6 episodes

Join registered clinical counsellor Valerie Dolgin and her guests as they chat about the issues, big and small, we’re all facing together. From heightened anxiety to pandemic parenting to finding joy in unexpected places, we’ll laugh and share relatable stories about what we’re learning – and our challenges along the way. Grab your walking shoes or fill up the sink and tune in for a lively discussion, including concrete tools and coping techniques you can apply to your own life.

Open hearts. Honest conversations‪.‬ Family Services of the North Shore

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.8 • 6 Ratings

Join registered clinical counsellor Valerie Dolgin and her guests as they chat about the issues, big and small, we’re all facing together. From heightened anxiety to pandemic parenting to finding joy in unexpected places, we’ll laugh and share relatable stories about what we’re learning – and our challenges along the way. Grab your walking shoes or fill up the sink and tune in for a lively discussion, including concrete tools and coping techniques you can apply to your own life.

    Family Caregivers

    Family Caregivers

    Show Notes:



    A family caregiver is a relative or friend who provides care and support to someone living with chronic disease, disability, mental health, or age-related challenges. 

    There are currently 1.1 million caregivers in the province of British Columbia. 

    Anyone can find themselves in the role of caregiver; it’s a role that most people will take on at some point in their lives.  

    As an unpaid role, the family caregiver tends to be largely overlooked and underappreciated.

    While most caregivers (64%) spend less than 10 hours a week on caregiving responsibilities, 1 in 3 seniors caring for a spouse spend more than 30 hours a week caregiving.  

    Typical daily tasks include grocery shopping, meal preparation, looking after finances, providing transportation, liaising with healthcare professionals, housework, and personal care. 

    While many find the experience of caregiving to be rewarding, caregivers also often report an increased level of stress and a decline in their overall health.  

    The level of stress tends to increase with the number of hours spent caregiving.

    For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, behavioural changes may occur. If the person you are caring for becomes agitated or aggressive, it may be that they are over-tired, in pain or experiencing too much noise or confusion. Watch for early signs and deal with the cause before the behaviour begins. If the behaviour persists, seek medical guidance. 

    The care role often tends to blur boundaries, leaving the caregiver with a feeling of being always on alert, which in turn can lead to exhaustion and/or burnout. 

    Signs of caregiver burnout may include overwhelming fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, irritability or anger, difficulty coping with everyday things, trouble sleeping, depression or anxiety. 

    To maintain wellbeing and avoid caregiver burnout, check out community resources and reach out for support. Join a caregiver support group to connect with others who have had similar experiences. Reach out to agencies that provide support specific to the condition or disease your loved one is facing. Find ways to nurture yourself and take care of your own emotional wellbeing. Set an intention each day to actively look for moments of joy. 

    If you have become a caregiver for someone with whom you’ve had a difficult relationship, follow the above steps to avoid caregiver burnout, avoid arguing, step away and take deep breaths if you feel anger coming on, seek counselling and know your limitations. Find gratitude for the good things in your life.

    There are many ways to support caregivers in your life. You could: reach out to let them know you’re there for them; listen without judgment or trying to fix things; suggest a way you could help, and learn about resources available in their community and share them with the caregiver.   

    If you’ve just begun this role, or if you’ve been caregiving for some time, know that you’re not alone. Reach out to join a caregiver support group where you can share the challenges and joys along the caregiving journey.  



    Resources:



    To learn more about our Caregivers Connect program, email connect@familyservices.bc.ca. 

    To access counselling services, email our intake counsellor intake@familyservices.bc.ca.

    If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, click here to learn more.

    If enjoyed the podcast and would like to support our work, click here to learn about becoming a donor.

    For additional perspective and information refer to Insights on Canadian Society: The experiences and needs of older caregivers in Canada, Paula Arriagada, November 24, 2020.

    For more information and resources for Family Caregivers, refer to Family Caregivers of BC.

    • 35 min
    Volunteerism

    Volunteerism

    Show Notes:



    People choose to volunteer for many reasons a few of which are:  wanting to be included and part of their children’s or families activities, a desire to give back to the community, they have time and want to fill it, they have moved into a new neighbourhood and want to connect with others in their area and make friends.

    Volunteering offers a sense of belonging, of connecting, and of contributing to the community.

    Family Services of the North Shore volunteers are involved in many of the services our Agency offers.  Some possible volunteer jobs are:  flipping pancakes at client events or programs, delivering groceries, making caring phone calls to community members in need, behind the scenes administrative support and more.

    There are opportunities for everyone depending on your interests, skills, and the amount of time you have to offer.

    Volunteering is fun!  Working with a group of committed people feels like good, meaningful teamwork.   At Family Services of the North Shore, volunteer teams look at a problem in the community and work together to figure out how to resolve it.

