The Truth about Mental Fatigue

I woke up one day not long after Christmas and realized that I was out of gas. I didn’t just feel physically tired, there was something more going on; I knew I needed to take a closer look. I call myself a happiness expert and this didn’t feel like that. I took a pause and reviewed the last few months. It became very clear that I had done a good job of taking care of my husband when he had a temporary health challenge, I did a good job of taking care of a group I travelled to Europe with and when my husband’s family came for Christmas, I did a pretty good job of taking care of them too. But I reached the point where I couldn’t take care of anybody else until I took care of myself.

It happens to the best of us. We run out of gas with no gas station in sight. Fortunately, I didn’t end up in a pile on the floor like Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington did. She woke up on the floor of her office, having hit her head on the way down. She didn’t know she had run out of gas and what she gleaned from her experience, inspired her to become a sleep evangelist, preaching about the benefits of sleep in a book called The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your Life, One Night at a Time.

Because we spend so much time in our head thinking about to do lists and other people’s needs, we can miss cues, letting us know that something is up. Physical tiredness, as Arianna teaches, can be addressed with good sleep habits but how do we know we’re mentally tired and what can we do about it?

A mentally fatigued person might have difficulty concentrating, feel apathetic or overwhelmed; might feel a lack of motivation, dread or hopelessness. They might even feel angry, anxious or depressed.  They may have an upset stomach, body aches, fatigue or loss of appetite and might feel socially isolated. I had some; not all of these symptoms but certainly enough of them to get my attention.

Mental fatigue can be caused by a change in lifestyle, perhaps death of a loved one, being a caregiver for someone ill or aging; it can be caused by financial challenges. It might also be caused by an absence of social support or having too much on your plate for too long, which was the case for me.

There is a prescription for each of us who finds ourselves feeling mentally exhausted and it begins with recognizing and accepting that we are out of gas. It’s never a bad idea to consult your doctor if you feel overwhelmed and your doctor may very well suggest some of the following ideas, some of which helped me a great deal in the last month.

If you are caring for a loved one who is ill, investigate respite care and make sure that you get some support. Often we think we have to do everything ourselves, when folks are waiting to help us if we’re courageous enough to ask. Recharging is so important and we have to make space to do that. It might be a vacation, a few days or hours with no agenda to help fill your tank. 

Good quality rest is important and some form of exercise is too. Exercise like brisk walking is excellent to move stagnant energy around in the body and help lower stress response as well as helping us handle unknown stressors in the future.  

Gratitude is a key when it comes to lowering stress. I strongly recommend keeping a gratitude journal; write down five things you’re grateful for every day.  Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and tai-chi, go for a massage or learn deep breathing techniques. 

Walking in nature is medicine for me, spending time alone, getting and giving hugs as well as having a good old fashioned chin wag with a friend all fill my tank. I’m happy to say that life is back on track and I have some new habits to take me through 2020 with clarity, calm and confidence.  Living well is about being open to learning something new about ourselves and embracing ideas we can use to improve our results, so that we can inspire others to do the same.

 

The Art of Living Well by Decluttering

The self-storage business in North America nets well over 35 billion dollars a year. That’s a shocking number isn’t it but are you surprised? The success of this industry is due in large part to young families looking for more affordable housing and older generations downsizing. I think it’s fair to say that most of us have stuff stashed in cupboards, basements, garages and one in ten of us has stuff stashed in a storage locker somewhere.

Getting that first apartment and buying furniture is usually where collecting stuff begins. We acquire, inherit, borrow and purchase stuff for the rest of our lives. We cherish certain items for sentimental, investment or aesthetic reasons and we hold on to things that have no meaning whatsoever, usually because we don’t know what to do with them or in some cases we don’t even know we have them.

Have you heard of Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari? She’s an organizational consultant, author of four books, including The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up; she’s also the star of the successful Netflix series, Tidying Up.

Marie’s method of organizing and decluttering is called the KonMari Method.™  It’s best described as a way of life or a state of mind that focuses on appreciating and keeping only the items we have that spark joy, while surrendering what no longer sparks joy, after acknowledging and thanking each item. There’s a specific process, beginning with our clothing and ending with sentimental items. The shift in the people whose lives are changed by Marie’s magic is actually very inspiring and shines a light on the real problem we have in North America when it comes to our need to acquire and hold on to things.

Marie compassionately walks her clients through the KonMari process, helping them recognize that when we only keep items that spark joy, our lives feel lighter, we feel more relaxed in our environment and some of the items we surrender become available to spark joy for someone else. It’s a powerful lesson that is initially frightening and overwhelming but creates freedom and empowers everyone who participates in the process.

