10 Unconventional and Overlooked Strategies to Boost Your Mental Health

Health & Lifestyle

Shared by Hazel Bridges

Ms. Bridges is the creator of Aging Wellness, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

Improving your mental health can be challenging, especially when traditional methods such as therapy and medicine fall short. But there are also many unconventional mental health strategies that you may have overlooked! These outside-the-box approaches can be very effective at boosting mental well-being. Let’s explore 10 ideas and activities to give your mental health a boost!

  1. Give Back to Your Community

Starting a local nonprofit is a great way to give back to your community and enrich your life with purpose and fulfillment. By registering as a nonprofit, you’ll be able to apply for grants and public funding. Be prepared to create bylaws that will govern how your nonprofit will operate. These bylaws will ensure your nonprofit remains effective at meeting your goals so you can feel good about the impact you’re making.

  1. Plant a Garden

Gardening can be a therapeutic and meditative activity that promotes mindfulness and reduces stress. Growing your own fruits and vegetables can also provide a sense of accomplishment and contribute to a healthy diet! Before planting a garden, consult online resources such as Home Garden Hero for gardening advice from experts.

person in brown shorts watering the plants
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
  1. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is essential for good mental health, and practicing good sleep hygiene can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes activities like sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and creating a relaxing bedroom environment.

  1. Join a Laughter Yoga Class

Laughter yoga combines deep breathing, gentle yoga stretches, and laughter exercises to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and elicit feelings of happiness. According to Healthline, laughter yoga can also increase social connectedness and strengthen relationships! Joining a laughter yoga class is a fun and unique way to improve your mental health.

charming diverse girls on rugs during yoga
Photo by Monstera
  1. Experiment with Sensory Therapy

Sensory therapy involves using different sensory stimuli to promote relaxation and reduce stress. These stimuli may include aromatherapy, sound therapy, or tactile stimulation. Experiment with different sensory therapy techniques at home to find what works best for you.

  1. Do Some Coloring

Coloring has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety by promoting mindfulness and relaxation. Coloring is a great way to exercise focus, attention to detail, creativity, decision-making, and a range of other cognitive skills. You can find adult coloring books in a range of styles and themes to fit any artistic interest.

close up shot of colored pencils
Photo by Jul Chi
  1. Commit to a Digital Detox

According to Happify, taking regular breaks from technology can go a long way toward reducing stress and improving your ability to focus. Commit to a daily or weekly digital detox by setting aside time to unplug and engage in activities offline. For example, you might use this time to read, spend time with nature, or connect with friends.

  1. Take a Guided Therapy Hike

Combining therapy with hiking or walking in nature is a great way to enjoy the whole-body benefits of exercise while chatting with a therapist about your mental health concerns. Hiking therapy can help you work through issues in a supportive and natural setting and may help you feel more comfortable about opening up.

two person wearing hiking shoes
Photo by Noel Ross
  1. Try a Sensory Deprivation Experience

Sensory deprivation involves removing external stimuli to promote relaxation and reduce stress. This can include floating in a sensory deprivation tank, which is an isolated, soundproof, dark tank filled with saltwater that suspends your body in a weightless environment. Many people find sensory deprivation experiences to promote relaxation and mindfulness.

  1. Schedule Solitary Time

Alone time is essential for self-reflection and stress reduction. Try to schedule at least 30 minutes of alone time every day and use this time to recharge and do something you enjoy. Don’t feel like you have to be productive during your solitary time. Just relish the sweet silence for a while!

woman sitting on window reading book
Photo by Thought Catalog

If you want to improve your mental health, look beyond traditional, well-known strategies. Try incorporating a few unique mental health activities into your routine, such as planting a garden or starting a local nonprofit company, to enjoy a more comprehensive approach to wellness.

What helps you to boost your mental health and well-being? Share them in the comments below!


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Sleep & Stress Management

Health & Lifestyle

Presented by Rhiannon Lytle, RHN with Organika (source)

How Much Should I Sleep?

  • Adults should get 7-9 hours daily of quality sleep for proper repair
  • It’s important to sleep more, especially during times of stress or illness
  • Don’t hit snooze!
    • Your body re-enters a REM cycle and gets ready to sleep
    • Tip: Set alarm 1.5 hours before you want to wake up; go back to sleep for a 90-minute REM cycle (the average REM cycle for most people) 
man in crew neck t shirt lying on bed

When Should I Sleep?

