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The ABC’s of Grief – A 3 Step Model for Grief

Grief is complex.

Usually, it’s a time to be present with those who share our grief. During the pandemic, that norm is complicated by the limits on how close we can keep our loved ones. This presents us with an interesting challenge: to reimagine and evaluate how we mourn in this time of crisis. I thought it would be an appropriate time to present an approach to grief that brings us closer to ourselves when we cannot be close to our loved ones.

1) Acknowledge

Notice that you’re grieving. Start with how you are feeling. Grief comes with a complicated array of emotions. Take note of the layers and complexity of these emotions, of whether they sway or hold steady. Just notice them and let that be the first step toward reflecting on whom or what you’ve lost.

2) Be Patient

As you identify the feelings attached to the loss, it is important to be patient and go easy on yourself. You share a story with the individuals in your life. Within these stories are moments of happiness, joy, pain, and anger. Remind yourself that as a consequence of this, emotions may arise that could make us feel ashamed or guilty. Give yourself time to sit with the complicated array of emotions.

3) Care for yourself

In times of loss it is easy to get caught up in the work that comes along with it. It’s important to remind ourselves to take a second and ensure we are practicing our own self-care routines. Remind yourself that even though you are caring for others, you also need time to rest, grieve and sit with your loss.

Keeping Ergonomics in Mind When Working From Home

Keeping Ergonomics in Mind When Working From Home

With so many students having to work and study from home, we’ve been thinking about our best coping tips for working from home, managing COVID-19 related anxiety and panic and taking care of yourself and your loved ones during this uncertain time. 

Whether you are working from home for the first time or a seasoned pro, we decided that on top of taking care of our mental wellness we can all learn more about how to best take care of physical wellness while working from home.

That’s why I reached out to True Therapy Group founder and Occupational Therapist, Sarah Timleck, for a quick Q & A to share some tips on how to maximize your health when working from home.

Q. I’ll admit it. When I think of working from home I imagine myself working from my warm, cozy bed and I can almost guarantee that I am not alone in these magical thoughts. For those who don’t usually work from home and are considering working from our beds, what pros and cons should we be considering.

A.  As an Occupational Therapist my focus is on educating you on helpful strategies to maintain a healthy posture and seating position to ensure you are taking care of yourself while working. Let’s start with the cons of working from bed:

  • You are sitting in a position without proper alignment of your spine because you do not have adequate support.

  • Your head is positioned in forward flexion which can cause neck, back and shoulder pain.

  • Typically our mattresses are a plush surface which impacts your ability to sit in any alignment from your hips upwards.

  • Working from bed could also increase your level of fatigue.

  • May increase eye strain because your screen may be too close.

  • When working in bed, you will be using a laptop, which is usually not ideal because your screen is too low causing you to look down and your keyboard is no at the proper position. Ideally it is best to have your elbows bent to 90 degrees and palms flat on the surface.

Now that you understand some of the challenges, let’s chat pros of working from bed.

  • You’re cozy! It’s a nice change, feels like a treat! Feels luxurious!

  • If you are going to work from bed use a foldable “breakfast in bed” type table, although not an ideal option, it could provide short term support and positioning. Please take rests breaks every 20 minutes if you choose to do this!


Q. What can I do to set up my space to make it more ergonomic?

A. Great question, especially managing finances during a time of stress. As for strategies to make your space more ergonomic:

  • Know your day, breakdown tasks into percentages like how much time on phone/computer/keyboarding/meetings.

  • Get a wireless headset for long calls to avoid neck strain.

  • Make sure you reduce eye strain by reducing glare, 20/20 rule look 20 ft away every 20 mins.

  • Tight neck and shoulders could mean reaching too far across a desk, improper monitor height.

  • Make sure if you have dual monitors they are of equal height.

  • Use a document holder to avoid repetitive strain.

  • Check your seat height to make sure elbows are bent to 90 degrees and palms flat on the surface of the desk.

  • If your feet dangle, get a footrest.

  • Don’t rest feet on wheels of the chair.

  • Take breaks often to do desk stretches.

  • Keep frequently used items within arm length reach to avoid straining muscles.

  • Make sure your desk chair has adjustability for seat height, tilt, back height, lumbar support. There should be 2” clearance between your calves and the seat cushion.

  • Use a sit stand desk with an anti fatigue mat to change positions while you work, change positions frequently.

  • Keep hydrated through workday.

  • Computer screen should be fingertip length away.

Q. What are the top three things I should keep in mind when it comes to working posture and work-from-home set up?

A. If you only pay attention to three things, keep these three at the top of your list.

  1. Upper extremity alignment: Keep your elbow close to your body and your shoulders in a relaxed neutral position, limit the amount of pressure you put on your wrists.

