5 Cool Things to Pick Up at Callingwood Farmers’ Market.

Callingwood farmers market

What to do in Edmonton? Check out a great Sunday Farmers’ Market!

If you’ve never been to Callingwood Farmers’ Market in Edmonton, you definitely need to check it out. For 35 years, this vibrant outdoor market has grown to be Edmonton’s largest Sunday market. Each week from May to October, it boasts 130-150 vendor tables set up from 10 am to 3 pm.

You can find everything from locally grown and sourced foods to woodwork, jewelry, clothing and décor. There are also tons of gluten-free and organic options to choose from. Live music showcasing local talent makes the atmosphere really fun too!

Callingwood Farmers’ Market is great place to go for the very young, very old and everyone in between. For those of you that may think a Farmers’ Market only sells produce, I’m here to tell you that’s not the case. You can find the most interesting and unique things at the market such as craft beer and local spirits, natural skincare products, home-made ethnic sauces and seasonings, eco-friendly baby items and the list goes on!

My trip to Callingwood Farmers’ Market.

I took a Sunday trip to the market to see what I could find, and I hit the jackpot! The day I visited was rainy (much like most of our summer days here in Edmonton this year), but it didn’t matter because most of the vendors were located in the covered courtyard area of The Marketplace at Callingwood – so I stayed dry and toasty. A live musical act on each end of the courtyard made the walk that much more enjoyable. I left the market with a couple of bag loads of goodies, but here are my top five favourite things that I brought home!

1. Cool Jewelry

Walking through the market, I stumbled across a vendor with the most beautiful rings and jewels – I introduced myself and asked to try on some of the items. I had a wonderful chat with Lydia, the owner of Artemis. Although there were so many beautiful pieces I was drawn to, I decided on a beautiful silver puzzle ring. Lydia gave me her contact information and said if I couldn’t get it back together to contact her or come back to the market. (I am too afraid to take it apart because I love it so much!)

2. A Children’s Book

It’s quite amazing who you see at the market! I was honoured to meet Edmonton based author, Lucy Sidor, who has to date written three children’s books and one book about her memoirs growing up in Alberta. The children’s book I purchased was entitled “The Spook-Aiders and Greedy Gus” to read with my daughter. Ms. Sidor personalized the book with a signature for my daughter – who was more than thrilled to receive such a special gift!

3. Sundried Tomato & Artichoke Pesto

My family are pesto lovers, so this delicious treat was a no brainer for me. Of course, I ended up using it on absolutely everything – I even put it in a salad…so delish! I also bought some chocolate chip cookies from the same vendor, Pasta By Caterina. Let’s just say my family was lucky at least 3 made it home. I’ll be back for more of everything!

Quick Pesto Recipe Tips:
Here are a few ideas for using delicious pesto:

  • Add some to a lasagne recipe for an out of this world taste;
  • Use it as a condiment on your meat or veggie burger;
  • Mix with some olive oil and spoon on to your pasta – sprinkle with fresh parmesan for a quick dinner;
  • Stir into a cheese scone recipe for an extra delish kick;
  • Add into a meatball or falafel recipe.

4. Extra Lean Sausage

My husband comes from a Ukrainian family and perogies and sausage are an absolute staple in our house. When he saw that it was “extra-lean” he was more than a bit skeptical. Let me tell you, later that evening, after we enjoyed it for dinner, he exclaimed: “This is better than any sausage I’ve had, and I would never have guessed it was lean!”

5. Farm Fresh Carrots and Other Garden Veggies

As a child, I remember my grandma had a huge garden. When eating carrots fresh out of the soil, there was a sweetness to them that could not be replicated from the ones we bought at the store. Something I make a habit of buying locally when I can are fruits and veggies, specifically carrots. I did a taste test when I got home and had my daughter guess which carrots were market fresh and which were store-bought. She remarked it was the easiest test she’d ever taken. They just seemed to look and feel more authentic than their store-bought counterparts. Needless to say, we ate very well that night! I also got some fresh kale and used it for kale chips and smoothies – delicious and healthy.

Go to the Farmers’ Market for fresh food and a fun experience!

I’m always in awe of just how reasonably priced foods and goods are at the Farmers’ Market. Likely, I would spend twice as much for the same items at a grocery store and they wouldn’t be nearly as fresh nor locally sourced. More than just the actual items, the experience of shopping at Callingwood Farmers’ Market is such a happy and engaging one. It’s a great place to bring the kids and family, or to spend some time on your own, perusing through the many vendors and enjoying the community! 

