A post about SAD and how you can lessen the symptoms if this is something you see occurring in your daily life.
As humans, we are greatly influenced by the environments we surround ourselves in. Throughout the winter months, it is not easy to stay as motivated, positive and content as we are during the summer.
Personally, I am a summer body. The sun makes me feel some sort of way that I cannot explain. I thrive on hot days and have really come to not like being cold. When I moved to Penticton, in the Okanagan, I thought I would be experiencing less cold of a climate but boy I was wrong.
Second try now and I have moved to Vancouver. The rain capital. However, I do not like to think of rain as a downer. Rain is refreshing and rejuvenating, we could not live as humans without it. Rain grows our plants and cleans our air but can also bring a lot of people down.
I will admit that Seasonal Affective Disorder is easy to be consumed by and can have many negative affects on the human body BUT your state of mind plays an HUGE role on how you feel. If you wake up everyday, dreading the weather, you will notice negative emotions. On the other hand, if you wake up with a positive attitude and optimistic mindset, you may notice more positive emotions.
Now let's get into what SAD is and how we can treat or prevent it.
According to the Mayo Clinic,
"Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer" (2018).
Now take a moment to reflect on your past, have you experienced this before?
Previously, Rachel and I had a harsh winter in 2015/2016. We both realized that the weather and other situations in our lives resulted in using having SAD. It was not fun, we were emotional, confused and stressed out. The year we moved in together, we both promised each other that we could not let this happen again.
The Mayo Clinic offers a list of symptoms once can experience when diagnosed with SAD:
Now, it is important to notice if you feel these symptoms only throughout certain seasons or throughout an entire year. If this goes on longer than a few months, it would be a good idea to see a physician.
In the winter months, we see people with SAD very much oversleeping, overeating and having extremely low levels of energy. Do you feel this way?
Mayo also states some of the potential causes of SAD:
Once Rachel and I noticed ourselves feeling this way, we realized something needed to change. Here are some ideas of how you can overcome the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder without having to visit a physician:
1. Take your Vitamin D
As Canadians, we are prone to having low levels of Vit D throughout the non sunny months. Each individual requires a certain dose of Vitamin D so I am not going to recommend an universal amount because it may not work for all of us. (PERSONALLY, I take 6-8 drops of 1000 IU's daily). Keeping up with these doses can help your immune system and energy levels.
2. Create a list of things you LOVE about winter
Some ideas include: Snow, blue sky on a cold day, skating, knitting, wearing mittens and scarves, tea, looking at Christmas lights, family events.
3. Prepare your body for colder temperatures
An idea from Rachel:
"I also think it's a good idea to practice being cold so it is less over whelming and you can feel better about leaving the comfort of inside. So during a hot shower, switch the water to cold for like 30-50 breaths and let the cold water touch all of you, then turn it back to the hot temp. This will not only help your immunity, but it will push you out of your comfort zone, and you feel more alive after."
I will not stop telling everyone how importance this factor is in your overall health. Take advantage of how you body moves. Walking in the winter is one of my favourite activities and can easily burn as many calories as a hard gym session. Notice your surroundings!
5. Get enough sleep
Since it darker more often, go to bed earlier and maybe give yourself a bit of time to sleep in. Do not get mad at yourself for being tired, it is what our biology has evolved from. Winter is a time to rest and rejuvenate, but not sleep all day.
6. Eat healthy
Don't forget to have your daily intake of greens, vitamins and minerals throughout the cold seasons. Indulge from time to time which treats but don't let that become a habit. Take your vitamins to encourage healthy levels throughout the body.
7. Learn how to recover your body faster from over indulgences
Throughout the holiday season, it can be easy to fall into a state of lower mood and energy, especially after a night out with some friends. Here are the ideas I found that work best for me:
-A HUGE glass of water after a night out of drinking before bed
-Some sort of snack before bed to absorb the alcohol
-A healthy, balanced breakfast with lots of carbs for energy
-Vitamins and Electrolytes
-Allow yourself treats but follow with a healthy snack or meal to encourage proper digestion
8. Light Therapy
Many of those who live with SAD, invest in light therapy. You can find a way to bring it into your house or have it done by a professional. It provides you with a good length of exposure to healthy light, to increase positive neurotransmitters and emotions throughout the body.
9. Yoga/ Meditation
Maybe it is time for you to create a meditation sequence for yourself. Maybe you need to write down some mantras so you can repeat these to yourself daily. Don't be afraid to try new things. I like to notice when the full and new moons are happening to ensure I can adapt to them accordingly with rituals and habits. Humans are attached to the weather, the environment and most especially the moon and sun.
10. Fresh air
BREATHE IN THE COLD AIR. THAT IS ALL IT TAKES. (If you can't, put some peppermint oil underneath your nose).
11. Non-prescription Medications
In the past, when I was struggling with figuring our what would decrease my anxiety symptoms the most, I tried both of these. I noticed positive benefits but did not carry on with the doses. From time to time I take 5HTP if I am feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
5HTP- 5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.
GABA- GABA is taken by mouth for relieving anxiety, improving mood, reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used for promoting lean muscle growth, burning fat, stabilizing blood pressure, and relieving pain.
12. Stay social
As humans we crave connection. Instead of pushing people away at this hard time of the year, bring them in closer. Tell someone if you are struggling. Go to that party, say hi to that friend. Little changes make the big differences.
13. Add light to your environment
You can open your blinds, add plants to your house and ensure nothing is blocking your windows. Make your space open and fresh with light coming in from the earth each day.
14. Keep your immune system up
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!
This is a huge one for myself and everyone that knows me. Unfortunately, winter can come with decreased immunity. To prevent this you can:
-Drink Kombucha for proper gut healing bacteria
-Take Manuka Honey for anti-bacterial properties
-Drink tea daily for it's anti-oxidant properties.
-Indulge in citrus fruits and vegetables with high amounts of Vitamin C
-Make a homemade tonic (check out my last blog post)
-Take your Vitamin D!
Now that you have gone through this entire post learning about Seasonal Affective Disorder, I hope you can learn from it. If you are experiencing the symptoms, talk to someone. Write down a few goals of how to overcome this. Everything will be okay. Summer will be here eventually.
Thank you for reading How To Flourish.
Unfortunately, it is the time of the year where people are coming down with weakened immune systems, poor digestion and overall lower health than normal. As someone who is studying the health and wellness of our society, I continually aim to boost my body systems, especially when I notice myself burning out.
Recently, I have seen my digestion, immune and energy levels have been extremely low. I feel constantly tired, aggravated and sluggish. Maybe this is because I'm taking 6 courses at school? Maybe this is because it is winter time? Whatever the reason, I needed to make a change.
There are MANY wonderful ways to help your body feel your best in the winter season, a great one includes taking in proper macro and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Kaylee (my roommate) and I are always reminding each other to take vitamins and minerals daily. I have posted sticky notes around the house to remind us a little extra.
The other day, I was searching up immune boosters on the internet and came across common ingredients. So I decided to brew one up myself. I have always been a fan of combining herbs and natural sources to increase your health so this is one of my many tests.
I decided to create an anti-inflammatory tonic. So, I retrieved my giant mason jar (which was recently full of pickles) and decided to whip up a nice recipe. It was very simple to make as the ingredients are household items I always have. If you are feeling out of it, this may help you to feel better.
Most items on this list are accompanied by a source of information you can click on to further your interest. Also, these ingredients are often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I intend to go to school for in the future after Douglas College.
Here is what the tonic consisted of:
Traditionally known to help nausea and upset stomach, ginger is a great digestive herb. There are new studies relating to the use of ginger for pain management with arthritis as well. You do not want to take extreme doses of ginger and pregnant women should take it with caution.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
ACV if taken properly can be used to reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels and all anthropometric measures (body fat %, waist circumference, BMI, etc.). This one study shows it's effectiveness in obese and overweight individuals in increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. ACV can also aid in regulating appetite.
(not everyone may have access to this file)
Can also be known as Curcumin and is mainly known for it's anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. It is also an anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-parasitic. Scientists are working on increasing it's bioavailability to the body in vitamin/pill/liquid form however powder form works great to add to your diet.
Known historically for it's multiple uses in health, cinnamon can minimally aid in those with Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Cinnamon can improve appetite and relieve indigestion. Cinnamon has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties to it that can overall increase one's health.
(also may have trouble accessing)
A great way to get some Vitamin C which can benefit the immune system. Although Vitamin C is not directly proven to get rid of the common cold, it can aid in in boosting our body's natural defence. According to an article from Canada's Natural Health and Wellness Magazine, lemons also provide a good source of potassium, with anti-septic and anti-bacterial properties.
Raw honey is full of antioxidants, which are known to reduce damage from oxidative stress we are exposed to. Anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties make it special in this delicious tonic.
This oil may have been over-estimated in it's health benefits initially but it should not be forgotten about. Coconut oil is anti-microbial and contains anti-carcinogenic effects (carcinogens are from emitted radiation). The small amount in this drink adds subtle sweetness.
Holistic health practitioners recommend bitters for digestive health. It is considered a tonic known to secrete gastric juices and bile in the stomach. The current one I use is called "Iberogast" that contains a variety of herbs and roots for gastro-intestinal disturbances (bloating, upset, gas, etc.).
This allows the tonic to fully soak up each nutrient effectively.
The full recipe:
(I chose to create this in a large quantity so I could have a shot or glass of it each morning and night, feel free to only use half of the suggested amounts).
GINGER ROOT (1/4 cup grated or chopped)
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR (1/3 cup)
TURMERIC (2 tablespoons)
CINNAMON (1 tablespoon)
LEMON (1 large slice)
RAW HONEY (1/4 cup)
COCONUT OIL (1/8 cup)
DIGESTIVE BITTERS (10-30 drops)
HOT WATER (enough to fill the jar)
1. Chop ginger and lemon.
2. Place all ingredients in a large jar.
3. Boil a full kettle. Once hot, place water into jar, filling it to the top.
4. Stir well, let sit overnight.
5. Strain the tonic well.
6. Enjoy as a shot or diluted in a glass of water.
Hopefully this post encouraged some of you to try your own homemade tonics. They are simple and effective for helping your overall holistic health.
Thanks for reading how to flourish.
Recently, I have had many of my followers asking for meal inspirations and ideas regarding healthy eating. Since I am now sitting in an airport waiting for a new flight because mine got cancelled, I'm going to be productive with this time. I am creating this post for all of you.
Nutrition and healthy eating has been a long journey of mine since I can remember. I have always had food sensitives and allergies, making it difficult to eat regularly. To add even more, I am a proud vegetarian. This combination has lead to myself eating a lot of vegan options. I am not 100% vegan. I also am not caught up on the title of being vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, whatever anyone would like to call it. Who cares what it is called, as long as you are eating to feel your best.
The main goals of my eating habits are to eat less animals, more protein, lots of nutrients and less processed or genetically modified food items. If one can learn about the mind body spirit connection and endorse it while eating, this turns food into medicine, not restrictions. I aim to eat what makes me feel my best, with the addition of adding treats here and there.
This post is going to cover what I normally eat in a day, the recipes and the importance of specific nutrients. Enjoy!
*Please notice how I do not properly measure my ingredients. This encourages me to eat whatever I want whenever I want it. It also encourages me to be mindful of when I am full, and then stop eating when it is appropriate. If you are focused on losing weight, it may be a good idea to measure your foods to ensure you are not eating a surplus of calories. *
Ah, the most important meal of the day, it's true. Breakfast allows us to start the day off properly. It is a time to eat foods that will provide you endless energy for the day, that can be either sweet or savoury.
My favourite breakfasts follows:
Peanut Butter Protein Cereal
-1 sliced banana
-1 large handful of blueberries (I always have frozen on hand)
-Your favourite type of cereal (Some of mine are Nature's Path Golden Turmeric Cereal or corn flakes sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar)
-Powdered peanut butter
-Soy Milk (8 grams of protein per CUP)
-Half scoop of your protein powder
-Chia seeds, coconut or any type of nutritious topping
I mix all of this together in a large bowl and consume it with a large cup of matcha tea. Having protein in the morning helps you recover fast from previous workouts, start your energy levels for the day and improve digestion.
