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COVID Update – Mask Requirement

Dear friends,


We are aware that the City of Edmonton Bylaw has been lifted and as a healthcare setting –

we will continue to require masks in the clinic.


As a healthcare setting, we will keep maintaining a safe environment for our vulnerable community members. 


We will also continue to follow our current COVID guidelines during this time, including:

  • COVID screening for symptoms & maintenance of provincial isolation requirements
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting 
  • Proactive hand hygiene 

Thank you so much for your continued support with protecting our community!


With big love from all of us at Whole Family Health 

Image: https://www.instagram.com/stephanie.aml/

No Resolutions? No Problem!

Let me first start off by saying I have nothing against the culture of “New Year, New Me”, but making a list of resolutions can be daunting, unrealistic, and unenjoyable.

If you’re not big into making New Year’s Resolutions that is completely okay. Unfortunately, societal pressures and obligation is what drives a lot of people to become a whole new, fancier, and better self. The big question for me is what is better and how long will it take until you are fully satisfied? Even once we achieve our goals, how long until we fall out of these good habits?

I believe goals and practices can be set at any time, new years is overrated. I used to have this nonsensical rule that I could hold off starting my goal until the beginning of the next week. More often than not, the beginning of the week would roll around and I would lack all motivation and push starting further and further away. Not much was getting accomplished, and I was feeling bad for procrastinating something that would essentially benefit me.

Movement

While I’m not big into listing off numerous long-term goals, I want to reinforce how important movement is to incorporate in your daily life. For myself, and possibly many others, my long term/life-long goal is to improve my mobility to benefit my physical and mental health. Movement is so important to the body as it promotes cardiovascular health, fights back anxiety and depression, and releases endorphins.

Back in November, every morning my muscles felt tense and stiff, as if I did an intense workout the night before. Except I hadn’t – I had barely moved.

Since the pandemic, I had become more sedentary than ever. I knew I had to start moving more. But I wanted it to be fun and not painful. Also, it was in the middle of a week in November, no official way to start a daily practice. I truly did debate just holding it off until the New Year, but that made no sense. I was feeling so stagnant and fatigued.  

I started practicing some basic yoga I had remembered from previous yoga classes I took. It felt so refreshing to start moving again, the practice only took around 20 minutes and the next morning I was stiff, but in the areas I had stretched. This wasn’t the same groggy stiffness I was used to either, it felt like the muscles were finally being used again.

Because it felt so good and it put me in a relaxed mood afterwards, I made a conscious effort to be kind to myself and avoid discouraging myself. Moving everyday started becoming a daily practice, some days would last an hour and others 10 minutes. But I gave myself patience and the space to grow. 

Online Resources

I am so grateful for the vast content you can find online. While the internet’s endless content can be a blessing and a curse, I chose to really utilize all the free, low barrier entry ways to experiment with personal growth.

Putting on yoga videos and guided meditations have become a fun daily ritual I’ve adopted. There’s an endless stream of really awesome daily full body workouts (without equipment), Tai Chi lessons, and Qi Gong (breath-work) practices that are just clicks away.

Don’t forget to modify those videos to your speed (practice 10 minutes a day first and then increase when you’re ready), you don’t have to start on hard mode. You just need to begin! 

Baby Steps

I recommend baby steps. Take your goal day by day.

Start by making small adjustments and if those are working out for you and you’re happy, then you can move forward with what’s comfortable. It’s okay to respect your limitations and give yourself room to grow. You don’t have to race or push yourself to the extreme. It’s totally okay to have off days, but just remember that doesn’t mean you failed or gave up. 

Habit Forming

Consistency will help it get easier and ease it into your daily lifestyle. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology (2009) found that it takes a person 18-254 days to develop a new habit, and around 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.

Everyone’s journey is unique, and it doesn’t have to be linear. But once that habit is set, it becomes a daily ritual you’ll miss when you can’t practice it. Set those positive daily intentions and affirmations in the morning to help motivate you. It’s okay to be your own cheerleader. You’ve got this!

