Welcome to Dialogue's Wellness Guide

Research has demonstrated that daily, incremental changes can help you feel happier and less stressed. In this guide, you'll find quick tips and resources that you can practice every day!

Give your mind some love.

Bombarded with various headlines and health fads?

Dialogue’s wellness guide is comprehensive, evidence-based, and was designed with your busy schedule in mind!

As a Dialogue member, you have access to this online wellness guide, as well as to our mental health specialists, psychotherapists, and more. Open the Dialogue app to book an appointment.

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How do I get started?

Pick a proposed activity from the topics below, and integrate it into your schedule to form a habit (or more if you’d like!). Start with one to have a small win faster! Then, revisit the guide to pick additional activities to incorporate a balance in all the categories.

SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-limited) aren’t only for your job evaluations! Use them to keep yourself accountable and get small wins.

Use our SMART Goal Worksheet to help you plan and keep you on track.

If you would like help to get a habit started, our team can help!

SMART Goal Worksheet

Set one or two goals using the SMART guidelines:

  • Specific How will I do it? (What, when, where, and how?)
  • Measurable How will I measure it? (How much, how many?)
  • Attainable Is this something I can do?
  • Realistic Is this something I can achieve?
  • Time-bound How often or when will I do this?


  • sleep Sleep

    While we all need varying amounts of sleep, research has shown that a lack of sleep may increase the risk of developing issues like stress, depression and anxiety. In turn, enhancing sleep will improve your daily functioning.

    A podcast to get you started

    Like podcasts? We do too! Learn more about the importance of sleep from a leading researcher in the field. Listen to Professor Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” podcast.

    Small tips to improve your sleep hygiene habits


    A proper sleep environment naturally triggers our melatonin cycle with darkness and cooling of body temperature. Here are a few tips.


    • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and vigorous exercise before bed. Listen to the podcast above to understand why.
    • Establish a stable wind-down routine (e.g. dim the lights 1 hr before bedtime, begin a mindfulness or breathing exercise, read).
    • Create a proper sleep environment in a dark and slightly cool but comfortable room. Use certain yoga poses to help the body relax (e.g. forward bends).
    • Try Yoga Nidra, a type of guided sleep meditation that can help with insomnia.
    • Several over-the-counter treatments like melatonin, passiflora, valerian, lemon balm and lavender essential oil can help improve sleep.

    Sleep tracking


    Tracking your sleep patterns can help identify correlations with activities or behavior in the day, your sleep quality and the amount of sleep that feels optimal for you. Tracking can also help you establish a consistent schedule with reminders


    • Wearable trackers like the Fitbit Charge 2 or the Apple Watch can estimate time spent in the various sleep stages and total time slept. It’s not exact, but a great start.
    • Try the Sleep Cycle app (iOS or Android) to track and analyze sleep patterns, and to wake up in the lightest sleep phase. Aim to avoid screens at least 1 hr before bedtime.

    White noise


    Background noise like the whirring of a fan, an app, or a machine covers up all the little sounds that can be distracting to your brain.


    • Use the White Noise app (iOS or Android)
    • Purchase a white noise machine.

    Reduction of blue light emissions


    Working late on your computer? Scrolling endlessly through Netflix before bed? Blue wavelengths can be harmful at night by suppressing the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that helps signal to your body that it’s time to rest. Try to minimize blue light exposure to have a more restful sleep with these tips.


    • Aim to avoid screens at least 1 hr before bedtime.
    • Use the built-in night mode on your device a few hours before bedtime (check your settings).
    • Install F.lux on your computer to adjust the light.
    • Wear anti blue light glasses when using devices in the evening (available on Amazon.ca or at most opticians).
  • relaxation Relaxation and Mindfulness

    Short periods of relaxation and mindfulness brings mental clarity, reduces stress and improves the ability to make good decisions.

    Information to get you started

    Spend 10 minutes to learn more about the importance of relaxation and mindfulness by watching this video.

    Breathing exercises


    Focusing on your breath allows you to concentrate on slow, deep breathing and helps you disengage from distracting thoughts and sensations. It can also slow the heartbeat, lower or stabilize blood pressure, intentionally reduce stress conditions and anxiety while also nourishing the body with oxygen to every cell and organ.


    • Use 2-5 minute guided breathing exercises with a fitness tracker with reminders. Try doing them when you wake up, during your commute, or before sleeping.
    • Try Breath training with Breathe+.

    Essential oils


    Essential oils (EOs) contain powerful natural chemical components. Research supports the ability of essential oils to deter a wide range of bacterial, fungal, viral and other disease-causing microorganisms. Some oils have calming and relaxing effects while others can be used for improved respiration and muscle aches and pains.


