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.

No Mo November (On Surviving a Shitty Month)

I thought I was dying this November.

I realize that’s a dramatic statement, but when you’ve been around cancer as much as I have, the slightest ailment is a cause for panic. I was EXHAUSTED, so much so that I demanded a full blood panel from my doc. I’ve been anemic before, and was certain this was the case. Otherwise, it was the Big C, because that’s how rational I am. I wasn’t anemic. Nor was my thyroid out of whack. All of my blood looked fine. So, what the hell?

November and I have a long-standing, love/hate relationship. (Here’s another November post, if you like this trip down memory lane.) Two people who I adore died during this particular month, and I think you can guess how. This sorrow seems to live in my cells, filling me with a non-specific melancholy that most people experience in February in this part of the world. The gray feels grayer, the cold feels colder. I can count on one hand the number of times I leave the neighborhood in a week. Maybe this grief is what had me dragging my butt.

Life has been stressful. Relationship stress. Financial stress. Work stress. This is enough to make most people want to stay in bed. Maybe the tired feeling was on account of these old demons rearing their heads? Thing are on the up now, thanks for asking.

hands and wedding bands

I officiated the wedding of my Aunt Gigi and her partner Bob this November, from his hospital bed. This occasion marked a bit upswing in my mood.

I spend a lot of time on my ass, at my desk, working away. I’ve grossly neglected my exercise routine. I’ve slipped from the nutritional choices that make me feel best. This could be what was making me exhausted.

An average-sized five-year-old often ends up in my queen sized bed, wedged between daddy and I. Sometimes he thrashes about like he’s being chased by a Ticklemonster. He’s become an ace at falling asleep on his own, in his own room. We haven’t quite nailed the staying there part. My family doctor suggested installing a baby gate to keep him contained. I found this horrifying. No judgement on those of you who have employed similar methods, but my doctor has obviously never seen a five year old take on a baby gate. Anyway, there’s another reason to feel exhausted. No sane woman could sleep in the company of a little boy who flails about and a man who snores like a demon.

So, what am I doing?

Taking vitamins, as regularly as I can. I don’t always remember, particularly on weekends, when our routine varies.

Saying NO. Holy shit, I’m bad at this, but I’m trying. I’ve had to say no to something very special to me because the mental drain was giving me anxiety. That was a tough one.

Holing Up. I’d love to spend time being social, but until that stops feeling like work, I’ll continue on this hermit-like path. You’ll occasionally see me at writing group meetings, and to drop my kids off at rehearsals. I suppose I’ll have to do some holiday shopping soon. I used to go crazy if I didn’t get out of the house and connect with other humans at least once a day. I used to appear before hundreds of people in my underwear about every other month. This homebody thing is still relatively new for me, and it’s novel. So are yoga pants. I’m a legit suburban mom with a mini van now. Most days, I’m okay with this.

Exercising. There’s just no way around this one. If I don’t move, I feel like crap. I get down on my body, I lose my drive (yes, all of it) and I feel spacey as hell. I’ve started walking for 30-45 minutes after dropping the littles at the bus stop. (Ew, that’s not a euphemism). The key to staying motivated is a good audio book. I only allow myself to listen when I’m walking. It’s working for now. I intend to keep going, even when the snow starts. Please send me your book recommendations.

Self-care. This is a difficult concept. It doesn’t mean pedicures and hair appointments, though it could. I think self-care is about doing things that make you feel good. For me, that’s putting a full stop on work after 5 pm so that I can cook for my family, or help my little dude create a book about dinosaurs. It means reading a novel for pleasure, and not because I’m getting paid to read it. It means tea and chocolate and doing absolutely nothing for ten minutes. A little bit of self-care each day seems to be helping to battle the melancholy.

Listening to my body. If want to sleep, I sleep. Even if I’m in the middle of the workday. Twenty minutes with my eyes closed, and I can easily see a difference in productivity.

So, I’m finally seeing a difference. I realize that it’s also December, which has more than a little to do with this shift in energy. Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week, because I take the mornings ‘off’ to meet with my writing buddies. These women keep me focused on my passion, and they offer the most amazing encouragement, and validation. If you’re a creator, find your people and make them a regular part of your life. Weekends are spent caring for my family and decking our halls. I love Christmas, and Yuletide, and everything connected to staying cozy and bright. I intend to carry this forward until the Spring.

Is it just me, or are there certain months of the year that consistently suck? November is mine, but I’ve survived another one. A big thanks to chocolate, and novels, and my ever-patient family.

A To-Do List For A Difficult Day

Anyone who knows me knows about my love/hate relationship with November. This year, I seem to have gone darker and deeper into the grey than ever before. I need vitamin B, or iron. I need a week off. There’s never enough sleep, never enough time. The leaves are hanging on longer because even they seem to know that I need the added brightness of their outrageous colours. The good news is, it’s nearly over.

Here’s a to-do list for today. It will likely be extended to tomorrow as well. These are big days for me, these two. Big enough that without such a list, I might just sit here and stare out the window and not get anything done at all. Feel free to borrow this list, any time you need to. You’re guaranteed to feel at least 3% better if you use it.

Today I will…

  1. Eat an entire bar of chocolate. Well, almost. But, it’s fair trade and sugar free. Plus it’s dark, 70% even, so I’m okay with this.
  2. Cry over nothing.
  3. Cry over some really big things.
  4. Write.
  5. Try to work. Mostly suck at this.
  6. Make an entire thermos of tea and sip it slowly all afternoon.
  7. Listen to Leonard Cohen.
  8. Miss my kids.
  9. Colour.
  10. Read for pleasure.
  11. Eat soup for dinner.
  12. Wear my slippers at work because I need the extra cozy.
  13. Wear lipstick, or something else that makes me feel better.
  14. Finish all my work so I can do whatever I want all weekend.
  15. Send lovey emojis to my cousin-sister.
  16. Call my mom.
  17. Hug my kids after school.
  18. Go for a walk.
  19. Try not to cry in front of people who barely know me.
  20. Avoid the news, because sometimes I have to.
  21. Sing.
  22. Have a glass of wine, but only one.
  23. Make a fire in the fireplace.
  24. Add some frankincense to the diffuser.
  25. Watch a funny Christmas movie.
  26. Eat popcorn.
  27. Light a candle.
  28. Remember the spectacular depth and breadth of love.

3 Ways to Enjoy Healthy Holidays

Today’s post is another guest post from our awesome Fitness expert Oonagh Duncan. So many of us fall into the trap of excessive holiday celebrations, but if we are mindful and we make conscious choices about how we share in the festivities, we can actually enjoy healthy holidays. Read on for three easy ways to make healthier holiday choices.

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The Gift of Self-Love

I want to share a very valuable secret with you. Of all the things you could ever wish for, there is only one gift you truly need. The very best part of this secret is that you are the only soul who can give this gift. Not a single other being is as qualified or as capable as you are to be the giver. The gift of self-love is the most precious gift you will ever receive, but it is the hardest gift to give until you know why you can’t live without it.

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