Updated: Dec 13, 2018
I didn’t want this post to turn into an advice blog, because I’m definitely not the authority on self-care. Over the past year I have been on a journey... to discover why I have the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that I do. And these are just a few things that I’ve been drawn to in my life that have brought me real results and change. It will be a forever evolving and growing list consisting of more specific things that I am committed to.
Here we go,
Let's just put this as #1!!
This is where all of this beautiful change I've been talking about started to happen. It has not been roses and lollipops. At times, the results from counselling actually looked and felt WORSE than when I started going in the first place. Incrementally, I started feeling lighter but I still felt so far away from being "healed" on any level. That was going to be a tall order. My mind was caught up in loops of negative thinking and insecurity, so even if I was having a really "good" day, I was totally unaware of the depth that my thought processes were affecting me.
Even though I felt resistant to the idea of “therapy” at first, I felt more resistant to the idea of pharmaceuticals. In the beginning, my motivation was to avoid meds (and feel better).
I consulted with my doctor, and she also suggested giving therapy another try before I decided on anything.
Having been to therapy before, I knew it could bring some relief. I had evidence of that from the past.
So I called her 😍
You can contact me for her name and contact info if you like.
(DM me on Insta @homesokanagan,
It wasn't just talking about my problems and trying to figure out a plan to "change". She taught me how to start processing some of the emotions that I had suppressed for years. This started to soften the hard walls I had built up and decreased the racing thoughts going on in my mind. All of THAT led to endless realizations and revelations that just seemed to appear magically the further I went with it. Exploring my emotions and calming my nervous system was vital. Sitting with someone who is neutral to your life and skilled at creating space for people to explore these things safely is a true blessing. Until I was able to recognize the destruction I was causing to myself I was not able to continue learning anything new. Self love has been one of the hardest things I have had to do because for a variety of reasons I had trained my thoughts to be self sabotaging and believe things that were untrue about myself and reality.
I think a lot of us do.
Constantly trying to fix myself wasn't going to work anymore.
There was nothing wrong with me.
I was good.
What I am learning now is that you cannot reject or remove any fundamental “parts” of yourself. If we are constantly thinking we will be happy when we "fix" some aspect of ourselves we will be waiting forever.
2. Chakra balancing/Shamanic healing sessions with @danification (Instagram)
All I can say is, check her out. If you are drawn to the metaphysical, yoga, spiritual awakening, spirit guides, meditation, self-acceptance/healing world etc., she is a highly tuned individual and I have gained massive insights and shifts from hanging with her🙏🏻
3. The Perception Trainers PT on YouTube/@aliyah_pt (Instagram)
Amazing!! I have been watching her videos for a few years. If you are distressed or feel like you know that there's more to life than this. Or maybe you are experiencing an awakening of some sort, and you aren't living up to your full potential in life, check these videos out.
These topics that she speaks on are truth, and I think this education is unreal. Not only is it free, but it’s more important than anything you could ever possibly learn in this lifetime.
For the last 9 months I have experimented with a variety of cannabis products. I had a strong desire to leave this out of the blog. I didn't want to be judged. But I can't leave it out folks, the pot helped. Trust me, I feel like a hypocrite saying that, but it's true.
So, hear me out. Pot has been helpful in some ways, but like most things, it does not constantly provide ideal results.
For me, it started as a way to avoid the pharmaceuticals I was considering for the depression/anxiety I was experiencing. I used marijuana recreationally when I was younger but became completely sober in April 2010. After 8 years of zero substances I was quite alarmed when I started having thoughts of hitting the bud again. Let's just get this clear, I am by no means an expert on the subject of cannabis, so anything I say here is based directly on my own personal experience.
Any true growth that I have observed through the use of cannabis has been from mindfully using scarce amounts of flower/CBD/concentrate during specific times. This is difficult to do. If I want to calm down or dive a little deeper into some yoga and meditation, then I might choose to use. However, I've seen that cannabis is addictive for me and it’s difficult to find an ideal dosage and frequency without falling into the habit of wanting to recreationally use more often.
This is a work in progress.
I have a HUGE respect for the plant’s gentle messages and guidance.
The respect is made even greater by the fact that I have personally felt the wrath of disrespecting lady marijuana. I don’t drink alcohol for a reason and although the two substances are completely different, they can both become a detriment to life, in my opinion. I think deep down inside I know that I want to live in a 100% sober body but am allowing myself to work through this process without judgement (at least trying to).
My belief is that we are all capable of being completely at peace and flowing with life without substances.
I really can’t hack on the weed though. There’s no doubt in my mind that cannabis has enhanced and deepened my meditative experiences, spiritual connection and personal growth. A lot of things can be used in a self-sabotaging manner, and if I find myself doing that, it usually indicates that there’s trauma/emotion calling out for attention that needs to be processed and expressed properly.