Laura Barr is the owner of BloomWellness.ca. She is a Registered Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Holistic Nutritionist and Therapeutic Exercise Specialist. Her clinic is based in Leduc, and serves clients from Edmonton, Beaumont, Leduc and Nisku.  She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, animal lover and most importantly, she is a busy mom to her 9-year-old daughter!  Visit her blog. 

Connect with Laura Instagram or Twitter! 

What does student success look like in 2019?

The start of the year means high hopes for student success and achievement.

2019  has begun. Like most years, it is filled with high hopes and expectations for student success and achievement. It is a chance for renewal, because, no matter how much a student has struggled in the past, this is a new opportunity.  This is the year it will finally come together! As a parent, you know this will happen; you feel it in your heart. Sometimes it does…students acquire those organizational skills, set higher standards for themselves and stay motivated throughout the entire school year.

Why does student motivation stop?

Often though, that motivation begins to erode, and those organizational skills and standards begin to slide. Why is this? What happens? Where does the motivation go?  Let’s look to a true story for a clue.

Two Grade 5 classmates, Bobby and Steve, moved to a new school. Both were diligent students who got A’s in math. But soon after the school year began, it was obvious that these young men were behind in math – the standards at the new school were higher.

Bobby got angry and felt it was unfair that he had never been taught some of the skills he needed. Instead of quitting, he was motivated to try harder because of this injustice. He soon mastered the skills, caught up to his classmates, and was once again achieving his customary top grades.

Steve also thought it was unfair. However, he worried that he would not do well, that his classmates would think he was dumb and that his parents would be disappointed. His fear and lack of confidence robbed him of his motivation and he stopped trying. As a result, this former A student stayed behind the class and math became a problem for him. Two kids, both smart, both good math students, both apparently motivated to do well in math – what happened?

Kids must learn how to stay focused on a goal, despite negative feelings.

The only difference between these two young men was that one of them did not understand that he could act to reach his goals despite his feelings of fear, while the other simply ignored those feelings and forged ahead. This is one of the most common challenges students face: the challenge of holding on to their goals despite a flurry of negative feelings. Like most things in life, this is a skill that has to be learned.

This explains why a student who truly wants to do better in school, who wants higher marks and who starts in September determined to do all these things, suddenly seems to run out of gas and lose all that motivation. It can happen because of a careless or inadvertently negative remark made by a teacher (“Anyone who cares about his future would have studied and understood this unit!”) or a jeering taunt made by a fellow student (“You’re so dumb…”) or just an incorrect assumption made by the student (“I’m dumb. Everybody else in this whole class understands this math and I can’t get it at all.”).

That is how it begins. After the initial damage is done, our brain seems to work against us. It looks to verify the judgment suggested by the feeling and we tend to over-react and make wild assumptions about our inadequacies. The feelings that follow are usually negative (“Why bother to study, I’ll never get it anyway”, “School sucks. I can hardly wait until I get out”, “Who needs school anyway?”).   This becomes a repetitive, subconscious conversation we have with ourselves, which serves to reinforce our feelings of failure. Motivation disappears, but it doesn’t have to. Students who learn how to distinguish the difference between thoughts and feelings and who learn how to set goals and how to construct plans of action will be able to act despite their negative and draining feelings. Learning to feel and understand one’s feelings without acting on them is possible.

Tips for Parents of Students in Elementary and Junior High

Did you know? Grades 1, 4 and 9 are especially important points at which to measure educational success. Here is an overview of common problems, along with some tips to help your children get off to the right start.

Grade 1 is an exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming. It may be the first time that children are faced with scholastic performance expectations. They may also have a hard time learning how to focus and integrate information. At the same time, parents may have to cope with separation anxiety if their children do not feel confident and safe in their new environment.

Tips for Grade 1 Parents 

  1. Build your children’s self-esteem and confidence by encouraging them to take “safe risks” and they will tackle Grade 1 with more enthusiasm and less anxiety.
  2. Read with your children at home and schedule family trips to the  library. To positively introduce them to academic performance expectations and to help them master phonics, enroll them in a fun,                            interactive supplemental reading program.

Grade 4 is a huge adjustment year because students move from activity-oriented school experiences to independent study projects, tests, and stationary workspace. When children enter Grade 3, parents should look ahead and begin preparing their children for Grade 4. Specifically, parents must ensure that their children can read and write simple sentences; know their multiplication tables; and are capable of independent study, since it is assumed that they will know these skills when they enter Grade 4.

