Do you believe the symptoms of anxiety are “real”. “I am nauseated – I must be sick!” “I have a thought I am going to get in an accident if I drive – this must mean I better not drive today” “I feel frightened – this must mean something bad is going to happen to me or someone else”

Are you avoiding activities, places, situations, people where you experience anxiety symptoms- avoidance will not cure your anxiety, symptoms will usually continue to surface elsewhere and mental health will worsen

Not taking stock of your level of stress and encorportating healthier lifestyle changes- What is going on in your life that you have control over vs what you need to let go of? How are your relationships and level of conflict? Are you able to be assertive and set comfortable boundaries in your life?

Get help if you think you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety. For more information contact;
Barb Larkin, Counselling Services

Guilt is…

(The following is from the publication Gentle Care: Changing the Experience of Alzheimer’s Disease in a Positive Way, Moyra Jones, 1999)

Guilt is…

The Clash sing “Should I stay or should I go?”  and for many of us we can relate to the back and forth that can occur in our thinking when we are faced with a decision to be made.

Why is it so hard to make decisions sometimes?

When we are overwhelmed we may be looking at decision-making from a fear based perspective “what will I lose” rather than from the possibilities that can occur through change.

Often decisions we reach will be of a black and white nature – stay or go – and has elements of fear which may keep thinking we are “safe” from the unknown while keeping us stuck in a current situation.

Within the song by the Clash the lyrics suggest that the “other” should decide if the relationship should continue, another way we often avoid making our own decisions – let others do it for us.

Separating interests from actual issues involved in the decisions is important and can be challenging; what are we holding on to?  what are our fears about the decision to be made?  Are we unable to make a decision because we think “others” will condemn us?  How will our decisions affect the self and others?  Is our thinking realistic?

It is helpful to talk to a friend, supportive person or therapist to help unravel our decision-making and look at situations we are facing from a broader perspective.

Self care in the way of breathing, relaxation technique, mindfulness,  talking to supportive others and walking in nature can be helpful to quiet our thinking and help us open our mind to possibilities.

Get help if you are unable to make the simplest of decisions – a clear symptom of stress and possible depression and one that should not be ignored.

As the baby boomers get older and their parents get even older the generation that had it all is now looking after it all!  Often still parenting they are now faced with caregiving aging parents; making financial, medical, household and a myriad of other decisions while dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions concerning their changing relationship and managing a glimpse or two of their own mortality – an exhausting bittersweet time of life.

I recently was quoted in a MORE magazine article (October 2012) on the topic of how the spouse/partner/ or others can be helpful to a caregiver and there are one or two key pieces that I’d like to share from my own perspective and experiences.

Caregiver stress can affect a person physically and emotionally.  Stress/overload will often show up in a persons thinking and behaviour (they may be not wanting to do things they used to enjoy, be irritable, be worrying excessively, have poor sleep and/or eating habits etc.).  A partner, friend or professional support person can often observe symptoms of overload before the caregiver is able to recognize what is happening.

Some tips;

Be supportive in chores/tasks and perhaps encourage outside support/resources to fill the gaps

Help with decision making, have the “clearer head” when needed

Encourage healthy coping strategies; taking time for self, exercise, diet, self care, enjoyable activities, laughter

Support outlet for emotions; let the caregiver have a cry, encourage joining a support group or seeking professional help if needed

Give frequent hugs, gestures of caring, “you are doing a great job”

Realize this is putting stress on you and your relationship as well

For more information or to book a counselling session contact me, Barb Larkin at 604-785-4359, or email

Loved the ideas expressed in the Vancouver Sun, Oct. 6/12, Arts & Life D3

“Once we stop distracting the brain with everyday worries…ideas that are constantly fired at us…come into our awareness”

Yet how do we do this?

The key is to quiet the left side of the brain – the more logical, analytical and objective, to allow the right side -more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective to do its magic and help us be more open and creative with solutions!

Quiet time is a must and you need 10-20 minutes per day to help your brain function well,  the points mentioned in the article based on a study at Temple University included the need on a daily basis to;

Be alone

Get silent – turn off external stimulis – phones etc -*Unless you are using a guided imagery, mindfulness or other cd/recording

Sit up – very important as it can be very tempting to lay down and sleep often takes over

Ground your body – think of your feet attached to the ground, your buttocks firm on the chair, arms resting at sides

Breathe– in though the nose, down to the belly, out through the mouth,  focus on breath when your mind wanders bring it back to the breath

After 10-20 minutes open your eyes and stretch, check in with your body and brain

There are good youtube downloads that are helpful to clear the mind using Guided Imagery/Mindfulness Technique; A walk in the country, Connect to higher self, Mindfulness meditation body scan and many others.  CD’s can be purchased that promote meditative mindfulness – check the voice and quality first before you buy.

A wonderful yoga to download from youtube that my sister located is Esther Eckhart – I love her Bedtime Yoga.  The great part about youtube is the downloads are free although the quality can be patchy.

For more information or a counselling appointment I can be contacted at 604-785-4359 or email

When, where and with whom do you experience Anxiety Symptoms* or Panic Attacks?

What type of physical activity is helpful to decrease your anxiety symptoms?  What have you tried?  What can you try in the future?

What can you do to minimize distractions in your environment (s); be more organized? simplify daily routines?

What can you do to improve the interpersonal relationships you have with others?  How are your boundaries?  Are you always saying Yes? or No?

What changes can you make to food and substance choices that will help to decrease symptoms of anxiety? Caffeine intake? Alcohol? Nicotine? Sugar?

How can you ensure you have people in your life to share your concerns?

How are you incorporating time for spiritual contemplation?

*Symptoms of anxiety may include; shortness of breath, heart pounding, sweating, shaking, lightheadedness, feeling of unreality, fear- wanting to get away etc.

There are many methods that are helpful in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and managing panic. Contact me via email at or phone 604-785-4359 for more information if you think you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and would like to set up a private counselling appointment

Dealing with mental health issues – whether for yourself or a loved one the following websites could be helpful- The Canadian Mental Health Association has Family & Caregiver Support information A link just for B.C.  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – up to date information on addiction and mental health A comprehensive guide to “being there” with someone with mental health issues The B.C. Schizohrenia Society is a great family resource/support regardless of diagnosis Good information for individual coping with anxiety Great information about aging/dementia for the caregiver and others

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