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A Series by Karyn Dowdall

Healthy Hibernation

A Project to Cope with Stress and Anxiety

Healthy Hibernation Project

Healthy Hibernation is created and produced by Karyn Dowdall, MACP (in Progress), RP (Qualifying), Clinical Therapist at Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres.

This project is her response to the 28-day state of emergency in Ontario. The news caused some immediate stress. Then, she decided to come up with a way to meet this stressful situation positively.

She says that it helps her feel better when she does the small things that contribute to better health on a daily basis.
So, with the Healthy Hibernation project, she shares these things that help anyone to deal with stress and anxiety during difficult times.

We believe this guide will also help you during the provincewide emergency brake that will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 1.

Day 1: Healthy Hibernation

In the first episode, Karyn talks about the importance of Sleep, Reframing and Reaching Out.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Sleep, Reframing, Reaching Out

Good morning. This is your day one video for Healthy Hibernation in Ontario.

I have three health hacks for you today. The first one is the biological hack.

1. The Biological Hack: Sleep

From a biological perspective, sleep is very important. And there’s this interesting thing called CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia, which supports people to get their sleep and to cope with issues like insomnia. What’s interesting about that whole theory is that it’s not so much about helping you get to sleep, but managing when you’re awake to promote better sleep.

So the idea is that you would do three things. The first thing is stay up later than you normally would. So, if you’re trying to regulate the time that you go to bed, say it’s nine o’clock, yet you’re tossing and turning, stay up till 10 or 11, at least for the first few nights to get yourself good and tired.

Then if you wake up in the middle of the night and you tend to toss and turn, get up out of bed, go to another room and do something not super stimulating, but perhaps do some drawing or something creative or listen to some music. Something gentle, but outside of your room, and then make your way back and try to go back to sleep. It’s kind of dissociating at sleep time with tossing and turning and pairing awake time with being outside of your room.

And then, the third thing is to set your alarm for the same time every single day of the week.

So, it doesn’t matter what time that is, but make your wake up time consistent so you can control when you’re awake. But it’s more difficult to control when you’re asleep. So it’s really all about what’s within your control and what’s the outside of your control. So that’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Reframing

The psychological hack is about reframing. So, this state of emergency that we’re in right now. Just the word emergency can be stimulating and scary and can kind of trigger “fight or flight”.

If you reframe it as: “OK, I’m choosing to stay at home and to align with what the government is suggesting for us, because I want to contribute to my health and to the health of my community and my world.” So, this is a state of healthy hibernation. So that’s the refrain. At least that’s the slogan that I’m choosing to go with, but might be something different for you. Choose something that aligns with your values and kind of doesn’t send your nervous system into a tizzy.

So that’s the psychological and the social hack is just simply about reaching out.

3. The Social Hack: Reaching Out

So, reach out to someone else, send them a phone call, text a maybe even just do meditation. Such as a matter of loving kindness, meditation, where you’re sending positive energy to someone else and sort of step outside of that focus on yourself and reach out to people in your community to get that sense of social connection that helps us to be well and feel well.

So there you go. That’s the social which is reaching out. The psychological hack is reframing and the biological is CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for promoting better sleep.

I hope that’s helpful for you. And have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 2.

Day 2: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn gives three hacks: Exercise, Positive Psychology and Online Groups.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Exercise, Positive Psychology, Online Groups

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario.

I have three health hacks for you today, and the first one is the biological and it’s about exercise.

1. The Biological Hack: Exercise

It seems kind of obvious that this would be a biological benefit. But I think during times of Healthy Hibernation or state of emergency, we tend to kind of lose momentum when it comes to exercise.

Maybe you are part of a team or maybe you typically go to the gym and now you feel like you can’t exercise because those things aren’t available to you. Or maybe you’re just waiting on your home gym to arrive from Amazon and in the meantime are not exercising.

What I’m suggesting is perhaps just go outside and get some exercise, go out into nature, go for a walk. That is not prohibited at this time. So take advantage of the opportunity to get your endorphins going and to get some circulation happening in the body and maybe do it three times a day, take a break in the morning at lunch and at dinner and give yourself the opportunity to step up from your computer or whatever it is you’re working on and just get outside and move your body. So that’s the biological hack.

2. The Psychological Hack: Positive Psychology

The psychological is about positive psychology. So according to positive psychology, we can find happiness or joy in different ways. And they’ve outlined three. The first is that pleasure kind of happiness that I think a lot of us living in a capitalist world, a commercialized world, tend to go for that immediate gratification that comes from pleasures that we can buy, like packaged processed goods or entertainment or material things. And we look for that kind of surge of dopamine that comes with that immediate gratification and that pleasure aspect of joy, whereas there’s alternative ways to achieve this.

And at a time like this, when we are asked to be at home, there’s not as much opportunity for spending. Maybe now is the time to tap into the second kind of happiness, which is meaningfulness. So, you start asking yourself these questions, what do I value? What’s important to me? Looking back on my life, what will I have appreciated about my time here and really starting to ask yourself those questions and align the way that you spend your day with your true values. And then the third is called flow, which is this state that we get into where time stands still and we’re just so focused on a project or an activity or something that we’re thinking about that we become fully immersed in it. Athletes kind of refer to this as the zone when they’re just right in the game and they’re not distracted by anything else and they’re just one with the sport. You can also be like that with a project or an activity or a conversation.

I encourage you to get into this idea of flow and see if you can find your joy there as well.

So that’s the psychological and the social hack is just about joining online groups.

3. The Social Hack: Online Groups

Look to see what’s out there, because since it began in March, the online community has just exploded. And so, whatever your interest might be or whatever you are, the characteristics of you right now might be there’s a match for you as far as an online community.

If you’re into yoga, if you’re into basket weaving, if you are currently going through a divorce or grieving a loved one, there are support groups, there are interest groups, there are all kinds of groups that you can join and feel connected with on an online community.

I think a lot of us hold back from joining a group like that because, you know, there’s some benefits to seeing people face to face, but there are also some benefits to being online. It’s safer. It’s maybe a step towards when you go to a group in person, if you have some anxiety around that. If you don’t like it, you can easily just click to leave. So I encourage you to give it a try.

All right. That’s it for today. I hope you have a good one and that these hacks are helpful. And we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 3.

Day 3: Healthy Hibernation

Karyn gives three health hacks about Belly Breathing, Maladaptive or Distorted Thoughts and Judgement

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Belly Breathing, Maladaptive or Distorted Thoughts, Judgment

Hello and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario.

Today is day 3, I have three health hacks for you, starting with biological and it’s all about belly breathing.

1. The Biological Hack: Belly Breathing (also known as Diaphragmatic Breathing)

So, when we are stressed, we tend to breathe in the chest. And it is sort of a function of that fight or flight response that we have in fearful or anxiety type situations. And when we’re in a situation where stress is chronic, we get into the habit of breathing in our chest all day long and never fully using the capacity of our breath and breathing down into the belly. And that is the kind of breathing that promotes the rest and digest kind of system. And that’s where the healing happens. That’s where the restoration happens. That’s where your body regulates again.

So, I encourage you to do the practice of breathing, consciously go beyond your chest down into your belly. And for me, it’s helpful to think of a baby. If you watch a baby breathe, you see their belly expand and contract and lightly float up and down. And if you can kind of picture that while you’re trying to breathe down into your belly, it may help you to create some ease and move into the belly breathing. So that’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Maladaptive or Distorted Thoughts

The psychological is all about maladaptive or distorted thoughts.

And this is a concept of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). But I think most people can relate to the idea of distorted thinking and it creeps up on us. We don’t necessarily know that we’re doing it, but if we start to pay attention to the language that we’re using, we might tend to use statements like “should” statements or “it’s always like this” or like “all or nothing” statements or catastrophizing.

So catastrophizing is understandable at a time when we’re in a state of emergency, we might be scared to go outside or to do certain things because everything is a disaster. We’re being told that it’s a disaster right now. But think about the way that you are talking and the way that you’re interacting and the things that you need to do in your day and consider whether you’re actually turning the state of emergency into a constant mindset so that you can’t necessarily make breakfast without thinking it’s going to end up disastrous.

So, compartmentalize that and say, “OK, we’re in a state of emergency, we’re doing what we can, in response to that. But not everything is a catastrophe in my life today.” So just kind of bring some awareness to the language that you’re using and the thoughts that you’re thinking and allow yourself some space to think slightly different thoughts or health your thoughts or choose alternative thoughts that may serve you better.

3. The Social Hack: Judgement

So that’s the psychological and the social is just about this idea of judgment. And certainly at a time when we’re being asked to stay home and there’s new rules and new legal or law enforcement around that, we can start to point the finger at people and say, you’re not doing this right. You’re putting me at risk. You should be behaving this way or you should be doing that.