  • According to the Traditional Chinese Body Clock, our body has certain hours targeted at certain organs
    • E.g., 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. is the time our liver is functioning at its highest;
    • If we’re staying up until 2 a.m., our liver is not getting the support needed to detox the things in our body which can cause inflammation, our immune system to not function at its best, and/or poor bowel movements 
  • In Western culture, we recognize the natural cortisol curve
    • Should be highest first thing in the morning and tapers off mid-day (groggy feeling we experience)
    • Can shift with your body, such as if you work nights
  • Ideally, you should be asleep by 11 p.m. and wake around 7 a.m. (at least 8 hours; can be adjusted depending on your schedule) 
  • Why?
    • Detox support
    • Works with our natural cortisol curve 

How to Practice Good Sleep Hygiene 

  • Nighttime routines are essential to prepare for bed 
    • Putting phone away 1 hour before bed 
    • Turning off notifications while sleeping 
    • Sleep with phone outside room 
      • Quality is just as important as quantity 
    • Have room as dark as possible (e.g., eye mask, blackout curtains) 
    • Try white noise or ear plugs
    • Avoid alcohol close to bed so body can digest it before you sleep
  • Supplement support:
    • Magnesium
    • Herbal teas (chamomile, passionflower, valerian root)
person pouring liquid into brown ceramic cup


  • An essential mineral for overall health 
  • Involved in hundreds of body functions 
  • Allows body tissues to relax, from the muscles to digestive tract and the nervous system
  • Commonly found types of magnesium supplements:
    • Magnesium Citrate
      • Magnesium bound to a salt, like citrate 
      • 30-40% is absorbed, relaxing muscles and nerves 
      • Used for issues with constipation
        • Helps the digestive system 
    • Magnesium Bisglycinate 
      • Magnesium combined with the amino acid glycine 
      • High absorption, less digestive side-effects
    • Magnesium L-threonate 
      • Another magnesium + amino acid combo 
      • Most effective at reaching the nervous system 

Stress & Immunity

  • Sleep and stress are linked
    • When stressed, increases in cortisol can shut down body functions that aren’t deemed “essential”, such as:
      • Digestion
      • Reproduction
      • Immune function

Short vs. Long-Term Stress

How to make stress your friend (TedTalk)

  • Short-term stress
    • Natural – we’re supposed to experience it 
    • Beneficial to our immune system and can boost inflammation response
      • E.g., Inflammatory response helps to heal wounds faster 
    • Can boost energy (fight-or-flight response)
      • In fight-or-flight mode, your body shuts down functions that aren’t deemed “essential” (digestion, reproduction, immune function)
  • Long-term stress
    • More apparent in society today
    • Can lead to:
      • Chronic inflammation
      • Poor digestion
        • We need a lot of nutrients to ensure our immune system is in shape
        • If we’re not digesting properly, we’re not absorbing properly (supplements can be helpful)
        • Develop stress management techniques before eating 
      • Imbalanced hormones
    • Adaptogens may help support chronic stress
      • Helps us to adapt and find “homeostasis” (balance)
      • Needs to be taken consistently to see the affects 
      • Powders absorb better than capsule 
    • What to look out for:
      • Feeling “wired but tired”
      • Having no energy to do anything
      • Unable to focus
      • Crashing extremely hard
      • Physically fatigued 
depressed black man touching face in frustration near window

Simple Tips to Manage Stress

woman doing cobra pose

More from Organika
More from Rhiannon Lytle, RHN


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Eating Mindfully

Health & Lifestyle

Presented by Jason Wrobel with Commune


photo of vegetable salad in bowls
Photo by Ella Olsson
  • Macronutrients – a class of chemical compounds which humans consume in the largest quantities; carbohydrates, protein, lipids.
  • Fletcherizing – a term introduced by Horace Fletcher, also known as “The Great Masticator,” in which one thoroughly, and slowly, chews their food making it easier to digest, as chewing creates more amylase in the mouth, which is the primary carbohydrate-digestive enzyme.
  • Amylase – the primary carbohydrate-digestive enzyme found in saliva and pancreatic fluid, that converts starch and glycogen into simple sugars.
  • Digestive enzymes – substances produced by our bodies that help us to digest the foods we eat. These enzymes are secreted by various parts of our digestive system and helps to break down food components such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. 

What is a Food Journal?

