Recharge and Reflect
Indigenous wisdom has shown us the importance of balance in caring for all aspects of our wellness: mind, body, emotion, and spirit. These Recharge and Reflect activities increase overall health, wellbeing and happiness.
Team leaders: Along with the R&R cards themselves, we provided employers and community leaders with “R&R kits” which included a tote bag, journal, pen, mountain stress ball, and magnetic word set. Though we no longer have kits available, team leaders can visit the R&R Facilitation Guide for more information and ideas.
Smartphones and computers are amazing – and they help us connect in many ways. However, if we don’t take care to balance our days, our screentime can negatively influence a loss of connection in significant ways. What are some of the upsides of decreasing our screentime?
- Present moment awareness
- Reconnection with yourself &/or others
- Better focus, productivity & learning
- Improved general health (less eye strain, less repetitive injuries such as “text neck”, & less social media envy, as well as improved sleep and all the benefits that come with that)
- More time for healthy habits, such as time outdoors
We know that screen boundaries are important. How do we make healthy boundaries that work for us? Here are some ideas.
- Powering down for a period of time each day (e.g. spending your 1st hour of the day wisely, without your phone).
- Using an app to control your site usage (e.g. limit access to social media sites)
- Taking an extended break on a regular basis
Or check out this Bow Valley wide DISCONNECT challenge!
Why? To grow your “grit” of course!
What exactly is grit? “Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Grit is having stamina.” – Angela Duckworth, 2013
In other words, you set an intention or a goal, and grit is actually doing the hard work to get there. Rather than just talking about their goals, gritty people do the work to achieve their goals.
In Duckworth’s book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”, she argues that talent alone isn’t enough; you also must have grit—a mental toughness that helps you persevere even in the face of obstacles.
And the good news is that you can grow your grit.
Feel like doing a self-assessment to find out where you currently sit on the grit scale?
5 Ways to Grow Your Grit
- Pursue your interests
- First step is to find something interesting to you and get out there to try them out! What fascinates you… (Sport? Music? Dance? Reading? Writing? Travelling? Gardening? Animal care? Cooking? Spirituality? Other hobbies?)
- Practice, practice, practice
- Get a little better every day. Compete only with who you were yesterday.
- Consider these challenges mental resistance training.
- What is 1 thing you could do to get better at it?
- Connect it to a higher purpose
- Research shows that people who connect what they do to a higher purpose are grittier.
- Reflect on how this interest contributes to the well-being of others/the planet.
- Cultivate hope
- Believe your goals are possible if you want a solid chance at reaching them. Your brain is ‘neuroplastic’ no matter your age, and you can reshape it through effort and practice.
- Surround yourself with gritty people
- Who we spend time with influences our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
- Think of 1-2 people who you could connect with to help you ‘grow your grit’ in your interest.
True Fact: Our surroundings affect our moods.
For example, clutter can cause feelings of stress, fatigue, and depression; and contribute to unhealthy sleep and eating patterns, leading to generally poor health. Learn tips for this task!
“If it makes us feel bad, it’s clutter, and even though it might seem like a daunting task—it can be tackled”, CAMH
Start one step at a time, a few minutes for one area like a messy countertop that you’re sick of looking at. For more tips and insight into finding places for each item, playing clutter cop, and doing detective work – check out this WebMD piece.
The more you connect with your community, the greater your sense of belonging to this place. Feeling a part of the community makes life SO MUCH richer. What piques your interest? Why not step out of that comfort zone and give it a try?
Ideas of local free/affordable community programs to try:
- PCN programs/classes
- CYAN or BanffLIFE
- Canmore museum
- Canmore or Banff Libraries
- Banff Seniors Society
- Canmore Seniors Association /Meanderthals
- Community Cruisers
- Lake Louise Sports & Rec
- Social event Facebook groups such as:
- Town events:
Mînî Thnî community:
Stoney Health Dietitian, Paige Thomsen explains that mindful eating helps to regulate our digestion and puts us in a calmer state of being. It can help with any meal.
