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Health & Wellbeing

Health and Wellness — lifestyle

Personal Challenge: No Netflix or any TV for 2 Weeks

It has been over a year now since we sold our television. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions we ever made in regards to freeing up space in our little apartment. Our daughter arrived shortly after we sold the TV so we wanted to create an atmosphere that was calm, light & spacious. Removing the TV was essential to create the space we wanted.

 

We both love watching a great movie or TV series. We still have our laptops & iPad so Netflix is still available to us. We agreed we would not watch TV from Monday to Thursday. The weekend is open to watch something good if we feel like it. Having no TV during the week freed up so much time to work on other projects like our blog, extra chores, fitness, reading, drawing, writing, board games and lots more. We really loved this balance of getting things done and watching TV when we had all our To Do’s done.

 

Lately, however, I found myself watching Netflix a lot more. Maybe it was a knock-on effect of COVID or maybe I was tired and just wasn’t able to do anything else. The latter was probably more accurate;-) Anyways I just didn’t feel like my evenings were spent well after I would watch Netflix. I didn’t like going to bed just after watching TV. My bedtime was getting later too which is not good when my baby wakes twice in the night. Something had to change, I needed to take action and get back on track with things.

 

I decided to give myself the challenge of 2 weeks completely TV free. I have just finished week one and I am feeling very productive (even back writing a blog). I’m exercising again, I’m ticking off my daily tasks, I’m reading more and more importantly, I am talking with George more. All of these things are the reason why we restricted our TV watching in the first place. We were never huge TV watchers but 1-2 hours every night is a lot to prioritise to mindless watching. We already have limited time to ourselves so we want to spend our time in the best way possible for us. 1-2 hours of TV a week works well for us.  Netflix is now seen as a fun thing do to together, a way to relax after a busy week when all our exercise, chores & to do’s are done.

 

I’m delighted I set this challenge for myself and that it has shown me when I am most truly happy. I have learned I need to exercise, read, deep clean and chat with George. These are just some of the things I am choosing to do with my free time without TV.

 

Would you ever go TV free for a week? What would you like to do instead?

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx

We Are Each Others Strength

As thousands around the world die, the news tells us that the situation in British Columbia is looking up a little as the curve begins to settle.

This is good news but I write to implore everybody to remain vigilant. We must remain strong for the person standing next to us. We must be the shoulder to cry on and the rock to support them. We must remain close to those we love by staying away.

This situation is not likely to end soon, our patience and resolve will wane but it is those moments of weakness that we find our true strength. It is when we are about to fall that we find the greatest strength deep within ourselves to remain standing and fight on.

We must stand strong for each other when the strength of the person next to us dips. We will be there to hold them up because we know they will be there to hold us up when our strength dips.

When we stay inside, when we are lonely, when we cross the street because we see someone walking towards us, when we tune into the news to hear the death toll rising, that is when we must look within ourselves and each other. We can support each other from a distance. We can smile across the street or the alleyway. Just listen to the noise every night at 7pm when complete strangers join to cheer from their balconies and wave to each other.

We have the strength to carry ourselves through this but we also have the strength to carry each other through this so let us stand strong and stand together by maintaining our distance and maintaining our resolve.

This is our chance to prove that we are not to be remembered as a generation of polluters of the planet, slaughterers of animals and as violent misfits who are constantly in conflict. This is our chance to be remembered as the generation who pulled together in a time of great loneliness. The generation who stood strong and defended each other no matter what race, religion or culture we come from. We will be remembered as survivors who did what we had to do so our generation would pull through and rebuild our economy carry on. We will endure.

This situation will not last forever. When you see your friend struggle, be there to take some of the load, remind them that we must stay strong and stay resolute in our determination to beat this disease. Short term isolation does not have to be long term loneliness. We are all there for each other.

Peace,

George

Covid-19: Our Thoughts

Up until a week ago, Covid-19 virus had a small impact on our daily life. Apart from being super aware of washing & sanitizing our hands and staying clear of overpopulated areas, life was pretty much the same. What a difference a week can make.

