man with ptsd symptoms

Moving On From Trauma – How to manage PTSD Symptoms

If you’ve been through a traumatic event, it’s normal to experience some lingering effects like anxiety, difficulty sleeping, or a tendency to replay the event over and over in your mind. But in most cases, these symptoms will decrease over time and you can move on with your life.
However, for people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), those effects don’t go away. PTSD is a serious mental health problem that can have a significant impact on every aspect of your life. But if you or someone you know is struggling to manage PTSD symptoms, there are ways to overcome it.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is a mental illness that can arise after you’re exposed to a traumatic event. That could include things like:

  • Witnessing a death
  • Being under threat of death or serious injury
  • Events such as car accidents, crimes, conflict, and natural disasters

But PTSD is a complex issue. People deal with trauma in different ways, and no one knows exactly why a traumatic event can cause PTSD in some people but not others.

It’s also not always caused by a single event. In some people, it can arise from the culmination of a number of traumatic experiences. 

There are also some risk factors that increase a person’s chances of developing PTSD. They include:

  • Family history of PTSD or depression
  • Occupations that involve traumatic events, such as police and paramedics
  • Previous traumatic experiences, especially early in life

Symptoms of PTSD

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Uncontrollable thoughts about the event
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Drug and alcohol abuse as a way to cope

If the symptoms seem to arise out of nowhere, you should keep in mind that PTSD symptoms sometimes don’t appear for months or even years after the event occurred. 

How is PTSD Treated?

Support Groups

There are support groups for people with PTSD, as well as for those who have a family member or friend affected by it. They can help by providing education, advice, support, companionship, and more. For one, just meeting people who are dealing with similar issues and seeing how they are overcoming them can make dealing with PTSD seem more doable. 

Mental Health Therapy

There are mental health programs that will enable you to get help from a professional. Whether that’s a mental health counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist, they have the expertise to guide you as you deal with your trauma. 

One effective treatment for PTSD is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which teaches you how to control the thoughts and behaviours that contribute to PTSD. This therapy will also help you stop avoiding talking or thinking about the experience, so you can address it and begin to move on. 

What to Do When a Loved One has PTSD

If you think a family member or close friend is suffering from PTSD, you may be wondering how you can help. This may be difficult because people with PTSD will sometimes withdraw from loved ones, and they may not want to talk about it. 

So here are some tips on what you can do:

  • If the person doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t force them. Begin by just letting them know that you’re there for them whenever they’re ready.
  • Educate yourself on PTSD so you’ll have a better understanding of what the person may be going through, and the options for treatment.
  • Don’t take anything personally. If the person is treating you differently than normal (such as being cold or quick to anger), remind yourself that its part of the illness.
  • Remember to take care of yourself too. PTSD can be hard on the family and friends of the affected person. So seek support for your own mental wellness if you feel you need it.

Preventing PTSD

While having some anxiety or sleeplessness is normal after a traumatic experience, getting timely help and support can help prevent it from becoming more serious. So remember that you don’t have to deal with trauma alone, there are many options for support and treatment.

man in need of running tips

Five Essential Tips for Running

Running is a convenient way to stay active. You don’t need a gym membership, a bunch of equipment, or a special place to do it. Just get outside and start running!
But there are some things you should know. As a high-impact activity, running can put a lot of strain on your body, so it’s important that you do it properly to avoid injuries. 
If you’re ready to get started, here are five essential tips for running:

Warm Up and Cool Down

Most people know that doing some kind of warm-up is important to get your body prepared for exercise and avoid injuries. It gradually warms up your core muscle temperature and increases blood flow.

But did you know that the cool down after a run is just as important? If you stop exercising too suddenly, it can cause cramps, nausea, or even fainting.

So warm up by beginning your run with some stretches followed by 10 minutes of walking or slow running. End your run the same way to cool down.

Start slow

Whenever you are starting a new exercise or increasing its intensity, there is some risk of injury. That’s because your muscles and joints may not be prepared for the new amount of strain they’ll be experiencing.

