Friday, 30 January 2015

Let's talk and end the stigma!

This past Wednesday, Bell held their annual #BellLetsTalk campaign to promote awareness of mental illness and raise funds for mental health initiatives across the country.

An estimated one in five Canadians will experience a form of mental illness in their life. By being part of the conversation, you can help those who suffer. So, even if you missed Wednesday's event, you can still be part of the discussion to end the stigma around mental illness.

Check out these five simple ways you can take the first step to building greater awareness and making change in your family, friend group or community.

Friday, 5 December 2014

On Homesickness

Homesickness is one of the most prevalent aspects of travelling abroad, yet one of the least talked about.

In the excitement of planning your trip, packing, arriving and starting off on a new adventure, it's easy to forget about what you might miss the most: home.

It seems like everyone deals with homesickness at some point in their life. Maybe you miss your bedroom, your family, your friends or your favourite foods. When you're travelling, it can be hard to enjoy your trip when you're distracted by thoughts of home.

Here are some tips to help:

1. Plan in advance
Even if you think you might not get homesick, how about pre-planning to have a Skype session with a loved one? Looking forward to seeing a familiar face can help you cope.

2. Write about how you're feeling. On your laptop, in a journal or on a scrap of paper  - it doesn't matter. Reflect on your mindset and focus on the positives. Think of three meaningful things that happened to you that day. Optimism is a great tool!

3. Keep yourself busy. You may want to just mope around and dwell, but being active and filling your schedule can help. Try having some social time with others, going on a hike or spending time at tourist attractions.

Planning in advance, having a positive attitude and getting out of your comfort zone can help you have a happy and healthy trip, wherever you are!

Find out about more tips here.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Everything is Temporary

I read a recent article in The Globe and Mail called, "I just turned 25. Will every decision I make now affect the rest of my life?"

The author, Ruth Goodwin, discusses her struggles having a quarter-life crisis. Using the phrase "chronic dissatisfaction," she articulates the millennial challenge of finding happiness and satisfaction in life and work.

Contrasting a post-university job she hated with the short-lived joy of joblessness, Goodwin writes, "I’ve been on both sides of it: I’ve had the job, the pantyhose and the quinoa salad, but I’ve also gone 13 days without washing my hair, on a diet of Oreos."

Her story, though entertaining to read, is not unique. She speaks to a generation, who, like her, are lost at sea.

She closes her article with a sense of hope and solidarity, stating "...the knowledge I am not alone in these moments of panic and frustration brings me comfort. Life is full of highs and lows, peaks and valleys, Jennifer Anistons and Angelina Jolies. The only thing to do is take a deep breath and realize this is temporary."

You can read Ruth Goodwin's full article here.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Work/Life Balance: You're in Control

How many of us have trouble finding that ideal balance in life? Between committing precious hours to work or school, fulfilling obligations and spending time with family and friends, it can be difficult to find any time for yourself.

Some of us many even feel guilty when we take time for ourselves, feeling as if we don't deserve it.

But we do.

Today, I attended a panel discussion of Public Relations professionals, who spent time discussing challenges in the industry. As an industry notorious for long, tough hours, I was intrigued when a fellow attendee asked the speakers about they find their work/life balance. The answer surprised me.

One of the speakers, who holds a prominent role at a downtown Toronto PR agency, replied that finding time for yourself is a personal choice. Contrary to popular belief, he claimed, it is not our teachers, bosses or colleagues who decide what our work/life balance is, but ourselves.

If you think about it, it's true. When it comes down to it, we are the ones that allow ourselves to stress, to work overtime, to keep pushing when our bodies and minds need a break. In determining the balance of our own lives, we call the shots.

This empowering thought is helping me to re-focus at a time when school, work and social obligations seem to be mounting.

Over the next week, can you give yourself permission to find balance and take time for yourself? What do you discover?

Friday, 14 November 2014

Twelve before 12

Mornings are underrated.

