Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Published on NEDIC! Do No Harm

I am blessed to say that my work has again been published on NEDIC's blog. This time, I discuss an article about 'doing no harm' in schools in relation to healthy eating habits (and ultimately, eating disorders). You can read the post here

Interestingly, this issue doesn't just relate to schools. We can see the impact of our actions and words about food/body image in all aspects of our lives. For example, consider the impact of a parent who constantly criticizes his or herself in the mirror - what message does this give the child or teen? Or what about when we are with our colleagues and rant on and on about how much we have ate in one setting - what if one of our co-workers has an eating disorder and you don't know? Or what if someone is struggling with a medical condition (there are many, such as cancer, diabetes, celiac's, etc) and they can't eat 'normally' - and your words hurt them?

The message to take away, then, is that our words and actions have a major influence on others - and in fact, they impact our own well-being too. As a society, we truly need to be aware of how we approach food, how we talk about it, and how we 'deal' with it. Food is sustenance. Our bodies make us strong and healthy. We ought to be cognizant and aware of the messages that we spread (intentionally or not) through our words and actions.

I hope you enjoy this post - it is certainly eye-opening when we consider our own practices and take the time to reflect on what we can do to change our habits and actions. Remember - thoughts, actions, and words all go hand-in-hand and impact one another. If you can change your thoughts, you can change your actions. If you change you words, you can change your thoughts. If you can change your actions, you can change your thoughts...and so on. Consider this - not only in terms of body image and food, but in all areas of your life.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Happy New Year: 2016!

It's amazing how time flies...I cannot believe that we are entering into the year 2016! Happy New Year to all of my friends, family, and readers!

The New Year is a great time to reflect on our blessings, our past year, and our goals. I know this is stated a lot, so I apologize if you're tired of hearing it. But bear with me...because what I am about to say may surprise you a little bit.

I think that welcoming in a new year allows us a time to think back about the past year: what went well, what we struggled with, how we coped with problems, any joys or blessings, any goals accomplished, and more. That is truly an important part of starting a new year, because it helps us learn from our past experiences.

However, one problem that many of us face, myself included, is when we start to think about the upcoming year. We start to think about what we want to change, or new goals we want to achieve. Often, people call these 'resolutions'. Now, don't get me wrong: making goals is IMPORTANT! And what better time to start fresh than a new year?

The issue begins when we get overwhelmed with all the things we want to do in the new year. We start to create lists of things we want to change, goals we want to work on, things we plan on doing, etc. But, we rarely actually make SOLID, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC plans on how we are going to accomplish these dreams or goals. And that is where the problem lies. We become so caught up in the idea of making goals (and of course, the media doesn't help with this. It fills our minds with commercials and articles about weight loss resolutions, money-saving ads, new technologies and products that we 'MUST' have, etc...) that we do not stop to think: what am I REALLY doing here? Is this even realistic? Is this important to me, or am I doing this for others/because of what others are saying? Can I really follow this plan, or will I get lazy/tired/frustrated and stop after the first week?

Before this happens to you, here are some things to keep in mind. Personally, I have found it helpful to begin the new year by identifying many things that I want to work on. But then, I prioritize them. I choose the item on my list that is most important to me. For example, this year, I'm going to work on keeping my stress levels down, even when I get overwhelmed by all the craziness around me. This is the number on goal I have chosen to work on first (there are many more, but this is the one I have decided on to be 'number one' for the year).

Next, I've thought about how I am going to achieve this goal. While I know many tips to reduce stress,  I find that (ironically), I forget to use them when I am actually stressed! So, I have tried to list a few ways that I KNOW I can use (ex. deep-breathing, eliminating catastrophic thinking, etc). For this year, I am going to use these tips to work on handling my stress. Once I have a good handle on that, I can continue to add more goals to my list, and work on those too.

Of course, a long-term goal like managing stress will never be 'fully accomplished' because this is a lifelong journey and skill. BUT, I will know and feel when I am ready to move onto other goals because I know that I can assess my current stress levels and compare them with how I am feeling after trying to use more coping techniques. It is important to remember - with ALL goals and changing habits - that these are usually long-term. So please, do not get overwhelmed if it takes you along time to change a pattern of thinking, acting, speaking, etc. DO NOT GIVE UP. A hallmark of maturity and resilience is that you keep pressing towards your goal because you know that it is worth it - regardless of how difficult or impossible it may seem. Usually, the worthwhile goals or habis that you need to change are (ufruantely) the hardest to work on.

But it is worth it. Remember to give yourself a break. There will be times when you may want to give up on your goal or dream. You may make mistakes or feel that you aren't making any progress. And that's okay. We all have times like that. The important part is to pick yourself up and try again. The worst thing you can do is insult yourself and give up. Do not allow yourself to be your worst enemy...on the contrary, be your own number-one cheerleader. And do not be hesitant to ask others for help. Surround yourself with people who love you and care for you, and are willing to support/help you. Do not negativity in - learn to let go of people and things that bring you down. And make sure you take the time to SLOW DOWN. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life, and allow yourself to simply live in moments of happiness and comfort.

