The Logistics of ‘Fighting’

Conflict, arguments, discussions, fights — whatever you’d like to call them –are entirely normal in all relationships. No matter how hard you might try to avoid them, chances are you are going to encounter conflict at some point within your personal relationships. What if, instead of trying to avoid conflict, we became better at it?

‘Good’ communication is said to be the secret to all conflict resolution. Although ‘good’ communication is essential, you should also consider some logistics when resolving conflict. Here are five tips to improve the logistics of your arguments:

  1. Schedule your conflict. It sounds odd at first, but take a moment to think about it: Have you ever said something you did not mean during an argument? Most of us have. Emotional flare-ups at times stop us from engaging the “rational” part of our brains. Taking some time apart and preparing to “argue” at a specific time will allow both of you to settle your emotions and give you some time to reflect on what is important to you.
  2. Take care of your body first. You would not go into an important business meeting or school presentation hungry, sleep-deprived, or in an unpleasant physical state, would you? Of course not. Doing so would alter your ability to think and perform in those situations effectively. The same applies here. If possible, make sure all your physical needs are met before engaging in a potentially conflictual discussion. Not only will this improve your mood, but it also allows you to think more clearly.
  3. Neutral environment. Our environment makes a huge difference! Try to find a neutral place where you both feel comfortable discussing the issue(s) (and try to keep conflict out of your bedroom!) Ideally, bedrooms are for sleeping or sex; do not bring your arguments into that space.
  4. Limit distractions. Put your mobile devices away, turn off the television, and give each other full and undivided attention. No one likes to feel like they are being ignored or not listened to; inattentiveness may make the argument much harder than it already is. The fewer distractions, the quicker you can focus on the discussion and (hopefully) come to a resolution.
  5. No interruptions. If you have children in the house, make a conscious effort to watch your voice’s volume and tone. Finding healthy ways to resolve conflicts is vital because children and adolescents can absorb discord energy between parents. You also want to make sure you are in an environment where you will not be interrupted or cut-off. It is vital to mutually dedicate this time to focus on each other and the issue at-hand without fearing interruptions.

Rebeca Fernandez Bosanac, B.A. is a counsellor at CFIR working under the supervision of Dr. Reesa Packard, M.A., Ph.D., R.P. Rebeca is currently studying to complete her Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. Her professional experience includes working with at-risk youth struggling with extensive trauma, dual-diagnoses, and behavioural issues and working in harm-reduction programs with individuals who struggle with substance abuse, trauma, homelessness, and mental health disorders.

Couples: Why We Don’t Understand Each Other

“I told you so many times!” “No, you didn’t!” That is the kind of argument we regularly hear in couple’s therapy. If you are or have been in a romantic relationship, that situation probably happened to you as well. It can occur when one partner realizes the extent of the other’s feelings, like “I knew it bothered you, but I didn’t know it bothered you that much.” How is it that despite all our communication, we still sometimes don’t understand each other?

As we are unique human beings with our individual histories, there are different possible explanations for miscommunication experiences. A common reason is that people often think they express their feelings and needs when, in reality, they have not been as direct as they believe. For example, a partner often says what they think the other is doing incorrectly or what they want the other to do or stop doing. While it may seem that this is direct communication, it may fail to communicate important aspects of one partner’s experience, including why this is important to him/her and how the others’ actions make him/her feel. This can be perceived as blame and criticism rather than a direct expression of feelings and needs and often leaves the other partner defensive and unable to listen and empathize.

Another common miscommunication issue is that we often think our way is the “right” way and can dismiss a partner’s feelings or perspective and not give space for discussion and compromise. When one partner is not open to the other’s point of view, the chances are that the other person will not be inclined to try to listen and understand either.

These are a few things to be mindful of that can help strengthen your communication as a couple. Both members of the couple need to work together to improve communication, and it is not the responsibility of only one member of the couple to make things better. However, working together can be difficult, especially if communication is already a challenge. At the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships, we can help you develop a deeper understanding of your relationship dynamics as a couple and help you communicate in new, helpful ways to better understand each other.

Vann-Vateil Phlek, B.A., is a counsellor at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships working under the supervision of Dr. Karine Côté, C.Psych. She has completed her B.A. in psychology at the University of Ottawa, and provides counselling to adults and couples.

How Does Childhood Trauma Affect Relationships?