Tips for Grade 4 Parents

  1. Review your children’s work to ensure that they are reading well and are able to write simple sentences. Help them learn their multiplication tables. If they are having difficulty, seek expert help immediately.
  2.  Create a private, quiet workspace for your children and encourage them to keep it neat and orderly. Give them “pretend homework.”     Creative writing, art and science projects are fun, stimulating and require independent thought and discipline.

Grade 9 students must deal with brand new academic pressures and expectations that are compounded by the emotional and self-esteem crises of puberty. It is important that parents be supportive and involved in their children’s school and social lives. The volume of work increases dramatically in Grade 9. Students who have not learned effective time management and study skills may feel overwhelmed and lose their scholastic motivation. In turn, this will impact negatively on their high school performance in later years.

Tips for Grade 9 Parents 

  1. Keep a family activity calendar and encourage children to record homework and assignments in a study planner or notebook.
  2. Chronically messy rooms and notebooks are signs that children have not learned to set priorities and feel their lives are out of control.  Consider enrolling them in a Study Skills/Time Management program to rebuild their confidence, enhance their academic abilities and teach new skills and strategies. These skills will benefit them throughout high school, college, or university and into their adult careers.
  3. Review your children’s work to ensure their grammar and writing abilities are adequate. By Grade 8, students should be able to structure complex thoughts into well-organized stories and essays.
  4.  Encourage critical thinking by asking your children to discuss and critique books, movies, and music.


About Oxford Learning Centres

Established in 1984, Oxford Learning has grown to include more than 100 locations across Canada and the United States. Oxford Learning goes beyond tutoring to help students reach their learning potential, not just for one grade or one year but for a lifetime. The unique programs teach children to learn how to learn.

Visit Oxford Learning Edmonton West, conveniently located in the Marketplace at Callingwood shopping centre, corner of 69 Avenue and 178 Street. Drop in anytime, or phone 780.433.0078. 

Be sure to mention that you read this blog and receive 20% off your first month’s tuition fees!

Immune Support Recipe from Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic

Boost Your Health with Garlic Soup!

We all know what time of year it is! Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, complaining and the general need to hibernate. Boost your immunity and kick your cold or flu to the curb! Have you ever tried Garlic Soup? Here is a great Garlic Soup recipe recommended by Dr. Chris Bjorndal from Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic Edmonton.

Garlic Soup Recipe 

Serves 4

  • 26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) organic butter (grass fed)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 cup fresh ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 26 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. Cool. Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, thyme, ginger and cayenne powder and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Then, roasted garlic and 26 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add coconut milk and bring to simmer. Season with sea salt and pepper for flavour.

Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve.

Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

For more great health advice and recipes, visit the Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic website!

Study Strategies that Work!

“Crunch Time” Is Stressful for Students. Here are Study Strategies that Work!

By: Oxford Learning Edmonton West (Callingwood)

“Will I pass?  Will I get all my assignments done?  I hate exams!  How will I handle next year?”  Anxiety levels are on the rise among both kids and parents as students head into the final part of the school year after spring break.  While young people in middle schools and high schools are completing end-of-the-year assignments and preparing to write exams and standardized tests, the experts at Oxford Learning – a leading expert in preparing children for lifelong success – recommend that now is the ideal time to put new learning strategies to work.  Students who adopt effective study skills can reduce their stress, maximize the last few months of the school year, and build a foundation to do even better next year.

Which Study Strategy is Best for You?

There is no one great way to study!  Everyone’s way of studying is different.  Don’t limit yourself to one method, try different ones and figure out which ones are best for you.

Study Notes:  Make sure that your class notes are complete, organized, and easy to read.  Study notes are effective for EVERY class, and are highly recommended for use in all forms of study.  When it comes down to studying from class notes, do not simply read them over and over.  Actively read them, and make connections as you are reading.   You can write down new thoughts and ideas in the margins, or underline parts that you need to study further.  A successful student will constantly evaluate their understanding of the material they are studying.

Quizzes and Practice Tests These are great ways to study.  Quizzing yourself before you start studying helps you discover which concepts you don’t understand or remember and in which areas you require the most focus and review.

Memorization Our brains store information in two areas:  short-term memory and long-term memory.  When you see or hear something for the first time, you file it into your short-term memory.  Unless you work to move it to your long-term memory, you will soon forget it.  Storing information in your long-term memory is a very important part of school.

