Eight Minutes to a Happier You: The Call That Can Change Your Day”

In a world where technology often leads us to feel more isolated than connected, a simple, eight-minute phone call to a friend or loved one can be a powerful antidote to loneliness and the stressors of daily life. This seemingly small act of reaching out can have profound effects on our mental well-being, offering a quick yet meaningful way to enhance our mood and strengthen our connections with others.

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry (Kahlon et al., 2021) sheds light on the impact of these brief, empathy-driven conversations. Individuals who received empathetic calls for just four weeks reported significant reductions in feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. These findings highlight the remarkable power of human connection and the potential of a simple phone call to offer comfort and understanding on our busiest days.

The concept of an eight-minute catch-up call is not just about checking a box on our social to-do list; it’s about creating a space for genuine connection and support. Here’s how you can make the most of an eight-minute phone call:

1. Clear Boundaries: Setting a specific timeframe provides a clear beginning and end, making it easier to fit into busy schedules.

2. Focused Connection: Knowing there’s a limited time encourages both parties to focus on meaningful conversation, enhancing the quality of interaction.

3. Reduces Overwhelm: The brevity avoids the potential for the call to feel like a burden, making it more likely for future connections.

4. Avoids Missing Wrap-up Cues: With a predetermined limit, both individuals are on the same page about when the conversation will end, avoiding any awkwardness.

5. Encourages Regularity: The ease of committing to eight minutes can lead to more frequent check-ins, strengthening relationships over time.

Initiating the Eight-Minute Catch-Up:

Simply ask, “Do you have eight minutes for a quick catch-up?” This question sets the stage for a focused, meaningful conversation that respects each other’s time and commitments. In times of uncertainty or when the weight of the world feels too heavy to bear, knowing that someone is just a phone call away can make all the difference.

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let’s remember the value of picking up the phone and reaching out. Just eight minutes can brighten someone’s day, deepen our relationships, and remind us of the joy found in simple human connection.

Laura Moore, MPsy., is an integrative therapist at the Centre For Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Toronto under the supervision of Dr. Lila Z. Hakim, C. Psych. Laura provides psychological services to adults and couples experiencing a wide range of concerns. Laura has a particular interest and expertise in relationship distress, with an emphasis on interpersonal and couple relationship functioning. Laura has helped countless individuals navigate issues related to intimacy, fertility, sex, infidelity, separation and divorce. Additionally, her past research focuses on cultivating spousal attunement following traumatic experiences. 

Kahlon, M. K., Aksan, N., Aubrey, R., Clark, N., Cowley-Morillo, M., Jacobs, E. A., … & Tomlinson, S. (2021). Effect of Layperson-Delivered, Empathy-Focused Program of Telephone Calls on Loneliness, Depression, and Anxiety Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 78(6), 616-622. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0113

Mind-Body-Wellness Sessions (Episode 3): Existential Crisis Management

Existential thinking has boiled to a crescendo for many since the first pandemic began. “What is my purpose?” “What does everything mean?”; there’s no shortage of questions keeping people awake at night. In the last installment of the three-part ‘Mind-Body-Wellness Sessions’ series, Tracie Lee, M.A., R.P. (registered psychotherapist at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships – Ottawa) and Stephanie Karlovits, (founder and CEO of EPIC Fitness + Lifestyle ) share insights on supporting your physical and/ or psychological well-being by managing persistent existential thought patterns. Breathe deep, get present, and listen in now:

Mind-Body-Wellness Sessions (Episode 2): Coping with the Pandemic through the Body

We’re back with another episode of ‘Mind-Body-Wellness Sessions’ part 2 of 3! In this segment, Tracie Lee, (registered psychotherapist at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships – Ottawa) and Stephanie Karlovits, (founder and CEO of EPIC Fitness + Lifestyle – Ottawa) talk about how coping with the pandemic has been affecting so many of us mentally and physically. There are ways to feel better, and in this video, this amazing duo of wellness professionals tells us what we need to know.