So if you are just getting into running, don’t overdo it. Start with shorter runs before going long distance, and focus on a comfortable pace instead of pushing yourself to your limits. 

When you’re ready to increase the intensity of your runs, you should do it gradually over time. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t increase the length of your runs by more than 10 percent per week.

Get proper footwear

Wearing the right shoes is essential to running comfortably. Ensuring your shoes provide proper support and cushioning can help you prevent pain in your feet, knees, back, and other areas of the body. So get a good quality pair of running shoes, and make sure you replace them before they get totally worn out.

The best option would be to invest in custom orthotics. They provide support that’s tailored to your unique biomechanics and can help you move as efficiently as possible.

Change it up

If running is your go-to physical activity, you should consider changing it up a bit.

Alternating running with low-impact activities can help you avoid joint pain and injuries. Incorporating activities like cycling, elliptical training, or swimming can add variety to your routine.

Also, cross-training can make you a better runner. Activities like cycling will strengthen the supporting muscles used while running, while also giving your primary running muscles a chance to rest and recuperate.

Stay safe

If you’re running on a road that has a sidewalk, you are required by law to use the sidewalk. However, when there’s no sidewalk, you’re allowed to run on the shoulder, and there’s no federal law about which side to run on. 

To stay safe when running on the side of a road, you should run against traffic. This lets you see what’s coming, so you can adjust your position or react to distracted drivers. Also, always wear clothing with high visibility.

anxiety at work

Anxiety in the workplace

It’s perfectly normal to experience some stress or anxiety at work. At times it can even be a good thing. For example, when you have a pressing deadline, those anxious feelings can motivate you to work harder and be more productive.

However, anxiety in the workplace is a problem if it becomes constant and affects your ability to do your job. At that point, what you’re dealing with is an anxiety disorder. It may affect your concentration, cause you to dread stepping into the office every morning, and seep into other aspects of your life outside of work.

So if you are struggling with anxiety on the job, here’s what you need to know. 

When Anxiety at Work Becomes a Problem

If you’re not sure if you are dealing with normal, run-of-the-mill anxiety, or an issue that you need to address, here are some of the signs and symptoms to look for.

Anxiety at work should be addressed if the symptoms become severe and persistent. That can include psychological symptoms such as:

  • Fear and a sense of impending doom
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

It can also include physical symptoms such as:

  • Rapid heart rate or chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches and tension

How to Overcome Anxiety at Work

Here are some measures you can take to reduce your anxiety at work:

Identify Your Triggers

An essential part of overcoming anxiety is having a clear understanding of what causes it. Even if the trigger is something you can’t change (like that your workload is too heavy or you get anxious about dealing with a difficult coworker), identifying it is the first step towards making a strategy for handling it. 

Tell a Trusted Coworker

Telling someone at work that you’re suffering from anxiety can make you more comfortable with it. As opposed to feeling ashamed and keeping your anxiety secret, it can be comforting to know that someone else at work accepts your condition. 

Use Time Management Techniques

Having a heavy workload and tight deadlines are among the most common causes of anxiety in the workplace. In those cases, time management techniques can help you stay on top of your duties and remove some of the stress. It can be as simple as creating a concise to-do list every morning and actually sticking to it!

Tackle Difficult Tasks Head On

Simply avoiding coworkers or situations that make you anxious can actually make the problem worse. For example, if you stop replying to emails that you don’t know how to answer, or avoid a coworker after a disagreement, your anxiety can grow as you anticipate the time when you’ll eventually have to face the issue. 

So answer those difficult emails immediately, and try to resolve issues with coworkers as soon as possible. Getting those tasks off your plate can go a long way towards reducing anxiety.

Get Professional Help

If these measures don’t help reduce your feelings of anxiety, you should consider getting professional help. Mental health therapy is effective at treating anxiety disorders. Typically, these disorders are treated with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. 

This type of talk therapy aims to help you control the negative thoughts that contribute to anxiety, realize how some of your fears are irrational, and get you more comfortable with the things that make you anxious.