Effective strategies to help you remember what you’ve learned are:

  1. Review all of your study notes and text material regularly.
  2. While reviewing your notes, read them out loud.  Cover the information you are working on and recite it.  Read it over until you have committed it to memory.
  3. Rewriting information can be helpful, especially definitions or vocabulary terms.
  4. Memorizing facts, formulas, and definitions is great for helping you pass a test, but it’s not effective beyond that unless you understand the material.  While you are using your memorization techniques to remember information, make sure you understand how to use it, when to use it, and how it relates to other concepts you have learned.  Understanding the material also helps you retain it.

About Oxford Learning

Since being established in 1984, Oxford Learning has grown to include more than 100 learning centres across Canada and the United States.  Oxford Learning goes beyond tutoring to help students reach their learning potential, not just for one grade or one year but for a lifetime.  The unique programs teach children to learn how to learn.  Just one to two hours a week can make a world of difference in developing the right skills and habits to succeed, no matter what the subject or the grade level, and breaking the cycle of hiring tutors year-after-year.

Oxford Learning is the only supplemental educator that focuses on teaching children to learn how to learn.  A customized supplemental education plan can be integral to advancing a student’s success.  Oxford Learning specialists conduct a personal dynamic assessment of every child who enrolls, and set a plan based on the student’s individual needs.  Just a couple of hours a week can make a lifelong and lasting difference in boosting a child’s learning abilities and self-esteem.

For more information, please contact Carrie MacDonald, Centre Director at Oxford Learning Edmonton West by either phone (780.433.0078) or email (edmontonwest@oxfordlearning.com).  Mention this blog and get your Dynamic Assessment for FREE!

5 Spring 2018 Hair Colour Trends – Callingwood Hair Co.

Callingwood Hair Co.’s Favourite Hair Colour Trends for Spring 2018

Christmas and the new year seem like a distant memory…now is the time to start thinking about freshening up your hair colour to take you into Spring! Here are five of our favourite hair colour trends for 2018 that are beautiful and fun, guaranteed to keep you looking on point and feeling confident for Spring!

1. Balayage

Balayage has been in style for awhile and is still a huge trend for 2018. Balayage is a freehand hair coloring technique that creates a sun-kissed look on the hair. Light and shade is blended to give a natural, multi-tone look. It is easy to maintain and a great method if you don’t want to do a bold color overhaul.


2. Bronde

When brown meets blonde we get “bronde” and this colour definitely continues to be on trend this year! Bronde is created using the balayage technique but focuses more on fusing the shades of brown in the lengths with a combination of blonde highlights that ‘melt’ down to the tips of the hair. Bronde is a great look for almost everyone from young to old as it really highlights the face and brings out your best features. It’s  also super low maintenance and doesn’t require hours of salon time.

3. Salt and Pepper 

Salt and pepper hair is still huge in 2018 and it’s not just for women who are starting to go grey! People of all ages are embracing grey hair colour which combines black and grey shades to create a smoky, show-stopping look. If you don’t already have grey hair, this look takes some time to achieve. If your hair is dark it is easier, but the hair would still need to be bleached to the lightest ashy/platinum blonde and then dyed grey. This edgy colour looks fantastic but definitely requires a lot of upkeep. Plan on monthly salon visits if you want to keep it fresh. Photo credit: www.allure.com

4. Pinks, Violets, Jewel tones…Oh My!

Adding fun jewel tones or mermaid inspired hues into hair continues to be one of the hottest color trends in 2018. From rose quartz pink and ultra violet to deep purple and dramatic blue, or even melting them together to create a multicolored affect, the key is anything goes when it comes to colour. Being bold or choosing subtle highlights, unique colours can take your hair colour from drab to fab instantly!  Photo credit: www.matrix.com

5. Bright and Fiery

If you’re feeling a little wild, burnt orange hair colour continues to be a hot trend in 2018. Mixing vibrant red and orange tones creates a shade that really works for almost every skin tone. This vivid look will turn heads, but fades easily so plan on more upkeep on your colour to keep it bright and fresh.

Are you ready to freshen up your look? Mention this ad and all new Callingwood Hair Co. clients will receive $15 off colour, highlights or perms and $7 off adult haircuts. Book today by calling 780-444-6409.


Natural Immune Boost for Cold and Flu By Dr. Mason-Wood

Start now and protect yourself from the flu with Dr. Mason-Wood and Dr. Haarsma

  • New Patients, 30 minutes, $128.50
  • Existing patients, 10 minutes, $40.00

This Immune Boosting shot incorporates natural medicine used in Europe for decades. This is a great alternative for those who either cannot take the ‘flu shot’ or choose not to.