  • Taking inventory of what you’re eating each day
  • Recognizing diversity is important when it comes to nutrition (“eating the rainbow”: as many colours in each meal; vitamins, nutrients, phytonutrients)
  • An awareness to what you’re eating and why
    •  Is it for nourishment and fuel or emotional comfort?
    • Recognizing what emotional states are motivating food choices (when feeling happy, sad, stressed, etc.)
    • Paying attention to the body and how you feel 30-50 mins after each meal

How to Keep a Food Journal

acai bowl on a wooden tray
Photo by Taryn Elliott
  1. List what you ate
  2. List ingredients in a meal
  3. Calculate range of calories, proteins, macronutrients
  4. Identify feelings before, during and after a meal
  • Example:
    • Before: Ate a chocolate bar because was feeling lonely
    • Look for consistent patterns (e.g., always eating chocolate when lonely)
    • During: Distracted on phone, forgot the taste of meal, not present; ate too fast
    • After: Bloated from almond milk; gluten sensitivity (bloated, sluggish)

5. Set intentions, changes, and goals for next meals:

  • Will go for dark chocolate or an alternative snack when feeling lonely 
  • Will be more present, eliminate distractions 
  • Will slow down, savour more
  • Will try a different type of milk; will go gluten-free

Why Keep a Food Journal?

  • Gives you a snapshot of what you’re feeling (before, during and after a meal)
  • Allows you to make necessary goals or changes for your next meals
  • Helps you to determine your relationship with food (e.g., eating based on emotions)
  • The aim is to create a positive, loving relationship, being as present as possible

Fletcherizing – Horace Fletcher

  • The more you chewed your food, the easier it is to digest
  •  Chewing creates amylase in mouth
  • For optimal nutrient absorption of food over the course of digestion, it must be reduced to tiny particles and blended evenly with saliva

Benefits of Keeping a Food Journal

brown ceramic cup beside notebook and pen
Photo by Madison Inouye
  • Keeps track of what you’re eating daily
    • Helps to see if there are opportunities to create more diversity in what you’re eating
    • Develops a better understanding of how you’re feeling when you eat foods
    • To see if you’re present or not to what you’re eating
  • The journal can be created in your own way
  • Establishes a practice of being more present at every meal
    • To enjoy feasting with your eyes first, by taking in the food before you consume it (e.g., close your eyes even before your first bite)
    • To take in the smell, relax, breath, and sink into the experience
    • Allows yourself to be undistracted
    • Unlocks gratitude and appreciation for the meal
    • Allows you to eat slower, chew mindfully, allowing for more nutrients absorption (helps to pre-digest the food)
    • Allows for a deeper connected experience to what you’re eating by being more grateful to the fact that you’re nourishing yourself with amazing food every single day!

More from Jason Worbel


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Meditation Tools & Tips

Health & Lifestyle

Presented by Lilly Balch (The Morning Ritual Podcast)

Meditation Practice Tools & Tips

1. Time & Place

woman in black tank top sitting beside man in black shirt
Photo by cottonbro studio
  • Start first thing in the morning
  • Choose the same spot every day
  • Consistency is key
  • Do 2 minutes every morning vs 20 minutes once a week
  • Practice in a space free of clutter, distraction and noise
  • Show up!

2. Get Comfortable

  • Set yourself up for success
  • Feel physically supported

3. Don’t Worry If You’re Doing It Wrong, You’re Not!

  • There is no perfect way to meditate
  • Be at ease with the fact that you’ve showed up

4. It’s Not about Clearing the Mind

  • Thoughts are normal and can’t be shut off
  • Practicing is about focusing attention and strengthening mindfulness and awareness muscles

5. Approach Meditation with a Beginners Mind

  • Don’t compare to previous meditation practices
  • Hopes, fears, desires and expectations can interfere with meditation
  • Release the desire to control the outcome
  • Simply be!
More from Lily Balch


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Five Stress Healing Solutions

Health & Lifestyle, Self-Regulation

Presented by Proven


  • Four major researched components of yoga:
    • Posture and Exercise 
    • Pranayama: breathing practices (long, slow, deep breathing)
    • Relaxation
    • Contemplative: meditative focus of attention
  • An effective way to boost mood and achieve emotional wellness
  • Yoga helps you to pay attention and become aware of your body and thoughts
  • See: The Science of Yoga

Herbs, Adaptogens & Supplements

  • Ashwagandha 
    • An adaptogens that helps the body “adapt” to stressors
    • Studies have shown:
      • Reduction in anxiety 
      • Reduction in cortisol levels
      • Helpful with weight
        • Increases feelings of satiety (feeling full)
        • Decrease in stress eating
    • See: Let’s Talk Adaptogens!