    During the pandemic our volunteers helped us develop our grocery delivery program and the caring phone calls that are made to individuals who are particularly isolated right now.

    Through this connection to clients our volunteer program is able to respond the needs that clients tell us about, so that we can move nimbly to assist with community issues, often in real-time, as they come up.

    Everyone benefits from volunteerism; clients and volunteers lives are enriched by their interactions, and relationships between volunteers teams often lead to great friendships.

    One of the other benefits of volunteering is learning about members of the community you might not otherwise meet, regardless of their economic situation, work, age, cultural background, everyone.

    An important aspect of this work is also realizing that in life, sometimes we are givers and sometimes we are receivers and it is only circumstances that separate those two groups.   Many of our clients plan to become volunteers when they are in a better situation.

    If you are on the fence about whether to volunteer or not “what are you waiting for?  Just do it.”



    Resources:



    If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, click here to learn more.

    If enjoyed the podcast and would like to support our work, click here to learn about becoming a donor.

    To access counselling for children, youth, and adults, email our intake counsellor intake@familyservices.bc.ca.

    Thrive Family Programs for parents of kids aged 0-6 are free of charge.  Virtual and outdoor options available.  To learn more, click here.

    • 19 min
    Coping with Anxiety During a Pandemic

    Coping with Anxiety During a Pandemic

    Show Notes:



    Anxiety is a normal and important part of the human experience.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of anxiety in many people. 

    Even people who pre-pandemic were quite even keeled, have felt anxiety during this time.  Sometimes it comes out in ways that do not seem to have anything to do with the pandemic, but many of us are under more stress than before, and for some, more stress than ever before.

    Anxiety can have positive aspects; a discomfort that gives the feeling of urgency- to study for a test or plan the details of a vacation or file your taxes on time.

    The shadow side of this is when anxiety and worry start to take over our lives.

    The purpose of anxiety is to keep us engaged and aware of our surroundings.

    The brain is always scanning the environment for danger.  It can not tell the difference between the threat of a tiger hiding in the grasses and the uncertainty of the pandemic.

    Over the past year, for some this ‘alarm system’ has been stuck on the ‘on’ position for long periods of time.

    These worries can start to compound quickly.

    One of the features of anxiety is that it is connected to the Stress Response (fight, flight, freeze). This Stress Response turns off the thinking part of the brain which makes it difficult to plan or think rationally about a situation.

    Anxiety can feel like butterflies in the stomach, racing thoughts, stomach issues, sweating, heart racing, feeling like we can’t catch our breath.

    The difference between panic and anxiety is that anxiety is like a slow-burn that grows over time. Panic is like going from zero to 100 in a millisecond.  It is a physiological response that can make people feel like they are dying (when they are not).  If someone is experiencing panic attacks they should see a doctor.

    Anxiety has a lot to do with wanting to control the uncontrollable.

    The human brain does not like uncertainty, and much of the pandemic has included changing ideas, uncertain public health orders, and many other adjustments to what we know.  It has changed most of our lives in significant ways.

    This feels very uncomfortable and the racing thoughts, physical tension, and rumination that goes along with it is in some ways an attempt by the brain to control the uncontrollable.

    One thing that can help is to “choose your guru.”  A leader who is trustworthy and helpful and whose expertise you can lean into.  In British Columbia, we have had  Dr. Bonnie Henry in that role for the pandemic period.

    Not everyone has experienced the pandemic in the same way.

    For people with a history of trauma (abuse, natural disaster, war) the similarities of the pandemic experience to their historical experience can feel overwhelming.  If this is happening for people they should consult with a mental health professional to untangle the present situation from the past situation.

    For people who are worried about what might happen in the future, when things start to open back up again, consider that we are all in this together and if you express your worries and concerns with others you will find that you are not alone in these concerns.  This helps to build a stronger sense of being part of the collective and helps us feel less isolated in our experience.

    Some things people can try to help their bodies calm from anxiety are to:  suck on an ice cube, do a butterfly hug (cross arms on their chest and lightly tap alternating shoulders, or cross hands on their knees and lightly tap alternately knees), counting colours (pick a colour in the room you are in or outside and count all the items in the room or close by and continue to choose a new colour until you feel more calm and in the present moment).

    Remember what Mr. Rogers’ mother said:  when things are scary in the world and it looks like all the bad things are happening, look for the helpers, they are there.

    • 30 min
    Loving Our Bodies, Loving Ourselves during a Pandemic

    Loving Our Bodies, Loving Ourselves during a Pandemic

    Show Notes:



    Diet culture is like the water we swim in, we are immersed and it is so hard to separate ourselves from it.

    Food has been a big focus during the pandemic.