NEW! Book online for your Immune Boost shot!

Why boost your immunity rather than take a flu shot?

Taking a flu vaccine is an individual choice. Vaccine proponents claim that it protects against influenza infection and if contracted, lessens the severity of the illness. However, there are concerns about this approach, such as:

  1. There are over 500 different viruses that can cause flu-like symptoms and these viruses are constantly changing. The vaccine is formulated from the three most common strains seen in the previous year which may not be specific for the current year’s flu;
  2. Vaccines contain many ingredients including a preservative – either egg protein or Thimersol (a mercury containing compound which is toxic) and formaldehyde. Allergic reactions can occur to these ingredients; and
  3. It takes about two weeks after the flu shot to develop enough antibodies to protect yourself from the influenza virus. These antibodies start to lose their effectiveness within a few months.

I find in today’s society, many people fear getting sick. The reasons they give vary from not having enough time to get sick to looking at any form of illness as an inherent weakness within themselves. What they don’t realize is that getting sick is actually a good thing. Why? Because it gives your immune system a chance to work.

Your immune system is intricately designed as a “policing” system to distinguish between foreign and internal “invaders”. By “invaders” I am referring to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and cells within our body that are no longer functioning properly, such as cancer cells.

If you never get sick, then how will you know that your immune system is working for you as it should?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that you run out and contract deadly forms of viruses just to challenge your immune system. What I am saying, however, is getting a benign cold or flu every couple of years is not a national emergency. It allows your body to form the natural defenses or immunity that it needs so that the next time it comes into contact with the same virus, it knows exactly how to take care of it. Plus, it gives you the added reassurance that your body is working as it should, naturally.

It is important to be aware of whether you have sub-optimal immune function. The table below lists several factors that could put you at risk for having depressed immune function.

  • You frequently (more than 4x/yr) get acute infections (e.g. cold, flu, ear infections)
  • You have a persistent infection (e.g. candida, parasite, athlete’s foot, Epstein-Barr virus, herpes, warts…)
  • You have cancer or you are at risk of cancer
  • Your wounds heal slowly
  • You have unexplained fatigue
  • You eat a lot of sugar
  • You eat foods you are allergic to
  • You are under excessive stress
  • You don’t get enough sleep
  • You are overweight
  • You have silicone implants
  • You exercise excessively
  • You regularly take aspirin or acetaminophen
  • You are on cortisone or chemotherapy
  • You have taken many antibiotics
  • You have had many vaccinations
  • You have recently had an accident or surgery
  • You have been exposed to mercury (dental amalgams, contaminated fish), lead (old paint, copper water pipes), cadmium (cigarettes), and arsenic
  • You are exposed to pesticides (in nonorganic foods, on lawns and houses)
  • You are exposed to organic solvents (paint thinners, petroleum distillates, carpet cleaners)

If several of the above statements ring true for you, then you may be working against your immune system.

The good news is there are many herbs and supplements that you can take to compliment the effectiveness of your natural immune system.

So, how do you protect yourself, naturally?

Firstly, eat a diet that is low in sugar, caffeine, fat and alcohol as these reduce immune system function. Focus on eating 5 – 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily and include garlic, onions, thyme, cayenne, ginger and oregano in your cooking to boost your immune system and fight off viruses. Balance your activities and work – the effects of stress decrease our immune system’s ability to protect us against bacteria and viruses.

Often, we get sick because we don’t take the time to care for ourselves when we are well. If you develop flu-like symptoms, stay home, limit exposure to others, stay well-hydrated, get plenty of sleep and allow your body time to recover. Lastly, do not touch your mouth, nose or ears without washing your hands, as these are portals of entry for viruses

The cold and flu viruses are constantly mutating and dividing to form new strains. Our bodies have never seen these strains before and as they say in sports – the best offense is a good defense. Therefore, in order for your immune system to operate optimally, it needs certain nutrients that can be provided either from food or food supplements. When you support the natural processes of your body, you bounce back and recover quickly from any cold or flu virus that you may contract. There are many natural treatments available to boost your immune system, such as Vitamin C (with bioflavonoids), Zinc, Vitamin A, garlic, probiotics, essential fatty acids and herbal and homeopathic remedies. Nutritional supplements are important, but are only one aspect of health. A positive mental attitude, healthy diet and managing stress are critical to achieving and maintaining good health in the long run.

