Self-Development

Normally at this time of year I do a yearly recap and/or setting goals for the new year, but seeing as 2020 did not turn out how anyone expected, it seems unnecessary to recap and hard to want to set goals since we have no idea what’s coming (not that we’ve ever had an idea but there was more optimism in the past). By the way, if you want to watch an extremely funny take on the past year check out “Death to 2020” on Netflix – satire at its finest. Here’s the thing though, I don’t think personal development has to stop because things aren’t going well in the world. At least it doesn’t stop for me. Sure, some things were completely derailed because of the pandemic, and some more so for some people than others but I don’t want to stop living to the best of my abilities, do you?

I read an article on Global News this morning, indicating that 40% of Canadians have been struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues since the beginning of the pandemic (and about 30% with weight gain). Interestingly the normal yearly prevalence rates for mental illness in Canada is about 20%, but the lifetime prevalence is 50% (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2020). Our yearly rate is definitely up, and only time will tell how the lifetime prevalence will be affected. I think it is safe to say that this year we all should focus on our mental health. Whether that means going to therapy (check your area for free counselling options or therapists will sliding scales), utilizing crisis intervention services, or just enhancing our self-care practices to try and keep ourselves as feeling as good as possible, we all need to do something. In terms of substance abuse, it’s important to monitor how much you’re drinking and do the occasional detox/cleanse is probably a good idea. Finally, if you’re concerned about your weight, try to come up with ways to exercise at home (I’ve done a lot of this and post a workout video every 3 weeks on this blog).

At home exercise can be as effective as at the gym exercise.

So, in a sense, we kind of do have some goals for this year that are totally realistic, regardless of what the year has in store for us. For chronic illness warriors, I’m adding one additional, totally realistic goal as well. And trust me, I’m going to do these with you as well.

  1. Prioritizing our mental health: therapy and/or crisis intervention services AND self-care (if you can subscribe to my premium posts, they are all about improving self-care).
  2. Watch how much we are drinking: go a week here-and-there without drinking at all; monitor what you do drink; and try not to drink too much. I find tea in the evening is a good substitute for a drink.
  3. Keep in as good of shape as we can: my chiropractor told me he thinks my recovery from surgery has gone so well because I was in good shape before my surgery. Eat healthy and find creative ways to exercise at home!
  4. Continue to monitor and prioritize your illness: go to your doctor appointment (virtually if necessary), take your medications, utilize any other health services you have, and rest as needed.
Self-care can be anything you enjoy doing, that makes you feel good, and it is essential for mental health.

I’m going to link some podcast episodes for you to listen to when you get a chance in order to help you with these goals:

The best goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound – so remember that when actually making your goals for the year. For example, my goal for mental health is: Do one self-care activity every day for at least 5 minutes, 7 days a week for the whole year. If you need help creating some of these goals, feel free to reach out.

Take care of yourself this coming year, and keep on making the most of it.

All the Cozy Things for Fall & Winter

This is a self-care type of post I supposed but in the past week of not being able to do much, I’ve been thinking about how, even during a pandemic, there are amazing, cozy, self-care activities… well, activities in general… we can do inside and at-home during the winter. I live in Canada, so winters are already long, and yesterday I watched a news report where experts said the “darkest” months for Covid will be January-March so I guess we should be prepared for the continuation of strict measures.

Image from: http://www.ottawafamilyliving.com/cozy-home-cozy-life-preparations-winter/

Let’s start off with some of my favourite things to wear. Pyjamas – because as spoonies we can’t have enough of these – and especially cozy ones like fleece or flannel. Who doesn’t want to lounge around in PJs all day, especially when it’s cold and gloomy outside. Sweaters are another one. Big, comfy, cozy sweaters. And for the holiday season, Ugly Christmas Sweaters (I have three Star Wars ones… I don’t think they’re ugly though!). Sweaters can also just make you feel warm and relaxed – at least I think so! Finally, slipping on some of those fuzzy socks, or a nice pair of slippers (my feet always get cold first… also I can’t get on socks at the moment because of my surgery, so I’m looking forward to 5 weeks from now when I can properly dress myself again).

New fall/winter sweater I ordered online.

Part 2: Delicious Drinks. Hot chocolate, coffee, and tea. All of these just feel warm and wintery. I maybe have hot chocolate once a year because it’s way too sweet. What I do like are some of Starbucks’ holiday drinks like the peppermint mocha (half sweet though) because it gives that combo of hot chocolate and coffee (best of both worlds)! Though if you have any local coffee places that make something similar, I definitely encourage you to support them instead! Or if you don’t want to go out, there are tons of recipes online to make them at home! Teas are all great. Usually in the winter I end up preferring black tea over coffee at some point and switch over in the mornings. I also love herbal teas. Peppermint tea is another great wintery classic.

Image (and recipe) from: https://bakingmischief.com/peppermint-mocha/

Finally, being creative. Baking, doing crafts, decorating your house, playing music, reading, and even some throw backs like playing board and card games (instead of video games) and doing puzzles can be great ways to get through the extra in door time. Varying up the routine to prevent boredom is essential (my parents used to tell us that “if you’re bored, you must be boring.”). These things all have a cozy, wintery feel to them (yes they can all be done throughout the year) and maybe that’s just some nostalgia from memories of growing up in a snow-infested, bitter-cold province.

Image (and recipes) from: https://www.chatelaine.com/food/kitchen-tips/baking-perfect-christmas-cookies/

I think my point here, is that we can help our health and our mental health by thinking outside of the box and making ourselves feel good with the little things. Because sometimes little things can have big impacts. Keep making the most of it, folks!