Four things to encourage a healthy mind.

I struggle with fatigue, pain, motivation, and bunch of other things on most days—a lot of which is related to my Crohn’s disease. Over the past couple of years I’ve discovered and developed different tools and methods to keep my mind in a good place. It’s not easy, but it is doable!

One of those tools is to have a handful of things that I try to do every day, however good or bad I’m feeling. I once made a list of those things, but I kept adding to it until it became too much. Your everyday self care list shouldn’t contain everything—you can’t do everything all the time.

After some time, I came up with four main things to do every single day, especially when I’m not feeling so great. These are some of the most basic things that you need to focus on so you can feel better. Using this list as a starting point, you can develop habits and find simple ways to help yourself actually take care of you.

Here are my top four tips to help maintain a healthy mindset!

1. Move your body!

Fun fact! Your body needs to move—a lot. That’s what keeps you in working condition. If you don’t move, then you’re body isn’t going to work properly.

I’m not sure where, but I remember reading about some research that suggested your body can’t keep completely still for very long. Some part of your body needs to move at least every minute, even if it’s a simple blink, twitch, or breath. If you don’t move, your body will try to make you! Otherwise, you’ll die…which isn’t good. 🙁

So get moving! It’s not always easy, I know. But once you start moving, you tend to keep moving. The trick is to take small steps and move your body in smaller ways. If you’re not feeling great you don’t want to add pressure. So start small; get out of bed. It’s as simple as that!

If you do have the energy and drive, then do more! Take a shower, go for a walk, play Just Dance! Everyone needs a workout of some sort. Your workout can be anything you’d like! Just get moving! Let go, and your body will do the rest.

2. Go outside!

The inside is nice, I get it. Most days I don’t want to even peek my head outside let alone go for a walk or get that ingredient I need from the market. The thing is that you need a stimulating environment to get your mind going. Every one of your senses need to be activated. That’s not gonna happen if you stay inside!

You want to feel the movement of air around your skin, take in the warm rays of the sun, look at the colours of things around you… Maybe even interact with some people! Who knows? Just get yourself outside somehow.

If you don’t have the energy to actually go outside, then you can open a window or sit on the porch. Even opening the door and stepping outside for a minute to see what the weather is up to is better than nothing.

3. Engage your mind!

You need to do something that takes some sort of thought or requires your creative thinking. Something to express yourself or be passionate about. Your mind is a powerful system and needs to be stimulated and engaged so it can do its thing.

Maybe you call a friend to talk about you lives, or put together a puzzle that you have on the shelf. Mayhaps you pull out the finger paints! Whatever you do, get obsessed with it and really get into it.

Engaging your mind will help focus your thoughts. It’ll give your brain time to process things. You’re looking for points of disconnect where you’re not just letting your mind veg. You want your mind to actively wander while you focus on completing some sort of task. (If that makes sense… 🧐)

4. Eat flavourful, whole food!

None of that processed stuff…just good, whole food to wake up your taste buds. That could be as simple as having a banana, apple, or other ready-to-eat fruit. Dried fruits are especially good and just like candy!

Eating anything is good because your body needs energy and nutrition. So if you can’t get the best, most fresh foods, that’s okay. You need to eat something at the very least. But try to have at least one meal item that’s not just a packaged edible food-like substance.

Make banana bread, or fry up an egg. Make oatmeal and top it with PB&J! Get creative and try new combos. And when all else fails, just grab a jar of pickles. Nothing wrong with that. Eat!

Anything else?

The best part about these tips is you can combine a lot of them. Put your mental focus into making a little picnic for yourself, then take a short walk to the park and enjoy the outdoors. If you’re having a good day with lots of energy, that might be the perfect solution! If it’s a harder day and you just can’t muster up anything, that’s fine. Do what you can. Maybe just take a shower, doodle in your notebook, grab a slice of bread, and open a window. That’s all you need to do.

While there’s a lot of things that you have to do to take care of yourself every day, these four things are some of the most important areas to cover. But that’s just my advice… What are some of your own tips for taking care of your mind when life is challenging? Do you have your own priority list for self-care? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Learning languages.