Social distancing is in full effect. What does this mean to us? It means we are not meeting with our friends, avoiding public places, bars, restaurants, fitness classes, favourite café’s & limiting our grocery shopping to once a week at quiet times. Luxuries like haircuts, waxing, massage & acupuncture have been cancelled.

George will be working from home. Thankfully he still has work as the construction industry is still moving forward with projects. Currently, I am on maternity leave and will be until July 2nd, hoping the pandemic will be complete by then. Fingers crossed.

Skype calls to our family back home in Ireland are consumed with chat about the covid-19 virus. Mostly all positive as Irish people we like to use humour in times of stress. However, it is strange that family members cannot visit one another. It is a relief that they are all safe and are taking the safety measures seriously.

It’s interesting in times like these how we react to crisis situations. We have seen the effects of over buying in our grocery stores. Shelves are empty not because of high demand but because people are over buying unnecessary items such as toilet paper out of fear of running out. Toilet paper of all things!

The news & social media can be very informative but also one of the biggest agents for creating fear among the masses. It is constantly feeding us misinformation, showing the ugly side of us, promoting the sense of lack instead of abundance, showing the fear instead of the courage, highlighting the bad instead of the good. I am not saying that we should be fed only good news (not a bad idea) but more of a balance so people can remain balanced and not one-sided.

This weekend, for example, we have seen so much good from people in our neighbourhood. A neighbour a few blocks away from us had free toilet paper on their lawn and a sign saying “take one, if you NEED one”, this is the kindness we need to be shown daily so people can learn from it and follow this example.

Our neighbour just 2 doors down left out enough non-perishable’s goods on our common room table to ensure everyone has food.

Posters are up around Kitsilano from people offering help to go grocery shopping & errands for the high-risk population. These acts of kindness are happening everywhere, I personally would like to hear more about them. They are super inspiring and motivates us to help too.

Inspirational bloggers & Instagrammers are offering support in ways they can via free mediation & yoga classes. These are great services for people to help cope with increased anxiety & fear.

We have quite a few old people in our building. One of the men fought in WW2, Leonid is 96 years old. He still goes out for his walks every day. Judy who lives across from us was born & raised in Vancouver, such a beautiful lady with the most amazing balcony garden. These are at-risk people & we are responsible for keeping them safe just as much as ourselves.

We were so delighted to see signs go up in our building ensuring that management has increased the sanitization of all doorknobs, lift panels, laundry rooms to help combat the spread of germs. They also noted if anyone needs help with anything to reach out to them. Kindness is such a wonderful gift. Seeing those signs made me feel so happy & confirmed that we do care.

On our daily walks, we notice more people are out enjoying the sunshine and they seem content, children are playing & are riding their bikes, so many people make eye contact and smile as we pass by, the human connection feels strong. I really don’t think I am imagining this. It’s almost like people are giving each other the nod as we are all in the same boat.

The future is uncertain over the next few months, uncertainly about finances, our health, our family’s health etc. are all at the forefront of our minds, however, it is encouraging to hear that governments recognise that people are out of work & they are creating new legislation to help support people financially. We are all going to be affected by this pandemic, some more than others. I believe we need to keep our best side out for those people who are in dire straights, they need our help, support and hope. Hope is what we all need, not doom & gloom. Turn off the TV, get outside for fresh air (by yourself or with household members only), call a friend, smile at a stranger,

Facebook groups have been set up to support people who are out of work as a result of the virus which has directly affected so many people around us. Yoga teacher friends, friends in the housing & rental business, friends who own a café, friends who work in the gym, actor friends…. all of these people are now jobless until this virus goes. For those of us privileged enough to still have jobs and our health we have a further responsibility of reaching out and supporting our friends as much as possible. Even if it’s just chatting over the phone, we cannot have people thinking they are alone.

The elderly are the most at-risk group, it is our duty to ensure we are abiding by all the social distancing protocol to keep our elders safe and healthy. All we need to do is keep to ourselves for the next while (could be months) which is not a huge ask.