-1 tsp of matcha powder
-1 tsp of raw honey
- 1 sprinkle of cinnamon
-1 splash of soy milk
-Extra Additives (I add medicinal mushroom powder for digestion and Spirulina for my greens intake)
Mix with hot water. Matcha is an ancient powder used for it's antioxidants. It will give you large amounts of energy.
Tofu Potato Scramble:
Another favourite of mine.
-Medium firm tofu
-your choice of veggies (spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions, avocado)
-Cheese (parmesan or vegan options)
-A piece of Kamut wheat toast on the side
To begin, fry the vegetables, add tofu and cook. The add your toppings and make some toast. A perfect post workout meal.
I understand it can be hard to make lunch when we have these days full of school and work. Meal prepping will very much help you in saving time and creating healthy meals. I intend to make extra food with dinner each night to have enough for lunch at school the day after. Here are some ideas!
Vegetarian Turkey Sandwich:
-2 slices of your choice of bread (I enjoy 100% rye or Kamut wheat bread, spelt is great as well)
-Vegetarian Ham/Turkey (This stuff rocks seriously changed the sandwich game for me)
-Spinach or lettuce
-Cucumber or pickle
I'm sure you know how to assemble a sandwich :)
Overnight Protein Oats:
Could be used for breakfast or lunch!
-1/2 cup of oatmeal (watch your portions on this, it is easy to use a lot of oatmeal. Don't worry if it looks small, it will expand.)
-Blueberries, Banana, Strawberries (you chose)
-1 scoop of protein powder
-Soy milk or water to soak
-Chia seeds or any additional toppings
Combine ingredients in a jar or container and let sit overnight.
There are so many options for vegetarian dinner ideas. I love experimenting.
Tofu Pad Thai:
-Firm Tofu chopped into squares
-Cornstarch noodles (I am very sensitive to rice since it has been a main component of my diet for years now. Feel free to substitute rice noodles)
-Peanut Lime Sauce (Peanut butter, soya sauce, lime juice, coconut oil)
-Any extra veggies such as spinach, peppers, onions or leeks.
-Avocado and cilantro to top
Fry tofu, boil noodles, create sauce. Combine all together with added veggies, top with sliced avocado, cilantro, bean sprouts and crumbled peanuts.
Turmeric Noodle Pasta:
-Turmeric Noodles (from costco)
-Vegetarian meatballs or sausages
-Pesto or garlic seasoning, S&P
-Spinach (add extra veggies! broccoli, carrots, peppers, even beans taste great)
Cook pasta and meatballs. Add sauce if needed. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
-chilli powder, S&P
-3 types of beans of your choice
-vegetarian ground beef
Fry vegetables in oil. Add vegetarian ground beef and cook until crispy. Add beans, tomatoes and possibly some water if you need more liquid. Add seasonings. Top with vegan cheese and 0% greek yogurt.
Apples and Peanut Butter
Cliff Builder Protein Bars
Simply Protein bars
Fruit and veggies
Tortilla chips with salsa and 0% greek yogurt (MY FAV)
Bean crisps or chips
Popcorn on the stove made with coconut oil
Green Energy balls:
-your choice of seeds (chia, flax, pumpkin, almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower)
Combine all in a bowl and roll into balls!
These recipes are simple and quick which is what I need most in my life. For more detailed and professional recipes and blog posts regarding delicious food, please take some time to check out my cousin The Roasted Chickpea.
I am so extremely lucky to have this passionate lady as my cousin. She loves to create meals for Macy and I to eat at family dinners. Check her out because I love her to death.
There you go! A usual day of eating for myself. I hope this gave some of you some ideas on how to incorporate more vegetarian, healthy, balanced meals into your life. Please feel free to ask me any questions. Sharing and exploring healthy lifestyles is my passion and I encourage all of you to be mindful of your eating habits.
Taking care of oneself is a necessary part of each day.
Lately, you may have been seeing social media talk on "self care" and how to take part in it. I am writing this post to give you all information on what self care is and how to add more self caring activities into your day. It is important to take time for your body each day of the week.
We only have one body, so we must take care of it. I'm sure you are already taking part in taking care of yourself daily, however you may not be adding enough self care into your routines.
Self care can vary for each of us. It can take some trial and error to find what works best for yourself. Self care is taking care of your personal self to promote your development. It is indulging in practices that make you feel some sort of magnificent way. It is relaxing, rejuvenating and necessary for wholesome growth.
Unfortunately, we find ourself in times where our bodies are not our #1 priority. This can often happen because of school, work, or other sources of stress. This past week after midterms, I found myself struggling with always being busy and having no time for myself. I do not like having days where I don't have personal time. I feel put off when I cannot go to the gym or am not sleeping properly. My immune system was extremely low from letting myself not get enough nutrients into my body. Once I realized this, I needed to make a change.
It is difficult at times to be in a constant routine of self care but I want to bring awareness to the importance of it and how it can enhance your holistic health. We have 8 aspects of self care to take care of. These are:
Wholesome health stems from having balance in each of this dimensions. Self care can take part in each of these as well. A question for thought, do you feel balanced in each of these dimensions of health? If not, it is time for some change.
Here are some self care tips I have come up with from personal experience and research that are easy to add into a day, making you feel that much better. I have faith that self care gives your body a rest from everyday struggles and strengthens us in each of the different aspects of health, enhancing the mind-body-spirit connection.
A teacher of mine brought up to my class the other day, the 2 minute rule. If takes less than 2 minutes, do it right away. It if takes longer, put it on the to-do list. It can be easy for things to stack up quickly. Get the easy things done first.
We need self care as humans living in this busy world. Don't ever underestimate your worth. There will always be stress in your life, do not let it take over.
Below are some photos of different ways to take care of yourself.
A post with information for those who may be unsure on what to do for their workout.
I am excited to explore a variety of fitness topics to share with you all. In the past, I published a post on how to "workout smart" and now this one will be focused on more of the basics of exercise. Today I taught my first Group Fitness class in a real studio with real people other than the family and friends I made attend my classes in Fruitvale. It was fun, exciting and also very nerve racking. It ended up going extremely well as everyone, including myself, got a good workout in!
Some people attend classes since they do not know how to properly workout for their bodies and rely on teachers for showing them and thats what I am here for.
If you are looking to get healthy this is for you! Please always feel free to ask me questions regarding fitness and health. I would always love to help. Below are some instructions and tips to teach beginners on how to workout.
1. Establish your goals.
-Do you want to run a race?
-Do you wish to lose weight?
-Do you wish to gain muscle?
You have freedom in your workouts depending on your goal. Find what you want to work on most and do some research regarding ways to reach that goal.
I feel like most of us are looking to 'tone up' as they would call it. Toning up means decreasing body fat & increasing muscle tissue. This is done by eating properly in a caloric balance (burning the same amount of calories that you eat).
If you want to increase your cardio, you will most likely be performing more aerobic exercises (running, biking, swimming, walking).
If you want to lose weight, all forms of exercise help however, you need to focus on how many calories you are eating. (You want to burn MORE than you eat, to efficiently lose weight).
If you want to gain muscle, you should engage in weight training and also consuming protein after each workout. (If you are looking to gain weight, you need to be eating MORE than you are burning).
2. Find a place to workout
Since it may be difficult for all of us to find a gym, there are many outdoor workouts one can try.
If you are in a gym, be grateful!
Make your workout space safe, you need flat ground, water and proper running shoes. Watch for hazards around.
3. Structure your workout.
EVERY workout needs structure which is made up of a warmup, body and cool-down.
WARMUP: (5-10 minutes)
-Gets the heart rate up
-Lubricates the joints
-Warms the body
-Gets blood flowing
-dynamic stretching (high knees, walking lunges, butt kicks). Dynamic means to move so don't hold these stretches for too long.
-it can really be anything that is getting your heart rate up and body moving!
Some examples are walking on the treadmill (I enjoy doing so on an incline of 9-10), biking, stair climbing, running/jumping around.
BODY: (20-45 minutes)
This is probably the part a beginner may be confused by. Figure out what body part/goal you would like to focus on. There are many ways to structure a workout and here are some ideas:
-Intervals (30 sec on: 30 sec off) repeat as many times as possible
-Circuits (1-5 exercises in a row then a break) repeat 2-3x
- Timed workouts (pick any time and don't stop until its over)
-Tabata style (20 sec on: 10 sec off) repeat 8x
If you are confused on which exercises to do, there is a variety of infographics online regarding specific exercises for specific body parts. For example:
There are many varieties out there to share with you. Please do your research and find what you will enjoy most. TRY EVERYTHING.
COOL-DOWN: (5-15 minutes)
-this brings the heart rate down
-cools the body
-relaxes the muscles
-this is where you static stretch (hold stretches for 10-30 seconds on each side of the body). Static means to stay still. Breathe deep throughout your cooldown and thank your body for being able to move.
4. Find workouts online to follow if you are not comfortable making your own. There are many infographics you discover!
5. Replenish Your Body
This step is extremely important when working out. Before and after each workout, you should be eating and drinking certain foods. Food is fuel and you can use it for energy! You need carbs for energy so enjoy some bread, pasta, rice, whole grains, crackers or whatever you like most, before and after workouts. You also need protein for muscle building and fat loss so indulge in beans, meats, eggs, legumes or any other protein sources you enjoy!
Personally, I like to have a protein shake after each workout. This provides my muscles with food for growth. You can always purchase protein at grocery stores for decent prices. Look for ones with the most protein content and least amount of ingredients. Natural is better. If you have allergies there are usually a variety of types out there to fit your needs.
Nutrition is a complex subject. This is my interpretation of the nutrition basics for working out. In summary...PROTEIN IS LIFE.
How often should you workout? This part is up to. Depending on your goals and time, you get to choose. Personally, I try to get in one hour of intense fitness each day. If I cannot, I aim for 4-5 solid workouts a week. If you have enough time in your day to be relaxing for over an hour, you have enough time to fit in a workout. They don't always have to be one hour long, you could shorten each part and get it done in 30-45 minutes. Push yourself hard enough to experience challenge without burning yourself out.
How hard should you workout? If you have the option to record your heart rate with a Fitbit or heart rate tracker, use that during your workouts! If not, you can take your own heart rate by placing two fingers on your wrist (below your thumb) and see how many beats you count in 15 seconds. Times this by 4 and you get your heart rate.
Basically, you should be raising your heart rate anywhere between 40-85% of your resting heart rate.
This can be confusing, so beginners, as long as you are sweating, out of breath and your heart rate is above 100, you are working out efficiently!
Here is a website to help you out...
8. The FITT Principle
The FITT Principle is an informative way of planning your workouts. Use this chart to find what your goal needs to be accomplished!
Exercise is full of complexity but can be easily fit into your every day life. Without it, you may experience fatigue, depression and weight gain. With exercise, you will notice an increase in your mood, your digestion and better overall health! You feel better after movement, trust me. Please don't undermine the importance of being active.
Overall, this information should guide a beginner on how to workout properly. There is much more information related to these topics, however this is a quick, beginners guide. If you have any specific questions please don't hesitate to ask me!
*Below is a gallery of images I recently included in a program plan for a family member. It can give you some ideas on exercises and stretches to perform.
Thanksgiving, for most of us, is a day or weekend of family events and bonding. If you get the chance on this long weekend to spend time with your loved ones, you are lucky. With school, work and life flying everywhere right now, not everyone is able to spend that time with who they want.
This was the first Thanksgiving over 21 years that I did not spend it with my immediate family. Luckily, I have a few close loved ones down on the Coast here that invited us to a wonderful dinner last night, helping me feel more at home. I was upset at first that I could not go home but then lead myself to reflect on everything else I am thankful for. I am most definitely thankful for my family and friends and the fact that they got to enjoy large family gatherings this weekend.
We each have several reasons to be grateful throughout all times of the year, however today is a great time to reflect on each of these deeply.
If you are having a tough time in your life right now, this may offer you some grounding. Do not forget the importance you have in this world. Today is a day to be thankful.
