wellbeing wednesday

I’m Not There Yet & That’s Okay

People say that in your 20s, it’s your prime time to “find yourself” and “discover who you are” because “these are the best years of your life.” Wow, I may have overused the quotation marks just a tad there but that was probably to mask the nauseating feeling I get whenever I hear the words “find yourself.”

As I veer into my “late” 20s, it is apparent I have hit the stage where large life changes are happening around me. I’ve experienced a few of them as well. But many of them I haven’t and you know what? That’s okay.

I’ve had many discussions with friends of mine about the rush for getting married, having kids, buying a house, getting the dream position at your dream job, travelling the world, and having life figured out before the age of 30. That’s bullshit. Life isn’t a race. Yet we’re forced into this snow globe where we make our lives look so pretty on the outside and meanwhile we’re trapped in a bubble of self-comparison to others’ and where they are in life.

Allow me to self-reflect:

  • I’m 26 turning 27 in a few months
  • I’m not engaged
  • I don’t have kids
  • I’m not even remotely thinking of having kids
  • I am still paying off OSAP
  • I’m still paying off my car
  • I’m still in school
  • I recently obtained my master’s degree
  • I am still very early in my career, but am blessed to be working in the field I want to be working in
  • I have an amazing partner (now roommate)
  • I do not [entirely] love my body in its current form
  • I have some good habits (i.e. meditation, yoga)

It’s so much easier said than done to say “I’m not going to care what others think of me” or “I don’t care that I’m not as far in life as other people” but how can we not fall into the traps of self-comparison when social media has taken over our lives? It seems like everyone is trying to “one-up” each other by having a bigger, better wedding, or posting the better selfie, or posting how wonderful their lives are because they are part of some pyramid-scheme business (probably) and making “so much money” before the age of 30. Meanwhile, my life feels incredibly uneventful because I’m being unapologetically selfish about having to work and do school because I am one of the few people in any of my friend circles still in school.

In the list above, the things I don’t have yet or have not done yet are not things I’m bothered by. And I am proud of myself for being able to say that. I’m not in a rush for things to happen. I have been working so hard on different aspects of my life and have done so in private. I’m not ashamed of where I am in life. And I am SO incredibly happy for my friends and family who ARE at different stages of life. It’s a messy time. Everyone is doing his or her own thing, and I honestly think that is so awesome. I think we need to support each other for what they are doing or where they are.

I found this picture on Instagram a while ago, and I think it sums it up what this rambling post hasn’t said yet: the definition of “behind in life” is subjective and the “timetable of life” is really individualized.

As my dad always used to tell me (from one overly anxious individual to another), “don’t worry about the things you can’t control.” I’m choosing to enjoy every moment of every day instead of rushing towards “the next big thing.” The things I can control, I’m working on them. I’m happy for others and where they are in life and am open to listen if they are unhappy. I’m happy where I am and where life is going. There will always be something where I will say “I’m not there yet” and it really is okay. 69603287_667367610428598_8774124848604512256_n.jpg

 

Unapologetically Selfish

I was on Instagram yesterday and came across a picture that really upset me. This is what it said:Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 10.11.04 PM.png

I don’t know if I was hangry and it struck a nerve the wrong way or what, but my first thought reading it was, “you don’t know my life!”

I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t even bother complaining about being so busy. This is the path I’ve chosen. I suppose I’ve reached a state of complacency. This is the new normal. It has been for almost four years now.

I work full time. I am enrolled in classes for my BCBA credential which I watch videos for every day after work. And in between all of that, I find time to sleep, eat, exercise, errands, and maybe if I’m lucky, I will get to spend time mindlessly scrolling on my phone or reading a book, or texting a friend to check in. I don’t even have free weekends. The downside of working full time is the only spare time I have for my online meeting and tests is on the weekend. Saturday mornings, too. Thank goodness I’m a morning person. But that eats up time I have and takes it away from someone else.