I’m quite intrigued by language. It’s something that’s always mystified me in a way. I know several languages, mostly computer based ones, but still. Language helps to define our perception of the world and learning other languages can help you to see new perspectives… view the world differently. Plus you can communicate with more people and it doesn’t hurt your résumé!

I used to be able to manage French decently, but I lost that years ago. I can still loosely understand French, but I want to relearn it to the point that I can hold up a normal conversation again. And I’m working to rebuild that!

Note to self: I think you already wrote about this at some point, but please continue.

Here’s a list of languages I’ve started learning over the past year.

  1. French – It’s Canada’s other official language.
  2. Spanish – It’s similar to French and is widely used. Plus Dora got me hooked.
  3. Klingon – For obvious reasons.
  4. ASL – I’ve been working on this one for a while and I’d love to take it up a notch.
  5. Italian – *shrugs* Why not, right?

There are a bunch more I’d love to learn—including Tolkien’s Elvish—but this is a start. In fact I’ve already started on these! My big goal is to be able to converse in each of these languages next year. Or at least half of these languages. 🙃

My other goal is to learn Cree and/or Chipewyan, languages from my home region in the NWT. It’s harder to get resources on these languages and to practice them outside of the territories, but I’ll work on it.

M3

Let’s do a check-in.

I set some goals at the beginning of the month for myself. Besides those four goals, I had some other big “to do” items, some of which I have completed! Others still need doing. But we’re here to check in on the four main goals for October. Let’s jump in!

1. Exercise and eat more regularly. — 6/10

I’ve probably mentioned that I’ve been quite depressed over the past few weeks. Because of that, I haven’t done too much eating. Exercise helps me feel better in some ways even on my sickest days, but unless I have good reason to get out of the house to move my body, the depression wins and I’ll just sit inside doing nothing.

Over the past few days, though, I’ve been feeling better overall. Mostly. Whatever the case, I’ve slowly been eating more each day. Which is good. I’ve also been moving a lot more. Today I even hiked nearly ten kilometers! (That’s 6.2-ish miles!) So I’m going to give myself a 6/10 for this goal.

2. No screens after 23:00. — 4/10

Part of the reason I’ve not been doing well is because I’ve been lacking sleep. Every night I get into bed, start having a panic attack, and lie awake for hours. I was trying to do things not involving a screen to distract myself… but that isn’t what’s happened. Many nights I’ve listened to audio drama to help me get to sleep, but other nights I stay up watching Netflix or whatever.

However… the past few nights I’ve been doing much better. So for now I’m giving myself a 4/10.

3. Refocus on creating. — 2/10

It’s hard to judge this one because I’m unable to be as creative when depressed. Writing blog posts has been a struggle even with my list of prompts and stuffs. I’ve taken some steps to make my environment more conducive for physically being creative (like painting or making paper art), but I haven’t done much.

It might sound harsh, but since I haven’t been very creative, I’m giving myself a 2/10.

4. Focus on friends. — 8/10

While my sister was out of town for a week, one of my close friends made it a point to call me a few times to chat. On top of that, I’ve reconnected with another friend a bit more. Annnnd I’ve been a little more involved with the nerd group at the nerd cafe! I haven’t really been in the mood to make new friends, but I’ve still tried (and succeeded!) to do that regardless.

I’ve kinda been introverty recently, but I’ve done well with this goal. I’m giving myself an 8/10.


That’s about it for now. I’ve been reminding myself of these goals fairly regularly but I haven’t been able to push myself much until this week. Now that I’m feeling a bit better, I’ve been able to do more. I’ve gotten rid of some stress, brought back some old tools for my anxiety, and tried to focus on the basics for my health.

I can only do so much at one time, and while right now I’m not able to do much beyond focus on my health, I have to fight the urge to take on more than I can handle.

Note to self and others: Keep up the good work!

M3

Top three goals for October!

October is here and the first day has already come to a close. Let’s set some goals!

1. Exercise and eat more regularly.

I’ve been struggling to eat enough food over the past few weeks. That’s not great. I also haven’t been doing enough meaningful movement for my body, which is important because I’m still recovering from being sick.

