Five Quick Ways to Feel Better

I’ve had two coffees this morning, but I still can’t think of a strong opening sentence for this post. I’ve got an abundance of cliches rattling around in my head, so why don’t you just pick one on the theme of ‘life’s peaks and valleys’ and insert it here? I’ve been in a valley since mid-October. It’s a new record for me, and it’s not the weather. I’ve run the gamut of feelings about what’s happening for me from scared to resigned, but I’m starting to notice a trend. When I put a bit of effort into lifting myself up, it works. Sometimes it’s temporary, but even temporary is awesome right now. So, for those of you who are enjoying a long walk through the shadowlands, here are five quick ways to feel better.

  1. Move Your Body

    I won’t presume to tell you how to do this. You know what you like, and if you don’t, you’re probably smart enough to figure something out. I’m on a tight budget at the moment, and I’m feeling anti-social most days. Walking has been working well for me. I know it’s February in Canada. If the temperature dips below -10, I wait until the afternoon when the sun has warmed things up to a more palatable -7 and time my 30-40 minute trek to land at the bus stop to meet the kids. I bundle up, and I’ve been listening to audio books because I’d been lamenting my lack of pleasure reading time. The fresh air, the crisp cold, the occasional flash of a cardinal or blue jay at a neighbour’s feeder, these are all helping me have more energy. I feel more connected to the fabric of the universe. Plus it’s breaking up all the time I sit at a desk to work. YouTube has gazillions of exercise videos including yoga and pilates. There’s bound to be something for everyone.

  2. Make a List of Things You Love

    I’m a list junkie. When I die, someone will find lists that cover everything from all the bills I need to remember to pay to reasons why I continue to indulge my love of writing. Instead of resolutions this year, I made a list of ‘Things I Want More Of in 2018’. I didn’t tie this to money or success. I focused on simple pleasures, and things that I know make me happy. Like quality scented candles and journaling. Make your list. Keep it handy. When you’re feeling low, try at least one of the items on the list. Don’t include things that may land you in jail.

  3. Call a Friend

    Do you do hide away from the world when you feel bad? I do. I feel like I’d rather not bore anyone with my tedious problems. I’d rather just deal with things on my own than have to launch into yet another conversation about the things that aren’t going well. It turns out, (and I think there’s probably some science behind this) that bottling up and hiding away is the exact opposite of what we should do when we’re feeling crappola. I’ve been better at this recently, and the trick is not to take up the entire visit with your own pile of messy life stuff. Share a little, and then be an ear to your friend too. Your vulnerability may help them open up, and before you know it, it will be clear that we’re all flawed and we’re all struggling. Then you can both cry or laugh and move on to talking about how much you hate Donald Trump. Before long, you’ll feel like a valued member of the human race again.

  4. Do Something for Someone Else

    One of my favorite ways to get out of my own head is to do something meaningful for someone else. You can start small with this, like helping your kid finish their chores, or shoveling the neighbour’s driveway. Or, you could make a larger commitment, which can sometimes mean you have to leave the house and be around people. You’ll gain some perspective, and get a nice little slice of that connection to a greater purpose business.

  5. Feed Your Body

    Take your vitamins. Set a reminder if you have to. Be aware of the food you choose to consume. If you need a few potato chips to add a bit of joy to your day, have a small bowl instead of a whole bag. Keep a stash of chocolate in your desk, but enjoy a row with tea or coffee, and make a bar last the week. Eat foods that make you feel strong and healthy. Avoid foods that cause bloating and gas. Be aware of what you put into your body, and make clear decisions about how you want to feel. When you have a day where you ‘eat your feelings’ (I have these, believe me), be gentle with yourself and have a re-set the next day. I just realized I forgot my morning vitamins, so I’m going to take those now.

Do you have more to add to these five quick ways to feel better? Share them in the comments below.We’ve all got tried and true methods to lift ourselves up a little.

If you think you might need professional help, don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor. Any mood-altering prescription should always come hand-in-hand with ongoing therapy. The tips above can help, but you may require deeper treatment, and some help with regulating your brain chemistry. I’m not a doctor, but I care about you, and I hope this post was able to bring a bit of light into your day. You can also check out this post on natural ways to boost your energy.

