Saturday, 24 January 2015

Being Human

I'm reading a book called 'How to win friends and influence people'. It was recommended to me by a co worker who regaled me for some time about the things he had learned and used from it's pages. 
Self-help?! I'm there.
It has good advice - never criticize, show appreciation - and the author reminds us often as to the potential monetary gains from basically caring about people instead of just yourself, but he hasn't yet adressed the gains we can make in ourselves. 
It feels GOOD to pay someone a compliment and they brighten up. Sometimes you have to look pretty deep, but most people have some place you can reach them. (Many a relationship has its roots in a shared love of cats!)
When you're nice to people, nice things happen. People sometimes let you go ahead of them in line at the grocery store. Or you get a great gift or other 'pennies from heaven', I call them.  Sometimes life just goes well for awhile. It's because when you're nice you can bring out the nice in other people and that makes the world a better place.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

I Was Forced To Write This😼

My cat got a blanket for Christmas. Actually, I got a heated blanket from my brother, but Beau thinks it's his. 
Beau is thirteen, missing one eye and blind in the other, but he still finds things to make him happy. And this blanket - OH how it makes him happy! 
What I like about cats, and I think Beau is extra-special this way, is that they find the little things in life to take joy from. 
For this and about ten thousand other reasons, people should be more like cats.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Oops I did it again!

I'm back! 

A situation is unfolding in my life that is teaching me SO much, I had to share.

I did something a little bit mean. And just before I did it, I thought 'should I?'. And I knew the answer was no but I did it anyway. In my defence, I was a tiny bit drunk, but I wish I could take it back.

I think I hurt someone's feelings - NOT my intention - I was just trying to be funny, but I'm pretty sure it's because of my silly action that now I'm on the hotspot.

What am I taking from this? First, I'm going to apologize. Second, I realized that every time I do the slightest thing that could be taken as mean, and behave in a way that I know to be contrary to my true self, it comes back to bite me in the ass, harder than I think I deserve. EVERY TIME.

The universe is trying to tell me that I need to be true to myself and my mission to make the world a brighter, not darker place. What you put out, you get back.

And now I am at peace.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sleep Hygiene

PThe other part of my talk was on sleep hygiene. Sleep is when our brains and bodies rest and repair. Adults need 6.5-8 hours a night. More is not good either, unless it's catch-up, because the lymphatic system becomes sluggish and this can increase the risk of certain cancers. 
Before sleeping: 
Get up at the same time every day.
Get outside during the day and get some exercise. Let your body know it's daytime.
Go to bed at the same time each night - and with a soothing routine beforehand, if possible. Dim the lights, listen to soft music, or read.
The bedroom should be for sex and sleep only. Keep it cool and dark.
Avoid:
Bright lights before bed. This includes computers, phones, TVs and actual lights. They confuse the brain into thinking it's daytime.
No drinking two hours before bed. This seems self-explanatory, but I'll also add no alcohol to this rule. It may help sleep come on but it dehydrates the body and that can wake you up.
Meditation can help if you have trouble falling asleep, and it can be as simple as counting your breath.
Sweet dreams!

Are you ready?

Okay, so it's been awhile. And I'll tell you why. My mother, who was bipolar all her life, committed suicide by stepping in front of a train over a month ago. 
It's sad, tragic, and has been very stressful on my family. But I like to try to put a positive spin on things, so in pointing out the positive aspect, I'll say this - I won't go out like that.
Two weeks after I heard the news, I gave a talk on the importance of exercise and sleep in terms of mental health. It was hard, but I wanted to help. Exercise, for me, has literally been a life saver. I had a few episodes in my late 20s when I didn't want to live. It's not that I wanted to die - it was just that living held only pain for me  and I needed a way out. 
I've done the medication thing, which proved to be disastrous for me, but what helped me cope daily was using my body for work, feeding myself good food and getting my rest. 
Nearly a third of mental health patients (bipolar, anxiety, depression) don't respond to medication. Exercise can be as effective as meds as they change brain chemistry by stimulating the pituitary gland to release endorphins - that's right, the feel good hormones. You're also taking an active role in your own recovery, which further boosts self-esteem. Cardio - the term we apply to steady-state exercise where the heart rate remains elevated - is the fastest producer of the runners' high, but any moderately intense excercise counts. Riding a bike, using the elliptical, walking the stairs or just walking, are all examples. Weight training, which I think everyone should do, can also give that high feeling. For me, there's something very cathartic about abusing inanimate iron. 
What about yoga? Well, in a word, perfect! It combines strength and flexibility and the meditative aspect cannot be beat for calming and entering a frazzled mind.
What I learned through this group meeting, and through my recent loss, is that stuff can happen at any time, and you have to be ready. If you have certain tools in place - like nutrition, exercise, rest, support - you'll be better able to cope when things happen. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Perfect Opposites

I started working out to maintain a healthy body weight and accidentally became a bodybuilder. Not like those huge dudes who look deformed, but pound for pound, I'm stronger than many men and most women.
So what is a bodybuilder doing in yoga/hot yoga classes?
Because they're perfect opposites! Weight training movements are all about contracting - in other words, shortening the muscle, while yoga is about lengthening the muscles. 
When I weight train, I'm fierce, almost angry, even though I LOVE how I feel. I take out my anger on the iron. And talk about solitary - I put on my iPod and focus and prefer not to be bothered.
In yoga class I could not be more different. I feel calm, at peace, and connected with my classmates.
It's good to use your body in different ways. I'll always be a bodybuilder, but doing other activities helps me to be better at the one I love most!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Exercise Presciption

I've been asked to speak at a course on the topic of exercise and mental health. I can't believe I haven't touched on this yet - it's so important!
I'll admit that I started working out for vanity. But what I learned was that as much as exercise is good for your body, it's also good for the soul. 
Of course, there's the endorphin rush. But there's also the focus that brings you into the present, new neural pathways forming with new movements, and the general awareness that you're taking control and actively trying to improve. 
Exercise is as effective as medicine, or more so, in treating depression in many cases. And it's natural and free.
Sometimes when you feel bad it can be hard to even move, but if you force yourself, you'll be glad you did. And if you're already perfectly happy, a workout still won't hurt!