Marie Kondo is a very gentle person with a soft voice and an easy smile, who doesn’t judge her clients. She loves a mess, she says, because she loves tidying up and once her clients grasp the concept and really examine what sparks joy for them, the process of surrendering what doesn’t serve them or as Marie says, spark joy for them, helps create a feeling of freedom.

This idea of surrendering what doesn’t serve us or what doesn’t spark joy isn’t just about our physical possessions, the best research suggests that each of us has between 20,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day, many of them are stored from childhood and most of them do anything but spark joy, wouldn’t you agree?

De-cluttering our thoughts is as important as de-cluttering our things, when you consider that the only areas in our lives that we really have control over are our thoughts and our things. We can’t control life’s events and we can’t control other people. In the same way that we can choose to keep only the belongings that spark joy, we can acknowledge untruths and surrender them, to make room for ideas and thoughts that actually make us feel good.

I believe it was Einstein who said “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If we unpack the conditioned thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and our place in the world, we can usually trace some of it back to something someone said to us even as children, or something we read or saw in the media and when repeated over and over becomes a belief. The most important question to ask is: is the thought or belief true?

There are so many examples we could look at but for a moment let’s examine the idea of aging. In North American society, the accepted view is if we’re old, we’re irrelevant. Is that true? I believe the answer is no and it’s up to each one of us to defy that ridiculous idea and bring our best to every day. It’s not about fighting against anything, it’s about leading the way and showing others what it looks like to be a mature, ageless thinker who believes every person is relevant. The focus of our thoughts then must be on what sparks joy and what makes us feel connected and relevant in the world today.

I love the concept of Freedom Living that The Wellings embraces because it really embodies what it is to age gratefully. Freedom living recognizes that this gift of aging is about saying yes to what sparks joy and giving ourselves permission to let people and situations that cause drama or clutter slide on by, after acknowledging and thanking them, as Marie Kondo would have us do.

The Secret to Making Achievable New Year’s Resolutions

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions has been around for centuries, beginning with the ancient Babylonians, whose custom of celebrating a new year in March, when crops were planted, focused on a 12 day religious festival. During the celebration, a new king was crowned or loyalty to the reigning king was affirmed and promises to pay debt and return any borrowed items were made. The idea was that if people honoured their resolutions, the gods would smile on them and if not they’d potentially be punished by the same gods.

In the 4,000 years since, as  societies have evolved, quite a few things have changed but the idea of making a promise still remains except now it seems we set rather unrealistic goals; in effect we set ourselves up to let ourselves down. I have a few helpful ideas that might feel more resonant in 2020.

A recent New Year’s Eve poll conducted on CTV Ottawa, indicated that 78% of respondents do not make New Year’s resolutions; of the 22% who say they do set resolutions, we can assume that a good percentage of them will fail to reach their goals. Visit your local gym during the first week of January; then during the first week of April and you’ll see evidence of this fascinating human behavior.

So why do we set ourselves up to fail? Wouldn’t it make more sense to set achievable New Year’s resolutions? Instead of committing to losing weight, quitting smoking, eating clean or any of the other predictable and often unrealistic goals we set on the first day of a new year, why not look at the idea of resolutions in a slightly different way. How about shifting habits from the inside out instead of the other way around?

The way we think of New Year’s resolutions is about deferred happiness: I’ll feel better or I’ll be happier with myself when I……..fill in the blank with any number of objectives. If the true goal of a resolution is to improve your life, wouldn’t it be more powerful to focus your thoughts on that improvement? Doesn’t it make more sense to be focused on appreciation for what you already have in your life by listing three to five things you’re grateful for every day instead of admonishing yourself for enjoying a cupcake?

The folks at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center tell us that focusing on being thankful and expressing appreciation change the molecular structure of the brain and it’s believed that people who experience more positive emotions feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

I believe that courage is our superpower and yet many of us feel less and less courageous, the longer we’re on earth. Fear is a very powerful force and its job is to keep us safe but it also can prevent us from trying new things or meeting new people. I’m not suggesting you try swimming with great white sharks but what if you called on courage to help you try something you’ve always wanted to like dancing, yoga or learning a new language? What if you called on courage to help you get moving for fifteen minutes a day? 

Every time you call on your superpower of courage and take action, you’re sending a message to your brain that you’re safe so fear can take a back seat and you can take a step closer to your goal of feeling better about yourself. After all self-improvement and happiness are nurtured by the small steps we take toward feeling good on the inside, which ultimately shows on the outside.

