Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Why walking is better than chocolate and wine

A woman seen from behind, walking on a wide path surrounded by trees in the fall.
Photo by Noella Otto, Pexel

Walking has been my one constant fitness activity and stress buster. Spinning, aerobics and CrossFit have come and gone in my life, but walking remains the equivalent of a glass of wine and square of dark chocolate to unwind and clear my mind. Working from home for nearly seven months has only increased the frequency and duration of my walks.

The physical benefits are obvious, from building muscles to increasing cardiovascular strength, but during these COVID times, walking has been most beneficial psychologically.

Walking improves your mood

Photo by Krzysztof-Kowalik, Unsplash

Overwhelmed with deliverables, feeling anxious or blah? A good walk, like a good workout, releases endorphins which can create feelings of happiness and help reduce stress hormones. And you don’t need fancy equipment or a gym membership to go for a walk. Social contact is vital in maintaining psychological health and COVID-19 has done a number on that. If you can keep socially distanced, walking with others can give your morale an extra boost.

Walking clears your mind

When I worked in an office, I walkout outside at lunch several times a week. Sometimes, I convinced a colleague to join me and we steered our conversations away from work. I found out about cool websites and restaurants along the way. Alone, I would listen to music, call a friend or try to not think of anything. It is harder than it sounds! Getting away from four walls, breathing fresh air and seeing life move around you changes your focus. These days, I take my dog for long morning walks and up until new social-distancing guidelines were implemented in my city, I walked with neighbours a couple of evenings a week.

Walking kick-starts creative ideas

I have prepped for meetings and hashed out blog ideas; I have thought of a solution to a nagging problem and have come up with a game plan for a tricky situation while out on long walks. It turns out I am not alone. A study by Stanford University researchers determined that walking increases creativity in real time as well as shortly after. Over 80 per cent of participants were more creative walking than sitting and researchers wrote that “walking opens up the free flow of ideas …”

Walking makes business sense

Photo by August-de-Richelieu, Pexel

According to a CNBC article, some executives from top tech companies prefer meetings on the move to stay focused and increase creativity and productivity. Jeff Weiner, executive chairman of LinkedIn; Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are all said to prefer meetings on foot.

Experts differ on the amount of time you should spend walking to reap rewards, but between 15-20 minutes a day is the recommendation often cited. Since many of us work from home these days, that should be easier to achieve. Replacing a 30-minute commute with a 30-minute morning walk is one way to reach that goal.

Mindful walking is not power walking

Walking for wellness is not the same as power walking. The latter is a cardio workout emphasizing speed while swinging your arms in synch with your steps. Walking for wellness is done at your pace to exercise your brain as much as your body.

A square of dark chocolate may still pick-me-up and a glass of wine may be relaxing at the end of the week, but day-in and day-out, walking has lifted my spirits, spurred creative juices and boosted my mood. What will it do for you?

Nurturing our networks in person is still possible in COVID times

Two women walking along side each other wearing COVID masks

Meeting with friends and colleagues in person is still possible in COVID times. Image courtesy of Gustave Fring – Pexels.

When I first started working from home full time in March, I found the experience a welcome disruption to my routine. I enjoyed sleeping in later and dressing casually. Every day was dress-down Friday. My husband and high-school-age son were working and learning from home too. It was All in the Family all the time.

Fast forward almost six months. We’re still working and learning from home. I’m in the dining room, my husband, in the basement, and our son is in the guest bedroom. Technology may make it possible to telecommute but I miss the real-life interactions with my colleagues and peers.

We may not be able to return to the office just yet, but we can still nurture our networks.

Opportunities for networking in person during COVID times

Get out and meet up with colleagues

This week, I met up with colleagues I worked with years ago. We’ve kept in touch with emails, texts and more than a few dinners but, I hadn’t seen them since last year! We chose a park with picnic tables and we each brought a chair and our own lunch so we could socially distance. It was energizing for all of us to get out of the house, talk about work and family, and whatever else came up.

Next week, I’m brown-bagging it with colleagues who I have been working with online. I’m eager for updates about their lives outside of work and how their staycations went.

Speak to strangers

It sounds scary, but it’s not. Start with a place where you’re likely to meet like-minded people, such as at leisure, social or sporting events. A friend enjoys attending her son’s baseball games and inevitably strikes up conversations with other parents about the team and the game. But they also end up talking about home renos, past holidays, and yes, work.

A boy at bat during a youth baseball game

Image courtesy of Lino Khim Medrina – Pexels.

My friend even scored a job interview through a contact she made at the baseball games. Another friend found a cabinetmaker for his kitchen reno among the players in his Oldtimers’ hockey league.