But ultimately, we don’t know somebody else’s story and what they’re going through and why they’re doing what they’re doing. We can only control ourselves. So if we can kind of adopt the mindset that you do you, I do me. We’re all do our best. Just assume that the other person has good intentions and try not to lash out. That doesn’t help anybody. Just try to do the best that you can and model healthy behaviour for other people.

So, that’s the social non-judgment, the psychological being, investigating those maladaptive thoughts and maybe choosing alternative thoughts and the biological being that use that full capacity of breath, do the belly breathing.

So I hope those are helpful for you. And have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 4.

Day 4: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Affirmation and Accountability Partner.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Affirmation, Accountability Partner

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario, today is day 4, and I have three health hacks for you.

The first one being the biological and it’s about progressive muscle relaxation.

1. The Biological Hack: Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is something we often do in yoga. But you can do it as part of a meditation. You can do it any time, really to calm your physical body. The idea is that you kind of move from your nose to your toes and back up to your nose, but you use your mind to play a particular part of the body. So, you think of your right foot, for example, and then squeeze and engage your right foot and then relax the right foot and then feel that promotion of circulation, that engaging of muscles and releasing of muscles. And it brings focus of attention to the area of the foot.

And then as you progress through the whole body, you’ll find that you’ve been focusing on your full body for a long period of time and that your focus of attention has been in the present moment. It has pulled you out of the worry that comes with future thinking and past thinking and has actually calmed your mind at the same time as calming your body. So, it’s a neat technique and I encourage you to look it up.

There are tons of PMR practices on Insight Timer, which is an app that I use. It’s free and I recommend it. So, give that a try.

2. The Psychological Hack: Affirmations

Today, the psychological hack is about affirmations and a little tip that I learned. So affirmations don’t necessarily work that well for you unless they are genuinely true for you. So, telling yourself “I’m great, I’m awesome, things are going to go really well today” is positive, but not necessarily effective when it comes to changing your state of mind or changing your mood.

If you’re going to practice affirmations, the trick is to look to your path for evidence of positive things in your life. For example, I’m a good friend because I reach out to these people on a regular basis or I’m able to set a goal and progress towards it successfully, evidenced by me setting the goal of running a marathon and training every day and completing the run.

So, you need to get really specific and use specific examples from the past to help you create an affirmation about the kinds of strengths that you want to build on and manifest more of in your life. The affirmations that you repeat yourself on a daily basis need to be absolutely true for you. So that’s the psychological and the social is about what’s been termed accountability partner.

3. The Social Hack: Accountability Partner

I’d rather call it cheerleading. Finding someone that you that you trust and that you admire and that is maybe on the same page as you when it comes to giving each other good vibes and support and encouragement on working towards your goals or working on something or staying committed to something.

So, find a partner, invite them to support each other and look at it as cheerleading as opposed to accountability partner, because accountability can sometimes seem daunting, whereas cheerleading is really super positive and all about fun and progress and feeling good.

That’s the social: The cheerleading. The psychological is about affirmations and the biological is about progressive muscle relaxation. So I hope that’s helpful. And I hope you have a great day and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 5.

Day 5: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn mentions the importance of Water, Creativity and Media.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Water, Creativity and Media

Good morning. So today is day five of healthy hibernation in Ontario, and I have three health hacks for you this morning.

1. The Biological Hack: Drink Water

The first one is pretty simple and straightforward, but hopefully very helpful. And it’s just a reminder to drink water. It’s pretty simple thing to do in the Western world, but we often forget and it has such a huge impact on our health.

You know, it affects our skin, our brain function, our organ function, our digestion, our mood, circulation, immunity, all of these things.

So just remembering to drink water. Sometimes when I find that I’m getting dehydrated or getting behind in my water drinking, I’ll set an alarm on my phone, which I often have with me. And just to go off every hour and I have a small glass of water, you don’t need to drink a ton of water at a time, but just a reminder to drink every hour just to keep yourself hydrated and you’ll be less likely to reach for that cup of coffee or that caffeinated drink that can sometimes set you back in terms of hydration.

So, drink water.

2. The Psychological Hack: Creativity

The psychological is it’s about creativity.

At a time like this where we’re at home and we’re spending more time in solitude, it’s a great time to learn to tap into your creativity. And I say tap into because I think the concept of creativity is kind of maybe misunderstood.

Recently, I’ve been reading a book by Deepak Chopra. It’s called Metahuman, and in that he talks a lot about creativity. But the idea is that creativity is actually a force of the universe. It is outside of us and within us. And it is not something that we build or manifest. So, it’s something that we tap into. It’s like gravity. It’s there for all of us. And it’s just a creative force or something that creates so new things, whether it’s an idea or a tangible thing, it could be tangible or intangible, but we can all access this.

And so, the reason that it’s beneficial and particularly beneficial to our health is if we can take different ideas and put them together or different things and put them together and come up with something new, we can solve problems. And when we solve problems, it reduces our stress and we reduce our stress. We feel better. And when we feel better, we get healthy. So creativity is beneficial for your health. So, tap into that.

Just another little tidbit on that. I recently read another book called Range. And in that book, there’s a fellow who works for NASA who talks about being a searcher rather than a researcher. So, his job is to take the information that he learns from the very specialized people in his workplace and puts together those ideas in a way that solves problems. So, he needs to be that creative person that takes the learning in many different areas and a range of different areas and brings them together to create something new.

So psychological is creativity today.

3. The Social Hack: Media

So, the social aspect of health today is about media and kind of managing your media intake. I read a study for a course about how people are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. And what I learned, interestingly, was that seniors are actually surviving this better from a mental health perspective in that they actually have less access to media, so they don’t have it on their phone and on their TV and on their computer.

And, you know, in all of these different mediums that infiltrate our lives, they don’t have as much access to that. On top of that, they’ve lived longer and they’ve lived through difficult times. And they have, you know, that evidence of having survived things that are a challenge, whereas people who are younger. So, millennials and middle age people are really struggling with this because they are so engaged with their media that they’re constantly being bombarded with news. And, you know, we’ve evolved as humans to only be able to handle the stress of maybe our own family or our own small community, maybe up to twenty-five or one hundred people tops.

But when we are constantly bombarded with news about tragedies happening in other countries and around the world, that we don’t have the capacity to necessarily do something about, then we start to feel the stress in our bodies because we can’t do something about it to process that stress. So oftentimes when we watch the news. They give us the bad news, but they don’t give us a way to be the change that we want to see in the world or how to take steps to help people in these situations or help ourselves. So, if you’re going to give yourself exposure to the news, maybe limit it and then also think in terms of what can I do to respond to this in a way that contributes to my health as opposed to just letting worry overwhelm you.

There you go. The social hack was media, the psychological is creativity and the biological is drink water. I hope that’s helpful. And have a great day. See you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 6.

Day 6: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn talks about Stretch, Existentialism and Gossip.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Stretch, Existentialism and Gossip

Good morning. Today is day 6 of Healthy Hibernation, and I have three health hacks for you today, from the psychological, social and biological perspectives.

The first is the biological. So today I’m suggesting that you stretch.

1. The Biological Hack: Stretch

And when I say that, I don’t mean that you need to join a yoga class and do anything really extravagant. I’m just saying move your body, stretch your body, lengthen your muscles and address those areas of tension that you might be holding in your body.

For example, people will go around all day long with cell phones in their hands and their head is tilted in the back of their neck, is holding up their heavy head. And so, that’s not a natural way for the body to move through the day. So I’m suggesting look up, look to the sides, move your head around and feel that release of tension. I’m also suggesting that you maybe reach up, reach down, do a little bit of a twist, very simple stuff. And the trick to stretching is to underdo it. So don’t overexert yourself, kind of move to about 60 to 80 percent so that you can feel the stretch, but it doesn’t hurt at all. So that’s the biological hack. It’ll help you to release tension and feel better.

2. The Psychological Hack: Existentialism

The psychological is about existentialism. So this is a philosophy that says that when your life is over, it’s over and there’s nothingness after that. And so at a time when we’re receiving all of these messages about death and we’re getting, you know, death tolls of how many people have died from COVID-19, we can’t help but consider the fact that we are all going to die and that nobody gets out of here alive. And so that thought can be overwhelming. But rather than let it paralyze us, you know, why not take that existentialist perspective and actually be prompted to consider what we’re going to do with this one awesome life that we have to live. So, you know, what do we appreciate? What is our purpose? How can we serve others?

And that is the motivator behind the inevitability of our own mortality.

So that’s the psychological hack.

3. The Social Hack: Gossip

And the social hack is about gossip. Certainly I’ve been one to participate in gossip, but I can attest that it has never made me feel better in the long run.

In fact, it’s always made me feel regretful and sent me down a whole rabbit hole of negative thinking.