At Activa Clinics, we have a team of psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors who can help you through your anxiety. Try our Mental Health Programs  if you don’t want to continue living in fear at work!

woman with driving anxiety

Driving Anxiety

Driving anxiety is a common issue. It can range from a slight uneasiness at getting behind the wheel to an all-out phobia that causes you to avoid driving, no matter what. 

It’s actually one of the most common phobias out there, and it can have a number of causes. But no matter how it arises, when anxiety gets in the way of driving a car, it can really limit your independence.

So if you think you or someone you know is dealing with a fear of driving, here’s what you need to know: there are a number of options that can help you overcome it.

But first, here are some common causes of driving anxiety, and the symptoms that it can bring.

What Causes Driving Anxiety?

  • Traumatic experience: If you were in a car accident or near-miss, it can trigger a fear of driving. That can also be true if you witnessed an accident or even just heard about one.
  • Panic attacks: If you’re someone who has ever experienced panic attacks or just felt on the verge of one, you may be afraid of having one in the car and losing control.
  • Vicious cycle: Some experts say that if you become anxious about driving, it leads you to make more mistakes, which then feeds your anxiety.  

Symptoms of Driving Anxiety

For people with a fear of driving, getting behind the wheel will cause some of the usual physical symptoms of fear:

  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint
  • Tingling
  • Chest pain 
  • Dry mouth 

And these are some behaviors that are common signs of driving anxiety:

  • Avoiding driving altogether
  • Avoiding driving on the highway, bridges, tunnels, or certain routes
  • Feeling as though you were on “automatic pilot” while driving

Overcoming Your Driving Anxiety

Relaxation techniques

As with any form of anxiety, there are relaxation techniques that may help you overcome the symptoms and be better prepared to face your fear. Many people find that simply focusing on taking deep slow breaths is an effective method, but there are a variety of relaxation techniques to choose from, such as:

Mental Health Therapy

If relaxation techniques aren’t working, you may want to consider mental health therapy, as it is highly effective at treating anxiety disorders. Psychologists can help you identify the cause of your anxiety and deal with it. Typically, they do that with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). 

CBT addresses the negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety and then helps you change those thinking patterns. It also gives you guidance on how to face your fear and see that your anxieties were unfounded.


Keep driving

While you’re working on addressing your anxiety, you should continue driving as much as you can. Completely avoiding driving can increase your anxiety, and the idea of getting back on the road will grow into a more daunting task over time. 

Phobias are often treated with exposure therapy, which means facing your fear, one baby step at a time. So try to gradually drive more and more, and work towards the routes or situations that give you the most anxiety.

If you’re worried that you lack driving skills or that anxiety will make you unsafe behind the wheel, there are driving instructors who specialize in helping people with anxiety. And as always, drive safe!

Wall squat for Knee Strength

Knee strengthening exercises

If you’ve suffered a knee injury, or are just trying to prevent one before it happens, knee strengthening exercises can help.

By strengthening the muscles around your knee, you can ensure the joint is properly supported. This will reduce strain on the joint, which relieves knee pain and lowers your risk for injuries.

Here are some simple exercises knee strengthening exercises that you can use right away:

Hamstring Curls

This exercise strengthens muscles in the back of your thighs and buttocks.

  1. Find a countertop, chair, or another object to hold on to for balance.
  2. Stand with your knees close together, only about 1-2 inches apart.
  3. Slowly bend one knee, lifting your foot behind your body until your shin is parallel with the ground.
  4. Avoid locking your other knee by keeping it slightly bent.
  5. Hold the knee bend for up to 5 seconds.

Seated Leg Raises

This exercise will strengthen the muscles in the front of your thighs.

  1. Sit in a chair and adjust its height or put pillows on the seat until your feet dangle just above the ground.
  2. Hold onto the sides of the chair to stabilize yourself.
  3. Slowly extend one leg until it’s almost parallel to the ground, and try to keep it as straight as possible without locking your knee.
  4. Pause briefly before lowering your leg.

