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Treatment Options for Fatigue - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

13 Treatment Options for Fatigue

There are many reasons why we experience fatigue.

A physiological issue may cause fatigue such as impaired thyroid function, lack of nutrition, hormone imbalance, lack of sleep, chronic pain or allergies among others. Emotional stresses and past traumas can also trigger fatigue.

A physiological issue may cause fatigue such as impaired thyroid function, lack of nutrition, hormone imbalance, lack of sleep, chronic pain or allergies among others. Emotional stresses and past traumas can also trigger fatigue.

Whether the reason is physiological or psychological, we can all benefit from some help to identify and resolve the underlying issues.

Physiological Issues

The first step might be to investigate any physiological issues.

Family doctors and Western medicine. Your family physician can order various tests to rule out certain diseases and to identify nutritional deficiencies such as Vit D or B12 deficiency and anaemia (low iron). They also have access to pharmaceuticals which can address symptoms and bring relief. They are not always able to get to the cause of your fatigue but can help to alleviate it.

Naturopathic or Functional Medicine. These doctors work with your family doctor. They look deeper, at root causes of ill health, and address issues such as lifestyle, diet, hormone imbalance, insomnia, allergies, celiac disease and digestive health. They use natural healing methods including diet, nutrition, lifestyle modification, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal remedies.

Emotional reasons for fatigue

Once physiological causes have been dealt with or ruled out, you may wish to consider psychological causes for your fatigue. Whether it is from past traumas, genetic memories from previous generations or current stresses in your life, we all need some help to release these.

Some modalities to consider are as follows:

Counselling and psychotherapy can approach these emotions from the conscious mind. Make sure to choose someone that you are completely comfortable with, and has suitably experience in your type of issue.

Hypnotherapy works with your subconscious mind. During a session, you collaborate to access the subconscious, let go of the restrictions and limitations provided by the conscious mind, and bring about the release and shift of those trapped emotions. The majority of people will remain aware of their surroundings to some degree.

CranioSacral therapy accesses these traumas and emotions from the body level. A good CS therapist will sense the shock and trauma resonating in your body even after your conscious mind thinks it has been resolved. They work extremely gently, facilitating the release of these emotions and bringing the body back into balance.

Reiki, Chakra balancing and energy healing all work with your body’s energy to rebalance, release trapped emotions, bring calm and profound relaxation. During a healing session the body enters a parasympathetic state, also called the rest and digest state, which is responsible for long-term health, improved digestion, conservation of energy, and maintenance of a healthy balance in your body’s systems

Physical Treatments

Misalignment and imbalance in your body will upset the correct functioning of many of the body’s systems.

Chiropractic, Massage and Osteopathy all work with the physical body including the muscles, ligaments, spine, joints and organs, releasing these tensions and bringing balance to your structure. Working on your physical body will allow your body to work in the most optimal way and healing to take place.

These therapies also address physical pain. Relief from chronic pain can go a long way towards improving energy levels.

Acupuncture is one modality that can help both physiological and emotional issues. It is an ancient method that rebalances the body, allowing the correct function of all your body’s symptoms and healing to take place. It can be used initially for symptom relief and longer term to bring lasting healing.

Support energy production at the cellular level

1. Vitamin B12: produce energy

Vitamin B12 is responsible for forming red blood cells, which transport oxygen in the blood throughout the body. Once the oxygen arrives to your body’s cells, it is utilized for energy production. Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in neurological function. According to guidance published by the National Institute of Health in 2016, if you don’t consume enough vitamin B12 in your diet, you will be at a greater risk of fatigue, weakness, or weight loss.

2. Coenzyme Q10: energy production

Coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10) is an antioxidant necessary for proper cell function, found in every cell of the body. Your cells need CoQ10 to produce energy, and research shows that it benefits patients with cardiovascular disease.

3. Magnesium promotes better sleep

Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, required for more than 300 different biochemical reactions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and energy production. It is commonly found in foods like fish, almonds, and whole grains, and is an excellent source of energy.