Guilt is such a useless emotion, yet one that seems to overpower me at least once a week. I succumb to my anxiety and get overwhelmed by the guilt of not being a good enough friend because I still haven’t invited them over, or made plans to see them, or have texted them to check in, or any of those emotions. I feel guilty when my schedule doesn’t align with my mom’s and I can’t help her run errands or even come in for a visit after work because it doesn’t line up right. I feel guilty and I cry about it, which takes me further away from my to-do list and further into a hole of self-loathing and shallow breaths.

Then I read that quote: “If they truly care, they will make time.”

And I’m crying all over again.

It’s not that I don’t care about you. If you are my friend, and truly my friend, you would try to understand and be patient with me. Maybe I can’t meet up in person but we could chat over video messaging, a phone call, text, it’s 2019 for goodness sake! But know that it’s not that I don’t care about you. It’s that I care about me.

What kind of friend would I be if I agreed to hang out and wasn’t really listening to our conversation because I was going over my to-do list in my head the entire time? Sitting there and suppressing every negative thought I have only to potentially have a panic attack the second I get in my car? I love you. I do. But one of my methods of getting through the week is setting up a “time budget” where I allocate my time into rough categories. It helps me feel safe, with flexible boundaries, and organized. I am calm when things are organized. It is not that I don’t want to make time for you or that you’re not important, but at this stage in my life, I have other things that are important to me and my well-being.

As a lovely friend stated last night, “if you truly care, you won’t ask someone to overextend themselves when they’re too busy.”

I’m doing the best I can with the time I have and the circumstances I have chosen or have been handed to me. And for that, I am unapologetically selfish.

February Check-In

It has been a quiet start to 2019 thus far. January knocked me off my feet, quite literally, as I had shingles for the first part of the month and spent a lot of time quarantined in my bedroom.

Now that I am feeling much better, February has become the new January in terms of putting goals into action. To hold myself accountable, I am sharing some of my goals on here (as I usually do).

Goal #1: Be more physically active

I have mentioned Yoga with Adriene before but if you’re hearing about her for the first time, she is my go-to yogi on YouTube. Her videos are easily accessible, and each month, on her website she posts a calendar and an overall focus for the month. This month’s focus is Care. Here’s the link to check out her website: https://yogawithadriene.com/calendar/ and one for her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene. I promise, there is something for everyone.

I am doing the Care videos every day this month and haven’t missed a beat. I have even started waking up at 6:30am every day to squeeze it in. This weekend, I will be away and I will be swapping out the longer videos with the short 5-7 minute practices so I can still stay in my routine.

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I recently cancelled my gym membership. Although I have nothing bad to say about the facility, I don’t live close to it anymore. It wasn’t convenient, especially not with work and school right now. Driving 20 minutes to the gym seemed a bit out of the way and it was wasted money. So I thought about it and if time to go to the gym is the biggest barrier, how can I make up for it? As a two-in-one kind of way, I decided to take 20 minutes away from screen time (phone, laptop, tablets), 3 times a week. I have chosen 3 times a week so I can still prioritize school and watch lecture videos and study when I am home from work. I am using the Nike Training Club app. It’s free and I can cast it to the TV. Afterwards, I can shower and head to bed. This routine is going well so far.

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Goal #2: Eat better 

I decided against doing a February Whole 30 this time around. I was going to do one to “cleanse” my system out and create some good habits. Alternatively, I have decided to use what I learned from Whole 30 and really try to be more mindful of what I’m eating. I’m keeping track my meals. Each time I put an entry in, I think, “I would rather not be doing this, I think ignorance is bliss.” But the awareness is eye-opening. I have been trying to make better choices. And my partner has been doing the same, which has been motivating for me as well. We’re not really restricting anything from our diets but just being mindful of portion, type of food, and eating more fruit and vegetables. 5f46d950-f1c8-4718-afa9-a1e370e036c9.jpg             5b9051cf-ae0d-47fe-9be6-21a068eea2d0.jpg

 Goal #3: Keep Going

These are goals not new to me. I’ve had them for a while. I will keep working at them. This time around I have set up reinforcement systems in place for reaching both non-scale and scale victories to keep myself motivated. I put so much effort into other areas of my life: work, school, friendships, family – why can’t I put that much effort into myself?

