Joanna Salit MSW, RSW

Counselling for Life's Transitions.

My Blog


Ways to Cope in the time of COVID: Activate Things in Your Control

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 1:27 PM Comments comments ()
Coping Strategies in the Period of COVID
Activate Things that are in Your Control
Joanna Salit, MSW RSW

·      Look for ways settle your nervous system (it is on high alert!)

·      Move your body daily: gentle stretching such as child’s pose, cat/cow or neck stretches, yoga, aerobic exercise, walking 

·      Get outside daily and get fresh air

·      Try to ingest nourishing foods and limit salt and sugar intake

·      Drink water

·      Create a sleep ritual that tells your body and mind that it is time to rest: no screens ½ hour before bed, drink herbal tea, take a warm shower or bath, use sleep meditations (eg: apps such as Insight Timer, Calm or Headspace)

·      If you wake up in the middle of the night do not look at screens. Try 4-7-8 breathing until you fall asleep (inhale for 4, hold breath for 7, exhale slowly for 8)

·      Connect socially with friends /family in a safe manner and talk about things that you enjoy

·      Minimize use of alcohol, drugs or nicotine 

·      Try to create some structure in your day

·      Give yourself permission to not be as productive as usual

·      Practice box breathing – inhale for a count of 4, hold for 4, exhale for 4 and hold lungs empty for 4

·      Engage in altruism (eg: check in with a neighbour, donate to charity)

·      Limit exposure to the news

·      Name and acknowledge your feelings 

·      Use grounding strategies such as the Five Sense: Name five things you see, four things you feel on your skin, three things you hear, two things you can smell, one thing you taste

·      Talk to your family doctor and/or a therapist – create space just for you

·      It is ok to not be ok! 
Listen to your body and make choices that are healthy for you

Facing anxiety in the age of COVID-19

Posted on March 19, 2020 at 5:06 PM Comments comments ()
During uncertain or unpredictable times, anxiety or other strong feelings can come up and take over. This is the nervous system warning us of real or perceived danger. As we are fundamentally animals, these signals have served to keep us safe in many situations.

But what happens when your logical mind knows that you are safe, yet your nervous system continues to fire warning signals of danger?

In order to settle our nervous system, we can look at what is in our control and focus upon a 'bottom up' approach of working with the body. "Breathing in" helps to activate our body while a deep thorough "breath out" helps to settle the nervous system.

This is my favourite breathing technique: it is simple and portable. Personally, I use it when I cannot fall asleep or have ruminating thoughts.

Why am I acting this way???? Triggers and Fight/Flight/Freeze

Posted on February 19, 2020 at 2:43 PM Comments comments ()


“When my partner and I get into an argument I just shut down and then they get more and more angry; we never seem to resolve things.”
“When faced with a controlling boss I can’t seem to think straight and I feel overwhelmed.”
“I find myself yelling at my children when I don’t want to and then I feel terrible about it.”
Some of these scenarios might seem familiar to you. 
Often these situations don’t make us feel good. It can bring up shame or guilt. Also, sometimes we can be hard on ourselves that we cannot make different choices. Sometimes we are blamed by others for not being able to ‘control’ ourselves. 
However, these responses are not always conscious choices. Sometimes, these behaviours are in fact our nervous system reacting to what we see as danger and we go into fight, flight or freeze
Like other animals, our brain and our nervous system respond to danger – whether it is real or perceived. When we are triggered and are tired, hungry, stressed and/or have a history of trauma, we can get thrown into fight, flight or freeze. It is in these spaces that we ‘react’.
What we want to aim for, however, is to ‘respond’. When we are able to respond, our brain is able to filter our raw feelings and make decisions. We are grounded and we are able to listen without blame and defensiveness to our partners, stay present in the moment with our children and we do our best work in the workplace. 
Therapy can be helpful to retrain our brain and nervous system to respond differently to triggers. 
While talk therapy is useful to an extent, other strategies such as Tapping or Brainspotting, can access the nervous system so that we don’t go into fight, flight or freeze.
If you are interested in meeting with me, feel free to reach out (without financial or other obligation) and we can talk about whether this is a good initial match. I can be reached at 416-795