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Filtering by Category: Self Care

Long Weekends: Avoid the After Slump and Savour the Present Moment

Kelly Bos

 photo credit: pexels.com

photo credit: pexels.com

It is often a “case of the Tuesdays” after a long weekend as the regular work week looms overhead and people start dreading the routine, the trip back, the packing up, cleaning up, etc. The grumblings are inevitable and pretty normal. You might like your job, or even look forward to a being back to routine, but much like the mixed emotions when thinking about the September start, there can be a sadness or some grief when the long weekend is over. There is also the opposite phenomenon with people who hate long weekends and go in already unhappy, as Rebecca Eckler wrote in Macleans, “Some can’t wait for that extra day; for others it feels like there’s a big party going on and they weren’t invited”. So there is the grief about the end, FOMO, and those who feel guilty for not doing something special enough. Do long weekends add to happiness? Generally, long weekends are seen as a good thing, a time to recharge, focus on family, a restart to be a bit nicer, healthier and frankly work more productively when one has some extra time off. But, as in most things, a lot has to do with perspective and this we have power to work on and change.

Sunday evenings often feel like the weekend is over before it's even begun.” -Catherine McCormack

 photo credit: pexels.com

photo credit: pexels.com

Savour Don't Slump:

1. Find the joy in the present:

Be mindful of all the good to be had, even if it is holiday traffic, look around for the fun in the moment you are in. And if you didn't get out of city and feel inundated with posts of friends tubing, hitting the spa, or riding rollercoasters, find something that makes your weekend special and savour that. Be intentional about finding the good and make today a great day. While you are at it, plan something great for tomorrow too!

2. Take the moment forward:

Maybe it was a busy weekend but we can happily take the memory of the laughs we had with us. Or if it was a restful time, we can remember that nap we had in the hammock. If you felt rejuvinated, relish the refreshing swim experienced beside the waterfall. Using imagery and invoking your senses to imagine an event can conjure up the same feelings as actually experiencing it.

3. Let tomorrow's worries be tomorrow's worries:

There might be a lot of work waiting for you this week, but ruminating on that doesn't help you tackle things any better when you get there. If there is something you can do to make your life easier before you go in, then by all means do it, otherwise, it is best to stay in the moment you are in and take things as they come. If you are anxious about the week beginning, write the “to do's” down and let them go. And make sure you take the breaks and holidays when you can, research shows working long hours can lead to health problems, affect your emotional regulation, affect your sleep and will likely have you working less effectively. Being on your computer the whole weekend is not going to reap those rewards.

This long weekend create and take the good forward.

 

 

7 Festive Brain Boosts

Kelly Bos

GOOD NEWS, YOU ARE PROBABLY ALREADY DOING THEM!

'Tis the season for merriment, connection, reflection and celebrations and this focus is very good for our well being and specifically for our brain. Here are a few brain boosts you might not have associated with the holidays.

1. Pass the Cranberries:

Cranberries are chalk full of anti-oxidants, so yummy and definitely a common presence in holiday treats, Christmas dinner sides and it is a great herbal tea to cosy up with at the fire. Cranberries are well known as the drink of choice for those doubled over from UTI's but they are also fantastic for the brain with studies showing positive affects for post stroke sufferers and that the ursolic acid, a specific compoud found in cranberries, may protect brain cells from injury and degeneration. 

2. Don't Pass By the Puzzles:

I don't know who brings them out every season, but someone does, and you think maybe I will do just a few, group a few colours, finish at the border, and the hours pass. It might not have been the best sleep decision for that late evening, but not to worry, puzzles are indeed good for the brain. Puzzles work both the left logical sequence side of your brain and the creative right side. David Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson authors of The Whole Brain Child state, “The brain has two sides for a reason: with each side having specialized functions, we can achieve more complex goals and carry out more intricate, sophisticated tasks. Significant problems arise when the two sides of our brain are not integrated and we end up coming at our experiences primarily from one side or the other...In order to live balanced, meaningful, and creative lives full of connected relationships, it’s crucial that our two hemispheres work together”. 

3. Hit the Slopes (or Skating Rink):

Skiing, cross country or downhill and skating are great forms of aerobic and muscle building exercse. Exercise is a mood booster that can help reduce anxious and depressive symptoms, aids in sleep and helps with clear thinking. Being outside on the slopes or at an outdoor rink, brings sunshine, fresh air and the beautiful sights which feel great. With these activities there are also the effects of cross lateral movements which activitates both hemispheres of the brain.

4. Laughing Stock:

The holidays bring families and friends together and hopefully a lot of laughter. They say it is the best medicine and it is pretty awesome for the brain, here's why: laughter improves memory, elevates mood, increases motivation, reduces pain, lowers stress, boosts immunity, and it releases dopamine, a natural opiate. 

5. Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? 

The answer is no! A familar Christmas CD, family heirloom ornaments or decorations, whimsy about playing in the snow can all bring up fond memories of the past and it is good for you as reminicing can improve productivity and boost mental preformance.

