Counsellor Taylor Park Elementary and Gilpin Elementary

Taking Action – Self-Care Practices

Hello Everyone,

One question I am frequently asked is about the idea of ‘self-care’. What do we do when we notice we are not at our best (eg. feeling unmotivated/sad or overly stressed). There is often a desire to get proactive, in order for these feelings not to deepen or get ‘stuck’. Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. These actions, our individual self-care routines, may look a little different as we all have different preferences and sensibilities. However, the critical point is taking action in positive and healthy ways, as opposed to using unhealthy strategies.

Unhealthy and maladaptive strategies might look like, for example, increased use of alcohol or an increase in ‘comfort foods’. However, the use of these ‘strategies’ inhibits our connections to our internal emotional states and leaves us disconnected from external challenges. In other words, the use of alcohol or other substances masks our internal feelings, as opposed to bringing us more connected to these feelings and thus better equipped to meet these challenges.

Self-care tips and ideas are easily found online and can be adapted to your own personal preferences and sensibilities. Some are located here.

Today, I wanted to connect you with a resource that highlights the importance of one common self-care strategy – Exercise.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

A groundbreaking and fascinating investigation into the transformative effects of exercise on the brain, from the bestselling author and renowned psychiatrist John J. Ratey, MD.

Did you know you can beat stress, lift your mood, fight memory loss, sharpen your intellect, and function better than ever simply by elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat? The evidence is incontrovertible: Aerobic exercise physically remodels our brains for peak performance.

In SPARK, John J. Ratey, M.D., embarks upon a fascinating and entertaining journey through the mind-body connection, presenting startling research to prove that exercise is truly our best defense against everything from depression to ADD to addiction to aggression to menopause to Alzheimer’s. Filled with amazing case studies (such as the revolutionary fitness program in Naperville, Illinois, which has put this school district of 19,000 kids first in the world of science test scores), SPARK is the first book to explore comprehensively the connection between exercise and the brain. It will change forever the way you think about your morning run—or, for that matter, simply the way you think.

Spark is available from your local library or most online book retailers. Better yet, it is also available as an audio book so you can listen while going for a walk/hike, run or whatever ‘sparks’ your joy and gets your body moving.


Workshop Opportunity

Hello Everyone,

This week I would love to bring your attention to the latest FREE workshop offering from Family Smart’s ‘In the Know’ series.

PARENTING WHEN OUR KIDS CAN’T GO TO SCHOOL – Parenting when our kids won’t (or can’t) go to school is hard for everyone; mental health challenges can be what is creating the barrier to them attending. This is hard and complex – we talk about the pieces we have some control over, remembering how much relationships matter, and who we can look to for support.

This workshop is free of charge and will be held online on  Friday, October 23, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Registration required – HERE



Parenting During COVID-19

Hello Everyone,

Parenting during COVID-19 is challenging. Largely this is due to there being fewer supports available. Social opportunities for both adults and kids are not as easily done as we physically distance. As well, people who support you and your children (grandparents, family, friends etc.) are not able to spend time with your children and relieve some pressures, or provide time and respite . Consequently, we are spending increased time with family in our homes and while there are many opportunities for building family relationships, pressures and family tensions can increase.

This week I would like to highlight a podcast produced by the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre.

Dr. Ashley Miller is a Child and Family Psychologist at BC Children’s Hospital. As part of her work, Dr. Miller runs support groups for teens with depression, and caregiver groups for families. She is a passionate advocate for family and caregiver involvement in the mental health treatment of children and youth. In this podcast she explores some of these parenting challenges and suggests some tips and strategies for parenting children and adolescents during COVID. It is the perfect length for a short commute to work or to listen to during your next workout.

The podcast can be found HERE



When ‘Overwhelmed’ becomes the New Normal – Resources in our Community

Hello Everyone,

When do we need help? It’s an important question. Some challenges or problems are small and we can find solutions ourselves or by soliciting advice from friends and family. However, other problems are more complex and requires more support. When to reach out for assistance is a question you may be struggling with.

We often feel like we should wait and it’s not until we are feeling overwhelmed and we get to a ‘crisis’ that we reach out for professional support. Sometimes the quick arrival of a crisis situation is unavoidable, however, often when we think back this problem or challenge has been simmering for a while. We may have tried a few things to address it, or maybe we thought time would be helpful and would present solutions. Sometimes addressing a problem early helps us avoid that feeling of ‘crisis’.

You may be just starting to identify a problem with you or your child’s emotions, a family dynamic that is becoming problematic, or a challenge with school.  However, you may be feeling this is a larger challenge that has been around for a while and continues to grow no matter what you try. Whichever category you find yourself in, there are many programs in our community that may meet your needs. If you would like to have a conversation with me about connecting to the right resources, please do not hesitate to contact me at,  I would be happy to have a conversation with you.

One organization is Cameray Child and Family Service which offers a variety of programs, including their free counselling services. Their COVID-19 Youth Support Program is also a new program which you may find helpful.


The  COVID-19 Youth Support Program provides free virtual counselling services for youth (up to the age of 21) experiencing anxiety, social isolation, stress, and sadness due to COVID-19.

If you would like more information or would like to register please contact us at 604-436-9449 or email

Managing Loss during the Pandemic

Hello Everyone,

‘How are you doing?’ It’s a question we are often asked many times a day. You may answer ‘fine’ or ‘good’ but the answer is not always that simple. Especially, now.

