Simple Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Health

Today is World Mental Health Day. Here on my blog, I have talked about mental health some as like many Canadian families we have struggled with mental health issues and there is a real struggle going on. It has been five years since my teenage daughter had a major mental health episode. It has been five years of recovery. Working on our mental health is something we take as important as our physical health.  So how can you improve your mental health?

Give Yourself a Break

Often we are our own worst enemies.  We need to treat ourselves with the kindness we would give to others. Avoid self-criticism and show yourself love and respect. Make time for the things that matter to you. Make the things you enjoy a priority.  If you love bubble baths like me, take one. Love to take photos, take great shots. Love to read, immerse yourself in a great read.

Look after You

One of the things I have not been great at is looking after myself. The physical me that is. If you want to be healthy mentally, you need to take care of your body. You need to eat healthily. Water intake is also important as is getting enough sleep and exercise. I have also started taking supplements.  Sometimes going for a walk is the perfect medicine.

Quiet Your Mind

I am not sure if you are like me but my mind can be going a mile a minute. For me, prayer helps me focus and turn things over to a higher power. For others meditation works. For me, prayer time has become an important daily ritual.

Find Your Tribe

The people you allow in your life become your tribe. Find a support network. If you are feeling friendless, alone, reach out. My teen was feeling this way recently especially right after her graduation. She started attending events that she enjoyed and met some cool new friends. She is now hanging out with them on a weekly basis. They have become a support network for her.

Volunteer

When you give to others, you can not help but feel good. It is also a great way to meet like-minded people. I have met some incredible people when I have volunteered even celebrities so you never know.

Seek Help

When things seem to be spirally out of control, we often isolate ourselves. I know I did but this is the time when we need to be seeking help.

Let me know what do you do to work on your mental health?

 

It Takes Just a Minute, Have 2 Ways Out

This is fire safety week in Canada.  It seems like just weeks ago that my little girl and I experienced one of the worst nights of our lives. It was a deadly night. It took just a minute and we had a way out. The young woman who died just a few feet from where my daughter slept normally had no way out. My neighbour was in her early twenties when she died that night.  This is Fire Safety Week and often I think back on that night and remember. It takes just a moment to have a way out, it’s even better to plan two ways out.

I remember the firemen at my door, alerting us to the fire (the fire alarm had not gone off),  I remember wrapping my daughter in her favorite blanket and carrying her down the stairs. I remember standing on the street with her and watching the fire roar as it ripped through the 30 unit apartment building adjacent to mine. I remember the friend across the street who took us in and let me put my little girl back to sleep. I remember the hotel accommodation thanks to the Red Cross, Dress for Success who ensured I had clothes so I could go to work in a few days. I was blessed that with friends who helped in the days after the fire. It is an event I would never wish on any family.

My young neighbour died because she had no way out. The flames engulfed her unit very quickly. Had she been alerted, she may have been able to use one of the exits available.  Like her, we had just moved into the building a few weeks before. We were excited about a new larger place. I hadn’t even thought of an exit plan.  Since then, every time we have moved to a new home we develop an exit plan our first few days in the house. We know our two ways out.  With this being Fire Safety Week, it may be time to develop your own home fire escape plan.

So how do you develop a home fire escape plan?

  1. Ensure you have working smoke alarms on every story and near all sleeping areas. We have one hear my daughter’s room and one near mine. We replace the batteries twice a year. Did you know you should also replace your smoke alarm every ten years?
  2. Develop a home escape plan that is shared with all family members. Each member needs to know where the 2 exits are that they could use in the case of an emergency.
  3. Practice your escape plan with everyone.
  4. Help those who need it. Know who will help who. Who is responsible for the kids? an elderly parent?
  5. Get down and under the smoke. Most deaths are from smoke inhalation.
  6. Assign a meeting spot a safe distance from your home.
  7. Stay out. You never want to re-enter a burning building. Call the fire department from outside your home.

Please take from one who has lived through a fire, you want to have a fire escape plan. Tell me have you developed and practiced your plan lately? Now, might be a good time to do so.

