Wellness 8— My Wellness Toolbox

Have you ever heard of a wellness toolbox? It’s all the things you do each day to attain or maintain a healthier lifestyle. In only eight weeks I’ve placed a bevy of tools in my wellness toolbox:

For the body:

  • increasing walking
  • eating more veggies
  • eliminating coffee
  • using a Motiv ring to track activity and sleep patterns
  • beginner yoga moves
  • staying well hydrated
  • meal prepping for the workweek
  • yard work…. 

For the mind and soul:

  • Bible study
  • writing
  • creating my accessories line
  • letting the housework take a backseat sometimes so I can do more pleasurable things
  • tackling nagging tasks to get them off my mind
  • recognizing that the bad behavior of others is not directed at me
  • gleaning nuggets of information from self-help books
  • taking time to assess each week to see where I did well, where I failed, and how I can improve going forward
  • de-stressing tools
  • periodic reassessment of goals
  • Pinterest board for visualizing goals….

Many of these things I’ve been doing for years. Putting them in a list that I can look at lets me clearly see the myriad of ways I can help myself.  During those times that I’m frustrated I can pull up my list and focus on the ones I need for that week, month, etc. If nothing on my list seems to fit the situation I seek out new tools. This keeps me aware of what’s out there and how research & the times are changing. 

Don’t ever think that you’ve run out of things to try. Make time to re-examine things you’ve rejected in the past to see if they’re a fit now. Examining tools I’ve rejected in the past has been important to me. Take yoga for example. I’ve always brushed it off as not for me. As I get older and stiffer though, I’ve found that the gentle stretching is beneficial.

Also, try something you may normally shy away from. Last year I took a free class offered by our local hospital that met weekly for a few months. Normally this not my cup of tea. But I decided to explore and see what they had to offer, knowing that I could drop out anytime. I was pleasantly surprised by the way everyone in the class opened up and shared their experiences and how they were dealing with their challenges. We all learned from each other, respected each other, and exchanged suggestions where appropriate. That new perspective gave me a lot to think about as well as some new tools to use. 

You can create a Pinterest Board and name it Wellness Toolbox (like I did for my Visions/Goals board in Wellness 7), or you can create a list of your wellness tools in your phone’s Reminder app. I have numerous lists in my reminder app and find the app itself to be one of my most valuable tools. You can set an alarm to remind you or you can plug things into your calendar app and set an alarm there. With a world of technology in our pocket at all times I think we can find ways to use it to get healthier. 

On to the week:

There is a world of tools out there I can use on this journey to a healthier me. A very important one that I used this past week was talking with my healthcare provider. When I reach a brick wall that I just can’t get past on my own I turn to her and we try to figure it out together. Which is exactly what we’re doing now with the constant fatigue that has been plaguing me. It will take a bit of time but I’m confident that we’ll get to the bottom of it so I can get my energy back. My inner eternal optimist keeps me going even when it’s overwhelming. 

This week I forced myself onto the treadmill again. Monday I managed an entire half hour. The determination and fierceness I felt reinforced my motivation to keep going and be as strong as I can be.  The husband and I also managed to get in a long hike through the woods, which reminded me that the next tool I’ll be adding to my toolbox soon is a new pair of sneakers. Footwear is so important. It supports your entire frame and needs to be in good condition. I tend to wear my sneakers way beyond the point of no return, which is bad. The frugal part of me wants to milk every step from them, even after my feet and hips begin hurting because the shoes are so worn out. I need to work on striking a better balance in this category. 

I didn’t do the yoga as much as I intended to just out of sheer forgetfulness. New habits are hard to remember so I have to find the right tool to help me with this. The Reminder app on my phone might be just the trick for this. Do you see what I did there? I used one tool to remind me to use another tool. Take that and run with it. 

What’s in your toolbox? 👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 7— Affirmations for Moving Forward

Sometimes you just need to sit down and spend some time refocusing on your goals. Then you need to affirm them to yourself daily in order to cement them in your mind. When your goals and visions are constantly a part of your thoughts, they will influence your daily decisions. So…… after an oddball week of restless sleep, nasty weather (except for one sunny day in the middle that I took off from work 🤭), fatigue, and just generally feeling scattered I decided that it was time to reassess. 

