Money Dos and Don'ts

Money.  Budgets.  Finances.  Three words that can make almost all of us cringe inside, and most likely clam up.  Money is something that we typically don’t talk about, but think about very often.  Money has the power to affect our emotional health.  Just like anything in our lives, if we avoid talking about money and our concerns around it, it can turn into anxiety and even depression. 

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Meals and Mindfulness

You’ve just arrived home after a long day at work.  You have been fighting deadlines at work, difficult people, and then that commute!  As you come in your front door, you look at your kitchen and think “there’s no WAY I have energy to cook tonight!”.  Or if you have kids, your mind goes to the meme that’s been making its way around Facebook “why do they want dinner every single night!”.  And besides, there’s activities to get to in about an hour, or another meeting for the organization you are volunteering for.  Who has time for a home cooked dinner?!

Fast forward to the end of the night, and you are in bed reflecting on your day.  Do you remember what you ate?  Were you able to connect with friends or family today?  

What if you were able to make one change to your day so that you felt connected to your family, or were just able to stop and breathe for a few minutes, and care for yourself?  One of the words that comes to my mind is a pretty trendy word right now – “mindfulness”.  Some of you will read that word, and stop reading this blog, because you’ve heard it too much.  Bear with me!

Mindfulness is the act of slowing down enough to focus your awareness on what is happening in the present moment, and then taking time to calmly acknowledge and then accept your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.  For a lot of people that means yoga or taking time out of their day to meditate.  However, it doesn’t have to be something that is added on to your already busy schedule.  What if mindfulness was about slowing down to eat dinner at the table instead of standing in the kitchen, sitting in your car, or while watching TV?  What if it was slowing down and setting aside 20 minutes to be aware of what you are eating, interacting with your family members, or taking time to appreciate how good of a cook you are?

There is a lot of research that shows that having dinner as a family on a regular basis can affect behaviours at work and school, susceptibility to eating disorders, and overall self-image.  One article I found stated that engaging in family meals is viewed positively by both adolescents and parents and can be a useful tool for enhancing a sense of belonging and attachment.

So how do you make this happen?  How do you cook a healthy, nutritious meal to sit down to on a regular basis?  There are many ways to try this, and it really comes down to trial and error to see what might work for you.

Here are some resources that I have found that helped me at various stages in my life.  My hope is that at least one might resonate with you and help you to be able to experience mindfulness, attachment and stress release as you sit down to your meals next week.

Meal planning on your own

Slow cooker recipes

Freezer meals

Happy cooking!  Let me know if any of these resources helped you, or if you have one you’d like to share!

Giving at Christmas

When it comes to Christmas, a lot of people feel like the season has become commercialized.  Some of us feel like there is a pressure to perform, whether it's in how many gifts we give or receive, or how many things we do throughout the season, or how much money we spend.  And then there is the pressure to give!  Don't be selfish at Christmas1  Give of your time.  Give your money to those in need.  

A lot of times we want to balance a perceived sense of greed with an attitude of giving, but how do we start??  

The Action for Kindness page on Facebook has a few practical solutions!  One of them is to use a Kindness Calendar like the one pictured above.  This can be used as a prompt of different acts of kindness you can perform each day of December to instill a sense of giving and philanthropy.

Another suggestion that they have is from a BBC article on creating a Reverse Advent Calendar.  "People put aside a donation each day of advent, so they have a collection of goods ready to drop off in time for Christmas."  People in the Lower Mainland could take the goods to the Food Bank, women's shelters such as Ishtar Transition Society, or a local church that has a donation room.  Be sure to contact the charity of your choice early in the month so that the items you are purchasing are acceptable within their scope of practice.

Do you have other ways that you give back to the community in December?  Share them below!

 

Connection

Connection. That word has many different meanings and connotations.  It can mean that we have connected to wifi so we can use our devices.  It also means that we are looking to bond with another human being. 

As I meet with people, I hear the cry of their heart to want to matter to someone.  We want to have a connection with family members, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a husband or wife, even just one single friend.  Connection means that I matter.  In a world where we are striving to connect through social media, where it feels like we matter when we get a certain amount of “likes”, what I hear is a yearning for someone to think that we are worth their time, effort and attention.

In the book, Created for Connection, Sue Johnson shares four behaviors that are key to feeling connected or attached to another person.  They are: “that we monitor and maintain emotional and physical closeness with our beloved; that we reach out for this person when we are unsure, upset, or feeling down; that we miss this person when we are apart; and that we count on this person to be there for us when we go out into the world and explore” (Johnson, 2016).

In another relationship expert, John Gottman’s language, this means that we turn towards another person. We know that the majority of the time that we turn towards our partner or friend or family member, they will respond in a way that is affirming and available. Gottam notes, “each time partners (or friends) turn toward each other, they are funding…their emotional bank account” (2015). 

Practically these moments would happen when, for example, we find something interesting on social media and share it with our partner. The hope is that they will turn towards us, that they will respond that they heard us.  When we come home from a particularly productive or frustrating day at work, we want to feel heard by our partner by them expressing excitement or consolation accordingly. 

It also means that when we are walking through our deepest and darkest moments and it feels like there is no hope at all, the people that we are connected with can sit with us in those moments.  They might not have words to say, but we know that they are there and caring for us through a hug, holding our hand or reading our texts.

Some of you will read this and struggle because it feels like there is nobody in your life that fits the definition of “connection.” How do you get through that?  One way is to try counselling. 

While it may feel like it is a construed relationship because you are paying for services, it often is a healing relationship.  If it is done right, counselling provides a safe, accepting environment, where there is no judgement and you are accepted just the way you are. 

The goal of a counsellor is, strangely enough, to work themselves out of a job because you find healing and strength to move forward. They can help you learn more about yourself and what types of connection you are looking for.

If you are interested in exploring more about what connection looks like for you, or just want to have a space to be yourself, please contact me at lisa@canvascounselling.com, 604-359-4470 or book an appointment through www.canvascounselling.com/appointments. I really look forward to connecting with you!

 

Gottman, J.M. (2015).  The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  New York, NY: Harmony Books, p. 88.

Johnson, S. (2016).  Created for Connection.  New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company Hachette Book Group, p. 25.