Practice Gratitude Year-Round

by: Danielle Ternyila

Time and time again this simple method of gratitude has gotten me through the hardest days. I try my best to practice gratitude every day, but especially on the worst days. You know, those days or sometimes weeks when you just dont want to get out of bed in the morning, the day lags on miserably, or perhaps you’re most stressed at night as you recap your awful day. Maybe it’s just winter in general and the cold!

Instead of giving into those negative vibes, remind yourself of all the good. Ask yourself, “Well if this isn’t particularly going well, what is doing me good?” If you can’t think of a single thing or person you’re thankful for, for any reason whatsoever, then you aren’t trying hard enough.

Reflection is so important for us and our growth, especially mentally. Gratitude grounds us and finds the light in the darkest places. Next time you’re stressed, start listing what you are thankful for that day, including the driver who moved over for you when you were rushing to work, the woman who held the door when your hands were full, or that you had a filling breakfast.

Be thankful that you woke up early on the weekend and could spend more time enjoying your coffee or get ahead on your day. Be grateful if you slept in and got rest you needed. It’s like looking at a half-filled glass of water. Is it half full or half empty? You decide.

Ways to Implement Gratitude in your Life:

Journal! Take a moment each night to list 3 to 5 things you’re thankful for. Doing this will reinforce gratitude and keep you thinking in the future about what you’re thankful for!

Redirect Negative Thoughts! When you’re feeling particularly negative, pause to think about what you are grateful for instead, like an opportunity you’ve been given, a lesson you may be learning from a challenge, or the person you can lean on through it.

Thank Others! Make it a point to thank someone every day. Not only will you feel good, but it will reinforce gratitude in others as well, making those around you feel appreciated too.

By practicing gratitude regularly, you will learn to appreciate the little things, which will help in balancing your mental health in the long run. The longer you practice this, the easier it will be to recognize the little wins throughout your day.

Coping With Our New “Normal”

by: Dianna Yphantides

“Should we get the vaccine or not get the vaccine? Should we wear a mask or is it okay not to wear a mask? Should I plan this trip? Should I see this friend? Should we social distance? Should we push off our birthday parties, weddings, dinner plans, and our lives?” 

Hi, my name is Dianna Yphantides. I am a licensed clinical therapist, and these are only a few of the many questions, fears and complications that I have been hearing from many of my clients over the past year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 is a virus which, like it or not, has changed the way every single person on this planet has lived the past year and a half.  This virus has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people, caused strains on relationships due to different belief systems, and caused extreme deficits on the mental health and wellness of people regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and age.

There is not a single person who hasn’t been affected by the roars and decimation of this virus today.  There are countless memes, jokes and jabs at COVID-19 to help keep our world laughing instead of crying.  What I have witnessed in my line of work comes down to 2 things: the fear of the unknown and the difficulty people have been dealing with of not having control of what is happening in our lives.  People have lost the capability to socialize, hug, connect and simply be with people that they love due to fear of this virus.  People have lost the right to feel safe going to places like the grocery store, a restaurant, and the gym, which previously we had taken for granted. 

The isolation of quarantine alone for people has had insurmountable mental health consequences on people.  As human-beings, we are social creatures who crave affection, attention and unity, and the divide this virus has implicated on us all is not something that can be cured overnight.  I have patients who are fully vaccinated who come for in-person sessions with five masks on and I have patients who still have yet to leave their homes since March 2020.  This is not the quality of life that we are used to living.  Children are missing out on extremely imperative socialization and quality learning years and elders are missing opportunities to see their grandchildren grow up, and there is no timeline to tell us when we are going to feel “normal” again– or what normal will even look like after this.

As a therapist, my takeaway from this past year and a half is that it is okay not to be okay.  It is alright to feel lost, fearful, angry, confused and sad sometimes.  This virus is not something that any one of us could have predicted.  Give yourself the privilege and the right to feel your feelings–scream, yell, throw something– do whatever it takes to express yourself, and most important of all, be kind to yourself.  Take a long bath, read a good book, watch a comedy on Netflix, take a walk, meditate.  Do things for yourself which help fill up your cup since the overwhelming nature of this pandemic has most definitely left it depleted.  Remember that it is okay to feel overwhelmed right now.  Do things for yourself; big or small which help you to remember that you are human, you are fallible, and it is acceptable to not be okay in such an uncertain time.

Free Cardio, It’s a Mindset

Somewhere along my fitness journey, I coined the term “free cardio,” and it really stuck. It probably doesn’t make much sense, but to me it does, and it has become something I live by. It is a mindset that gives me more energy during the day and makes me feel happier, even when I’m doing stuff I really don’t want to do (like bending over to dig all the dog toys out from under the couch – again!)

Did you know by simply standing that you could burn at least 100 calories per hour? That’s so easy, so imagine how much you can do when you start moving too! Free cardio is about celebrating and enjoying anything that gets you moving, because no matter if it’s something small that takes 20 seconds or something you dread that might take an hour, your body is moving more than you were expecting.

I’ll try my best to write a definition, but it all comes down to mindset.. Hopefully when you find yourself active during the day, you think more positively and feel happy in whatever you’re doing because you are burning calories, no matter how it may be!

Free Cardio (n.) – Unexpected activity requiring the body to move to complete a minor or undesirable task, yet remains physical activity nonetheless

Hey mom, I’ll take the trash out for you while I am here, you know I love free cardio!

Examples:

Did the kids bring home some extra dirty clothes today?

Laundry = free cardio!

Standing up, switching the wash, folding clothes all gets your body moving, so instead of thinking about how aggravating it is to wash all the clothes, maybe when you’d certainly rather be watching the latest episode of the Bachelor or something, remember your body is moving more, and that’s a good thing!

Forget to order eggs in your grocery pick-up?

Get back in the car and drive over to the corner store to grab them! Who cares if you are going out of your way? You weren’t expecting to walk around the store today, but now you get to burn a few unexpected calories!

Need to check the mail box?

It seems so silly, but especially during a pandemic when we are all so used to staying in, it could feel like a chore to walk out and grab the mail. Instead of another item on your honey-do list, think of it as free cardio!

Whatever it is you find yourself doing, be proud of yourself for moving! It can be so easy to get stuck in your seat and not get active, so be grateful for every excuse you have to get up! It’s a Mindset. When you find the good, even in something as boring as vacuuming the house, cleaning under the kids’ beds, or scooping dog 💩, you will feel good too!

Mind over matter – you can choose to be tired, agitated, or just simply “over it”, or you can choose to accept what needs to be done and find the plus side! There is something good in every thing, even if it just knowing you got your body moving a little extra!

Looking to enjoy your free cardio? Check out some unique ways below to have fun with friends and family, while also getting a workout in simultaneously!

Shopping: peruse the mall or outlets with your loved ones for a fun day out, and there’s no rule that you HAVE to shop when you walk around the stores 😉 it’s okay to be in it just for the free cardio!

Dog Walks: Spoil your pup and get some exercise next time the weather is nice

Flea Markets & Yard Sales: don’t just drive by – Park the car and add a few steps to your fitbit exploring some old goodies along the way

Visit a park or playground: the family will all have fun, and you’ll probably spend most of the trip on your feet!

Charades: who remembers this game? Next game night, have everyone on their toes while they guess what you’re doing while you’re getting that free cardio in too

What activities do you enjoy doing, or have found joy in doing? Honestly, a good dance party while cleaning the bathrooms really changes the tone!