4. Optimize cell function with iron

Iron is an essential mineral that helps oxygen circulate throughout the body. It is also necessary for the body’s cell to function and develop properly. Iron deficiency is the primary cause of anemia, which can impair cognitive abilities, decrease immunity, and negatively impact work performance.

Ease stress and feel your best with adaptogens

Wondering what adapotgens are? They’re a group of botanical supplements that protect the body against the effects of physical and mental stress . To be considered “adaptogenic,” an herb must be non-toxic, provide widespread physiological support, and help balance the body’s processes.

5. Reduce stress and fatigue with Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola, also known as Rhodiola rosea, is a botanical supplement that has been used in traditional medicine in Eastern Europe and Asia for centuries. Not only will it help you feel more alert and decrease stress, it can also improve your mood, according to clinical research.

Want to know what’s best for you? Book for a free, no obligation introductory health coach session to discuss your needs.


This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you suffer from Fatigue? What have you tried to help your symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anxiety and Depression – Getting Stuck in our Thoughts

Anxiety and Depression – Getting Stuck in our Thoughts

The words “anxiety” and “depression” can be quite scary, and it can be difficult to ask for help because of something going on in your mind. As a Mental Health Counsellor, I invite my clients to think about their depression and anxiety experiences not as labels of illness, but rather as something that they can get stuck in – and get out of, as well.

This can be an over-simplification of complex issues, but I think it is still a helpful way to begin to make some sense of the experience.

While the symptoms and experiences of anxiety and depression are, in fact, quite different, both often involve being stuck in our thoughts. With depression one is likely stuck in thoughts about the past, and with anxiety, it is thoughts about the future.

These unhelpful thoughts about the past and future infect the present moment and keep us stuck.

Stuck in the Past and the Future

When someone experiences depression, they often describe their symptoms as:

  • feeling sad or angry most of the time,
  • not enjoying life, and
  • not wanting to do much of anything, believing things have never worked out and they won’t ever get better.

This person could be stuck remembering something in their past. These remembrances of hurts, traumas and painful moments become so overwhelming that they infect the present moment with imaginings of a never-changing future as bad as the past.

When someone experiences anxiety they often describe their symptoms as:

  • feeling afraid and nervous,
  • worried about many things in life, and
  • finding it hard to do anything out of their comfort zone because they imagine bad results will come.

This person is likely stuck imagining something terrible happening in the future. These projections of hurts, threats and disasters become so overwhelming that they also infect the present moment. 

A Moment of Anxiety

When we are caught up in a moment of anxiety, we have projected ourselves into a time in the future where we imagine a terrible outcome.

Here’s an example I am sure many of us can relate to.

A student begins the semester, looks at his syllabus and sees that there will be an exam
at the end of the course worth 60% of the final grade. At that moment, his thoughts jump to the end of the semester, and he imagines a very hard exam, in which he isn’t able to succeed, and then he imagines failing the course, then seeing his GPA dropping, his hopes of a good job and financial stability disappearing, and suddenly he is panicking.

As you read that long last sentence, how many of you now notice that you are holding your breath, tensing up, or your heart is racing?

Stop and take a deep breath because right now at this moment, where is this imaginary student in this scenario? He is at the beginning of the semester, and he hasn’t started studying what he will be tested on. His mind took him to the end of the semester and then beyond to a frightening future.

Where are you right now? You are probably sitting at your computer or on your phone. As you read this, you are probably safe, but your body may have started reacting like you were going to be taking this exam and see your hopes of financial stability disappear.

Coming Back to the Present

By bringing your mind back to the present moment, you can notice where your thoughts have taken you.

Do you see yourself in a terrible imagined future based on events that have not even happened?

Are you finding yourself reliving a moment of hurt in the past that makes you feel hopeless today?

Right now, where are you? What do you physically see around you? What do you hear? What do you smell? Where is your body? Is something terrible happening right now?

We have all had the experience of getting stuck in one way or another. When we are stuck, we can’t get out of the position we are in.