I have tools to work on and track my health but I haven’t been using them at all. One is a 30-day fitness challenge app that I’ve been wanting to start for a while, and this is a great opportunity for that.

So eating more frequently and exercising daily are top focus this month, which means using my apps every day.

2. No screens after 23:00.

I’ve really been having problems with sleep these past several weeks. That’s partly due to my depression which can’t totally be controlled.

However, I want to reduce the amount of time I spend watching TV late at night thusly I will be disallowing screens after 23:00 for the most part. If I’m out for a late movie with friends, that’s fine. The main idea is that if I stay up late, I want to be doing something other than focusing on shows, scrolling through news stories, and generally spending time in front of a screen.

Even if I have some work to complete on the computer, I’m going to make the effort to unplug at night. No screens, Matthew!

3. Refocus on creating.

I’ve been feeling less creative again. It’s affected my podcast which isn’t great when we try to release a new episode every week.

As far as The Aux Cable is concerned, both Ryan and I have been busy with life and have been lacking time to devote to editing. Circumstances have recently changed for us such that we’ll be getting back on the bandwagon!!

Other than the podcast, I’ve recently gotten my art box back which means I’ll be chilling with Bob Ross and art attacking with Neil Buchanan again! Even if I’m not feeling all that creative, I find these activities restorative and fun. Fun is fun and fun is good! I need more fun so I’mma get messy, art it up, and use at least half of my pre-stretched canvases.

4. Focus on friends.

I know that I titled this post “top three goals” for this month, but I thought of this goal while writing the last one.

Mental health is hugely important, especially for me right now. Socializing and spending time with friends is good for that! I’ve realized for a while now that I really need friends and social stimulus. That’s why I’ve joined some groups and activities over the past two months and spent time with new people.

I’ve kinda backed away from certain social situations, but I should still push forward and keep putting myself or there. I’ll eventually make friends and find places to fit in. I already have one place that I’m really liking! That’s the nerd caffe a block away that has weekly sci-fi movie night, weekly dinner & death, as well as other random events like Geeks-giving this next Saturday! The place is run by a typical Italian which means oodles and oodles of amazing food!!

Note to self: It’s not wrong to focus on friends and have a social life. In fact it’s quite important! Make it a priority, Matthew.


That’s it for my goals this month! Well… that’s it for outlining them. Putting them into action will be a daily choice I’ll have to make. So here’s to taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy! Regardless of the result, I’ll be doing my best, which is all I can do.

Do you have any goals this month? Tell me in the comments!

M3

More Goals!

Last Monday I posted a few goals for the rest of my week. How about we check in and see how I did then set some more?

Last Week’s Goals – Report Card

Bedtime – C

I did a good job getting to sleep before midnight Monday to Friday last week. But as you know, I’ve been having insomnia since then. The weekend was especially bad. I can’t help what my body’s doing as far as being able sleep, but I’m still trying to get back to an earlier bedtime without pushing myself too much.

Food Diary – F

I completely forgot about this goal and thusly haven’t been keeping any record of what food I’ve eaten. In fact, my eating hasn’t been the best since the insomnia kicked in. The food I’ve eaten has been fine, but I’ve been eating too late in the day and eating less frequently than would probably be best.

House Cleaning – C

Again, it was going well until the insomnia hit. It’s really frustrating! Oh well. The house is tidy (other than a few things in the kitchen), but there are some tasks besides the daily chores that I still haven’t completed. I’m gonna get them done.

New Goals!

Continue Podcast Editing

I’ve not been feeling great the past several days, especially with the insomnia. But I’ve also been depressed. It’s a continuation of the usual stuff for me, which doesn’t make it any less easy. But that coupled with the fact that I can only edit on my desktop computer, which isn’t very portable, and not being in the house when I’m feeling good makes for very little time to work on podcast stuffs. I’m going to focus on it a bit more, though.

Finish Paperwork

I have a bunch of things to get done paperwork-wise. It shouldn’t be too much work, just a lot of parts to it. Actually, on second thought… there’s a lot of work for me to complete. Some more important than other bits, but I just got to keep chomping away at it.