 

 

Dealing with a Sugar Addiction

 

Have you ever watched a documentary and it changes the way you think? Ever listen to a speaker and have it have a deep impact? Just over a week ago I was at the Archangel Summit here in Toronto and Dr Stephanie from the Health Loft spoke about fats and sugars. As she spoke I knew she was talking to me. I am a sugar addict and need to deal with my sugar addiction. Since that day I have also watched That Sugar Film on Netflix Canada. It was very insightful.

Many of the ” healthy foods” we eat on a daily basis aren’t all that healthy. For me add to that, I turn to sugar and food for comfort and have since I was a young child. I realized I had an issue and I need to deal with this. As I type this I am in the midst of a sugar detox. No sugars of any kind. Let’s just say my body is definitely reacting to the years of abuse.

As I watched the documentary it did teach me some things I never knew. The average person here in Canada averages 88 pounds of sugar a year. It is literally one in every five calories. If you are at the grocery store and looking at labels 4g= 1 teaspoon. Our kids eat almost double that! The documentary scared me as I do want to have a good number of years ahead of me and diabetes after the age of fifty and heart disease run in my family. Literally, I am a walking time bomb. This has to change and it can

Are you at all worried about how much sugar you are eating?Your family eating? Here are some simple swaps you can make.

Healthy Food Swaps for kids

 

 

How am I dealing with my own sugar addiction?

  1. No pop, did you know that just one can a day increases your chance of diabetes by over 20%? I was drinking on average 2 cans a day. Now I am drinking lemon water, carbonated water with lemon (made at home with my Soda Stream) and my herbal teas.
  2. I am eating healthy fats. I wasn’t doing well with these so I am increasing my fish and avocado intake.
  3.  There are no white sugars, hidden sugars in my diet currently. I am currently sugar-free.  No sugar substitutes either for now but I do know in the days ahead I will add Stevia, Maple sryup, and honey to a small degree.
  4. I threw out 4 bags of food that was full of crap.
  5. Increased my greens and nut consumption.

Are you ready to take a look at the labels and see how they hide sugar or try to give it a healthy name: barley malt, agave nectar, beet sugar, carob syrup, coconut sugar, cane juice, brown sugar, honey, lactose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, yellow sugar, syrup, rice syrup, confectioner’s sugar, oat syrup, maple syrup, maltose, malt syrup, galactose, ethyl maltol, dextran, and the list goes on. There are over 60 different ways sugar is hidden in the labels of food.

Seriously learning is not about counting calories but more important is making the calorie count. Will they help my body heal?

I will be documenting this journey on my Instagram account mostly if you would like to follow it. I also highly recommend the documentary That Sugar Film on Netflix.

* I am no longer a member of the #streamteam so this post is not sponsored, no payment of any sort was received. My opinions as always are mind. Now go watch this documentary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six Tips for a Healthy Night’s Sleep

Sometimes getting back into a sleep routine is hard work. I know for me as a parent of a teen getting her up early is a huge challenge and when we have a schedule to keep some days it seems like a nightmare. Ever been there? Both my teen and I are working on developing healthy night’s sleep. Did you know for optimal health for adults we need at least seven hours of sleep or more. For kids, they need more.  Here are some things that are working for us and they may help your family too:

Tech Time Outs

young cell phone addict man awake at night in bed using smartphone for chatting flirting and sending text message in internet addiction and mobile abuse concept

How many of you sleep with tablets or phones by your bed? Do you check yours right before you to sleep? Do you kids fall asleep watching the latest YouTube video? This was us. We have instituted a new tech time out rule. We are 3 weeks into it. My phone stays on my desk, it’s no longer near my bed.  My teen turns off her tech an hour before bedtime. This becomes our no screen time. For us it has been allowing us to chill as my teen says.