I encourage you to embrace every new day as the gift that it truly is. Let’s let go of resentments that keep us stuck, disappointment, anger and regret that keep us in the past. Let’s greet every day with gratitude and courage. Let’s open our hearts and open our minds; let’s get on with the business of living well. This is going to be a great day.

 

Kathie Donovan
Currently a Wellings Ambassador and Living Well Advisor, Kathie was Canada’s broadcasting sweetheart for almost three decades as well as co-host of the beloved television show Regional Contact. Kathie is a gifted storyteller who shone a light on characters and creative types tucked into small towns. Her love of connecting people, caring and sharing is inspiring. Kathie has authored two books with a third on the way; she continues to build on her annual event “Refresh Your Passion” and other workshops. Kathie’s priorities are to love what she does and live well.

New Year’s Greetings

First and foremost, allow me to thank you for taking the time to open and read this message, as I know we all have so much on our plates at this time of the year.

I am so grateful for all of the Blessings that 2019 provided to all of us, that I felt it necessary to share some of the highlights, surrounding 2019, now in the rearview mirror, with all of its great memories and take a look forward to 2020, with overwhelming enthusiasm and excitement.

Suffice it to say that from a corporate perspective, the Opening of the Wellings of Stittsville would have to have been the high point of the past year. I guess it goes without saying that our community members proved once again, that they are the true “Wellings Champions” that we all aspire to be 🙂 Their patience and support was not only appreciated but truly cherished, as we endured the delays in construction.

I believe in my heart that the end result is a Wellings community that is a beautiful building fueled by community’s passion-We are so Blessed-Thank you all.

In addition to the Wellings of Stittsville opening, we are all excited with the overwhelming community support we have received in all of the existing Wellings communities, as well as markets we are looking forward to building in. With vibrant Wellings PLUS communities in Picton, Corunna (Sarnia), and most recently, Stittsville, with our most successful opening to date, where almost 150 people moved in in the 1st 60 days-Wow. The most fantastic thing in Stittsville was the community’s birth, long before there was ever a building, fascinating……

The other very exciting news that will forever tie 2019 to 2020 is the innovation that we have experienced in our traditional Wellings offering. On the heels of the tremendous success in the Wellings of Waterford, with all three phases scheduled to be completed in April of 2020, we already have a full house. The popularity of this model of community in Waterford has “inspired” us to ramp up development in our traditional Wellings small market offering. This model is a unique offering that breeds a real sense of community at affordable prices for smaller cities. As a result of this overwhelming support, we have communities in planning or under development in Winchester, Pembroke, and Cornwall to kick off in 2020.

On the Wellings PLUS front, we are equally excited about the completion and environment in our recently opened Wellings of Stittsville and have Wellings PLUS communities beginning construction in 2020 in Whitby and Calgary-So exciting, to provide the ultimate 55+ community experience in these two markets.

I wanted to personally thank all of our stakeholders for their contributions and support in helping the Wellings brand to exceed expectations at every opportunity and continue to innovate in the area of 55+ communities. I look forward to seeing all of you during my visits to YOUR Wellings community during 2020, while I continue to look for your input as to how we can continue to make Wellings all that your dreams make it.

On a closing note, I wanted to personally thank all of our community members for their undying support and trust and wish each and every one of you A joyous holiday season and all of the Blessings that 2020 has to bring to you and your families.

Happy New Year,
Kevin Pidgeon,
President,
Nautical Lands Group

Plant Love; Reap Joy

One of my favourite flowers is the Forget-me-not. A woman I worked with many years ago gave me a packet of Forget-me-not seeds, when we stopped working together, so that I will always remember her. The first spring those sweet little blue flowers popped up, I smiled and thought of the kind-hearted person who gifted them to me.

The following season, there were more and over the years, in some areas of our garden, there’s a pretty blue carpet that reminds me of friendship and kindness. I love how nature has so much to teach us. 

Here’s something important we can learn from nature: everything we plant in our mind with our thoughts will produce some kind of result, just as it would if you planted a seed in the ground.

The question is what’s growing in your garden? Do you want flowers or weeds?

I love the question because it guides us to consider what we really want. I like to think of myself as a farmer, planting seeds and nurturing them, so that I can benefit down the road.  If we want to feel good in life, it’s up to us to invest in the crops that will produce that result. I like to grow healthy crops with my thoughts and I like to weed out things like chronic complaining and gossip because neither one is going to help with what I want to grow and harvest.

As humans, we’re wired to feel safe, so challenging our thoughts seems unnatural; we have to work at this stuff. Brain science tells us that we have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts rolling through our minds every day and most of them are negative. If I asked you to pay attention to the thoughts that pop up, say for one day, I think you’d notice what I’m talking about.