From all my heart, I wish you all a Happy New Year. May 2016 bring you the best of times, fond memories and moments, many smiles and laughs, new experiences and learning opportunities, successes and blessings, and love and peace.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Best Christmas Quotes Famous One's

Well, the season is officially here and approaching quickly! Next week is Christmas!

I've been so caught up in school lately that I truly need a break. I need time away from all the hustle and bustle of studying, reading, memorizing, and critical-thinking. Don't get me wrong - I love what I study, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But there is no denying that this term has been super busy. To have some time off means that I can rejuvenate myself. I can relax for a week or so and not feel the need to study for an exam. I can finally finish the novel that I began reading last summer. I can catch up on some advocacy work that I've been doing. I can watch a couple of movies, go shopping, connect with friends, pamper myself, and more. In reality, there is probably much more that I want to do during this break than what I will actually get done. But, at least it is a break...and for that, I am SUPER thankful!

You know what's interesting? I've never been crazy about the gift-giving part of Christmas. I mean, I LOVE getting gifts and surprises. That is truly a fun experience. But it was never about the presents for me. And the same goes with the food. Although there is lots of great food during the holidays, this is just one part of the season as well.

So, why is Christmastime so wonderful? To me, it comes down to the feelings and emotions we have during this time. I love being able to spend time away from work and school in order to actually relax with loved one. To be able to have even just one day with my family - a day when we can spend time with each other and take a break - means a lot.

My Wishes For You ChristmasOne special thing about Christmas, to me, is that it allows me to reflect on the entire year. It marks the end of one year and the start of a new one. It marks a special time in my spiritual life when Christ is born - an event that signals how much God loves us. Jesus came down to earth and was born in a manger, even though He is a King. This has a message for us all: humility is important. Outer appearances and circumstances aren't nearly as important was what is in our hearts, actions, and words. This has a special significance during this season as well, because it prompts us to think of those who are less-fortunate than ourselves, and to share with them.

Regardless of whether you celebrate the spiritual side of Christmas or not, I hope that you enjoy this holiday season. I hope that you can take some time to relax, to spend time with loved ones, and to refresh your energy. I pray that you find comfort, hope, strength, and love from all the season has to offer. I hope that you have an opportunity to reflect on your year, to make goals for the new year, and to count your many blessings. I wish that we can all stay safe, happy, and healthy.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It is a time that only comes once a year - so please cherish and enjoy every moment of it!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Tis the Season!

It's nearly December! You know what that means?


I love this time of the year. It truly is magical, for so many reasons. For one thing, I love hearing Christmas music on the radio. I love seeing lights and decorations. I love the Christmas shopping you can do in stores. The list goes on and on.

But do you know what is super special about this time? The feelings of joy, comfort, solidarity, and compassion. It is amazing to see so many charitable initiatives that occur around Christmas time, such as donating toys to the Salvation Army, helping people in need, joining soup kitchens, finding clothes for the homeless, and so forth.

Christmas is about Christ's birth. He came into the world to save us. He gave Himself for us. Welcoming Christ in our world means that we need to be humble. We need to open our arms and homes to Him. That is what Christmas is about. And that is why helping others, especially during this time, is so precious. 

We are so fortunate to be able to afford our basic needs, and even luxuries at times. Others are not so fortunate. But keep in mind that during this season, you need not feel PRESSURED to 'be better' than everyone else by donating the most. In fact, you need not donate money or toys. You can donate your time to listen to someone in need. You can donate a helping hand and hold open the door for someone. You can donate a caring heart and contact someone who you haven't seen in a long time. You can smile at someone on the street. You can be extra patient at the morning coffee shop you visit.

This season, let's all try to spread some Christmas cheer - in whatever way works for you. Remember that being kind is the best way to spread love and comfort. There is truly nothing more special and magical than feeling that you have helped someone, that you have made a difference in someone's day. That is the gift that keeps giving back - and doing it can be completely free. But the reward is priceless.


Saturday, 31 October 2015

Remember the GOOD stuff in the world!

There is so much going on in the world today. From political issues to world hunger, from cancers to illnesses, from human rights to tragedies, from income disparities to unexpected losses...

It can get quite depressing, to be honest. I mean, when was the last time you heart some GOOD news on the TV or radio? There is not much to go around, it seems.

One thing that I wanted to highlight, however, is that there is a lot of good going on in the world today. There are neighbours who help their friends pay their debts when they cannot afford it. There are random strangers who pay for the coffee for the person ahead of them in drive-through. There are happy stories where a lost child is once again found. There are cases of human rights prevailing, of cancers being cured, of countries supporting others, of people going into rehab and feeling better, and so forth.