Our aim over the next few months is to take each day as it comes, look for the positives with each new day; like

  1. We still have our health
  2. Our families are still healthy
  3. The weather is beautiful
  4. The cherry blossoms are blooming
  5. The birds are singing……….

Let’s keep our heads up and push through the next few months, all of this will end we just have to sit it out. We are all in this together. Reach out, help & do your bit for humankind by keeping your physical distance.

 

Keep safe.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxxx

How important is the space you live in to your health & happiness?

We absolutely love our apartment. It’s our little haven from the outside world. To many it would not seem like much, it’s small, old, the floorboards creak, the bathroom is 1970’s pink, the kitchen is the size of a wardrobe & we can hear our neighbours’ conversations through the paper-thin walls. Lol!!

So how could we possibly love a place where there seem to be so many faults? Easy, we have made it our own, keep it tidy & have worked darn hard to get it. When we arrived in Vancouver 9 years ago, we had nothing, only the bags we brought on our backs. A true immigrant story. All the clothing we had was inappropriate for a Vancouver winter which was unusually cold that year, it took us between 8 weeks & 3 months to find work in our fields. We had very little money left by the time we got work. We lived on a shoestring budget for years. We quickly learned the value of our money & how hard we had to work to get the money we needed for rent, food, transport & life.

Going through the above experience was very difficult at times & extremely frustrating as we moved to Canada for a better standard of living than at home and we didn’t see it. Now 9 years later we are finally getting there. My Aunt Kathleen, who lives in California once told me that it takes 10 years at least to set established in a new country. At the time I thought she was mad but now I agree.

We went through career changes, we got married, we had a baby, we lost family members, we went back to school, we took on new courses…. all of these events affected us financially which meant we had to sacrifice in other areas. Where we saved money was rent on our home. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in Kitsilano, a seaside area in Vancouver, which has the feeling of a small town.

Location was an important factor when it came to deciding where we were going to live. We are 2 blocks from the most beautiful seaside with mountain views. We can walk to the beach every day for fresh air, this is what we wanted, nature & beauty on our doorstep.

We absolutely love the location of our home & truly believe it has a massive positive effect on our health. Last night was a restless night with the baby, a nice cold fresh walk down by the beach for an hour really helps with lack of sleep & puts everything in perspective very quickly.

Besides the location of our apartment, I believe the interior of the home can have a huge impact on your health & wellbeing. For us, a clean & tidy home is essential for clarity and relaxation. Recently we have sold furniture we simply didn’t need so we could create more space. We love our less cluttered apartment now. We also have cleared out everything we don’t need or want; we are surrounded by the things we love & need. There are no “junk” drawers or cupboards. Honestly having organised cupboards, wardrobes, closets, drawers & files is so rewarding. In addition, everything remains tidy because we have a place for everything & at the end of the day things are placed where they should be, nothing can get lost this way which avoids time spent looking for things!

We find our home to have a calming effect when we walk in the front door. We have decorated it to our taste & style which works for us. Knowing how hard we had to work to get our apartment & have the luxury to live where we do, its easy to focus on all the positives of our place and ignore the items listed in the first paragraph.

Nowhere will ever be perfect but by keeping your home clean & tidy and surrounding yourself with what you love will definitely have a positive effect on your mental health.

Take a look around each room and see what you love and don’t love. Take your time to remove/replace the unloved items to create space, we need space for creativity & a focused, calm mind.

Create your own little oasis which doesn’t have to cost much, maybe a good clean & purge is all you need to do……it worked for us;-) Oh and brilliant white walls did wonders for our small space. So bright & uplifting.

In Summary, the space where you live doesn’t have to be a mansion or penthouse suite, it can be a 1970’s one-bedroom apartment which you adore by having only what you need & love. Surrounding yourself with love, space & the essentials creates clarity, calmness and relaxation. Therefore, I truly believe your space has a massive effect on your mental health & happiness.