Written by Dr. Mason-Wood

10 Steps to Improve Mental Health by Dr. Chris Bjorndal

10 Steps to Improve Your Mental Health with Naturopathic Medicine by Dr. Chris Bjorndal

For many, mental illness is fraught with many unanswerable questions. This question has become the central quest of my life’s work as a Naturopathic Doctor. Based on these areas I have developed the 10 steps to improve your mental health and mental wellness.

Note: This is a shortened post from the original, located at Natural Terrain’s website. Read the full version here.

1.) Diet

Conditions like depression and anxiety are commonly seen as a neurotransmitter deficiency. Yet, taking a drug doesn’t fix the root cause of why these chemicals are out of balance. Your body may not be supporting the pathway to make healthy amounts of neurotransmitters in the first place because it may be missing the building blocks or other key biochemical co-factors.

If your diet is poor (highly processed and full of caffeine and sugar) you simply cannot make enough serotonin or other neurotransmitters to feel balanced. Environmental toxins (heavy metals, pesticides and endocrine disruptors) also block nutrient absorption. Key pathways in the brain require proper amounts of essential nutrients. Nutrients such as, There is so much to say about diet that I have written a guide book on this subject: The Essential Diet: Eating for Mental Health.

2.) Sleep

A consistent and regular sleep routine is critical to our mental health. It allows us to rest, detoxify and process what happens to us during the day. Being deprived of sleep decreases energy, increases stress, cortisol, and emotional reactivity, suppresses the immune system, and promotes weight gain. More importantly, doctors now recognize lack of sleep as a direct contributory factor for many chronic and acute mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and episodes of psychosis.

It’s not just about quantity; it’s about quality.

3.) Exercise

I often say that exercise is the most under-prescribed antidepressant treat

ment available. A 2016 meta-analysis focusing on regular aerobic exercise as a treatment for depression shows it is statistically equal to antidepressants as treatment, without the adverse effects. It is also effective in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and OCD. It’s not just aerobic exercise that’s effective; studies have also shown the psychological benefit of other types of activity.

The psychological benefits of exercise are even greater when we do it with others, and especially beneficial when we exercise outdoors. Joining a community sports team that gets you outside and interacting with others regularly is a big step toward improving your mental health.

4.) Stress management

Stress is a psychological experience of feeling like your resources (internal or external) are almost exhausted (or are fully used up), and you are struggling to cope with demands of life.

No matter what the stressful event is, if the mind experiences psychological stress, the body experiences physiological stress. This physiological stress is an ancient survival mechanism built in to our bodies to help us flee harmful situations, but today’s world, it’s less helpful.

With awareness, you can then work to reduce or eliminate stressors. If you can’t reduce stressors, you must learn to manage your reactivity given your current life situation. Working with psychotherapeutic techniques, such as the seven Rs of working with problematic thoughts (that I discuss in my book: Beyond the Label) or systematic relaxation tools you can manage your response to stress.

5.) Exposure to Environmental Toxins

In today’s day-today life, chemicals are everywhere.To understand your toxin load, take our Environmental Quiz which considers exposure you might have to plastics, pesticides, non-stick pans, microwaves, extended cell phone use, artificial colouring and fragrance, make-up and personal care products, genetically modified foods, antibacterial soap, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Also, what is the air and water quality like in your hometown and do you filter either?

With so many sources it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The point is not to burden you with the task of immediately changing everything. Be aware of initiatives like the Environmental Working Groups’ list of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed foods (The Dirty Dozen) and the least sprayed foods (Clean Fifteen), and apps like Think Dirty® that lets you scan household products to discover their toxin content and find healthier alternatives.

6.) Thoughts

Every thought we think isn’t necessarily true; thoughts are simply ideas that exist in our heads. However, some thoughts are so powerful that we take them to be fact.

When this spiral happens, the work that needs to be done is breaking the thought-emotion cycle. Using a stepwise practice you can learn to widen the space between thoughts and emotions and learn to separate fact from fiction. You will learn that thoughts and the emotional reaction to thoughts don’t have to run your life. You can learn a more balanced approach to thinking. This practice uses a cognitive model to recognize and work with distorted thought patterns, as well as body-focusing techniques and breathing to harness the parasympathetic nervous system and modulate the physiological stress response.

7.) Emotions

For some, emotions can be elusive and hard to pinpoint, and for others they can be clear, overwhelming and incessant. As well, they can be different to you at different times. The emotional work I do with my patients follows a process of understanding what one is feeling in a very present, honest way, then working towards letting go of resistance and accepting one’s emotions.