  2. When talking on the phone we recommend the use of a headset versus talking directly on your cell phone which can cause repetitive neck strain

  3. Take frequent microbreaks to stretch and move and reset your position. Stay hydrated

Q. Is there anything that I should consider that I’m likely not?

A. I think some additional important considerations are:

  • Making sure your screen distance is the proper distance away: to check this extend your arm in front of you and your screen should be just past your fingertips.

  • Creating structure and making a plan to maintain productivity. Know your day, breakdown tasks into percentages like how much time on phone/computer/keyboarding/meetings.

  • Plan your breaks. Consider outdoor breaks for movement, or a change of scenery and fresh air!

Q. If I was going to buy one thing to help me work from home what would you recommend?

A. Being assessed for a proper chair and foot support system, this can make the world of difference for injury prevention and your comfort. Allowing you to get through an entire work day without straining your muscles and impacting your posture which can increase the feeling of fatigue.

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You can reach Sarah Timleck at True Therapy Group, via email at info@truetherapygroup.com or by phone at 905-242-0686.

Dealing with Today’s Election Anxiety

Dealing with Today’s Election Anxiety

Today marks the 2020 US election. 😱

Okay, take a deep breath. 

Now, as a Canadian company, you may think… well, why are you thinking/writing/worried about the US election?

A couple reasons. First, we deliver a ton of mental health training in the US and have a ton of American clients. Second, personally, I consider the US my second home having lived and worked there. Third, we can’t deny that this is a global moment or reckoning of the kind of world that we want to build.

While that sounds heady, it’s not really. This election has very real consequences for us in Canada, the kinds of behaviour that’s normalized among our leaders, and the validation (or rebuttal) of the worst human impulses.

Feeling anxious yet? If you are (like me), here’s what we can all do today…

Trust our gut

Over the past four years, we’ve been exposed to a firehose of hate, division, fear-mongering, alienation, and cruelty in a way that was previously unfathomable. Many of us have become addicted to staying up to date on each development (see John Mulaney’s bit on comparing the Trump Whitehouse to a horse in a hospital). The emotional scars of the past four years are immense, let alone the anticipation of an election that could make this chapter history.

All of this is to say, there’s no need to feel guilt or shame in how you feel about this election. This anxiety runs deep. So trust whatever you’re feeling — because you’re feeling it with good reason.

Take any action

This kind of nervous-jittery-anxiety is best countered by taking civic action. What kind of action? Well, anything really, so long as you are using that same fire that’s within you right now for good.

Write something on Facebook about how you’re feeling about today. WhatsApp your American friends and ask how tensions are in their community. Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with old peers or friends. Moments of collective anxiety are ripe for reconnection. Take advantage of that.

If you’re hungry for more, shift your focus to what’s local, even if you’re in Canada. Know that crosswalk in your neighbourhood that’s dangerous? Write to your counsellor. Know that provincial proposal that’s frustrating you? Sign a petition. Know that issue you’ve been meaning to learn more about? Dive into it. Action beats inaction. Choosing our focus is an act of control. And when we feel a sense of control, our anxiety can be tamed.

Limit the scrolling and reloading

Refreshing CNN or FiveThirtyEight all day won’t make a difference. Nor will scanning Twitter incessantly. The results will come in as they do (or don’t… looking at you Pennsylvania!). Make a plan to consume coverage in a measured way and stick to it. That means, for example, checking out the news once an hour for five minutes. Later tonight when results start coming in, pick a channel you’ll watch and set a window for when you’ll tune in. Don’t be afraid to break up that CNN time with something funny — like an episode of It’s Me or the Dog.

Find solace in like-minded voices

I’ve found a great deal of comfort in the content from Crooked, the media juggernaut launched by ex-Obama staffers that include podcasts like Pod Save America. On these big nights, they do something called the “Group Thread” where they broadcast their own Slack channel with a feed from MSNBC on YouTube. Their team shares their candid, hilarious reactions to each development in a way that humanizes the profundity of the moment. It’s a great normalizer, reminding us that if you’re outraged, scared, or hopeful that there are millions of people out there just like you. If you’re looking for something lighter, Steven Colbert is doing a long livestream over on Showtime. And if you’re looking for something insightful, The Daily is doing their first-ever live show starting at 4pm EST.

Accept that we’re not done yet

Regardless of what happens, tonight won’t be the end of the past four years or the messes that it’s caused. There will be uncalled races, heightened tensions, and a — at a minimum — a president that won’t be out of office until January. Accept that there’s still a lot to happen beyond this evening — and believe that you have more control over your anxiety than you might think.

