The importance of self care

As follow-up to my last post, which you can read here, I thought I’d talk about some ideas to to help keep ourselves mentally well.  Again, this post isn’t just for First Responders…these are things anyone can (& should do).

We all lead busy lives…and it’s easy to put taking care of ourselves at the bottom of our to-do list.  But there’s only so long that your body will allow this kind of abuse before your physical and mental health start to take a toll

Self care is one of the most important things we need to focus on for both our physical and mental health, and most self care activities have a positive impact on both at the same time.  I’m just going to provide a list of simple things you can do to take care of yourself.  Some require very little time or effort.

  1. Unplug for 5 min, 30 min, 60 min…whatever time you’re able to.  Turn off your phone, TV, computer, everything electronic and just enjoy the break from social media for awhile.
  2. Further to the social media discussion…take out any negative people you “follow” or are “friends” with.  You don’t have to delete them if that’s too harsh, but you can “unfollow” or “mute” them.  There’s enough negativity in our lives without these negative people on social media.
  3. Pause….and take a minute to deep breath.  Yes, a full minute (or more).  It’s amazing how relaxing this is.  I recommend you do this anytime you get that feeling of anxiousness or something overwhelming you.
  4. Walk or run.  I’m not a runner…but people tell me it relaxes them!  For me there’s nothing more relaxing for me than walking my dog at the dog park.  Something about watching the pure joy she has running free there!  The fresh air does me good too!
  5. Laugh!  At anything…a funny comic book, tv show, youtube video, etc.  It’s amazing how good laughter makes you feel.
  6. Perform a random act of kindness.  It doesn’t have to be something huge.  Help someone carry groceries to their car, hold the door for someone, buy someone coffee, the possibilities are endless.
  7. Exercise.  This one is pretty obvious, but much harder to schedule time for.  But it can be anything.  I already mentioned running/walking.  Other ideas…yoga, fitness classes, weightlifting, etc.
  8. Hobbies.  Read a book, play an instrument, knit, paint, etc.  These are great to relax you.

What are some of your go to self care tips?  Please share some of your favourites.

 

 

Olympics…Do They Inspire You?

The Olympics just finished and I’m kind of sad!  I wait anxiously for the 2 weeks every 2 years when I can watch the Olympics on TV and watch sports that I would never otherwise watch!  There’s just something about thousands of athletes giving it there all for their country after training so hard for that one moment.  I find it amazing how hard these athletes train all their lives for one potential opportunity to compete once every 4 years.  They give up everything (jobs, family time, maybe some friendships) and they may not even make it to the Games.  But it is so exciting watching the passion these athletes have for their sport and the drive and determination to perform their best.  It breaks my heart when someone fails or falls or  injures themselves…they are so devastated having worked so hard and then not being able to show that off.

Even more inspiring could be the Paralympics!  Those athletes have overcome some amazing obstacles to get where they are.  I sure hope there is decent coverage of the games (They start next week!) with some back stories of these phenomenal athletes!

It often makes me wonder…how much passion must you have for that one sport or skill that you are willing to sacrifice so much in order to make it that far!  Are any of you that passionate about anything in your life that you can become that successful?  Are you that passionate about your career, your family, your hobbies?  I can think of a few people who are.

I’ve always thought that entrepreneurs must be that passionate about their idea in order to take that big of a risk in opening a new business.  Or new authors who write their first books hoping that people will like their stories.  Or anyone with that much passion that they will put themselves out there with the risk of failure!

So, for me there is more to watching the Olympics than just watching the Olympics!  It makes me think about the many people in my life who have that drive and passion to do great things!  Hopefully you can find something in your life that makes you feel like an Olympian!

Meal Planning for Success

Have you ever tried to meal plan?  If you haven’t, you need to!  It makes your life so much easier, makes your grocery trips less frequent and likely cheaper, and is just waaaaaay less stress each night.

For a full time shift worker I suggest you plan out your meals for your entire rotation 2 days before you go back to work (make sure you plan for leftovers).  Even cook some in advance if it works for you (freeze or refrigerate the leftovers).  Make a grocery list while you’re planning the meals to ensure you have all ingredients you need.  Get all your groceries the day before you go back to work because I don’t know anyone who wants to spend any time in a grocery store after a 12h shift.