Below are some reasons I have faith in that will allow us to reflect on really how grateful we should be in this life today. Many of us do not realize how our lifestyles are ones that others would beg to have. By sharing love and friendship, we can rest on these ideas without feeling guilty.
Below is a gallery of a few things I am extremely thankful for.
Is today one of those days where every single thing is bothering you?
Whatever the reason is, we all come across bad days every once in awhile. This article was created to show people some simple tricks to making your bad day into a good one.
Whether you slept badly, woke up grumpy, were late for work or forgot your lunch, don't let this bad day steal your sunshine. There are always ways to improve your mood.
Let's boost your mood...
Back in high school, I used to let the simplest thing ruin a perfectly good day. Mainly this was caused by not sleeping the night before but could have also started from an argument with a loved one, a small comment that hurt my feelings or any other little thing I chose to stress over. NOW, finally, I try very hard to not let the little stuff get to me. So much of our daily life is out of our control. Why stress? Yoga has allowed me to focus on the extraordinary things in life instead of the negative. It has let me escape negative thoughts, bringing awareness to what is really important to myself. I always suggest yoga for holistic healing so here are some other ways to cope with stress.
Now let's look into what you can do to make your day instantly better.
I'm sure we all have different ways of coping with stressors and hard times. If you have any ideas, please feel open to let me know on your own ways of coping. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Saturday :)
Have you heard of Humanism? This can be a term used often in social sciences throughout multiple aspects of post-secondary education. I'm sure you know we are all humans....but are we all humanistic?
Before about 5 days ago I did not know the significance of Humanism in our world today and since then I have wanted to share my recent findings on this topic.
The definition of Humanism, as stated from The Humanist Society, goes as "The principles of humanism include helping others, concern for our environment, meeting in community with others of like mind, making connections and growing by connection with others who hold diverse beliefs, and building a legacy that makes our world a better place" (http://thehumanistsociety.org/about/humanism/).
This may not make complete sense as of now but I intend to deepen your understanding of the definition and the importance of Humanism in our society today throughout this blog post.
This concept came into my understanding during a Foundation of PE, Sport & Coaching class last week at Douglas College. We were given the following reading as homework which I became very interested in.
If you have the time, I would encourage you to read through this article to fully understand this concept. The article is written for Sport Science students and relates back to sport and recreation often however it can be applied to more than that. If you are not interested in reading the article, I will be giving a summary of it along with my own thoughts and understandings throughout this post. Feel free to do both.
Is "both an old and new philosophy" (Lunn, 2013). Humanism can be related to our everyday lives, the future and the past. The reading states, "Its goal is “full and healthy human living” (Buhler & Allen, p. 1), and the growth of the “fully-functioning” person"" (Lunn, 2013). This is significant to myself since I am interested in human development and growth and of course, encouraging others to allow themselves to grow also.
The main ideas of this concept are:
RESPECT (for oneself, other human beings and our surroundings)
BECOMING (the pursuit of potential)
HELPING (the helping relationship)
Now I will go into each with some detail.
The RESPECT aspect of Humanism is relating to how you value yourself and others. Each human is worthy of respect. What does respect mean to you? Do you respect yourself? Others? Your environment? This article states "To respect someone also means that you have a genuine concern for their growth and development" (Lunn, 2013). DO YOU care about others enough to give concern on their personal journey? Basic respect should be introduced at a young age however; many people may not portray respect in their everyday life until they realize how important it is to build relationships. We should all be respecting others to allow for positive connections and self-esteem. Respect can go a long way and is necessary is most aspects of life.
*If you notice yourself disrespecting someone, yourself or the environment, take a step back and ask yourself why? How can you change this?*
The BECOMING aspect of Humanism is relating to human growth and development. This article reiterates the importance of growth through our lifetime by saying ". One of the foundational beliefs of humanism is that people are meant to grow, that people want to grow, that people ought to grow. Just as an acorn is meant to grow into a healthy oak tree, each human being is meant to grow into a unique and happy person. Abraham Maslow asserts that each human being possesses “the ‘will to health’, the urge to grow, the pressure of self-actualization, the quest for one’s identity” (1968, p. 193)" (Lunn, 2013).
Growing is a lifelong experience full of highs and lows. It can take time to find out what is right for yourself and along the way you may experience some trouble. Troubling situations allow for growth in a sense that they teach you how to handle it better in the future. You learn from your mistakes.
""The term “becoming” is used to refer to the pursuit of one’s potentials. It is the process of becoming the unique, expressive, fulfilled individual that you can be; that you were meant to be"" (Lunn, 2013). We are all becoming into our future selves. Although we do not know who we will become or how our experiences will shape us, we know that becoming is a necessity in the human cycle. In this process of "becoming", we can encourage goal setting, to allow personal development to reach its full potential.
GOALS ARE SO IMPORTANT TO ACHIEVE AND ACCOMPLISH.
*Take some time today to write down one current goal, one short term goal and one long term goal*
The last part of humanism is the importance of HELPING. This is where the authors brings in the helping relationship (Lunn, 2013). A relationship where each partner encourages the other to grow, to flourish. This includes helping others realize their potential as they might not see it themselves. The helping relationship can happen between romantic partners, family members, teacher and student or coach and athlete. Whomever it includes, it is focused on wanting to aid the other in their own personal development to become successful throughout life.
This relationship goes into depth in the paper of how it includes 3 core concepts.
2. Unconditional Positive Regard
If you do not know what these concepts mean, please refer to the text. They are all majorly significant to Humanism.
*If you notice yourself judging others, try to put yourself in their shoes. Being empathetic can brighten many relationships*
Throughout this brief overview of Humanism, I have touched on the major concepts of what it is and why we should take part in it. Without Humanism, our relationships would be challenging and would not grow. We need growth. We need change. We need personal development.
Growing is very important to me and is one of the main reasons I started my personal journey on this blog. I grew out of old relationships, old habits, old environments and you can too. If you are feeling lost, focus on positive fact that you HAVE the ability to grow each and every day. Whether that is physical, mental, social or emotional YOU are the one who needs to make the decision to start your personal growth.
Engaging in relationships that aspire to raise others up could lead to more personal and group accomplishments. I am hoping you can apply this to yourself or to others to inspire your holistic growth. I found this topic very interesting and like most of the information I am learning I ask myself "Why didn't I learn this in high school?". I continue to learn new things every day that I believe should have been taught in younger grades. This stuff is necessary for life.
I hope you enjoyed this read. Thank you for following How To Flourish.
Check out this link https://www.humanistcanada.ca/about/humanism to read about "The 12 Principles of Humanism".
Thankfully, I am in my second opportunity of attending school away from home. Was this a hard decision? Of course. Leaving my family, friends and connections for a brand new city where nobody knows me.
That's the beauty of moving. Nobody knows you. You can set out to be whoever you aspire to without any judgment or opinions. Don't get me wrong, if I could do my schooling in the Kootenays I would, but my programs aren't offered rurally. Living at home for school would be a heck of a lot cheaper so if you get the opportunity to do so, I think you should take it.
I recently asked on my Instagram page what others would like to see for topics on this blog and one of them was "How to deal with moving away for school". So I thought I would offer some tips that can help my peers when making these decisions and encourage them to flourish away from their family.
Some of you may be in a difficult time right now trying to adjust to this new setting. Take some deep breaths! New experiences help us grow.
The first time I moved, was to Penticton for Okanagan College. I went with my best friend, Rachel, and we had a blast. Although, I don't believe I was prepared for what was upcoming.
I was eager to save money, get healthy and do well in my academics but we all know that doesn't always work out for us. I experienced a lot of anxiety throughout this first year of being away from the people I have spent the last 19 years with. Here are some tips on how I dealt with it.
We cannot forget the importance of taking care of our bodies. Each aspect (mental, physical, emotional, social) is necessary to observe to see how our holistic body is functioning.
School can bring on many mixed feelings. Recognize what you are feeling and what you can do it make that feeling more positive. Is it less judgment? Less complaining? Less comparing?
We all need love and support when it comes to migrating to a new place. Whether you do this alone or not, remember your reason for moving. Imagine if you did not take the opportunity to move, where would you be now? Exploring and creating is an exciting part of being young and should always be encouraged.
Throughout this past month, I have been in the slow and ongoing process of moving from my little hometown of Fruitvale, B.C., to the big city of Burnaby, B.C. This is my biggest move so far. I am always trying hard to live a minimalist lifestyle which includes owning minimal items however each one of my family members told me I brought too much stuff (lol). I struggle with getting rid of things (as most of my family does as well) but am currently working on making my new home as minimalist and efficient as possible.
The most exciting part of the moving process for myself is... DECORATING. I love creating new space. Every room has potential to affect your energy, motives and moods. Some increasing positivity while others increasing negativity.
In this post I will be discussing the importance of creating your space to fit your own needs and will include some tips on how to make things work best for you. Here is my number one rule to keep in mind throughout this read.
Less is more.
Maybe I should get this tattooed on myself. I constantly need to remind myself that less is more. This applies to many more aspects of life than just designing. Less decorations can lead to a more efficient work space. Less colour can calm the mind more. Less talking allows for more spatial awareness.
When it comes to decorating your bedroom, living room, bathroom or other space, take a look at what resources you have and tell yourself "Less is more".
I especially use this when decorating my bedroom walls. A small painting can brighten up the room equally as much as a large tapestry would. I opt for simple art, homemade gems or important pieces of information (schedules, events, homework) to hang on my walls. If you have a desk in your space, consider a lamp and calendar to stay organized. Plants, candles and gems always bring an energetic glow to your space as well.
Above your bed should be something you enjoy looking at everyday. Maybe something that encourages you, something to start your morning off right. I was graciously given a hand woven cloth from my now deceased great auntie that states the Doukhobor saying "Toil & Peaceful Life". When I see this piece, it brings me back to my roots and lowers my inner anxieties. Just hearing the word "Peace" can calm me down. Thankfully, my family preaches the importance of peace and helping one another and I enjoy thinking about that everyday.
Find something you enjoy reading or looking at and place it above your bed to inspire your daily motives.
The next piece of advice I have for your when creating your space is to notice the colours you are surrounding yourself with. Have you ever heard of Colour Therapy?
"The energy relating to each of the seven spectrum colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, resonates with the energy of each of the seven main chakras/energy centres of the body." (http://www.colourtherapyhealing.com/colour-therapy/what-colour-therapy ...check out this link to learn more).
Colours have a strong connection to the holistic body and can alter your mood, feelings and actions. They relate largely to your psychological, emotional, and mental well-being. Many alternative medicine practitioners would agree.
Years ago, my bedroom was bright yellow. It was a happy room but it did not make it easy to sleep. After that, I painted my room deep red. Red can bring your to connect to your base chakra and can also encourage passion. In this room I found myself sleeping a lot without letting much light in. It was not for me. My most recent year in Penticton ended up with my room being 3 different shades of bright blue. Blue can offer peace and relaxation however, I found it too bright for myself.
THANKFULLY, (Seriously I am sooooo thankful) my newest place has neutral colours. White/grey walls and flooring allows myself to decorate with whatever colours I choose. White encourages simplicity and purity which can relate to my holistic life goals.
Since pink is my favourite colour, I chose to decorate with it often. Pink relates to femininity, self knowledge, health, creativity and happiness.
I am encouraging you to notice the colours you surround yourself with and correlate them to your feelings. It will make a difference in our sleep, your energy and your emotional state. Check out this picture for some helpful colour information. (https://ciprianicharlesdesigns.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/emotional-and-psychological-meaning-of-colours.jpg)
Finally, the last piece of advice I can offer to you creating your new space is to fill it with things that you adore.
For instance, I love plants. All forms of nature to be exact. I surround my entire house with them. Trees in the living room, bamboo in the bathroom, ferns in the bedroom. Plants can clean the air surrounding you as well, offering fresh 02 for your lungs if you are stuck in a stuffy place.
Another thing I love is crystal healing. I recently, found my old rock collection from elementary school that had loads of healing gems. I placed these around the house and especially my bedroom window sill to encourage positive energy, happy thoughts and to clear any negativities that could be present.