To find out more ways to support your health and wellbeing, contact us for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Image @aolanow

References

DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.674

Mindfulness For Thought Wormholes

” We have more possibilities in each moment than we realize.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

study suggests we have more than 6000 thoughts a day, many of which are ‘thought worms’ – moments focused on a specific idea. 

On my own fertility journey, my thoughts were dominated by anxiety & worry about how, when or IF I would ever have a child. I felt so stuck & helpless. 

These thoughts would spiral & pull me into all-consuming thought-wormholes. 

BUT I learned that although I couldn’t stop these intrusive thoughts (imo normal, valid & inevitable with infertility), I discovered that it’s possible to change my relationship with them, so they’re not so high-jacking.

Mindfulness helped me to cultivate space to step back from the autopilot habit of narrowly hyper-focusing on unrelenting compelling negative thoughts & to widen my awareness to see what more was available to me. I discovered that not only was I more than these (often untrue!) thoughts, but that there were so many more options to choose to pay attention to instead. 

For example, I practiced shifting focus from what I didn’t have, to the many conditions of happiness that I already had. Sometimes it was a direct sensation – the sound of a breeze rustling leaves, the fragrant smell of a flower, the warmth of my mug of tea in my palms – or sometimes it was an intentional shift to something I felt deeply grateful for.

It was all moment by moment. But it made the bridge of moments between now & the uncertain future more navigable for me, with more peace, ease & acceptance.

Mindful Practice For Thought Wormholes

Do you have intrusive thoughts on your fertility journey? Share one recurring thought in the comments.

Can this thought serve as a bell of mindfulness?

So that when you notice it coming up, it can be a reminder to stop & recognize the thought as 1 of 6000 recurring autopilot events passing through the mind.

Then take a moment to see what else is available to you in the moment.

Stop and see what else you can notice through your sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste.

What else in the miraculous landscape of experience can you choose to place your attention on?

Visit mindfulnessforfertility.com for upcoming Mindfulness For Fertility program information and registration.

The next program begins January 17th.

Register by sliding scale or scholarship – nobody will be turned away for financial reasons.

References

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17255-9

Image @fieldandsea

Thanks For Your Continued Support!

Many small businesses have had to pivot and respond to the changing landscape throughout the pandemic.

We have felt the negative impacts of the pandemic and we are grateful for your ongoing support.

Here are some ways you can continue showing your support:

1. Book in (& use up your benefits in the coming weeks before the end of the year)!

2. Consider purchasing a gift certificate as a holiday gift.

3. Leave a Google review and/or email us a testimonial to share.


 Thank you so much!! 

Stress-Free Clinic for Frontline Healthcare & Support Workers

As the holiday season unfolds, we want to take the opportunity to acknowledge, support & offer gratitude for the hard work & stress that frontline healthcare & support workers have had to endure throughout the pandemic.

On December 19th, Whole Family Health is honoured to be teaming up with the Mindfulness Institute to offer a Stress-Free Clinic Event to frontline workers.

The Mindfulness Institute, founded in 2010 by Dr. Catherine Phillips, Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the U of A, is an Edmonton-based international resource for the latest information on mindfulness, and a leader in teaching and integrating mindfulness into personal and professional settings.

See registration details below.

ABOUT THE EVENT:

WHO

All frontline healthcare and support workers who have experienced increased stress due to the pandemic are welcome. (Proof of occupation/ workplace will be required.)

WHAT

We will be offering free evidence-based stress reduction interventions to all Healthcare Workers who register:

1. Acupuncture

One relaxation acupuncture session from WFH
Studies have shown that acupuncture brings on the relaxation response and reduces physiological stress-markers associated with the fight, flight or freeze stress response.

2. Mindfulness

One mindfulness for healthcare workers webinar from the Mindfulness Institute (accessed via link)
Research shows that physicians who undertook an 8-week mindfulness training program showed less burnout, better mood and emotional stability, as well as improved physician empathy.

WHEN

Sunday, December 19th
945am – 1pm

WHERE

Whole Family Health Wellness Centre

COST

Free!
Although donations to our December Menstrual Product Drive are welcome.

REGISTRATION
Register online for your free acupuncture session HERE
We look forward to seeing you then and you will receive a link to view the mindfulness webinar on December 19th too.

