It’s a given that pain and suffering will come to all of us.
Emotions can ride the roller coaster of uncertainty — all the time.
Anger. Grief. Fear. Numbness. The cycle can take a day or a minute.
When hard times hit, when life takes a 180-degree turn, we need to take care of ourselves.
If you don’t, who will? If your well is dry, you can’t be there for my children, my friends, or my extended family. The old ‘put your mask on first’ analogy rings true.
What does self-care mean? How can I, and you, incorporate more of it into our daily lives?
Self-care is taking care of your body, mind and spirit during times of stress. It is finding out what you need and taking steps to make sure your needs are met.
Taking care of yourself is vital to reacting to life with resilience and strength.
Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place. -Unknown
There are many things that can be classified as self-care. We all have different needs and so our self-care will look different from others.
There are some basics that we all need.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep. This can be hard when your mind is racing, but sleep is the revitalizing force in life. If life is hard and you are feeling sorrow or anger, try sleeping more. NAP!
Eat healthy foods. The temptation will be there to grab that bucket of ice cream or bag of chips and dig in, but you will feel better and stronger when you fuel your body properly. To deal with the stress hormone cortisol you must nourish your body with whole foods and not processed food.
Exercise every day. Go outside for a walk. I wrote about the benefits of walking before, and it’s wonderful for stress reduction.
Learn some physical calming techniques. An effective technique for self-calming is diaphragmatic breathing which is breath focused awareness and training.
Begin by taking deep breaths into your abdomen area — feel your abdomen rising and falling, not your chest. Relax as much a possible. Avoid using your shoulders and ribcage.
Do this often throughout the day and whenever you feel an increase in anxiety, stress, grief or anger. This can be done as part of a meditation practice (an excellent self-care practice) or devote a minute to breath awareness. Mindful breathing helps to lessen the impact of the stress response.
Try yoga. A powerful exercise that also works on healing your mind.
5. Talk to your friends and social group. Do not isolate yourself. Friends will make you feel connection, which we all need. Especially if facing a crisis such as a loss of a relationship. I have needed more support from my friends and family as I face this challenge, and thankfully, they have responded with love and support.
6. Pamper yourself. Get a massage. Enrol in a paint night with some friends. Have people over for a rousing game of Catan!
7. Journal. This can help you process your feelings. Denying your feelings or trying to stuff down emotions will just prolong the healing process.
8. Get some therapy. You will live with yourself all your life. Deal with your issues now. Even if it was totally the other person’s fault, and you are probably kidding yourself, you have insecurities or baggage that you need to take out and examine.
No matter where you go, there you are. — Confucius
9. Find something to laugh at every day. The idea that laughter is the best medicine is true. Laughter releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers. Laughter can lighten the load, even if only momentarily.
Watch a funny movie or TV show. Read a funny book. I love Calvin and Hobbes. The BEST cartoon!
10. Have a warm bath. Listen to music you love. Dance.
Do things you love.
Find out what your needs are and meet them. Ask for help.
Taking care of yourself is important all the time, and especially during hard times.
Self-care doesn’t have to cost you money. Allocate time for yourself daily. Have more compassion for yourself when you feel that life is sucking you dry.
If you are going through a hard time, commit to giving yourself self-care time daily.
Fitness and Health. These words inspire many of us to get off the couch. Or make us feel guilty for not getting off the couch!
There are so many fitness crazes out there, so many exercise programs. These can confuse us and also be full of contradictory information and advice. What to do and where to start?
Walking is a simple way to get your fitness started. Many people will want more challenging exercise and training, but for some of us, walking will be a huge part, maybe our entire fitness program.
Walking daily is a goal that almost all of us can do. We can all make the time and our lives will be richer for it.
Walking has tremendous benefits for our health and for our peace of mind.
Benefits of a daily walk:
Walking is free — you can do it anywhere and you don’t need special equipment besides shoes you can walk in. Although, some people like walking in bare feet, nothing wrong with that! You can ground with the earth and connect with the energy of the earth. Just walk barefoot only in safe areas, such as a clean beach if you are lucky enough to live close by!
You can walk at any pace. You get to choose the speed and intensity of your walk.
Walking is low impact and has a low risk of injury.
Walking helps reduce your blood pressure and makes your heart healthier.
Walking reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
Walking improves fitness. I suggest slowly increasing the pace of your walking. If your health permits keep working up the pace until you are walking briskly. This brisk walking can improve physical functioning and improves cardiac fitness.