Make Lunches and Layout Clothes the Night Before

How many of you feel mornings are hectic? Some mornings I have to be out of the house at 5:45 am. Yes, that is early! To get a good night’s sleep and not be thinking of all those things that have to get done, I take 2o minutes and prep the night before ( the no tech time, gives me those extra minutes). I make my lunch so I don’t hit the food court. If my teen was heading to school she would be making hers too. I also layout out my clothes for the next day. This week I have been laying out 2 outfits, my workout wear and my outfit for the day. The workout wear reminds to get that 30 minutes of movement in as I start my morning before heading to the office. Self-care is so important. By taking this approach the checklist that would be playing in my head all night is gone. Ever not been able to sleep because you were thinking of everything you had to do the next day? That was so me. This new habit helps me get rid of that list.

Journal Before Bed

For me, one of the things I have been doing for a long time is journalling. It started when I was a teen. It helps me get rid of the stress of the day and reminds me of what I am thankful in that moment. Simply write what you feel and end with gratitude. Find the things you are grateful for that day. Even on the worst of days, you know the kind that would leave you sleepless it helps remind you of what you have and you can go to sleep with a more peaceful heart.

Bed time Rituals

Both my daughter and I have been avid readers since she was a toddler. Bed time was bath and then story time. Bedtime routines definitely help kids develop great sleeping habits. Even I would fall asleep reading a great story. While my teen was in high school we had gotten out of this routine. Both of us felt a longing for this ritual. Earlier this some we hit the book store and bought a few books. Our bedtime rituals are back in place. For us, it works. Bedtime rituals and routines help develop a rhythm that tells you head and body its time for rest.

No Caffeine After 4 pm

How many times have you as a parent had a coffee in the evening and not been able to sleep? Had a kid who had food or drinks that included caffeine and it caused them to bounce off the walls all night? Been there done that. I have one caffeinated beverage in the mornings. The rest of the day I stick to water and herbal teas, my teen does the same.

Take a Sleep Supplement

Getting a full night of quality sleep can be a challenge, but Vitafusion SleepWell gummies are the solution for adults of any age. Vitafusion SleepWell is a gummy supplement made with Melatonin and is designed to help increase the total sleep time in people suffering from sleep restrictions or altered sleep schedules due to shift work or jet lag. These gummies provide a tasty alternative to hard-to-swallow tablets.

Each SleepWell gummy contains 2.5 mg of Melatonin, a hormone that is released by your body when the sun goes down or it gets dark, which then tells your body it’s time to sleep and helps to regulate your sleep pattern. With hectic schedules and busy lives, sometimes our bodies need help getting a quality night’s sleep so that you can be ready to tackle the next day. SleepWell helps you get the sleep you need so that you can start your day feeling energized and refreshed.

Product Features & Directions:

•                    Helps increase total sleep time and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep

•                    Reduces the side effects of jet lag, daytime fatigue or sleep disturbance

•                    Helps to reset the body’s sleep-wake cycle

•                    Adults take two gummies once per day, at or before bedtime – for use beyond four weeks, consult a health care practitioner

Medicinal Ingredient:

•                    Each gummy supplement contains 2.5 mg of Melatonin

 

Vitafusion SleepWell, $9.99, are available at mass retailers across Canada.

To ensure this product is right for you, always read the label before use and consult a health care practitioner.

Visit: http://www.gummyvites.ca/ for more information.

* This post is sponsored by #ChurchandDwight and I do receive product and payment, however, the opinion and tips shared are mine

 

 

 

Total Eclipse of My Heart

Today was a special day here in Toronto. There was a partial solar eclipse. What made this day, even more, assume then the scientific and earthly beauty was they way it brought the community together.

All over the city and on the path of the eclipse, for a few brief hours, politics, the news was put aside to join together and view a beautiful event.

My teen and I headed down to Sunnyside Beach here in Toronto. She had brought a cereal box viewer she had created this morning and we waited for this celestial event. The best part, thanks to Fido’s new data byte deal we also got to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy explain the facts from a location that was getting the total eclipse in the USA. As the sun and moon traveled across the US and Canada, today, people of all stripes, colors, creeds, and affiliations gathered together to share an event. After what has happened over the past few weeks, we needed a moment like this, a moment that would draw people together without thought of politics for a moment in time.