WHY

Stats Canada research confirms that there has been a rise in anxiety and stress among Canadians in response to the pressures of dealing with the pandemic. Different populations have been affected in different ways, and it’s evident that healthcare and support workers along our frontlines are among the most negatively impacted.

Many Whole Family Health clients are hospital and frontline workers, so we have become acutely aware of the increased stress you have been enduring during the pandemic. We recognize the psychological & physical toll it has taken on you and your bodies, working within our strained healthcare system and putting yourselves at risk to help others.

We want to extend our support and gratitude in this small way in the hopes that you may access some evidence-based resources.

We want to treat you to some moments of reprieve!

Healthcare burnout facts

  • An epidemic of burnout and discontent was already well documented among physicians and frontline healthcare workers prior to the pandemic. Approximately 1 in 3 physicians is experiencing burnout at any given time.
  • A recent Canadian survey finds that both nurses and physicians have experienced significantly higher levels of burnout, stress, depression and anxiety than they remembered feeling before the pandemic. 
  • A recent survey’s most striking finding and barometer of distress is that amongst 119 respondents, 50% of nurses and 20% of physicians expressed intentions to quit their jobs.

We would love to treat you to a relaxation acupuncture session! Register HERE.

December Menstrual Product Drive: Taking a Stand Against Period Poverty

Whole Family Health is proud to support No Period Without, a local non-profit organization founded in 2017 that advocates to end period poverty in Edmonton.

We are partnering with No Period Without for the month of December, as their drop-off location for menstrual product donations.

Throughout the month of December, we are welcoming donations of the following unused and unopened products:

  • Tampons
  • Maxi Pads
  • Panty liners
  • Menstrual treatment products

Any kind, size or brand appreciated

Donations will be collected by No Period Without and distributed to other Edmonton charitable organizations in need.

** For every menstrual product donation, your name can be entered into a free draw for a Whole Family Health Gift Certificate redeemable for one acupuncture session.

What is Period Poverty

There is a negative stigma when having discussions surrounding periods.

Have you ever felt self-conscious of your period, or fear it leaking through? Have you grown up hearing that periods are gross? Have you felt embarrassed when you asked someone for supplies because it came up unexpectedly?

Throughout history, misinformation has spread regarding periods. While hygiene may be part of these concerns, stigma can cause people to feel ashamed for experiencing this natural bodily process.

Stigma and misinformation can also lead to serious threat, especially to financially or emotionally vulnerable individuals. Imagine not having access to a supply of menstrual products – this is period poverty.

Every day there are people who have no choice but to resort to using makeshift pads and tampons or prolonging their use of period products – all leading to risk of infection that can even be fatal.

According to a 2018 Plan Canada study, an alarming 63% of menstruating people felt the need to conceal their menstrual products in public. the same survey also revealed that over half of menstruators (55%) have missed work, school, or have declined social activities due to their period.

It’s time to break this stigma, half the population endures monthly periods, and we need to spread awareness to educate, ease anxieties, and take steps to end period poverty.

Menstrual products are a necessity

The price of menstrual products is high and unattainable for many. In 2019, United Way Period Promise estimated the annual cost per person for menstrual products is $70, the cost increasing with decreased accessibility.

I believe menstrual products are a necessity, not a consumer good and need to be equally accessible, regardless of income. No one should be in a position where they must compromise their health on a monthly basis.

Although Homeward Trust (a non-profit organization committed to ending homelessness in Edmonton), noted a steady decrease in homelessness since 2007, there has been a steep increase since the pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an increase from the estimated ~1,500 homeless people in April of 2019 to ~2,800 in 2021 – that’s an increase of 86%.

Homeward Trust estimates that approximately 44% of this current homeless population potentially experiences menstruation. There are over a thousand impoverished menstruating people in our city that likely have unmet monthly sanitary needs.

As we move into the cold of winter, homeless shelters expect a busy season. A 2021 United Way Period Promise research study has shown that 95% of community organizations are asked if they provide free menstrual products.

The shelters need resources, and there is a particular need for an often-overlooked item: menstrual products. 