    When we’re not able to actively engage in our normal routines we can start to feel differently about ourselves, and when that shifts, it’s no surprise that there are shifts in how we are relating to ourselves and to food.

    Without the normal markers of routine and-or structure, it can become difficult to regulate ourselves and our food intake.  This can look like over-control or lack of control which can lead to the development of more anxiety or nervousness around body image and food intake.

    When life is feeling chaotic one major thing we can control is what we put into our mouths, and this can then become a significant point of focus.  For instance, the thought may be:  “If the world is so uncertain in this giant upheaval the thing that’s making me feel safe is to do this thing [over eating/restricted eating] that gives me a sense of control”.

    Eating disorder symptoms can act like a coping mechanism to help a person feel more in control.

    Eating disorders thrive in secrecy, and with the isolation many are experiencing, the environment makes it ripe for behaviours to return.  This is why it is so important to stay connected with others in whatever way we can.

    Disordered eating and eating disorders exist on a spectrum of thoughts and behaviours regarding body image and weight.

    Eating disorders are typically noticed first by a friend or family member of the person exhibiting the disordered eating behaviours.

    If you are concerned about someone, try 'zooming out' on that person’s life, and try observing other behaviours.  For example- are they still interested in their usual activities, are they still socializing the same way, or are they isolating in new ways?  Has something changed in their life lately?

    You can say something like:  “I noticed you’re not socializing as much as you were before, has something happened? Can I help?"

    If the eating behaviours are challenged head on, it can make the person defensive, feel threatened, and could drive the behaviours into greater secrecy.

    If you are worried about your own eating behaviour – Jessie’s Legacy offers a screening tool that helps people assess their relationship with food, and attitudes toward eating and body image.

    You can also zoom out on your life, for example where could you bring in some balance, do you need more sleep, more leisure, more social time, more time outdoors?

    Isolation and uncertainty can elevate triggers and behaviours for many.  The most important thing people can do is talk about it, reach out, connect with others, and name it.  Take advantage of new ways of connecting through technology during this challenging time.

    Many of us are consuming more social media right now than ever, and typically these platforms mainly offer the 'highlight reels' of peoples’ lives, and as a result set an unrealistic perspective.

    Just like animals and nature, we follow different cycles and as the world changes, so do we.  Our bodies and eating behaviours change with the seasons.  We naturally ebb and flow just like everything else on this planet.  Allow yourself some grace as you move through.



    Resources:



    To learn more about Jessie's Legacy - the story behind the program and the range of resources available to you, click here to visit our website.

    To access counselling for children, youth, and adults, email our intake counsellor intake@familyservices.bc.ca.

    If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, click here to learn more.

    If enjoyed the podcast and would like to support our work, click here to learn about becoming a donor.

    • 27 min
    Parenting During a Pandemic

    Parenting During a Pandemic

    Show Notes:



    There is no magic pandemic parenting that needs to happen.

    It does not make us better parents if we feel bad about ourselves as parents and compare ourselves to others, thinking they are better than us.

    When we feel shame about ourselves as parents we are preoccupied with ourselves and we are not connecting with our child. We can miss out on our own kids’ unique needs when we are trying to match what others are doing.

    If we do something that's not that great as a parent, we can stay connected with ourselves, stay connected with our child, and we can repair what we’ve said or done.

    If we are starting to see a pattern coming out with our kids and you know in your heart that this is not the kind of parent you want to be, that's the time to ask for some help.

    Many parents are using distractions, like eating, alcohol, screen-time to help deal with the anxiety brought on by the pandemic.  If you’re doing that a lot it is likely not a great coping strategy. It is avoidance.

    The basics for healthy coping are to talk with someone else about your feelings, get some physical exercise, remove yourself from the place in which the unhealthy coping is happening.  

    Kids notice when parents are stressed and having a hard time.

    You can be honest with your kids about the situation and also the ways in which you are solving it.  This sends the message life can be hard and we can get through hard things together.

    The silver lining of the pandemic is that kids are learning that they can get through difficult experiences and still be ok.  So, the next time they encounter a difficulty they can look back and say “I survived that hard time, and I can do it again.”



    Resources:



    To access counselling for children, youth, and adults, email our intake counsellor intake@familyservices.bc.ca.

    Thrive Family Programs for parents of kids aged 0-6 are free of charge.  Virtual and outdoor options available.  To learn more, click here.

    If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, click here to learn more.

    If enjoyed the podcast and would like to support our work, click here to learn about becoming a donor.

    • 36 min
    Promo

    Promo

    A podcast presented by Family Services of the North Shore

    • 47 sec

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

Noamof23rd ,

Looks great. Can’t wait for more!!!

The promo sounds great, well done Valerie and the FSNS team. Can’t wait for more!!!

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