How we understand, feel, and behave interpersonally in adulthood stems from our experiences in our earliest relationships. As children, caregivers help us make sense of our experiences. They translate a physical reaction, such as crying, into a conscious feeling, thought, or desire. They do so by mirroring the child’s emotion, marking it with exaggerated facial, vocal, or gestural displays, and responding to it sensitively. They also put into words their own reactions, modeling ways to make sense of a child’s behaviours, and allowing the child to understand that people experience situations differently. These interactions foster what is called “mentalization”, which is the capacity to understand oneself and others in terms of possible thoughts, feelings, wishes, and desires. 

And what about children who did not benefit from such interactions with caregivers? In cases of child abuse and neglect, the child’s physical experiences are often ignored or met with anger, resentment, and irritation. These responses leave a child with the impossible task of processing his experience alone, therefore compromising the development of mentalization. It is not surprising that many adults having suffered maltreatment in childhood often encounter difficulties in their adulthood relationships. They may often feel hurt or angry in relationships as their understanding of others’ intentions or feelings is either lacking or inaccurate, leading to conclusions drawn by their own painful experiences in childhood. Therefore, behaviours such as withdrawing from a situation may be perceived as an intentional rejection, when, in fact, it may result from other intentions or needs. 

At CFIR, we can help you develop your mentalization skills by taking a step back from situations that trigger strong reactions. By learning how to think about how you feel and feel about how you think, we can support you to create stronger bonds in your relationship with others. 

Lorenzi, N., Campbell, C. & Fonagy, P. (2018). Mentalization and its role in processing trauma. In B. Huppertz (Ed) Approaches to psychic trauma: Theory and practice (p. 403-422). Rowman & Littlefield. 

Camille Bandola, B.Sc., is a counsellor at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships working under the supervision of Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych. She is currently in the fourth year of my doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Université du Québec en Outaouais.

Navigating Complicated Interpersonal Dynamics During the Holidays

For many individuals, the holidays are marked by wonderful moments. However, we cannot deny “the most wonderful time of the year” can also be influenced by significant stressors, such as feeling pressure to find great gifts, planning and preparing for large gatherings, feeling obligated to travel to the different yearly family parties, triggering moments provoking loneliness, sadness, and grief… Even though there can be a real part of us wanting to enjoy the holidays, there can also be another part dreading it. 

Of course, the holiday season is already looking very different this year. The global pandemic and its various impacts have forced us to slow down, required us to socialize and practice self-care creatively, and brought different types of losses and grief. As a clinical psychologist, I am supporting clients dealing with their disappointment and sadness for not celebrating the holidays as usual. I am also validating clients who feel relieved for not dealing with the same level of pressure they usually experience.

Through my clinical lenses, I also see this as an interesting opportunity for self-reflection and possible adjustments in our way to navigate those contentious relationships and hopefully finding more ease in dealing with them.

Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych.

One difficulty that seems somewhat alleviated this year – but still present – is the obligation to face complicated interpersonal dynamics. Whether it is a problematic relationship with a parent, a sibling, in-laws, or friends, we now have the perfect reason to limit contact and staying home during the holidays. Through my clinical lenses, I also see this as an interesting opportunity for self-reflection and possible adjustments in our way to navigate those contentious relationships and hopefully finding more ease in dealing with them.

Reflect on your ideals

The other’s unmet ideals often fuel complex relationships (e.g., your parent, sibling, friend, etc.). When the other does or says something that triggers deep frustration, sadness, or disappointment, this emotion is most likely related to a need or ideal of this person that is once again not met. 

Example: When a mother makes a cold and critical remark, the immediate feelings of anger and sadness are linked to a wish of being validated and recognized by her – not just related to this one critic. The ideal of having a warm and encouraging mother is still not met; the hope of gaining her recognition is crushed once again.

Validate your needs and emotions

To regulate the emotions resulting from an unmet ideal, validating the feelings and taking authentic ownership of the underlying need is essential. It is normal to feel disappointed in a relationship context, but we can also offer ourselves what we need, such as kindness, recognition, or motivation.

Example: The anger and sadness resulting from being criticized by the attachment figure is normal. The need to receive encouragements and warmth is valid. Being able to validate the emotions and needs will lower the emotional activation and meet that need internally (e.g., “I am allowed to feel this way, I can recognize my own achievements”). 

Practice differentiation

The difficulty of a loved one meeting our ideals and needs is often mostly related to them and not entirely to us. Because of their limits, experiences, and requirements, sometimes they cannot meet our ideals. Practicing healthy differentiation, or recognizing what belongs to them and what belongs to us, can help mitigate negative emotions.