We have deeply ingrained habits that at one time in our evolution served to help us survive. Take judgement for example: we love to categorize and compare, don’t we?  It makes us feel powerful but judgement and separation, taken to an extreme have caused so many problems in our families and our communities. I think the most damaging thoughts we have are focused on judgement of ourselves and separation from others. Listen to how you talk to yourself with your inside voice. Left unmanaged, the random thoughts in your mind can take you down some scary rabbit holes. So, it’s key to catch ourselves when judgement pops up and reset to compassion and empathy for ourselves first and then for everyone else.

Another habit is holding on to bitterness, anger and resentment because it makes us feel powerful where we might otherwise feel powerless. Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

We can’t control life’s events and we can’t control other people. The only things we have control over are the thoughts we choose. Keep in mind that nobody has it all together, we are all beautiful works in progress and having a focus on empathy, compassion and kindness means that we will harvest tons of good will and enjoy more connected relationships with our families, friends and our communities. Plant love, reap joy and live well.

Kathie Donovan
Currently a Wellings Ambassador and Living Well Advisor, Kathie was Canada’s
broadcasting sweetheart for almost three decades as well as co-host of the beloved television show Regional Contact. Kathie is a gifted storyteller who shone a light on characters and creative types tucked into small towns. Her love of connecting people, caring and sharing is inspiring. Kathie has authored two books with a third on the way; she continues to build on her annual event “Refresh Your Passion” and other workshops. Kathie’s priorities are to love what she does and live well.

The Season of Giving

Here we go again: another Christmas season is ramping up and I wonder: 

Are you ready? 

I don’t mean are your gifts wrapped and under the tree. I mean are you ready for all of the silliness that comes with long to-do lists and unexpected sideswipes that can invade what should be a joyful time of year. 

After all, we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus and birthdays should always be enjoyable, right?

Our challenge is perspective. 

Somehow over the decades, we got lost in the wonder and magic of a Coca Cola promotion that stuck. Now for the most part, instead of the central focus of the season is about the all-important life lessons Jesus 

taught like kindness, forgiveness, and compassion, at the center of Christmas is a jolly fellow in a red suit, who flies around the world delivering presents to hopeful children and adults who trust that Santa has their name on the nice list and not on the naughty list.

I love the magic and beauty of the decorations, music and special food prepared at this time of year. I have my own tradition of making a plum pudding that my Mum and God Mum made for decades and the white fruitcake that my husband’s Mum made; it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. For me now, this season is about kindness, forgiveness, and compassion the gifts you won’t find in stores…they’re one size fits all and everyone needs them.

As anticipation is building and shoppers are shopping, what I’d like to recommend is a focus on the gifts we really need in our world. 

We need more presence; not presents. We need to acknowledge one another, be there and care for each other. 

What about the neighbor whose child or spouse passed away or the new immigrant who might not have a community here? Could we not deliver some kindness or compassion to them over this Christmas season? How about delivering a smile to your neighbors and your family, asking how they’re doing and then really listening to the answer?

Joy and happiness are not dependant on our bank balance, our age, size, nationality or our status. 

Happiness and joy are cultivated in our hearts and once shared freely with others have an amazing ripple effect. 

Experts who study kindness say that even when we observe someone being kind, we benefit. So there you have it: you give a gift; you receive a gift. 

This festive season, give a little bit of love to everyone you encounter. 

It could be that your kindness, empathy, and compassion are the Christmas miracles that change someone’s life.

Kathie Donovan
Currently a Wellings Ambassador and Living Well Advisor, Kathie was Canada’s
broadcasting sweetheart for almost three decades as well as co-host of the beloved television show Regional Contact. Kathie is a gifted storyteller who shone a light on characters and creative types tucked into small towns. Her love of connecting people, caring and sharing is inspiring. Kathie has authored two books with a third on the way; she continues to build on her annual event “Refresh Your Passion” and other workshops. Kathie’s priorities are to love what she does and live well.

The Kindness Effect

“Kindness is the one size fits all gift that everybody needs.”
-Kathie Donovan

Science is finally catching on to the kindness movement, recognizing that thoughtfulness is not a sign of weakness but a healthy and meaningful habit.

What may appear to be a very simple act is actually a rather complex experience for us humans. Even observing kindness can have an impact on us. We experience kindness in our heart as in “his kind act touched my heart” as well as in our head because we remember kindness and are sometimes inspired to be kind to others as a result of having the experience.