Wall Squats

This exercise strengthens muscles in the front of your thighs and buttocks.

  1. Stand with your back flat against a wall.
  2. While keeping your back and shoulders against the wall. Step your feet forward. about 24 inches away from the wall, no wider than hip-width apart.
  3. By bending your knees slowly, slide your back down the wall, until you are just above normal seated position.
  4. Hold that position for 5 seconds, extend your knees to slide back up the wall.

Step Exercises

This exercise will strengthen muscles in your hips, buttocks, and the front and back of your thighs.

  1. Use an exercise platform or stool that’s no taller than 6 inches.
  2. Step up on the platform with one foot and keep your other foot slightly behind you so it’s hanging in mid-air.
  3. Hold that position for up to five seconds.
  4. Slowly lower the hanging foot back to the floor, and then step off the platform.
    Alternate to the other leg.

Exercising With a Knee Injury

You may find knee injuries make it difficult to get exercise since you rely on your knees whenever you walk, run, jump, or climb. However, there are a few things that can help you be more active despite a knee injury—and can help you heal faster.

One example is physiotherapy. Physiotherapists can analyze your injury and create a personalized exercise plan that will speed your recovery safely. 

Another example is a functional knee brace. These braces can provide some added support and prevent the knee from making unnatural movements while allowing you to be active. That means there’s less risk of aggravating your injury through exercise.

To learn more about how exercise can help with knee injuries and pain, speak with your doctor.

woman with Sciatica

Everything you need to know about sciatica

If you experience pain in your lower back and leg, you may have been told you have sciatica. That’s a fine starting point, but you may be wondering what to do next.

Sciatica is a term that’s often thrown around and sometimes misunderstood. So if you think you may have sciatica, here’s what you need to know.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is not a specific medical condition. It’s actually a set of symptoms that can have several causes.

It involves pain and numbness along the sciatic nerve, which runs from your lower back to your hip and buttock and down your leg. The most common cause is a pinched nerve due to an underlying back issue.

How to Spot It

Here are some of the symptoms that can indicate you’re dealing with sciatica:

  • Pain, numbness, and tingling affecting the lower back, hip, buttock, thigh, calf, and/or foot.
  • The pain originates in the lower back and then radiates down.
  • The symptoms are typically only on one side of the body.
  • The pain gets worse in certain positions such as when sitting or twisting the spine.

Common Causes of Sciatica

Usually, sciatica is the result of a back issue that causes one of the bones in your spine to pinch the sciatic nerve. There are several conditions that can be the root cause, including:

  • Herniated disk
  • Spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Degenerative disk disease

There are also some risk factors that affect your chances of developing sciatica. They include obesity, age, and prolonged sitting.

Treatment For Sciatica

To get some quick pain relief from sciatica, you can try using hot or cold packs and doing some lower back stretching. But to solve the issue, you should consider getting some treatment.

Sciatica can normally be resolved with physical therapy in a few weeks. A physical therapist can create a custom treatment plan that will reduce pain, address the underlying issues, and speed your recovery.

The treatment can involve a variety of therapies such as exercises, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and more. 

What to Watch Out For

There are also some symptoms that may indicate you have a more serious condition. They include bowel/bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and symptoms in both legs. So if any of those symptoms crop up, be sure to tell your healthcare provider.

Breathing exercise

10 Steps to Pain Relief with this Simple Breathing Exercise

Breathing exercise for pain

Prescription painkillers are an essential aid for many people. If you’re living with some sort of chronic pain, painkillers might be necessary just so you can function and lead a normal life.   

However, they can also come with strong side effects. That’s one reason you may want to find alternative ways to relieve pain—but there are many other reasons too:

  • Your medications aren’t doing enough.
  • You want to find a more natural solution.
  • You don’t have pain medication on hand.

Whatever your reason, here is a very simple breathing exercise you can use to find some relief from all types of pain. Whether you’re suffering from headaches, an injury, or a chronic condition, this exercise can help you take control of your body and manage your pain.