Some of my colleagues at the Ottawa Holistic Wellness Centre can help your body be less stuck when a part of you just isn’t moving correctly.

If you feel stuck in your thoughts, moods, or in your life, I would be happy to meet with you to see if working together can help you get unstuck and back to living a vital and meaningful life.

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A New Year and a New You or Just More of You

A New Year and a New You or Just More of You

Instead of trying to be a new person in the new year, how would you feel about bringing more of you into 2017?

Could a new you mean more of you?

Are there parts of yourself you hold back that prevent you from connecting more deeply with others? Would you be willing to be more vulnerable with people in your life?

Brené Brown in her inspiring book, Daring Greatly states that vulnerability is a paradox, The irony is that when we’re standing across from someone who is shielded by masks and armour, we feel frustrated and disconnected. That’s the paradox here: Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.”

On the one hand, it makes sense that we don’t want to let our vulnerability show, especially when it means revealing what could hurt us. On the other hand, seeing how someone is hurt inspires most of us to want to express our desire to help and solidarity.

Recently, a famous pop star spoke up about her experiences as a woman in the music business. She talked about how there was a time in her career where she felt like the most hated woman on the planet. During her speech, there were a few moments where her eyes filled with tears.

The crowd gave her their full attention because there in front of them this confident, well-respected artist allowed some of how she had been hurt to be seen.

Her speech made an impact not with anger, statistics or superficial platitudes. It made an impact because those listening to her could see that she was talking about the truth of her experience, not just the beautiful, shiny, easy-to-digest parts.

The crowd’s nodding heads seemed to indicate they shared some of the same feelings that the pop star revealed. The group felt connected to her as she showed her vulnerability.

In our social media-driven world, where we mostly share the lovely, shiny, easy-to-digest parts of ourselves, are we missing out on deeper connections?

Could relationships with family members, work colleagues, neighbours and friends become more meaningful if we let more of our authentic, vulnerable selves be seen?

I’m not proposing that we burden other people with our problems or that we share our deeper selves in every interaction we have or every post on social media, but maybe there are some relationships in our lives that could benefit from more authenticity.

A client of mine shared a story of how a friend of hers from high school, someone she described as always happy and put together, recently confided in her that she felt overwhelmed by her work and family responsibilities.

For my client, this was a remarkable moment to see that her friend was struggling with the some of the same insecurities and challenges that she was.

Before this woman opened up about how overwhelmed, she felt, my client, admitted she would never have shared her difficult feelings.

After this conversation, she felt much closer to her friend and plans to spend more time with her in the new year.

How about you?

Is there someone in your life with whom you could deepen your relationship by revealing more truth, authenticity and vulnerability? Is the mere idea of letting down your guard anxiety provoking to you? Does it feel like opening up in this way is something you would never want to do in a million years?

If the idea of making yourself vulnerable with family, friends or romantic partners is holding you back, this is something a counsellor could help you with. Through counselling and psychotherapy, we can explore ways to help you deepen the connection in your relationships and what is holding you back.

I would be happy to meet with you for a free meeting to find out if working together on this or any other life issues could be right for you.

May 2017 start out with us all having a little more courage to be vulnerable with the important people in our lives!

Brown, B. (2012). Daring Greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
Amazon.ca link: https://www.amazon.ca/Daring-Greatly-Courage-Vulnerable-Transforms-ebook/dp/B007P7HRS4/ref=s9_simh_gw_g351_i1_rpf_rd_m=A3DWYIK6Y9EEQB&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=T4BSE5MTF5RP2R9MBSQV&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=b06971ce-9992-44c1-9ee0-eb9792e71b5e&pf_rd_i=desktop

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Noticing and Savouring the Positive to Help You Get Through Winter

Noticing and Savouring the Positive to Help You Get Through Winter

Most people in Ottawa seem to love summer and enjoy the natural beauty of fall, but there seems to be less enthusiasm for the next season of winter. 

As the days get colder and shorter, we start the small talk of wondering how to get through dreaded winter. It can feel like life gets harder as we have more to contend with because of the weather and darker days.