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Men’s Mental Health

Today is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day. This week leading up to Father’s Day is an awareness week all about men’s mental health.

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It’s hard being a female in society with a mental illness; due to the gender stereotypes that have formed over the years, women are perceived as emotional beings. These same stereotypes have also acted as a barrier for males suffering from mental illness as they are supposed to be the strong ones who don’t let things get to them.

Regardless of gender, race, or age, mental illness can affect all of us. Social stigma inhibits individuals from sharing their stories or getting the help they require.

Examining males, specifically (taken from Movember Canada):

  • 1 in 10 Canadian men will experience major depression in the course of their lives
  • 3 of every 4 suicides are men

What can we do?

  • Talk about it. Ask questions. The more we talk, the more we combat the stigma as we build an understanding.
  • Listen. Listen to their stories. Listen for cries for help. Listen to your friend.
  • Encourage action.
  • Check in with those you love.

Here are a list of articles and resources I recommend taking a look at:

https://ca.movember.com/mens-health/we-need-to-talk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/talking-about-men/201702/mens-mental-health-silent-crisis

https://headsupguys.org/

Making a List & Checking it Twice

It’s Wellness Wednesday of March Break! I am working today so not entirely a break but it isn’t so bad when you love what you do.

To help break down all the thoughts in my head and all the things I feel like I have to do, I like to make lists: grocery lists, to-do lists, pros/cons lists, and lists about lists. I contain most of them in a notebook purely dedicated for making lists.

This is what the first page of my lists book looks like:

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There are several benefits for list making.

  1. For one, it reduces anxiety. I find that getting things out of my head and onto paper makes me feel almost instantly better.
  2. It holds you accountable. Just like I decided to post every day about my Whole 30 journey to hold me accountable, writing down your task and goals allows you to be accountable to yourself.
  3. It helps you organize your thoughts in one place. It reduces clutter and I like to break my big thoughts and tasks into smaller subsequent parts.
  4. …which leads me to this point: it feels damn good crossing something off your list. You get feelings of higher productivity and higher self-esteem.
  5. Lists help keep your priorities in check. Today I made a list of all the things I have to do from sorting my laundry and cleaning my room and writing my dissertation. Having it written down allows you to see them all and figure out what should be done first, and create strategies for getting them done.

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I have two to do lists on the go right now. There is one with ~50 things on it that I need to get done (a larger list). I have another that I like in my agenda that is on the side that I fill out weekly, which is more short term goals.

Here is a link to an interesting article I read entitled “How Making Lists Can Quell Anxiety and Breed Creativity” by Carrie Barron, M.D.

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

“Every day’s to-do list.
1.) Listen
2.) Trust
3.) Do”
― A.D. Posey

Daily Affirmations

Happy Wellness Wednesday or Well-being Wednesday! (reader’s preference)

We made it to hump day. How are you feeling?

I feel pretty good, considering this week feels like it is moving very slowly, it has been a good week so far.

A (Mid)Week in Review

This week, I have already started to make a few changes to my morning and evening routines:

  • I have reduced the amount of screen time when I wake up and before bed.
  • I have started using skin care products in the morning and evening and have been much better about remembering to take off my makeup at night
  • I have started meditating in both the morning when I wake up (~5 minutes) and before bed (~30 minutes…but I usually fall asleep partway through)
  • I keep a water bottle beside my bed so I can have some water in the morning before my morning coffee or tea
  • I am keeping up with my Five Minute Journal more. Starting the day off with gratitude is very pleasant!
  • I am trying to read a bit before bed each night while I “unplug.” I always complain I don’t have time to read. So I am making the time!

