change into our lives on a regular basis, not just once a year. 

So instead of making resolutions this new year, incorporate healthy behaviour into your everyday life by setting goals along with strategies for achieving them. The difference between a goal and a resolution is that a resolution is a decision to (not) do a specific behaviour while a goal is a series of planned out steps designed to help you achieve the end result you are aiming for. In this respect, creating specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals, instead of new year’s resolutions, is the key to long-term success and growth. Below are some guidelines for how you change your life for the better starting today:

  • Decide and commit to making a change.
  • Start immediately, do not wait for new year’s day to come around. There is no better time than the present moment.
  • Set realistic goals and when necessary, break them down into smaller, more easily achievable goals. Once you start achieving these smaller goals, you will be motivated to keep moving towards your bigger, seemingly hard to reach goals.
  • Document what you want to achieve.
  • Have a strategy or system in place for achieving your goals and identify possible obstacles or areas for potential set-backs. Your enthusiasm and motivation may wane over time but you can mitigate their effect by having a plan in place to push through. 
  • Be as specific as possible when setting goals and make sure that they are specific, measurable, and have a deadline. 
  • Understand that true purpose of what you want to achieve.
  • Do not overshoot! Select the 1 or 2 goals that are most important to you and focus on them. Once you see that you are able to achieve these, you will be more motivated to continue setting goals and working towards improving your life – throughout the year. 
  • Adopt a mindset of absolute belief and faith that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.

Starting 2021 with no New Year’s resolutions can be a liberating experience of getting what you really want. By setting goals throughout the year, you are giving yourself permission to make incremental progress and enjoy the process instead of getting wrapped up in the outcomes. Small steps become enjoyable and you adopt a growth mindset instead of judging yourself for perceived failures. Real change comes when you know your desired outcome and commit to making your goals a reality. Get everything you want this year and every year, by deciding to set and achieve goals that truly matter to you.

References:

The Reason You Feel “SAD” During The Winter

The winter season is now upon us, which for some may mean a noticeable  change in our mood. With the sun setting early now and the cold weather taking over, it’s not uncommon to  experience a decrease in motivation and more frequent depressive episodes during this time.

The month of December shines light on Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as the acronym, “SAD”. This disorder is a type of depression that arises during the change in season. Most people who experience SAD feel their energy being depleted and lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. On the rare occasion, people may experience depression caused by SAD during the spring or early summer months too. 

Symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Feelings of depression as the winter season progresses
  • Low energy
  • Lack of sleep or oversleeping
  • Losing interest and motivation
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss/gain
  • Sluggish and anxious feelings 
  • Suicidal thoughts

The cause of SAD may be due to the reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter months, a decrease in serotonin levels due to the lack of sunlight, and the body’s level of melatonin becoming disrupted.

If you experience severe symptoms of SAD and do not get treated, it can possibly lead to worse problems such as:

  • Problems at work or school
  • Substance Abuse 
  • Extreme suicidal thoughts or behaviour 
  • Other mental health disorders

Light therapy, medication and psychotherapy are options of treatment you may want to look into if you’re experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Of course it is normal to have some days of feeling down, but if you feel it an overwhelming amount of times and just can’t get yourself back to normal, you should highly consider seeing a doctor or counselling service. 

Elpizo Community Connect: Navigating The Holiday Season

The Holiday Season has arrived and it is going to be unlike any other. With COVID-19 still being a hot topic, many are opting to change from their traditional routine to a new one. 

Last week on Elpizo’s Community Connect, the team came together and discussed how to navigate this holiday season. If you don’t know what to do this holiday season you should definitely take a look! 

This is our last Community Connect for the year so if you’re interested in the other topics that we cover we recommend going over to our Youtube channel to watch our other Elpizo Community Connect sessions. 

Watch the workshop below and leave us a comment on how your navigating this holiday season! 

Elpizo Community Connect: Time Management

Managing your time well can make all the difference between living a stressful or stress-free life. Join the Elpizo team in this workshop to get some valuable insights and information on time management.

Download the worksheets below:

Time Management Daily Activities Log

Where Does the Time Go Worksheet

References: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/tests/career/procrastination-test-abridged

Watch the workshop below and leave us a comment if you have tips and time hacks of your own.

How International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Came To Be

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and people around the world will come together to commemorate and address this issue on a global scale. 

The day was first recognized in 1999 when the United Nations General Assembly passed the resolution, introduced by the Dominican Republic, designating November 25th as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. However, the United Nations (UN) was not the first to do this. Women in Latin America and the Caribbean have been honouring the day since 1981. The reason for the day was to mark the anniversary of three women political activists who were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on November 25th 1960 for opposing the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo. 