Speak to your neighbours

It was by chatting with a neighbour several years ago that I learned he worked for an international beverage company that also makes soft drinks. He became my go-to guy to supply soft drinks at our annual street party. Make a point to stop and chat with neighbours when you walk your dog, or better yet, ask a neighbour if you can borrow their dog when you go for a walk.

I once worked at a media station where a new assistant was hired after she chatted with her new neighbour about how her job search was going. The recent grad’s neighbour turned out to be the station’s news director who was looking to fill a production-assistant spot.

Meeting up with friends, peers and colleagues in person is not only healthy, but it’s also enjoyable and stimulating.

How gardening can help you find a job

laptop and garden tools next to flowering plants

What you learn in the garden can help you in your job search. Photo by Silvia Cademartori.

At first glance, gardening and finding a job seem to have nothing in common. Gardening is supposed to be a hobby that’s good for your health and keeps us moving in the great outdoors, while finding a job can be stressful and tends to keep us sitting inside.

However, anyone who is a serious gardener or has seriously tried to garden knows gardening can be thorny and demanding. But the payoff can be wonderful and fulfilling. These are the lessons I learned from gardening can help you find a job.

1. Start from the ground up

Make sure your plants, however large or small, have the right type of soil, the right amount of light and the space to grow. Likewise, ensure that you’re ready to begin your job search. Are you in the right frame of mind or are you angry, upset or resentful?  Give yourself the right environment to succeed, even if that means taking a break from your job search.

2. Learn from your mistakes

I tried planting lavender next to hostas but the former need a lot of sun and a little water, while the latter are the complete opposite. Similarly, remember what works and what doesn’t during your job search. What questions did you answer well? What can you improve upon?

3. You can’t control everything

One year it’s aphids, the next, whiteflies. You can plan for garden insects but not for extreme weather. Equally, when you’re looking for work, accept there are events beyond your control. Case in point, the coronavirus. Be flexible.

4. Create a positive environment

Talking to plants never worked for me but I know for sure they thrive in a positive environment; good soil, sunlight and the company of other plants. If you’re surrounded by negative people, you’ll become negative. You become your thoughts.

5. Be patient

It takes years to cultivate a mature garden, at the very least one season to see the results of your labour. Don’t expect success overnight. To find a job, consistency pays off.

6. Make a plan

You’ve researched sun and water requirements, soil type and plant species for your garden.  Do the research for your job hunt, from résumé writing to job search strategies and market research to mock interview

7. Get your hands dirty

You can’t plant a garden without getting a little dirt under your nails. Be prepared to review, research and rewrite job-search strategies. There should be a lot of reflection and introspection. It’s messy but the results are worth it.

8. There are no guarantees

Putting in the time doesn’t guarantee results. Hedge your bets by putting your efforts in the right place at the right time. Even then, extreme weather or a one-in-a hundred-years pandemic can mess with your plans. Pause. Regroup. Start again.

9. If you think something is crawling on you, it is

If you get an itchy or tingly feeling while gardening, you can be sure you’ve got a bug on you or the start of an allergic reaction. If you sense something is not right during a job interview, you’re probably right. Listen to your instincts. Move on.

10. There’s strength in numbers

Plants do really well when there are other plants nearby. You’ll be better off with a network of friends, colleagues or family supporting you.

Bonus

11. Be resilient

I’ve almost killed plants by forgetting to water them but just when I think there’s no coming back from the shrivelled vegetation before me, a little water and fertilizer bring them back to life. Rejection is hard but keeping lessons four and ten in mind, you too will bounce back.

Jamie Oliver can cook anything from zombie brains and alien heads to Chernobyl vegetables

What’s the name of this vegetable? Don’t peek.

14502935_1395454473816206_8567946592898185089_n

It’s a celeriac. I’ve been told it looks like an alien’s head, a zombie brain, a Chernobyl vegetable and “the thing that was stuck to Spock’s back.” The celeriac was part of our fall organic vegetable delivery a few weeks ago. Someone gave me a Jamie Oliver recipe to try cooking this unique veggie. The recipe rocked and everyone enjoyed eating zombie brains for Thanksgiving. It tastes like celery and cooked, has the texture of a potato. Celeriac is rich in potassium and vitamins C and B-6. Here’s the Jamie Oliver recipe, just in time for Halloween. Let me know how it works out for you.

 

Dinner thanks largely to organic- vegetable delivery service

Dinner was so spectacular last night that I just have to share.

Every other Thursday, we head to a grocery-store parking lot and pick up our order of organic vegetables grown on a nearby farm. This is what the farmer gave us this week!

 

img_0419

And this is what we did with the string beans, onions, zucchini and tomatoes.

IMG_0420

The veggies were sautéd (the beans, par-boiled first) in butter and pepper, to which we added organic trout broiled with BBQ spices and more tomatoes. Oh and wine. My husband doesn’t even like string beans but he said it was better than dinner in a nice restaurant. I love string beans and I agree.