So I’m suggesting that today is a fresh start. It’s never too late to say I’m sorry and it’s never too late to change who you are. And perhaps you could try to be someone who solves problems, who talks about issues, who talks about concepts rather than about people, and kind of raises the vibration from a social perspective.

So there you go. The social is gossip. The psychological is existentialism and the biological is stretching.

Hopefully these are helpful for you and you have a great day.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 7.

Day 7: Healthy Hibernation

Karyn gives three health hacks: Skin Hunger, Perfectionism and Advocacy

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Skin Hunger, Perfectionism, Advocacy

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day &, and I have three health hacks for you, for your mental and physical health.

The first one is the biological. It’s about skin hunger.

1. The Biological Hack: Skin Hunger

So, skin hunger is this thing where we have a physical craving, our desire to touch other people or to be touched. And that might mean shaking hands or having a hug or putting your arm around someone. And during this time of Healthy Hibernation, we don’t have as much opportunity to connect with people. And human touch actually kind of raises our endorphins and boosts our oxytocin, which makes us feel connected and makes us feel good in terms of mental health and physical health.

So we need that. And if you are at home and you have a family in your bubble, then I encourage you to give them an extra hug today to meet that skin hunger need. But if you are alone and you are waiting out this time of Healthy Hibernation, then I encourage you to do something creative, like getting a weighted blanket. I have a weighted blanket. It’s about 20-25 pounds and you can wrap it around yourself and it gives you that kind of compressed sort of hug type of feeling and can, you know, in the meantime sort of serve you to feel better, to feel hugged. So, that’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Perfectionism

The psychological is about perfectionism. Perfectionism is this sort of anxiety or fear of making mistakes, maybe even a phobia, and it can affect people to the point where they analyze things so much or they plan so much or they’re so fearful of making a mistake that they actually don’t make progress in their life.

For example, making these videos, they’re not perfect. But, you know, I started and starting is something that we need to do. And then we adapt and we adjust along the way and we make ourselves vulnerable to making mistakes so that we can learn.

And to beat perfectionism, we prioritize learning over getting it right. And, you know, it’s a difficult thing, but with exposure to mistakes, we can get over it.

So I encourage you to start whatever it is that inspires you or whatever it is that you are thinking of doing to progress in your life get started.

3. The Social Hack: Advocacy

And the third hack is the social, which is about advocacy. So even though we’re at home, we can support causes, we can research what’s going on out there and get behind something.

You know, you don’t necessarily need to be a leader in a cause, but you can definitely be a supporter. Whether it’s making a donation doesn’t have to be big or whether it’s just getting educated and speaking up about something that matters.

Do your research, find out what’s important, get behind the stuff that you know that fires you up and be an advocate and that will connect you to your community and make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger, which you know is good for your health and is good for the health of this world.

Those are the three things, the biological is skin hunger, the psychological is perfectionism, and the social is advocacy.

So hopefully that’s helpful. And have a great day, guys. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 8.

Day 8: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Nutrition, Light Therapy and Online Learning.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Nutrition, Light Therapy, Online Learning

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario, today is day 8.

I have three health hacks for you, the first one being the biological and it’s about nutrition.

1. The Biological Hack: Nutrition

I encourage you to let food be your medicine and make choices about your food that are based on nutrition as opposed to craving. So I know it’s difficult, given all the marketing that’s out there to crave salt, fat, sugar, things that are packaged and processed. But if you think about the long term or if you are thinking in terms of what’s going to make you well and healthy, choose things that look like food, like a fruit or vegetable and invest in your future well-being by eating right.

2. The Psychological Hack: Light Therapy

The psychological is about light therapy. You can purchase light boxes or light therapy devices online. And originally these things were created for people who have sad or seasonal effectiveness disorder. And it was helpful for those people who really respond to the weather. So, if it’s dark or cold, these people start to crave sunlight. It was originally created for that.

But for those of us who just need a little boost of sunshine and want to try to tap into that, these boxes are available and they’re not very expensive. But I do encourage you to talk to your doctor before you go ahead and do that. If you have certain mental disorders or if you have skin issues or anxiety issues, sometimes light therapy is not a good idea.

You should look into that with your doctor, but consider it as a mood boost if you want a little bit of sunshine in your life.

3. The Social Hack: Online Learning

And the third is the social, which is about connecting with online courses and classes. So rather than just, for example, doing a yoga video that’s pre-recorded, why not join a class and sign up at a regular time with a group of people with a teacher that can actually instruct you and give you some advice and have some real time back and forth with these people and feel like you’re actually part of the class. You can also take continuing education courses. Most of these are pretty cost effective. You can take art classes online. There is no end to the kind of learning that you can do online with other people in real time.

So, I encourage you to do that as opposed to just kind of Googling YouTube videos. Do it alongside other people, do it together with others and learn from them and evolve along with them. So that’s the social.

The social hack is online learning. Psychological hack is light therapy and biological is you are what you eat and eat according to nutrition. And so that’s it for today. I hope that’s helpful. Take care. Have a good day. And we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 9.

Day 9: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn mentions the importance of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Nasal Breathing and Karma.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Nose Breathing, REBT, Karma

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario.

Today is day 9 and I have three health hacks for you. The first is the biological and it’s all about nose breathing.

1. The Biological Hack: Nasal Breathing

So the nose is for breathing. The mouth is for eating and talking. If you can focus on that, it should be beneficial to your health. I recently read a book called Breath, and it’s all about the benefits that come with nose breathing. There are apparatus that you can buy that can encourage noise breathing at night, which cuts down on sleep apnea and hugely improves your health. But also breathing exercises such as single nostril breathing or any other number of exercises that encourage breathing through the nose.

There’s just limitless benefits to that practice. So think about that and try to bring it into your life. This morning I went for a walk and focused entirely on breathing through my nose the whole time. It was actually pretty difficult, but I feel energized as a result. So that’s the biological hack.

2. The Psychological Hack: Changing Perspective

The psychological is about perspective. There is a an intervention called REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy) that’s all about challenging belief systems and inviting people to consider alternative beliefs that may serve them better.

And a story that I often refer to when I’m talking about REBT is the story of the blindman and the elephant. So look it up, Google it. But basically it’s about these blind men that stand around the outside of an elephant and are tasked with describing what it is to be an elephant. So the one at the back describes the tail and says it’s long and stringy. And they’re describing it because they’re using their sense of touch and their senses beyond sight. And the ones at the side say that it’s flat and smooth. The ones at the front that might be feeling the task say it’s smooth and pointy at the end. So they all describe the elephant differently. Each blind man is right in their perception and it’s their truth. But each person has a completely different perspective.

So, you know, you can be right about something, but it may not serve you well. Say you’re the guy at the back of the elephant who thinks that it really kind of stinks to be an elephant.

What I’m suggesting is if you are opening yourself up to alternative perspectives, maybe making your way over to the other side of the elephant and learning about that perspective, you can change your life. You can find a perspective or an alternative belief system that serves you better. So REBT intervention is about changing your perspective. And I encourage you to look into that as well.

3. The Social Hack: Karma

And then the final hack is about the social, and it’s about karma and this idea of paying it forward.

I think a lot of us maybe misunderstand what karma is about. It’s not about revenge. It’s about action or work. And it’s what we do to contribute to the unfolding of our destiny. So rather than just returning a good deed, maybe consider the things that people do to make you feel good or that have affected you in a certain way or a positive way in your life and pay that forward, take a positive experience and then share it with someone else.

And that kind of paying forward or that action that you take connects you to other people in your community and kind of sets the stage for the unfolding of a positive experience in life going forward. So pay it forward today in some way. Surely you have a way that you know that you’re inspired because somebody has supported you in the past or helped you in the past. Or maybe you’ll need to get creative and make one up and be the the instigator of it all. So that’s it for today.

The social hack is karma and paying it forward. The psychological hack is REBT and changing your perspective. And the biological is nose breathing. So, I hope that’s helpful. Have a great day and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 10.

Day 10: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn combines three hacks into one: Mindfulness.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Mindfulness, Dr. Dan Siegel, the Hand Model of the Brain

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario.

Today is day 10 and I have three health hacks for you all combined into one, really.

Three Hacks Combined in One: Mindfulness

Today’s talk is about mindfulness and how it can support the biological, psychological and the social. And I wanted to start by giving you what I think is the very best resource out there in terms of mindfulness.

And that is Dr. Dan Siegel. He has a website. I think you should go there and check it out and learn everything there is to learn about mindfulness. He presents it in a very simple and straightforward way, and he encourages you to actually do it. You need to do mindfulness for it to be effective for you. He has what’s called the Wheel of Awareness practice, and he’s broken it down into three different versions, like a short version, mid and lengthy version, maybe twenty five minute practice.

