With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, we wanted to write about some ways that you may incorporate gratitude into your daily routine. It’s no surprise that gratitude practice has positive benefits on how we feel (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Watkins et al., 2003). It’s great that we have a day dedicated to gratitude on thanksgiving, but we may also want to work at incorporating gratitude into our everyday routines.

Here are some ways that you may incorporate gratitude into your day:

  • Before reaching for your phone or stepping out of bed in the morning, call to mind three things you are grateful for. If you are having troubles thinking of things right away, notice what you’re grateful for in your surroundings. Maybe it’s having a roof over your head, how comfy your bed is, or a special photo in your surroundings.
  • Use a gratitude app and set reminders to record things you’re grateful for throughout the day. Some examples of gratitude apps are Greatful: A Gratitude Journal, or Gratitude Journal 365. If you’d rather do it yourself, create a note on your phone to record things you feel grateful for throughout the day.
  • Write a letter to someone you love telling them things you appreciate about them, and how much they mean to you. Then, hand-deliver it to them or send it in the mail. Writing a gratitude letter has been shown to increase people’s happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms (Toepfer, Cichy, & Peters, 2012).
  • When your family is gathered for dinner, take turns each expressing something you are grateful for from the day. Research has demonstrated that expressing gratitude to a partner can make individuals feel that their relationship is stronger than those who do not practice expressing gratitude (Lambert, Clark, Durtschi, Fincham, & Graham, 2010).
  • Be on the lookout for small things during your day to feel grateful for. Whether it’s a smile from a stranger, a piece of artwork in a building, a beautiful tree outside, or a sunny day – take time to stop and smell the roses!

 

Which of these do you think might work for your routine? Whatever the shape or form, we hope these tips were helpful to find a routine where you can express your gratitude throughout your days.

This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for our families, friends, clients, and you, the reader – thank you for coming on this journey with us.

 

References

Emmons, R., and McCullough, M. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective wellbeing in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.

Lambert, N., Clark, M., Durtschi, J., Fincham, F., and Graham, S. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude. Psychological Science, 21(4), 574-580.

Toepfer, S., Cichy, K., and Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(1), 187-201.

Watkins, P., Woodward, K., Stone, T., and Kolts, R. (2003). Gratitude and happiness: Developmental of a measure of gratitude and relationships with subjective well-being. Social Behavior and Personality, 31(5), 431-452.

Kayleen Edwards, RP, MA

Hearing the term “self care” can trigger an automatic eye roll from some, who think of self care as the cliche bubble bath, face mask, or other stereotypical things they may have seen in media. Self care seems to be a buzzword these days, with more and more people using it on social media, television, and marketing. But what does self care actually mean?

To us, self care is something that you do to be a good friend to yourself. Self care activities are things that make you feel recharged, energized, and more like yourself. These activities can come in many shapes and forms. The examples below are just a starting point for the possibilities of self care activities that you may do.

Self Care Ideas

Physical Relationships Creativity Spiritual
·Go for a walk

·Try a yoga YouTube video

·Join a house league for a sport of your choice

·Have a dance party in your kitchen

· Have a warm bath

·Do stretches

·Make a warm cup of tea

·Organize something in your home

·Go to bed early to get 8 hours of sleep

·Get a Massage

·Drink more water

·Spend time in the sun

·Text someone

·Call someone

·Go for coffee

·Tell someone how you feel

·Tell someone why you appreciate them

·Cuddle with a loved one

·Create boundaries – say “no” and express your needs

·Turn off your phone after a certain time

·Limit time on social media

·Play a board game with loved ones

·Go on a date with your significant other

· Journal

·Get an adult colouring book

·Paint

·Make a card for someone

·Look up and make a new recipe

·Take art lessons

·Take dance lessons

·Repurpose an object

·Learn a new skill on YouTube

·Visit the library or book store

·Start a blog

·Work on a home project

·Do some gardening

 

·Spend time in nature

·Meditate

·Pray

·Journal

·Listen to meaningful music

·Find and listen to podcasts that inspire you

·Look up and save inspirational quotes

·Visit a sacred place

·Create a sacred place in your home with candles or scents

·Watch the sunrise or sunset

·Help someone

·Volunteer

 

Did any of these surprise you? Are there some that you are already doing, but never thought of it as self care?

Our challenge to you is to pick at least one of these activities to do for yourself each day. It doesn’t have to be a daunting process that requires a great deal of time and energy! Even one small self care activity like ensuring you’re getting enough water or sitting outside can make the world of a difference.

Kayleen Edwards, MA, RP

kayleen@rootsinwellness.ca

For those of you who like to run, you know that nothing compares to the feeling you get when you’re outside running with the sun in your face and the wind at your back. But for many, running can seem like a chore, especially at first, and it can be difficult to get over that hump.

So, if you’ve thought about running, tried it, and decided you hated it, then this article is for you!

At First – It Sucks!

When you first start running, especially if you’re carrying some extra weight, it can really suck. You feel like you’re constantly struggling to breathe, your muscles ache, and you may even end up with a headache afterwards.

