January 24, 2022


Dr. Anita Shack is an integrative Health and Wellness Practitioner who uses Chiropractic, Acupuncture, and Craniosacral Therapy to facilitate change and wellness for her patients. She has been in private practice since 1986 and is the staff chiropractor at the Al and Malka Green Artists’ Health Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital. She is a published researcher and has presented at conferences worldwide. As a healthcare practitioner and experienced in earth-based and spiritual healing paradigms, Dr. Shack creatively weaves knowledge from ancient traditions and evidence-based science into her work. She explores holistic context in her work and her experiential workshops, courses and retreats are designed to increase personal awareness leading to improved health on multiple levels. Dr. Shack is passionate about and experienced in working with diverse populations including artists from all disciplines. She is committed to providing education and care to empower people to reach their full health potential.

"Finding balance within is important so that we can live our best lives no matter what the external circumstances we are experiencing. As a collective we are in a time of great changes, and it can be overwhelming and extremely stressful. But despite our inner and outer circumstances we can find empowerment and balance by tending to our bodies, minds and spirits with purpose and compassion. 

The seasons cycle and it is important to our overall health that we align with the seasons and take our cues from Nature. Winter is the season for going within, for introspection, restoration, letting old patterns go and dreaming into the next cycle of rebirthing ourselves in Spring. Dry January is the perfect time to pause and reflect. The darker days call us into ourselves so that we can really see what needs to change. It’s the time to identify priorities and make choices about what we want to bring forward into Spring. One of the gifts of the last two years is that it has certainly made us focus on our health and wellbeing. 

Balance is a dynamic flexible state not a static fixed point. We need to cultivate practices to keep us returning to center so that we can respond rather than react.

The simplest way to find balance is to pause and become present, let yourself find quiet, and regulate your system by breathing deeply. I like to use belly /heart breathing to ground and center myself. 

  • Place one hand on your belly and breathe deeply and slowly through your nose 
  • Focus on your breathing, observe it, how it feels, the sound of it
  • Do this 4 times
  • Place the other hand on your heart
  • Now slowly breathe into your belly feeling it rise and then bring the breath to your heart  Exhale slowly through your nose, focusing on your breath 
  • Do this pattern at least 4 times

It’s a good idea to start and finish any practice with a personal check in. Pause, become quiet and notice how you are feeling. Where are you tense and holding in your body? What are your emotions? What are your thoughts?

Negative thoughts and negative thought patterns wreak havoc with our physical and mental health. We can identify these by focusing in and becoming aware of the voice of our inner critic and also the language we use. These are self-deprecating, judgmental, comparing, ruminating, spiraling thoughts. They drain our energy and do not make us feel good about ourselves or anything else. Worst of all they are thoughts that limit our experience and all that we can be.  These thoughts throw us out of balance in our mental aspect. They are dangerous because we believe them and in fact, they are not true. Thoughts are not facts but merely interpretations. When we focus on negative thoughts and negative self-talk, we give them power and actually create patterns in the brain that keep them going! Our thoughts generate feelings and the behaviours/actions that follow. They affect how we experience life. 

Freeing ourselves from negative thought patterns takes practice.  First, we need to become aware. Observe your thoughts: what words are used; what words do you use when speaking? For example, do you say “should” or “I can’t” a lot? Stop for a moment and question your thought statements. Are they completely true? What deeper core beliefs do they support? Can you reframe them?  

Here are 6 steps to help deal with negative thoughts that I call the 5 R’s:

  1. RELAX so you are open and receptive and not charged by the negativity of the thought
  2. RECOGNIZE the thoughts and see if you can identify the core belief underneath it, in other words what is it based on?
  3. REFRAME the thought. Is there another way to look at things? Can you consider the core belief to be not true?
  4. REPLACE the negative thought and the core belief with alternates that reduce distress and make it easier to change behaviours to be in accordance with the new thoughts
  5. REPEAT, repeat, repeat—this practice takes practice!

To deal with negative thoughts and self-talk you might just want to begin by practicing speaking to yourself as you imagine you would speak to a child you love. Use kindness! 

It is easy to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope or change. The key to dealing with overwhelm is to relax (pause and breathe) and focus your mind on one thing or task at a time. This puts you into the present and directs your actions.

Here are some tips that I call the 6 “S” System for Overcoming Overwhelm

  1. Sense: pause and relax, notice how you are feeling and thinking and shift your focus to what you see and notice in your environment that grounds you or gives you pleasure
  2. Soothe: Use kind words to yourself, give yourself a hug
  3. Synchronize: connect with your breath to bring mind and body into balance
  4. Simplify: break things down into small chunks, focus on one thing at a time
  5. Structure: create a plan to take one action that moves you closer to your prioritized goal, task, or desired outcome. Set boundaries. Schedule time for yourself…..that’s two more S’s!!

Dry January gives us the opportunity to pause, re-evaluate, and make conscious choices.

For any habit that you’d like to change here’s a really useful 4 Step How To:

  • Clearly identify habit you want to change. Consider the full implications if it continues.
  • Define a new desired habit. Vividly visualize and feel as if it is already part of your life.
  • Create a three-part action plan. (Simple steps that will bring you closer to your goal.)
  • Do it! 

Nature is a powerful teacher and healer, to find balance the quickest tool is to simply be in nature and attune yourself to the present moment. The more you practice simple tools to find balance, the freer you will feel to make choices that align with what your priorities are and what you truly desire. The more you do this, the more empowered, centered, and balanced you will become."

-Dr. Anita Shack

We had the pleasure of hosting an Instagram live with Dr. Anita & Serena Ryder and you can catch the full conversation here: