New Roots Therapy Blog

Thoughts on Life, Love, & Wellness! New Posts Every Wednesday.

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Soothe Anxiety with this Simple Technique

Post Written By: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

This week, I wanted to write about a simple self-soothing strategy for coping with anxiety, stress, fear, and overwhelm called the 5-4-3-2-1 Technique.  I first learned about this technique several years ago and have since shared it with many clients.  I’ve also used it personally to help quiet my brain, calm my nerves, and reconnect with my body in moments of stress or sleeplessness!  This method of relaxation calmly draws your attention to the present environment around you, which is helpful when worries start to carry you away in mind and body.  The next time you need some relaxation, give this a try:

1) Get yourself in a comfortable position, seated or laying down.

2) Breathe normally or practice diaphragmatic breathing (i.e., breathe like a baby, from your belly!  Click here for a quick guide on how to breathe from your diaphragm).  If you’re not used to belly-breathing and you think it might distract you from the rest of the exercise, just breathe as you normally would.  Let your gaze fall softly on nothing in particular.

3) Now, connect to your senses; in particular, your sense of sight, sound, and touch.  Begin by noticing 5 things that you see around you in detail and, if you can, say each thing you notice out loud (e.g., “I see my purple throw blanket”).  Stay with each object for a moment before moving to the next.  Once you’ve noticed 5 things you see, move on to noticing 5 things you hear (e.g., “I hear the sound of cars driving by”) and 5 things you feel (e.g., “I feel my head on my pillow, I feel my socks on my feet”…).  As you go through the exercise, don’t worry if you name something more than once!

4) Once you’ve named 5 things you see, hear, and feel, move on to naming 4 things you see, hear, and feel…then 3, then 2, then 1.

Check in with yourself – how do you feel?  If you want to repeat the exercise, take a few deep breaths to re-set and begin again.



Make Happy Relationships your Business!

Post Written By: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

I was recently chatting with a friend who said that it upsets him when his romantic partner is too “business-like” in their relationship. I asked him what he meant by “business-like” and he said that when his partner initiates “relationship check-ins”  on a regular basis (e.g., conversations focused on how the relationship is going) things start to feel, in his experience, too “business-y” and he worries that the passion between them will fizzle out as a result.

Now, this blog post is not an analysis of my friend’s situation specifically! Rather, my chat with him simply served as an inspiration for this post. In particular, after my conversation with him I got to thinking: what would happen if we pulled some of our business/workplace skills into our romantic relationships? Would we all be living with cold, emotionally distant, passionless partners? Would being a bit more “business-like” in our love lives really kill all the spark?

Personally, I think not (sorry, friend!) and here’s why:

  • We’re better listeners at work: Generally speaking, when we’re at work we’re less likely to jump on the offensive/defensive when something doesn’t go our way or there’s a disagreement taking place.  If your boss does something that frustrates you, I bet it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll spend the day stomping around the office, slamming doors, and telling your boss that if she doesn’t already know what she did to upset you, you’re not telling…  When we have our “at work” hats on, more often than not, we’re better able to slow down our reactions, communicate our thoughts and feelings clearly, acknowledge multiple points of view, focus on creating understanding between parties, and ultimately work with others towards successful conflict resolution.
  • We’re better at goal-setting and follow-through at work: At work, we know what needs to get done and we’re usually pretty good at doing it because the last thing we want to feel is the stress of our manager chasing us down for an unfinished report that was due weeks ago.  In the workplace, we actively strive to manage our time and prioritize tasks well, which often means setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals.  We have regular meetings with managers and colleagues to discuss our progress on various projects – we communicate what we’ve accomplished and ask for help when we run into barriers.  At work, we’re in an ongoing process of planning, taking action, communicating, and revising which means that we’re often more intentional, and less habitual, in our actions on the job.
  • We make time to give and receive feedback at work: Performance reviews are a standard workplace practice.  At work, we have dedicated times to discuss how things are going from the perspectives of all parties.  Employees are often asked to review their own performance, in addition to receiving feedback from their managers, which encourages purposeful reflection about what we’re doing well and where we can make improvements in our own work.  As well, at work we engage in professional development activities so that we can continuously contribute to our teams and ultimately be valued by our co-workers and managers.  We don’t expect to be experienced positively by our colleagues simply by showing up at our desk.

Typically speaking, in our intimate relationships, we don’t put the same type of effort into regulating our emotions, setting clear intentions to serve as the foundation for our actions, building understanding between individuals, and prioritizing time to communicate openly and honestly about how things are going for everyone involved like we do in our work lives. If we transferred some of our “business-y” skills into our personal relationships, I don’t think we’d end up living loveless lives – quite the opposite.  I think we’d end up in more fulfilling, emotionally engaging relationships if we made it our business to do so.

I’d love to hear what you think, so please feel free to leave a comment below! 🙂

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What To Do When Sh*t Hits the Fan: 3 Tips for Coping With Messy, Stressy Situations

Post written by: Corinne Carter, Relationship Therapist

Sh*t happens and, when it does, it’s helpful to have some strategies in place to deal with the mess! Below are three tips to help you cope the next time your circumstances seem less than crap-tastic.

  • Feel your Feelings: before you clean up the mess, let yourself get knee-deep in sh*t (you’re welcome for the imagery on that one)!  In other words, allow yourself to feel your feelings and acknowledge the emotions that are coming up for you.  Whether it’s frustration, anger, sadness, disappointment…give yourself permission to be fully in that place of emotion.  Cry if you need to.  Take a drive and scream it out (you might want to make sure you’ve got the windows rolled up!).  Meditate.  Say the words out loud, “I feel [fill in the blank]”.  Unacknowledged feelings are more likely to get stuck in our bodies and manifest as physical pain and tension; simply feeling your feelings (without trying to change them) can be enough to release them from your body, helping to mitigate both physical and psychological aches.  As well, acknowledging your emotions can help you to better identify your needs, which can be valuable in any post-“poop happens” planning that you do moving forward.
  • Laugh: The saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” was created for a reason because it truly is good for your mind, body, and relationships.  In the midst of stress, laughter can help you to relax, minimize distress, and point a light-hearted lens at the situation to open up new perspectives.  The next time crap happens, look for the humour in the situation.  Don’t take yourself too seriously all the time (self-disclosure moment: this blog post is totally my way of not taking myself too seriously right now!).  Ask yourself, “Is this really that important? Will it still matter a year from now?”  By developing an appreciation for life’s follies, you create a buffer that helps to keep you from being completely swept away in the sh*tstorm!  For more information on the health benefits of laughter, click here.
  • Practice Gratitude: Gratitude works– it’s a science!  In particular, research has shown that people who practice gratitude on a regular basis demonstrate higher levels of mental alertness and determination, experience greater levels of happiness and optimism, report fewer physical symptoms, and fare better in the face of daily stressors.  In other words, a little gratitude each day helps keep the doctor away.  And the practice of gratitude (both in the moment and proactively) helps to make sh*tty situations more bearable by widening your perspective, developing your resilience, and helping you keep a positive outlook.

I hope you enjoyed this playful, poop-filled post! How do you cope when life sneaks up on you and makes a big ol’ mess? Let us know in the comments below!