Mindfulness Practice

Jon Kabat-Zinn Teaches Mindfulness and Meditation
  • The practice of bringing full awareness to the present moment (e.g., meditation)
  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
    • Consists of doing a body scan (brings you to the present) 
  • Mindfulness Self-Compassion 
    • How to be more compassionate, loving and kind towards self
    • Being a better human being starts with you!
  • See: The Foundation of Mindfulness Practice


  • An ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique
  • Qi = energy 
  • Internal & external energy work
  • Deep stances that build up quads and glutes 
  • Can increase the powerhouses of energy in the body 
  • Want more energy? Build up the big muscles in your body 
  • The coordination of eyes, mind, body, breath
    • Activates the brain 
    • Attention turns inward 
    • Awareness of what is happening inside the body
    • Can modulate and control the parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

How to Tap – with Nick Ortner of The Tapping Solution
  • Originated by Nicolas Ortner (CEO of The Tapping Solution) 
  • Tapping on end points of meridian on the body to calm body and release stress and overwhelm (example)
    • Meridians on the body:
      • Pathways in which qi (our energy) flows 
      • When there’s pain there’s a blockage of qi
      • Meridians connect all of the organs and qi flow
  • Tapping on end points sends a calming signal to counteract fear responses from the amygdala

What are your stress healing solutions?


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

The Science of Yoga

Health & Lifestyle

Produced by Uplift TV (source)

Four Components of Yoga

  • Physical
    • Postures, stretches, exercises, movements, breathing and relaxation techniques
    • Affects our body’s overall functioning 
  • Self-Regulation
    • Ability to control internal stress and emotional responses 
    • Leads to resilience to stress, self-efficacy and equanimity in the face of emotions
  • Mind-Body Awareness
    • Feeling and experiencing what’s going on in the body and mind (being able to observe the flow of thought)
    • Leads to increased mindfulness that can change behaviours in a positive way
  • Experiencing Deeper States
    • Spiritual, transformative, leads to positive lifestyle and goals, improves and enhances life meaning and purpose 
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Benefits of Yoga

  • Research has shown measures of reduction in:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Psychological distress
    • Frequency of negative experiences 
  • Increase in resiliency and the frequency of positive experiences
  • Improvement in mental health
  • Creates much needed space in the body and mind 
  • Establishes connections by moving energy through the body
  • Yoga stretches the body; meditation empties the mind 
  • Enables management of the stress response system 


  • Breath is the most powerful tool that everyone has to bring their stress response under their control 
  • It’s possible to reduce blood pressure by controlling breathing
  • Blood pressure is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system (the messenger of the stress response) 
  • Postures in yoga creates challenge that our mind is constantly dealing with; this can be controlled through breathing
  • Breathing + effort of regulating thought enhance parasympathetic nervous signal and brings sympathetic nervous signal down 
  • Breathing can be practiced within yoga and in daily life 

Mind & Brain

  • Yoga strengthens the power of the mind and how we connect with the world
  • The mind controls our health and biology 
  • 1% of illness is related to genes; 90% of illness is related to stress 
  • Yoga brings the mind into focus and can change brain activity and structure (such as plasticity, resulting in the brain becoming conducive to the benefits that come with yoga and meditation)
  • Can change and enhance gene activity that’s good for you (improved immune response); down-regulates negative gene activity when under chronic stress (inflammation) 
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch

Barriers to Moving Yoga Forward 

  • Perception and misconceptions about yoga, often created by the media:
    • Yoga viewed as complex exercise forms and postures; requires you to be flexible, thin, young to practice; is difficult, specific and not adaptable to individual circumstances
      • Yoga practices can be adapted to any population, and still train the same properties (mind-body coordination, mindfulness, awareness) 
  • Chair yoga for elders
  • Can be done with young children

Global Benefits 

  • Survival requires the foundation of human behaviours and the way we respond to life and to change
  • Using our individual power for harmony, connection, union
    • First done by the individual through healing themselves, taking back power over their behaviour, becoming in harmony and good health  
    • Establishing awareness, self-regulation, immunity to stress, compassion, high-mindedness, clarity 
    • Our collective nature as individuals becomes stronger and harmonious, leading to a greater influence on the planet 
  • Engaging in yoga is a practice of evolution and transformation on society as a whole 

Ready to get started?

Yoga with Adriene

Arianna Elizabeth

Black Yogi Nico Marie

Breathe and Flow

The Bare Female

Mady Morrison

Yoga With Bird

Alo Yoga


Yoga for Kids

Yoga for Elders


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Mindful Communication

Health & Lifestyle

“Great communication begins with connection.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

man wearing brown jacket using smartphone while using smartphone

How would you describe the way you communicate with others? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way people communicate. The way that I communicate. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the way we had to communicate and the new ways that we do now.