And if you need support at any time in the aftermath of tonight, we’re always here for you.

How To Do More In Less Time

How To Do More In Less Time

There’s a principle called Parkinson’s Law that says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Put simply, that means that the more time you give yourself to do something, the longer it will take to get it done.

For example, when you block off a whole weekend to work on a paper, but then find yourself procrastinating like crazy and get almost nothing done? Or when you have a bad date that is goes on forever because you didn’t set a clear ending?

Yeah. Exactly. That’s Parkinson’s Law in action.

But it’s not just papers or dates — it’s everything we do. Whether it’s cleaning, shopping, relaxing, errands or partying, the time each of those tasks takes up way more time than we thought they would. Think about your life and your habits, and consider how much you really get done when you give yourself tons of time. The answer is probably not much.

Here’s a better approach that’s a secret weapon used by the world’s most productive people.

The next time you have to complete a task, put a deadline on it that’s firm and then work backwards using what’s called the Pomodoro Technique.

This approach makes you give yourself only 25-minutes to complete a specific task followed by a 5-minute break. So that’s a cycle of 30-minutes… 25-minutes of work, 5-minute break. Each 30-minute cycle is called a Pomodoro, hence the name.

Once you repeat a Pomodoro four times, take a longer break of up to 30-minutes. Then sit back down and do another round of four Pomodoros, or as many as you need to do to get your work done.

All you have to remember is that one Pomodoro is 25-minutes of working time followed by a 5-minute break. And then after four Pomodoros, take a 30-minute break. Got it? Great.

The key, however, is to be organized and have your work cut into manageable chunks. It’s not like you can write a massive essay in 25-minutes. And I know that breaking up a big project, like a paper or a major research project, down into small pieces doesn’t feel natural. This is especially the case if we feel stressed about it and feel like it’s so big that no matter what we do, we’ll only ever scratch the surface of it. 

That’s not true. Break. It. Down. 

Before you begin your work if you’re using this technique, make a list of the bite-sized tasks that you have to do to write, for example, a paper. Your list might start to look like this: 

  • Pick a topic and narrow it down
  • Draft a clear thesis
  • Look for research to support my thesis from online sources
  • Look for research to support my thesis from journal articles
  • Go back and refine my thesis based on the research reviewed above
  • Outline my three main arguments in a couple sentences each
  • …and so on

Then once you have your list, start at the first item with one Pomodoro. Get it done before 25-minutes is up? Great, move onto the next. If not, let it roll into the next 25-minutes. Make sure that you’re focused during each Pomodoro. Don’t do anything but that one thing. Keep all other distractions at bay.

On a logistical note, there are a ton of apps and tools out there to act as a timer. You can use a timer on your phone. Or you can try PomoDone (which has a free version) or Pomotodo (which is also free for the basic plan). All will work. Just find something that works for you. 

So before you dive back into work, stop everything and give this a shot! It might not feel natural at first, but keep at it. Before you know it, you’ll be a productivity machine.

Oh, and by the way, I wrote this blog in exactly two Pomodoros.

Thanks for Having us, Fleming College!

Thanks for Having us, Fleming College!

The Real Campus team was at Fleming College on November 22 to officially kick off of the Real Campus (or Re:Tour for short).

With a popup beginning in the morning and extending throughout the day, Fleming students were able to submit anonymous responses to question cards and see their answers as well as those from their peers projected throughout the campus. Students frequently stopped to read the texts, oftentimes looking surprised at how heaviness of some responses.

“I am surrounded by so many wonderful people every day and have so much to live for, but I still hate my life and who I am,” looped through the projections–an anonymous text sent by a student earlier that morning.

Students were able to stop by the centralized popup on their way to class to learn more about Real Campus and to sign up. Many were excited to hear about what the availability of Real Campus benefits meant for them.

The first Real Campus Human Library took place that afternoon and featured seven Fleming students who volunteered as “Human Books” to share their personal stories in a one-on-one format with visitors.

Human Book topics ranged from bipolar disorder and addiction recovery to child loss, domestic abuse survival, and body modification. Visitors could select which Human Book they wanted to read and have an open discussion with that person for twenty minutes about their story. Some visitors were pleased to be able to speak with someone who was experiencing a similar struggle to themselves or to hear from someone about a subject they didn’t know much about.

We had a great time at Fleming College and are looking forward to more Re:Tour visits in the new year!

Upcoming Re:Tour stops will be:

  • Centennial College on January 29, 2019
  • Fanshawe College on January 30, 2019
  • St. Clair College on January 31, 2019
  • and more…!

Want to volunteer or share your story at an upcoming spot? Click here to apply