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Overcoming Stress

Stress is a useful part of our existence, without it we experience “eustress” which leads to a state of chronic low arousal (i.e. the patients in long term nursing homes). For many of us stress has become a bad word, but stress and the resolution of the stressor leads to feelings of confidence and esteem. Distress is the chronic over arousal of the Fight and Flight response (epinephrine and the sympathetic nervous system). This state is not naturally occurring for any mammal and will lead to what many people refer to as a mental breakdown or exhaustion (adrenal fatigue). When over stressed we become mentally worn and it takes deliberate neutral time to calm down and allow other brain systems to begin to calm and heal our worn and exhausted state.

Tips for Making the Most of Sleep

Cortisol elevates slowly after 2 a.m. until 10 a.m. in the morning and then starts decreasing and comes to its lowest point by midnight. Sleep acquired before midnight has the highest amount of regenerative properties for the body. Conflict after 6-8 p.m. resulting in heightened cortisol levels and it will take the body approximately two hours to lower the level of cortisol again. Prolonged levels of elevated cortisol will result in fatigue, depression and adrenal exhaustion.

Address your most challenging experiences first thing in the morning. After ten minutes of conflict, most people feel emotionally flooded and improvement is not achieved. Segment your large projects into ten minutes discrete tasks. Write them down on paper to keep yourself accountable and to prevent your unconscious from expending energy trying to complete unclosed loops.

Positive Self-Talk Only Goes One Direction

Just as cognitive behaviour therapy only goes one direction, reward the behaviour you want to see more, so saying positive things to yourself only goes in one direction. Simple statements are most powerful. They speak to your unconscious mind- your ego strength.

  • I am enjoying how it feels to eat increasingly more healthy.
  • I get to be active with my family and friends and have fun. It is great to feel alive.
  • I do something active every day.
  • I eat green, the darker the better.
  • Every day is a gift. I squeeze every last bit of joy out of each day.
  • Harmony in our home is our motto.
  • I can learn something from EVERYONE. Everyone has good days and bad days.
Some health difficulties are under your immediate control. Some are in a state of emerging control, that is one you are learning to take back control in that area. Being at peace within yourself regarding which situation you are in is tremendously helpful.

Example: Weight Loss vs. What I eat and do today

The Christmas Crunch

Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, Winter Solstice, we refer to them all as the holidays.

Although we wish each other Happy... Holidays, there appear to be many folks who don't feel too happy during December. There are better ways to celebrate this year so you don't feel crunched by Christmas.

Consider what you are really celebrating and say "no" to events and stresses that clutter what's important.

Many people say what is really important to them at this time of year is family and spending time with the people who really matter to them. However, they find themselves so busy with holiday events that the special time they'd really like to spend with their loved ones eludes them year after year. This year instead of a gift exchange among adults, consider sharing a special event or just time together.

Greeting Cards

In recent years, I have received several greeting cards from friends and family who have placed in their card a picture of a gift given to a charity in lieu of giving me a gift. For example, my nephew gave a child in the developing world a pair of goats instead of giving our family a gift. It was gratifying to think that my nephew was moved by our relationship to pay it forward to someone.


Some people look forward to time with family and some people find their anxiety increasing as the days approach for the family meal. It can be difficult to spend time with folks who share family bonds but few of the family values that you yourself hold dear. There is no easy answer for these meetings but here are a few helpful ideas... distracting people from negative gossip is easier than you think. Changing the subject is a skill which is worth practicing.

Engage family members in a structured activity like a game or activity (i.e. gingerbread house decorating). Playing cards can help different personalities enjoy the hours together.

Take Time to Rejoice

There are so many distractions during the holidays. Carve out time to consider the spiritual part of your celebration... an attitude of gratitude is a great place to start.


Registered Psychologist in Sherwood Park - Image Right 2

Contact Us

Deborah Herrewynen - Registered Psychologist
tel: 780-945-9066