Breathe Deep and Relax

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable spot.
  2. Put one hand on your stomach, right above your belly button
  3. Put your other hand on the middle of your chest
  4. Take a deep breath and notice how the hand on your belly rises first, followed by the hand on your chest.
  5. Briefly hold the breath, then slowly let it out. Notice how your chest and abdomen move as you exhale.
  6. Continue breathing deeply while concentrating on the air entering your nose and mouth. Picture it filling your lungs.
  7. Try to make your breaths longer and slower.
  8. As you inhale, imagine the air is surrounding all the pain in your body.
  9. As you exhale, imagine you’re blowing pain and stress out of your mouth.
  10. Take notice of how the pain has lessened already, and continue.

Why Does It Work?

Have you ever paid attention to the way you breathe when you’re relaxed? Probably not. It sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it? But you should take a moment to think about it now.

When you’re at your most relaxed, you take deeper and slower breaths than usual. This is one reason that deep breathing can calm you down. It makes your body feel like it does when you’re relaxed, which helps you actually relax. In a way, it’s similar to how studies have shown that the physical act of smiling can make you feel happier.

In addition, deep breathing oxygenates your blood and stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.

Preventing other issues

Another thing to keep in mind is that when you’re in pain, your heart rate increases, your blood pressure rises, and your body releases stress hormones. Pain can also affect your quality of sleep, and lead to changes in your mental state.

If you’re in pain often, those changes can take a toll on your body over time. For example, it can weaken your immune system and increase your risk for heart disease.

However, concentrating on relaxing can counteract those changes. With a little practice, you can train yourself to have better control over your body’s reactions to pain. And that can help you avoid other health issues down the line. 

Other Pain Management Techniques

If you’re looking for other simple ways to help manage your pain, take a look at this list:

Music therapy: Simply listening to your favourite music can work wonders for relaxation and taking your mind off of pain. However, some studies show that making music is even more effective, so consider taking up an instrument or at least humming along!

Massage: Getting a massage from a loved one can provide an endorphin boost, but to get all of the benefits of massage you should consider visiting a massage therapist.

Heat and cold: Sometimes the tried-and-true methods are the best way to go. Cold is great for numbing painful areas and heat can help relax tense muscles or stiff joints.

Mental Health Therapy: Sometimes chronic pain can be related to your mental state. Did you know that conditions like depression or anxiety can increase your sensitivity to pain? That’s why seeing a mental health professional can help relieve pain.

Massage Heart Health

How massage helps heart health

Massage and Heart Health

When you think about ways to keep your heart healthy, massage is probably not at the top of the list. But believe it or not, getting a massage not only feels great, but it can also improve your heart health in several ways.

Reduces Hypertension

Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for heart issues. That’s because it can damage your blood vessels, cause your heart to enlarge, and possibly lead to a heart attack or heart failure.

 But several studies have shown that massage reduces hypertension. Some findings suggest the reason for this is massage calms the sympathetic nervous system, which controls blood pressure. As a result, it can lower both your diastolic and systolic blood pressure, relieve symptoms of hypertension, and reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Helps You Stay Active by Speeding Up Recovery

Another way that massage can help your heart health is by helping you be more active. Research shows that massage is effective at reducing inflammation after exercise. That means if you get regular massages, you will feel less sore after working out.

In addition, if your fitness routine gets interrupted by a muscle strain or other injury, massage can help you recover faster so you can get back out there. 

Relieves Stress

Stress causes a number of changes in the body that may increase your risk for heart disease. It causes your body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline, which temporarily increases your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. It’s normal to experience some stress, but when it happens frequently or lasts for a long time, these changes in the body can begin to take a toll.

Luckily, massage has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety. One reason for this is that massage increases the production of endorphins, which are the body’s “feel-good” hormones. This helps regulate your mood and control your body’s responses so you’re better equipped to handle stress.

Choose an RMT

While getting a massage from a loved one or at a spa can be very beneficial, to get the most out of a massage, you should visit a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT). They have the training and experience to provide a variety of different styles of massage, and can create a treatment plan that is designed specifically for your needs.


