Tag Archives: balance

The elusive work/life (self-care) balance phenomenon for the self-employed professional

Posted by: Jamie Dovedoff on March 7, 2016 12:31 pm

stacked-stones-664928_1920For the vast majority of us, work is life so I prefer to think of this concept not as work/life balance but rather work/self-care balance. The elusive phenomenon where you reach and maintain that vacation-induced “Zen” Monday to Friday.

It seems we are often plagued with the seemingly impossible notion of establishing a consistent work flow that always seems to be in constant flux between too busy or too slow (with not nearly the same amount of time spent at that “just right” pace) and managing our self-care needs. How much is too much to take on? It’s easy to say “yes” to more work, it seems we are pre-programmed for it. We justify this by telling ourselves that we don’t necessarily know when the next referral is coming through our door. What is always saying “yes” costing you? Your clients? Your loved ones?

A simple google search provides you with the definition of balance “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady”. So, if you are awake an average of 16 hours/day and 8 hours/day is spent at work, by the very definition of balance, you should spend the other 8 hours of your day engaged in activities which replenishes and prepares you for a new day. How realistic is that?

Establishing equality amongst your many commitments is not an easy task (ever tried walking on a tightrope?). The figurative scales are constantly going to be encouraged one way or the other. Realistically, at times, you are going to have to allow for this to happen. HOWEVER, remaining too long in a state of imbalance can lead to fatigue, decreased mood, stress, burnout, etc.

Ten steps to re-balance the scales:

  • Set realistic goals – set financial goals for your work but also establish goals around how much time you would like to devote to yourself
  • Identify and prioritize your priorities – what tasks are “must do” and which ones are “would be nice too”
  • Set equal work and self-care priorities – if you are going to take on extra work then how much extra time can you afford to give to your self-care to replenish your energy
  • Get organized – make a schedule, be conservative with your time estimates to complete each task, be realistic about what you can and cannot manage, plan in advance (as much as you can), and keep a regular schedule (prescribe regular work hours for yourself)
  • Be flexible
  • Declutter – clean up your physical working space and/or move your working space to free you of unnecessary distractions
  • Set boundaries for yourself – respect your boundaries or no one else will
  • Practice saying “no”
  • Schedule breaks self-care does not need to be quarantined to the end of your work day or over the weekend. Try to incorporate regular self-care practices for short periods throughout your day


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Reflections on Time Management

Posted by: Denise Hall on July 17, 2015 8:06 am

A common complaint from my friends and colleagues is that we should manage our time better. We think it is just a matter of “getting organized”. I would like to reflect on what I think managing our time actually involves and why it is important that we address the issue of our time constraints.time-608876_640

“Time is money” and the thinking goes if we are more efficient with our time the more money or benefit we will accumulate. Also being “on time” is a quality that some people get obsessive over and it is considered a major affront if someone is late for a meeting or event.

Managing time is illusive, sometimes the more we pay attention to it the more it slips away, the more we ignore it sometimes the more we actually have “control” over. It is the worry rule; the more we worry about managing time the more likely we are to not accomplish our goals in that area.

In our technology crazed world we are constantly accessing our phones, Facebook pages and You Tube videos. These devices are tools, not masters and instead of us managing them and using them to manage our time more efficiently, they tend to manage us. And when these gadgets consume every waking moment, there is no time left for creativity, interpersonal connection, and just plain “veg’ing out”.

In hunter/gatherer societies food gathering was an intensive short-term activity and there was a great deal of time to feast, relax, play, and socialize. In so-called “modern” society work consumes a great deal of our time whether it is household tasks, childcare, volunteer work or paid work. We tend to be consumed by work with little time for thinking, reflecting and creating let alone socializing and developing solid relationships with others. The reasons for this are not something for this article.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Inspiring Fitness and Activity

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on January 10, 2014 4:00 pm

“Great changes may not happen right away, but with effort even the difficult may become easy.”
~ Bill Blackman

If you have a desire to inspire another, first be inspired yourself.  Inspiration can only occur if you understand what it is to be inspired.  The process of inspiring others, is frequently the messages we receive from our religious, political, and motivational leaders at the beginning of a new year.  The messages are often reminders of our abilities to be renewed.  In fact, if you consider the United States President’s, State of the Union, it is almost always placed at the beginning of a new year.  Why?  It is a way of implying that we can begin again and anew.


The tradition of setting a New Year’s resolution dates back nearly 4,000 years ago. “The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year, which began in mid-March, that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  March was a logical time period for the New Year because spring begins and crops are planted.  But the Babylonians had a greater motivation to stick to their promises than what we have today, because for the ancient people of Mesopotamia, keeping their promise would mean that their gods would bestow their grace on them throughout the course of the following twelve months, and breaking them would put them out of favor.” (Holloway, 2013, Online)

New Year’s Resolutions are frequently battered with physical intentions.  Acknowledgment of one’s physical and psychological limitations is a way of expressing we have room for improvement, without declaring that “I have need for improvement.”  As a society, we typically shy away from expressing such limitations or needs, because of the stigmas associated with limitations or expressed weaknesses.


A weakness or limitations is good.   Acknowledgement of a weakness or limitation is the recognition that you, or we, have an ability to improve or make a marked change in our lives.  It is when something is clearly noticeable or evident that people recognize our desire for improvement.