If you shop at a place like Costco it’s a little more work the day you shop just because of the volume of food, but it is so worth it later in the week/month.  You’ll need to freeze in portions (depending on the size of your family you’ll need to cut things up and freeze them in smaller or individual portions).  Wash and cut up ALL veggies you buy (this is the least fun part about me shopping at Costco!)…makes it way easier to choose these as a snack, and also way quicker to pack in your lunch.  If you’re making something that week that requires them to be cut up a certain way, do that on this day as well.  You’ll be so happy you did this when you get home from that 12h shift.

Look at your meal plan each day to see what is planned for tomorrow.  Take out the appropriate stuff from the freezer (usually meat) so it is thawed by tomorrow night.  If you’re energetic the day before prep some of the stuff ahead of time if you didn’t do it the day you bought groceries (chop up veggies, etc).

It’s a bit of work off the hop trying to think of meal ideas for 5-7 days at a time, but I promise it gets easier as you go.  And if you’re following a recipe or trying something new you’ll know that you have all the ingredients for it because you bought them earlier in the week!

And when you’re stuck thinking of something to eat the next week, look back on your meal plans from the weeks prior….you’ll find you rotate though meals a little bit (unless you only know how to make 7 meals HA HA!) and hopefully won’t get sick of eating the same thing all the time.

Happy meal planning!

More good recipes for work lunches!

Thanks to my readers for telling me they enjoyed my recipe post (and also for letting me know that you read my blog!).  I decided to post a few more recipes that we make at our house that are great for leftovers.

Meatza
This is a great one if you’re gluten free (no pizza crust) and is great for varying ingredients!
Start with some ground beef (amount will vary based on how big of a ‘meatza’ you want).  Add in an egg, some breadcrumbs (skip for gluten free obviously), and some pizza spices (I add garlic powder, parmesan cheese, oregano, and italian spices).  Mix all together and then spread out on something oven safe (cookie sheet or 9×13 pan work good).  This is your pizza “crust”, so make it fairly thin and flat.  It will shrink some, and be a bit greasy depending on the leanness of your beef.
Add pizza sauce or tomato paste.
Then go crazy with your toppings!  We usually put mushrooms, onions, peppers, and ham on ours.  Add whatever you like on your regular pizza.
Top with cheese….mozza is always delish, but feta is also very yummy.
Bake for 20 min at 350F.  Be sure to make a big batch so you have some extras for lunches.  One normal size package of ground beef usually makes enough for 2 extra lunches for us.

Chilli
I’m not going to post a chilli recipe as there are tons out there and I’m sure you have one you like.  We vary ours a little each time we make it anyways.  But this is a great, high protein, satisfying lunch that you can prepare and throw in the slow cooker.  Make as big of a batch as will fit in your slow cooker and freeze the extras.

Taco Chicken Bowls
Another Pinterest recipe that I love.  Here’s the link.
It’s a slow cooker recipe that takes about 5min to throw together.  Chicken breasts, salsa, a few spices and you’re done.
I’ll usually make some rice to go with it….makes it go a little further for lunches.  So yummy!

Taco Salad
Again, I don’t have a set recipe for this, but here goes…
Brown some ground beef while adding some taco spices (I just add chilli powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder to taste.  Much better for you than the prepackaged store bough stuff).
Shred some iceberg lettuce in a bowl.  Add in whatever veggies you like in taco salad….I like peppers, green onion, celery, and cilantro.  Crush up some tortilla chips, add in some cheese, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole.   Stir and eat!
For your lunch the next day separate the chips so they don’t get soggy, hamburger so that you can reheat it, and wet stuff (salsa, sour cream, guac).  Basically leave only the veggies together.

Basically anything you make for supper the day before you should try to double it so that you leave yourself leftovers for work the next day, or something quick for supper that next night if you didn’t plan ahead.

Feel free to comment and share some recipes you like to have for work lunches.

So you want to be a healthier shift worker?

Of course we all want to be healthier!  Anyone who works shift work knows that we have a higher risk of almost everything (disease, earlier death, etc).  So why would anyone choose a job where shift work is the norm?!  Because we LOVE it and are passionate about it!  So, what can you do to try and minimize the risks?  I have a few ideas, some of which I’ve discussed in previous blog posts but are worth mentioning again because they are just that important!