Given a moment to reflect you may be feeling unmotivated, lethargic, down, uneasy, overwhelmed, anxious and/or angry. It is not unexpected. These unresolved feelings often come up when we experience loss, as part of the grieving process. We are all experiencing some sort of loss these days. It could be, for example, a feeling of loss of previous connections with friends, an inability to do the things that used to spark your joy, a loss of employment, or a loss of freedom and safety, We are grieving this loss and not only does this bring up some of the feelings listed above, but it can also be exhausting.

I encourage you to take a moment and reflect back on our original question – How are you actually doing?

I want to take this opportunity, two weeks into the school year, to recognize this loss we are feeling.  Furthermore, I want to focus in on how we re-charge ourselves when we are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, as there are opportunities hidden in this difficult time.


→ CONNECTION – as humans we need social connections, it’s one of our basic needs.  Even if you’re feeling tired, withdrawn or overwhelmed, reach out to a friend or family member for a phone call or a walk and it will help you feel better.

→  MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF–  find some “me” time, doing what brings us calm and joy.  It may be meditating, yoga, a walk, run or bike ride, reading a book, having a bath, writing or painting etc.  Take time to do something that sparks your joy.

→ LET GO OF JUDGMENT – Judgement is often unsettling.  Especially during the pandemic there is a lot of judgment – who is wearing a mask and who isn’t, who is physically distancing, and who isn’t etc.  Some things are within our control and some are out of our control. A focus on what is within your own circle of control can often be helpful.

→ FOCUS ON GRATITUDE – A shift of focus from what we feel we have lost to what we feel thankful for also shifts our emotions. Keep a gratitude journal, create a dinner-time ritual of every family member saying what they are feeling grateful for or just say it to yourself throughout the day.  Despite all the challenges that 2020 has brought, it has also brought us a deep sense of appreciation for things that we may well have taken for granted pre-pandemic.

→ NAME YOUR FEELINGS –   Talk about your feelings with a partner, friend, or counsellor.  Check in with yourself frequently. A genuine and honest exploration of the question “How am I doing?” can lead you to reflect on what needs to be done so that you can be your best self during this difficult time.

Wishing you all the best this week!


Adapted from Sharon Selby

Free Parenting Programs

Hello Everyone,

The first week of back to school is almost in the books. What stood out for me this week was how happy kids were to be back at school with their friends, learning and having fun.

This week I wanted to draw your attention to some free parenting programs being offered this fall from Burnaby Family Life. These programs are free of charge and will be held online during Covid-19 to promote physical distancing. Of note is the popular, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) program.

Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (“STEP”) is a program for parents of children older than 4 years old. Learn about different parenting styles and approaches to better understand:

  • Why children misbehave and how to respond, when to intervene in sibling rivalry and when to ignore misbehaviour,

  • How to use effective discipline to establish and maintain boundaries,

  • How to use communication to build respect and cooperation to encourage the development of your child as a positive, contributing member of your family.

All their programs are first come first serve and you can register for them at the link provided below.


Welcome Back!

Happy September!

I wanted to welcome everyone back to school, in whatever way that looks for you and your family. September is always a time of excitement and a bit of apprehension about the unknown. Excitement to be back at school but also filled with questions. Who will be my new teacher, will I be in a class with my friends, what is this grade going to be like? It is a time of change and change can be difficult.

I think that this is especially true this year as we navigate Covid-19 and the start up to the school year. Parents and caregivers may also have some questions about what this school year might look like. I am excited to be working with you all again, to  build some exciting and fun programs for your kids, help navigate these challenges and questions, and solve the problems that invariably creep up……together. 

I am attaching the following resource to help with some of our students who might be having some big feelings and might be missing caregivers. Below you will find some ideas on how to help students get really excited for the school year and to help ease any anxiety they might be feeling being away from their caregivers.

As always if you are needing any support please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me at  I am really looking forward to a great school year!

Separation Anxiety

Have a Happy and Healthy Summer!

Hello Everyone,

I am wishing you all a wonderful, relaxing, and healthy summer. This may look like enjoying sunnier weather, tackling outdoor projects, connecting with family and friends, and/or reconnecting with ourselves in whatever way that is meaningful to you. I wish you all the best and I will be excited to see you all in September.

All the best,

Scott Anderson

Youth Space

Hi Everyone,

Youthspace is an online crisis & emotional support chat for youth. All conversations are non-judgemental, confidential & anonymous. If you feel like your child may benefit from another voice and place to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe way they can text a representative at 778 783 0177 or contact them online by clicking the image below.

Youthspace also provides a large number of online resources organized by category. These include Covid-19, Anxiety, Depression, Suicide, Self harm and many general self-care tools. It is worth checking out. Resources are located here.  Youthspace is open 6pm – Midnight PST 365 days of the year.


The Zones of Regulation

Create your own Zones Check-in

Some of you may be familiar with the program The Zones of Regulation, a popular Social Emotional learning program in many elementary classrooms.  If not,  chances are your children probably are using it in their current classroom or have used it in a previous classroom.

Zones helps students (and adults) identify the emotions they are feeling and provides strategies for regulating or managing those feelings. It can also be super helpful in group environments like families.  If we are feeling upset, overly tired, excited, or calm is it helpful for others to know this?  Of course.  If we are tired we may need help motivating ourselves to do things. If we are upset with another family member we may need some time alone to take a break and calm down before we solve that problem. It’s helpful to know where other people are sitting with their emotions. The tool below walks you through the creation of a zones check-in for your home. It is my hope that it is helpful developing  emotion identification skills and help you avoid challenging family dynamics.

As always, if you are feeling like your child could use a little more emotional help don’t hesitate to be in touch with me to talk about options at

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