There's no denying that I have absolutely used cannabis to numb my feelings and escape my current reality. Whether that’s right or wrong is completely irrelevant. Through relapse, I have seen many areas where I am STILL rejecting myself. With awareness and intention, I will be able to heal myself to the point where using the substance does not feel like an enhancement but yet a demotion from my true self.
Stay tuned for more on addiction and substances.
It’s a topic that I have personal experience with and a huge curiosity and interest in.
Reference: Cannabis and Spirituality by Stephen Gray
Some of the things that cannabis has enhanced:
Connecting to nature
Connecting to self
Heightened self-awareness (which has enabled me to take responsibility for areas in my life where my behavior was crap)
Pain relief (emotionally/physically)
Increased feelings of love for myself and others
The list goes on….
As much as cannabis has helped me, it has made me feel like crap too. Usually that's because of going overboard (you seriously don't need very much!). I feel that cannabis heightens negative emotions in order to blatantly point out areas within yourself that need more information. So, if you aren’t already practiced at observing yourself with love, you would miss these cues completely and think that weed makes you feel horrible.
And it might.
It’s definitely not for everyone.
If I abuse marijuana (use too often, too much, too regularly) I notice:
Hangover vibes in the morning
Increased cravings for unhealthy food
Disconnection from myself and others
Short term memory loss
Decreased $$ in the bank
5. Vision Board
I take a loose and intuitive approach with this. I have a whiteboard on my wall in the bedroom and when I have bursts of inspiration or things I read or watch that impact me heavily, I write it down. I constantly erase and change things as I feel I’ve moved past the previous content.
I like to have a “self-help” book on my Kobo e-reader and I keep it beside my bed. This way I can read a few pages of something positive before I fall asleep
(no TV/internet for me in bed).
Reference: Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch
My diet has changed 10000 times over the years and I think that’s the point. I don’t think I will be eating exactly the way I am now in even 1 year from now. I constantly find myself drawn to new trends, experimenting and trying different ways of eating. Right now I would consider myself to be living a plant-based whole foods lifestyle, rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, with scatterings of processed vegan food.
Some days I eat very clean.
Some days I fast part of the day.
Some days I want heavier foods.
Some days I bake cookies 🍪
I still find it very helpful to strictly follow recipes and meal plans for inspiration, but now I am starting to move towards knowing exactly what I want, when I want it.
When this happens, it's amazing!!
1L lemon water upon waking
1L Green Juice
Cooked meal for dinner (plant based/whole food, low to no oil)
Banana ice cream dessert
Something that really helped me early on was to join online communities/follow inspiring people on the internet and buy their meal plans/ebooks. Recipe blogs are key for me too. I still do all of the above (High Carb Hannah, Ellen Fisher, Hannah McNeely, Meagan Moon, Minimalist Baker, OhSheGlows, Vegan Richa).
Grounded Nutrition (Instagram: @groundednutrition) is great. Whitney Paige was pretty much my intro into witnessing someone living a healthy vegan lifestyle, and how to do it whilst transitioning comfortably.
I meal plan.
I try to shop once a week and know exactly what I am making for dinner each night and eat the leftovers for lunch.
Smoothie and water every morning.
I make a big batch of green juice twice a week (I want to move towards doing this daily).
I do try to eat with the season (but don’t strictly abide to that).
Buy organic as much as possible.
Food is my top priority and I enjoy the process of planning, shopping and preparing the meals that my tastes lead me to create. I always prepare and pack my own food for trips and lunches. I have homemade food on me whenever I leave the house (I do eat processed energy bars etc. sometimes).
March 2017 I started eating a plant-based diet (I say this instead of vegan because I am trying my best to follow this path at my own pace without labelling myself as anything other than healthy). I was starting to feel repulsed by eating and preparing meat. I was starting to pay attention to certain food/animal rights documentaries (ie. What The Health).
My kids eat mainly plant based when I prepare the food. If they are with a family member or friend/group where animal products are served and they want to eat them, they do. I keep cows milk cheese on hand regularly if the girls want some and I occasionally buy meat products if they have asked me for it.
I intend to be as transparent with my process as possible. This is so important because if you look at people online being "perfect vegans", it becomes very unattainable. If this is interesting to you, start slow and small. Make it a lifestyle choice because you actually feel better for it.
At the moment, I'm choosing to avoid all animal products (their flesh and secretions). Having said that, I really want to avoid preaching or exerting my way of eating on other people if possible.
After my second baby Jade 😇 I had lost a lot of core strength and was having huge lower back pain. Going back to work as a Dental Hygienist accentuated the pain. I was relying on massage (holler at Jenny McFarlen| Wild Sage, Vernon B.C.)/chiropractic care (Dr. Brittany Chase | Instagram @rosecitywellnessbc) and not taking the advice of stretching and strengthening that was given to me. I was weak and lost in what direction I wanted my fitness to take.