Walking will help your brain, improving your cognitive functioning.
Walking can help you with depression and anxiety. More well-being anyone?
Walking helps to keep your body weight stable and lowers your risk of obesity.
Walking with friends is an excellent way to maintain friendships. It can strengthen social connections and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Loneliness can be harmful to your health. I wrote about loneliness here.
Walking can spark creativity. Many people have great ideas while out walking.
Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas. ~J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, spoken by the character Mad-Eye Moody
12. Walking gets you out in nature. In Japan, people have started a movement called “Forest Therapy”. Scientists studying this have found that strolling through trees can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, and improve the immune system.
Those who think they have no time for exercise will, sooner or later, have to find time for illness. -Edward Stanley
If we take 30 minutes daily to get outside and walk, our health and happiness will improve.
For those of you who feel that you are ‘Just too busy right now…’; I urge you to put your health and well-being above your other priorities. Health really is of the greatest importance.
If you really cannot spare 30 minutes, as you are far too busy to get out there; perhaps you could try taking a “walking” meeting, or getting some phone calls done while out walking. Or go walk at lunch or before work in the morning.
The benefits are worth it.
That’s all for now — my walk awaits!
Michelle Fyfe has been a pharmacist for over 25 years and is passionate about using holistic, natural methods of achieving true health; developing new, healthy and simple lifestyles with a side effect of increased energy, happiness and fulfillment. She is working on her first book called: The Five Keys to Health — A Pharmacist’s Guide to Holistic Living.
We have felt discouraged from time to time. It is a universal human emotion.
It comes from having plans or goals that aren’t just falling quickly into place. Or maybe it feels like things are just taking way too long. And we start to doubt ourselves.
We think about giving up. Quitting that project. “That idea was stupid anyway.” “Why did we actually think we could succeed?”
Discouragement can lead to depression and despair if it occurs often enough or if we are already battling with these in our lives.
There are some things that make discouragement worse:
Not being rested. If we are tired or sleep deprived things just seem worse than they really are. We aren’t able to put things in their proper perspective.
We keep missing our goals — we aren’t feeling successful in many, if any, areas of our life. If we have problems in one area of our life and then something unrelated also isn’t working out it is easy to become discouraged.
We have a poor, or no, support system. Everyone needs a sounding board and at least one person to believe in us. A cheerleader to lift us up when we fall. If people close to us aren’t supportive, discouragement is easier.
Fear — of what people will think, fear of failing, fear of succeeding and fear of not being good enough. Fear makes our risk of getting discouraged or giving up worse.
We are believing everything we think. Our thoughts are these little-untrained monkeys running around giving us random stuff. “I am not _______ enough” is the most common self-defeating thought we have. (Fill in the blank with your own specific belief.)
If you are feeling discouraged about your project, your writing, your creative endeavours, or your life, then now is the time to look at your discouragement as a catalyst for change. Use this time of feeling down to start again.
Here are some useful things that you can do to turn your discouragement into inspiration and positivity:
1. Use it — it is a message. Look at what you are doing. Change something, in your approach, your message, your timing, whatever. Reorganize things, even just slightly. Try a new approach.
2. Take care of yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep affects our mental state profoundly. If you aren’t getting enough — fix this first. I promise it will be worth it.
There is no easy answer to how much sleep you actually need or should get. We are all different and our need for sleep can vary widely.
On average, adults need about 7 hours per night, with the general range being 7–9 hours. Older adults have the same basic needs. A child needs more sleep, as do teenagers.
3. Find a support group or person. It can be even here on Medium. People who see what you are trying to do and will only offer constructive criticism and praise.
Stop hanging around and feeding the haters and non-supporters. Just say no.
People need to feel valued and listened to. Our creative endeavours and ideas and goals are babies. They need to be treated with care.
Don’t be afraid to get constructive criticism. We need this to improve.
Ask for help if you need it — a mentor, or even a helpful, friendly voice — can be a huge asset.
4. Start questioning your thoughts. Often we can get stuck in negative cycles of thought and, worse yet, believe them.
You don’t have to believe your thoughts. Start questioning the ones that are causing you depression, discouragement and stress.
Just start by noticing the thought and then just ask, “really?” or some other version.
And, yes, you are enough.
5. Go for a walk outside. Or do something physical. Moving can help release more positive endorphins, plus you get a break.
And don’t forget to really breathe. Breath is a bridge between our body and mind (yoga philosophy here) and we often our breathing is shallow. Breath deeply and mindfully on your walk.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others. It is very easy to get discouraged when you look and see how well other people are doing.