Mindful Eating is taking the time to be in-tune with all your senses. Think about the:
- Presentation of the food
- Smell of the food
- Texture and temperature of the food
- Flavour and ingredients of the food
- The sound of the food as we chew
Mindful Eating can also include “Finding your pause”:
- Putting down your eating utensil
- Breathing 3 times
- Reflecting on any distracting thoughts in your mind
Another way to practice mindful eating is to try eating a fruit or vegetable that you’ve never had before, while slowly tuning into your senses!
Regular movement has benefits for both our minds and our bodies. Often, we think of movement as physical activity or exercise that makes you sweat. Those sessions are also great, but there are many ways to move and many benefits of doing so. One of the best benefits is relieving stress and releasing endorphins, our “happy hormones”!
What is your relationship with movement? Does your movement routine help you feel connected to your body? Or is it potentially harmful to other areas of your life?
Make movement fun: you’re more likely to stick with a habit you enjoy! Maybe you’d like to take 5 minutes to dance around your home office to some catchy tunes. Or maybe you want to work in more activities throughout your week. Reflect on which types of activities you would enjoy, and then go give some a try! Inspiration here.
Do you work at a desk? Remembering to get up every hour is particularly important for you then. See if you can eventually reach 2-4 hours/day of being on your feet!
Stretching helps to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System, relieves muscle tension (that is often caused by stress) and is accessible even if you experience mobility challenges or fatigue.
Do you ever struggle to fall or stay asleep through the night?
Do you sleep enough, but still not wake up feeling rested?
A good night’s sleep is important to brain functioning and overall health.
If you answered yes to either of those, here are some healthy sleep habit ideas that you may find useful:
- Get outside, especially during twilight hours – low angle sunlight exposure helps build adenosine (key mediator of sleep homeostasis) and regulates our cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Simply put, the sun affects the mechanisms that support our sleep-wake cycles.
- Be active and incorporate movement into your day to help build your sleep drive – this results in a more restorative sleep at night.
- Avoid daytime napping.
- Journal before bed to help ‘land mental helicopters’: Reflect on the day. Write down your thoughts. Use this time to problem solve or to make a “To Do” list for the upcoming day/schedule tasks into your daily calendar. Intrusive thought at night – jot it down and let yourself deal with it tomorrow.
- Avoid screentime 1 hour prior to bedtime: LED and electronic device screen light does not allow your brain to release the neurochemicals required for sleep.
- Keep TVs, cell phones, and computers out of the bedroom. Consider a real alarm clock. Spend the 1 hour before bed doing some self care for yourself.
- Be consistent with the time you go to bed each night and get up each morning, even weekends.
- Make the bedroom sleep friendly: quiet, dark, free of clutter, and a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid taxing your body before bed: don’t eat a late meal, drink alcohol, or exercise vigorously before bed; or have caffeine late in the day.
Not only is any movement beneficial, but adding music takes it up a notch! Whether you are dancing by yourself, taking a class, or learning a routine with friends, dance has been known to transform lives. We added this box under Body, but it can certainly benefit your Mind, Emotion, and Spirit as well.
If you’d like some tips to get started or learn more about the benefits for different types of dance, check out this article; otherwise, turn up the music, and groove to the music(s) of the world!
Listen to a sampling of music from different genres & note your reaction to each. How could you use music to influence your mood?
Not sure where to start? Here’s a World music playlist idea.
We aren’t telling you to eat the rainbow solely because it’s fabulous! A diet with various colourful fruits, vegetables, and herbs delivers our bodies essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
More and more, us humans have come to rely on processed foods to satiate our hunger and cravings. Unfortunately, processed foods lack the nutrients that our brains need to function properly. Instead, we are learning that the colourful, natural foods are medicine for a reason; “The bountiful phytochemicals that contribute to the color, taste, and smell of plants provide both physical and mental health benefits.” (link)
Research suggests that what we eat can impact our mood, in part through the communication between our gut and our brain, known as the gut-brain axis or the enteric nervous system, but also through blood sugar control and the types of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that we are providing our bodies. In short, if you improve your gut health, you can improve your mood.