And I completely recommend that you give that a try because the benefits are really amazing. But, you know, I wanted to explain to you a little bit more about Dr. Dan Siegel and some of the learning that I have received from him, the really important one being the hand model of the brain. So, again, you can Google that hand model of the brain, Dr. Dan Siegel. It is a way for us to understand very simply the different parts of the brain and how they are differentiated and integrated and how we can use this understanding of the brain to actually change the structure and the function of the brain and support our mindfulness practice.

And our mindfulness practice, in turn, supports our biological health, psychological health and even our social connections, our social world. The practice of mindfulness actually promotes collaboration and creativity, that kind of thing. If you were to kind of summarize the hand model of the brain, I’ll do my best here. The idea is that you use your hand to understand the different functions of the brain or to represent the different areas and functions of the brain.

If you were to fold your thumb in and wrap your fingers over the top, this would be the brain and the base of the brain would be represented in the palm of the brain. So that’s your brain stem and sort of the reptilian or the oldest part of the brain in the back of the brain. The middle part of the brain is represented by the thumb. And that’s your center for emotion and memory and attachment. And the fingers wrapping over top of the middle part of the brain represents the cortex. So that’s where your senses are mapped and the thoughts happen. But if you were to go right to the very front of the cortex, to the middle front part of the cortex, that’s the prefrontal cortex. That’s represented in the tip of the middle finger. And as you can see, that connects with the middle part of the brain and with the base of the brain. And it’s responsible for the function of integration. So integrating the different parts of the brain, the mapping, the cortex, the thinking part of the brain, the emotions and the memory part of the brain and the base stem, which is responsible for things like the biological, the fight or flight type response or the functions of breathing and heart rate and that sort of thing.

So as he describes the hand model of the brain, he talks about how when we get dysregulated or when we experience anxiety or depression, he calls it flipping your lid.

So that’s when your parts of the brain become disintegrated. They’re no longer functioning together as a team and coming together to promote higher level functions of the brain.

When we get disintegrated, we’re out of our window of tolerance and unable to function well in society. Ways to promote the integration of the different parts of the brain include mindfulness. So the practice of mindfulness itself is all about separating thoughts, emotions and physical sensations and differentiating them through the practice of mindfulness and then actually reintegrating them and using one aspect, say it’s your psychological or your thoughts to control or to manage your emotions. Or using your biological to attain your emotions or using your emotions or evoking certain emotions to influence more positive thoughts.

There’s there’s plenty of things you can do through the practice of mindfulness by separating thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and then integrating them as well. And while you do that, you’re actually changing the structure and function of your brain. It’s pretty neat stuff, not only that, but the social connection there is that as you practice mindfulness, you’re not only connecting your mind and body, but you are connecting to the social world as well. So that’s how this one thing, this mindfulness concept is related to all of the biological and social aspects today. So I encourage you to look out Dr. Dan Siegel and his website, learn the Wheel of Awareness practice, follow it, it’s free and use the hand model of the brain.

Check out that video to learn more about the functions of the brain so that you can manage it better and regulate yourself and intensify the integration of the different parts of the brain.

All right. So that’s all for today. I hope you have a great day and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 11.

Day 11: Healthy Hibernation

Karyn gives three health hacks about Gut Health, Radical Acceptance and Collective Resilience

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Gut Health, Radical Acceptance, Collective Resilience

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario.

Today is day 11, and I have three health hacks for you. The first one is the biological and it’s about gut health.

1. The Biological Hack: Gut Health

In our gut, the same as in our hearts and in our mind, we have neurotransmitters like serotonin, for example.

And to boost our gut health, we would take something like a probiotic. Before you do something like that, check in with your doctor to make sure it’s OK for you. But probiotics can really help you to improve the condition of your gut. As well, you can do things like take a probiotic drink or drink apple cider vinegar. These are things that help to cut down on inflammation and just promote wellbeing from the gut to your whole body into your mind. Something to look into.

2. The Psychological Hack: Radical Acceptance

And the second is the psychological hack, which is the concept of radical acceptance. Two books I would recommend on this concept: Michael A. Singer wrote a book called The Surrender Experiment, which is all about radical acceptance. And Tara Brach wrote a book called Radical Acceptance. And it’s also a fantastic read. So I encourage you to look into those books if you’re interested in learning more about radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance is really just about this idea of accepting what is and accepting that it’s painful when something like a pandemic happens. It’s a trauma that affects us all and deserves our grief. Things have changed. But on the other hand, we don’t have to choose to continue to suffer as a result. So pain is inevitable without our control, but suffering is an option.

So once we accept, we can begin the healing process. So this idea of grieving what once was and accepting that the world is changing and it’s time for us to adapt and adjust. And maybe have some opportunity to participate in post-traumatic growth as opposed to post-traumatic stress. So, it’s a choice. The suffering is a choice.

That’s the idea: radical acceptance. I encourage you to look into it.

3. The Social Hack: Collective Resilience

It also is related to the social hack today, which is this idea of collective resilience. And resilience is your ability to bounce back from adverse or difficult or traumatic situations. And we often talk about resilience from an individual perspective. But resilience can also be a collective thing. So, when trauma happens to an entire community or society or to the globe, we have the opportunity to accept it, to get real about it, to understand that it is what it is, and then start to adapt and adjust.

And start to recognize what our strengths are and what our capacity is to contribute to change and to be a part of the evolution of society. So, while we’re radically accepting, we can offer at the same time choose to be resilient and contribute to the greater good, which is the problem solving and the ideas and the change movement that’s happening in response to this traumatic event.

The social is a collective resilience. The psychological is radical acceptance, and the biological is gut health. So those are the three health hacks for you today. I hope they are helpful to you and you have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 12.

Day 12: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Oral Care, Setting an Intention and Love Languages.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Oral Care, Setting an Intention, Love Languages

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario, today is day 12, and I have three health hacks for you.

The first one being the biological and it is about oral care.

1. The Biological Hack: Oral Care

Looking after your mouth is really important because whatever goes in your mouth also goes into your body. So, if you get infections or bacteria in your mouth that are unhealthy for you, they end up in your whole system.

It’s important to brush your teeth, to floss your teeth and to use mouthwash and to see your dentist regularly. And it’s really sort of the gateway. They call the mouth the gateway to your entire health. So now that we’re home and we have less travel time, maybe we have an extra few minutes to floss. It’s such a simple thing and it can be so beneficial to our health. So that’s the biological hack.

2. The Psychological Hack: Setting an Intention

The psychological hack is about setting an intention. And we talk about this in yoga a lot.

But the idea behind an intention is that you are purposefully aligning your actions and your beliefs with your values. Some people will set an intention before or after a yoga practice. But I’m suggesting that you might set an intention before you start your day or perhaps even before you go into a meeting with someone via Zoom or face to face. Before you go in, maybe take a moment to get quiet and ask yourself, what’s my intention going into this meeting? Do I want to collaborate? Do I want to find consensus? Do I want to assume that they’re doing the best that they can? And maybe just considering that before you go into a meeting with someone might improve the outcome of your communications with people.

3. The Social Hack: Love Languages

And then the social is about the love languages. There’s a book and the fellow’s name is Chapman, who wrote this book, and it’s about the five love languages. What he suggests is that we may have been raised to think we should do unto others as we would have done unto ourselves. But that doesn’t necessarily work for everybody. So if I’m the kind of person who likes that sees gifts as a way of showing love for someone or feeling loved by someone, I might give you a gift and expect that you would also give me a gift in return to show your love back or to show my importance. And then be disappointed when I find it that’s not coming my way. So, the Love Languages says that everybody has different ways of experiencing what love is. So maybe it’s words of affirmation, maybe it’s physical touch, maybe it’s quality time spent, maybe it’s gifts, maybe it’s acts of service.

I encourage you to do a little bit of introspection and figure out what’s my love language and also with your loved ones and the people around you, if not asking them directly, try to determine what it is that makes them feel loved and communicated with and important. And hopefully that will raise your level of communication with others.

So that’s the social, the love languages. I encourage you to look it up. There’s also love languages with your children. Then the psychological is the intention, setting your intention and the biological is your oral hygiene. So, I hope those are helpful. And have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 13.

Day 13: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn explains how to use a grounding and mindfulness technique called S.T.O.P.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Vitamins, the STOP technique and Reducing Carbon Footprint

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 13 and I have three health hacks for you from the biological, psychological and social perspective.