In addition, adding scents to your space will offer positivity. Candles, essential oils, incense, Scentsy, whatever works best for you. Place a different scent in each room of the house. My obsession with essential oils has lead me to discover my love for lemon. Take advantage of the fact that you can smell and use it to uplift your mood.
It takes time to find what suits you best. Try new things and note how you feel. Use this to explore creating your space. Please let me know if you enjoyed these tips.
Thanks for reading how to flourish.
A post regarding routines. The importance of them, how to get back into them and some of my own routines that might be able to help some of you.
I apologize for the lack of content posted throughout these summer months. I have found myself out of routine, enjoying the laziness that comes without school and work. I am enjoying doing nothing but am ready to fall back into my wholesome lifestyle to encourage health and wellbeing to myself and all of you. Enjoy the heat, naps and treats but do not forget the significance of taking care of your body and how good it feels to be in the right place.
Before I begin this article, I would like to acknowledge that it is healthy to take a break from your routine. When your routine falls apart due to circumstances out of your control, do not let this break you down. Many things in our life are uncontrollable. Falling out of routine allows your body to adapt to the new situation and learn many valuable skills. We as humans were put on earth to adapt, so don't let this little falling out take over you.
Incorporating routines into your life provides many benefits to your holistic health. You should consider daily routines, morning and or night routines, to aid you in organization for a stress free lifestyle. You may already perform daily rituals without meaning to. This article is meant to help you create a new routine or amp up your old one to aid in your wellness.
When you fall out of routine, remember the feeling of accomplishing a goal. Start small and slowly work yourself back into it. Maybe a long walk instead of running 5 km. Maybe some veggies with your sandwich at lunch instead of a salad everyday. Maybe waking up at 8 instead of 6. Don't push too hard. Let if flow naturally.
Did you know it takes 21 days (although some scientists say 60) to turn a task into a habit? That is only 3 weeks until something you dread becomes a part of your everyday lifestyle. This has worked for myself in many habits I now do everyday (yoga, flossing, pushups). Try it and let me know what you think.
Personally, I find myself lost without a routine. My days feel longer, I may feel out of place and I especially notice my tiredness arise. Don't get me wrong, holidays are great however; I find myself lethargic and irritable when I sleep in late or skip my morning regimen. The same goes for staying up late without my nightly routine of yoga, essential oils and meditation.
I have found routines to help myself and others most when they are planned to balance our health and wellbeing. In other words, routines work best when they include items and tasks to aid in your personal journey of flourishing. This can be different for each of us. Our individuality allows each one of our body's to ask for different healing products and rituals. Aim to not compare yourself to others while creating your routine. You are you and nothing can change that.
Creating a healthy morning ritual can encourage a positive mindset for the day. Every so often something in our live changes, whether that is your work shift, school schedule or off days. It is important to switch up your routine every once in awhile to see what works best for yourself. You want to find what helps you get through the day easiest. Do not be too hard on yourself and always allow for relaxation/you time!
Here are some ideas I have found that made a large difference in my mornings to promote a day full of happiness, passion and love. I would start with a small list of goals you would like to accomplish each morning (feel free to switch around at any time). The nice thing about a routine is that is YOURS! Nobody else can change that.
1. MOVEMENT - This can be walking your dog, stretching in your living room or heading to your local gym. Whatever you find works best for your body, do it everyday, aiming for at least 30 minutes. Moving gets the mind and blood flowing, overall increasing your energy for the upcoming day.
2. CAFFEINE - Although I do not want to encourage that caffeine is necessary to get by each day, it does make a large difference in your energy levels. I aim for black/green tea or black coffee and a large smoothie full of micronutrients and antioxidants (VEGGIES). Find something that does not upset your stomach (and with a low amount of sugar) and you're golden!
3. WATER - This is important to start your digestive system and wake up your entire body. A full glass before and after breakfast is perfect. You can add lemon, lime, orange or mint to increase the taste.
4. PREPARATION - What do you need for your day? Lunch? Change of clothes? Shoes? Making a list can help you not forget anything.
5. CLEAN YOURSELF - This sounds sort of funny... but is very important to feel good all day! Whether it is a shower, washing yourself with a cloth, or putting on deodorant. Do whatever it takes for yourself to feel fresh and clean. I do believe the saying "When you look good, you feel good".
6. HEALTHY BREAKFAST - We aren't joking when we say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Without it, you may have a harder time losing weight, thinking straight and feeling your best. Opt for as much protein as you can from local farms, tofu or even protein shakes to kick start your day. Sometimes I wish I could have breakfast for every meal.
In addition to the importance of your morning time, we can't forget about our nighttime routine. Below are some ideas to ease yourself into a peaceful sleep.
They are similar yet also different than the morning ones. If you want a more detailed pre-sleeping routine, please see my blog post titled "Life Of An Insomniac".
1. CLEAN YOURSELF - Going to bed with your makeup on can do detriments to your skin. Personally, I love falling to sleep fresh after a shower. Teeth and hair brushed, Vicks vapor rub under my nose and peppermint oil on my temples. Minty products make me feel extra clean from the tingling refreshment. Don't forget to lotion.
2. SLOW DOWN ON THE SCREEN TIME - I will admit this is hard for me to accomplish. The less screens = more time for your mind to relax. Set your alarm for the next day and place it far from your bed. This way you have to get out of bed to stop your alarm, waking you up even more. Instead of watching TV before bed, try to go for a small walk outside.
3. RELAXATION TIME - Explore with essential oils, yoga, reading and deep breathing. Allowing yourself to explore how your mind and body feel. I encourage you to think of 3 things your grateful for each night before bed. Expressing gratitude can encourage deeper love towards yourself, your life and the people who surround you.
4. DRINK SLEEPY DRINKS - To me, sleepy drinks are usually warm and contain no caffeine. Some ideas are, sleepy-time tea, chamomile, warm almond milk with turmeric and honey. Lavender and Valerian Root are great for relaxing yourself. Explore new flavours but don't forget to go to the bathroom before bed.
To add to your morning and nightly routines, you may need daily routines as well. These can make your day go by faster and with ease.
1.ALWAYS CARRY A WATER BOTTLE
2. WALK AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
3. COMPLIMENT THOSE WHO SURROUND YOU
4. ENJOY THE SIMPLE THINGS (Water, flowers, bees, the sky)
5. SET ATTAINABLE GOALS
Here are some tips from my parents when I asked them what they include daily that could help others:
-When making a to-do list, set scheduled times to finish the tasks or they might not get done
-Reflective thinking of how lucky you are
-Wake up to a happy mantra/saying to start your day off with a smile
I hope you will notice when you fall out of routine and realize that it is normal. Don't let this falling out last too long, instead spice up your normal routine to encourage yourself to get back into it! If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns please don't hesitate to ask me.
Thank you for reading how to flourish in routining. I hope this can help you too.
Photo done by Briana Haslam. Instagram @briana.designs. Facebook @briana.designs
A piece about my personal struggle with insomnia and how I manage it now.
When I was younger, I never considered myself to be an insomniac yet after years of late, restless nights without sleep, I soon realized this term fit well.
We know that sleep plays a major role in how your body and mind function. Most of us have learned this from growing up with society saying "Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night". Personally, I don't get 8 hours of sleep often. Even when trying to go to sleep early, I'm lucky if I get 7 hours. Does society leave us enough time to sleep? Does everyone have as hard of a time resting the same way I have for years? Why won't my mind shut off? These are questions I've asked myself often.
The following is a personal journey about my struggles with anxiety-induced insomnia. If you are not interested in reading a quick summary of my years of troubles, you may skip to the end for a list of what I believe to be necessary for a blissful sleep. I want to help everyone who has or is feeling the way I used to about sleep, by sharing my experience and how I manage this problem now.
Life is busy. We all have varying schedules but we all need to make time to sleep. Without it, our body cannot survive. Rest allows mammals to grow, repair and rejuvenate for the upcoming day. As I've said many times before, not enough rest leads to burnout which can be hard to recover from.
Insomnia is common throughout young adults. The Canadian Sleep Society (CSS) describes insomnia as "a condition that involves dissatisfaction with sleep quality or duration, along with problems falling asleep at bedtime, waking up in the middle of the night, or awakening too early in the morning". This can become "a clinical problem when a person experiences trouble falling or staying asleep several nights per week and these difficulties cause distress or impairments of daytime functioning such as fatigue, decreased energy, mood disturbances, or concentration problems". (CSS, 2018).
If this sounds like something you are used to, do not over-stress. Insomnia can be acute or chronic, depending on the individual. It can result from a variety of stressors and each body responds differently.
You may not be sleeping because you have an important date coming up or an interview for a new job. This is known as acute insomnia and will most likely disappear after your stressor is gone.
If you aren't sleeping for a prolonged time, this is considered chronic insomnia. It may be when you are anxious, over-thinking or living with a mental illness; This is when you need to notice your insomnia and start to make some healthy lifestyle changes.
My personal fight with insomnia began back in high school. Staying up late texting and scrolling on my phone always left my mind racing before bed. I was introduced to Melatonin and began to give it a try. This hormone is produced in the Pineal Gland in your brain and taking a melatonin supplement aids in re-starting your sleep cycle. Melatonin is great and can help your body get back into it's normal sleep schedule, however, using it for too long results in an increased tolerance. After about a full bottle of melatonin, you will start to notice it does not put you to sleep as easily anymore. I realized I needed to try something else.
I then noticed that Advil PM always knocked me out for the night. In high school, I was a busy athlete with consistent injuries so I lived off ibuprofen. I got into a habit of taking night time NSAID's before sleep every night. Thankfully, I realized this was not healthy for my body anymore even though I could easily get 8 uninterrupted hours of rest. I wanted to try something more natural.
I then tried 5-HTP, GABA and melatonin (separately and all together) and still my mind would not stop running. These products are more natural, producing different neurotransmitters and hormones to encourage healthy sleep. I enjoy them all but they were not enough. There are a variety of sleeping supplements that have multiple products combined in one. "Tranquil Sleep" by Natural Factors is a great product, containing L-Theanine, 5-HTP & Melatonin. I find it may help put me to sleep if I take 2-3. Is that realistic for myself to take 2-3 of these every night? When will my tolerance increase again so they do not work as effectively?
Needed to try something new.
Another product I tried was "Sleep Aid" by Kirkland. It is a doxalymine succinate supplement that "helps reduce the difficult of falling asleep". This is a harsher substance, however, I have found it works best. I am still taking it when I cannot sleep, but only half a pill. I try not to take these types of pills before sleeping but if I am feeling anxious or energetic before sleeping, I usually have to take any of them to actually fall asleep.
Insomnia from anxiety is hard to understand if you haven't experienced it. There were nights of staying up till 3-4 AM, thinking about things I shouldn't be worrying about. My mind did not give my body the choice of sleeping at all, which lead to drowsy school days and extra long naps. I started my antidepressant during my 2nd year of college and noticed a bit of a difference if I took it at a certain time of day but would still have nights of sleeplessness.
You can't just tell anxiety to stop. It doesn't work that way. The medication helps but it does not get rid of your mental illness. My friend once told me, anxiety will always be there, you need to learn how to manage it.
Throughout these years of trial and error, I had learned that many of my family members had also been dealing with this problem their entire lives. It bothers me that not all of us can easily find a proper solution to the problem. Overthinking will never stop if you ask it too. You need to find ways to distract yourself, to create positive thoughts, allowing your body and mind to rest properly.
This experimenting with supplements lead me to start researching marijuana as a sleep and anxiety aid. I am now very committed into using CBD. I know this can be a controversial subject for many traditional people, however, marijuana has been proven in many scientific studies to work for those who are suffering from no sleep. CBD (Cannabidiol) is a solution for many. CBD is the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant and does not produce a "high" but a connection with your neurotransmitters to create a therapeutic affect. It has many medicinal uses such as relief of insomnia, chronic pain, epilepsy and anxiety/depression. Since this is extracted from a plant on our earth, I have faith that it can be used in many ways to benefit us humans.
CBD can be found in oils, tinctures, creams, pills, powders or dried leaf. It's anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic effects have been studied for years and are finally becoming more accepted in our current society. If used properly, CBD is not a drug; It is medicine. I recommend trying CBD to see if you notice any benefits to your sleep, although like everything else, it is not a "cure-all".