7. Remember your successes. Even if they are small. Remind yourself of the strengths you have. Celebrate your wins. We all have them.
If you really cannot think of any, ask a loved one to tell you some! Be proud of what you have accomplished so far!
8. Remind yourself of the big picture. Rome wasn’t conquered in a day. Good things take time. All the cliches have a common element. Persistence wins.
James Dyson, inventor of the Dyson Vacuums, failed more than 5000 times trying to find the version of his vacuum that actually worked. It took more than 15 years to be successful. Now he is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.
Do not underestimate the power of patience, persistence and looking at the big picture.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill
Michelle Fyfe has been a pharmacist for over 25 years and is passionate about using holistic, natural methods of achieving true health; developing new, healthy and simple lifestyles with a side effect of increased energy, happiness and fulfillment.
We all want to be healthy. Often we take our health for granted. Many of us will ignore taking care of ourselves until we develop some kind of illness or condition that slows us down.
It is a shame that we wait.
Health is not valued till sickness comes. Thomas Fuller
There are some easy ways to start a healthier, happier and more fulfilled way of life.
Start cooking more meals at home and eating out less. You will not only get more nutrition, eat fewer calories but you will save a ton of money.
2. Stop drinking any type of sweetened drink. Coffees, soda pop, juices, whatever. If it is sweetened, even artificially, stop drinking it. Or at least slowly start to wean yourself off of these liquid calorie and sugar bombs.
3. Move your body for at least 30 minutes a day.
Walking is nice.
4. Decrease sugar consumption. I’ve written about the dangers of sugar before here, but I want to stress it again. Sugar is literally poison and is strongly addictive.
5. Connect with someone, a real person, every day. Loneliness and isolation aren’t healthy and contribute to anxiety and depression. My article on loneliness talks more about the health risks and what you can do to battle it.
6. Eat fruits and veggies. Lots. Daily. There is a plethora of scientific evidence showing the benefits of a high intake of plants.
7. Supplement your diet. I recommend a Vitamin D supplement, Omega-3 supplement and a good well-rounded multivitamin. This ensures any gaps in your diet are mostly covered. Other supplements can possibly help if you have certain medical conditions.
8. Work on your sleep. Try to clean up your bedtime routine so that you can get 6–8 hours of sleep. We all have a sweet spot. Find out how much sleep you need for optimal alertness and health.
9. Find your passion and try to spend as much of your free time following this. Passion will fuel your creativity, happiness and fulfillment of life.
Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you. Oprah Winfrey
10. Avoid negative people, negative substances and negativity in general. If you focus on being positive in the world and bringing mostly positive things into your life, your life will feel more blessed.
How are we using social media? It can make a huge impact on our lives and the lives of our network and so it’s a good idea to evaluate your usage.
I use it to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has become much more routinely used that a simple text or (gasp!) a phone call. I sometimes wonder if I even need a phone plan — maybe I just need access to wifi? Anyway, I digress.
My concern is the content that we are contributing to these social media sites.
Are we posting content and comments — oh especially those comments — that make the world a better place?
My personal unease comes from the fact that so much of what we see on media, social media too, is negative and critical.
Yes, there are numerous things in society that we don’t like and DO need to change. But I believe that change MUST start with myself. And then spread to my close family and friends, then our community, then the country, then our world.
As globalization expands and borders blur, our messages on social media can impact someone in another part of the world instantly.
Don’t we want to impact positively?
The butterfly effect — where a small initial change can lead to a more dramatic and far-reaching change — can happen with social media.
If we promote hate and violence, and our comments are hateful, racist and condescending — are we spreading a seed of hate, through the butterfly effect? Perhaps we are.
I am not saying ignore the negative and upsetting news stories. It’s not good to hide our heads under the sand.
I am simply hoping that more and more people will spread helpful ideas, positive ways to change things, good news, and be supportive with their global brothers and sisters.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
Because social media is so pervasive in our society today we can affect a change simply by promoting positive change within our circle of influence.
Maybe we don’t need to make that hurtful comment. Or share that hurtful story. Maybe we could all find solutions instead? Helpful solutions.
I have resolved to not promote any story of hate or negativity. I want our world to be more positive. And it starts with me — and my social media activity.
This is an amazing statistic, that is a huge percentage. And it is negatively affecting our nation’s health.
Many people feel that these drinks are safe and no big deal. However, the evidence is out there showing the harm that these beverages cause. Despite the research, the companies making these drinks often promote them as “good” choices for our diet.