A Recipe for Tackling Anxiety

Oh Spring, you crazy bitch. We’re barely a week into your tumultuous frenzy and already I feel like I’m losing my mind. Of course it doesn’t help that my book is in the hands of beta readers (mostly strangers!), and the reality of purging, packing and moving a household of six people is looming. Am I unsettled? Yes. Anxious? Oh gods yes. Am I drowning in a sea of unknowns? Uh-huh. So what can I do to make sure the next few months aren’t a living hell for everyone near and dear to me? Here’s my recipe for tackling anxiety.

Structure. Lots and lots of it. Just before the end of my work day, I write up a schedule for the next day, complete with a time slot for each item on the to-do list. This isn’t rigid, but if I don’t do it, I lose myself to the Interwebs as I try to quiet my swirling brain. Then I get eff-all done, and feelings of worthlessness start to creep in. I’m not type A, honestly. I’m a B plus at most.

Vitamins/Nutrition. This crazy-making time of uncertainty and change can lead me down that path to the badlands of my mind. One of the easiest ways to combat that spiral is by taking care of what I put in my body, and remembering my supplements. Eating an LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet, helps me feel better, sleep better and perform better. I fight the urge to just let it slip, and try to be mindful because I know how easy it is to start feeling lousy.

Substance Avoidance. One glass of wine or a small cocktail in the evening, sure, but not every night and no evenings out to party. Right now I’m looking at a worrisome time that spans several months, so it’s likely that I will imbibe a bit. I hope it is anyway, because sometimes it’s fun to go out for a few drinks, listen to music, enjoy good food. In these kinds of times, however, I try to take it easy. Nothing triggers those shitty feelings like making my liver have to work too hard or messing up my brain chemistry.

Self-Care. This one is super important, hence the title. When I feel like I’ve lost control of life (yes, I DO realize I never really had it to begin with, but I sure like to pretend.) my instinct is to clean house, work like a maniac and just do things that make me feel like I’m getting something, anything accomplished. Even now, I have an hour to kill and I’m technically working. At the end of each work day, I’m going to try to relax. I say ‘try’ because I’m frankly not very good at this. But I’ll splash about for an hour or so in the tub and just try to enjoy what it means to piss off from responsibility. I need to make a point to do this a little bit each day. Something that’s just for fun.

Gratitude. You know how your problems feel enormous until you pop over to the BBC site? Then you’re like “Holy shit, who cares if I have to pack up my whole house over the next few months?” The world is full of people moving through hell. Does that change how much our circumstances affect us? Briefly, and for fleeting moments. If I can take time each day to think of all the things that are going right (my book is in the hands of my final round of betas! I get to organize and purge and start fresh in a new home! I can afford to find a new home!) it really truly helps me to keep things in perspective. Especially when I’m taking care in all the other ways I’ve mentioned. I don’t say this to be a self-righteous or preachy twat. I’m just telling you what works for me. I assume you care, because you’ve read this far.

Sleep. The need for adequate sleep is no joke, and science can back me up here. I slept like a boss last night. I even had a dream that I was the newest member of the X-Men team. I woke up feeling like I could take on the universe, and it’s totally worth going to bed at 9:30 to recreate this approach to Monday mornings. I’m even reading real, live books to fall asleep.

What are your go-to methods of dealing with anxiety and uncertainty? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

 

 

How To Start Loving What You See In The Mirror

Oh, my heart. Today’s post is a beautiful and raw look at body image from our incredibly radiant holistic nutritionist Jackie McCaffrey. What’s more, Jackie includes another gift at the end of this post with her FREE e-book of her latest gluten free, vegan mason jar recipes! Read on as Jackie shares her tips for how to start loving what you see in the mirror.

How to Start Loving What You See in the Mirror PIN

Body image is a subject that just never seems to get old, no matter how tired we get of hearing about it. More and more, those who are considered plus sized models are being featured in the media and the call for super thin bodies is less pronounced. Conversations about bodies are very important to have, however they are still placing emphasis on the need to define a body type in the first place. For me, this is okay if the conversation is around the health implications associated with a particular body type, thin or overweight. What I find difficult however; is when the focus around bodies is simply about the way we see each other.