When it’s hot out hydration is certainly more on our minds, however staying hydrated is important to health year-round. Fluid has many important roles, including:
- moving nutrients and waste through your body
- keeping your blood pressure normal
- protecting and cushioning your joints and organs
- controlling your body temperature
- lowering your risk of dehydration and heat stroke
- keeping your bowels regular
Fluids also help to regulate your mood – ever felt tired, unable to focus, headachy, &/or generally miserable, then remembered to drink water and soon after felt significantly better?
What does keeping fully hydrated look like for you?
The old adage that everyone needs to drink 8 cups of water per day does not work for all bodies nor does it account for the other fluids you intake each day. Your fluid needs depend on your age, gender, activity level, and climate.
Fluids include water, milk (dairy, oat, soy, etc), juice, broth, soups, coffee, and tea. Water is one of the best options but not the only one. Simplified hydration recommendations for adult males & females:
- 3 L (12 cups) for adult male bodies each day
- 2 L (9 cups) for adult female bodies each day
Follow these tips to stay hydrated:
- Drink a glass of water when you wake up each morning
- Keep a fresh glass of water by your desk or on hand where you work
- Carry a container of water with you throughout the day
- Drink a glass of water before eating your meals, and/or
- Make sure you have a drink with each meal
- Don’t ignore thirst. Drink water or another healthy drink when you feel thirsty
For more insight into staying hydrated for your body, check out this Dietitians of Canada factsheet.
The above information is also adapted from the Dietitians of Canada Unlock Food resource.
Human connection is a bond experienced when you feel valued and seen, a positive energy exchange, a feeling of belonging.
Unfortunately, loneliness is on the rise in our world, and studies show that this absence of human connection can be more detrimental to health than smoking, high blood pressure, or obesity . Connecting with others helps us out from regulating our emotions to improving our immune systems! And luckily, there you can still be an introvert, or experience connection if circumstances make it harder for you to make friends.
- Reflect on how to increase your self-compassion
- Check in to see how a neighbour is doing
- Ask someone for help when you need it (it may make them feel valued too!)
- Give, share, volunteer: compassion for others creates a sense of connection AND purpose
- Give your family your status report
- Share a story with a stranger, meaningful conversations can happen with anyone!
- Have a ‘deep and meaningful’ with a friend
- Practice listening with the intent to understand vs respond, practice asking more open-ended and follow-up questions
Want to learn more? Check out:
No matter your age, play is a healthy, fun, and important part of life – don’t let social norms or fear hold you back from joy, get out there and play everyday!
Though sports can be included, competitive play is not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about play for play’s sake; something pleasurable, engaging, voluntary, and for no other purpose but to enjoy.
- Jump in puddles
- Make sandcastles
- Play tag with your cat, dog, or another human
- Create & perform a skit
- Create & perform a choreographed dance
- Sing karaoke
- Try finger-painting
- Climb a tree
- Board game night
- Hopscotch, jump rope, or hula hoop
- Build something with blocks
- Tug of war
- Capture the flag
- Scavenger hunts
- Do a puzzle
- Read aloud to your partner
- Improv, comedy, charades
What play can do for your well-being:
- Play releases those happy endorphins that counteract cortisol (the stress hormone that can leave you feeling fatigued or depressed)
- Shared play increases social connection and the quality of relationships
- Being silly and having a playful temperament can increase our ability to cope when stressful situations occur
- Play improves brain function and creativity, and generally keeps the mind sharp
Practicing gratitude and savouring positive experiences increase our feelings of self-worth and counteract distressing emotions. Below are some ideas for appreciating the positive:
- Create a habit of noticing the positive: journal 3 things that went well for you and what made each feel great, every day for a week
- Take the time to reflect and journal about a positive experience
- Share your story of a joyful experience
- Savour positive memories by looking back at old photos
- Send someone a thank-you note
- Make a daily suppertime ritual of sharing your stick, rock, and leaf with your housemates/family (stick: something from your day that will stick with you, rock: something from your day that rocked/made you feel good, leaf: something from your day that you’ll leave behind)
- Check out this Bow Valley local author’s work with the power of gratitude and her mission to foster gratitude as a secret strength of community leadership: Grassroots Gratitude
- Attend her FREE Workshop at the Banff Public Library on August 25, 2022
Noticing the positive and further reflecting on what makes those small positive moments great has been shown to increase happiness and decrease symptoms of depression.