Every single day we communicate. Whether it’s through our words, lack thereof, body language and/or actions, we are engaged in some form of communication. There are many different ways we can communicate with others. Face-to-face, over the phone, virtually/remotely, or in writing. Such as through text messages or written letters. Just to list a few. Compared to years ago, we have so many more methods of communication available to us.

Because of just how important communication is in our personal and professional relationships, I believe it’s important that we take time to reflect more deeply about how we communicate with others, and about ways we can do so mindfully and effectively. One of those ways can be through mindful communication.

What is Mindful Communication?

Mindful communication is the way in which we can bring awareness, attention and compassion to how we communicate with others. When we become aware of how we communicate with others through our words, body language and/or actions, we can start to pay close attention to how it influences the nature of our conversations and relationships. While there are many different methods that can be used in mindful communication, I’m going to share one I discovered by Gregory Kramer, author of Insight Dialogue: The Interpersonal Path to Freedom. He shares 6 meditation instruction steps (Insight Dialogue Guidelines) that can be used in interpersonal relationships.

1. Pause: Mindfulness

This consists of stepping out of the daily rush and letting go of whatever the mind may be attached to at the moment. It is a movement of the mind towards being more awake and present to a moment of dialogue. This can happen through paying attention to the breath and having a sense of body awareness to ground you. It includes noticing where you are externally (e.g., anything outside and around you), and internally (e.g., thoughts and feelings). In this way, you can enter communication with the whole mind, body and heart.

2. Relax: Tranquility & Receptivity

woman meeting with client

This step consists of relaxing muscles that are tense and paying attention to the feelings that come with relaxing, such as ease, allowing, and letting go. This can be tested in places that are not usually attended to such as the muscles below the eyes. Relaxation of other parts of the body such as the jaw and shoulders allows the mind and emotions to follow. This step helps to bring about mental tranquility and serenity, and can be explored as you speak and listen to others.

3. Open: Relationality

This step is about how we relate to others and invites an open inquiry into our internal and external experiences. It allows us to look at how mindfulness is resting, whether it be internally, externally or both. This is an intimate experience which allows us to notice where the mind is in each moment and what is being received (e.g., voice, face, eyes, pain, love, beauty, horror, tragedy, potential).

4. Trust Emergence: Attunement

This step is about having the flexibility to trust what will emerge in conversation.

5. Listen Deeply: Meditate

This is all about showing up and paying full attention. It includes a steady quality of listening which matures and develops through concentration. Through this step, you can begin to notice how you make sense and attend to something, while also observing and listening to the phasing, pauses, pitch and changes in loudness in another person’s voice. This also includes noticing beyond one’s language and words and actually hearing the person.

6. Speak the Truth: Language

This step pairs together with the former step – listen deeply, since speaking begins with listening. This step also flows out of the first 4 steps. Kramer says, “It rests on the mindfulness of the pause. It stabilizes with relax. It engages relationally with open. It gains flexibility with trust emergence. To speak the truth, we have to first know what the truth is”. It also includes discerning what gets spoken and what is left unspoken, and giving language to the moment of awareness.

How might you begin to integrate any of these steps into your communication with others?

To learn more about Gregory Kramer’s Insight Dialogue Guidelines

Are you interested in sharing a post on a topic or adding to our resources page? Let’s connect!


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Tips for Teachers Going Back to Work

Early Childhood, Health & Lifestyle, Self-Regulation

I still can’t believe I’ve been out of the classroom for half a year. I say half a year because it’s actually really been that long. Since going on March Break, I have not been back to my school building since. In the last 6 months, I navigated and transitioned to online learning with preschoolers and then went straight into summer break. This has been an interesting year to say the least and I’m surprised at how quickly it has flown by, despite everything that has happened. I can’t help but say that I’m excited, (but mostly nervous) to go back to work, considering it’s been such an uncertain and scary time. That being said, I decided to put together a few tips for teachers who, like myself, will be heading back to the classroom (or maybe teaching online), very soon. Writing this and sharing these resources has given me some confidence, optimism and peace of mind about however this 2020-21 school year is meant to unfold, and my hope is that after reading this you will feel the same too.

self care isn t selfish signage
Photo by Madison Inouye

Find Your Calm – Explore Self-Reg and you will come to learn about Lending Your Calm. (I’m in the process of taking a second course with them.) However, I believe that in order for teachers (or anyone) to be able to lend their calm to their students and parents during this time, they first need to be able to find it. Stop and think to yourself, what exactly does calm feel like for me? What are some things that help me to feel calm? For me, it’s doing yoga, listening to music, working out, reading a book, and other times it’s meditating or taking a few deep breaths. Through these practices and activities, I’ve learned what calm feels like. When I’m not feeling it, I know exactly what helps me to get to that state. These past few months have been stressful on us all. This is why it’s so important to practice self-care and find what brings you calm so that you can bring that with you (as best as you can!) each day to work. We’ll surely need it!