The beautiful part of the day here for me was the sharing of the many ways to watch an eclipse. From a cereal viewer to certified watching glasses, to welders masks, everyone shared what they had brought with them so all could get a view. This is the way it was down on the beach today, on street corners across the US and Canada, in parks and at official viewing events. It brought joy to my heart as something as scientific and as beautiful as an eclipse would draw people together.

 

My daughter had a great time talking to an astronomy student who was down on the beach next to us, then we had some welders pop by, and a little group gathered sharing all the tools we had so all could participate in a magical moment.  Here locally it was kind of expected. In the US, where there has been much hostility I was unsure but it was a blessing to see genuine community sharing a great moment as the NASA cameras went from coast to coast.

We need more of those ordinary moments on camera. More of the simple acts of kindness.

Because this song has been going through my head and since it was 1979 when I saw a total eclipse thought I would share this song.

 

The Great Balancing Act and The Thing We Hate to Talk About

Last week was some week in this house. It was a painful itchy one. My teen had gone to a pool party with friends and was in a swimsuit all day. She had a great time but can you guess what happened? If you guessed an infection down there, you are right.  We really had missed the summer, soaking up the sun, and the pool but dealing with a yeast infection is no fun.  For many women, the warmer temperature brings an increased risk of an “itch” that nobody likes to talk about – yeast infections. We really do hate to talk about it, so you know me I tackle the harder conversations.

 

Surprisingly, yeast infections affect more women than you think! It’s not just my teen dealing with one.  Approximately five per cent of women experience reoccurring yeast infections (3 to 4 infections in the last year)[1] and this has a lot to do with heat. The infection occurs when moisture gets trapped and yeast can overgrow, cause itching, burning, and discomfort. If you’ve had one, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

 

The good news is that with a few simple tips, you can avoid that pesky itch. Most of these my daughter forgot.

 

  1. Remember to dry off: Relaxing in a hot tub is the perfect way to enjoy a warm, summer evening. However, yeast grows best in a moist environment, making hot tubs a breeding ground for unwanted infections. This means it’s important to dry off well afterward and change into dry clothes right away. Use this same approach when spending the day at the beach or pool.

 

2. Know your pH: Many vaginal health issues, including odour, itchiness and yeast infections stem from an unbalanced pH. RepHresh™ Gel is a gynecologist recommended product and                       clinically proven to be pH balanced which can help to eliminate feminine odour and relieve feminine discomfort.

3. Wear cotton undies: Unfortunately, your tight skinny jeans may not be the best option this summer. Warm, tight clothing allows for little oxygen movement making the perfect breeding                   round for yeast. If you must rock the skinnies, wear cotton underwear.

4. Take healthy measures: RepHresh™ Pro-B reduces the number of urogenital pathogenic bacteria and yeast on vaginal surfaces. It’s clinically tested and works by balancing the yeast and                 bacteria that are naturally present in a woman’s body to help restore and maintain proper vaginal flora. Try adding one capsule to your daily routine to keep your body on track and ensure             nothing slows you down this summer!

 

When my teen had her itch down under we went in search of both of these. The teen reported the gel definitely helped her with the itch.

 

Are you ready to beat the summer heat? I would love your feedback if you’ve tried either of these products.

 

* This post has been sponsored by Church and Dwight, however, all opinions are my own.

 

Seven Years And Counting

In my memories on Facebook today, this memory from seven years ago popped up. Today marks seven years since my daughter and I left Nova Scotia.  For those of you who haven’t been readers for years, you may not know Common Cents Mom had its roots in rural Nova Scotia.  Seven years ago, we boarded the Ocean train and headed west.  I had two goals when I left Nova Scotia. Get my daughter away from the extreme bullying that had plagued her and get her the medical help she would need to recover. The second goal was to start working in the social media area. It was a field in its infancy.  