Reconnecting with Yourself During Social Distancing

It’s been a strange time. There are daily news updates regarding the current pandemic; still, it’s uncertain how long we’ll be required to stay home. Some of us have found this period at home to be calming, while others have found it to be monotonous. The change of pace has left us with time to spend with (and learn more about) our selves. Here are a few things you may wish to explore:

Do Things You Enjoy: When life gets busy, we may start to neglect aspects of ourselves to make time for things that seem even more essential. During this time, allow yourself to reconnect with the things that bring you joy (e.g., art, music, writing, etc.). Reignite those passions and take note of how they affect your wellbeing. 

Unplug: The ongoing dissemination of news can become overwhelming. It is okay to allow yourself a chance to step away and take a breath. Instead of tending to something that may exacerbate feelings of anxiety and being out of control, shift your focus to what can be controlled-you. Do the things that bring you peace of mind (e.g., yoga, reading, cooking, etc.) 

Reminisce: It’s not uncommon to want to press ‘pause’ sometimes during fast-paced times. If you have some extra time now, reconnect with who you are, and how far you’ve come, whether it’s looking at old pictures or looking at mementos; allow yourself to look back on special memories. Reconnect with the forgotten parts of yourself and reflect on how they affect your wellbeing. If distressing feelings or thoughts arise, it may be an indication for you to reach out for support.

Re-Evaluate: With the opportunity to disconnect from ‘auto-piloting’ through life, we may start to evaluate our thoughts and feelings concerning our experiences in the present. Allow yourself to acknowledge this information. Sometimes, we may need to re-evaluate what is working and what is not working in our lives and how it’s affecting our wellbeing.

Social isolation can be a confusing and anxiety-provoking state to be in, but it may also teach you a lot about yourself. Taking the time to reflect on who we are, how far we’ve come, and where we would like to head in life can be a compelling experience. Therapists at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships can help you process different aspects of your identity during this time. We are currently offering virtual sessions that you can connect to from the safety and comfort of your home. Click here to learn more. 

Nereah Felix, B.A. is a registered psychotherapist (Qualifying) at Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Ottawa and is under the supervision of Dr. Dino Zuccarini, C.Psych and Dr. Natalina Salmaso, C. Psych. The clients who come to see her are provided with an authentic, non-judgmental, safe, and supportive environment to share their experiences and improve their wellbeing. Nereah is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at the University of Ottawa.

Five Easy Tips to Improve Your Sleep Quality

by: Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych. 

Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Do you wake up frequently during the night? Do you tend to wake up too early? Do you feel like your sleep is never really restful? You are definitely not alone! According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 30% of adults experience occasional insomnia, and 10% of the population suffers from chronic insomnia. 

The impacts of sleep difficulties on our psychological and physical functioning are diverse. They can include mood fluctuations, increased stress and irritability, problems with concentration and motivation, low energy and fatigue, an upset stomach, and muscle tension and headaches. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help improve your sleep quality. 

1. Practice sleep hygiene

Limit coffee, tea, and sugar intake after 3 PM. Eat your dinner and exercise at least two hours before your bedtime. Your bedroom should be comfortable and quiet, and try to limit looking at electronics, screens, and alarm clocks while in bed.

2. Implement a sleep routine

Maintaining a consistent routine throughout the week is vital. Ideally, your bedtime and wake-up time should be the same every day, even on weekends! 

3. Limit time spent in bed to sleeping

Time spent in bed should be reserved for sleeping (and romantic activities) only. Activities such as watching TV or reading in bed can contribute to your sleep difficulties. It is, therefore, more beneficial to engage in these activities in a comfortable space outside of your room and go to bed only when feeling sleepy. 

4. No napping

It is often tough to resist napping when we feel tired. However, to give you the best chance of sleeping during the night, eliminating any length of napping is essential.

5. Regulate your anxiety

Our sleep difficulties are often related to anxious thoughts that are hard to control. Writing them down before bedtime can help release anxious feelings, while also being reassured that your thoughts are not forgotten in the morning!

Consistently practicing these strategies will give you the best chance to overcome your sleep difficulties. However, if these tips do not work and insomnia persists, don’t be discouraged! Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) offered in psychotherapy can help you regulate your sleep and provide beneficial effects that last well beyond the end of treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Centre for Interpersonal Relationships for support – it is time to prioritize your sleep and regain restful nights! 

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).