Example: The mother is very harsh on herself, not celebrating her positive actions and attributes – therefore, it is hard for her to do it for others. Her tendency to be overly-critical towards others belongs to her self-critique and does not reflect others’ worth or abilities.

Enjoy the good you can get

It is often not because some needs and ideals are not met that the whole relationship is negative. After validating emotions, identifying and meeting underlying needs, and differentiating from the other, it is much easier to feel good from the interaction.

Example: Even if the mother is critical, she is caring and warm in other ways, such as cooking for the family, playing with her grandchildren, often calling, sending thoughtful gifts, etc. The one critic hurts, but it does not represent the entirety of the relationship. 

Assert needs and limits to others

At times, asserting needs and limits is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship and to be able to connect with the other. Talking with “I” statements when we are emotionally calm can help us get what we need from the discussion and offer an occasion for repair.

Example: Point out that the remark made a few days ago was hurtful, and what was wanted was encouragement. Doing so can help get support from the mother and cause her to reflect on her tendency to be overly-critical. 

In summary, navigating complicated relationships can be difficult – especially during the holidays. Taking the time and space to reflect and adjust our own internal experience can positively impact our well-being and interpersonal relationships we deeply value. If you need support to learn how to cope with complicated relationships in your life, professionals at CFIR can offer support and possibly help you move towards repairing them.

Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych. is a psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR). Dr. Côté provides psychological services to individual adults and couples experiencing a wide range of psychological and relationship difficulties related to mood and anxiety disorders, trauma, eating disorders, sleep disruptions, and interpersonal betrayal. She works from a humanistic approach and integrates therapeutic techniques from gestalt and object relations psychotherapies, emotion-focused therapy (EFT), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Mental Health in the Midst of a Pandemic

Reesa Packard, R.P., Ph.D. (Associate at CFIR – Ottawa) was on the airwaves with 1310News’ Sam Laprade! The two shared an engaging discussion about managing mental health throughout the pandemic and beyond. This conversation is one you don’t want want to miss.

To learn more about how clinicians at CFIR can help you online or by phone, go to www.cfir.ca

Hold the Chocolate Chips: Change and How to Do It

Today, I scooped myself a bowl of ice cream. This is no different from countless other times I’ve done the same thing, save for one fact: I didn’t add chocolate chips. Now, let me back up for a second. I’ve been putting chocolate chips in my ice cream since I was a small boy. (somewhere out there in internet land, there is a mention of me eating too much ice cream-it’s true!).

Vanilla ice cream? Add some chocolate chips. Chocolate? Add chocolate chips. Cookie dough brownie with fudge? You guessed it, that’s going to get some chocolate chips too. So why didn’t I add them tonight? The answer: the global pandemic.

By now, I’m sure we’re all sick of reading about and talking about and hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I won’t belabour that. However, one side effect of the situation is that it’s caused almost all of us to re-think our routines. I didn’t add chocolate chips because when I went to grab another package at the grocery store earlier this week, they were all out (we really do seem to modulate our emotions with baked goods). That made me change a tiny part of my daily routine in a way I haven’t done for probably 20 years.

I’m betting that you, dear reader, might have had something similar happen to you in your week. Maybe you made that meal that you’ve been planning on for months. Maybe you cleaned the baseboards. Maybe you finally reached out and actually called your mother, or your grandmother (or their male counterparts!). Whatever it was, I’m betting that it felt weird at first, but that you felt better after doing it.

See, massive societal changes don’t just change things on the macro (read: big picture) level; they change on the micro, too.

Brent Mulrooney, M.A.S.P. | Therapist

See, massive societal changes don’t just change things on the macro (read: big picture) level; they change it on the micro, too. For 20 years, I have consistently thought that ice cream just wasn’t right without chocolate chips, so I consistently added them to every bowl I’ve ever eaten. Today, because of a situation entirely out of my control, I changed my habit. But here’s the thing: I liked it better. I tried it and I liked it better.

That got me to thinking. How often do we recognize that there’s something happening in our lives that just doesn’t sit right with us? Maybe you don’t call your friends because you think you’re going to bother them? Maybe you want to say hello to someone in an elevator, but you get shy because you’ve never done it before and …don’t weird people do that? (I say hello quite often, so make of that what you will). Maybe you want to start going to the gym, but you haven’t found the right day, or the right time, or the right gym outfit.