The soft-drink industry has consistently portrayed its products as being positively healthful, saying they are 90% water and contain sugars found in nature.
A poster that the National Soft Drink Association provided to teachers in the past stated:
Also, look at this comment made by M. Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola’s chairman and CEO, defending marketing in Africa, who said:
Actually, our product is quite healthy. Fluid replenishment is a key to health… Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids. (New York Times. May 26, 1998, p.D1)
In fact, soft drinks pose health risks both because of what they contain (for example, sugar and various additives) and what they replace in the diet (beverages and foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients). (Liquid Sugar Report)
A typical 12 ounce soft drink contains about 10 teaspoonsful of sugar. This is a large pile of sugar that most of us are drinking thoughtlessly every day!
There are many dangers to our health that we expose ourselves to when we drink soda and other sweetened drinks. Here are some of the striking facts:
• The preponderance of scientific evidence shows that consumption of sugar drinks promotes weight gain.
• Caloric beverages contribute to weight gain more than solid foods because the body doesn’t compensate fully for beverage calories by reducing calorie intake later in the day.
• Adults who drink one sugary drink or more per day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than non-drinkers, regardless of income or ethnicity.
• Drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage per day is associated with an 18 percent increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages were linked to a higher risk of diabetes even after accounting for their impact on weight.
• Consuming one or more sodas per day increases one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent compared to those who rarely consume such drinks.
• Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.
• Diabetes can result in various health complication such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and premature death.
We are facing a diabetes epidemic right now — and our consumption of these deadly drinks is a huge contributor!
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:
• Daily consumption of sugary drinks for a period of six months increased fat deposits in the liver by 150 percent, which directly contributes to both diabetes and heart disease.
• Consumption of sugary drinks — especially more acidic carbonated drinks — promotes dental caries and erosion.
• In fact, for each additional sugary drink consumed per day, children may be at a 22 percent increased risk of developing dental caries.
• Untreated cavities can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss.
• Consuming two or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day is associated with a 35 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease in women. A related study in men found a similar sugar drink–heart disease link.
I’ve been called a lot of names. Some good, some bad. I’m sure we all have.
Recently I heard I was called “controlling”.
At first, I confess to feeling a rush of anger, who wouldn’t? But then as I sat with the knowledge and the feeling, I realized that, okay I have been called worse and that I truly wasn’t exhibiting controlling behaviour.
What was going on? These people were confused.
What exactly is controlling behaviour?
Controllers try to distance you from your family and friends. By criticism or out-right preventing you from spending time or having contact with your friends and family.
2. Threats — towards you (punishments that will happen to you), or towards them (self-harm, as in “ I’ll kill myself if you leave me”).
3. Making “if, then” statements — such as “IF you do this for me, THEN I’ll do that for you”. Conditions for love and acceptance.
4. Keeping score. Not ever good in a healthy relationship.
5. Jealousy, often unwarranted. Checking up on you, checking your texts and emails.
6. Assuming you are guilty of something — not assumed to be innocent.
7. If they are angry, then it is your fault, you did something to “make” them angry. They don’t assume responsibility for their own feelings.
8. Making fun of your beliefs, or the beliefs of your friends and family.
9. Needing to know where you are at all times, who you are with and what you are doing.
10. They don’t hear your side of the story.
11. Persuade you or coerce you into doing something you would rather not. Such as having sex, taking drugs, going somewhere you don’t want to go or doing things you don’t want to do.
12. They instill doubt in yourself. They try to make you question yourself. They want you to be insecure so that you won’t leave them — that’s the truth they don’t admit to themselves or anyone.
13. Using tears, guilt or anger to get you doing what they want.
What did I do to be called controlling?
Well, I stated something I wanted, in clear terms. Yes, actually out-loud.
The situation: I was co-hosting a family games night (the other host whose house it was at also agreed and wanted this) and stated ‘ no alcohol’. This was due to the fact that some of my family are underage and clearly alcohol wasn’t needed to play a few games and visit.
Was this controlling?
Look at the facts of what controlling actually is again.
No — What I did was be assertive and decisive and clear. And possibly outspoken. Thanks. I want to be those things.
I have opinions, and I have a right to my opinion.
This article recently published in HuffPost states:
There is no shortage of advice and how-to’s on how to lose weight. Many of these ideas and diets do work, especially in the short-term. However, once you stop the diet then the weight comes right back!
There are some simple strategies that you can implement in your lifestyle that will make it easier to lose the excess pounds and maintain a healthy body weight.