    • Use a diffuser with lavender essential oil at night for its calming effect.
    • Use a roller essential oil before bed time or during stressful times. Try a few drops of lavender into the palms, rub hands together, inhale deeply holding the hands near the nose. A few drops on the soles of the feet (largest pores on the body) at bedtime can help improve sleep.

    Guided meditation


    Meditation programs can result in reductions of psychological stress and conditions such as depression and anxiety by downregulating the Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight), and upregulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest & digest).


    • Download apps like Calm, Headspace, Smiling Mind, Oak or Petit BamBou (French) for guided meditation and calming exercises (most available on iOS and Android).

    Yoga or Pilates


    Yoga stretches, strengthens and restores the muscles and tissues in the body to help release physical contradictions created through daily routine. Different yoga poses target different parts of the muscular body and organ systems that help to release tension and remove toxins.


    • There are multiple free resources available for all levels of yoga on YouTube, and many paid platforms and apps such as Gaia or Alo Moves.
    • Otherwise, consider an in-person class in a studio or gym.
  • nutrition Nutrition

    The food we eat affects our overall health, mood, behaviour and cognition. For more personalized information, or to help you meet your nutritional goals, contact us to book a virtual appointment with one of our registered dieticians.

    Information on healthy eating

    Healthy eating is important for overall health and wellness. The food we eat fuels our bodies to function, maintains our health and plays a role in how we feel. It can be challenging to adopt healthy eating habits because of obstacles like finances, availability of fresh foods and time constraints. But eating healthier doesn’t have to be scary - it is a habit that can take time to build with patience, self-compassion and education.

    • Take a look at the new Canada’s Food Guide for tips on healthy eating. 
    • Adopt healthier eating habits by having vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein sources at each meal, and limit the amount of highly processed foods you eat.
    • It’s important to enjoy your food as well as listen to your internal hunger cues (feeling hungry or full) as a way to eat well. It is also key to be aware of external cues that can influence your eating habits, such as food marketing or being offered food when you are not hungry.
    • It's best to make only a few small changes at a time as this can have significant long-term impacts on creating better eating habits.

    Water intake


    The human body is composed of 60% water. If you are not properly hydrated, this can affect your memory function, digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients, and body temperature. How much water you need varies based on outside temperatures, how active you are,  how much you sweat and more.


    • Make water your drink of choice! Follow these tips from the Canadian government to help you achieve this.
    • How can you tell if you are drinking enough water? Look at your urine color. If it is clear or pale yellow, you’re drinking enough. Dark yellow means you’re not drinking enough.

    Meal planning help


    Eating healthy should not be boring or stressful. It is important to eat foods that taste good and that you enjoy. Sometimes we are short on time or lack  inspiration for what to cook. There are services and resources  available that can inspire you with ideas, bring variety to your diet and help you save time when cooking your own meals.


    • The Cookspiration app (iOS and Android) can help you with meal planning by selecting recipes and will then  generate a grocery list.
    • Use prepared meal services or ready-made meals from grocery stores or restaurants in your area as a convenient homemade option.
    • Get raw ingredients and recipes to cook at home using  meal kit delivery services.
  • physical activity Physical Activity

    We recommend increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary behaviour. This will improve stress levels, sleep, and overall well-being, thanks to the endorphin secreted during exercise.

    Stand up and walk


    Research has shown that a sedentary lifestyle is as unhealthy for you as smoking, and is associated with heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and early death. A recent study showed that sitting for longer than 30 consecutive minutes is associated with increased mortality.


    • Move at least 1 minute every hour of sitting
    • Take the stairs
    • Get off the bus 1 stop early or park farther
    • Walk briskly for 10 minutes 3 times instead of 30 minutes
    • For every 30 minutes of sitting, stand up and move or walk for 5 minutes.

    Weight training


    Weight training has been demonstrated to lead to improvements in metabolic health, including improved insulin sensitivity. Evidence also supports the conclusion that strength training helps reduce anxiety symptoms in healthy adults.


    • Become more physically active from the comfort of your home with apps like Fitness Blender, Nike Training Club (iOS or Android).

    Cardiovascular activities


    Combined with a healthy diet, aerobic exercise helps you to lose weight and maintain it. Aerobic exercise also helps to increase endurance and stamina, and to reduce fatigue over time when physical activity is integrated into the routine. Finding an activity you enjoy will allow you to remain motivated and active.


    • Go out for a walk during the lunch break.
    • Take the steps rather than the elevator.
    • Walking, cycling, jogging, running, swimming are excellent cardiovascular activities.
    • Work your way up to the recommended 150 minutes of activity per week, and track it with a fitness tracker such as Fitbit or Apple Watch.

    Counting steps


    While there are no exact scientific recommendations on the number of steps per day we should be taking, tracking steps is an easy way to become more conscious of your own baseline. This will help to work towards a specific daily goal and keep you active throughout the day.