Go Out

I have been lacking in social contact the past little while. I have some anxieties which don’t always make it easy to socialize with unfamiliar people and with the weird sleep I’ve been getting, I haven’t been going out as much as I’d like or as I need. Even if it’s just for a walk or to chill at the library, I want to go out every single day for at least two hours, preferably more.

That’s all for me today. Have a fabulous rest of your week, my friends! 😀

M3

Let’s get it started!

It’s Monday!! Let’s do a motivational goal setting post.

Bedtime

Alrighty, so this week’s main goal is to go to bed at a more consistent time before midnight. I’ve done that (for one night) so far, which is great! Now to keep it going.

Food Diary

It’s not overly important that I track what I eat these days, but it could be helpful. I’ve found a format that works for me and isn’t too intensive to maintain. Eventually I’d like to build an app that’s specifically intended for Crohn’s patients that are tracking food to develop their safe food lists.

House Cleaning

This one will be very quick to complete. There are a few things around the house that need doing and I’ll need to get them done sooner or later. I’m just not looking forward to cleaning the bathroom.

Hope that you all have a great week!!

M3

Mission: Find a piano.

I haven’t put very much effort into this yet, but I have a mission to find a piano that I can use in Vancouver.

Now that I’m feeling better and am able to actually do stuff, this mission has become active and real. It’s happening; I’m going to find a piano, if not multiple pianos!

Now, there are some street pianos downtown, which is great. I’ve seen those, played them, 10/10, would play again. But those are far away and a bit out of tune, which sounds silly but it makes a difference. Plus they’re in public place which isn’t conducive to practice and musical exercises.

Today I learned that there are pianos at one of the campuses that can be used by anyone. But again, distance is a major factor here. It’s really great to know this fact, and I will chase this lead for sure, but the mission isn’t yet complete.

There’s a small music store down the road that I keep waking past and forgetting about. Hopefully by writing about it now, it will stick in my mind so I’ll actually visit it during the daytime when I can actually go inside.

Note to self: Visit the music shop down the road!

While they definitely don’t have pianos in this shop, my plan is to speak with the people there to get some intel. Great idea, right? Thanks.

Annndddd I have several other leads to chase down including a music conservatory on the other end of this street and some places downtown. I am determined to work on this not only over the next week, but for however long it will take to complete this mission! I just hope it will result in finding a piano sooner rather than later.

That’s all for now, so have a good night, my peeps!

M3

The Canada 150 Play List

On July 1st, 2017, Canada will be celebrating 150 years since confederation and Canadian history in general. Because of this, all of 2017 is being filled with Canada 150 activities, including free admission to Canada’s national parks, many special events, projects, and general celebration!

ParticipACTION, a national organization promoting physical activity in Canada, is getting in on the action by challenging Canadians to complete activities from their Canada 150 Play List. Last fall, they asked Canadians what activities and sports they enjoyed and used the feedback to create this list. People can now complete those activities as individuals or as part of a group and mark their progress online and even win prizes! So basically, the more activities you complete from the play list, the more entries you get in the contest. Fun, right? I thought so!

I’ve been following this campaign from the beginning and submitted several activities for inclusion in the play list. In January, I decided that I was going to complete every item on the Canada 150 Play List in 2017! It’s one of my 2017 goals.

That’s right! By the end of the year, I want to point to this list and say that I’ve done it all. But that’s a big goal, right? It averages out to one new activity completed every 2.3 ish days, which isn’t too bad since some of the activities are very accessible. What’s gonna be hard is doing things like sledge hockey, dragon boating, horseback riding, waterskiing, etc since they require special equipment. It’s completely doable, though! And it will be done! 😀

What I’m looking forward to the most is sharing these experiences with friends and family, and maybe even make new friends too. Who knows where the play list will take me – there are some pretty crazy things on there! In the past several months, I’ve already completed several of the activities with a bunch of friends and family, including camping, hiking, snowball fighting, igloo building, walking, snowman building, gardening, tree climbing, car washing, geocaching, dancing and more. It’s been a total blast! But even if I’m completing items from the play list by myself, it’s progress. The big idea here is that I’m gonna keep active this year. And so far I’m doing pretty well!