Skills I teach along the way are recognizing one’s own emotional sensitivity level, learning to set healthy boundaries, and mindfulness of the present moment.

8.) Behaviors versus Reactions

Often in mental health conditions there are cycles of behaviors that reinforce the illness: isolating, sleeping too much or too little, blowing up or shutting down emotionally, eating too much or too little, etc. To address this, following closely behind the work on thoughts and emotions, comes the practice of behavioral change.

As one learns to lengthen the time between thoughts and reactions, there grows a window of opportunity for one to act in a different manner than simply reacting. We can actually learn to choose a healthy behavior, as opposed to immediately reacting in a protective manner.

An example is if we have a negative thought, we have the ability to pause and say to ourselves, “I am thinking a negative thought”. By doing so, we widen the gap between thought and emotion, and we have practiced recognizing exactly what the emotion is.

9.) Spirituality

Mental health is often viewed as a biochemical imbalance. I have made my life’s work an exploration of the other factors that contribute to mental health concerns beyond biochemistry, including psychology, trauma, physiology and environment, but there is another factor to explore: the spiritual aspect of mental health. Here I define spirituality as believing in, or being connected to, a power greater than yourself.

My view is that mental illness is a way by which our spirit is trying to get our attention because some aspect of our lives (such as school, work or a relationship) is not moving in concert with our spirit.

10.) Love and Compassion for Yourself and for Others

Ultimately, it is our feelings about ourselves and how we treat ourselves that are critical to our mental health and well-being. I ask every patient how they much they love themselves on a scale of 1 to 10, and it is rare for me to get a response over five. It breaks my heart to hear someone speak unkindly of themselves, yet I, too, would once have given a similar response.

Ask yourself: If you talked to your best friend the way you talk to yourself, would they accept it?

We hope you’ve enjoyed the list!

Read more about Dr. Chris and Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic on their website at  www.naturalterrain.com.

Academy of Learning: Programs for Immigrants

Are you new to Canada? Wondering where to start? Building a new life in a different country can seem overwhelming at times. Academy of Learning is here to help! We have educated thousands of new immigrants entering Alberta and we are here to make the steps to attaining gainful employment as easy as possible.

When coming with credentials from various countries, finding out what they are equivalent to here can be completed by looking up International Qualifications Assessment Services offered by the Government of Alberta. You can find them at this link: https://www.alberta.ca/iqas.aspx. It is a simple process where you will mail them your original documents and they would send them back to you with a formal letter that explains what your education is equivalent to in Alberta. Make sure to take copies of your originals so that you are not left without a copy while they are completing the assessment. When you receive the assessment, you will know whether you need to find an institution where you can take a short term program in order to find work.

This is where the Academy of Learning can help you. Many new immigrants do not want to go back to university to do another four years of education when they have already have a degree. However, usually they will need some sort of Canadian credential to be employable. At the Academy of Learning, all the programs offered are less than a year and if you are permanent resident, you qualify for funding.

These short term vocational courses will update your skill set and give your resume the content employers are looking for. With various courses in fields such as IT, Healthcare, Legal, Business and much more, we offer the short term training you need to get the job! For those of you without previous post-secondary education, we can help you too. If you do not have a previous high school diploma but need to get working, we have exams that you can write to demonstrate equivalency.

Call Academy of Learning today and book an appointment. We are ready to assist you in creating the future you want for you and your family! Call 780 496-9428.

Academy of Learning: Tips for Writing Emails

How many of you struggle when formatting a letter, email or basic correspondence? You are not alone! Many of us have never had any formal training when it comes to what to say, the information necessary to include and how to make your writing clear, concise and diplomatic. Here are some tips for letter/email writing.

Know your audience. Who are you writing to and why? If you jot this down first, this note to self will keep you on track when providing details, questions, and concerns.

Do not enter the recipient’s email address until you have re-read your email or asked for a second set of eyes to look at your work. This will eliminate the risk of accidentally sending an email before it is complete.

When beginning your letter/email always try to have a specific address and person to direct it to. This means doing your homework. Call the office and ask what the manager’s name is. Also, Google the correct, full mailing address and include this under the date on the left hand side of the page. If you know the manager’s name, include “Att:” and their name under the full mailing address.

Avoid using “To whom it may concern,” as this illustrates you have not taken the time to learn about the company, staff, or person to where the letter/email is directed.