    • Track your steps with a fitness tracker, pedometer or smart watch or phone.
    • When walking, be sure to keep a brisk pace to elevate your heart rate for at least 10 minutes at a time.
  • social & leisure activity Social and Leisure Activity

    Research has shown the beneficial effect of social support and networks on physical and psychological health. Furthermore, leisure activities Improve positive, physical and psychosocial states.

    Join a social interest group


    Creating connections can help decrease isolation while offering a focus on others or purpose.


    • Participate in a book club
    • Join a board for a charity or special event

    Schedule recurring activities with friends


    An active social life allows us to boost feelings of well-being.


    • Every month, schedule a time for a healthy dinner or fun activity to catch up with friends.

    Learn a new skill


    A new hobby or skill can help relieve stress by creating a break in routine behavior. It can also help expand brain functions like reasoning and problem solving.


    • Join a local art, creative writing, music or cooking class
    • Learn a foreign language either in a class setting or with an app like Duolingo (iOS or Android)

    Information to get you thinking


    Connections with others in an enjoyable manner adds value and meaning to our lives.


Ready to test your stress?

Get started with Dialogue's stress questionnaire.



  • articles Strategies to improve your work-life balance

    Establish Boundaries

    When making the transition from working in the office to working from home it is often difficult to separate work and personal life. Too often, the lines become blurred between our different spheres of life that have begun to inhabit the same space: Home.

    Therefore, it is important to properly define when and where (i.e. space and time) you will be carrying out your role as an employee with the people you are sharing your home with. For example, if you have children, it is important to communicate to them what your expectations are regarding their behaviour when you are clocked in.

    • If possible, dedicate a room in your home as your office (calm and isolated space) and refrain from working anywhere else.
    • Set boundaries with work by setting a specific time your shift will end during work days.
    • Shut off all work devices, at the designated end time.
    • Create a mental separation between work and personal time, at the end of your shift, by switching to another activity altogether (i.e. going for a walk outside).
    • Schedule the activity in your calendar right after the end of your shift.

    Establish a clear routine

    Children are used to having a structured day at school. Explain to them the value of planning their day and make a weekly schedule with them, including times when children play together and are busy alone. Routine has the advantage of keeping the children safe and allows us to plan our day.

    Involve your children in creating the routine.

    To reduce the likelihood of children's opposition behaviour towards their parents. Here are some ideas for power zones:

    • Choosing the time of day
    • Choose the activity during different periods (for example during the periods activities, family games, educational games, etc.).
    • Choosing the snack
    • Choose the order of the activities (you determine the activities to be done in the day/week, they schedule them)
    • Decoration / construction of the routine management tool

    Be kind with yourself

    Give yourself room for error. We are in a unique context. We can't perform at work the way we normally do. Just as our home life cannot function as well as normal.

    • Avoid comparisons and keep in mind that you are doing your best.
    • If you feel pressure, express it to your superior, your colleague, your spouse. Naming our distress is already a way to live with it better.
    • Finally, take time for yourself every day. A simple walk, a call with a friend, play a sport, read at night...take time to find yourself.

    About the Author

    Annabel Tremblay Mental health specialist, Team Lead Bachelor in Social Work
  • articles Food for your mood

    What does healthy eating look like for you?

    When we think “mental wellness”, we don’t always think about changing the foods we eat. In turn, when we experience mental health symptoms, we tend to stop putting in the time for self-care, which includes proper nutrition. We can get stuck in a vicious cycle. However, there are ways you can become more conscious of this mind-body connection and take the necessary steps towards meaningful change.

    How are our eating habits and mental health connected?

    Countless studies have shown that healthy eating can promote better concentration, improved mood, and even an overall sense of achievement. To some extent, “you are what you eat” as there’s a strong link between what we eat and how we feel. Additionally, scientists have found similar neurotransmitters in our gut and in our brain, coining the name “second brain”.

    How can we eat more consciously and take better care of our health with food?

    Do you eat without realizing what you’re actually putting in your mouth? Do you reach for food when emotions run high whether stressed, sad or mad? When we don’t give ourselves permission to eat mindfully, it may prevent us from eating healthy, making it challenging to improve mental wellness.

    • Mindful eating can make a real difference to your mind, body, and mood. We often turn to unhealthy foods when we’re stressed. Becoming more aware of how we’re feeling and the actions we're taking with food as a result can help identify specific triggers.
    • Finding alternative coping strategies unrelated to food like exercise or meditation for example can be helpful.

    There are certain foods that have a positive impact on our mind, body, and mood.

    • Try to incorporate foods like colourful fruits and vegetables, foods high in fibre (wholegrain cereals and bread, beans, chickpeas, lentils and nuts), fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut.
    • Start small, and make changes that are easy to stick to. Swapping an unhealthy snack for a healthy one, like a piece of fruit can be a great step towards change.

    Perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t look for it. Be kind to yourself, treat yourself, and strive for balance. Explore ways to incorporate your amazing authentic self by choosing foods that represent your values and what you love. It’s important to honour yourself, regardless of your journey to mental wellness and know that healthy eating may help bring you closer to improved well-being.

    About the Author

    Kayla Breelove Carter Psychotherapist
    Specialist in nutritional psychology
  • articles Mindfulness during stressful times
    Businesswoman Working from Home

    How to cultivate a presence of mind as a skill to tolerate uncertainty

    It goes without saying that the past few months have been stressful for many.

    How is it then that there are people in the face of adversity that will show creativity, resourcefulness, realistic hope, and resilience, while others will succumb to the pressure of stress and develop an anxiety disorder and/or become depressed?

    The first step in answering this rather complex question is acknowledging that mindfulness is a healthy and realistic response to the fact that we are living in an unprecedented time where no one knows with any accuracy when we will eventually get through this pandemic.

    Evidence based treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have shown us that in the face of uncertain and ambiguous life events, an anxious or depressed person will be more likely to make interpretations based on fear and helplessness compared to a non-anxious and non-depressed individual1. In anxiety disorders, we often see individuals who overestimate the probability of danger and underestimate their ability to cope with it effectively, if it were to occur. While in depression, we often see individuals, who tend to respond to life events passively by making decisions based on their feelings rather than a desired outcome.

    Anxious individuals tend to project themselves in a future filled with imagined catastrophic events. While depressed individuals remember repeatedly a past of misfortune and believe the present and the future will be no different. Both live in an impoverished present. Mindfulness cuts through the temporality of these two conditions by inviting you to be present in this very moment. It doesn’t necessarily turn a difficult situation into something that is enjoyable, it just makes it more tolerable even if it is one breath at a time.

    What is mindfulness?

    1. Recognizing thoughts
      Mindfulness is the practice of recognizing negative thoughts as thoughts. It is often said that it isn’t the first thought that comes to mind that is necessarily problematic, it is how thoughts link up to one another to create an inner-world of thoughts and beliefs that are often one step removed from the real world you are living in the present moment. Therefore, the practice of mindfulness can be a first and necessary step in becoming more resilient and facing reality by realizing how unhelpful interpretations are amplifying your anxiety and negative feelings.
    2. Accepting feelings
      Mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment by gently accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and sensations without necessarily identifying or judging them. It is a practice that is teachable which means that people can and do learn to be more mindful. Evidence indicates that the brain of a novice meditator actually can change within as quickly as 6 weeks through the practice of mindfulness.
    3. Building resilience and courage
      Mindfulness practice is the foundation to bolster resilience and courage in the face of ambiguity and uncertainty, and by doing so, it provides us with what Steven Hayes calls “psychological flexibility”2. "Psychological flexibility is the ability to feel and think with openness, to attend voluntarily to your experience of the present moment, and to move your life in directions that are important to you, building habits that allow you to live life in accordance with your values and aspirations. It’s about learning not to turn away from what is painful, instead turning towards your suffering in order to live a life full of meaning and purpose.”

    Quick tips to practice mindfulness

    Here are some suggestions to guide you through the first few steps:

    1. Mindfulness practice can be done through meditation or through mindful activities. If you are looking for specific guidance, there are many applications that can help you get into the spirit of mindfulness. Audio recordings like the ones offered by John Kabatt Zinn or apps like Headspace are useful because they allow you to follow instructions and stay focused rather than be at the mercy of your wandering mind.
    2. Mindfulness can be done in the moment by taking the time to slow down in order to be present. If you are sitting, using the breath as a way to anchor your attention can be helpful. All you need to do is follow the breath as it is. You may find it helpful to distinguish controlling the breath from simply following the breath. If you follow the breath, you don’t need to change it in any way, just allow it to be and just be a curious observer to it. If your mind wanders, notice it, and without judgment, bring it back to the breath.
    3. Every day activities can also be a good way of practicing mindfulness especially if they are activities that are not physically demanding. Reduce all distractions so you can fully focus on the activity. For example, in mindful walking is being able to walk quietly without a necessary goal while becoming aware of how the body moves. Your mind will wonder, and you can bring it back to the simple act of walking. In mindful walking, you also become aware of your senses (sight, touch, sound) as you come in contact, moment to moment, with your environment. Mindful eating is done in the same spirit by cultivating in the moment awareness of the food and liquids you put in your body at a sensory level rather than judging or doing it absentmindedly.

      1Yapko, M. (2001). Hypnotic Intervention for Ambiguity as a Depressive Risk Factor. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 44(2), 109-117.
      2Hayes, S. (2019) – The Liberated Mind: How to pivot towards what matters. New York: Avery.

    About the Author

    Thibault Du Chéné

    Psychologist and Specialist in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

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