Wishing you all the best.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

Reactivity – Don’t Let Your Automatic Actions Control You

In this world of over-stimulation, my nature is reactive. It always has been, even before we had so much visual input and interruptions in our lives my first instinct was always to lash out before I stopped to consider. It begins inside, like a spark which triggers an instant movement, thought or feeling which is usually, immediately followed by an action with no thought. There is no space between the trigger and the reaction.

This space is important. There is great power in this space. Imagine the great tragedies which could have been prevented if people stopped to think instead of reacting immediately?

Quick action does indeed have a place in the world but so does thought and deliberateness.

How do we go from trigger-feeling-reaction to trigger-feeling-pause / think-reaction? We need to create and cultivate space to allow it to expand, grow and develop.

It’s just like decluttering your desk or tidying your home. It can be achieved in different ways but the end goal is to give your mind space to sit down and think about what to do next.

And just like decluttering your home or your desk, take the time to notice the work that needs to be done. Where is the clutter?

Let everything settle and listen to yourself. You will soon see where the issues are, where the cleanup work needs to start. It is like taking all the obsolete information off your computer’s hard drive. What burdens do you need to carry and what can you put to one side or drop completely?

I sometimes find it useful to just sit with my thoughts, almost like the opposite of meditation, I set a timer and sit. I do not allow myself to move or interact with anything but let my mind wander. I let it go where it goes and interact with the thoughts as much as I wish. It helps me see where my worries are and where the internal housekeeping is needed. This can show up in the form of unfinished tasks, worries which have been weighing on my mind or someone I need to contact. The best way to clear them away is to act on them, immediately. If that’s not possible, then schedule a time. This will help create the space.

I will not go into meditation on this blog as we have both written on it before but I cannot recommend it enough. It has changed my life and helped create the space I need for calm, consideration and right action. Have a look at the bottom of the post for some blogs we have written on meditation.

Just like the unfinished tasks I mentioned, unhealthy habits will fill space also. Too much screen time, too much artificial stimulation, bad diet. When I talk about filling the space, I do not mean taking up your time, your time is important but what I mean is bad habits taking up space in your mind. Filling your quiet space with additional unimportant information or data which cannot be cleared out without deliberate action.

It is when we reach a point of no capacity that we no longer have the objectivity to stop and analyze.

We all have bad thoughts (at least I hope I’m not the only one) whether it be anger towards a stranger, judgement towards someone we know nothing about based on their appearance, impatience, selfishness or whatever arises at the time.

These thoughts do not define who we are. It is what we do with these thoughts that defines us. It is how we react and act on our thoughts and impulses that shows who we are as people. We can only be judged by our actions. Someone cuts me off in traffic and I have an urge to honk and pull up alongside them to extend the all useful middle finger and wave it in their direction.

The impulse is there, but so is the choice. I have the choice of whether to act on that impulse or not. If I do not have that space or use that space, I will not make that choice, I will simply keep going and do what automatically happens. I will become a slave to my automatic self.

I am still a victim of my own reactivity, I recently tore one of my favourite hoodies apart just because I did not pause and consider. Incidents like this happen much, much less now but what this shows me is that I still have to work on creating, maintaining, seeing and using that space. You can read my blog on my anger issues if you are interested.

Working on creating this space allows me to take the time and pause before I react. The reaction can be intentional rather than automatic. The feeling, impulse or thought will pass quickly, within a couple of minutes then it will be forgotten but if I act on it I will carry it with me.

Here are a few simple tips to cultivate, maintain and use that space. I hope it helps.

  • Spend time with your thoughts. Search for what needs to be cleared out.
  • Meditate daily to cultivate and maintain the space.
  • Use the space: Stop and examine the feeling or impulse. Think.

Let me know if you have any feedback or if you find yourself in a similar situation to me.

Peace,

George

 

Links:

How can we put down the burdens we carry?

meditation-challenge-40-day-sadhana-your-habits-define-you

a-daily-meditation-practice-make-it-work-for-you

meditation-it-takes-two-minutes

how-i-overcame-my-anger-issues

 

 

 

 

Cover photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

Photo by Keegan Houser on Unsplash