Yet, when we actually try something new, those tales we tell ourselves don’t often hold water. Sometimes they’re just not true. Sometimes, the ice cream is better without the chocolate chips.

Looking to start a journey towards change and your life? Mental health professionals at CFIR can help you navigate where you’re coming from and support you in developing healthy strategies to build an emotionally healthy future.

Brent Mulrooney, Ph.D., is a therapist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships. He works with individuals and families to improve mood, anxiety, relationships, work, and school. He also works to alleviate problems associated with substance use, learning difficulties (including ADHD and Learning Disabilities), bullying, trauma, violence, grief and loss, transitions in life, self-esteem, gender identity, sexuality, and intimate relationships.

Maintaining and Building Healthy Relationships Virtually During COVID-19

With the outbreak of COVID-19, the whole world changed rapidly and drastically, which can invoke feelings of fear as well as uncertainty. A particularly crucial yet psychologically difficult element associated with COVID-19 is the worldwide efforts of socially distancing to limit the spread of the virus. As human beings, we have a fundamental need and drive for interpersonal connections and relationships. During social distancing, it can be common to feel loneliness and disconnection from others. However, with modern technology, we can build and nurture new and existing relationships that have evidence-based findings to improve our mental health and overall wellbeing. Healthy relationships are linked to reduced production of stress hormones such as cortisol, a greater sense of purpose, and healthy coping behaviours.

During times like this, it is crucial to utilize the psychological benefits of social relationships by:

  • Scheduling times to connect via FaceTime, Skype, or virtual platforms. This activity can serve as a wonderful substitution for face to face interaction. 
  • Sharing our thoughts, feelings, concerns, and experiences with friends and family. Doing so allows us to feel heard, understood, and increasingly connected to others.
  • Create time for individual hobbies and self-care; however, include scheduled time for family activities such as game nights or think of some creative ideas on date nights you can create with your partner at home.
  • Reconnecting with friends or relatives that we haven’t had much time or opportunity to connect with as frequently in the past.
  • Keeping in touch with colleagues or employees during these uncertain times and offering support.

Clinicians at CFIR are offering confidential, secure video therapy or teletherapy therapy, which can help support you with maintaining social relationships during COVID-19 as well as working through feelings of loneliness, loss, or uncertainty, amongst others.

Edgar Prudcoi, B.A. is a therapist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Toronto and is near completion of his Masters degree in Clinical Psychology at the Adler Graduate Professional School. He supports individual adults and couples to deal with difficulties related to emotion (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger), the effects of trauma, loss and grief, conflict resolution, and relationship functioning.

9 Ways to Make the Best of Forced Isolation

As cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to rise, society is faced with a new reality that few have ever encountered. In an unpreceded move to ‘flatten the curve’ and avoid further spread of the disease, government agencies have enforced stringent travel restriction policies and implemented ‘social distancing’ protocols. Undoubtedly, this isolation will have an impact on how we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and the larger world. Though this separation is likely to affect mental health, there are several ways to make the best of this forced retreat. Here are helpful tips to help you through this social isolation:

Limit News Intake: While it is essential to stay up to date on the current news regarding coronavirus disease – but moderation is crucial. Try to set a routine as to when you’ll check for updates or choose only to read critical news releases. Staying connected to 24-hour news channels will only increase anxiety and limit your ability to engage in other pleasurable tasks.

Reach Out to Others: Though you may not be able to connect live in-person, technology allows us to communicate in many new and unique ways. FaceTime, the Houseparty app, or Skype are fantastic services for connecting. If someone you know isn’t able to access these technologies, phone calls are still a viable way to reach out.

Create Boundaries on COVID-19 Discussions with Friends: During difficult times it’s essential to relate and share with others. However, if you don’t put boundaries on discussing your anxiety with others, the conversation can spiral quickly. Be mindful of your communications and ask yourself, “…is this helping me feel better or making me more stressed?” If it’s making you stressed, try changing the topic to something else. Try to strike a balance between exploring your feelings and discussing more positive issues.

Create a Flexible Routine (with breaks!): Humans crave some routine. Although it doesn’t need to be structured, try to stick to a basic regimen for your day that includes when you will eat, sleep, and work. This routine will need flexibility given the current situation, however, it’s still good to have a general plan.

Enjoy Nature: If you can, take a walk in a park, your backyard, or some other natural space (just remember to keep 6 feet of distance!). Connecting with nature helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Take Time Alone: Remember to take time alone if you are in isolation with others (especially partners). We often still need quiet time when isolated. Just be sure to have a conversation with your partner/family/roommate, so they know it isn’t a personal sight, and that you need space.