Progress in the community

Despite the increase in homelessness in our city, city administration has taken several steps over the years to reduce period poverty. Some of these actions include:

How can you support the Period Poverty movement?

Please stop by the clinic with your menstrual product donations, which will be collected by No Period Without and distributed to other Edmonton charitable organizations in need.

For every menstrual donation, your name will be entered into a free draw for a Whole Family Health Gift Certificate redeemable for one acupuncture session.

We are grateful for your support!

Acupuncture & Stress : How Does It Work?

If you’ve ever had acupuncture, you’re probably familiar with the commonly reported state of relaxation experienced after a treatment or the general feeling of calm with regular treatments.

On the other hand, if you’ve never experienced acupuncture before, you might wonder how it could possibly be relaxing to lie on a table with needles inserted all over your body. That does not sound relaxing at all!

In 1979, the WHO published an official report listing conditions & diseases shown to be treated effectively by Acupuncture. Chronic stress was among the listed conditions. While acupuncture is widely used to treat chronic stress, the mechanism of action has been mysterious.

Ongoing research points toward how acupuncture decreases physiological stress in the body:

HRV

Studies point toward a correlation between acupuncture and improved HRV. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a non-invasive autonomic measure that indicates the body’s capacity to deal with stress.

A healthy heart is not actually one that ticks perfectly evenly. On the contrary – a healthy heart beats with variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats. Because a healthy heart adjusts its rate in response to the environment. Its ability to do so corresponds with a higher HRV, which is associated with better overall health, including mental health.

Endorphins


Acupuncture also stimulates the release of endorphins,  which are hormones secreted by the brain & nervous system that play a role in pain regulation & the general feeling of well-being. For example, we release endorphins when we laugh or fall in love.

Neuropeptide Y (NPY)

NPY is a neuropeptide secreted by the sympathetic nervous system, that is associated with the fight, flight or freeze stress response.

A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology in 2013 was designed to monitor the effects of acupuncture on blood levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), to help explain how acupuncture helps to reduce stress on a molecular level.

Researchers found that acupuncture significantly reduces NPY.

Because rats mount a measurable NPY stress response when exposed to cold temperatures, they were used in this research.

Electroacupuncture (EA) was also used in this study, to ensure that each animal was receiving the same treatment dose. EA was applied to acupuncture point ZuSanLi (St36), commonly used to alleviate stress among other conditions.

There were four groups of rats used:

  1. A Control group – that was not stressed and received no electroacupuncture.
  2. A Stress group – that was stressed and received no acupuncture.
  3. A Sham-EA group – that was stressed and received ‘sham’ electroacupuncture.
  4. An Experimental EA St36 group – that was stressed and received electroacupuncture.  

The Experimental EA St36 group of rats that was exposed to stress and received the electroacupuncture was measured to have similar NPY levels as the Control group.

A second experiment was conducted where the experimental group was continually stressed while acupuncture was discontinued and NPY continued to remain low, indicating a cumulative, long-term effect from the acupuncture.  

This is only a sampling of how we are beginning to unravel how acupuncture helps to reduce stress and the negative impacts on the body. Research is ongoing and as we begin to understand more and more from a Western scientific perspective how it works – the 2500+ year-old body of clinical evidence that acupuncture is an effective intervention for dealing with stress continues to grow.

Contact us to find out more about how we can support you & your body with stress.

Sign up for our newsletter to get updates about our upcoming Free Stress Clinic.

References

PMID: 33512256

PMID: 15135942

https://doi.org/10.1530/JOE-12-0404

National Day Of Truth & Reconciliation

In honour of National Truth and Reconciliation Day, we will be donating 10% of our revenue on Sept 30th to Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.


This indigenous organization has been serving indigenous children, youth and families in @yeg and area since 1994. 


The founders believe strongly that keeping culture at the center is crucial and that this important work is best done in partnership.  So they have developed strong partnerships with many and are proud to see that culture continues to play a central role in their practice. They also support many partners in elevating their capacity to serve the indigenous community in a culturally relevant, authentic and sincere way. 