Other Victories So Far This Week: 

  • I tried vegan cheese…and loved it! (Nuts for Cheese is the company. They’re based in London, ON.)
  • Fell in love with Farm Boy (again)
  • Made plans with friends I haven’t seen in a while
  • I have read and made notes on several articles for my dissertation
  • I got a gym membership for a place much closer to my house with several locations around the world! They offer yoga and Pound! classes and I am so excited to try them out!
  • I created a Daily Affirmations jar

What are Daily Affirmations?

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As stated in the Five Minute Journal, daily affirmations are statements of what you want in your life. Every time you write or say these statements, you are priming your brain and yourself to start believing these beliefs. If you get the Five Minute Journal, they include information about a psychological study that also goes into the logic behind daily affirmations but if you want more quick information, here’s a link with some examples: https://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/instagram-positive-affirmations/

What is MY Daily Affirmation?

The one I write in my journal every day is a combination of two of the examples in the Five Minute Journal. Honestly, I found it difficult in the moment to come up with my own even though a quick Google search would’ve helped at the time.

This is my daily affirmation:

I am comfortable in my own skin and I live with passion and purpose.

I made a jar with 21 other affirmations and I will read one each day in addition to increase more positive vibes and using the Law of Attraction.

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Morning Routines

How do you start your day?

Do you hit snooze a few times and get up at the last possible moment? Does your alarm list look like this?IMG_1704.jpg

Mine used to. Now, I only have one alarm. And I use all my self control to not press snooze.

Right now, my current routine is as follows:

Wake up

[Usually: Check social media]

Skin care routine

Make my bed

Stretch

Write in my Five Minute Journal

Get dressed and do my makeup

Make a coffee and have breakfast

Leave for work

 

Not too bad? Well, I would like it to look more like this:

Wake up

Stretch or do yoga

Make my bed

Drink water

Write in my Five Minute Journal

Meditate

Read a few pages of a book

Skin care routine

Get dressed and do my makeup

Make a coffee and have breakfast

Leave for work

A few extra steps would make all the difference. I’m hoping to work towards better morning and evening routines in the near future and will blog about it next week to hold myself more accountable.

Let’s do this!

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Fighting the Flu

Well, here we are: we’re on our way to the end of February and the flu is spreading like wildfire at my workplace. And I am currently in recovery day 5 of having the flu.

On Saturday I woke up feeling as though I was hit by a bus – a bus that was on fire. I felt like I was extremely hot and cold at the same time with a mix of fever and chills.

I had the textbook symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

All I could think was: could I have avoided this by getting the flu shot like my mother said?

Reports such CNN as say that the flu vaccine is only 36% effective this year. So is it worth getting? I have not gotten the flu shot because I have been on and off sick since winter started, especially working with children. I was going to get the flu shot once I was healthy but I have not found that time. And alas, here we are. I don’t think I’m a credible source for whether or not you should get the flu shot but I will say that if I had gotten the flu shot, perhaps I would not have been hit this hard with the symptoms.

I have a Fitbit and I thought this was interesting (since I’m a huge data nerd) but you can see how being sick has affected my resting heart rate. I woke up sick on the 17th where my resting heart rate jumped from 69 to 72 and today it is 82. I have caught myself in coughing fits where my heart rate has been at 132 bpm. I hope with more rest and relaxation, I can get it back down where it belongs.

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How to Fight the Flu

Sleep
They say sleep is the best thing for you when you’re sick? They’re right. Absolutely right. I attribute getting better quickly to sleeping a lot this weekend and over the past couple of days. I slept last night for 10 hours and I feel a million times better. All I have left is a residual cough.

Hydration
Tea.
Water.
Orange juice.
Soup.
Repeat.

Advil was my saving grace over the past few days to help with the aches and fever. Taking a hot bath with epsom salts also helped ease the aches and pains.

I hope if you’re reading this, you don’t get the flu or fall victim to another form of sickness this winter. Stay cozy, friends!

Let’s Talk About Self-Care

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Dr. Seuss once said, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

And isn’t that the truth? After all, you are the only you that exists. Yet sometimes in the craziness of life, we are so busy taking care of others around us that we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves. In recent years, I have started to take the time and do things to take care of myself and what a difference it has made!

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