Let me tell you – this will pass! Any time we begin a journey to weight loss, fitness, or health, there’s always a period of feeling uncomfortable while our bodies adjust. Stick with it, even for just a few weeks, and you’re likely to see improvements in how you feel.

If you don’t, here are some reasons you may be feeling sluggish or achy during/after a run:

  • You’re dehydrated: make sure you drink lots of water before, during, and after a run; your body needs to be hydrated!
  • You haven’t eaten enough: many people enjoy running while fasted (meaning they haven’t eaten in a number of hours), however this doesn’t work for others. If you’re feeling really tired following a run, check your calories and make sure you’ve got enough fuel to get you through your workout and the rest of your day
  • You’re doing too much all at once: it’s okay to start small. We always want to push ourselves, but make sure it’s within reason. If you’re unsure, speak to your doctor about a good starting point, or hire a personal trainer

When I first started trying to get healthy, the first couple of weeks felt like torture. But I didn’t go from no exercise at all to running 25km a week. I started playing volleyball again, going to the gym a little more, then I joined soccer, and eventually got a home gym and started running most days – and that took me a year to progress to! This journey in itself is a marathon, and you need to pace yourself. Stick with it and I promise you won’t forget it.

The other thing that really motivated me was doing a 5k, without any training. Now, you don’t want to do this in a way that you’re going to injure yourself. But what I mean is, I had the intention to start running so I signed up for a 5km race, thinking that would motivate me to train. It didn’t. But AFTER I did the 5km race, and realized that running 5k really isn’t that bad, I was motivated to improve my time. What I learned was that the first 2km are the worst, and then you sort of get into a rhythm. So, sign up for a 5km race by yourself or with a friend, and see where it takes you!

Proper Footwear

Wearing proper footwear is so important when we’re running – if we have unsupportive footwear, we can end up with a multitude of problems. If you’re not sure what to get, don’t worry; I didn’t either! If you go to a store, you’ll notice there are dozens of brands with hundreds of different shoes, all claiming to be for ‘running’. The sales associate may be able to help you, especially if you have a specific issue, but there will still be many choices. It may also depend on where and how you’re running – if you’re running indoors on a treadmill versus outside on a sidewalk versus on a trail, you may require different types of footwear and support.

It’s worth the money to invest in a good pair of running shoes, both for running outside, on the treadmill, and for weight lifting and other types of workouts. We need to have support for our feet and ankles in order to avoid injury. Personally, I have a pair of Sauconys, which I love. They’re super comfortable and lightweight.

For more information on which shoes to buy, check out these articles:

In general, as long as you don’t have any pre-existing medical issues, and you go with a shoe that is made for running, you should be okay (please consult with your doctor first). Go to the store, try some on, and you’ll find a pair that you like.

A Running Plan

It can be really helpful to have a plan when you’re running. Many people get discouraged because they go out and notice they can’t run for very long, and are often winded. If that’s you, then starting on a specific running plan might be helpful. Typically these are found in apps that you can get on your phone, that offer a gradual progression to running a 5k, for example.

Here are a few of my favourite running apps:

Couch to 5k Running App

Strava Run and Cycling App

Runkeeper App

 Map my Run App

 FitBit Activity Tracker

For those of you who aren’t into technology, here are some running plans that are available online that you can follow:

Having said that, I don’t actually use a running program, and never have. They’re just not for me, and I like to go at my own pace. I have a FitBit and when I started running, I was much further along in my running abilities (due to soccer) than most programs start you at. I simply run based on how my body feels, ensuring that I’m pushing myself along the way. It’s been successful for me, and I continue to reach personal records on a regular basis.

Be Patient

Patience is a virtue – one I admit I often don’t have. When I do something, I typically go all-in and I want to get results FAST. That meant that, for me, I wanted to constantly improve and reach personal records every time I ran. Now, this in itself isn’t a bad thing. A drive to run and improve is great – but you need to ensure you’re listening to your body.

I went from running once a week at soccer, to doing that plus 5km four times per week. Not surprisingly, I got injured. My physiotherapist suggested that I had simply done too much too fast, and my body couldn’t keep up. I developed tendonitis in my hip and had to cut back on my running quite a bit. Not only that, but it affected my game at soccer and took a long time to heal. Go slow, do this gradually, and don’t expect your body to do more than it can do. This takes time and it’s worth it in the end if you go slow and steady.

Don’t Pressure Yourself too Much

I’m someone who, even in the best shape of my life, hated running. Now I love it and it’s the thing that I turn to for stress relief, self-care and relaxation for myself. Having said that, running isn’t for everyone. Some people do not enjoy running, and that’s okay!! Lots of people talk about running as the best form of cardio, but there are so many alternatives. So, if you hate running, or just don’t want to run, here are some really great cardio alternatives:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Cycling indoors
  • Sports
  • HIIT workouts

I encourage everyone who is willing and able to get out and try running. Try it with a friend, on a trail, or on a treadmill, and see how it goes. Everyone is different and has different preferences, but the idea is that we’re moving our bodies and being healthy!

 

Jennifer Thomson

Registered Psychotherapist

RP, MACP