First, that trip on the Ocean was beautiful. Thanks to a lucky win at an event and an invitation from  Via Canada we have been home twice since we left. Both times we have taken the train. It really is our favourite way to travel. The one thing though about that trip that was not pleasurable was our arrival. We arrived as the G 20 was ending and they stopped the train in Oshawa. Nothing was getting into downtown Toronto or beyond and we were going to Waterloo to stay with friends till we found temporary accommodation. It was a nightmare as we worked our way around the the city but thanks to GO Transit we got to Mississauga and our friends picked us up from there.

Now let’s look at all that has happened in those seven years:

Meeting Goal Number 1:

Getting medical help for my daughter took time. We were here for almost 2 years before she saw the doctor who could diagnose her and get her the resources and medications that would allow her to flourish. It was a battle. A battle we can say we won.  My teen graduated at the top of her class as an Ontario Scholar and Love of Literacy winner. She even got accepted into the program that was first on her list. She will be attending Seneca College soon.

New life goals are on the horizon for her and with her tenacity and creativity, I know she will do great things. As for her mental health. she has been quite stable for the last few years and that has been such a blessing.

Meeting Goal Number 2:

While in Nova Scotia, I worked in a call center and then virtually for Comcast. It was while working for them I saw how vital it was for a brand to have an online presence and to have that presence managed well.  I handled my first customer care case via social while Twitter was still in its infancy. Long before the title community manager and social media manager were known job titles. I grew a blog and community based around personal finance starting the first personal finance chat in Canada long before the banks and many others. They followed the path I started.

My blog has been acknowledged on many sites, and on many lists over the years and I have been blessed to work with many brands.

As for working in the world of Social Media, Donna Marie Antoniadis gave me my first break when she hired me to work for Connected Multi Media, it was there I learned how to do social research, competitive analysis, how to teach social to employee teams., and how to grow communities for brands.  With her, I got to work across seventeen verticals for TeleTech, work with my first app as I worked on Yoddle campaigns, and then work on campaigns for Canadian Beef and the Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Shortly after I broke out on my own as a freelancer. One of my first brands that I pitched and gained as a client was Flipp. You know that app most of us have on our phones today.  I hosted their social launch with a great Twitter Party and shortly after that became their Community Manager for eighteen months. I also worked freelance for brands like Blow Me Cool, Silver Compass, and the last app that I launched was Caddle. It even had four of the Dragons from Dragons Den wanting a deal.

I have also been blessed to speak on the topic of Community Management at Podcamp Toronto, ShesConnected, Blissdom Canada and Be Connected.

Then last fall, after one of my main income sources ( an ad agency) went bankrupt, I got a contract job that I love with Spin Master.  I am doing exactly what I set out seven years ago to do.

I would say we have met both of the goals I set out with for that I am thankful.

Now it time for me to celebrate with my girl as she returns home from writing her last high school exam ever.  Here is to the next seven years and whatever they bring!

 

 

 

Flipping for Father’s Day

On the third Sunday in June, most families will be getting together to celebrate their Dads. I wish I was, I miss my dad so very much but I am forever grateful that I got to spend the time I did with him.  Sometimes it’s is hard to find that perfect gift for your favourite dad or father figure and we buying a gift we think our Dad will want or will need.

How can we find a special gift for Father’s Day? What does your dad like? What makes him happy, aside from spending time with his family? If you have small children and they like to create, have them make a special handmade gift from the heart.

Here are some awesome gift ideas for the handyman, sharp dresser and those who like to adventure about.

Father’s Day

Best Buy – Valid June 9 – June 17

Here are some great big gadgets for dad. Spend the day out making memories and staying fit and after a long da, sit back and enjoy a movie or two on a brand new TV.

Father's Day

Giant Tiger Valid June 7 – June 13

Set Dad up in style for summer with some additions to his wardrobe.

Father's Day

Canadian Tire -Valid Until Sunday, June 11

Is your dad handy? There are BIG  RED savings this weekend on tools and more.

Canadian Tire Valid June 9 – June 15

Father's Day

Plan a Father’s Day that Dad will love, including a BBQ with all the fixings.