Please join them for their virtual event today from 1-4pm MT. They will have a residential school survivor speak, discuss the importance of the day and have time for people on Facebook watching the live stream to ask questions. There will also be a craft for children as it is a child friendly event. 


Check out @bentarrow or bentarrow.ca for more info or to make your own donation.

COVID Update

So far, the new public health actions related to Albera’s recently declared state of public health emergency do not affect our healthcare setting.


We will monitor the public health orders closely and continue to update you if there are any changes.
In the meantime, we continue to:

  • follow the directions provided by the CMOH, our professional regulatory bodies & our local municipal authorities
  • implement mask-wearing continuously throughout the clinic
  • clean & disinfect treatment areas between clients
  • complete client screening at the time of booking & prior to their admittance 
  • complete staff screening prior to attending work
  • refrain from providing care to clients with symptoms of COVID-19- practice routine hand hygiene
  • maintain rigor in cleaning & disinfecting


Thank you all so much! 

Let’s continue to stay as safe and healthy as possible!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We are here to help!

With love from the WFH sisters!

VIEW OUR FULL COVID-19 ENHANCED PROTOCOLS HERE

Image @illu.strer

Connie’s Fertility Journey

June is a month that gives me a mixture of feelings.  First, it’s a month when I finally feel that summer is here and ready to spend some good time with my family.  However, it’s also a month when my emotions get triggered more because of my past miscarriage history.  

I remember after a few years of trying to conceive, my husband and I began traveling down the frustrating road of doctor visits and infertility treatments.  Whenever doctors told us we would never get pregnant naturally, I felt like everything I had ever dreamed of was being taken away. 

I felt like I was being punished by not being able to conceive and felt like I was a failure for not being able to be a mom.  After three years of infertility treatments, heart-wrenching disappointments, and faith-filled prayers, I finally got pregnant and delivered a healthy sweet boy.  

However, since I successfully conceived the first child, I expected it would be easier to have a second child.   After my son turned two years old, I was able to get pregnant again without any fertility treatments.  Both my husband and I were very excited about the news. 

However, within just a couple of months the excitement turned to sorrow.  After three ultrasounds, the doctor told us that the baby’s heartbeat could no longer be detected, confirming it was no longer viable. It was a missed miscarriage.  He also informed us that the chances of getting pregnant again were slim.  

This miscarriage journey was dark, lonely and frustrating.  I remember questioning why I had to go through a miscarriage after I had already suffered a lot from infertility.  It felt like I had fallen into a very dark pit and could not climb out on my own. I felt hopeless and exhausted about the whole experience, and I kept all of the feelings inside. In the beginning, I did not seek any help.  

During this difficult time, I received comfort and support from my husband, friends, and my faith community.  They also encouraged me to seek professional help though.  I’m grateful that I was able to find a counselling therapist who helped guide me to share, express, and process my feelings. 

These counselling sessions gave me a safe space to reflect deeply within myself, allowing me to to be with difficult emotions and to work toward accepting and integrating them. 

I was able to recognize my fears and wounds and process feelings of guilt and shame that arose from infertility and pregnancy loss.

Counselling helped me to become aware of my limitations as well as my strengths. With counselling support, my infertility and miscarriage journey has become a huge transformational life experience.

I’m thankful that I was able to find light within the darkness of that time. I can see that in the face of that difficult situation, I had the love and support of my family and friends and I am also grateful to now have a deeper understanding of the suffering and pain associated with miscarriage and infertility. This understanding fuels my compassion to help others going through similar experiences.

Many of us may have had experiences that carry strong emotions or psychological impacts that can resurface when triggered by certain events, people or even calendar dates. Please reach out to people who love you and care about you so that you don’t have to carry the burden of the struggle on your own. It can be so therapeutic to simply share your thoughts and feelings with others who can offer you comfort and support.

Because it can often be challenging for loved ones who are also directly involved and intimate with your reproductive challenges – it can also be so beneficial to seek extra support from a professional therapist or counsellor who can help hold safe space and provide you with some tools for dealing with the challenges of infertility and pregnancy loss. It certainly helped me on my own journey!

Contact us for a free 20-minute phone consultation with Connie about her fertility counselling sessions.

Image IG @nushu

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