Limit Time on Social Media: It can be easy to get caught up on social media. Though it can be a great way to connect – it also has many downfalls. Avoid reading to many fearmongering or non-credible articles. Remember to avoid comparing yourself to others and what they are doing in isolation. It’s OK to relax and rest.

Get Physical: Going to the gym might be out of the question; however, you can still stay active! Many gyms are offering free online programing that requires little or no equipment. Research tells us that one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety is to stay active.

Don’t Expect Perfection: It’s impossible to expect yourself to be able to operate at full capacity during a crisis. Practice self-compassion when things don’t go the way you’d like them to and extend this compassion to those around you.

Society has come together like never before to eradicate the coronavirus. We all have our part to play in trying to reduce its spread and keep those around us both physically and mentally safe. Following these tips can help to nurture your mental health during these difficult times. If you are feeling alone and in need of help, skilled clinicians at CFIR can help you better understand your experiences and support you during this difficult period. Secure and confidential video and telephone sessions are available.

Joshua Peters, M.A., R.P., is a Registered Psychotherapist at CFIR. In his clinical practice, he works with individual and couple clients who are experiencing a diverse range of emotional, self, identity, and relationship struggles. With appropriate guidance in therapy, he can help you to get at the emotional roots of your distress as well as help you to become in touch with the concerns, goals, and needs that underlie your experiences.

Dealing with Loneliness During COVID-19

Were you already feeling lonely before physical distancing became mandated? Now in response to the novel Coronavirus Pandemic, The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends “physical distancing” as it is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. It is difficult to fully grasp the idea of limiting physical human connection as it is essential for promoting wellness in our lives. But we are being told this vital connection could potentially harm us. 

But I Was Already Lonely…

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not the only public health concern we should be worrying about as we start to see the countering effects of social isolation and loneliness. According to new research by Statistics Canada, the number of people living alone in Canada more than doubled over the last 35 years. Also, there is some evidence that individuals who live alone are more likely to report social isolation or loneliness than those who live with others. For many of us, especially those who live alone, being deprived of social connection for an uncertain amount of time could exacerbate current feelings of loneliness and other mental or physical illnesses.

We were already living through an epidemic of loneliness, even before the Coronavirus pandemic started. Those who are lonely do not choose to be isolated. Loneliness can be defined as the subjective feeling of being alone and not connected to others, which can still occur when in the company of other people. Those who experience loneliness tend to have higher levels of cortisol, which is an indicator of stress. An accumulation of this stress hormone can suppress your immune system when exposed to pathogens.

Stay Physically Apart But Stick Together

Being told to stay away from one another physically is the opposite of our innate response as humans to seek out and support one another during stress to maximize survival. Humans have lived in groups for thousands of years for this reason.

The new term “social distancing” was intended to stop or slow the spread of the Coronavirus by limiting the number of people you come in contact with while keeping a physical distance from one another. But more recently, The WHO says efforts taken to slow the spread of the Coronavirus should instead encourage strengthening social ties while maintaining that physical distancing. The new term “physical distancing” emphasizes the need to be physically apart, but socially we still need to work together. 

Why is Social Connectedness so Important?

There are decades of research that support the importance of social connection and love and belonging. According to Abraham Maslow, humans possess an innate desire for a sense of belonging and acceptance. These needs are met through pleasing and fulfilling relationships with others.

From the beginning of our lives, we are wired to connect. This fact is evident from our early days as a newborn. When an infant cries, oxytocin is released. The cry serves as a signal for the mother to bond with their child. Also, there is evidence that this bonding hormone is released when we engage in positive social interactions.

Here are some ways to engage in positive social interactions while halting the spread of COVID-19 and turn social distancing into distant socializing:

Be in Nature – Cultivates interconnectedness of others and reminds us that we are just a small part of the greater whole. 