Keeping your goals in the forefront of your mind can be tough at first. I’ve found that there are many distractions and old habits that crop up. Being a visual learner, I’ve discovered that keeping pictures of my goals and other inspirational items is a good way to stay focused. But I don’t want something attached to the wall. The thought of dealing with cutouts and glue (or a bulletin board) is not motivational. I want to be able to access it anytime and anywhere.

So I’m experimenting with using Pinterest as a tool. I’ve made a board called Visions— Take Action to Get Results. (The title itself revs me up & makes me want to stay on course.) It’s where I can pin anything that pertains to my goals. I pin quotes there, or how to’s, or photos, or paintings. Anything that I find that represents a part of my complete vision and inspires me to take action. I can add to it anytime or delete things that no longer apply. And it’s portable. I can access it on the phone, the iPad, or the laptop. Perfect for this age of electronics don’t you think?

What techniques do you use to keep your goals in sharp focus?

The next tool that I’m going to put in my wellness toolbox is beginner yoga. Yes, you can download an app for this and have it with you at all times, just like the Pinterest board. How convenient. Gentle stretching is good for keeping your muscles and joints loose and lubed. I can sure use some of that! I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Summing up: Your wellness journey is very personal. Take the time to reassess your situation and your goals as often as you need to to.  Always be on the lookout for more tools to add to your wellness toolbox. Inspiration can be found everywhere. Example: although I have several friends who do yoga quite regularly, I was not inspired to try it until I read a news article about it. You may be aware of a thing, but might not think about applying it to yourself until it hits you like a bolt out of the blue. There are benefits to revisiting things you’ve rejected in the past.

Bonus content:

I have to update you on the restaurant story from last week (Wellness 6— Dealing With Frustration). Once again we went to a neighboring town to do some shopping and get a late lunch. We went to the same restaurant. We were seated and almost immediately the same waitress from last week walked by, recognized us, and stopped. She remembered what happened and asked if we were going to order the same thing. She actually remembered what we ordered last time and what we were drinking! That girl is amazing. She was a pleasant presence throughout our meal. Needless to say, we left her a very nice tip.  👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 6— Dealing with Frustrations

Frustration is like a low electrical hum that permeates your entire being. It seems like every time things start progressing and you’re really feeling good about your efforts, something — or perhaps a bunch of little things — gets thrown into the path to distract you or make you stumble. You know what I’m talking about.

  • Job frustrations. Those days when nothing seems to go smoothly and you’re mentally exhausted long before 5 o’clock.
  • You didn’t meal prep and ended up eating poorly all week. Ohhh the guilt.
  • The static cling in your clothes made you look as if you had been vacuum sealed. >sigh< It wasn’t pretty.
  • You’re sure you got a record number of spam phone calls this week. Can’t they make a phone that blocks ALL the callers who aren’t on your contacts list?
  • The card reader at the gas pump was iced over. That was a first.
  • The potholes on your route to work have multiplied, expanded, and gotten deep enough to do the backstroke in. And everyone driving in both directions are trying to travel on the one narrow center strip of road.
  • How about the persistent spring snowstorms this year? You know you should be enjoying mild spring weather, driving with your window down, but instead you have it in 4 wheel drive and are valiantly trying not to slide off the road.

Taken singly these things really aren’t much. However, it all adds up when you aren’t paying attention. You may be tired from a restless night and one thing after another piles onto your shoulders throughout the day. 

So what do you do to decompress at the end of the day? Cocktail hour? Commiserate with a friend or your spouse? Meditate? Or just plain turn your back on it all and enjoy your evening? Personally, I like to come home at the end of the day and get a big hug from my husband. There’s just nothing better than that. Then I turn my back on it and leave it behind me. Tomorrow is a new day and the eternal optimist in me knows it will be a much better day.

We all have our own ways of dealing with our stresses. And isn’t it nice when you finally feel that electrical frustration vibration leaking out of your body and your mind. You may feel drained afterwards but it’s still a relief. You may even get a ‘second wind’ and have a  fantastic finish to your day. The important thing is: you made it and you are stronger for it. Yes you are. Think about that. 

Each and every day that you have gotten through whatever cropped up and learned from it— no matter how insignificant it seems to you in the bigger scheme of things— you have become stronger and smarter.