Immerse yourself to find your flow: flow happens when you are so engaged in an activity you enjoy, that you lose track of time. The activity will challenge you either intellectually or physically and can be described as getting you in the “zone”.
- Choose an activity you are interested in that involves effort or skill and requires your full attention
- Set goals with specific steps to achieve them
- Stay with the activity long enough for it to become automatic
Experiencing flow directs us to be more involved in life and feel a greater sense of self and meaning. It is one of the strongest predictors of long-term happiness. We grow from flow.
Consider activities you used to enjoy doing. If you got bored of it, it could be that you adapted to it and with some modifications could experience flow with the activity again.
Flow activity ideas:
- Playing an instrument/singing
*Note: flow does not include mindlessly scrolling the internet or surfing TV channels – losing track of time is not the only indicator of flow, all factors must be present
Adapted from Alberta Program’s Happiness Basics course
You can choose outing A or B or do both!
Outing A: Invest in a positive relationship by spending quality time together (we know social connection has important benefits to our wellbeing – see more under “Check in with someone you trust”).
- This could be a walk & talk, a museum outing, a coffee date, creative paint night, any activity you choose!
- Invest in past, present, or new relationships
- Consider making a new friend from a different culture or subculture than your own. Be curious and embrace the diversity of human experiences.
Outing B: Do something brave on your own
- Push past that comfort zone and try new things to increase your inner resilience
- Learn a new skill (take a class on pottery, cooking, skiing, an instrument, mountain biking, a new language, art, dance, etc).
- Go out by yourself in public (go for a hike, to the driving range, visit a museum, watch a sports game, attend a concert, read on a park bench, go ‘streetcombing’ or explore your town like a tourist)
Not only can small gestures brighten the days of those who receive the kindness – but giving to others has proven benefits to the happiness of the giver. Kindness toward others can increase oxytocin, the hormone that makes us feel connected to others, can improve heart health, and increase optimism. It can also increase serotonin, known as the ‘feel-good’ chemical giving us feelings of calm. A 2019 study reported that those who spent time doing acts of kindness for seven days increased their happiness in proportion to the number of acts of kindness they completed (link 1).
A “Random Act of Kindness” is giving to another without requests or expectation of anything in return.
Some Random Acts of Kindness ideas:
- Let someone in front of you during a traffic jam
- Help a co-worker who is behind on a project, even if it means you staying late
- Babysit for an exhausted parent
- Leave a positive review for a local business
- Donate gently used items
- Send a card of love/gratitude to a friend you haven’t connected with in a while
- Volunteer to get food to people in need
- Help a neighbour clear their driveway/yard
- Give someone a genuine compliment
- Help another feel a sense of belonging by welcoming them to the area/group/etc
- Leave some money in a parking meter for the next person
- Smile at strangers
- Take flowers or treats to a nurse’s station or nearby hospital
- Leave a note to a stranger telling them they did an awesome job parking
- Give a care package to a person struggling with homelessness; food, warm gloves/socks, etc
- Shout out your coworkers for doing great things
- Pick up litter and throw it out
- Stop to assist someone who looks lost
- Participate in a charity walk/run
- Donate your old glasses, cellphone/electronics
- Share your knowledge freely
- Post uplifting notes in a public bathroom
- Walk your neighbour’s dog
- Give a friend a book you think they would like
- Lend a friend your ear; Listen to a friend
- Organise a fundraiser
Gardening not only gets you moving, but the sunlight increases vitamin D levels which contribute to overall health. Tending to plants can both ground you to the earth and connect you to the spiritual world. The cycle of decay creating new life can promote reflection and instill hope. Weeding, toiling, and caring for the earth in general can provide joy, contemplation, and a sense of calm. And as a bonus – the produced herbs or veggies have a positive influence on your diet, and maybe even your bank account!
Growing food in the Bow Valley can be intimidating for new gardeners, especially when the growing season is so short and attracting wildlife is problematic. However, gaining knowledge around how to grow your own food is also a very powerful step towards understanding how one can influence change in your food system. Check out some educational videos via our 2021 Food From Home project, and local gardener’s 2021 Plant Appreciation for Perennial Garden Abundance series.