  1. SLEEP!  Sleep is so so so important!  Not just after your day shifts and night shifts, but every single time you sleep!  You need to strive for 8 hours or as close to it as possible.  I discussed some nights shift sleep tips in this blog post.
  2. FOOD!  You need to eat real, whole foods and stay away from packaged foods that are full of sugar and other garbage!  See this blog post about sugar, and this blog post about reading food labels.
  3. WATER!  Everyone needs to drink lots and lots of water in a day.  I know you’ll need to pee lots, and that sometimes this is not a great thing on a busy shift as a Paramedic (unless you want to have to use your patient’s bathroom!).  So, just drink as much as you can!  No, Red Bull and coffee and pop don’t count!  Here’s a few tips to help you drink more water.
  4. STRETCH!  Even just for 5-10 minutes a day.  Before shift, during shift, after shift, at home, whenever!  I wrote about a few on duty stretches that are easy to do in uniform here.
  5. EXERCISE!  I don’t care what you do, just get out and move!  Run, walk, ride your bike, go to a class at a gym, sign up for a community association program (bonus…these are usually cheaper than at a gym!), anything!  Find something you enjoy doing and/or find a buddy to do it with you!  You’ll help keep each other accountable!
  6. LAUGH!  I hope you work somewhere as fun as I do and can laugh a TON with your fabulous co-workers!  Find some fun friends outside of work that you can have a blast with as well!  Go to a funny movie, anything that will make you laugh!  It truly is the best medicine!

None of these are new ideas, and I know you’ve all heard them before.  But maybe this is the one time you’ll take one of the suggestions to heart and change something in your lifestyle.

Feel free to share any tips you have to become a healthier Medic!

What motivates you?

I bet many of you struggle to maintain motivation to eat healthy, be consistently physically active, and many other healthy lifestyle struggles.

As a Peer Fitness Trainer, I have recently started trying out a few challenges with some of my coworkers that I can tell want to make some changes in their lives.  These challenges are still fairly recent and new, but so far they are appearing to be quite successful and a lot of fun for both myself and the person achieving them (way to go to those people who’ve successfully completed one of my challenges!).

But, it’s got me wondering…why do people need some sort of challenge from an external source (i.e. me) to hold them accountable for their actions?  Why isn’t the internal motivation of “I want to be healthier” or “I want to feel better” or “I want my pants to fit better” enough?

I definitely don’t know the answer, but I do know that external motivation is the key factor in a lot of people achieving their health and wellness goals (myself included).  Think about it…people sign up for a fitness class with a friend.  Why?  Because they know they will keep each other accountable and actually attend the classes.  People sign up for group sports for the same reason…accountability.  Money can also be a motivating factor….if I’m spending all this $$$ on these classes I better actually attend the classes.  Weight loss groups work in a similar way…being held accountable to the group, or the weigh ins, or the inches lost, etc, etc, etc.

I don’t care what motivates you, but you HAVE to find that person or reason to get yourself going!!  Here are some suggestions for keeping yourself motivated and accountable:

  1. Find a buddy!  This would be my #1 recommendation!  Find a friend who has the same interests as you (whether it’s fitness or nutrition) and hold each other accountable at all times.  Start a FB group, or text message group and talk as often as you need to in order to stay on track.
  2. Ensure your goals are SMART:
    S:  Specific.  “I’m going to walk 30min a day 3x a week” vs. “I’m going to walk more”
    M: Measurable.  “Eat at least 4 servings of vegetables a day” vs. “Eat more veggies”
    A: Achievable.  If you hate running, do NOT make a goal that you are going to run!
    R: Realistic.  “I’m going to do yoga 5x a week and run 3x a week and play soccer 4x a week…as well as work full time, spend time with your family, etc”.  That is definitely not a realistic goal in my world!
    T: Time.  There has to be a deadline.  For example…my first SMART goals I made with my coworkers had a deadline.  Once that deadline hits I made contact with them to see how they did (and also contacted them through their challenge to see how it was going, and made them aware that they could contact me at any time).  And, it allowed us to make new SMART goals with a new deadline.
  3. You have to want to make a change.  Be honest with yourself.  If you have no ambition or desire to make the change (no matter what it is or how big or small it is) it won’t be successful.  Everyone wants to be healthier or fitter or look better in a bathing suit, but if you aren’t serious about it it’s not going to work.  You just have to think a little harder about a more achievable or SMART goal that you actually want to accomplish and can be successful at.
  4. This one fits in with the “T” of SMART goals….but make sure your goal has a deadline.  Training towards something will also help you be successful.  Some examples…a run (there’s tons of races around Saskatchewan and area in the summer!), a physical test (our PFT test, a hiring physical, etc), your wedding, someone else’s wedding, a certain birthday/anniversary, etc, etc, etc.  Having that end goal is often huge for people!

I can blabber on all I want about how to get motivated, but unless you find that thing that gets you started all this talk is just talk!  I just hope one of my suggestions will sink in and help one of you!

Please comment and share with me what motivates you!  I’d love to hear it!