You might have guessed that I dealt with all the things above this week and much, much more. The cherry on top of this story happened today when we went to a nearby town to do our grocery shopping and get some lunch. We sat down in the booth in the restaurant and ordered our meal. As we were enjoying our tea and ice water the waitress came over to tell us that the sprinkler system had activated in the kitchen. All the chemical fire retardant had sprayed the entire kitchen, including the fry-o-lators, and ruined the food. They didn’t know how long it would be before they were up and running again. And the kicker: our meal was almost ready to bring out. We were polite and reassured her that it wasn’t her fault and we would go back another time. This was actually more funny than frustrating, even though we had not eaten breakfast and were hungry. 

What I took away from this week was that I need to remember to use my de-stressing tools when necessary. For me this is not only the husband-hug, but it’s also taking a quiet moment to recognize that whatever the stressor is, it’s just a small blip in the bigger picture. Taking a step back and adjusting the view is very effective. Other tools that I like to use are getting out and walking or working in the yard and garden. It’s been a tough spring here so I haven’t been able to employ those tools much, but it’s getting warmer and the snow is melting away so I expect to do these things daily very soon. Another tool in my wellness toolbox that didn’t get used last week was meal prepping. I didn’t do it and it had a bigger effect on me than I expected. I learned a valuable lesson from that. 

At the end of Wellness week 6 I am stronger and smarter. Even though the week felt like an epic failure to me I recognize that I learned a lot. I will use this as motivation to move forward. What did you learn from your week?  👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 5— Motivators

Let’s take this week chronologically and focus on motivation and activity a bit. There are motivators–of which we all have many— relating to health, family, goals, finances, etc. Then there are motivational tools– which I learn from and use to keep me focused.

I find that a fitness tracker motivates me to pay more attention to my activity level throughout the day. I’ll compare the two I have for you:

  • The Motiv ring fitness tracker that I ordered arrived about two weeks ago. It’s waterproof so I can go swimming and kayaking without worry of ruining it. My Fitbit Alta is not waterproof and is sometimes irritating in hot weather. 
  • I love the sleep tracker on both the Motiv and the Fitbit as it lets me see if what I do before bedtime each evening is helping or hindering my sleep and I can change my habits accordingly. However, the Fitbit is bothersome on the wrist at night and lights up when I’m restless making me wakeful. The Motiv ring is very comfortable, doesn’t light up, and I forget that it’s there which allows better sleep.
  • I like the Fitbit app better as there is a community of people that you can connect with, groups you can join to discuss your fitness journey, and challenges that you can do with a group or solo. I like to learn from what others are doing and I find their stories motivating. It’s nice to see their various levels of activity and how supportive they are of each other. The Motiv app has only two free workouts and no community pages, although there is an option to invite people you know, by email, into your ‘circle’.
  • You can clearly see your tracking information on the Fitbit by tapping the screen. There is no screen on the Motiv and you have to access your information on the app. I don’t see this as a big deal or an inconvenience for myself as I always have my phone with me. I can understand how this might not work for other folks though.

Both trackers have their pros and cons for me. If Motiv should come up with community pages for their app I would probably make the switch complete and stop using the Fitbit app.

Self improvement books are motivational. Just a few days ago I began reading another self help book. The premise is good in my opinion. It’s about arising a little earlier each morning in order to begin your day with a positive and affirming routine in order to effect beneficial changes in your life. I do like to read an occasional self improvement/self help book. They have nuggets of wisdom that you can extract and apply to your life in order to effect small changes slowly that will stay with you over time.

On a side note: It amazes me when young people write self improvement books. I know their intentions are good, but they just don’t know or comprehend the limitations that  come with an aging body. They have the “no excuses” mindset and are adamant that literally everyone can and should be able to do everything they recommend. I would like to see how they would approach writing the same book 30 or 40 years from now. I think they would be much less rigid in their thinking and more inclusive of medical issues and the age factor.

On to the week’s ups and downs:

Monday: I forced myself to walk on the treadmill (aka hamster wheel or dreadmill) for 12 minutes. Completing an activity as simple as this is a boost for the mind even if it’s a struggle for the body. The muscles can well handle it but there is still the fatigue and the complete lack of motivation that the treadmill inspires. It’s a struggle but I keep my end goal in mind to prod myself into action. I’d much rather be out walking in the woods although having a book to read while mindlessly marching on a spinning rubber mat is a big help. Gotta keep that motivation going and that end goal in sight.

