Video: Daily Exercise – Mountain Hikes

This is not for the faint of heart. To be honest, this is great if you’ve been building up your exercise game and if you do some hiking already. I did a video post last year on more gentle hikes, which are a fantastic alternative to going for a walk. This is kind of levelling up those gentle hikes. Yes, I do this even with chronic pain. Why? Because I love hiking, and will take the time to recover (for example, the day after I did this I did a channel float where I sat on a tube for 3 hours and floated down a channel/river). Remember to please consult with your healthcare team before starting any new exercise. Alright, take care and keep making the most of it!

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Taking a Break with Family

As I titled this I realized some people might automatically read “from” family which is 100% not what I’m going for. Rather, taking a break from all of the other things in life to spend time WITH family, is something some of us probably need right now (some of you may have just spent the past 6 months locked up with your family and may need the opposite type of break)! I needed the break for a couple of reasons: (1) I live far from the rest of my family, (2) because of the pandemic this is the longest I’ve gone without seeing them, (3) work has been hella stressful (also due to the pandemic), and (4) while your support system can include many other people, mine also includes my family.

Me and the bros in Kalamalka Park, BC. Epic hike!

And so, I risked it and went on a plane, taking me from Ontario to BC. (To be honest the airlines are doing a decent job at making travel as safe as possible and all passengers seem to consider safety important). Both of my brothers live in BC with their partners, and it was my younger brother whom I stayed with. The trip itself was a mix of physical activity (hiking, kayaking, yoga – all my faves) and chill time (eating and drinking at wineries and pubs, and watching movies).

Yoga day at a winery overlooking Lake Okanagan.

There are two parts of my trip that I valued the most. One was hanging out with my younger brother, both the first day I got in when we just toured around town and caught up on what’s been going on with one another, and then when we binge watched three movies back-to-back on Sunday night because we both love movies. The other was when my older brother and his wife joined the other three of us on a hike, winery tastings, and dinner, allowing us all to spend some time together. Interestingly it is my older brother I’ve seen the most of during the past few years as his work often brings him to Toronto to visit. Because of Covid-19, his company has restricted travel until the new year.

How we do a winery!

Having a mental break and spending it with people I love was so important. I maybe pushed a bit too hard on some of the hikes but it made me rethink where I want to be in the near future, and to be honest, I never consider change a bad thing. We’ll see where the future takes each of us.

If I can also get some thoughts, prayers, whatever you personally do for Spike I would really appreciate it. He is at the vet, having been extremely sick over the past 18 hours.

When Spike was feeling much better on his 11th birthday a few weeks ago.

Adventure Therapy/Nature Therapy

So, if you’ve read by blog in the past you’re probably quite aware that I do love the outdoors, particularly in the summer. Did you know that as well as the physical benefits of being outside (Vitamin D, exercise, and so on) there are some mental health benefits as well? Also, did you know that both adventure therapy and nature therapy are real things?

IMG_4716Bestie and I having a beach day.

I’ve followed an Adventure Therapist on Instagram for awhile but I didn’t know anything about it (other than that it sounded cool). This week in my course readings (my course is on multicultural counselling) I was reading about adventure and nature therapy. Sounds kind of weird for a multicultural counselling course, right? Not really, because a lot of the course is looking at different perspectives and cultural world views. Indigenous peoples often use nature as a part of healing. As my textbook points out, the modern world and technology is actually stress-inducing, so going into nature to “escape” can have psychological benefits (as well as spiritual ones). Many cultures believe that we are to be connected with nature, and to be quite honest, I completely agree with this view. Yes, I love the modern world and using my computer to write this and living in a big city. But I’m also excited to go visit my brother who lives in a much, much smaller city in the middle of the mountains. I like hiking and being outside by myself or with just one or two other people. It is an escape and it is relaxing.

IMG_7448Kayaking in nature (without leaving the city!)

What is adventure therapy? Adventure therapy utilizes the outdoors and experiences like hiking and trekking, to help being become more cooperative, less selfish, and more in tune with themselves. Nature therapy, is essentially the same, but includes spiritual elements and things like art therapy, drama, and eco-psychology. Some cool things can come out of it (assuming you have a good nature/adventure therapist). Your values may become clearer, your personal awareness should increase, your self-esteem can improve, and you should have a lot less stress. You’re also likely to become more present (mindfulness, yay!) and have clearer goals for the future. Even without a therapist, just allowing yourself to be in nature, be mindfulness and present while there, and believe in the healing powers of the earth, you’re likely to feel more grounded when you head back into society.

IMG_7673I always seem to be able to fit a hike in!

Let me know what you think about nature, adventure, the therapies of the earth, and being open to other perspectives, in the comments!

References:

France, M.H., Rodriguez, M. del C., & Hett, G.G. (Eds.). (2013). Diversity, culture and counseling: A Canadian perspective (2nd ed.). Calgary, AB: Brush Education.

Summertime Self-Care

Every time I say the word summertime I start singing: “Summertime and the livin’ is easy.” I think it’s from playing it in high school jazz band many moons ago, and actually when I pulled my sax out in the spring it was an easy song to get back into and play. Yes, here in Canada we are already half way through summer because let’s face it, summer is June, July, August, and if we’re lucky, September. That doesn’t mean we should talk about some summer-related self-care we are all hopefully engaging in, and if not, then it’s not too late to start!

IMG_7450Hot town, summer in the city.

Obviously this year is a bit different due to the pandemic which is spiking and second waving in certain parts of the world, while other parts (ahem USA) haven’t finished their first wave yet. But there are still some activities I’ve found to do this summer that have been great for my body, mind, and spirit – three important aspects of self-care. Personally, I think spending as much time as possible outside is really important for my mental health. If you live anywhere that gets a long, cold winter (Canada, northern US, Russia, Scandinavia, etc) then you understand how much needed the summer sun is. Whether it’s sitting in your back (or front) yard, on your porch, your balcony (apartment dwellers), a bench in a park, or wherever, getting outside for at least an hour a day can make you feel a lot better. And many other favourite self-care activities can be done outside – meditation, yoga, reading, etc.

IMG_7827Backyard chillaxin’ with Spike!

If you’re looking for something a little more physical, I’ve talked about hiking and kayaking, but really any outdoor sport you’re capable of doing is great, even just going for a walk. If it’s safe to do so, having dinner or a drink with a friend on a patio (social distanced of course) can be a good way to get some social self-care in, which many of us weren’t able to do (other than Zoom) during self-isolation. So if you’re in a place that is a little more open and not currently spiking, and you’re safe to do so, getting out with a friend or two might be a good idea.

IMG_7671I always aim to get a little movement in!

Whatever you decide to do for summertime self-care, just make sure you’re staying safe, wearing a mask, and continuing to social distance until the medical professionals tell us it’s safe to do otherwise. Yes, this year is different, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be taking care of ourselves.

Exercise for Chronic Pain: Hiking Edition

Another video post for you, here at Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto.

Hiking is an amazing way to get some exercise, even when you have chronic pain, because it can be tailored to your health and skill level. I personally can do (and love to do) moderate hikes. Easier trails may be beneficial for you though. Plus, getting out in nature is amazing for your mental health!