A Lesson in Compassion

A couple of weeks ago I was on training for a computer program at work for three days. I sat beside a woman who needed a lot of help with learning the program, and every time she wanted to ask me a question, she would say “sorry to bother you, but…” At the end of the second day, I had started to get annoyed by it. I complained to my boyfriend and my coworkers about the woman saying: “if she knows she’s bothering me, why does she keep doing it.” When I got to class on the third day she handed me a Tim Hortons gift card and said “this is for helping me so much this week, I really appreciate it.” I felt like such a jerk. She then went on to tell me how she has been struggling with physical and mental illnesses lately, and how she was having a very hard time learning the new computer program during this training. I was reminded in this instance that you really never know what someone is going through and how important it is to be kind to everyone.

Book Deals at the Market

My mom and I went to the market on the weekend and I picked out thirteen books that I wanted.
Me to the volunteer at the market: Sorry to interrupt, how much are the books?
Volunteer: Well it depends on the book. Which book do you want?
Me, taking him over to my pile: These books.
Volunteer: You want ALL those books? We love young people who read. Make me an offer.
Me: Um… $20?
Mom and volunteer simultaneously: $20?!?!
Volunteer: How about $5?



Ways I’ve Learned To Lessen My Anxiety

Lately I’ve been going through intense bouts of anxiety/depression that make it very difficult to concentrate on my regular life (work, social life, etc..). I don’t react very well to as-needed anti-anxiety pills (allergic reactions, decreased reaction times, difficulty functioning in every day tasks and very foggy the following day), and I don’t always want to go to or rely on medication anyways, so I have been trying different things that I read or hear about, and I seem to have come up with methods that work really well for me. Everybody is different, but I thought I would share in case any of them can help anyone else out as well!

  1. Eat (especially something crunchy). I try to avoid sugary or processed foods when I’m eating to improve my mood, as they seem to have more of a negative affect. I know it’s funny, but from my own experience, I don’t handle things very well when I’m hungry (even slightly). I have noticed that if I put a pause on whatever thoughts are making me anxious in order to eat, I am able to see the problem in a different light after I have finished eating.
  2. Drink green tea. I have come across so much research indicating that green tea is a mood booster and helps with anxiety and depression, but I can’t stand the taste of green tea, so I could never even make it through a glass. One day, when I was doing groceries I came across Lipton Mandarin Orange Green Tea and decided to give it a go. I was amazed at how much the orange flavour overpowered the green tea flavour, and even more amazed at how much calmer I felt after drinking a glass. I don’t know if it’s just a placebo effect, or if it is actually something in the green tea, but especially at work where I can’t do a lot about an anxiety attack or depression, having a glass of green tea helps me feel better with surprising effectiveness.
  3. Eat dark chocolate. Another thing that I have never enjoyed the taste of is dark chocolate, but I couldn’t ignore the research, again, that dark chocolate is good for your mental health. An added bonus of eating dark chocolate is that it actually satisfies the sweet craving I get every day at work after lunch. I just eat a piece of dark chocolate and I no longer feel like I have to have a dessert, and like I said, when I eat something too sugary, it actually seems to make me feel worse.
  4. Do a yoga sequence for stress. If I have the luxury of having a panic attack in the comfort of my own home, doing any yoga really, but especially a yoga sequence designed for stress or anxiety really helps calm me down. My body actually physically feels more relaxed and calm afterwards, and it lasts throughout the day. Here is a yoga sequence I really like for stress:  Yoga Sequence for Stress 

Then, when those steps have helped me calm down, and I am able to focus on something other than the problem, I can complete a Sudoku puzzle, or read a positive article, or watch a funny video, or do a crossword puzzle to further calm me down so that I can actually focus on my daily life. Hopefully some of these are able to help other people, and I am always open to ideas or ways that other people use to fight off anxiety!

Sunset at the island. Dancer's Pose.


Getting Healthy

One of my main goals right now, along with creating a successful blog, is to improve my health, both mentally and physically. Over the past year and a half I have been struggling with my mental health, which in turn affects my physical health, and after falling very sick with the flu for two weeks at the beginning of April, on top of feeling very down for over a year, I decided that I needed to make a change. I began by reading articles on ways to improve your mental well being and ways to improve your immune system, and one thing that came up almost every time was exercise. I took out a book from the library; “The Ripple Effect” by Dr. Greg Wells, which was filled with greatly researched information on the relationship between your sleep, what you eat, exercise, and how you think, and how you need each aspect in order to be healthy. I was always active growing up, playing rep hockey and soccer, but I have never enjoyed working out to work out. Despite my disdain for working out, I knew I couldn’t afford to keep getting sick, and I need to improve my mental health, and frankly, I was tired of having a hard time carrying a case of water, so I knew I needed to try. I have been doing small workouts on average 2-3 times a week, and I feel immediate benefits after my workout through the endorphins that are released. I have noticed that I am developing small arm muscles, and my bum seems to be growing (in a good way). One thing I enjoy doing is high intensity interval training (HIIT). It takes a very short amount of time, but you are exhausted, so you know you got a good workout. Along with these small workouts, I have been doing daily stretches to increase my flexibility with the intention of being able to do the splits (I have a long way to go). As for the long term benefits, I will have to keep you posted! If anyone has any tips, I would love to hear them!

Exploring Playa Flamingo

On our first full day at Casa Frisons last week, we decided to explore Playa Flamingo. We dipped our feet in the water and found it was a bit cooler than the water in Tamarindo. Not cold by any means, just not quite as warm and because it was one of the only days that didn’t feel scorching hot, we weren’t as desperate to be in the water. We took a nice walk on the beach and stopped at Coco Loco so that A could grab a drink and continued down the beach. We saw a huge pelican (we think) with a wing span that appeared to be longer than a person. It must not have liked A very much, because when he went to walk past the pelican, it charged at him fairly aggressively. Luckily for me, since I got a great photo of it (and A was okay, it didn’t get too close to him…). After we were done at the beach, we stopped so that another couple in our group could rent a golf cart for the week (so much fun).

The group consensus was that a snack/late lunch was needed asap. A and I got on the back of the golf cart, and the rest of the group followed us in the car. We felt like we were going so fast and had so much fun, but the people in the car felt like we were going painfully slowly. We saw a little local-looking restaurant on the corner with outdoor seating right next to the beach, which we decided to give a try. The waitress was wonderful. Some of our group spoke Spanish, but a lot of us didn’t, and she worked with us, teaching us how to order in Spanish. There were a ton of options on the menu; fish, pork, chicken, salads, rice and beans, fries, etc… in so many different combinations. I ordered fish sticks with fries and a side of rice and A ordered pork with rice, black beans and salad. One of the women in our group ordered a pina colada with rum and lime juice that she promptly passed along the table for everyone to try. It was the BEST pina colada (maybe even drink) any of us had ever had in our lives. It was made with fresh pineapples, and tasted a bit closer to pineapple juice than a pina colada, in a combination that was heavenly. The majority of the table immediately ordered pina coladas. When our food came it looked incredible. Once we started eating, everyone started raving about their meals. We all shared bites of our food, so that everyone could try a bit of everything. Not one person was disappointed in their meal. The breading on the fish sticks and chicken fingers was incredible. I have never tasted breading like that. Everything down to the black beans was amazing, and I have never tasted black beans I’ve been excited about, but I was excited about these black beans. The way I am describing this meal does not even do it justice. If you are ever in the Playa Flamingo area, you need to visit this restaurant (Restaurante Pleamar). I promise, you won’t regret it.