alphabet class conceptual cube
Photo by Pixabay

Lend Your Calm – Once you discover what brings you calm and what that feels like, create that in your classroom environment. Calm begets calm. Our body is an energy source, allowing us to feel the vibrations from others. This is also known as limbic resonance or emotional contagion. Children are also able to feel and feed off of the energy from the adults in their lives and from their peers. For example, have you ever noticed how sometimes it only takes one student to change the energy of the entire class? When you feel calm, you can create that same feeling in your students, simply by just feeling it yourself. The beginning of the school year is naturally always stressful for teachers, parents and students. Apart from being calm yourself, think about the many ways you can create a calm and inviting classroom, overall school environment, or virtual learning experience. Whether it’s having less things mounted on the walls, playing calming music, integrating mindfulness-based activities (by engaging your student’s senses), or simply asking your student’s how they’re doing and feeling; when kids are not stressed and feel a sense of safety and calm, they are ready and able to learn at their best. 

woman applying hand sanitizer
Photo by Anna Shvets

Practice Consistency – The beginning of this school year will certainly be like no other. With new policies, guidelines and routines put into place, I imagine it will feel very different and new for us. If you’re physically back at school, it may take time to remember all the new rules and best practices such as washing or sanitizing your hands before and after removing your mask, but with consistency, you will naturally build up the habit of doing so. I’ve already started doing this when I go out so that it won’t all feel entirely new when I go back to work. It’s also important to build these practices with your students. It’ll all be new for them too and it’s much easier to build a routine and habit at the very start of a school year rather than later or halfway through it. Keep in mind that these procedures are in place to ensure the health, safety and well-being of both the school and external community. If you’re unsure about something regarding any of the new changes, don’t hesitate to ask and find out the right answers.

woman in white long sleeve shirt holding white smartphone
Photo by cottonbro

Stay Connected – Whether it’s with your family, friends or colleagues, stay connected with the people in your life. Maybe it’s catching up with a friend over the phone or sending an email to a fellow colleague to see how they’re doing. At the end of the day, we are social beings with a desire to connect, and simply having a chat with someone important in your life may be all it takes to turn your own or someone else’s day around. Lean on your support system when needed and make opportunities for connection with others a part of your daily routine. You’ll truly notice the difference it makes in your attitude, the way you feel, the way you go about each day, and it’s also a great way to boost your immune system!

anonymous ethnic tutor helping little multiracial students with task in classroom
Photo by Katerina Holmes

Take It Slow – Regardless if you’ve been teaching for 20 years or are a new teacher starting your first year, this school year will be new for all of us. New students, families, routines, schedules, procedures, guidelines, expectations, and much more. If you’re finding that you’re already beginning to feel overwhelmed, go back to Finding Your Calm. Notice what you’re feeling and find what feels good and what brings you a sense of calm. One thing I always practice is mindfulness and living in the present moment. I can’t worry and be anxious about the first day of school because I don’t know what to expect. I’m only in control of the here and now so that’s what I choose to focus on. As each day comes and goes, take it slow, ask the questions you need answers to, build relationships and connections, and most importantly, be kind and do your best. And remember, you are the expert in pedagogy and curriculum. Be confident in your abilities, strengths and everything you already know. We got this!

Got more tips for teachers going back to school? Share them in the comments below!


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Self-Care Begins With You


I’m grateful to share with you this inspiring “everything self-care” article, written by my best friend who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years. If you haven’t begun your own self-care routine and are thinking about getting started, in this article, Kaitlin shares with you how she came to discover self-care, a complete insight into her own routine, along with suggestions and tips to get started. Thank you, Kaitlin, for taking the time to share with others your own experience on such an important topic!

Written by Kaitlin Findlay

“Honour yourself to love others.” – Paul Colaianni

Self-care is not selfish. It is a practice of self-love, respect, and appreciation for ourselves so that we can love, respect, and appreciate others. Before I began my self-love journey in March of this year, my typical morning during the week would look like this: wake up at the latest time possible, hop out of bed to get ready, pack my lunch, and off to work I went. My typical morning routine on the weekends would look like this: sleep in, grab my phone to scroll on social media for at least an hour, and then slowly get out of bed to get ready for the day. I realize now, looking back, that both routines were toxic to my mental health as I focused my attention and awareness on other people, and as a result, neglected myself.