Note to self: Don’t stay still! Move every day!

Watch out, Canada 150 Play List! I’m coming for you.

A new week!

So last week went fairly well. Especially goal-wise! Huzzah and Wooton!!

And now for my report card on how I did this past week. I’ll try to not be too hard on myself (after all, these are goals to push myself forward), but still make an honest assessment.


Last week’s ‘getting back on track’ goals.

1. No technology after 10:00 pm – B-

I did not too bad… at first. On the weekend I slid a little bit, but that was partially due to not feeling great and having a hard time sleeping. But I feel great with how I did and especially with the results of cutting back on night-time technology use. I found that it really helped me get ready for bed way earlier than I usually do.

2. Walk the dogs daily – A+

The muppies were so excited about getting daily walks again! Well, more like beyond excited. Especially once they figured out that there was a pattern developing. They wouldn’t have let me forget about this goal even if  I wanted to. I really enjoyed the time outside in the dark night. Even if it was -30° C for a couple of days.

3. Keep a positive attitude – A+

I excelled at this one, as expected! 😛 Now I’m using it to artificially inflate my overall score for this week, thus making me feel better about my goal-setting and achieving powers.

Overall score: A


Yay for new goals!

1. No technology after 10:00 pm

I’m gonna stick this one in here again and probably keep it around until it becomes more of a habit.

2. Work on plans for the fall

I had intended to use February as a planning month to figure out what I will be doing after Paddlefest and my summer trip. I have made almost no progress on doing this, and so with the last week of February upon me (eek!), I decided to make this one of my goals.

3. Finish editing and release podcast

I started editing The Cowmoonity Fancast on Saturday, but I didn’t get to finish it over the weekend for various reasons. It needs to be done this week for sure, so to the list it is added!

4. Eat more often

I have been having tummy problems the past few days. Recently when that happens, I’m finding myself eating very little. This isn’t good, especially for my energy levels. But when I am having tummy issues, I find that it’s better to eat smaller amounts of simpler foods more frequently throughout the day. That is what I need to start doing again.

5. Bonus! Write at least two blog posts

I’m not going to require myself to complete this goal this week, especially since the other goals are more important. But I wanted to add this one as a little bonus thing for myself.


And there we go! I was thinking of adding the dog walking in again, but I feel like that’s quickly becoming a habit that I will keep up.

Wow, five goals this week. Until I sat down to think about my goals, I had no clue that was going to happen. But, onward and upward!

Getting back on track

I used to set goals for myself on a weekly basis, especially during and immediately after my big illness. I keep trying to get back to those habits and systems that helped me to feel healthy and be productive, but it’s tough.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been following Kelli Taylor’s blog (Kelli from Blimey Cow). Each Monday she posts a new set of goals for the week along with a follow-up report card from the previous week’s goals. Since I’ve been having such a hard time sticking to my systems and such, I’m gonna borrow this idea for myself. (Hope that’s okay, Kelli!) Just another system to help keep me on track.


1. No technology after 10:00 pm.

In an effort to get myself prepared for and into bed (to actually sleep) sooner, I’ve decided to bring back an old goal that I used to keep on a regular basis. So unless there’s some actual good reason, I’m not going to use any technology after 10:00 pm. The only exceptions being my CD player for some sleepy-time Odyssey or music, and Game of Thrones watching parties on the weekend. 🙂

2. Walk the dogs daily.

I used to take the muppies for walks on a regular basis. This past weekend, I was dog/house sitting and took this other dog for walks each day. During one of those walks, I thought to myself, “Why don’t I take my dogs for walks anymore? I love taking walks with them.” And so, this has become my second goal for this week. Not only will the dogs really enjoy the time outside, it will keep me moving. Which is something I need more of, especially with a lack of motivation and cold temperatures.

3. Keep a positive attitude.

As most of my friends know, I’m super positive. But I’m including this as a goal because as I get started with these other goals, I need to remember to stay positive. I might fail with some things, but I’ll get there eventually. Though I’m purposely keeping these goals fairly simple.


Anywho, there you have it. I’ll follow-up next Monday with a report on how I did.