Don’t have access to a community garden space or a yard of your own this year? Luckily you don’t need much space to grow a few things!
- Collect containers to use as pots or window boxes
- Get yourself some potting soil and compost (sometimes free giveaways through the Town of Canmore)
- Set up a space near a window or on your porch
- Simple things to start planting include:
- Carrots, radish, lettuce & spinach
- Herbs may be easier to buy seedlings & grow from there, but choose your own adventure here with herbs such as chives, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano, dill
- Connect with local Facebook group for neighbourly support!
Reflect on the meaning of life.
Connect to the spiritual realm that resonates with you, whether it’s nature, the universe, a deity, or an indescribable sense of oneness you once experienced.
Meditation: a practice of noticing. In the simplest form, to practice meditation you choose something to focus on, then notice when your mind wanders, and then redirect your mind back to the object of your focus (this could be your breath, a mantra or meaningful intention, a candle flame, a blade of grass, etcetera).
Meditation is beneficial for variety of conditions including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Pain, Anxiety, Depression, and High Blood Pressure (Link 1). Meditation can also help with sleep, general mood, and cognition (link 2). And of course, it can support spiritual wellness.
“Spiritual wellness is being connected to something greater than yourself and having a set of values, principles, morals and beliefs that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to life, then using those principles to guide your actions”.
- There is no one-size-fits-all. Find what type of practice works for you at your current place in life.
- Try a variety of styles over time.
- Start with a 5-minute timer, practice regularly and eventually you may find yourself adding more time.
- Try meditating outdoors to benefit from the fresh air and sunshine at the same time.
- Try Insight Timer (an app full of free meditations of various styles)
When you have a better idea of what drives you, your “why”, your purpose, or your intentions – you will be more able to pursue the things that fulfil you. You can use it as your compass, to help guide your actions and decisions. Having a sense of purpose could even help you live longer (link 1). In addition, finding this direction can help you cope with stressors and find meaning in difficulties (2).
Finding meaning and purpose may be a journey that continues throughout your life, evolving based on your experiences and global circumstances. To start, set an intention for your day.
When you are able, take time to reflect on some of the following questions:
- What makes you passionate, excited, or gets you into that state of flow?
- What did you enjoy doing as a child?
- What are you eager to do, even if you may look weird?
- What would you be willing to do without needing to receive a paycheck?
- What gives your life meaning?
- What gives you hope?
- Where do you find comfort when you’re stressed?
Journal it out!
Appreciate and explore nature.
The wellbeing of humans is intimately tied to the wellbeing of the earth. To maintain our overall health, we must nurture our relationship with the natural world.
“Land is what sustains us physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally… It is more than just the earth. It includes the ocean, air, food, medicines, and all of nature… Land and health are closely intertwined because land is the ultimate nurturer of people. It provides not only physical but emotional and spiritual sustenance, because it inspires and provides beauty; it nurtures our souls.” (First Nations Perspective on Wellness, 1)
“Connectedness refers to the way we relate to nature and experience nature. A strong connection with nature means feeling a close relationship or an emotional attachment to our natural surroundings. (5)”
Connectedness to nature has been linked to cognitive and mood improvements, as well as less symptoms of anxiety, depression, and attention disorders (2,3). Aim for 120 minutes/week of leisure time in nature to gain the most benefits (4).
Ideas for connecting with nature:
- Watch and listen to the birds singing
- Hug a tree (feel the bark, spend time getting to know one)
- Stroll through the forest on a ‘gratitude walk’
- Watch a sunset
- Paddle on a lake
- Feel the ground beneath your bare feet
- Care for an animal (groom a horse, remove dangerous litter for wildlife)
- Forest bathing
- Walk quietly and for wild animal evidence
- Try an evening walk under the new moon
- Outdoor mindfulness scavenger hunt (e.g. search for the perfect river rock to hold)
- Walk Without Waste (Mindfully experience your walks outdoors and pick up litter you see along the way)
- First Nations Perspective on Health & Wellness
- Nurtured Nature
- Nature / EcoTherapy
- 120 Minutes/Week in Nature
- More on Nature / Ecotherapy