As a human race, we have evolved to focus on the negative in order to problem-solve and survive, but when we can turn our attention to intentionally notice the good everything can seem more bearable. We can enhance the influence of the positive moments in our lives to build up our resilience for when the negative moments come because life contains both positive and negative moments.

Negative winter moments aren’t always so bad, maybe just more inconvenient, but an accumulation of them can really bring us down.

Noticing what didn’t go wrong

Take, for example, a winter moment like the unexpected blizzard that delays you in traffic and makes you late to meet your friends so that you lose your dinner reservation.

When something like this happens, how many of us will retell the story of how frustrating this was and end up reliving it each time we talk about it?

On the other hand, how many of us will retell or relive the experience of leaving work on time and having nothing keep us from getting where we need to go?

This may seem like a silly question because these kinds of moments don’t make very interesting stories to tell to others and that may be why we usually take them for granted. However, these moments are worth retelling ourselves because when we intentionally look for moments like this and then relive internally how nothing went wrong, it is a way to help us see life more positively.

In this example, recognising the ease with which you were able to leave work and drive to the restaurant to meet your friends will do you good, especially if you can savour the experience as well.

Savouring the positive

Savouring is an exercise where we focus our attention on fully experiencing through our senses.

It can be something we do in a mindful present moment when we notice the good or a way to bring to mind a positive moment from the past.

Savouring the positive starts with you bringing to mind the specifics of what you are experiencing or that you experienced through your senses.

If you are savouring a positive experience from the past you could ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did I see that I enjoyed?
  • What did I hear that was pleasant?
  • What smells and tastes did I notice and like?
  • How did my body feel in the moment?

As you answer each of these questions and notice or replay the scene in your mind’s eye in as much detail as you can, relish the experience and revel in it.

You can learn more about savouring at http://www.thepositivepsychologypeople.com/the-art-of-positive-savouring/.

Anytime and anywhere

Savouring is something you can do anytime including during annoying winter moments like scraping ice off your car, waiting for a bus, or trudging through the snow.

Reliving the positive moments will also help train your brain to notice the positive in the everyday.

Everyday positive moments such as a stranger’s smile, a favourite song on the radio, or a kind word in an email; and before you know it spring will come.

If you find that it is very hard for you to notice anything positive in your life or find that there is nothing you can think of that you have recently enjoyed, you may be suffering from depression. If this is you, please consider setting up a free meet and greet session with me to see if our working together could help.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season with many positive moments to notice and savour! 

Sharing is caring

If you found this blog helpful please share it with your friends and family.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Chronic Back Pain, its complexity and the benefits of psychotherapy

Chronic Pain, its complexity and the benefits of psychotherapy

Are you offended if your doctor or health care practitioner suggests seeing a mental health counsellor to help you with your chronic pain? In our Western culture, we first turn to a doctor for our physical problems. However, more often than not, they are unable to find a cause to effectively fix the problem and remove the pain. From your perspective, as a chronic pain sufferer, this can leave you confused, frustrated and disempowered.

In our Western culture, we first turn to a doctor for our physical problems. However, more often than not, they are unable to find a cause to effectively fix the problem and remove the pain. From your perspective, as a chronic pain sufferer, this can leave you confused, frustrated and disempowered.

Not feeling believed

A recent study found that health care providers did not always believe their patients’ chronic pain complaints, which they “considered imaginary” and the providers’ responses “indicated speculation, underrating and denial of pain” (Ojala et al, 2015). Your scepticism about psychotherapy as a viable treatment method is completely understandable when the idea comes from someone who made you feel like they didn’t believe you. I can also see why it wouldn’t make sense to you to receive a suggestion to work on your mental or emotional health when you very clearly are experiencing a physical health problem. Chronic pain is a complex problem, whether you feel it in your lower back or anywhere else. So why should chronic pain be any more complex than acute pain?

How is chronic pain different?