Natural Remedies for Gas and Bloating

Gas and bloating remedies

Gas and bloating are completely normal. As your digestive system breaks down food, the gas produced can build up in your intestines, causing abdominal bloating and gas pains. If you experience this frequently, it may be caused by your diet, simply swallowing air while you eat or drink, or a condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Whatever the reason, there are several natural remedies that can help.

Foods to Relieve Bloating


Ginger can help with a variety of stomach issues, from loss of appetite to constipation, bloating, and indigestion. One reason ginger can help is that it aids digestion by stimulating the production of saliva, bile, and other digestive compounds.

There are many ways to add ginger to your diet. Here are some examples:

  • Take ginger supplement capsules
  • Add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to 1 teaspoon of lime juice, and take the mixture after eating.
  • Boil some ginger or use fresh ginger powder to make a tea.


Peppermint can soothe the intestines, reduce bloating, and relieve abdominal pain. There are studies that show taking peppermint oil capsules are effective at reducing the symptoms of IBS. Peppermint teas may also help. The soothing power of peppermint comes from menthol, which can soothe pain receptors and relax the muscles in your colon.


Papaya contains papain. This is an enzyme that acts as a mild laxative and helps your body get rid of excess waste. So look for ways to fit papaya into your diet such as eating it fresh, putting it in a smoothie, or taking a papaya extract.

Foods to Avoid

You should cut back on certain foods if you’re dealing with bloating and gas pains. But while some gassy foods are obvious, others might surprise you. They include:

  • Beans are known for causing gas, but if you want to keep them in your diet, soak them in water for 12 hours before cooking.
  • Carbonated beverages.
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and bok choy.
  • Sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol which are found in sugar-free chewing gum, mints, and other candies.

A Final Tip

Sometimes that bloated feeling is simply caused by swallowing air while you eat or drink. The way to avoid that issue is to eat more slowly and avoid drinking through a straw. Straws are problematic because each time you take a sip, you swallow the air that was in the upper part of the staw.


Why stress turns your hair gray

Why does your hair turn gray?

The idea that stress turns hair gray has been around for many years. But it was always based on anecdotal evidence. People might point to pictures showing U.S presidents before and after holding office, or refer to stories of people who got gray hair practically overnight after being through a traumatic experience. But no one really knew how stress affects your hair colour, and many scientists were skeptical that there was even a connection.

But recent research has revealed how it happens. Scientists put black-haired lab rats through stress tests which caused them to start sprouting gray hairs within a few days. The scientists were then able to identify the mechanism behind how it happens.

Age-related Graying

First, here is a little background on why your hair can turn gray as you age.

Normally, your hair follicles use stem cells to produce colour. That’s because stem cells can be converted into pigment-producing cells. However, your body can’t replenish stem cells so the supply gets used up as you age. When those stem cells are finally depleted, your hair loses its colour.

The Stress Connection

It turns out that stress speeds up that process. When you’re feeling stressed, it causes a release of stress hormones that are meant to prepare you to deal with threats. Those hormones include norepinephrine, which boosts your heart rate, increases blood flow to muscles, and acts as a neurotransmitter to increase your alertness and reaction time.

However, the new study revealed how this chemical also affects your hair follicles. The researchers found it causes the hair follicles to go into overdrive, and to quickly use up a flood of stem cells, depleting the supply and causing premature gray hair.

Dealing with Stress

So while your hair turns gray as a normal part of the ageing process, you can take some measures to avoid stress-induced graying.

It’s also important to keep in mind that gray hair is only one of the many effects of frequent or prolonged stress. For example, the stress hormones your body releases can also impact your blood pressure and heart health. Therefore, it’s a good idea to think about stress management. Some techniques for reducing stress include, aerobic exercises, breathing exercises, talking to a close friend, and yoga.

If you’re ready to get advice or professional help for stress management, contact your healthcare provider or try out our Mental Health Program.