CBD Indica is more effective for relaxing while Sativa is more energizing for the body and mind. ( I purchase mine from Westculture.ca )
CBD has become a necessary part of my nighttime routine. I rarely sleep without it.
In addition to the use of CBD, I have incorporated a small yoga practice into my nightly routine. This allows my body to full relax, preparing itself for blissful rest. I breathe deep, roll out my back and lie on the floor for at least 5 minutes before bed. I encourage you all to try this. Focus on your breath and body. Mentally watch your thoughts go by like clouds in the sky. Not stopping on any of them, just observing.
Likewise, the use of lavender allows myself to deepen these sensations. In my most recent blog post, I wrote about my favourite essential oils and how they have positively affected my life. Lavender is my #1 stress reliever. I oddly go places without it and I most likely will not sleep without a whiff. It is great in a diffuser, or gently rubbed on your temples and wrists.
As well as Lavender, I always rub Peppermint oil on my temples before bed to relieve my headaches.
All of these products/rituals I perform or use have very much changed how I view sleeping, making it easier to accomplish that full 8 hours. It has taken me 4-5 years of testing out different solutions to find what works for me best. I am still in the process of experimenting with what my body needs but this is what has worked for me so far.
What I am trying to get at is, you need to create a simple, calming nighttime routine for yourself if you are still struggling with insomnia. You cannot just lay down, stare at your screen and expect your body to sleep. You need to understand it may take time and effort. A relaxing sleep is not too far away once the effort is put in. You may need to take a supplement or medication, do not be ashamed of that. Try out something new.
I am still struggling with this. I do not sleep properly every night. These rituals I have began for myself allow my body and mind to become more calm before bed. I still have to take anti-anxiety medication and a sleep aid. I am hoping to one day be off everything but unsure when that will happen.
Another photo by Briana Haslam. @briana.designs
Here are some steps to encourage a better sleep for yourself.
To begin, try to find out what is making you not able to sleep. ELIMINATE THE STRESSORS. Are you anxious? Worried? Stressed? Figure out what is causing your mind to stay awake and eliminate it. I like to calm my anxiety by using essential oils, stretching and breathing deeply. Find something that works for you, whether that is reading, drawing or petting your dog. Get rid of the problem.
Secondly, create an environment that will aid in relaxation. SET THE MOOD FOR SLEEPING. Eliminate the light, noise and distractions. You could try sleeping with earplugs or an eye mask. Set your electronics away from your bed. Give yourself space. An essential oil diffuser is necessary in my opinion. The quiet sound of the water relaxes my nervous system. Try out lavender and eucalyptus (what I have found that works best to knock myself out).
Thirdly, TRY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES. Personally, I feel like I have tried every technique in the book. I used to google "ways to fall asleep fast" most nights as a kid and see how they would help me. There is the 6-7-8 breathing technique to try (Inhale for 6 seconds, hold for 7, exhale for 8). This is not easy and requires some brain power but can work for many people as they will eventually drift into sleep. There are other techniques you can try such as counting sheep, counting backwards from 100 or reading a book before bed.
Finally, if your insomnia results from anxiety remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I struggled with this the most in high school. I did not think anyone else felt the same as I did. I thought there was something wrong with me and that was why I could not sleep. Many people are struggling with sleep and there are ways to help all of us get more rest; we need to stay more open about the topic to help others.
ANXIETY IS NORMAL. IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU CRAZY. I always hear people say "You worry too much" but I cannot help it. I have learned to embrace my anxiety as something unique about myself and my extreme empathy towards others. My anxiety lets myself know when I should be aware, appreciate my senses and overpower the feeling of fear.
Insomnia can take over your life. It can ruin your mood. Make your day miserable. You need to notice how it affects your body and decide it is time to try something new. There are ways out there for everybody to sleep, it may take some effort to figure them out. You may need a new bed, a different nighttime routine or a fresh attitude. There is something out there for everyone.
Listed below is what I personally have found to be necessary for myself to get a good night's sleep.
1. CBD (Whether this is in oil, leaf, edibles or tinctures)
2. Essential Oil Diffuser with Lavender (The sound and scent are mandatory for my brain to relax)
3. Melatonin or a "Sleep Aid" (I try to not take these all the time, but I physically cannot sleep without them. Aim for a natural supplement.)
4. A proper nighttime routine (Shower, lotion, stretch)
5. Yoga before bed. Calm your senses.
6. Glass of sleepy-time tea. (Chamomile, peppermint, no caffeine).
7. Peppermint oil on temples. Relieves stress and pain.
I hope this article provided some important information to those who may have been struggling the same as I have. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me. My goal is to help as many people as I can by opening up about my personal struggles and offering help to those who may not ask for it.
Thank you for reading how I try to flourish with sleep.
The photos for this article were graciously done by an extremely talented friend, Briana Haslam. Her illustrations represent the struggles I have experienced from anxiety-induced insomnia very well. Show her some love and check out her Facebook or Instagram page @briana.designs. Thanks Bri!
A piece about using natural oil concentrates to heal the mind, body and soul. The photo above is of some lavender that is abundant in the Okanagan.
Natural healing, alternative medicine and herbalism have always interested me. Trying new methods and choosing natural ways over chemicals has continually been a goal in my life. Essential oils are a wonderful and simple way to use nature's best healing agents.
If you do not know, an essential oil is a concentrated form of a herb, plant or flower that can be used in various ways. You can buy most oils at a Natural Health Store or even local pharmacies. I try to buy locally produced products to support small businesses however that cannot always happen. I am now testing out different ways of creating my own oils, tinctures and extracts by harvesting what grows around me. This includes Calendula, Wild Rose, and Lavender.
Thankfully, a few years back, my mother showed me her essential oils. I am lucky to grow up with a mother who loves nature as much as I do. She has always been interested in natural healing as well. I must get my plant obsession from her. Thank you mama!
Hopefully in these next few years, I will get the chance to attend schooling in this subject area to deepen my knowledge to share with you all. For now, I will continue my everyday routine and share with you what I love most about these specific oils.
In this article, I want to give information to those who may not use essential oils often and the potential benefits you can receive from them. I am not a licensed practitioner and every alternative medicine should be used with caution. Below is the list of oils I have been using regularly, please remember everyone is individual and these remedies may work differently for each of us.
You may not believe in using nature to heal, however, the benefits I have noticed are life changing. These 4 oils are extremely valuable to me and I aim to use them everyday. I have faith that they help me in multiple ways and hopefully can help others as well.
There are many other types of oils out there you can try to use for healing various ailments of the human body. I encourage you to try a variety of products to see which works best for you. I use mixture of these 4 at the end of my yoga classes to assist with relaxation.
Here are a few homemade recipes I use with my oils.
Yoga Mat Cleaner
-5 drops peppermint
-5 drops lavender
-10 drops orange
-10 drops eucalyptus
-1 tbsp witch hazel
Combine ingredients in a small spray bottle. Spray onto mat and wipe clean with a soft cloth.
Sleepy Diffuser Blend
-6 drops lavender
-3 drops eucalyptus
Combine into your diffuser about an hour before bed to encourage a restful, quiet sleep.
*Himalayan Salt Lamps and house plants will purify your air and can also encourage a heathy sleep.*
-2 drops lavender
-1 drop peppermint
-1 tbsp coconut oil
Combine ingredients in a small bowl or container. Apply to injury twice a day. This is what I noticed to work best for healing my most recent tattoo!
-1 tbsp witch hazel
-10 drops of citronella
-40 drops total (you choose amounts of each) between lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, orange, geranium
Combine ingredients in spray bottle and use daily to get rid of pests.
If you are an avid essential oil user, I encourage you to continue using them and try new oils when you get the chance. If you have not used oils before, start small and see what your body adapts to best. Do not underestimate the healing power of nature and how big of a difference something small can make in your life.
Thank you for reading how I try to flourish in using nature to heal myself. I hope this inspired some people to be more natural.
A piece on how yoga has allowed me to manage my anxiety.
A piece on what you should be doing in the gym. If you aren’t working out smart that may be the reason you don’t see results, get tired of doing the same thing everyday, or you hittting a plateau.
Below is a combination of information I have learned throughout my Human Kinetics schooling, with personal experiences and what helps me to perform my best in the gym. I love fitness and want to share with you all the proper ways to be working out to ensure you don't injure yourself or perform pointless reps at the gym. Having worked at multiple fitness facilities, I have seen many incorrect techniques and movements. Unfortunately, not everybody gets taught to workout properly in high school which I believe can lead to improper fitness in adulthood. Feel free to share this post to encourage others to work out smarter.
First off I want to acknowledge that it is mandatory you establish what your goal in the gym is. Is it to loose weight? Gain muscle? Train for a race? Get stronger? Get faster?
Every goal can be attained in a different a way and is individual for each person. We all start out small and work our way up. I encourage you all to make small goals in your fitness journey to track your progress and keep your confidence high. It can be difficult at times and you may want to give up, however; if you stay strong, you will grow. Pick an attainable goal in something you enjoy.
Making the gym a place you want to be instead of dreading to be is mandatory as well for success. Get excited to get stronger. Find a love for wanting to be better physically, mentally and emotionally. My favourite part of the day is usually my workout.
These basic tips are in no particular order but in my opinion are necessary for a successful gym session. Working out improperly can be dangerous and may be the reason you never actually see results.
If you want to lose weight you HAVE to be in a caloric deficit (burning more calories than consuming)
If you want to gain weight you HAVE to be in a caloric surplus (eating more than consuming)
If you want to maintain weight you HAVE to be in a caloric balance
This will play a large role in your energy levels, sleep habits and physical appearance. Once you have your macronutrient ratios down, you need to eat real, nutrient dense food and focus on eating protein in most meals. Carbohydrates and fat will give you energy while protein will build your muscles.
2. Perform proper reps/sets/weights/rest for your goal.You need to decide if you want to build strength, muscle mass, power or endurance. You can easily train for each goal throughout a week. (One day strength, next day power etc.)
This picture is a good example for someone to follow.
3. Challenge yourself. If you can do 8-10 reps without any difficulty...it is too easy. To see changes in your body you need to be challenging yourself daily or nothing will happen. You need to stress your muscles and body to allow them to adapt = RESULTS
4. Take rest days. This is one I will admit I don’t always follow (I have a hard time finding myself resting enough). In addition to performing the correct workouts you need to supplement your body with rest to let yourself adapt. 24-48 hours after a resistance training session is necessary for proper growth. Not resting can lead to overtraining. Overtraining can lead to burnout which is difficult to recover from.
5. Don’t exclude muscle groups. Do you do leg day 4 times a week? Do you work your core enough? Realistically, you should be exercising each muscle group equally throughout a week. To grow a butt you do not need to do leg day everyday. Focus on including each muscle group evenly to produce a balanced physique. Our body naturally needs a backside twice as strong as the front side which means a 2:1 ratio of push to pull exercises. Meaning if you train chest twice a week you should be training back 4 times to counteract.
6. Always include core exercises. If done correctly, you can improve your core strength in most exercises at the gym. A neutral spine is necessary for proper form, and in conjunction with bracing the core, will contribute to whole body strength and correct posture. If you are unsure what I mean by a “neutral spine”. This infographic is a great representation.
7. Get your heart rate up. This is so important. Even when you are doing a weight lifting session it is mandatory to increase your heart rate at least once every day to increase cardiovascular health. This does not mean you have to get to your max heart rate (approx. 220-age), just that it needs to be above resting to see any changes within yourself. If you are going to the gym and are not covered in sweat by the end of it, did you work hard enough? It’s easy to add exercises to increase your heart rate in any workouts. Plyometrics are my favourite (jumping jacks, jump squats, burpees, alternating lunges) or you could add simple cardio (running, biking, rowing).
8. Always mix it up. You should be training yourself in multiple modalities to see the most gains (resistance, weight, cardio, plyometrics, bodyweight, ballistic). Get good at what you’re bad at. It’s fun to try new things and see yourself improve each time. Go to that tabata or yoga class, run that hill or swim in that lake! Become confident in trying new challenges and realizing your body’s true abilities.