I have found that creating and practicing self-care every morning to start my day has given me two things:

  • Motivation: My morning self-care routine has motivated me to be the best person I can be everyday. When I take the time in the morning to reflect on my feelings and thoughts and to praise myself for the beautiful human I am, it literally hypes up my soul to start my day off with positive energy. This allows me to regulate my emotions and thoughts for the remainder of the day so that I can have the best day possible.
  • Self-esteem and Self-confidence: The second thing my morning self-care routine has given me is self-esteem and self-confidence. Before this, I lacked these two things as I would self-sabotage myself throughout most of my day. Now, loving myself for the first few hours of my day has allowed me to accept that I am beautiful, worthy and therefore, I view myself differently now than before and it feels incredible.

So, what does my morning self-care routine look like?

I have tried many different things and have perfected what I do now to suit what lifts me up every morning. My routine takes me around three hours to do, but this is simply because I have the time to do it for that long.

My Morning Self-Care Routine

Drink a litre of water
Filling my body with water at the very beginning of the day helps me to rehydrate and refresh from my beauty sleep.

Listen to a podcast
I lie in bed while I listen to a podcast to help wake me up. I usually pick podcasts that will strengthen my self-love as this is something I am currently working on.

What I’m currently listening to:

Read a daily affirmation
Affirmations are powerful as they help bring truth to light. They allow us to appreciate ourselves for the beautiful humans we all are.

What I’m currently reading:

Engage in a guided meditation
This is an art that I am still practicing. My end goal is to be able to meditate on my own, but for now, I do guided meditations to help clear my thoughts and emotions.

What I’m currently practicing:

Write in a journal
I have a love for journalism as I’ve been doing it since I was 12. I have kept all of my journals and when I look back, I used to write everyday and write every small detail! In university, it started to become less frequent and I tended to only write when I was at a low. Once I started working with my life coach (shoutout to Hillary Flinn!) she suggested I journal when I was happy too and told me to get a writing-prompt journal for the days I didn’t know what to write about. I have been journaling everyday since! The art of journalism helps me to organize and clear my thoughts and emotions. It’s one thing to always be reflecting in your brain, but another to write those reflections down.

What I’m currently journaling in:

Kick my own butt with some exercise
I have recognized the benefits of working out at the start of my day rather than anytime afterwards because it gives me the energy to continue the rest of my day on a high. My current workouts entail cardio (running) and then weight training (a different muscle each day).

Here are some other suggestions of what you can add to your own morning self-care ritual:

  • Stretch
  • Make the bed
  • Clean room
  • Take an Epsom salt bath
  • Yoga
  • Morning devotion
  • Pray
  • Singing bowl
  • Skin care routine
  • Shower
  • Listen to music
  • Go outside
  • Read
  • Do a puzzle
  • Write down daily achievable goals
  • Talk to self in the mirror
  • Visualization of where you want to be

Tips to get you started:

  • Start off small
    If you’re just beginning your morning self-care routine journey, it can feel intimidating and overwhelming. I suggest you start off small! Set aside five-to-ten minutes of your time for self-care and do something simple. Become comfortable with that small routine and then you will naturally want to add to it.
  • Be consistent
    There were times in the beginning of my journey that I felt like giving up. I couldn’t stay mentally focused on the tasks and I felt like I wasn’t getting better. The famous saying, “practice makes perfect” stays true to a morning self-care routine (although perfect looks different for everyone). I’m only feeling good about it now, after six months of practicing, with way more room for growth. With time comes progress and I promise it gets easier.
  • Say no to your phone
    Do you wake up and look at your phone right away? Scroll through social media and check who messaged you? I used to! It set me back not only time wise, but mentally too. Waking up and immediately looking at my phone affected my self-esteem and self-worth as I was comparing myself to others, right at the beginning of the day. I have made it a rule to not look at anything on my phone (other than my podcasts and meditation) until I have completed my self-care routine. It allows me to focus on myself so that I have enough energy to engage with others.

I can’t even begin to explain how rewarding waking up every morning to work on myself has felt. Although Covid-19 has brought us a lot of sorrow, I appreciate the time it has given me to work on myself, as I would not be where I am right now. It takes a lot of self-discipline, time, and effort, so I am thankful this pandemic has given me the opportunity to fully engage in this process. Now that I am more comfortable with my routine, I will be able to modify it for when I do have to return back to work as I will not have as much time. I now understand that if you put yourself first and if you make your happiness a priority, then you will naturally want to make the effort to practice self-care, no matter how much earlier you have to wake up. You will want to practice self-care because you love and care for yourself and your well-being. So, ask yourself, how much do you love yourself? 