In order to present your ideas clearly, take the notes you jotted down before starting and look at them again. What is it that you need to say in order to make your point clear? Should you provide a couple sentences that demonstrate why you are contacting them and how they can help you? Are you trying to relay necessary information and is this information better if listed in point form?  This is where knowing your audience is important. It will help you determine how to present your information.

Make sure that your paragraphs do not run on. Clear and focused writing is key as you do not want to waste anyone’s time (including your own). Sometimes writing a point form outline of the items you want to get across will help you determine what to write in each paragraph.

Try not to make your letter/email long. The more specific and detailed you can get, the better. “Sum it up in the least amount of words possible,” is what I always say to my students!!

Read your letter/email out loud to yourself. If there is a word or phrase that just doesn’t sit right, re-write it. Look for wording or phrasing that could be offensive even if you don’t mean it that way and again, re-write it.

Don’t use emojis, “LOL,” any short form or acronyms that your audience may not understand. When in doubt, eliminate it.

Conclude your letter/ email by thanking that individual for their time and with the details of how that person can contact you. Including both email and phone number is great as most individuals will have their own preference.

If you are looking for more information on how to increase your writing skills, we would be happy to help you at the Academy of Learning Edmonton West located at The Marketplace at Callingwood. We have many short courses you can take that will teach you the finer points of creating documents, punctuation and writing skills as well as grammar. We are here to see you be successful!

We look forward to seeing you soon. Call us today at 780-496-9428.

Farmers’ Markets Rock!

There are just so many reasons to shop at a farmer’s market, it’s hard to put them all into one list. I’ve done my best to scale it down to a list of 10!

  1. Farm fresh foods: Unlike fruits and veggies in the supermarket, you know that the produce at the farmer’s market is fresh picked – likely within 24 hours!
  2. Organic and non-GMO foods: Farmers’ markets feature the finest of locally grown, fresh, non-GMO, organic produce and meats which is better for the soil, the environment, and your body!
  3. Seasonal foods: Seasonal eating is believed by many scientists and nutritionists to be much better for your body, because the human body is meant to eat foods in season, near where they live as have our ancestors. Also – eating produce in season only makes sense with lighter fruits and vegetables available in the spring and summer, and heartier winter vegetables like squash and parsnips providing sustenance for the cooler fall and winter months.
  4. Ripeness: Farmer’s market produce is generally picked at the height of ripeness when the plants’ natural sugars are at their peak – making the food not only taste better, but it also providing the best nutrition possible.
  5. Affordability: Farmer’s market produce is an excellent value for the nutrition. Supermarkets generally charge a premium for organic fruits and vegetables however at the farmer’s market, they are typically not much more expensive than conventionally grown produce.
  6. Variety: Unlike larger, more industrial farms that supply large supermarket chains, smaller, local farms tend to offer a larger array of produce. Remember what they taught us in school – eat the rainbow!
  7. Support for local economy: Most vendors at a farmer’s market are local and grow their produce within 100 miles of it. This means that the farms are a source of local jobs and likely to spend money they make on their produce in the local economy.
  8. Fuel economy: Most supermarkets receive their produce from hundreds or thousands of miles away which involves significant use of fossil fuels for shipping on refrigerated trucks and rail cars. Farmer’s market produce doesn’t have far to get from the farm to your table which can quite significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels. Since they typically operate in the outdoors thus not requiring electricity or heating, this also lowers the environmental impact. Everyone is talking about reducing their carbon footprint these days – heading to a local farmer’s market is a great way to do just that!
  9. Social: Did you know the famous Canadian children’s singer, Raffi frequents his local farmers market in BC? It’s true – if you follow him on Twitter he often writes about his days spent there. The farmers market is a wonderful way to meet people and engage with neighbors and friends – you just never know who’ll you might run into!
  10. Promotes Fitness: Not only is the farmer’s market an excellent way to engage with and meet new people, but it’s a wonderful way to get moving! Strolling through the market is a great way to add steps into your day! At Callingwood Farmers’ Market, they even have a free fitness program running every Wednesday at 1pm with classes including Zumba and Circuit Bootcamp for all ages and levels. Visit their website for a full list of classes.


Laura Barr is the owner of BloomWellness. She is a Registered Massage Therapist, Certified Personal Trainer, Holistic Nutritionist and Therapeutic Exercise Specialist. Her clinic is based in Leduc, and serves clients from Edmonton, Beaumont, Leduc and Nisku.  She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, animal lover and most importantly, she is a busy mom to her energetic 6 year old daughter!  Visit her blog. 

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