Food Basics – Valid June 8 – June 14

What’s goes great on a BBQ? Yes, that’s right, Chicken and Ribs!

Try this quick and easy recipe for a sweet BBQ sauce.

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients together and add the meat.

Have you downloaded the Flipp app yet, you are missing out on savings. Download Flipp today from Google Play or the App Store and start saving.

How to Handle Hard Conversations with Your Teen

I am blessed. I have a teen daughter who is doing well. For us, life has not always been easy, we have had to tackle some hard things. Life has thrown a few curve balls. In all my years I never thought it would be my child who would suffer at the hands of other children, who would say out loud she wanted to die, who would need mental health assistance.  We have had to have hard conversations along the way. So how do you have hard conversations with your teens?

My teen and I have developed great communication skills over the years with a few bumps along the way. So how do you have those hard conversations with your teen? For us, those conversations often begin while we are watching some of our favourite tv shows. These are the ones we watch together. For us, that time on the couch together seems to bring on the perfect time to talk. Over popcorn, candy and soda come conversations that are hard to have. Because my teen and I are both so busy those times when we do slow down and have a Netflix chill night allow us to have real conversations.

For us, I normally let my teen take the lead. Often there will be a part of the show that she wants to talk about.  Currently, we have been watching two favourite teen dramas: Breaking Bad and the new Netflix teen drama 13 Reasons Why. Having a teen who has had mental health issues, as a mom, it was important for me to watch these with her so I could see if there were any triggers for her. For us watching shows like these have given us reference points for real conversations.

Recently Netflix brought parents and teens together to ask them what they would watch. The conversations can and will happen when we purposely put ourselves in our teen’s shoes. Shows like these allow us to connect deeply and powerfully.

If you are of my generation, you may remember the ABC after school specials or the episodes of Degrassi that tackled hard topics. Everything was dealt with from drinking, drugs, sex, rape, death and even suicide. For me, it was when watching a movie I first learned the word rape, the words childhood sexual abuse. It was while watching a made for tv movie I learned I was not alone. I learned it had happened to others and it was okay to talk about it. I was my daughter’s age when that happened and in my first year of university before I had my first hard conversation. It was not with my mom; it was a professor. I wanted my teen to know she was not alone. That she could always talk to me and we could have these hard conversations. Yes, having a community you can talk to is a need, but I wanted my teen to know they were loved and supported by me.Netflix recently released an infographic that talks about this.

Now Netflix has been criticized for 13 Reasons Why because it could trigger a young person. That is to be expected when you are bringing up topics like mental illness, bullying, rape and suicide. So as a parent I was glad that Netflix went a step further and not only produced conversation- starting content but met with mental health experts and created the 13 Reasons Why Talking points and the after show 13 Reasons Why: Beyond the Reasons and if you are concerned about your teen they also have the 13 Reasons Why Global Resource.

How do you have hard conversations with your teen? Yes, this mom wants to know.

*I am a member of the Canadian #StreamTeam which means I do receive free Netflix, some swag and often a sneak peek at what is ahead. As always though my opinions are my own. I have loved Netflix long before I was a team member and will watch long after I am no longer on the team. 

 

 

Flipp’s 5 Fab Deals – Healthy Choices

This week, it is all about making healthy choices in the food we eat. I have decided to eat more fruits and vegetables daily to become a better me. We all get to the point where some days we don’t feel like cooking so we order in or go out to eat. This can be costly and not always the best solution. Using Flipp always helps me find the right product for my needs, not my wants.

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Healthy Choices

Food Basics 

Healthy Choices

Perfect combo for adding to a salad or on their own

Healthy Choices

 

No Frills -$1, $2, $3 sale

Stock up the pantry and crisper.

healthy choices

Yes, No Frills alone has more than 5 deals but it is all on one page.

Giant Tiger – Grow your Own

Pick up some seeds and start your own mini garden.

Healthy Choices

All you have to do is plant the seeds and watch them grow.

healthy choices

 

There are many choices this week for us to make those healthy choices. What’s on your shopping list?