1. The Biological Hack: Vitamins

The first is the biological, and it’s about taking your vitamins. So, of course, check with your doctor and make sure that taking vitamins is right for you and your health and your situation. Maybe also check with your pharmacist about which vitamins are better quality and are better match for you. But the reason to take vitamins would be to give yourself that boost of essential nutrients and minerals that you may not be getting from your food in the way that we did one hundred years ago. The soil is depleted and our food is therefore depleted. So, our fruits and vegetables aren’t absorbing the same level of minerals and nutrients that they used to. So, vitamin can help you to supplement that. That’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: STOP

The psychological is this technique called STOP. It’s a grounding and mindfulness technique. And it’s pretty simple and straightforward, but very helpful in situations where you are stressed. It’s a reactive technique in a really kind of intense moment you might find stressful. S stands for stop so visualize a stop sign and stop whatever it is that you’re doing immediately, T is to take a breath. So, take a full, deep breath. Use your belly. Really focus on that breath that will help to pop you into the present moment, but also regulate your heart rate and those things that go out of whack when you’re dysregulated.

And then O is observe. So, observe what’s going on outside of you. Look around, identify that tree, that road, that person, that colour, and then also observe what’s going on inside of you. So, identify that emotion, identify that thought and separate yourself from your thoughts, from your emotions to help bring you back into the present moment and also tame those emotions and thoughts that may be running wild.

And then P is proceed with your day. So S: stop T: take a breath O: observe and P: proceed. So that should help you to get grounded in the moment reactively to whatever it is that’s stressing you and help you to get mindful and present.

3. The Social Hack: Carbon Footprint

And the social is about contributing to reducing the carbon footprint. So one good thing about COVID is that there has apparently been a reduction in the hole in the ozone and that the the world is healing itself from some of the damage that’s been done from all of these carbon emissions. So you can build on that and contribute to that by doing things that are within your control. So certainly less driving, but also maybe going around in your neighbourhood and picking up garbage as you go for your walk. You just pay attention to how little ways that you can contribute to the momentum that’s already started by coming down on all these emissions.

So that’s the social perhaps picking up the garbage. The psychological is stop and the biological is taking vitamins. I hope those are helpful tips for you or Hack’s and have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 14.

Day 14: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Atomic Habits.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Oral Care, Setting an Intention, Love Languages

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 14. I have three hacks for you. All of them are related to habits today.

1. The Biological Hack: Track Your Behaviours

The biological is about monitoring where you’re at and tracking where you’re at. So, I’m going to start by recommending a book called Atomic Habits. It’s one of my favourite by James Clear. He talks about tracking your current habits before you actually make decisions about what you want to change.

There’s all kinds of ways to track your habits. But why not take advantage of technology and download some of these free apps or get yourself a Garmin watch. Maybe even just when it comes to the biological? If you’re trying to change what you eat, just monitor use an app to input what it is that you’re eating and when and start to pay attention to where you’re at. And then that’ll help you to identify what it is you want to change.

2. The Psychological Hack: Change Your Identity

The psychological is James Clear’s kind of suggestion that if you want to change your habits, you need to change your identity. So, you need to start to think of yourself as the person you want to become. The goal when you’re changing your habits is not to, for example, write a book. It’s to become a writer.

A writer would write every day. Changing your habits starts with changing your identity. He has a number of other suggestions about how to change your habits, and I definitely recommend checking that out. Ideas such as habit stacking. So it’s not just about creating new habits, but it’s breaking old habits with the key behind that is changing your identity, becoming the kind of person who.

3. The Social Hack: Be with Like-Minded People

And that leads me to the social, which is, you know, if you want to become the kind of person who does this or does that or thinks this way or lives this way, you need to surround yourself with like-minded people.

We become who we spend our time with. So, yes, definitely at a time when COVID is an issue, it’s difficult to surround ourselves with people that we want to become. But there are ways to do that. There are online communities. If you want to be a sober person, hang out with sober people online if possible. If you want to become a fit person, hang out with people who exercise, be in conversation with, spend your time with people who will normalize the identity that you are becoming.

So that is the social hack. Spend time with people who are who you want to become, maybe even choose a mentor and interview them and study them and use that relationship as a model for the person that you’re changing into and who you want to become.

The psychological is the the change of identity and the biological is the monitoring and tracking of current habits to become aware. So, there you go. I hope those are helpful. Habits are not just habits, but hacks that will help you to change your habits. And have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 15.

Day 15: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn talks about self-stigma and Bell Let’s Talk Day.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Energy, Bell Let’s Talk Day, Spirituality

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 15, and I have three health hacks for you, the first one being the biological, and it’s about energy and healing yourself from the bottom up.

1. The Biological Hack: Energy

The idea is that you are treating the physical body to have an impact on your mind, whereas in therapy or other kinds of treatment for mental health, it’s about treating the mental activity and not having an impact on your physical body.

I encourage you to look into body work like chiropractic or massage, but also to consider the yoga approach, which is about energy centres, and consider how certain areas of the body, when they experience pain or ailments, are typically related to specific kinds of stress. If your belly or your lower back is experiencing pain or illness, it might have to do with emotions around security or safety or family. So something interesting to look into there.

2. The Psychological Hack: Bell Let’s Talk Day

The psychological is about Bell, Let’s Talk Day. Today is #BellLets TalkDay. So I encourage you to share the videos and to use the hashtag and help to raise awareness around mental health and mental illness. But specifically, I would like to invite you to consider this idea of self-stigma and what that looks like for you.

If by any chance you have any struggles with mental illness, are you hard on yourself about it? Are there barriers to you getting support and help around what you think other people might think of you or any self-judgment and get some information, go to the Bell Let’s Talk Page and learn more about it, so that you may be in a better place to help yourself.

3. The Social Hack: Spirituality

And the social is about spirituality, so I’m not a religious person, but I am starting to consider myself to be a spiritual person. And what I mean by that is that I have a kind of sense of security around this idea that I’m a part of something that is bigger than me. So the way that I understand that is that the same kind of energy or electrons and particles that make up me, make up you and make up the space between us and all the objects and living things around us, and that I’m the same as everything in this world. I have a reason to be here and destiny to live out.

It makes me feel a little bit more like I belong. And apparently, according to studies, when people have a faith or a sense of spirituality, it contributes to a greater resilience, which is your ability to bounce back in other situations. I encourage you to kind of look into different concepts around this idea of spirituality and see if there’s anything that fits for you that you might learn about or engage in or start to develop some faith around those concepts or those ideas. So something to think about. Greater spirituality equals greater resilience and greater health.

Those are the facts for today. I hope they are helpful to you and hope you have a great day and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 16.

Day 16: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Decision Fatigue, Purposeful Practice and Differentiation of Self.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Decision Fatigue, Purposeful Practice and Differentiation of Self

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 16. I have three health hacks for you, the first one being the biological.

1. The Biological Hack: Decision Fatigue

It’s about decision fatigue. When we make a decision, it requires energy. And if we make a lot of decisions, that use of energy can wear us down physically, mentally, emotionally on all levels. The way to avoid making bad decisions or the inability to make decisions in the evenings is to set yourself up for success in the mornings.

Get prepared when you’re feeling positive and energetic and in a place where you can make healthy decisions for yourself. Maybe that means preparing your dinner in the morning or on some days or doing as much food prep ahead of time so that when it comes to making a healthy meal for yourself in the evening, you don’t fall back on eating frozen pizza. You can also apply that to other things, like perhaps you get sucked into watching Netflix at night and you don’t go to bed. So, maybe in the morning you could set yourself an alarm that reminds you. You know, “I decided it’s a good time for me to go to bed at nine o’clock”. The alarm goes off and off. You go to bed.

It just cuts down on the exhaustion and the likelihood of making a poor decision in the evening. So that’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Purposeful Practice

The psychological is about this 10.000-hour rule.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers. And in this book, he referred to experiments done by Anders Ericsson. He talks about how with 10000 hours, you can become an expert at almost anything with 10000 hours of practice. I read a book by Anders Ericsson that actually discussed this and said that was a misinterpretation of his studies and other studies that say it’s not just practice, but purposeful practice. And purposeful practice involves mindfulness and specific attention and focus to certain things that help you to learn in a meaningful way and learn efficiently to become an expert in your field.

So not that I am suggesting that anyone need to become an expert, but in order to learn and in order to practice something to change your brain and to evolve, that it’s not just practice. Because if you practice something that’s a mistake or if you practice a bad habit, you’re just simply reinforcing something that keeps you stuck. So be careful what it is that you’re practicing.

I often talk about this in yoga or while teaching yoga classes that if you’re going through the motions physically of opening up your body, but at the same time you’re thinking negative thoughts about yourself, where your mind is elsewhere, you’re reinforcing that mental activity and not necessarily benefiting yourself overall.

Just be careful what you practice. Be purposeful with your practice.

3. The Social Hack: Differentiation of Self

The social is about this differentiation of self. In family systems theory, we talk about our relationships with family and it also applies to your relationships with other people.