One — Keep it simple. Complicated diet plans, customized to your specific genes and insulin levels and more are not necessary. Often just a simple, healthy diet full of whole foods is enough.
The easier your nutrition plan is to implement and follow, then the more likely you are to maintain it for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Two — Eat more fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and numerous phytonutrients. They are also a source of filling fibre and water.
There are many easy and delicious recipes for whole fruits and vegetables which provide nutrition to heal and sustain our bodies.
Eat lots of colours of fruits and vegetables as often as possible as these colours signify a high level of phytonutrients.
A 2018 study ((http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/diet-precision-1.4543617), which compared weight loss results between two dieting groups, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that it didn’t matter what diet the participants followed. The people who lose weight had the following things in common.
People who consumed the fewest processed foods, sugary drinks, unhealthy fats and ate the most vegetables lost the most weight.
Three — Move your body every day! While losing weight is 90% due to changes in your diet and nutrition, exercise helps to strengthen and tone the body.
Exercise will raise your resting metabolic rate, helping your body burn more calories at rest and has a positive effect on health: lowering depression and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of certain cancers such as breast and colon cancer.
Walking daily is an easy and pleasant way to keep your body moving. Make it as brisk as you can handle for increasing periods of time. And have fun — walk in nature, with a friend, a pet or with music.
If you don’t use it, you will lose it. Keeping fit physically will be a huge blessing when you get older. Keeping strength and flexibility in your muscles will reduce age-related problems.
Four— Eat slowly and mindfully. Many of us eat while we are watching TV or reading, my personal favourite. The problem with this approach is that we are just not paying attention.
We often stuff ourselves quickly and then feel bloated and sick. It takes about 20 minutes to feel that “full” feeling. Try eating slower and eating less.
Slow down! Put your fork down between bites. Only eat; don’t watch TV or read a book.
Conversation can also be distracting, but eating with friends and family is fun and healthy, just make sure to pay attention to what and how much you are eating. The fork trick will help!
Fifth — Drink more water. Water is vital to our health. We are chronically dehydrated as a society and this has its own health problems but also affects our weight.
People who drink more water tend to lose more weight as more water helps you to burn calories and can lower hunger. Often we are just thirsty when we feel hunger.
Have a big drink of water before you eat!
Six — Cut out or dramatically reduce sugar intake. Sugar makes you fat. Simple as that, it is excess calories with no nutritional value and it is stored as fat in the body and increases inflammation.
Try not to replace the sugar in your diet with artificial sweeteners! They aren’t any better, some are synthesized from harmful chemicals and they have been shown not to help with weight loss.
Also, start training your taste buds to dislike really sweet tastes. Sugar is addictive and getting off sugar can take some time. But once you do it is worth it and you will eventually find that the cravings for sugar are finally gone!
By cutting out sugars for just a three-month period last year, I was able to lose weight and improve my health.
My article on sugar goes into more detail here. This is a habit that would be great to follow for your entire life. I promise once you break the sugar habit that it will get easier!
Seven — Reduce processed foods.
An easy policy is to try to eat food that was food 100 years ago. Michael Pollan’s simple diet advice from his book In Defense of Food: An eater’s manifesto is:
Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.
This is such wonderfully simple advice. Processed food can be full of harmful chemicals or at least mostly devoid of nutrition, providing simply empty calories. Often it is high in sugar and bad fats.
Eight — Eat healthy fat and stop eating bad fats. The problem of obesity and overweight isn’t the fat we eat; fat is critical in our diet.
We need dietary fats for life, health, body functioning and, when eating, taste and satiety (fullness). It is time to start accepting that dietary fat is essential for health.
So many of us though, are eating the wrong kinds of fats. And this is contributing to our poor health. There are good and bad fats and it is important to really know and understand the difference.
Good fats are generally unsaturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Some examples of food sources of healthy fats are cold-water fish, flax seeds, avocados, olive, nuts, seeds and soybeans.
Coconut oil, although mostly a saturated fat, is considered healthy because it contains MUFA’s (Medium chain fatty acids) which has many health benefits, including possibly aiding in weight loss.
Bad fats are usually the saturated fat and trans-fats. Found in fast food, processed foods and fried foods.
Choosing wisely what type of fat you eat will make a huge difference in your health.
Nine — Only eat until 80% full. “Hara hachi bu” — the Japanese manta — which Okinawans (a Blue Zone community) follow, means to stop eating your meal when you feel about 80% full.