The avoidance of our limitations and weaknesses stems from our fear of failure.  The fear of failure is limiting, smothering our very ability to breath and function.  If we live our lives fearing the possibility of failure, then we are not living life to it’s fullest.   Fear is frequently the catalyst that drives people away from pursuing their ambitions, goals, desires, and life’s callings

“Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.”
~ Charles F. Stanley

It is crucial that we recognize that our weaknesses, limitations and failures are nothing more than  guide maps indicating our current positions within life.  We should continuously seek to be our absolute best.  Even if, there is a barrier blocking our pathway, find a way around it or through it. Fundamentally, we are the only rulers and narrators of our lives.  No one else can determine how we live our lives.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

What is Your Self-Care Catch Phrase?

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on August 18, 2011 2:45 pm

I love vacations. I love road trips. I love eating. These three things added up spell, “weight gain.” Well not exactly, but “IlovevacationsIloveroadtripsIloveeating” does not pass a spell check.

Despite my best efforts, on our recent vacation to New York and the East Coast of Canada, I sacrificed healthy eating for convenient eating; sandwiches, snacks, pretzels, subs, some fresh fruit but very little vegetables. As a result, by the end of the two weeks I could feel the difference in my body. Even my eleven-year-old step daughter could feel it, “When I get home, I going to eat vegetables for a whole week!” she said. Experience is a great teacher.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Practically Yours: Self-Care Tips for Counsellors – Social Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on July 19, 2011 11:38 am

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  “Pooh!” he whispered.  “Yes, Piglet?”  “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.  “I just wanted to be sure of you.””  ~A.A. Milne

It is all about relationships really. A dog sleeps at your feet. A cat circles your leg and purrs. A baby sleeps as it is held. We have relationships with clients and colleagues, family and friends, co-workers and supervisors, ourselves, our jobs, our cars, computers, food, even our phones (lose your cell phone and you will – very quickly – appreciate the depth of your connection). We are relational beings, pure and simple.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Practically Yours: Self-Care Tips for Counsellors – Environmental Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on July 8, 2011 2:02 pm

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” -Thomas Fuller, 1732.

Is your home or work environment healthy or toxic? How would you know if it was or was not? Tending to your environmental health in the context of personal self-care is similar to my argument for the importance of tending to the Earth’s environmental health; it is never to late to start if you realize you may have fallen short. In this, post five of six, we explore the links between self-care and good health with a focus on personal environmental health.

From 2003-2010, I lived in Calgary, AB. I moved a few times over the course of those years, which my friends could attest to (thanks again everyone for lending a hand). During my last two years there, I brought the concepts of the medicine wheel home to my apartment and made some decorative changes. The medicine wheel is a conceptual framework for health with deep ties to early First Nations and Celtic culture. The four components of the medicine wheel are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Essentially, optimal health is achieved when one is in balance with all quadrants.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Practically Yours: Self-Care Tips for Counsellors – Emotional Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on May 25, 2011 11:26 am

“How does that make you feel?” This is a signature question of psychotherapy. But what does it mean to be emotionally healthy? What is emotional intelligence? How can a counsellor utilize their own emotional intelligence to benefit counselling outcomes? Are there any practical tips related to self-care that enhance good emotional health?

This is part three of a six part series that addresses the links between self-care and good health. In the first two posts, I introduced and discussed physical and mental health (Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri, 2000). In this post, I will discuss characteristics of good emotional health and offer practical applications for counselling practice.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Practically Yours: Self-Care Tips for Counsellors – Mental Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on May 10, 2011 9:03 am

How do we maintain good mental health as we help others with theirs? What are some best practices for mental and emotional clearing between sessions? Are there any special considerations for counsellors and psychotherapists concerning our own mental health?

This is part two of a six part series that addresses the links between self-care and good health. In part one of this series, I introduced six components of health and discussed physical health (Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri, 2000). In this post, we will discuss characteristics of good mental health and offer practical applications for counselling practice.

Ivker et al. (2000), summarize mental health as a “condition of peace of mind and contentment”. Memories of the introduction to “The Little House on the Prairie” immediately come to my mind. This was a popular television series from the 1970’s that opened with the three little Ingalls’ girls running happily down a grassy hill. Good mental health may include freeing experiences such as this as well as others. Having a job that you love doing, being optimistic, having a sense of humour, experiencing financial well-being, and/or living your life vision are other characteristics of good mental health according to Ivker.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Practically Yours: Self-care tips for Counsellors – Physical Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on April 26, 2011 9:57 am

The basis for medicine in the 21st Century will be self-care.” Robert Ivker, D.O.

This is a very powerful statement. The purpose of the “Practically Yours: Self-care tips for Counsellors” posts are to provide useful, applicable, and indeed practical tips and suggestions on self-care for counselling practitioners. In my previous post, I discussed the importance of proper self-care. We know the theories and benefits of it, we talk to our clients about it, and we have been doing it all of our lives.

But what are the links between self-care and good health? To begin, we must first define what it means to be healthy.

In this post I will introduce six components of health as outlined in the book, “The Self-Care Guide to Holistic Medicine:  Creating Optimal Health” (Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri, 2000), and discuss practical activities related to the first component, physical health. Being healthy is not just the absence of illness. “I am healthy because I am not sick,” is only a partial truth. The word health in itself means “to make whole.” Having a feeling of wholeness connotes elements of ourselves converging in balance and harmony. The Guide’s six components of health include: physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social (Ivker et al., 2000). In aboriginal cultures, this is akin to the concept of the medicine wheel and its four components: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Proper holistic self-care then, involves actions that seek to achieve and maintain balance between these various components of health.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA