Floor Barre Ballet to Destress (#1)

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Yesterday, I needed to sit down for a few hours to write a take-home school exam. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t do; I had studied all of the material already. I knew what I was getting into and how much I was supposed to write, and the questions for the exam were not tricky. I was supposed to choose one of the three question options and write an essay response. But I couldn’t shake the nerves that had built up a bit of tension in my muscles in the time I had waited to get started.

Luckily, the exam was not timed. I decided to use that opportunity to destress by getting out of my mind and releasing some of the tension that had built up in my muscles through a workout. Focusing on exercise, especially movements that require control and mental focus, has been an effective way for me to change my train of thought and get out of my mind. When I am focused on keeping good form while performing different moves, it’s easier to let go of anything else that might be vying for my mental attention, and it becomes possible to just be in the present moment.

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Goodbye to All That: Toxic Spirituality & Mental Health

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Spirituality is an important part of my life. I like to know that this isn’t everything there is, that there’s more than what meets the eye in this world… It brings me peace. My spirituality is something I turn to even more anytime I am going through something difficult.

As cheesy as it sounds, and especially because I was not brought up Christian, I can always count on stories of individuals choosing good over evil, overcoming through humility and God’s grace and forgiveness that characterize much of the Bible to lift me up and rejuvenate my spirit. I don’t think the Bible or religion are the only sources of spiritual health, and I know there are other options for spiritual fulfillment.

However, I do want to share my negative experience with a type of spirituality that is basically a scam. And more so, it can very easily turn toxic to our mental health. It’s a spirituality of complete autonomy, based on the idea that we are not only responsible for what we do but also responsible for everything that happens to us. There is no empirical evidence for this, of course. But then again, there isn’t any for a benevolent God wanting the best for us either.

If you’re going through this, you’re not alone. What is referred to as Law of Attraction, which informs this type of thinking, has taken over so much of our culture, and it’s based on a couple of compelling but false claims.

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Easy 5 Km Jog and Trying Orgain Plant-Based Organic Protein Powder

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This morning, I woke up an hour before my alarm, at about 7:45 a.m. That’s still about an hour later than I usually get up, but after a day filled with two exams, I wanted to set myself up for a good day today and get a ton of rest.

I knew I’d be going for a jog this morning, even though I hadn’t decided on the specifics. I’ve just gotten back into running with the warming April weather, and so far, I’ve played it by ear each time I’ve gone, setting a goal for myself based on how my body feels within the first minute or so of the jog.

I had a few procrastinate-y thoughts as I got up and sat in bed, thinking about the chilly 5-degree weather (41 degrees Fahrenheit, for reference) waiting for me outside. And things got even (a little) more challenging when I started getting dressed and realized, after digging deep into my closet, that I’d have to wear knee-length pants/shorts because all of my workout pants (I don’t own many) were in the laundry basket.

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Running and Tacos — How Everything Gets Better

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A few days ago, I was feeling a little bit down. I had been going through a job recruitment process that tested me in a way that well clarified my intentions and desires in terms of the kind of employment relationships I want to create in my life. That is, I desire an employer that values my time just as much as they expect me to value theirs in the recruitment and interview stage.

During the interview stage, if I took a day to think about something, I would let these people know. If I had to create a sample of work for them, I had a deadline to follow. In return, however, I was given no timeline or expectation for when I would hear back regarding their decision. In the days following, I received many Linkedin notifications of the same two people from the company looking at my (empty!) profile multiple times without any contact to give me any type of feedback. I decided it was enough and withdrew from the process.

Part of the experience is due to the fact that I cared so much about this job. I was really excited. Before choosing to submit my candidacy for the role, I took time to research the firm and really think about whether I could see myself doing the work. I could—really well!

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How I Proactively Prevent Stress Eating and Choose to Thrive Instead :D

Over the years, I have become very good at managing my mood-induced eating. I personally think I am a great candidate to write about this topic because I am emotional and I do have a history of emotional eating. I’m not the type of person who can really go any amount of time (days or weeks) sticking to a perfect planned diet. That’s because I do use eating to cope! I mean, I could technically go all healthy, if I had nothing else to do, but what I mean is that it would affect other areas of my life.

Lately, I’ve noticed the urge to cope with food more strongly. This is because one of the courses I am taking is really personally triggering. It’s something I haven’t dealt with before… School on its own can be stressful if we don’t have a good method for managing time (something I’ve worked on and thankfully have!) but this is a whole new type of struggle. The actual content of the course is triggering to me.

Since I’ve taken notice of my new food issue, I’ve been working to be really mindful about the choices I make, and I wanted to share some of my tricks. They’re really common sense, but they work. As well, I will be making a list of other coping strategies for this particular problem in a later post, but the purpose of that is to ease the burden and not rely on just ONE way of coping, especially one that can have health consequences.

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One of my strategies is to take the time to really check in with myself before making the plunge into eating. Historically, one of my worst food choices for emotional eating has been bread. Bread is high in calories, low in nutrition, and for me, it takes quite a lot of it to “hit” the spot and give me the soothing that I look to feel. So I try to stay away from bread when I do emotional eating.

If you are in a situation in which you feel that food might help you to cope, take several deep breaths with your eyes closed and try to really visualize and taste what will help to soothe your emotions and your struggle in that moment. Maybe it’s a burger and fries. Whatever it is, take a sensory survey of it in your mind’s eye. Then move on to the next thing; what else would help your emotions? Maybe it’s a falafel. Do that as many times as you can and try to give your choice a health rating. in the end, find the least harmful thing of the bunch that is still very satisfying and get that.

For me, today, it was dark chocolate chips. They are creamy, sweet and satisfying, but also relatively low in calories (I don’t need too many to feel good) and chocolate is thought to have health benefits. When I arrived at the bulk foods store, I stepped in with intention. I analyzed the food labels and chose to purchase 100 grams of their best dark chocolate chips. I am particularly satisfied with this choice because, only for these chocolate chips, the ingredients list begins with cacao rather than sugar.

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Something else I do is to try to combine health with tastebud stimulation. I’m genuinely a health-food nut, despite being an emotional eater, so I really have to keep an eye on my budget and stay away from a lot of goji-berry type purchases that can run pretty deep into my pockets. But when I feel the stress of emotional eating, I know that not only for my health but also the ensuing extreme guilt that a cycle of unhealthy eating would inspire, I need to indulge my tastebuds in some of the fun healthy foods.

One of those treats for me is dried apricots. Okay, stay with me. My favourite way of eating dried apricots is first thing in the morning. I prepare them through the night by placing five or six in a bowl and filling the bowl with boiling water. I cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I eat the rehydrated apricots and drink the apricot-water. Literally one of the best treats I can think of! So delicious.

This is not a call to start soaking apricots, by no means. Rather, I’m trying to encourage you to explore the health-food aisle snacks before reaching for a bag of Lays or turning up at your McDonald’s drive-thru window. There are many healthful, plant-based yummy snacks and treats by companies that are genuinely trying to create something healthy. Let yourself indulge in those mindfully.

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Another strategy that makes me less likely to “go off the rails” in times of emotional difficulty is to add variety and excitement to my meals. As a mostly plant-based eater, my diet consists of a lot of rice-and-bean type dishes, with a side of steamed veggies or salad. They’re super healthy and yummy, and there’s nothing wrong with those choices, but they can also get boring to the point where while the meal is physically satisfying, it’s not emotionally satisfying.

Tonight I decided to make something that would be more fun for dinner. I blended a large banana with pea protein, spinach, plant milk, ice cubes, and some peanut butter and garnished a smoothie bowl with some of my favourite toppings (goji berries, shredded coconut, and the chocolate chips).