6. The Long Winter's Nap:

Not only does your body scream for them during the holidays, naps can help your brain make decisions, feel more alert, and increase motor preformance. It is even in the traditional festive literature... “And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap” Twas the Night before Christmas even brings up these brain settling naps (although technically it was actually the night)! 

7. Choose Chocolate:

Studies are showing the consuming chocolate positively affects a person's cognitive abilities. Good news for chocolate lovers as chocolate can help with concentration levels. This might help counter what my friend calls turkey lethargy posioning regularly induced after the Christmas meal.

So eat, sleep, drink and be merry, much of it has the great effects of your brain on Christmas.

 

Self-Regulation: The Answer to Work Life Balance

Kelly Bos

Work life balance may seem impossible to attain but self regulation might just be the key to unlock your capacity to enjoy this new reality.

Self-regulation is so important! Studies show that in children it is a bigger predictor of future success in the areas of health, relationships and income than SAT or IQ scores. Remember the Stanford Marshmallow experiment?

A little self awareness and self-regulation of your emotions can help you stay calm and focussed. This enables you to self-regulate your behaviours and enables you to make good choices matching your actions with your values.

Unfortunately, self-regulation is a declining skill. We don't often have to practice patience and self control with so many of our wants and needs being met almost instantly in todays solution oriented marketplace. There is no need to wait for a series to play out over a season because you can binge watch it all tonight, food can be grabbed, new clothes mailed, todays world offers instant everything. But if work life balance is to be achieved we must develop our capacity to regulate ourselves.

Self regulation is like a muscle that can be strengthened and also fatigued. So often we try to keep it together and keep it together... and then eat the marshmallow. Regulating one self is difficult with a demanding job, life, etc. But we all know when some control isn't being adhered to in our lives and how it affects us.

Self-Regulation for Work (and After Work):

The Importance of Sleep:

Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington, authored The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time. In it she explains how she struggled with stress, burn out and fatigue. She collapsed one day and realized she had to make changes. A key component to address was sleep. If you are exhausted you will not be productive at work. Insufficient self regulation with respect to sleep will result in you accumulating sleep debt. Dr. Aki Hinsta mentored Formula One race car driver and Grand Prix winner, Mike Hakkinnen, to increased his sleep up to ten hours a night to achieve his best performance. He wasn't saying eat, sleep and breathe racing, he was saying get to bed. 

 

Tips:

  • Stick to a bedtime, Alanna McGinn from Goodnight Sleep Site suggests setting a bedtime alarm
  • Put your devices away at night and don't grab them the minute your eyes open
  • Sleep in a dark room
  • If you can't sleep try practicing 5-5-5
  • Cut out late in the day coffee and exercise
  • To overcome this you gradually have to schedule additional sleep back in daily catching up

 

Limit Alcohol Consumption:

 

A drink is used by many to unwind or an excuse to bring people together. There is nothing wrong with this but it is known that alcohol can be addictive and a depressant, so drinking must be done mindfully. Often work functions offer a chance to network and a chance to unwind through meeting up for drinks especially in certain professions where it is part of the culture to win a client, make a sale, or bond with your team.

Tips:

  • Mindfulness! Think about your limit and track it. There are even apps, the amount you thought you consumed versus what you actually consumed might not line up
  • Drink water in between, this is how my father-in-law has traditionally kept a balance at sales functions
  • Suggest alternatives for meeting up that don't involve alcohol

 

Addressing Distraction and Procrastination:

 

I feel like this is becoming more and more of an area to watch in our lives. Instead of getting to bed in good time, getting prepped the night before or knuckling down on a project, we distract. We play one more game of candy crush, we click yet another link on BBC, or we get lost in the black holes of FB and Instagram. It can take a lot to simply put the device away. This habitual consumption is on the rise with increased availability. The truth is we would think clearer and do better if we were taking better care of ourselves. There is also a fallacy with thinking that there is a gift in our multi tasking where it has been shown that we are really doing everything less well.

 

Tips:

  • Again put your devices away when you can have real connections with friends and real conversations without one eye on the ping-ing to your left
  • Work on problems in new ways every one to three hours away from the computer
  • Do the tough things first, the things that require more energy and focus
  • Recognize you want to escape and put a limit on this by setting a timer, for example, I will check my personal email for five minutes and then I will get back to my project.
  • Set boundaries with your open office door which can quickly have you multi-tasking by scheduling times you are available for questions or discussions

 

Through practicing some of these tips you can exercise self-discipline,  delay gratification and make self-care a part of your day to day. Finding this work and life success through self regulation will reduce your stress, increase your capacity and help you make choices that line up with your core values in an emotionally balanced way.

Tired Parents: Do This if Too Tired for Date Night

Kelly Bos

 Photo Credit: www.pixabay.com

Photo Credit: www.pixabay.com

STOP, COLLABORATE AND LISTEN!