Acute pain is temporary, not lasting longer than three to six months, which is the normal amount of time for tissue damage to heal. This kind of pain generally serves an important function of signalling damage to the body, as a warning to prevent further injury and to give the body time to heal. Also, the intensity of the pain experienced usually corresponds to the extent of the tissue damage. Chronic pain is persistent, does not usually match pain intensity to tissue damage, and serves no useful biological function. Even though chronic pain is not a signal of tissue damage the pain is still experienced biologically through the nervous system. Brain regions associated with pain may be activated even when there is no indicated tissue damage or observable cause. Whether there is an observable cause or not, all pain is physically perceived and experienced through the brain’s nervous system and the neurochemistry of pain is extremely complex. All that is to say, just because there is no observable cause, doesn’t mean that the pain you are experiencing isn’t real, in fact, it is the opposite – your pain is very real!

Even more complex…

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem that includes biological, psychological and social dimensions. For those of you who suffer from chronic pain, you know how difficult the experience is and how it can affect so many aspects of your lives.

Many people suffering from chronic pain often face other challenges like trouble sleeping, depression or other mood disorders, weight issues and relationship distress. When a doctor focuses on any of the above, especially psychological factors, you, as a chronic pain sufferer, may understandably feel like your pain experience is being invalidated and that you are being treated as if the pain is “just in your head.”

There are some really valid reasons for a health care practitioner to ask about these issues because these often are legitimate contributing factors to your pain experience. A well-informed pain practitioner should take into account your physical state, your emotions, your thoughts and your relationships. They will know that chronic pain is both a physical issue and a psychological issue.

The multi-dimensionality of chronic pain makes it a condition worth being treated by psychotherapy, not only by a body expert like a doctor, chiropractor, osteopath or massage therapist.

Psychological processes of pain

Researchers going back to the 1960s have studied how experiences in the brain, such as thoughts and emotions affect pain perception. In their ground-breaking study in 1965, Canadian psychologist Ronald Melzack along with Patrick Wall first introduced the gate control theory of pain, where they proposed that the perception of pain is not only from a specific place in the body to the brain but that what happens in the brain (thoughts and feelings) also influences the pain experience (Melzack & Wall, 1965).

Psychological and social aspects such as your environmental stressors, emotions and interpersonal issues play a role in affecting pain. Neurobiological research has verified that chronic pain includes biological, psychological and social dimensions; and therefore psychotherapy is a beneficial treatment method.

How a counsellor/psychotherapist can help

Counsellors or psychotherapist working with sufferers of chronic pain understand how the emotional, mental and physical components all interact together to produce and exacerbate the client’s experience of pain. As mentioned above, many people suffering from chronic pain usually report multiple and overlapping problems such as sleep disorders, mood disorders, disability, weight issues, and relationship distress, which are all issues that psychotherapy can help with. Numerous studies over the years have shown that 40 to 50 percent of those with chronic pain suffer from depression and these two conditions, unfortunately mutually reinforce each other.

As your counsellor, I will pay attention to your emotional state, which for many chronic pain sufferers is usually primarily negative emotions such as helplessness, fear, and anger. Living day after day with pain that interferes with your desired activities along with feeling little to no control over the pain, it is completely understandable you would be experiencing these difficult emotions. I also work with a client’s experience of stress, underlying beliefs and expectations, identity issues, family dynamics, problem-solving styles, formative experiences and behaviour patterns that may all be contributing to the pain experience.

In conclusion:

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem that includes biological, psychological and social dimensions. While it may seem like a suggestion to see a mental health counsellor to help with your chronic pain is not what you need, over fifty years of ongoing research continues to demonstrate the ways that psychotherapy can help. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, please consider setting up a free meet and greet session with me so we can talk more specifically about how psychotherapy and counselling could help.


Ojala, T., Häkkinen, A., Karppinen, J., Sipilä, K., Suutama, T., & Piirainen, A. (2015). Although unseen, chronic pain is real—A phenomenological study. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 6, 33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2014.04.004  Melzack, R. & Wall, P.D. (1965). Pain mechanisms: A new theory. Science, 50, 971-979.

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