The UN officially recognized the date on February 7th 2000, and the United Nations General Assembly encouraged organizations around the world to raise awareness yearly on the date. 

Unlike an illness or disease which groups of people have no control over, ending violence against women is a movement that everyone can bring awareness to. Tragedies like the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre, where a man killed 14 women in a Montreal university should never happen. As a society, we should bring awareness and support initiatives such as The Spotlight Initiative, so history doesn’t repeat itself. 

Elpizo offers a wide range of services for women who have recently or in their past experienced violence and sexual violence. We provide comprehensive counselling and therapy solutions such as Rapid Resolution Therapy that will eliminate emotional and behavioural difficulties. These options are offered online and in-person, and with all our therapeutic options, we work with you to make sure you get the treatment you need.

The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence is an international campaign that takes place every year. It runs from November 25, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to December 10th, Human Rights Day.

Launched in 2008, the UNiTE Campaign aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world. This is done by calling on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing and fighting against the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. 

COVID-19, the quarantine, lockdowns, and social isolation have negatively influenced mental health and increased risks of family violence and conflict. It is a critical time for women being affected by gender-based violence. 

From November 25 to December 10, the UN’s System’s 16-Day Activism against gender-based violence is taking place under the 2020 global theme: “ Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”

The main principles of the UNiTE Campaign Advocacy are:

  1. Honour and acknowledge women’s movements
  2. ‘Leave no one behind’
  3. Survivor-centered
  4. Multi-sectoral
  5. Transformative
  6. Elevate the voices of young feminists
  7. The colour orange continues to be a key tool; unifying all activities

In order to support and be a part of the change, join UNiTE on The 16 Days of Activism and help speak out, unite with partners around the world, reflect on what we can all do in our own communities to eliminate violence faced by young girls, women, and the LGBTQ2 community. Start conversations on social media and become an ally by listening, believing, speaking out, intervening, and acting on what is going on and how you can help.

If you would like to learn more about International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and current UN efforts to fight violence against women, click here.

Safety Planning for Victims of Domestic Abuse

It might seem overwhelming to prepare a safety plan when you wish to leave an abusive relationship. Here are some tips for those who are thinking about starting their path to a safer place: 

  • If it is safe to do so, always have a phone accessible and know what numbers to call for help, including friends or family and your local shelter. Know where the nearest public phone is located. 
  • Plan and practice with your children and identify a safe place where they can go during moments of crisis, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house.  
  • Back your car into your driveway when you park at home and ensure your gas is at a full tank. If possible, keep the driver’s door unlocked with the rest of the doors locked to allow for quick access to the vehicle. 
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know about your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you might need their help. Give them clear instructions on who you do or do not want them to contact in moments of crisis, including law enforcement. 
  • When preparing to go to a shelter, if you can, call ahead to see what the shelter’s policies are. They can give you information on how they can help, and how to secure a space when it’s time to leave. 
  • Have a backup plan if your partner finds out about your plan. 
  • What to bring:  
    • Driver’s license or Ontario Photo Card 
    • Social insurance card 
    • Health card 
    • Birth certificate and children’s birth certificates 
    • Financial information 
    • Money and/or credit cards (in your name) 
    • Checking and/or savings account books 
    • Protective order, if applicable 
    • Copies of any lease or rental agreements or the deed to your home 
    • Car registration and insurance papers 
    • Health and life insurance papers 
    • Medical records for you and your children 
    • School records 
    • Work permits/passport/visas/immigration papers 
    • Any legal documents, including divorce and custody papers 
    • Marriage license 
    • Medications and refills (if possible) 
    • Emergency items, like food, bottles of water, and a first aid kit 
    • Multiple changes of clothes for you and your children 
    • Emergency money 
    • Address book 
    • Extra sets of house and car keys 
    • Pictures and sentimental items 
    • Valuable items, such as jewelry 
    • Safe cell phone, if necessary 
    • Numbers of your attorney, local domestic violence program or shelter, local doctor’s office and hospital, criminal legal resources, children’s school

You might want to consider keeping copies of these items at a friend’s place so it won’t raise suspicion if found by your abuser and in case your abuser decides to destroy these items as they may anticipate your plan to escape.

 No matter the severity of your situation, just know that you are not overreacting or being drastic. Signs of abuse can begin to show up in small ways, so it’s important to be mindful, watchful and prepared at all costs. You are not alone. There is a world of support to help and encourage you through your circumstance.

For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/plan-your-safety.html