People always complain about having to get up to early, of being tired or about not having enough time in the day. It starts with setting your day off right and making the most of the a.m.

Being productive in the morning can boost your mood for the whole day and make you feel more energized. Here's a list of 12 things to do before 12 noon:

1. Exercise. It may be the last thing you want to do when you're snuggled in your warm bed, but getting your body moving and your heart pumping can get those endorphins going. Coast on them for the whole day!

2. Eat a nourishing breakfast. Forget the sugary donut and coffee and give yourself a protein-rich morning meal. Eggs, oatmeal or fresh fruit are all great options to keep you feeling satisfied and focused.

3. Make some goals for the day. This doesn't have to be scary! It can even be typed into your phone or on a piece of scrap paper. The act of writing some intentions for the day can help you feel more self-aware.

4. Say thank you. In person is best, but even through text or over e-mail, thanking someone for their efforts can make your day and someone else's a little better.

5. Meditate. Take a few quiet minutes to yourself to just breathe.

6. Give a hug! Human contact can be warm, comforting and releases feel-good endorphins.

7. Read something - anything! The news, a good novel or a poem. Make an effort to read something new every day.

8. Have a conversation with someone. Put down the smart phone and talk, face-to-face. Miscommunications are easy via technology. Make the effort to speak to someone in person.

9. Do a good deed. Hold the elevator or the door open for a stranger. These little gestures truly go a long way!

10. Make yourself a mid-morning cup of tea. Green and white teas are particularly high in flavonoids and other healthy compounds.

11. Practice gratefulness. During your commute, think of one thing in your life that you're grateful for today.

12. Smile! If you're not feeling so great, smiling can actually improve your mood and make others around you feel good, too.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Energy: You get what you give

Juggling work, school and home life is a constant challenge. It's easy for the time to just slip by, leaving you wondering where your week went. Many of us are so busy these days that after managing all our commitments, all we want to do is lie on the couch and veg out.

Recently though, and possibly connected to the daylight savings time change, I've been feeling quite low in energy. Waking up groggier than ever this morning, I somehow convinced myself to go for a quick run.

While peeling myself out of bed, putting on some comfy jogging clothes and heading out into the chilly air seemed crazy at first, I couldn't believe how incredible I felt within minutes of moving.

Though I spent less than 30 minutes exercising this morning, it seemed to add extra energy to my whole day. I enjoyed my breakfast more, felt happier on my morning commute and felt like I dealt with the stress of my day a little better for having exercised.

I came across an article today that cites the link between exercise and mood. Check it out here.

I don't know if I'll be able to keep up a jogging routine in the colder weather, but the feel-good health benefits are definitely added motivation now!

How do you keep active and how does exercise impact your life?

Friday, 24 October 2014

Take your networking game up a notch!

If you've ever tried networking, it's not easy. It can be intimidating, overwhelming and sometimes really awkward.

I've attended a couple of networking events in the past, and while I'm no expert, I've noticed some tricks and tips that make the process a little bit easier.

1. Do your research: know who is attending, who you want to speak to, and read up on their bio. You'll be able to ask better questions and make conversation if you know a bit about them. People love talking about themselves!

2. Know what you want to see. You know that you're interesting, unique and smart, and you want professionals to know that too. Practice your story - what are three things you would want someone else to know about you? Practice with a friend if need be?

3. Be aware of your body language. If you feel shy, it's easy to want to make yourself smaller and sit in a corner. Feeling cornered? You may put your arms in front of your chest as an instinct. However, you want to appear relaxed, friendly and open at a networking event. Stand up straight, keep your shoulders back and look people in the eye when you speak.

4. If you haven't already heard of this amazing site, be sure to check out Ten Thousand Coffees. It's a great professional networking site that allows you to connect with professionals in your city and industry. It's easy to make a profile and ask an expert out to coffee.

Good luck at your next networking event!