Additional Resources

Courtesy The Good Trade

How To Start A Journal (Even If You Hate Writing)

Here’s A Journal Prompt For Every Emotion You Might Be Feeling Right Now

How You Can Cultivate A Sense Of Connection During COVID

Our Editors Share Their Morning Routines

99 Ways To Add Mindfulness To Your Day

Slow Your Scroll—How To Develop A Healthier Relationship With Instagram

3 Simple Mindful Breathing Exercises To Use Anytime, Anywhere

9 Podcasts Hosting Meaningful Conversations On Mental Health

A Step-By-Step Guide To Walking Meditation

Your Guide To Writing Poetry As A Form Of Self-Care

Podcast Suggestions

The Overwhelmed Brain with Paul Colaianni

The Morning Ritual with Lilly Balch

Mindful Meditations with Mindful.org

Hurry Slowly with Jocelyn K. Glei

Being Well with Dr. Rick Hanson

Tara Brach

Unlocking Us with Brené Brown

Affirmation Cards Suggestions

Affirmators! 50 Affirmation Cards to Help You Help Yourself—without the Self-Helpy-Ness! by Suzi Barrett

Heart Thoughts Cards: A Deck of 64 Affirmations Cards by Louise Hay

Love Powered Littles I AM Affirmation Cards For Kids

Butterfly Affirmations: Affirmation Cards For Your Happy, Courageous, Beautiful Life by Alana Fairchild & Jimmy Manton

I Can Do Anything: Positive Affirmations, Inspirational Thoughts and Motivational Words Card Deck by Becca Anderson


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Mindfulness & Meditation. What’s the Difference?

Health & Lifestyle

Mindfulness and meditation go hand in hand. Here’s how!

Mindfulness is an awareness and attention to the present moment. It can be practiced formally, such as through a meditation practice or informally, throughout everyday life. Meditation is the formal practice of pausing and turning awareness and attention to a target, usually the breath. Meditation is a formal mindfulness practice because it requires awareness and attention to the present moment.

How can mindfulness be practiced informally throughout the day?

Mindfulness can be practiced informally throughout the day by focussing awareness and attention to experiences as they happen in each moment. This can include attending to the things we register through our 5 senses. For example, you can practice mindfulness while eating, by attending to the colour, smell, texture, sound and taste of foods. You can even draw awareness to simple daily tasks such as washing the dishes, driving and brushing your teeth.

How can mindfulness be practiced formally through meditation?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

While meditation might preferably be done in a quiet space, it can in fact be practiced anywhere. Once in a comfortable seat, you can begin by bringing a focussed attention to a target, which is usually the breath because it helps to anchor you to the present. As you focus your attention to your breath, you may begin to notice your attention shift to thoughts and emotions. That’s OK. Without judgement, allow them to naturally come and go. Judgement takes you out of the present moment of mindfulness so allow them to pass. With regular and consistent practice, meditation improves overall mindfulness.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Some of the researched benefits of mindfulness include1:

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and reactivity
  • Greater cognitive flexibility
  • Increased immune functioning
  • Improved attention and sensory processing
  • Increased ability to manage emotions and distractions
  • Greater well-being and compassion towards self and others

What is happening in the brain during mindfulness practices?

There are two areas of the brain important in mindfulness practices. There is the amygdala which is responsible for our emotions such as happiness, sadness, fear and anxiety. Emotions are likely to come up during mindfulness practices. When they do, allow them to naturally come and go as you return your attention back to your target, the breath, or in the example above, food. Overtime, the amygdala may become less activated as you steady your mind, awareness and attention. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for our focus, attention and decision making. Since mindfulness is awareness and attention to the present moment, this part of the brain is most activated and sharpened.

So, what does this all mean?

Through practicing mindfulness regularly and consistently, both formally and informally, you begin to attend to each of the moments of your life as you experience them. You will learn to see your thoughts and emotions simply for what they are and from a gentle and non-judgmental place. You will start to slow down and attend to an awareness of yourself and others, allowing for greater compassion to build. Through mindfulness, you focus only on what you have control over which is the present moment. Allowing for stress and anxiety to reduce, leading to greater overall health and well-being. Ready to get started? 😊

The Foundation of Mindfulness Practice

Establishing a Daily Mindfulness Practice

Meditation Tips & Tools

“The real meditation practice is how we live our lives from moment to moment to moment.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn


1Davis, D. M. & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the Benefits of Mindfulness? A Practice Review of Psychotherapy-Related Research. American Psychology Association. 48, 198-208. doi: 10.1037/a0022062


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.