It may surprise you to know that I struggle with my own body. I always have. I’m not sure what, if any one thing, has contributed to this. I have no doubt that years of gymnastics, dance and well, high school, where the shape of a body seems to have such massive importance, had some influence on this. I can’t remember a time in my life where I was completely comfortable and happy with what I saw in the mirror. There is a constant feeling of room for improvement that gnaws at me. The ritualistic ‘untagging’ of photos of me on Facebook because you can see a little cellulite is exhausting.

I’m a nutritionist but I’m also a performer who has worked in the burlesque industry which celebrates all body types. My comfort on stage is why many are surprised when I open up about my struggle. And believe me, it doesn’t mean that because I can’t seem to look at myself without judgement, that I am judging others. I truly love all the forms the body takes. I covet the curves as much as the long legs or ripped back muscles of those I see around me. A close friend was part of an interview of women in their 30’s for a Canadian magazine and was asked if she likes the way she looks naked. She answered with an enthusiastic yes, which I’m sure she assumed I would have done as well, but the sad truth is while I may have said yes because it is what I should say, internally I would have been screaming NO!

My background in nutrition allows me to be more logical about why my body is different than it was even five years ago. I started training in aerial silks during that time, which has greatly increased my muscle mass and thus the number staring back at me on the scale is the highest it has ever been. So while I can reason why I weigh more it doesn’t explain why my clothes fit a little tighter or heck, why my breasts have become a cup size bigger. What does explain this is my age. I’m on the cusp of 40 and our metabolism changes because our energy expenditure tends to decrease, as we get older. In fact, the volume of skeletal muscle in the body decreases and the percentage of fat tissue increases with age thanks to age-related decreases in basal metabolic rate. What does this mean? It means that I am normal. It means that I eat really well, I get regular exercise including weight bearing and cardiovascular activities, and I add supplements and superfoods to help keep my body working optimally. I am doing everything I should be doing. (Check out this post to learn more about metabolism.)

My logical self can look in the mirror and say, you are 38 and you look great! You have no physical barriers that stop you from doing anything you want! So why, can’t the rest of me look in the mirror and LOVE what I see? A friend of mine recently posted this to Facebook: I have a rare mental disorder. It causes me to look in the mirror every day and think – This is the best I’ve ever looked. Hope I’m never cured. How you perceive yourself (inside and out) is one of the few things you have control over. You might run out of lipstick on any given day, but self love can be a bottomless resource.

I love this so much and want so badly to have this rare disorder as she puts it and I am sad that she is right, it likely is a rare disorder. How wonderful for all of us to look in the mirror and see ourselves as the best we’ve ever looked – every damn day. How amazing to have that bottomless well of self-love to draw from.

I want it! Do you want it? What can we do to help us find acceptance and self-love?

Meditation

A chance to find space to focus on only yourself. Time to look inward and work through the important questions and issues that you may face. There are a number of great guided meditations online like this one from Louise Hay or look within your local community to find a mediation center to join.

Check Yourself

Change the conversation with your inner voice. Each time you begin to criticize or ‘if only’ yourself, stop and force yourself to think instead about the things you love. For me, I like to flex my badass biceps and remember that I worked hard to have those pipes! That helps to quiet the naysayer hidden within.

Journal

Writing in any form can be cathartic but I find allowing myself to sit in my cosiest chair and put down in writing 3 things I am thankful for can be a great help. I can then go back on days when I am feeling down and read what I have written. Putting the judgemental and critical thoughts down on paper can also be a good way to get them out of your head – and then I like to rip the page of the journal out and do a good old fashioned burning, dancing in my underwear with sage, ritually cleansing away those thoughts. Away with you!

My intention for spring is to work on my own body image issues. I want the blooming of the flowers to inspire openness within myself that will celebrate my body and I want to spend all that critical energy on the amazing and positive ideas and plans I have brewing in my pretty little head.

References:

http://www.louisehay.com/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8361073

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Jackie McCaffrey
Jackie McCaffreyHolistic Nutritionist
Jackie is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and runs her own holistic nutrition practice online, focusing on the needs of artists. She works to help her community find balance and understanding about which foods and supplements can help them with injury prevention and repair, stamina and overall longevity in the arts world. Jackie also works with clients who are looking for more general health and wellness help along with those who are looking for some more intensive protocols to help manage chronic disease.

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