Tuesday: I didn’t make notes for Tuesday. Maybe we didn’t have that day this week?   It’s a mystery. 🕵🏻‍♀️

Wednesday: A wicked storm— heavy wet snow, sleet and rain. I had to drive in it and there were cars off the road everywhere. When I arrived home I was so fatigued that I slept thru two movies. That was a huge disappointment for me. I had taken the day off because I wanted to accomplish some tasks at home and perhaps do something fun and relaxing. Things never seem to go as planned. When the storm cleared we walked around the fields and woods. I was still exhausted though. Some days dealing with this fatigue is overwhelming. 

Thursday: Motivation is slipping at this point. I was headachy and tired most of the day. My doctor is away for a month and I don’t really want to see someone else about this. To top it off I had a horrid dream the previous night about choking on phlegm. I’m pretty sure a sleep study is what’s needed here.

Friday: Feeling a bit better. I managed to get in three short walks. 20 minutes on the treadmill on lunch break with an easy pace, then another ten minutes on it at the end of the workday, and finished up with a walk around the fields at home after supper. It was nice to feel the muscles working. I’m so glad it’s Friday and the weekend looms ahead. There are so many projects I want to get done.

Saturday: Yard work! It seems that spring is finally arriving in fits and starts. A little raking and cleaning up gets the muscles working and the blood flowing. Just what I needed. 

Summing up the week: 3 days of walks and a morning of yard work. Alright! I can feel good about that despite the ongoing struggles with fatigue. I’m beginning to get some much needed activity. The motivators form a foundation which can be built on and revised as I progress and begin to see changes in myself. More endurance, better habits, increased strength, and redefining goals are all part of the process. I’ve learned to be flexible and allow myself the hours or days I need to rest and recover.

Why do you get up every day and do what you do? What are your motivators? What gets you back on track when you’ve wandered off? What sort of motivational tools do you employ?  👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 4— Ups & Downs

I should have told you in the first Wellness post: This won’t be just about the good things and the upward progress I intend to make, I’ll also be including those things that are frustrating, and/or setbacks, because a wellness journey is never all positive.

The roller coaster metaphor for life is very true. I recognize the importance of the down times in order to appreciate the up times, and for the most part I enjoy the ride. Even when you’re in the down times you just know inside yourself that it won’t last and better days are coming. It’s not always a period of days or weeks though—- it’s the occasional crazy or just plain frustrating few hours that can make you wish you had stayed in bed. I could probably write a book about those days but I’m afraid whoever read it would be banging their head on their desk by the end! 

Read on for this week’s ups and downs…….

ACTIVITY. I never laughed so hard. The husband and I spent a couple hours one evening dancing to Prince Radio.  Two middle-aged, out of shape fuddy duddies busting a move and just about in tears with our laughter. Oh my. And to top it off, he was quite sore the next day. The memory of that makes me smile every time I think of it. Do you have a memory like that? Memories can be great tools. I like to use them during those down times to remind myself to smile. It’s very effective.

The raw, rainy weather predicted for the weekend hasn’t been consistent. While it didn’t rain yesterday it sure was cold and gray. I did some indoor and outdoor chores but have yet to go walking. Today the sun is playing peekaboo. I should really work on more of those dreaded tasks that I love to avoid. (Or perhaps I’ll keep avoiding them and work on my accessories line instead!)

Does going up and down the cellar steps to do laundry qualify as activity? What if the dryer gives a massive thump when you turn it on and it dies? I lugged the wet laundry upstairs and hung it on the porch. I didn’t trust the gray clouds not to rain on it so didn’t hang it on the clothesline.

FOOD.  Yes I ate some food. Nothing noteworthy so far this week, except the wonderful fish & shrimp chowder the husband made. That and some saltine crackers was very warm and filling in the tummy.

The rest of the week was the usual: lots of veggies, some fruit, lean meats. I’m right at that time of year when I still like making hearty stews and such, but I’m also looking forward to making lighter summer fare and using fresh produce from our gardens.

My guilty pleasure this week was a homemade chocolate pie in a graham crust. Made using an old fashioned recipe (cook the pudding from scratch) and decadently rich. I enjoyed each bite because I know I won’t make another for probably a year. Pies in our house are usually only a winter happening, and mostly either apple or pumpkin.

Today’s meal prepping will include venison stew meat made into a nice gravy with peas and onions. This is great over rice or mashed.