So fused relationships are dysfunctional relationships, and these are the kinds of relationships when we are dependent, and we are codependent or practice enabling or do unhealthy things and unhealthy boundaries with our family members. And it’s very difficult in situations that are complicated, like family situations to differentiate yourself. And what I mean by that is becoming independent or really getting in touch with your value system, practicing self-efficacy and integrity and your own sense of agency.

And so that work is really important to do so that you can differentiate yourself, because a lot of people, when they try to break unhealthy bonds or set healthy boundaries, what they do is completely cut themselves off from other people. And that, in fact, infuses you to other people even more so.

It becomes yet another form of dysfunctional relationship where you’re making such a huge effort to estrange yourself from that person or separate yourself from that first person, they become the focus of your energy, just a negative focus of your energy. You’re not actually freeing yourself. The way to be free from dysfunctional relationships is to differentiate yourself, to be able to engage with people that we need to engage without letting the emotional bonds hurt us in any way. Self-differentiation is something that you can work on with any kind of relationship at work, at home, and can be beneficial to your health by reducing your stress.

There you go. Those are the facts for today. I hope they’re helpful for you. And have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

A smiling woman with a laptop. The visual says Virtual Addiction Treatment Program Intensive 4-week long.
Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 17.

Day 17: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn talks about the benefits of drinking tea.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: The Benefits of Drinking Tea

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 17 and today is all about tea.

1. The Biological Hack: Drink Tea

And the first hack, the biological, is literally about drinking tea. So, I recommend that you drink tea. It doesn’t matter what kind. Some kinds are caffeinated, so you may want to look into that. If you have anxiety or heart issues, you may want to choose a tea that is not caffeinated.

But there are tons of different herbal teas that have either antioxidant benefits like green tea or detoxing benefits or even just the benefit of holding a warm cup of a drink in your hand and that soothing effect, that comforting effect that comes with drinking something warm. So that’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Buddha Invites Mara to Tea

The psychological hack is the story of the Buddha inviting Mara to tea. And this is a story I learned about from Tara Brock, who’s a. A psychologist and a yogi, and she tells the story of when the Buddha was on his way to enlightenment, he was visited by this demon God called Mara, represents doubts and fears, anxieties and addictions.

And so instead of trying to deny Mara or push Mara away or fight against Mara, the Buddha simply welcomed Mara to tea and said, I see you, Mara, and acknowledged Mara’s presence, acknowledged that Mara is a part of his experience and allowed Mara to sit with him until the power of Mara dissolved and Mara strolled away.

I encourage you to think of that story when it comes to your own psychological health. And rather than try to deny your fears or your anger or your doubts or the things that you might consider negative about your psychology, embrace them as a part of yourself and try to understand them and welcome them as part of your experience and part of your evolution. So that’s the inviting Mara to tea story.

3. The Social Hack: Invite Someone to Tea

And then the social is about literally inviting someone else to tea. So just as with the story of Mara, you are being compassionate to yourself by accepting all the ugly parts of yourself that may not be ideal. Also, invite your friends to tea and accept everything about them that may not be fun, happy, positive or supportive of your needs.

Instead, hold space for that person and allow them to vent, to unload, to be sad if they’re sad and of course, to be happy if they’re happy, but maybe not qualify that you’re only a fair-weather friend. And when things are OK, you’re there for them. So, a friend in need is a friend, indeed.

There you go. Those are the hacks for today. The biological, psychological, social. I hope they’re helpful and I hope you have a great day, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 18.

Day 18: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about the benefits of Forest Bathing.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Forest Bathing and Geocaching

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 18, and the health hacks for you today are all about the forest.

1. The Biological Hack: Forest Bathing

The biological is about forest bathing.

This is something that we have learned here in North America from the people in Japan who do forest bathing as a mindfulness practice. And there’s all kinds of benefits. But when I think of spending time in the forest, I think of that exchange that happens between the trees and the plants and ourselves, that exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that happens on that very basic level. But also the sunshine and the boost that our senses experience when we see the colours and when we listen to the sounds of nature and the smells.

Spend some time in nature and from a biological perspective, soak it all up.

2. The Psychological Hack: Spending Time in Nature

From a psychological perspective, it’s also very beneficial because studies have shown that there’s actually a boost of neurotransmitters that happens in the body when you spend time in nature and in the mind.

So, that has an impact on your mood and can improve your mood. Spending time in nature has that dual benefit of the biological and psychological and also a fun social thing that you can do in the forest even during COVID is this idea of geo caching.

3. The Social Hack: Geocaching

It’s something that we used to do with our kids when they were younger.

But it’s fun for individuals or families to do. Go to the geocache website and learn about it. But if you have a GPS or even if you don’t, you can typically get one from your health unit.

You use a GPS to use the coordinates to find a treasure that another family or individual has hidden for you. And then you leave one for them and report about it on the geocache website. So, there’s a bit of a community and I encourage you to check that out for something different to do that connects you socially as well.

So those are the hacks for today, I hope they’re helpful and have a good one. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 19.

Day 19: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn talks about Locus of Control and Binaural Beats.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Binaural Beats, Locus of Control and Being an Extrovert or an Introvert

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. I have three health hacks for you. The first one is the biological and it’s about binaural beats.

1. The Biological Hack: Binaural Beats

If you listen to a frequency in your right ear and a different frequency in your left, your mind works to find some middle ground or to harmonize in some way. And whatever happens there with the vibrations between your right and left ear can be therapeutic and can help you with issues like anxiety or depression or have simply a calming effect. So, I encourage you to check it out.

If you go to the app I’ve mentioned before, which is Insight Timer, there are several binaural beats options there for you to choose from. The trick is, though, you need to use earphones that have a right and left indicator so that you can get the proper experience. So that’s the biological hack.

2. The Psychological Hack: Locus of Control

The psychological hack is about internal versus external locus of control. And a lot of us feel like our stress levels go up because we have a sense that the external, such as workplace, spouses, family members, friends have more control over the direction our life is going in than we do. And when we shift towards a more internal locus of control, when we start to take action based on what’s within our control and what we choose and what we feel is the best direction for ourselves, we may become sort of the one steering the ship or the CEO of our own life.

And so, I encourage you to kind of examine your situation and your feelings about who is in control of your life and consider how you might make some changes and bring about some more of a sense of internal locus of control.

3. The Social Hack: Being an Introvert or an Extrovert

And then the social is about just being an introvert or an extrovert. I think a lot of us think of ourselves as one or the other when in most cases we are a little bit of both. And at a time when some of our social opportunities have been limited, why not embrace your internal introvert and learn about all of the benefits involved in embracing solitude and how much recovery and recalibration and rejuvenation happens when you are able to rest and appreciate time alone?

There will be time again when we are in some cases forced to be more social, but also we’ll have the opportunity to be more social again. But at this time, why not learn to really be able to embrace both?

If you happen to be an extrovert, if you’re an introvert, then perhaps you’re really enjoying this time where it’s normalized to spend more time in solitude.

So those are the facts for today. I hope they’re helpful. And have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 20.

Day 20: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Self-care, Self-compassion and social media.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Self-care, self-compassion and social media.

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 20, and I have three health hacks for you.

1. The Biological Hack: Self-care

Today we’re talking about self-care. From a biological perspective, taking good care of yourself might involve things that make your body feel better.

Taking a bath or a personal hygiene or maybe just snuggling up in a blanket and having that warm, comforting feeling. Consider though when you’re doing yourself care, if you are treating yourself to something that in the long run perhaps doesn’t represent care or looking after yourself. If you’re treating yourself with sugar or alcohol or spending, is that really what’s good for you in the long run?

2. The Psychological Hack: Self-compassion

And then from a psychological perspective, same thing. Self-care is really about self-compassion. And are you thinking healthy thoughts? Are you being kind to yourself in the way that you treat yourself psychologically?

And it very much aligns with the biological. You might take a bath but the whole time, you’re thinking, I’m wasting my time or you might be thinking negative thoughts or ruminating. So, the two combined are really the best way to take good care of yourself. Don’t negate all that work that you do to look after yourself by thinking mean thoughts about yourself.

3. The Social Hack: Social Media

And the social is about social media. The average Canadian spends two hours a day on social media, not just on the Internet, but social media specifically. And studies have shown that social media can lead to depression, anxiety, other mood disorders. And it makes sense given the way that people tend to approach social media. You know, I’ve heard people complain that they don’t like what other people are posting because it makes them feel badly.

So, if they see someone else living a life that makes them feel like they don’t have enough or they are not enough themselves, they start to feel bad about themselves by what they see other people posting or they get judgy about what other people are posting. So why would that person post that revealing picture of themselves or why would that person post their lunch? I’m not interested in what they’re eating. So all the judgment starts to come up.