I recently got asked to make a workout plan for a family member and it really got me thinking about how much I love training and helping others become fit. If you ever want a group trainer, fitness information or a workout plan please don’t hesitate to ask me! I want to share my knowledge with all of you to make sure we are all getting healthier and stronger physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.
MY PERSONAL FITNESS TIPS
I follow all of the the tips above.These are my gym tips I live by and have found to work best for myself in decreasing fat mass and increasing lean mass, power, balance, agility, speed and strength. Please remember everyone is individual and this is just what works best for myself. Your body may be different.
1. Deadlift often. Deadlifts are my absolute favourite exercise to perform on any day of the week. There are many variations for specific muscle groups. A deadlift is a compound movement that uses multiple muscles throughout the body. In my eyes, they are mandatory for improving whole body strength. They are challenging, however; once you start increasing the weight you are lifting, you won’t want to stop.
2. Always brace your core and strengthen it as much as you can. This is an easy muscle group to forget about. This does not mean doing endless crunches or planks. You use your core for all lifting and balance exercises. Don’t be afraid to strengthen it.
3. Lift heavy. You will not become bulky, as many people assume so. The benefits are endless. Gaining muscle burns more calories at rest.
4. Consume protein during and after. I love protein. I didn’t start seeing results until I made sure I was having at least 20 grams of protein after every workout.
5. 10 push-ups everyday! (A fun little daily challenge I took on from a fitness leader I follow on social media).
6. Always throw in some cardio. It does not have to be much. But enough to get your heart pumping for a couple minutes. (Works best fitting plymoterics in between sets). You'll thank me later.
7. Attempt a head stand everyday. I do at least one if not two headstands every single day. I struggled at first but through months of practice can get up into one just about anywhere. They are great for clearing your mind, increasing your core strength and raising your heart rate.
Thanks for reading about how I try to flourish in fitness.
A piece on using food to heal.
Food is necessary to live. We all know that. What most of us don't know is how big of an impact food has on our holistic health. What you eat changes your mood, appetite, emotions, physical pain, digestion, mental health (this list could go on). Instead of eating to fill yourself, eat to feel your best. Yes we need a variety of foods to live; are you getting the proper nutrients in your diet to feel your best?
We can always use food as medicine. When looking in the fridge, I think to myself "What will make me feel better?". I want to consume things that will aid myself to feel better and help me perform optimally. I don't want to crash half way through my day, or have mood swings when bad things happen. I am striving to be balanced. Eating certain nutrients helps me achieve this.
Below is a list of foods I enjoy eating to keep myself feeling strong. I have faith that after consuming these items my body feels better and can perform more optimally in my day to day life. I will explain each of their benefits along with supplying you a valid source of scientific information regarding their claims. Although I try to focus on getting most of my micronutrients from plants or natural sources; supplements, vitamins and minerals are great to add to your diet to give you that extra boost. I have provided a gallery at the end of this article with photos of most supplements I take.
Since I am vegetarian and mostly dairy/gluten free, I do lack some very important nutrients such as iron, B12, vitamin C. Everyone is individual and I do have faith that vitamins/minerals/antioxidants etc. help me in feeling my best and may help you in your journey towards better health. I would advise you first to get tested by your family doctor to see if you are lacking nutrients (deficiencies) in any certain areas and then go on to trying out new supplements. There are always risks associated with herbal medicines and vitamins so please take with caution.
As many of my loved ones know, I love everything that is green. Green foods help me feel my best by increasing my energy, digestion and overall well-being. Green foods contain tryptophan = serotonin = improved mood. I make sure I eat at least 1 green thing a day (but average 3-5) to become more balanced from an internal state.
We should be aware, that the term "superfood" is being used commonly today in the health atmosphere, however, it is a marketing term used to state health benefits of a certain food. Many doctors out there may disagree with the word "superfood" as people take it too literally at times. Many of these foods are "super" since they have multiple positive benefits to your overall well-being. Adding them to your diet will aid in solving issues within the body but will not turn you into a "super human". I encourage you to always aim for increasing the amount of healthier foods you eat to feel your best as well.
In addition, I also aim to ensure my supplements and vitamins are obtained from natural plant sources. Synthetic sources can be risky. Aim for eating the food nature blessed us with on our earth.
MY MAIN HEALTH FOODS
I try to incorporate these daily.
1. Moringa Powder. This is my holy grail. It known for it's high vitamin and mineral content with over 40 various antioxidants. It is an ancient tree that has been used for years in herbal medicine studies. The leaves are then grinded to powder. I like to drink a teaspoon with water and lemon or add it to smoothies. I always feel an increase in energy after consuming this.
2. Spirulina. (Another green one). I love this stuff. It is an algae full of nutrients and being researched to have therapeutic effects on the body and mind. I find it easy to add to drinks and food since it is usually in a powder form.
3. Probiotics. They are known for aiding your digestive health by healing the gut. I usually take these in a pill form before bed each night.
4. Echinacea. It is known to protect against the common cold and help with symptoms of sickness. This immune booster can be found in tinctures, vitamins and powders!
5. Activated Charcoal. This black powder can be used many different ways. It is known for it's ability to pull toxins out of the body. It can be used in a drink or smoothie, as a toothpaste or even a face mask. This charcoal has been scientifically researched to help with drug overdoses in the past. I use it when I have had a weekend full of drinking or when I may have taken a large amount of aspirin, tylenol, or advil, to clear my systems.
6. Matcha (another green one!). Matcha is love, matcha is life. Matcha is super fine green tea leaves that are traditionally used in the Japanese Tea Ceremonies. The benefits are endless, ranging from cancer-fighting abilities to weight loss to energy increases. One cup of matcha tea is equal to about 8-10 cups of regular green tea. Step up your tea game with this delicious drink.
7. All Greens Superfood Drink. (This stuff is amazing. It is full of fruit and veggie blends, sea vegetables, digestive enzymes and herbal extracts. I bought it from Costco a few months back and still have a decent amount left in my tub. It does not have a horrific taste and it really cleans out the body when you need it most.)
8. Ginger. (Known to aid in digestion, decrease nausea and increase the immune response)
9. Apple Cider Vinegar. (Kills bacteria within the body and controls blood sugar)
1. Vitamin D.
(Sunshine vitamin, important for bone health)
2. Vitamin C.
(neurotransmitter and immune system health)
3. ThyroVantage HT.
(stimulates thyroid hormones)
4. Vitamin B12.
(nervous system health)
(antioxidant and enzyme stimulator)
(For heart and cardiovascular health, definitely necessary if you are a smoker!!!)
(increases serotonin levels)
(decreases time to fall asleep and quality of sleep)
(This is the most important one for me since I am borderline anemic. Taking iron with vitamin C improves it's absorbency. Important for the transport, storage and use of oxygen in the body)
(Is known to improve quality of sleep if taken an hour before bedtime).
(Aid in digestion and ailments within the body, a herbal remedy)
2. Liposomal Glutathione.
(Important antioxidant to detoxify and aid in cellular defense)
3. Vega Sport Protein Powder.
(A plant based protein supplement with many added benefits)
This stuff is to die for. It may be a bit on the expensive side, however, it contains BCAA'S for your workout needs and tastes delicious (mocha flavour is best). It isn't easy to find a protein powder with BCAA's already included into it.
4. (PLANT-BASED) BCAA'S.
(A workout supplement)
A great supplement to add to your workout routine. I feel and perform my best in the gym when I am consuming these during my workout. They are Branched Chained Amino Acids. They aid in recovery, muscle protein synthesis and energy. I won't workout without them. I did a school project on their efficacy, if you would ever like to read it I will send it to you.
(Another green one...anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. Clears the body of odours.)
This comes in liquid form and is great to add to smoothies and drinks.
I do wish I had the time to take these every day but realistically that does not happen. I find it easy to take pills right before bed, so I keep many on my night stand (may be an idea for you). However, my favourite way to get most of my micronutrients, is from vitamin powders and liquids. I add everything into a large mason jar, add water, ice and lemon! This is usually delicious and filling. If I am craving sweets, I go to one of these drinks first and see how I feel. Below are some recipes I made but I usually just throw everything in and see how it tastes.
I feel experienced in understanding what nutrients I personally need the most and it may take you some trial and error to find out what your body needs. Don't rush the process. Understand we are all individual. Take your time and eat your greens.
This is how I try to flourish in keeping myself in good health. I'm always interested in trying new health foods so if you have any suggestions please let me know! Thanks for reading.
DAILY GREEN DETOX DRINK:
1 tsp matcha
1 tsp spirulina
1 tsp moringa
1 scoop greens superfood drink
1 drop liposomal glutathione
1 drop bitters
1 tsp activated charcoal
-Add all ingredients to mason jar with water, ice and lemon juice. Enjoy!
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp tumeric
-Add all ingredients to mason jar and stir.
Finally, I have found some time in my day to start planning fitness classes for those around me.
A piece about the basics of nutrition and why it is important.
I remember being in high school and not caring about what I was putting into my body. I felt sick after almost every meal throughout a day (digestion problems, bloating, upset stomach). These digestive issues started when I was about fourteen. Three years ago, I found out I am highly allergic to eggs and slightly intolerant to gluten. To add, I also notice digestive problems after eating dairy, meat and fried foods. To add even more, I am a vegetarian. At first, I was devastated that I couldn’t eat my favourite foods but realistically I just had to make some responsible changes in my diet. I guess you could say I follow a strict diet, however; it is based off a combination of my own beliefs and not wanting to feel sick after eating anymore.
Eating should be enjoyable, not scary. I will admit I have a hard relationship with food sometimes but I am trying each day to not restrict myself too much. I want to eat to feel good and to power myself throughout the day since I am walking around 12 km daily. I also want to enjoy my favourite foods without having to feel guilty or sick after.
Through years of trial and error, I now understand what my body likes to digest. I had never really enjoyed eating meat as a child and felt very confident in becoming vegetarian 4 years ago, but once the eggs, gluten and dairy were out of the question as well, I became scared that I couldn’t eat anything at all. I guess you could say I am close to being a vegan (no animal products at all) but I don’t like to restrict myself from homemade dinners and treats. If someone offers me a cookie, I will usually take it but have to deal with the consequences after (gas, bloating, upset stomach, acne). I also will sometimes eat fish if my own family or myself catches it (so I know where it comes from). Personally, this is the diet I follow to nourish my body and respect my allergies
-I try hard to limit sugar, additives, processed foods, fried foods and artificial anything
This is what works best for me. What works best for you may be something completely different. So why don’t I classify myself as a vegan? People ask me this often or just assume that I am one but to be honest I am not following these diets for the labels. I intend to one day be vegan but as of right now to fuel my body and cravings I sneak in some dairy at times.
Where I want to go with this article is to stress how food can be used as medicine instead of being harmful to yourself. The human body is like a plant. We need sun, water and nutrients to flourish! It is amazing how many issues can be solved within the body when you are eating the proper nutrients for yourself.
Nutrition has always been a passion of mine and I hope to pursue a career in it one day. Hopefully focusing on sport nutrition with professional athletes. I want to make this simple for everyone to understand. Since this isn’t yet thought of as mandatory by schools to teach children, many people lack the basic knowledge of a healthy diet. Canada’s Food Guide gives an extremely BASIC meal plan to follow and can be a great reference for newbies. This is a very basic outline of an extremely complex topic.
There are 3 main macronutrients (consumed in large quantities) your body uses to produce energy. These are necessary for growth and daily living.
-CARBOHYDRATES (get turned into sugar for energy)
-fruit and vegetables
-FATS (also used for energy)
-avocados, nuts, seeds
-PROTEINS (build muscle and carry out cellular functions)
-dairy and meat
In addition, there are multiple micronutrients (consumed in lesser quantities) we need to consume as well. These are necessary to maintain your health and proper body functions.