I joined the old gym that I used to love,
Didn’t like it.
Started going to a yoga studio – hurt my lower back from pushing through pain.
Signed up for Beachbody On Demand (which I really liked btw, but again was pushing too hard with no foundation of strength after pregnancy).
Inching closer to chronic pain, I started hiking. Mainly uphill mountainous hikes (Kal park, Enderby cliffs, BX falls, Silver Star). I noticed that this uphill climbing was starting to make my lower back feel better!!
So I continued.
Then I fell in love with being in nature again. It was highly benefiting my mental health. Creative juices were starting to flow again. Nature was becoming vital to my life.
I seem to go on 3 hikes per week, of varying difficulty, length and location. I have lost a significant amount of weight doing this and am also trying to gradually increase the amount of strengthening exercises that I’m doing at home (ie. Pushups, squats, lunges, planks, assisted pull ups).
The key for me, this time around, is to feel good and have fun. I spent a lot of years doing strenuous exercise and focusing mainly on aesthetic results.
My muscles were tight. Holy crap. Being a hygienist for 8 years, sitting in a twisted position for many hours and leaning on my right hip using horrific ergonomics (bad habits galore). Holding emotional tension all over my body. Years of strenuous physical activity with minimal stretching. And, ahhh yes, pregnancy and birth. Tightness comes with the territory.
I had to get on top of my shit.
In the past few months I have been allowing myself to explore the greatest areas of tension in my body. If I get into a really relaxed meditative state my muscles and body start to move and almost guide me into the areas that need to release. Sometimes this can be intense and I have injured myself by not having enough awareness and again pushing through pain. There is a huge difference between being competitive with yourself or backing up and allowing your body to melt into the position and reap the benefits. This has taken me years to understand with multiple yoga classes and practice.
Don’t give up.
It is a cumulative effect.
A little everyday is better than slamming yourself at one class a week. I didn’t listen to my body very well before and now I realize how advanced I was doing things before mastering the basics.
In the beginning of this process I loved doing guided classes on YouTube through SarahBethYoga, Yoga With Adriene, and Boho Beautiful (I still do this but tend to do my own thing more often)
Foam rolling has saved my spine and neck. It has allowed me to feel the movement/articulation in certain areas again.
Again, I have gone too deep on this before and have hurt myself. You have to seriously take baby steps and be consistent. Every day, multiple times per day if that's what it takes. At first it was so tender that I could barely roll anything without being in huge pain. But slowly I was able to put more body weight into it and start to explore.
10. Morning routine
For so many years I loved sleeping in, but recently I have noticed the longer I sleep in the groggier I feel and the more agitated I can be in the morning. Usually my body wakes up around 6AM to pee, and if I get up right after that and go downstairs for some gentle stretches/meditation, that is the best!
My day feels more balanced.
This doesn’t happen perfectly everyday.
Sometimes the sleeping in is so tempting I can’t resist, and sometimes I need it!
But I keep a calendar page up on the vision board and if I did it I do a ✅, if I didn't I do an ❌.
Some mornings, I literally just get up from laying on my bed to go downstairs and lay on my yoga mat.
Then I see what happens.
Maybe a whole routine.
This is evolving and pointless if I'm going to hate myself for missing a day.
For a long time I was overthinking meditation. I would try to sit quietly and my thoughts would go wild. It felt really uncomfortable and I would judge that as something that's "not working".
I didn’t practice consistently, except for a few bursts and spurts here and there.
Finally I have been giving this a shot.
It has been a few months now of consistently sitting in meditation at least once a day (up to multiple times per day).
I have started to see the mind muscle being strengthened.
I can sit in stillness and it feels really good.
There is much to explore in the land of the subconscious.
I started out by using guided meditations, and I still do.
But now I mainly prefer to sit in my own stillness and presence.
Wow, journaling has been something I have tried to practice various times in my life. It’s funny, because I recently found one of my old high school journals and it was quite amazing to read little bits of how I was feeling in the past.
I don’t have a huge desire to read it cover to cover but maybe one day.
When I started journaling, I got a tip from Danielle saying to start with a little bit of structure.
So I write 3 things I love about myself, 3 things I'm grateful for, and 3 ways I will nurture myself that day.
Journaling helps me clear my head. You can burn off anger, sort out emotions, feel more aligned, and make better decisions. If I'm feeling stuck creatively or emotionally, journaling can encourage me to move past whatever is blocking the flow.
It helps me cry.
I've noticed that there is a fine line between a “practiced” discipline, and something you force yourself to do even though it isn’t really working.
When I don’t “feel” like doing something I can usually nudge myself gently and be so grateful afterwards… but other times that gentle nudge is met with serious resistance and I just try to honor that and try again another time.
Not making up any stories surrounding why it didn't work.
Writing this blog post and expressing my true thoughts/feelings on Instagram has helped me a lot too!
So, thank you for reading! ❤️