Making Self Care a Priority

Qualia StaffCognitive Behavioural Therapy

Making Self Care a Priority
By: Jennifer Hackbart, BASc, MSW, RSW

Self care! Self care! Self care! We’ve all heard this promoted from the rooftops and yet it remains greatly neglected within our society. I’m sure the thought “It’s so nice outside I wish I had time to go for a walk” sounds all too familiar to most of us. Well, here is your opportunity to make change! July 24th is International Self Care Day.

What is self-care?

Self-care is defined as the act of looking after ourselves. I often relate self care to a flight emergency protocol -a passenger must first fit their own oxygen mask on before helping others. The idea being, if we don’t first care for ourselves we will be less effective in all other realms of life.

Self care is often portrayed as the “big ideas”, but in reality it is simply the small day to day decisions we all make.  Do I choose to finish the laundry or go for a walk? Do I choose to sit and play with my kids or wash the dishes? Do I choose to make plans with a friend or send off a few more work emails before bed? If we are seldom choosing the nurturing/relaxing option, we are likely not meeting our self-care needs.

How do I  improve my  self-care?

Firstly, improved self-care requires a level of self awareness where we are able to identify our own needs and take steps to fulfill them. Take some time to focus on what your body, mind and emotions are telling you. Are you worn out? Does your mind often use those “should” statements? Do you notice you’re always doing things for others and feel a bit of frustration regarding this? These are all signs we may be neglecting our self-care needs.

Secondly, improved self-care requires a change in belief around it’s importance. Most people believe “the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be” (Anchor & Gelian, 2016).  In reality, many of us simply need a reality check. We need to realize that when self-care becomes a priority, the potential for success actually increases. Our mood and energy levels increase, allowing us to not only do more but also enjoy more of what we do.

Here is an example of how a change in belief has the potential to change your behaviour:

Old belief:

New belief:


Thirdly, establish routines. Getting started is usually the hardest step in changing behaviours. Set small self-care goals and work these into your daily life. Then, build on these goals once effective routines are established.

Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Qualia Staff’s Favourite Self Care Strategies

  1. Lay in a hammock and reading
  2. Going on a hike
  3. Taking a nap
  4. Starbucks date with a good friend
  5. Going to the gym
  6. Lighting a candle
  7. Having a glass of wine on the patio
  8. Using essential oils
  9. Playing video games
  10. Riding a bike
  11. Getting outside on lunch breaks
  12. Spending time with good friends and family
  13. Taking the dog for a walk
  14. Put my phone on airplane mode for an hour
  15. Lay a blanket down and watch the clouds

More great ideas can be found at:


Qualia StaffMaking Self Care a Priority

Qualia at The Boardwalk

Qualia StaffCognitive Behavioural Therapy

To all readers – we now have a location at The Boardwalk in West Waterloo, and are so thrilled to be here! Our dsc_0070doors officially opened today, so please feel free to drop in, say hello, be nosy and even ask for a tour (if we can accommodate you while rooms are not being used :). Our Andrew St location in Kitchener and Cao Lane location in Six Nations still remain open as well, if you’re wondering.

As we expand and open this new location, I have given a lot of thought as to what the mission and vision of Qualia is and how this new location fits into it. Qualia, founded to be “a place for people to meet their full potential and become their most authentic selves” has a vision of “unlocking human potential”. We do this by providing services (psychotherapy, coaching and training) grounded in a model of change called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. As I reflect on what I love the most about our new digs (besides the beautiful location, fantastic community in the Medical Centre at The Boardwalk, and gorgeous West Waterloo views from our windows) it is that Qualia is making CBT more accessible within our community.

Why you might ask, is that important? What is so great about CBT?

Let me tell you. CBT is a game changer, and life changer. It is a model of change that focuses on an individual’s thoughts, behaviours, physical self and situations to create big change in an area we all lovedsc_0072 to feel good in – our emotional self. CBT uses a system of techniques to help people completely restructure their thoughts, engage in balanced healthy thinking, and to enable behaviour change. CBT has been demonstrated in thousands of clinical studies to be the most effective way to help people overcome depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Do you also know however, that CBT has also been demonstrated to help people improve their health, quit smoking, and achieve change like exercising regularly, getting to your preferred healthy body weight, and reaching your professional goals?

SO, if you fit into any of these above areas, CBT can help you be healthier and happier. I know personally, CBT techniques have not only helped me have balanced thoughts about various distressing life situations but has also helped me lose 30-40 pounds after pregnancies, has helped me reach my professional goals, and has helped me choose healthier foods and nutrition choices. With some clients I have seen, we have worked on anxiety and depression related goals and in just a few weeks have seen symptoms of depression and anxiety go away. I have also helped adolescents and adults achieve goals of being more assertive, communicating better with family, having more confidence, exercising more, going on more dates, losing/gaining weight, overcoming phobias like driving, flying, travel, and more! CBT can help you achieve almost any life goal. So, if you want to learn more or find out how we can help you – call and book a free consultation today!


Qualia StaffQualia at The Boardwalk

Orange Shirt Day

Charity FlemingFirst Nations related, Mental Health

Growing up in Northern Ontario I didn’t know until after I had left the North, acquired post secondary education and become much more educated on the topic that I had been experiencing internalized racism most of my life. I didn’t know my culture, I didn’t know my mother language, I felt shame about my racial identity.

I also came to the realization of the fact that there was a previous aim of the Canadian government in assimilating First Nations and Inuit people into non aboriginal culture and committing cultural genocide, and that most of the shameful things I heard about First Nations was largely related to this.

As I became educated on the topic of Aboriginal affairs in Canada I was appalled at some of the things I learned. Like that for a century nearly 50% of children forced to abide by Canada’s Residential School Act died from hopelessness, failed runaway attempts,  brutal punishments, suicide or illness in the residential schools (for more info: That sexual abuse was widespread in the schools. That brutal physical punishments accompanied any expression or display of culture children of these schools engaged in.

Now, with the continued epidemics of suicide, mental health & health issues, and prevalence of other social problems I can fully see the context within which these problems developed. I can fully understand why the legacy of shame followed my footsteps, why the cries of Our People’s children rise from the ground, why horrendous atrocities are still occurring in many of our First Nations.  And why giving these experiences a voice is so important to helping Our People break free from the legacy of pain that has been haunting us.

One way to hear this voice and join in, no matter what your nationality or culture is to participate in the now annual Orange Shirt Day. This past Friday Sept 30th, children and adults all over the nation wore Orange Shirts in memory of Residential School Survivors. Jenny Dupuis, the granddaughter of the original Orange Shirt Wearer (Phyliss Webstad) shared: “I hope this day will spark deep and meaningful conversations  with students about topics like oppression, loss of identity and assimilation.” (for more:

In my profession as a psychotherapist, helping to reduce the impact of the resulting Historical & Intergenerational Trauma of the residential school system has been of paramount importance to me, and my colleagues at Qualia Counselling Services. Through the help of government programs like Non Insured Health Benefits for First Nations we offer cognitive behavioural therapy for survivors of residential schools, as well as their family members and those still living with the ongoing effects of these community wide traumas.  We are dedicated to doing our part in helping these individuals gain a voice and understanding of the impacts of these experiences and also a hope and brightness for the future.  If you or a loved one is a First Nations member and would like to connect with our services, contact us today. You don’t need to live in silence or suffering any longer.  We will solemnly remember, and pledge always to do our part in the continued aftermath of this trauma.



Charity FlemingOrange Shirt Day