-iron, zinc selenium
-sodium, potassium, calcium
POWERING OUR BODY
Through food, we power our body. If we are eating unhealthy, low nutrient dense foods, we may not be able to perform optimally. Typically, the average person should be consuming these macronutrient ratios
CARBOHYDRATES (45-65% of daily food intake)
FATS (20-35% of daily food intake)
PROTEINS (15-25% daily food intake)
These percentages vary based on genetics, gender, age, and goals. Most of us are not consuming the proper amounts of these macronutrients. If there is one thing I want people to be eating more of, it is protein. Protein does not provide mass amounts of energy like carbs and fats do but it does increase muscle mass in the body. Having an increased amount of muscle mass aids in carrying out daily tasks, prevents injuries and keeps the body healthy and strong.
Food has always had the ability to affect your body holistically which we tend to ignore. It can change your mood, temperature, physique, energy and cognitive functions. Once you begin starting to eat things that will produce positive effects in the body you will notice you feel better in many aspects. Food is brain power.
Through years of experimenting with food, food allergies, supplements and vitamins here are some ideas of what I like to include daily to stay healthy. Remember every body is different and this is what works for myself most. You may have some individual preferences but this is a good idea of what everyone needs for a healthy body, mind and soul.
MY BASIC HEALTH TIPS
Personally, I always want to try out the weirdest foods. I love everything green. Here is a quick list of some of my favourite foods I aim to eat everyday and their potential benefits to your health.
I’m going to repeat myself again by saying that this is a simple outline of a very complex topic. It took me years to figure out what my body digests properly and I still have more to explore. Don’t rush the process of making changes in your diet but slowly adapt yourself to eliminating toxins and chemicals. Making healthier choices will only give you positive benefits in the long run.
I encourage you to eat to nourish your body not hurt it. Eat to heal yourself. To allow yourself to grow properly. Be grateful of your ability to obtain food whenever you want it. Don't take on flash diets or quick fixes. Make a lifestyle change for long term results. My goal is always to feel better to be able to perform better in all of life’s aspects (fitness, relationships, happiness, health) and I hope this can help some people become more aware of their eating as well.
Thank you for reading my opinion on nutrition and what I do to help me flourish. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me. Maybe one day when I have more time I can start posting recipes. The picture for this article is a green smoothie bowl with coconut chips, matcha, seeds and frozen chocolate covered bananas.
A piece about taking time for yourself.
This is a follow-up from my last piece regarding the importance of moving your body. I believe activity powers your whole-body strength however; sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is nothing at all.
Resting is equally as important as moving. A mantra I live by is “Life is all about balance”. Taking a day off can aid you in your journey of growth. Sometimes everything is too much. Too much to listen to, too much to handle. When your body, mind or spirit are fatigued… they are calling for recovery. This can look different for each of us. It can be watching television, taking a bath or reading a book. For myself, I really enjoy laying down. Whether that is on my bed, in the bath or on the beach. It is not having any obligations to fill besides breathing deep and thinking less. Thinking and not thinking about my thoughts. Trying to recognize the positives instead of the negatives. Trying to not stress about the future. Realizing how far I have come and how I should not feel guilty by doing nothing.
My favourite is laying in the sunshine listening to nature. I try to get at least 15 minutes a day of straight sunshine. Sunshine can increase the vitamin D levels in your body. This has the potential to increase your mood, energy and physical health. We struggle with so much darkness in our Canadian winters that many of us will experience Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter. People may sleep too much or have little energy. The condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety.”
I do no want to get too off topic, but this is important to understand. Try taking some time in your day to feel warm from the sun. Close your eyes and enjoy it. We are blessed to live in a climate that allows nice weather.
Although this is not easy for all of us to accomplish, it is necessary. Hard workers can get so caught up in life that they forget to take an opportunity to slow everything down. Not taking this chance can lead to burnout. Burnout is when you have too much on your plate. It can happen from not managing time properly, taking on too many tasks or not giving yourself a break. Understand you need rest to grow. I am talking about this in a wholesome aspect. To grow your mind, your awareness of your actions, your thoughts but also your physical body. In fitness, we stress that it is essential to rest and recover for your muscles to adapt; this applies to all of your life. Let your mind and your body relax as well.
Starting something new or facing a challenge requires your body to make some adaptions. Listen to your body talking to you. If you feel tired, rest. If you feel anxious, rest. This is a simple concept many of us forget to understand.
On the other hand, some of us rest too much. We don’t have the energy to power our body throughout the day. We just want to sleep as much as possible. This is easy when you are living with a mental illness. This is also easy when you are experiencing SAD. Getting out of bed can be really hard some days, whether that is from being physically exhausted or emotionally drained. Certain life events can lead to this decrease in energy but one must not let it overpower their life.
My point is we all get sleepy from one time to another but we cannot let this take over our opportunities to live. Living with anxiety has pushed my brain into constant overthinking. I’ve noticed that sometimes my mind gets so tired it can’t think much more. For myself, this looks like staring into space, not being able to finish a sentence, losing my train of thought or just being completely confused on what is going on even though 3 seconds ago I was completely engaged.
My anxiety doesn’t want my body to rest. It wants to keep thinking, keep worrying.
From not sleeping properly for years, I have come to a point where rest is one of the most important parts of my day. This is usually done in yoga, laying down or just breathing deeply without distractions. I strive to give myself at least 5 minutes a day of nothing. 5 minutes to allow myself to not worry about what is happening in the future. This is not easy.
When I was first starting yoga many years ago, I would still be overthinking during my poses. Through years of practicing meditation and mindfulness, I finally feel comfortable with thinking about nothing at all. It took a lot of trial and error to let myself accomplish this. At first while I was trying to calm myself during yoga poses I would imagine a lotus flower on my belly. It would expand into full bloom when inhaling and close up when exhaling. This may be useful to you. I encourage you to all find something that relaxes you as use it as a tool.
Although now when I am trying to rest and cannot stop thinking, I picture a beach. Water has always calmed me. My parents put me to sleep as a baby with the tap running, as nothing else would work. The beach I imagine is blue as can be. I picture myself there with my dog. It is just us. Nothing else. Nothing to worry about. Waves crashing onto the golden sand. If negative thoughts try to creep into this imaginative state, I imagine palm trees blocking them from entering. This is one way that aids myself in finding my zen.
I encourage you to imagine your happy place when trying to relax. Mentally put up walls that stop your negative thoughts. Focus on the good in your life. Focus on what you love and strive for. Allow your mind, body and spirit to relax. Relaxation is required to mature. Reward yourself with rest but know when it may be too much.
We all push through each day with whatever energy our body is providing us. Some of us need caffeine to get through or sleeping pills to stop it all. Don’t ignore the importance of listening to your body and allow yourself to give it the recovery it needs. Overexerting your body is unhealthy and may lead to negative consequences. Step back and be grateful you are alive today. Give your physical, mental, emotional self what it needs. Do not feel guilty about taking time for yourself. You will be thankful in the end.
Photo retrieved from Pinterest. Artist is Laura Supnik.
A piece on my desire to save the planet day by day.
If only everybody understood this concept. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful world and it is unfortunate that we are losing more and more of it to garbage, global warming and pollution. This is a topic I am very passionate about. Nourishing our planet is essential for living on it. A lot of people ask “Why do you care so much” or say “You’re not going to change anything” which is tough to hear when Rachel & I are so enthusiastic about saving the planet. The truth is we can all contribute to making it a healthier, greener, less polluted place. In honor of Earth Day, I am writing this piece to portray to others the importance of being eco-friendly; We need to take care of our home.
Being eco-friendly is a lifestyle. It can be accomplished by various ways. It is focusing on contributing less to global warming, pollution, trash and contributing more to protecting our world. This can be done in many diverse ways. One of my favourite sayings is “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago”, a Chinese proverb.
We are lucky to experience and live in some of natures most precious creations. If we don’t start acting now, we could lose them. Travelling to Europe in 2015 was an eye opening experience for myself, seeing all the trash placed outside of the main cities. Piles taller than I am accumulate on the sidewalks, I especially noticed this in Greece. If we don’t start now we may see the same issue here one day in North America.
Going on the internet and searching this up is sad to see. A statistic from Science World (2018) states
“Did you know that cigarette butts are the number one most-found item in international coastal clean-ups? In fact, over 25 years of cleanups, approximately 25,907,756 cigarette butts have been collected by conservation volunteers. Second to cigarettes are food wrappers and containers and then plastic beverage bottles and plastic shopping bags.”
Tough to hear, right? Fortunately, we all have the opportunity to transform this. If we start teaching children at a young age to be more earth-friendly, we can build a smarter generation. We need to try harder. Littering is not cool. When I see someone litter or not recycling, I will always call them out. I do not support people contributing to more trash in our society. I try not to support restaurants who don’t understand this concept either. It can be troubling at times, but my goal is to raise awareness of how damaging our actions are.
Rachel and I just had a talk about how we don’t understand people who don’t contemplate this problem. Why aren’t people as worried as we are? Wouldn’t everybody want to live in a place that is trash-free so we can embrace as much nature as possible? This puzzled us. We asked ourselves, are we overreacting? But we aren’t. Something needs to change, we can’t take advantage of this planet any more. Communities need to step up and make a difference. Many of us are doing this well yet many people don’t care at all.
Below is a list of simple habits Rachel and I have adopted that you can engage in as well. The end goal is not to have 0 waste, but less. It is to notice where you are producing it most and deciding to change that. We aren’t asking much, just to be more conscious of how your actions have consequences to this earth.
These are several effective and valuable strategies in reducing your waste, pollution and contribution to global warming. I inspire all of you to look into this topic more and find out what else you can do to save the planet. And to the people who have already started making a difference... Thank you. It is individuals like you we need in our society to flourish.
Thanks so much for listening.
Happy Earth Day!
Be conscious of your actions.
A piece on moving your body and understanding you deserve a healthy one.
Movement is necessary in life. I am a strong believer that it is vital for you to participate in moving your body in some way everyday.
This is a minor portion of the bigger picture. Throughout many years of experience with fitness I learn to embrace it more each day; I could speak about this topic for hours. I am trying to focus this article on the “overall” concept of moving your body without getting into tiny details. This is directed towards those who may be uncomfortable or unmotivated to take part in physical activity or those living with chronic illness (Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, osteoporosis, cancer etc).
For those who are already frequently engaging in movement, I hope to create a series for you on fitness including what you should be doing in the gym, proper nutrition/supplements and why you may not be seeing results, however that will come later. First.. this.
The human body is something I have always been intrigued to learn about. Thankfully that’s what the majority of my schooling is focused on. We get to explore how the body works in diverse ways; How movement makes it able to holistically thrive. Moving your body is good for your mind, your lungs, your hormones, your heart, your spirit and much more. The values of partaking in activity are significant in finding yourself. Finding what you like. Finding what makes your body feel best. You should be grateful of the possibilities we discover through leisurely movement of the human body.
Since I was young, I’ve always known that I want to help others. I wasn’t sure how until finding my passion for movement. My passion for encouraging everyone else to move. An objective of mine is for each of us to observe what our body likes and dislikes. What our body can handle. How we can make it stronger (physically, mentally, emotionally). I want you all to feel your greatest. We have endless opportunities to explore what our body is capable of; However this requires an inner drive to strive for success.
I had a mentor of mine ask me last weekend “What is the most important thing you have learned during your diploma?”. My answer to that was how important it is to engage in moving your body and how many people chose not to. Being active doesn’t limit yourself to treadmills and bikes; It is diverse. It is increasing your heart rate. Ranging from gardening, to cleaning, to walking the dog, to taking the stairs. It can be yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, karate, or sports. You have options.
A common saying many Kinesiologist’s live by is..
"EXERCISE IS MEDICINE."
You may not understand this concept although the scientific evidence is there. Being active aids in solving many issues within the body. An active, balanced healthy lifestyle presents you with the ability to overcome illness. Physical, mental, social and emotional. Moving expands your mind.
Raising your heart rate provides benefits to the whole body. This includes the opportunity to live a life full of longevity and self confidence. Movement can be spiritual. The mind-body connection lets us understand how intelligent our muscles are and how strong our mind is. If you aren’t sure what I am talking about when I relate movement to mindfulness, try going to a yoga class. An hour of only thinking about the way your body can move. How far your lungs can expand. How important it is to be mindful of your attitude. This feels great for the spirit. I promise you won’t feel upset after leaving a yoga class. Your emotions are uplifted and your mind is clear.