Not only that, but social media can also contribute to marketing, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, that you are being bombarded with throughout that time, that you are thinking that you’re being social online. So, my challenge to you when it comes to the social today is to perhaps spend those two hours a day doing something that’s genuinely social.

Help your child with the homework or go for a walk with a family member or reach out and connect with a friend. But spend some genuine time being social as opposed to pseudo social on social media. I’m not saying cut it out all together, but maybe try an alternative approach and see how that works for you and how it affects your mood.

Those are the facts for today. I hope it’s a good one. And we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 21.

Day 21: Healthy Hibernation

Karyn talks about how yoga is more than just the poses.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Yoga

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario, today is day 21, and I have three health hacks for you. They’re all related to yoga.

Yoga means to yoke or union, which is very much in alignment with the biopsychosocial approach to health that we’re taking over these 28 days. But the union in yoga is about the body, mind and spirit. And if you were to pick out the biopsychosocial there, you might pull some of the limbs of yoga that go beyond the asanas, just the poses to help us understand our meaning or purpose and to help us kind of develop our personal health.

So the Yamas are ways of living in relation to other people. And that’s the first limb of yoga. An example of one of the yamas would be ahimsa. Ahimsa is about nonviolence or being kind to yourself and others and all living things.

The Niyamas are about ways or right ways of living within your own mind or within yourself. An example of a niyama might be the self study or the principle of self study, which is called svadhyaya. And if you were to move on to the body, the Ossana, which I mentioned before, are the poses. So if you take mountain pose, for example, it’s about grounding yourself and feeling connected to the Earth, but at the same time aligning your spine and improving the function of your circulatory system and improving your confidence so the biological pose can be related to the psychological and even the social, as are all the limbs of yoga.

And so as you start to progress to the different limbs, you get into Pratyahara, which is the drawing of the senses inwards, the pranayama, which is about the right use of energy or breathing techniques. You can also get into the other limbs, which are about concentration and extended concentration, which is meditation, and then even into samadhi, which is the ultimate state of bliss or union with the universe.

So much to study. There’s so much to learn. And it’s very much about the biopsychosocial, about personal development, about improving your health and understanding why we’re here, what our purposes and our meaning in life. So I encourage you during this time of healthy hibernation, when we have a little more time at home to do some learning and do some research, why not investigate the various limbs of yoga and how you can apply it to your own health and and come out of these twenty eight days feeling better than you were going in?

That’s it for today. I hope it’s helpful. And we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 22.

Day 22: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about willpower and self-control.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Willpower and Self-Control

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today’s day 22 and I have three health hacks for you, related to willpower and self-control.

Perhaps you are trying to make a change over these 28 days, maybe kick a bad habit or create a new habit and to do that you need willpower and self-control. Roy Baumeister is a fellow who has written several books and done a number of studies on this subject, and he has some suggestions that align with the bio, psycho and social.

1. The Biological Hack: Eat Before Making A Decision

From a biological perspective, he says it’s not only sleep that replenishes our willpower, but it’s glucose. So, glucose is not just sugar, but what is created in the body after we eat almost anything.

At the end of the day, when your willpower is low and you feel like some poor decisions and maybe some impulsive decisions are coming on, you might want to have something to eat before you make a decision or before you act on an impulse. Very simple but glucose and sleep are the biological fuels for willpower and self-control.

2. The Psychological Hack: Try to Understand Your Behaviours

From a psychological perspective, Roy says that we tend to feel guilty when we go against our efforts to employ willpower and self-control. We wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing. So rather than feeling guilty and feeling badly, which then triggers a cycle of bad behaviour, we can take a more curious or mindful approach to what happened and try to understand what steps led up to the point where you made that decision. Maybe you didn’t have that sandwich or maybe you were just tired.

It needs a little bit of reflection so that you can set yourself up for success going forward. Which leads me to the social that is setting yourself up for success.

3. The Social Hack: Avoid Triggers

Roy says that we should take an offensive approach as opposed to a defensive approach to dealing with our impulses and our desires. So rather than getting ourselves into a situation where we’re struggling with a desire, he says, to avoid triggers altogether. If you are in a grocery store and you’re trying not to eat junk food, don’t go down the middle aisles where the package process goods are, go around the outside. Or if you are trying to avoid drinking and your route to work back and forth, passes by a liquor store, take a different route.

Avoid the triggers altogether and set yourself up for success. So at a time like right now during Healthy Hibernation or these 28 days of lockdown, we’re actually interrupting a lot of patterns that might have been in place before. So you can take this time as an opportunity to break a habit and to change your behaviours and start to plan when things go back to the workplace. The scenario where I have to drive to work, what will I take or when I’m socializing with people going forward, do I need to prepare alcohol with having a good time and start to plan for that and anticipate the changes and the alternate routes that you might take? So those are the hacks for today.

I hope they’re helpful and have a great day. See you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 23.

Day 23: Healthy Hibernation

Karyn talks about epigenetics, neuroplasticity and being a late bloomer.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and Being A Late Bloomer.

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario, today is day 23 and I have three health hacks for you related to getting unstuck.

1. The Biological Hack: Epigenetics

So biologically, I wanted to talk about epigenetics. And epigenetics is a field of study that says our environment can influence the expression of our genes. So even though our DNA is passed on from generation to generation and we might be vulnerable to particular diseases, our epigenetics says that what we eat and how we interact with people and the exercise that we get, our levels of stress can all impact the expression of our genes and whether we will play out certain disease patterns or not.

It is important, therefore, to take good care of yourself biologically, to try to change the fate of your expression of disease. Not only that, but change your epigenetics for the next generation. So that’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Neuroplasticity

The psychological is about neuroplasticity and how neuroscience has shown us through evidence-based studies that we can change our brains and rewire our brains to learn new things and to heal the damage that’s been done to the brain and to the body. And it will continue throughout life. So our brain doesn’t stop working when we get older. In fact, it continues to generate even new brain cells in the area of the hippocampus, which is the area for memory and learning. So that’s promising for issues like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

3. The Social Hack: Becoming a Late Bloomer

That’s the psychological and the social is just how those ways of getting unstuck can actually influence the way that you live your life in the social world. There’s no reason to think that you can’t be a late bloomer and that you can reinvent yourself.

At any stage in life, you can learn something new. You can become someone new, you can change your perspective, you can change your mind. I encourage you, if you are later in life, to start considering how you might become a late bloomer.

All right, so those are the hacks today, I hope they’re helpful and have a great day. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 24.

Day 24: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about how food affects us biologically, psychologically and socially.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Food Balance

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 24, and I have three health checks for you. The first one is the biological and it’s about food.

1. The Biological Hack: Food Balance

We’ve talked about food before, but this is more about balancing what you eat and when you eat. I used to think of food balance as balancing my junk food with my healthy food. But now that I have learned a little bit more, I think more in terms of balancing my proteins, fats and carbohydrates. There’s lots to learn about that on the Canada Food Guide website. And that information is free. And the most recent version of the Canada Food Guide is very good and a great resource for you and your family.

2. The Psychological Hack: How Food Affects Your Mood

So the psychological is about how food can affect your mood and how food is so much in alignment with our mental health. And a great resource for that I wanted to bring your attention to is FM TV, just food matters.com. So it’s a website with a number of different expert speakers, documentaries, recipes, programs, yoga classes, just all kinds of information about mental physical health and how it all relates to food.

3. The Social Hack: Eating Locally

The social is also related to that website, Food Matters, because you can learn more about sustainable farming and eating locally and about how what you eat actually contributes to the well-being of your community and your country and so to your whole health outside of your own body.

I encourage you to check out Food Matters for your psychological and social health and from your biological perspective, just taking a look at the benefits of autophagy and what food balance really means.

That’s it for today. I hope that’s helpful. Have a good one and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 25.

Day 25: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn talks about the concept Less is More.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Less is More

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 25, and I have three health hacks for you around this idea of less is more.

1. The Biological Hack: Time to Rest

From a biological perspective, we’ve been talking a lot about how to get motivated and how to incorporate new habits and to do more and be more. And maybe that’s not what you need. Maybe you need to listen to your body. Perhaps you’ve been a front-line worker during this difficult time and been working double time, or the circumstances of COVID have made your life really complicated. And it’s time for you to take some rest so only you can know that.

But if you are deciding to rest, maybe try to mimic the animals that hibernate in the winter and rest more, sleep more, breathe slower, eat less, just slow things down and allow yourself to recoup and recover.

2. The Psychological Hack: Organize Your Home

So less is more on the biological front and on the psychological side, I encourage you to look into organizing your home. If you’re at home anyway, why not get really organized about the space around you? And when you’re feeling organized in the space around yourself, it tends to help you feel more organized in your own mind. It reduces the stress anyway that you might encounter just trying to find something within your own home or trying to sort through all the clutter just to get something accomplished.