When I was researching my first book Inspiration in Action: A Woman’s Guide to Happiness, I had a study group who would play along with some of my ideas, one of which was an experiment called The Mindfulness Project. I challenged the participants to carry out simple, thoughtful acts for other people for one week. Some were asked to give compliments freely for a week, others were asked to buy someone a cup of coffee, or smile at three people. The results were inspiring, as each person reported back that they felt the power in a small kind act, even when they weren’t the recipient. Science calls this effect “helpers high.”

Acts of kindness have tremendous physical benefits. Showing kindness, releases the hormone oxytocin, which produces nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure. Oxytocin also supports good self-esteem and optimism. So, next time you’re feeling shy, show someone some kindness and you’ll feel the benefit too.

“In the same way that it wouldn’t take much to turn your day around, ask what you could do for someone else.”
-Kathie Donovan

A few years ago, I used a simple strategy to spread kindness. I wrote thank you notes on a piece of paper, folded it in half and placed it under random windshield wipers in the parking lot, outside my doctor’s office, outside a hospital, in a very full downtown parking lot; always when I thought nobody could see me. The message inside would say “you have a beautiful smile” or “you make our world better by being here” or “you are loved,” you get the idea. I’d write For You on the front of the paper and leave it under the windshield wiper. While I’ll never know how those messages were received, I know what I intended and I definitely felt that “helpers high.”

The cool thing about kindness is that it’s absolutely free. Kindness is a smile, looking someone in the eye, saying thank you, giving compliments freely. It’s assisting someone when it looks like they need it, it’s doing something kind for someone and not telling anyone about it.

Kindness can be learned and it’s an excellent habit to cultivate because kindness has magical powers. The kinder you are to others, the more kindness comes to you in ways you would never anticipate. Kindness when practiced regularly  helps to reduce stress and leads to a feeling of wellbeing.

If you choose to see the world with kindness instead of fear, you’ll have a much better day and everyone around you will benefit. I challenge you to foster kindness in your community and notice what a difference it makes for you and everyone you encounter. All you have to do is ask yourself  what small act of kindness could you do for someone to make their day brighter? Then enjoy doing it. Be kind; live well.

Kathie Donovan

Currently a Wellings Ambassador and Living Well Advisor, Kathie was Canada’s broadcasting sweetheart and co-host of Regional Contact for almost 30 years. Kathie travelled the Country shedding light on attractions, causes and talented artisans tucked away- off the beaten track. Her love of connecting people, caring and sharing is inspiring. Kathie has authored three books, continues to build on her workshop series “ Refresh Your Passion”, and is currently taping a new TV show, yet still has time to love what she’s doing and live well.

Set The Table And Connect With Friends

Having a few friends over for a dinner can be a great way to unwind, chill, and relax while enjoying some great food and wonderful conversation. Think of it as Life À La Carte.

Setting the mood for your next soiree can be as important as choosing the menu. 

When your dinner guests arrive you’ll want your WellingsⓇ home to be warm and inviting a fresh scent will capture their senses and start those creative juices flowing…

If you’re like me your front hall closet contains everything from sport shoes, sandals, work shoes and everything in between. Take their coats and hang them in your Veeva scented closet. Hang a terra cotta diffuser filled with a few drops of Veeva essential oil.

Have a diffuser or candles lit to create ambiance and enhance mood, your guests will appreciate the effort.

Serve a special drink for the occasion and in case you have guests who have to drive, creating a mocktail version will be appreciated. Water infused with lemons and oranges or other fruits and vegetables is not only delicious and surprising, it is a wonderful way to quench their thirst.

Try these easy & delicious family favorite appetizers to start: 

  • For a warm appetizer try fresh medjool dates wrapped in bacon, bake 400 degrees F for 5 minutes turn and bake for another 5 minutes until bacon is crispy, super easy and one of my favorites.
  • Cucumber slices with herbed goat cheese and julienned fresh red peppers with fresh parsley sprinkled on top are a great choice. They are appetizing in colour, low in calories and taste delicious. For an easy finger food, try wooden skewers with a cherry tomato, a sprig of fresh basil leaf, or slice of black olive, a mini bocconcini cheese ball, drizzled with a reduction of balsamic vinegar and voilà you are off to the races.
  • Followed by the Main course, Dessert, Coffee or Tea!

Connecting with friends is an integral part of living well at Wellings and we hope you will enjoy entertaining and creating a few of our tried and true favorites while sharing a few laughs.

Bon Appétit!

The Science of Wellness, Eat.Live.Love ~ Susan Stephen

Susan Stephen

Susan Stephen is the Vice President of Living Science Wellness Centre located in Stittsville. A Mind Body Spirit & Business Coach, UFH Unity Field Healing Practitioner, Relational Clearing Practitioner and a Business Transformation Advisor. To connect with Susan and her team: https://livingscience.ca/

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