Date night... important, enjoyable and so hard to schedule with those ever multiplying demands of work parenting and more. One of the first things to go under the weight of it all is quality time in our primary relationship and we simply hope it will hang on for a less chaotic time in our life.

Connection is important and it often dawns on me, “I miss my husband” and I know he misses me. I think we can all relate. So why are we not digging deeper and making the time? Busyness, distractions, and tiredness, often due to things we don't need to be doing, perfection we don't need to attain, causing guilt that drives us to despondence. What a horrible driver guilt is. You end up keeping the same over scheduled and overwhelmed life and add in some bad feelings about it. So guiltily you plan date night, but after a challenging week with no sleep or a flurry of after school activities you both agree you are too tired. You want to connect in a meaningful way but when you are struggling to keep it all together, you can't help but think, do we really need to go bowling when my pj's are calling?

In Rachel Macy Stafford's book Hands Free Life she addresses how a distracted and pressured life takes us away from a life of significance, opportunities to live in the moment, and the practice of presence. Rachel gently (seriously reading her book is like receiving an encouraging hug) provides habits that can help you let go, chase your passions and focus on your relationships again.

There is a great quote in the Hand's Free Life by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least". So when the sacrifices and demands are taking their toll on the most in our lives, I wonder if we are putting the cart before the horse. Despite love and connection being there in our relationship, we are lacking the very desire and motivation for time together, for life even and we are being drained by our chase of the least.

READ MORE... 

Holding it Together When Your World is Falling Apart

Kelly Bos

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR TOO-TIRED, STRESSED OUT, HAIR-TRIGGER FEELINGS

 

Self-control helps us lead healthy and productive lives, but is often the first to go under the weight of mounting pressures. As parents it is even more important for us to model self-control for our kids - our children are among a generation where self-regulation is becoming a real problem.

This is a scary thought. Studies show that self-control is more likely to predict success in the areas of health, relationships and income than SAT and IQ scores. Think about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment of the 70’s where the kids who were able to wait for a second marshmallow and not eat the first during a set period. It was found that these kids were more likely to be successful than those who couldn’t wait.

Your mental skills are like a muscle; they can be strengthened. Here's 5 tips to develop and improve your self-control - for both you and your kids:

Get More Rest

One of the biggest detriments to control is a bad night's sleep. My toddler has turned a corner, but for some time was getting up throughout the night. This struggle was made worse by my decision to stay up late on my computer or watch TV. Interruptions will happen, but do all you can to get all the sleep available by getting to bed earlier.

READ MORE...

ACCOMPLISHING YOUR GOALS WITH A LITTLE GRACE

Kelly Bos

 Photo Credit:  pixabay

Photo Credit: pixabay

MY WISH FOR YOU

As a therapist I see a lot of people looking to make changes: with themselves, in relationships, parenting, work, and the list goes on. Change can be difficult. We are hard on ourselves for not addressing things earlier, more consistently or for not having enough motivation. We blame ourselves and shame ourselves and the dialogue in our heads can get pretty nasty. We would never prompt a friend to attain their goals in the same way we talk to ourselves. Negative self talk actually reduces our capacity for self improvement. Here are four ways to implement success which don't include a huge helping of negative self talk.

Attainability:

The first step is to approach your plan in a realistic way that reinforces your sense of capability. This can often be accomplished by starting out with baby steps instead of high demand plans and schedules that set us up to fail. This helps those who put huge expectations on themselves to go from “I will go to the gym two hours every day,” to “I am going to the gym this week maybe even twice”. Once some mastery is accomplished with the first step, more steps can be taken to increase commitment enabling you to build a plan that works.

Absolution:

Another important step is to be understanding of yourself when you haven't met your goal or feel you have taken a step backwards. Understanding isn't the same as personally accepting the set back but it enables you to overcome them and move forward. If you just offered to host a New Year's brunch for the entire family after muttering never again at Christmas, let it go. Punishing yourself with chastisement is not helpful. Instead recognize that change takes time, forgive yourself and move forward.

 Photo Credit:  Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Assessment:

When your targets appear to be slipping away or you are taking seemingly opposite steps to the direction you want to go, evaluate the situation. Ask yourself a couple of questions like: what was your state of mind at the time?, how can you approach similar scenarios differently next time?, and what have you learned that will equip you to succeed in the future? Henry David Thoreau once said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals”.

Adaptation:

Embrace acceptance when the direction changes. There is so much in our lives we can't control so sometimes goals need to be held loosely, not fearing things as lost when they don't work the way we planned. For example, intentions to take an online course that is interrupted by a clear need to focus on new challenges at work can happen. In such a scenario ask yourself how this goal be accomplished? What new timeline can be established? How can this be a positive? Adaptation enables us to reframe circumstances and reshape our goals to maintain a constructive perspective.

Approaching goals gently with incremental success in mind allows for bumps in the road, makes room for knowledge to be gained and staves off shame and blame which are common, but not healthy or helpful motivators.