Not enough people are doing this. If you aren’t participating in physical activity your body can encounter COUNTLESS negative consequences (Chronic disease, premature death, disability, anxiety and depression, etc.). Our country is spending almost $7 million a year on issues that have the potential to be prevented and possibly solved. Human Kinetics has really opened my eyes to how important taking care of your body is. Movement is crucial for living.
BENEFITS OF BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE:
-decreased resting heart rate = healthy cardiovascular system = decreased risk of heart attack and stoke
-increased confidence and self esteem
-improved mood and concentration
-may increase posture and flexibility
-increased bone mineral density = less fractures and lower risk of osteoporosis (very important for adults)
-decreased fat mass and BMI
-stronger muscles and bones
-improved chances of living longer
Sounds appealing, right? The question I ask is, if people know they can live longer and healthier, why aren’t they wanting to move their body? Are we failing to inform individuals of these issues? I could go on about how our society is failing in creating and maintaining healthy lifestyles; that is another topic for another time. We are now in a time where people find it challenging to move but even more challenging to find the motivation to do so. Below are a few simple tips to include more wholesome body movement and less sedentary time in your day.
EASY WAYS TO BE ACTIVE:
-walk or bike to school/work instead of driving (also great for our environment)
-play with children or animals
-take the stairs instead of the elevator
-invest in a standing keyboard for your desk job instead of having to sit all day
-clean your house often, pitter patter around, get those extra steps!
-take part in an exercise class or go to the gym
This is where my part comes in. I am currently taking my test to become a Group Fitness Exercise Leader with the CFES to be able to teach people their body’s full potential. I am so excited for this journey to begin as I aim to host my classes in outdoor settings to use nature’s natural antidepressant effects in combination with movement. A start to wholesome health. I have so many ideas to share with you all in my classes regarding strength, mindfulness and gratefulness.
On the other side, I understand it can be daunting for someone to walk into a gym without any experience but I am here to let you know that nobody is judging you. Everyone starts out a beginner. We were all at the point in our life; With practice and dedication you will one day walk into the gym with confidence. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Being a fitness professional, we are always here to help you.
If you do not feel comfortable participating in exercise, start with small amounts of physical activity. Learn what feels good for your body and embrace that. Remember that EXERCISE IS MEDICINE. Researchers are continually producing evidence on exercise decreasing the symptoms and prevalence of chronic disease, lower risks of obtaining illnesses and reducing obesity.
You only get one body for your entire life… TAKE CARE OF IT. Pushing your body through new challenges in movement is a gift to all of us. Use it as an antidepressant, use it to build courage, to be the best version of yourself. You have the opportunity to change the negative you have associated with your body. You deserve a healthy mind and body. We are extremely blessed to have functioning bodies accompanied with the ability to watch and contribute to their holistic growth.
I want you all to learn what your body needs. Activity can ease your pain, physical or mental. Work on getting stronger, for yourself, nobody else. Try out new activities any chance you get. If it were up to me I would have everybody I know challenging their body daily. 30-60 minutes out of your entire day is a small dent in 24 hours, contributing to the right decision in the long run. We have failed in the past to educate people on the importance of staying physically active throughout life and my goal is to be apart of the revolution that is reversing that. As well as increasing the importance of the mind-body connection. We can all flourish in this area of wellness by stepping over excuses and uncovering our body’s full potential.
If you feel unmotivated, remember you are worthy of feeling the best and only have this lifetime to treat your body with respect and value it’s individuality. We are all meant to be different, why would we want to be the same? Throughout your own movement journey, aim not to compare yourself to others. This is what Human Kinetics has taught me. Movement allows me to expand my consciousness, overcome life’s barriers, and be fearless to challenges. Please consider how this can benefit your life.
I would not be where I am today without finding this passion in movement and the endless possibilities my body provides me with.
Thanks for reading. Please leave me your thoughts or get in contact with me to learn more about this topic. Below I have included some interesting facts about sedentary lifestyles.
In society today, sitting is the new smoking. Meaning more people are dying from sedentary lifestyles than those dying from tobacco-related illnesses (cancer etc). I could go into the numerous concerns of physical inactivity but today I chose instead to focus on the nourishing benefits of movement. You wouldn’t think our province has issues with being inactive considering our adventurous hearts but here are some discouraging statistics about how physically inactive some of us are.
STATISTICS FROM SCHOOL THAT BLEW MY MIND:
-Only 15% of adults and 7% of youth are meeting the weekly physical activity guidelines
- Grade 6-12 kids are spending 7 hours 48 minutes per day in front of screens
-The WHO (World Health Organization) reported in 2015 that physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor of global mortality, estimating 3.2 million deaths globally attributable to inactivity
- the economic impact of physical inactivity in Canada in terms of chronic disease, obesity and health care costs is estimated at CAD $6.8 billion per annum.
Although BC is in the higher range of being active compared to other provinces, we are still struggling.
LIVING WITH NOT SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY
(I don’t like to say we are suffering from a mental illness but instead we should aim to deal with it appropriately.)
This can be a challenging topic for many people to discuss. The stigmas around mental illnesses are slowly diminishing in our society today although this has not always been the case. I want everyone to know they should not be ashamed of the uncontrollable mind. I know my generation can be more open than others and I hope this piece brings awareness to all ages of noticing their anxiety, realizing it is there and using it to become stronger.
First is a short version of my experience with this mental illness. Feel free to skip to the end to view my 10 tips to relieve your anxiety.
Anxiety has always been a part of my life even when I did not know it. Being anxious is a part of being human. Fortunately, I recognized and educated myself on the topic around the age of 16. Little did I know when I was younger that I had always experienced anxiety.
Being a child it was hard to understand. I didn’t know why I could never answer the phone or the door. I felt scared every time someone asked me to do either. I still do not open the door or answer the phone often, I feel it may always be a fear for me. I also could not understand why I felt so insecure around adults. I was very scared of people of authority and would usually burst into tears if I had to confront them. If I had to present in front of a class I would try to fake sick to get out of it. However, years have passed since then and thankfully I now know how to control these feelings.
Unfortunately, I had a lot of people tell me I was "worrying too much" or that I should "calm down" which at first made me very sad. I guess many don't understand what this can feel like. I believe we should all speak up about our thoughts. This can ease the feeling of being alone. I want you to understand you are not alone and other people do feel the same as you. (This is what I needed most when I first noticed my anxiety).
My point being is we all experience feeling anxious at times throughout life but where do we draw the line of it becoming an anxiety disorder?
What anxiety can feel like:
-a feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing.
-an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior
-anxiety is the expectation of future threat
-feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching (and waiting) for signs (and occurrences) of danger, and, feeling like your mind's gone blank
*Being in school makes me want to cite everything I use from online*
What I experience:
-unable to fall asleep or stay asleep
-fear of losing my loved ones or everyone leaving me
-fear of failing
-blank staring into space (anxiety attack)
-weak immune system
-headaches and migraines
-overthinking (the worst one)
Things that give me anxiety:
-having to make decisions
-knowing I won’t be able to fall asleep
-letting someone down
-deciding what I want to eat at a restaurant
-when people don’t plan ahead
-when something doesn’t go as I planned it
-when people have their volume high on their phone next to me
…This list could go on for awhile. Anxiety shows up differently in all individuals. Listed above are a few weird situations where I experience it. Some may feel the same or have no idea what I’m talking about and that’s okay. When it is happening so often that it begins to interfere with your daily life, something should be changed as that is when it can be considered an anxiety disorder.
For myself, it took a lot of courage to bring up to a medical professional how I had been feeling inside my mind. Your mind may be the only true place to keep your personal thoughts. Exposing that was not easy. I was afraid they wouldn't believe me. They offered advice but I found nothing worked. In October 2016, I had just moved to Penticton and had no family doctor here but needed something to be done about these anxious emotions. I went to a walk in clinic, told him how I felt and he told me I was experiencing anxiety and OCD. I got prescribed an antidepressant.
That’s how easy it is to get prescription medications today. He did not consider my holistic health in any way. I believe he took a shortcut. Many loved ones didn’t agree with this new medication although I decided to give it a chance. One friend of mine told me about her experience on antidepressants and how they never actually make your illness disappear, the thoughts will always be there, they just help to ease the feelings. I was upset this doctor didn’t question me more or view my interrelated health between the different systems of my body. Nevertheless, I still chose to give it a try.
A year and a half later and I do believe this prescription has helped me in many ways. I don’t stay up all night anymore, I don’t freak out when I see a mess in the kitchen, I know how to control my thoughts for the most part. This is not independently because of this medication. This is because I am using a holistic approach to healing myself. Focusing on all aspects of your body is crucial to overcome these challenges.
But some times all of that goes away and you want to stay in bed all day with the lights off. Relating to the philosophy of balance. Some days you will have it all together, you will be on the top, others you will be down. This is all a part of growing, so aim to not make it a negative part of your life but instead a small bump to try to overcome. There isn’t much you can do about what life throws at you but you can control the way you handle your anxiety. I will tell you it isn't easy but here are some of my habits I have been drawn to that help me flourish in this area.
*IDEAS TO HELP EASE ANXIETY*
(These are not in order of importance)
*Take a large breath in, expanding your belly, ribs and chest
*Sigh out your exhale, releasing the negativity.
When I am acutely stressed, or in a stressful situation. This is my holy grail. Listen to your heart beat strong.
3. Essential oils; Peppermint and Lavender are a necessity. Many studies have proven their relaxing and calming effects on the mind, body and spirit. They feel great on the temples, wrists and neck.
4. Being physically active; whether that is killing in the gym, walking through the forest or stretching on your mat. This is so important to living a balanced lifestyle. Get out there and get your heart rate up
5. Tea; a life saver no matter what time of the day
6. Getting some fresh air; Nature always works its magic. 15 minutes of sunshine works wonders. I really wish we had more sun in our winters here in BC. It would make a huge difference to many peoples lives.
7. Writing; Instead of bottling up your thoughts, learn to express them on paper or computer. A main reason of why I started this project. I don’t want to keep all these thoughts inside anymore.
8. Spend time off your cell phone; This can be hard for many but a lot of people don’t know their phone is their own stressor. Leave it alone for a couple hours everyday and even longer when feeling really anxious. Talk to your friend’s and family instead.
9. Spend time with your animals and loved ones; take them outside, pet them for hours (not your family), play with them. If you don’t have pets go to the SPCA or to a friend’s, they instantly cheer me up.
10. Smile! I cannot stress how important a smile is. Smile to yourself, to others on the street, to your dog. Forcing a little smile relieves stress.
A reminder that you may never fully eliminate anxiety although you do have the power to overcome it's symptoms. I encourage you to try these out, and would love to know if this piece of writing was appealing to you at all. Thank you for following me through this journey of growth.
Photo found on Pinterest and thought it was perfect for this topic. Retrieved from
Why did I start this page?
I have been contemplating for years whether or not to start a blog. Initially I was worried about what others would think but thankfully I am past that stage. People will always judge what I am doing.
I want to share my knowledge with the world. Since graduating high school I would like to believe I have started the important journey of finding my true self. This took years. I felt lost for most, wondering what I would do in the future, where I would be. Fortunately, I have found one of my many passions. Holistic Health. This concept of "Holistic" views the human body as a whole instead of parts. Many issues can be solved holistically. Allowing one to look at all aspects of life to solve issues within.
Currently, I am about to graduate with a Human Kinetics Diploma. This schooling has contributed mass amounts of life changing knowledge. I have realized throughout these past 3 years of college there are many problems in our society that I can help solve. Ranging from obesity, physical illness and disease... to anxiety, depression and fixed mindsets. When I see someone in pain (physical or mental) I try eliminate the negatives in their life while bringing out the positives.
Little changes make a big difference. Although many people disagree. I feel so passionate about so many varying topics I cannot wait to make a difference in this world. I want to be the best version of myself and encourage others to do the same.
This page will allow myself to flourish even further by sharing my current techniques and skills of how to manage daily life and how to become yourself.
Thank you for listening. I hope to always make people smile.