But we don't hear about them often...and remember that the news picks and chooses what news they actually tell us. For example, turn on the TV news. You will hear tragedy after tragedy, problem after problem. Maybe one good story...but not much more than that. Don't be a passive consumer or viewer - know that this is not the only news in the world. The media chooses what - and HOW - they portray things to us.

Get the whole story. Do not settle for what the TV or radio tells you. Because this can be biased, despite all the work done to make is 'standard' as possible. For example, a story on the news might tell you that a new study found that 90% of flu-shots are not effective.

But really...where did this come from? One study? One study IS NOT enough to support not taking a flu shot. One study presented on the news is not enough research or evidence to combat all the issues one might acquire if you DO NOT take the shot and end up getting the flu. One story about someone who had complications from the flu shot does NOT mean that everyone will. (Note: I am using the flu shot as an example. There are many, many more!).

So, remember not to be a passive consumer of the news - both in terms of negative things portrayed (ex. tragedies, accidents, and so on) and 'evidence' or 'research studies'. Be an ACTIVE consumer and individual.

And remember the good things that happen daily, the things NOT included in the news. Remember how kind people can be to one another. Remember that miracles happen everyday, that people get cured from their illnesses, and that genuine kindness and love exist in the world today. This will make you feel a lot better about life in general, and learning to be positive is just one way to do this!

P.S. Try to find the not-so hidden message in the picture below (HINT: It says more than 'Believe there is good in the world'!)

Monday, 12 October 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving in Canada today!

While we really should be thankful each and everyday of our lives, today is a special day to take some time to actually THINK about what you are thankful for.

A lot of times in our lives (let's be honest...), we become caught up in our worries and struggles that we fail to realize how much we have to be thankful for. We truly are blessed in so many ways...but it is hard to remember when we are frustrated or experiencing troubles.

Please take some time today to relax and be thankful! When I think about how many blessings I have, it makes me happy. As I thought today of simple things, I realized that I am simply thankful for even the sunshine outside - it lightens up my day. Or to have a house to sleep in at night, to protect me from the rain or cold. Or to have enough food and water - which many people lack. To have family and friends who truly care about me and are there to support me. To be able to study what I love best and to feel that I can use this to help others.

There is A LOT to be thankful for! I hope this Thanksgiving (and everyday!) brings you all hope, love, comfort, and peace. Thank you so much to all my readers and supporters - I am definitely thankful for how far I have come, for all your support and love, and for always showing me how far I have come. Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings and for your guidance.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

POP Part Two: Using Positive Statements

Last time,we talked about the importance of positive thinking. This post will be about specific thoughts or strategies that we can use to think positive or be optimistic.

Of course, some of us have difficulty imagining that we will be 'talking positive' to ourselves. But it really isn't all that strange - you need not say these things out loud. Sometimes, even silently thinking to yourself can be a major mood-booster.

I'll give you an example. Last week, I was extremely frustrated and overwhelmed. I was busy with exams, classes, gatherings, friends, meetings, and more. And I wanted it all to just STOP. I wanted to run away from everything. For everything to just stop being loud, busy, and hectic all the time. I wanted to quit everything.

What kept me going? After I vented my feelings to my family and close friends, I realized something important: I was busy. Yes. But I was doing what I loved. I was busy with things that I loved. I was busy achieving my goals and dreams. Despite the challenges, I knew that I was working hard for a purpose. And I realized that I was not alone. I had support. I had love. I had passion, strength, and motivation. I had dreams. I had hope.

The next thing I knew, I was saying positive thoughts to myself in my head.

'You can do this".

"You have done hard things before".

"You are strong. You are not alone. You have the love and support of family, friends, and God".

"You will get through this, just like you have done before. And this will make you stronger. You will learn so much. You will look back at this and see how much you have achieved".

"This is hard. But it will end. Tough times never last".

And so on. At first, I did not feel significantly different. But after a couple of different thoughts, I felt...motivated. I felt less stressed. I felt like a small burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt as though I could do this. I could survive. I WOULD survive.

And I did. I am still super busy. And sometimes, I still get overwhelmed and feel stressed all over again. But thinking the positive thoughts make a big difference. They help me realize that tough times truly never last, and that I will get through them. Positivity reminds me that life is not all negative, that there are happy moments full of smiles, dreams, and hope. Optimism reminds me to slow down, to take time to breathe.

Try it out! Think positive thoughts when you are feeling down. Allow yourself to express your difficult emotions, but then talk to yourself - help yourself see what is good about your situation, you support, your personality, or your strengths. Remember that you are not alone. You WILL get through this. Think positive....that is POP!