It feels really good to go through your home and prioritize organized and clean things up. I recommend looking at Marie Kondo’s approach to organizing your home in the path I used to try to organize one room at a time and that system never worked for me. I never completed the organizing of my home where she suggested that you go by systems, so organize all of your clothes or organize all of your drawers or one system at a time and do the whole home at once.

So an interesting approach and I encourage you to look into her methods.

3. The Social Hack: Improve Your Financial Health

The social is related to getting organized and, it kind of helps you or sets the stage for improving your financial health. I think a lot of us, when we’re stressed, tend to be a part of this consumer culture that we live in and start buying things to help ourselves feel better or socially feel like we’re keeping up with the person next door or we need more cards, we need more clothes, we need more food, we need more things.

And I encourage you to look into this minimalist culture that says less is more. Consider what you actually need, consider what you can, donate what you can, what you can live without and and start to investigate where the real value in life is. Does it come from material things? Are you shopping on Amazon to help you feel better emotionally? Maybe just do some investigation there?

I have never heard of the term financial health until just recently, but your financial health contributes to your overall health in a significant way. And if you’re spending in a way that causes you stress, you’re going to feel that physically, emotionally, and it’s going to cut into your capacity to provide for yourself and your family down the road.

So consider what you can do to consolidate and to organize your debt and to cut down on spending and get better about your financial health. A good book that I enjoyed, and I’m not particularly savvy when it comes to financial health, but You’re A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero was a good book, so I recommend that.

Those are the hacks for today. I hope they’re helpful and have a good one. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 26.

Day 26: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about how negativity bias, metecognition and the meaning of the word shalom.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Negativity Bias, Metacognition and the Word “Shalom”

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today is day 26, and I have three health hacks for you.

1. The Biological Hack: Negativity Bias

The first is the biological and it’s about negativity bias. This is our tendency to learn and to focus on the negative. And it comes from a biological response that we have this fight, flight or freeze response that keeps us safe in natural situations where we might be facing danger. The problem is in society today, our nervous system starts to think that due to all sorts of stresses, that we are always in danger and therefore our tendency is to always focus on the negative.

To combat this tendency and to fend off disorders or depression that can result from the focus on the negative, we focus on three good things. Whether it’s morning or night, set aside a time to maybe even write them down. Three good things, three strengths that may have contributed to a positive perspective or contributed to your learning that day that can balance out your focus on the negative. That’s the biological.

2. The Psychological Hack: Metacognition

The psychological is about your metacognition. So, these are your thoughts about your thoughts or perhaps even your judgments of your thoughts. If we can separate ourselves from our thoughts using a technique like mindfulness based cognitive therapy, we can recognize that there is no need to judge a thought because it is something separate from us and we don’t get so attached to it, calling it positive or negative or judging it as a good thing or a bad thing.

We can simply observe a thought as an energetic thing that separate from ourselves that may or may not represent the truth. It’s just a thought. It is not a defining feature of who we are.

3. The Social Hack: The Meaning of the Word “Shalom”

That’s the psychological and the social is about this beautiful word shalom. To foster shalom, which means harmony and peace, we have “shalom within” and we have “shalom with others”. And to foster shalom, we would forgive ourselves and be kind to ourselves and practice self-love so that when we interact with others and we’re faced with anger, for example, we can then meet that anger with compassion. Because we’ve practiced it from within and it’s a reciprocal process. So when you have a positive experience with others, it then has an impact on the positive experience and the harmony within.

I encourage you to practice Shalom internally and externally and contribute to overall peace and harmony in your community. That’s all for today. I hope it’s helpful. And we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 27.

Day 27: Healthy Hibernation

In today’s episode, Karyn talks about The Power of Belief, Defence Mechanisms and Laughing.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: The Power of Belief, Defence Mechanisms and Laughing.

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario. Today’s day 27 and I have three health hacks for you. The first is the biological and it’s about the power of belief.

1. The Biological Hack: The Power of Belief

So evidence-based studies say that the placebo and the nocebo effect are real, so participants in studies will take a placebo or a pill that has no active ingredients and a pill that has ingredients that are meant to create a certain outcome. So, cure a certain ailment or have a positive effect. And people who take the pill that expect that they might be taking the pill that has the active ingredient will show signs of improvement and will respond just based on the power of belief and create that physiological response in their body.

The same effect, the same effect is true for the nocebo. Clients or participants who believe that certain side effects will result from taking a pill will manifest that in their body, even though there’s no active ingredient in the pill. The point of this is that the power of belief is really significant. And so, for example, if you’re staying at home over these 28 days and believe that the outcome will be positive or negative, that will really have an impact on which is true for you. So consider that.

2. The Psychological Hack: Defence Mechanisms

And the psychological is about defence mechanisms. So again, staying at home, you might be apt to lean on certain defence mechanisms that may or may not be good for you. So a defence mechanism is something that you do to try to avoid unwanted feelings or unwanted experiences or solving problems that might be overwhelming.

And some of these defence mechanisms are more mature than others. And some can be damaging. For example, if you have workplace stress and you tend to bring it home and take it out on more vulnerable people, if you’re already at home working, the tendency just due to proximity might be to take it out on someone in your home.

For your health and for the health and culture within your home, just raise some awareness around some of the defence mechanisms that you might be employing to deal with the added stress that comes with the COVID scenario right now.

3. The Social Hack: Laughing

So that’s the psychological and the social is about laughing. I encourage you to look into different ways that you can evoke laughter. Maybe it’s watching a comedy show, maybe it’s learning a joke and sharing it with a friend or maybe even taking laughter yoga. So there’s a yoga class or a style of yoga class where they consciously promote laughing. And it’s really an effort to start.

But then the laughter is contagious, and everybody starts to chuckle. And then as a result, positive endorphins start to flow, pain starts to be reduced, and tension and stress between people starts to diminish. Whatever it takes to find your laughter, I encourage you from a social perspective to get into laughing a little bit.

That’s it for today. I hope the tips are or the hacks are helpful. And we’ll see you tomorrow.

Healthy Hibernation Cover Image Day 28.

Day 28: Healthy Hibernation

In this episode, Karyn talks about Neurotransmitters, Reframing and Playing Games.

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Transcription of Healthy Hibernation: Neurotransmitters, Reframing and Playing Games.

Good morning and welcome to Healthy Hibernation in Ontario, today is day 28 and I have three health hacks for you.

1. The Biological Hack: Neurotransmitters

The first is the biological and this one comes to us from Jolene Park.

She is a recovery coach, and she did a talk on a TED Talk that discusses the role of neurotransmitters in your biological health.

So the three that she talks about are GABA, serotonin and dopamine. GABA being about anti-anxiety, serotonin being about anti depression and dopamine being about motivation.

In fact, this necklace that I wear has the chemical symbol for dopamine.

And it’s a reminder to me about regulating my dopamine and keeping healthy levels for me to stay healthy. So, the N.O.U.R.I.S.H Acronym that she provides to help us boost these neurotransmitters naturally goes like this. So N is notice nature, O is observe your breath, U is unite with others, R is replenish with food, I is initiate movement, S is sit in stillness and H is harness creativity.

These are all things that we have discussed on different days throughout this program. But it’s a nice way to sum it all up into one acronym and for you to remember how to boost your neurotransmitters naturally and how to improve your health with easy things that you can do every day.

2. The Psychological Hack: Reframing

So, from a psychological perspective, the hack today is simply about reframing and choosing to do things in terms of what you can do as opposed to what you can’t. So after 28 days of a stay at home order, as things start to open up and the order starts to lift, try to think of what it is that you can do, safely of course. Because some things we will have evolved out of, things will have changed permanently on some levels. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Maybe your life is going to take another direction and you’re going to get exposed to things that you’ve never done before that you know, that you may love to do. So think in terms of what you can do.

3. The Social Hack: Playing Games

And that kind of leads me to the social, which is about playing games. So I can’t believe I didn’t bring this up before. I mean, it’s something that we should have done through the whole 28 days if you didn’t already.

But there’s so much positivity and so much opportunity for connection through playing games, whether it’s a card game with a family member or an online game like Scrabble or Bridge or some kind of game that can connect you to a number of different people in a number of different places.

It’s about having fun. It’s about using your brain. It’s about connecting with others. And there’s all kinds of opportunities now on the Internet to get connected and play games with people. And if you have a deck of cards at home, it’s a fun thing to do with family, so or a board game. So those are the hacks for today.

That’s 84 for hacks over 28 days. I hope that they have been helpful for you and that these resources continue to serve you in an ongoing way. And I would love to hear if you have any feedback or any comments and thank you for the opportunity.

It’s been fun and that’s it for today. Take care, everybody.

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