  • Go for a walk at least once a day – each person you pass say hello and smile at them
  • Go for a hike or bike ride

Use Technology in Socially Healthy Ways Set reminders to connect with others 

  • Social Technology Connections 
    • Use Facetime, Zoom, House Party or Marco Polo 
  • Watch Netflix in Party Mode stream together with a chat function at Netflixparty.com
  • Virtual Exercise Classes

Media and News Exposure

  • Limit exposure to media related to COVID-19 ten minutes in the morning and ten at night 
  • Use consistent and credible news sources for your information 

Slow Down and Reflect

  • Create a new normal at home with structure and consistency 
  • Reflect on a past positive event 
  • Look at old pictures or videos- by seeing, hearing, or thinking of loved ones can recreate old attachment bonds. 
  • Embrace little connections; they can be meaningful
  • Comfort food – reminds us of being safe and cared for 

Be Present and Mindful

  • Engage in interactions requiring eye contact with both people and pets 
  • Pet and play with your furry companion

Help Yourself and Others

  • Talk about your feelings of loneliness with others. It may not rid you of your loneliness entirely but lets you know you are not alone in that feeling.
  • Give support to others – helping others will help them, but it makes us feel connected as well, which can help us see our shared humanness. We are all in this together.

The correlation between social connection and overall health is clear. Social interaction and connectedness can be used as treatment and prevention for feelings of loneliness and isolation.

At this point, it is safe to say that connecting with others during this period of isolation and using technology in socially healthy ways can increase pleasure and continue to release the oxytocin we need to thrive and survive. This can, in turn, reduce stress and increase happiness. Physical distancing may protect us from the Coronavirus, but it may deprive us of our innate need for social connectedness and belonging.

When we are isolated from others with limited social connection and deprived of oxytocin, life can feel cold and empty. For many, loneliness and even depression follow. Right now, our clinicians at CFIR are offering secure video and teletherapy sessions to new and existing clients. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to connect for a confidential therapy session from the comfort of your own home.

Laura Moore, B.Sc. (Honours) is a therapist at the Centre For Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Toronto. She is completing her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology at the Adler Graduate Professional School in Toronto. Laura works with adults and couples in therapy, to support them to overcome challenges related to depression, stress, grief and loss, trauma, and relationship conflicts. Her current research focuses on cultivating spousal attunement following traumatic experiences.

Maintaining Normalcy During Challenging Times

There is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has already become a time of significant uncertainty, concerns, and instability. For many individuals, this chaos may negatively impact general well-being and functioning and may provoke increased levels of stress, sleep disturbances, and lower mood. Try one or all of the following tips to help maintain a certain level of normalcy in your daily regimen:

1. Follow recommendations and take actions

When possible, participating in measures and advice can help us feel connected to our community and increase our sense of internal control. For example, by practicing social distancing, we can feel solidarity and know we are taking a concrete measure to limit the spread of the virus. By encouraging local businesses, we know we are participating in the local economy. By connecting with the vulnerable individuals around us, we minimize their isolation. In this uncertain global climate, taking ownership of our actions can help mitigate our sense of helplessness.

2. Stay connected

Social distancing can tangibly and positively impact the pandemic, but the practice can also leave us feeling lonely. Communicating with friends, family, and colleagues through different means of technology can give us a sense of connection – which is such an essential part of our regular functioning and well-being. Share a meal or a board game session over video chat, play online games with friends, write a letter or send an e-card, or call and message your loved ones.

3. Maintain your routine

When our daily routine is completely changed, it is vital to maintain some key elements, so it is not too difficult when we return to full normalcy. Try practicing your same eating and sleeping habits, get up and maintain your regular wake up time, go for a walk or do some stretches when you would usually take a break during the day, etc. It will go a long way! 

4. Participate in self-care activities

Your self-care remains essential, and we can be creative with that exercise. Many cultural events, physical training programs, and interesting classes are now shared online for free. You may wish to revisit past activities that make you feel good such as playing games, taking a bath, doing a meditation exercise, reading, watching a movie, organizing or decluttering your house, cooking, sorting through pictures, etc.

5. Seeking help and support when needed

Throughout this challenging time, you may feel an increasing need for emotional support. Do not hesitate to rely on your support system, call a distress line, or consult a mental health professional. CFIR is offering secure teletherapy to individuals in need of services, and we are here to help! 

Like all things in life, this chaos will eventually pass. By focusing on our needs and staying connected, we will all get through this together. 

Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych. is a psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR). Dr. Côté provides psychological services to individual adults and couples experiencing a wide range of psychological and relationship difficulties related to mood and anxiety disorders, trauma, eating disorders, sleep disruptions, and interpersonal betrayal. She works from a humanistic approach and integrates therapeutic techniques from gestalt and object relations psychotherapies, emotion-focused therapy (EFT), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

CFIR OTTAWA is moving to its new home JULY 4TH, 2022. Click here for more details.