MIND/SOUL. It’s been so nice to see and hear all the wildlife upon waking this past week: turkeys gobbling, deer meandering across the field, two fat gray squirrels chasing each other, a woodpecker close by— banging on a tree. And the husband amongst it all lighting the fire to boil the maple sap. We are very blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Not only do we get to enjoy abundant wildlife, but we have gardens to grow our own vegetables, trees to tap so we can make maple syrup, wild berries to harvest, and the ocean & lakes that gives us marvelous seafood and fish. It makes a soul sing.  

On the other end of the spectrum on the work front are the occasional rude people who have high opinions of themself and behave like children. You hand them the required paperwork and they commence loudly, verbally sighing and growling like the child who doesn’t want to eat his vegetables at the dinner table. The mumbles and complaints continue the entire time they’re filling it out, and then they sit and disparage the magazines in the waiting area because they don’t know what else to do with all that righteous unhappiness they hold inside. This behaviour is invariably from those who are well educated or wealthy. I guess being smart and/or rich doesn’t make a person pleasant or happy. It’s times like these that I bring up those memories that make me smile and know that I’ll be going home at the end of the day to our haven away from the world.

To sum up the week:

  • Memories are a great tool for the wellness toolbox
  • Make your home a haven away from the world, a place you don’t need a vacation from
  • Grumpy people may take it out on you but it’s not about you at all

Savor your moments, whether it’s being with someone else, meditating by yourself, or enjoying a great meal. Recognize that the downs always precede the ups and use the tools in your toolbox to get through them.   👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 3— Not Active Enough

FOOD.  Crunchy things. How I love salty, crunchy things. I’m going to need your help with this one. Is there anything in the world that is salty and crunchy that’s actually good for you? Crunchy in a dry way, like all those wonderful processed chips and snack mix type things. Not crunchy in a moist sort of vegetable way. I’ve tried dehydrating veggies in the past, just because this seems to be the logical choice when you love veggies. But I must admit there was nothing tasty about it.  If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them. (Please don’t suggest popcorn, nuts, or rice cakes!)

The goal of topping up on veggies was easy this week. For dinners I made sure to max the veg portions and cut down a bit on the meat to make it more balanced. We had boiled dinner for St Patricks day and there was enough leftover to have for lunches at work all week. Yes, all week. My husband cooks enough for ten people even though we are only two! That’s okay— leftovers are great for meal prepping. Simply add other items to come up with new meals.

A new dietary trial: My husband is an advocate of a daily banana. He suggested that eating one every day would help with my painful digestive issues. So at his advice I’ve sliced a half banana into my cereal each morning. Yummy and decidely filling. Another small step on the road to wellness. The verdict is still out on this as more time is needed. I’ll try it for awhile and see how I feel. Do you have a ‘banana/gut experience’ you’d like to share? –Keep it clean please–

ACTIVITY.  The cold windy weather this week certainly doesn’t make me want to be out walking after work. There is still too much snow and ice in the yard, woods, and fields to do anything at all. As you can see from the photo though, it won’t be long now. The activity portion of this wellness journey is off to a slow beginning for sure, at least in terms of getting outdoors and active. My whole being is yearning for warmth and sunshine and tired muscles. (Perhaps I should have taken the name WinterSlug or TheHibernator instead of BrassMermaid!) It’s difficult to watch the sun get higher in the sky each day and know spring is right there, but be so restricted by all that ice and snow. >sigh< Even though the temps are mild today, the wind is very boisterous. We sat on the porch for just a few minutes before we were driven back inside. Tomorrow is supposed to be much nicer and I’m looking forward to spending the day mostly outdoors.  

MIND/SOUL.  I’ve continued focusing on other things in the meantime. Like taking time to tackle nagging tasks.  The one task that I dreaded the most was setting up the label printer for my jewelry & accessories line. I’m happy to say it’s done and functioning after a bit of growling and disagreeing with the equipment. These things never go as smoothly as you’d expect. The fun part is designing and producing the jewelry and other products and getting it all ready to sell.  When I can zero in on something that I find absorbing and pleasing then the world drops away. Creating objects, writing, reading…… these are all undertakings that are thoroughly engaging and relaxing. Often, I come up from a session and need to go outside to see that world is still turning. What gets you so absorbed that you lose track of time and the world around you?

I hope your own wellness journey is progressing along at a healthy clip. Where have your sneakers taken you this year? 👩🏻‍💻