Category Archives: Wellness

Making Healthy Resolutions

Resolutions abound at this time of year. I’ve made some of my own (more on them later), but some of us are wondering if we’ll actually keep them.

It’s a valid concern: we’ve all made resolutions that fall apart soon after the new year starts, or we put them off until our goals become impossible to complete in the few months that we have left.

As bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as we are at the beginning of any new year, with passing time, our resolutions often end up causing more stress than motivation.

I believe the key to real, positive change lies in creating and keeping healthy resolutions: how you frame your goals, and how you measure your achievements, will determine whether your resolutions will build up and maintain your mental health throughout the year, or chip away at your self-confidence.

1. Assess your goals. Why do you want to do what you’re going to do? Does the way you’ve framed your resolution reflect the why?

Many of us would like to be healthier. Resolutions relating to physical health are among the most popular every year, and manifest themselves in many ways, e.g. go to the gym each week, take up running, lose weight.

Goals like ‘Lose 10 lbs’ can be particularly worrisome if you don’t say how you’re going to get there. By focusing on weight loss, rather than general health, you open yourself up to potentially problematic methods to achieve what you want, such as fad dieting, skipping meals, or taking exercise to extremes.

An easy solution is to rewrite your resolutions to reflect your main goal: to eat fewer junk food and more nutritious, balanced meals, or to exercise more regularly. Weight loss can be a measurement of greater health (particularly if your doctor told you to do it), but what’s more important is how you get there.

2. Have several levels of qualitative and quantitative achievements.

We’ve been taught to quantify our goals, but not to qualify them. Instead of resolving to run 5 km by the end of the year (especially if you’re currently a couch potato), and ‘failing’ if you only manage to run 3 km, try thinking:

  • I will be satisfied if I can jog for 10 minutes without stopping.
  • I will be more satisfied if I can jog for 20 minutes without stopping.
  • I will be pleased if I can run 1 km without stopping.
  • I will be very pleased if I can run 3 km without stopping.
  • I will be extremely proud if I can run 5 km without stopping.

Imagine how you’ll feel after the completion of each goal, and write it in. The idea is to have several goals that will increase your self-satisfaction upon completion that will be in line with your general goal of taking up running, and to work your way up.

Instead of feeling bad if you fail the one large goal, this breaks your resolution up into more achievable baby steps — and gives you permission to feel good each time you complete one, which in turn motivates you to achieve the next level.

Best of all, even if you don’t do all of them — or if you decide you don’t want to, for whatever reason — you’ll now be able to say to yourself at the end of the year, ‘I’m very pleased that I can run 3 km without stopping!’

Hurray for positive mental health!

Hawaiian Holiday

Sunset in Oahu, Hawaii

Sunset in Oahu, Hawai'i

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Arrived home yesterday from Oahu, Hawai’i, with the family. There for four days: shopped, ate, toured, whale-watched, and sat in a submarine. The Pacific ocean has never been so many shades of blue.

The plane ride there had me empty-handed, without a book, a laptop or a movie to watch, so there was really nothing for me to do except to re-evaluate my life and write my 2011 resolutions on a napkin provided by Air Canada. Talk about productive use of time.

You don’t have to take a plane or ride a bus to think, really think, about what you want. Sometimes it is good to hole yourself up in a room where no one will disturb you, or go to a favourite place alone. Sometimes it is good just to take a break from the things that worry you, to give yourself permission not to do your usual thing for a few days. Give yourself the chance to be refreshed and re-energised. Enjoy your holiday.

I hope the festive season is treating all of you well. ♥

My Weekend of Injuries

Scene: Propped up in bed, with my laptop on my lap. Actually working.

Realised I had slid down considerably and could no longer be considered as sitting. Decided to remedy this by pushing myself upwards with my hands.

My knees jerked.

My laptop came hurtling down towards my nose.

I processed an audible sound of impact at the same time my tear ducts began working in overdrive.

My brother had no idea why I was weeping copious amounts of tears or why both my hands were cupping my nose and I was wailing something like “shooooo”. He gave me tissue.

Fortunately, it wasn’t broken or even cracked, though I did wear a giant ice pack across my face to slow the swelling. My cheeks got very cold.

Then I flailed about in my sleep and whacked myself on the nose again with my arm, and the next day I almost fell down the stairs twice, and also bruised my funnybone on the washing machine door.

Also, I may be developing lactose intolerance.

All this to say: Be careful while studying for exams, kids.

I really don’t know why I complain

Last night, I got two hours of stress-filled sleep where I was worrying about my papers and finals in my dreams. I rolled around for another couple of hours in an attempt to go back to sleep before giving up and getting up to write a paper.

Normally, I get extremely frustrated when I don’t have enough sleep. Knowing my own irritability, however, I told myself to acknowledge that I was going to be slow, tired and grumpy, and should therefore be gentle with myself.

What wonders a kind frame of mind can create. Instead of freaking out over how much time I’m losing, I found myself enjoying my day more than I thought possible.

Sunrise from Marine Drive

This is a picture of the sunrise I typed my paper under this morning.

I don’t have it here, but there was also a single star shining white in the lingering night sky that I pretended was the North Star, but probably wasn’t, given that I was facing south.

Shout-outs go to all the amazing people who showed their care and concern for me after my little burst of bad temper the other day, through emails, phone calls and text messages. I was wondering why more than one person was offering to feed me before I remembered I’d blogged about it. This is to let you know I got groceries today, so don’t worry!

(I also did my laundry today so have deliciously clean clothes, too. Mm, I do love pretty smells!)

Also special thanks to a special friend who dropped by this evening to give me a massive box of mandarins and vitamin-saturated fruit juice. They will be incredible in my efforts to dose myself up on Vitamin C.

Much love and luck to everyone doing exam battle—we are troopers!

(P.S. I think I saw a real chipmunk today! It was adorable.)

I am not a happy chipmunk

(Why a chipmunk, you ask? I don’t know, only that it was the sentence running constantly through my head the other day when I was probably running a low fever. The sentence still stands as entirely accurate, however: I am not happy, nor am I a chipmunk.)

I dislike it when people tell me they are jealous of my exam schedule, because I will be done next Friday. If I only had two finals on Tuesday and Wednesday, then yes, I would be jealous too. However, I also have three research papers due on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and none of these are going well. My bout of whatever this lousy illness thing that knocked me out on Friday afternoon at 5 pm after a day of struggling to read and write one of these papers is not helping. I am almost entirely out of food in the fridge and also lacking energy and motivation to cook. This week is also my turn to clean the kitchen and living room. I haven’t done my laundry yet. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thought over the last few years that stress over school is not worth the sickness. My heart is sad and stressed because I feel so lousy, I’m sure to do badly and will pull down my grades and then not get into grad school, and now I’m overthinking and need to get back to my paper.

Rant done and promise there will be no more of this sort this year.