Impermanence: An Underrated Life Hack That You Should Know About

Impermanence: An Underrated Life Hack That You Should Know About

Around 3,000 years ago, the idea that our lives were in a state of constant change became a central feature of both Eastern and Western philosophies.

Then how come, thousands of years later, most of us still approach events in our lives as if they were permanent?

Let’s dig deeper.

We live in a world that reinforces the need for urgency, expectations, deadlines, the “good” life.

In school, they often asked us, “What do you want to be?”

We were then given a list of occupations that society deems important.

I remember looking at that list, and thinking to myself… what if I don’t want to be any of these?

But that internal voice slowly starts to fade when your opinions disappear in the crowd of your peers.

And then, slowly but surely, most of us dedicate our lives working towards it.

Working to fulfill expectations and deadlines set by others.

Expectation after expectation. Deadline after deadline.

Worst of all, most of us don’t even stop to ask: Why? 

Just that slight rush of reward after completing a task is enough to keep us going and to shrug off all the stress, anxiety and pressures we may have encountered along the way.

But then, after exerting all that time, commitment and energy, what are we greeted with?

Another task, another deadline, another reward.

This pattern appears in almost every aspect of our lives.

You see companies spending billions of dollars on advertising for the sole purpose of convincing our human brains to make the connection: “Buy this, and you will be happy.”

And what happens every time?

A new product comes out. You think that it is the answer to all your problems. And once you have it, the feeling fades away, and the search begins for the next best thing.

Do you see the pattern?

It’s like playing candy crush and trying to get to the final level, but then realizing that there is no final level.

Just like there is no end to candy crush, there will be no end to deadlines or to the material consumption that is supposed to bring you happiness.

These things, just like everything else we experience, are IMPERMANENT.

It took me a while to realize this.

I spent most of my life basing my feelings on the expectations of others. It was so important for me to feel accepted, to feel recognized.

It was so important to do well, to look well.

Nobody ever asked if I was actually well.

I was not sleeping, not taking proper care of myself, and sadly I struggled with depression for a very long time.

But despite that, I guess I can say that I “made” it – on paper.

I was working at a well reputable finance firm, a job that was desired by many of my peers and respected by my parents.

Even though I was working until 3 am almost every night, having mental breakdowns in between Zoom calls, and my actual life was falling apart.

But I mean, that’s okay, right?

After saying that I was okay for 5 years, I finally hit both mental and physical burn out which ultimately led me to make one of the most important decisions of my life. 

I packed my bags and left for Montreal. I was on the search for my own truth of learning what life means to me rather than what society tells me it should mean. 

And in that quest for truth, I discovered the concept of impermanence, along with the beauty it can bring to your life once you fully understand it.

IMPERMANENCE:

The idea that existence is in a state of ever-changing flux and nothing is meant to stay the same.

You may be thinking… well that’s obvious! I know that today is not going to be the same as tomorrow and that people get older with age. It’s common sense, we feel it the moment we are born!

That’s what I used to think. Until I realized that knowing something and truly understanding it so you can apply it to your life in a meaningful way are completely two different things.

According to the Buddha, “Suffering arises when we attempt to make the impermanent things permanent. It is not the impermanence that leads to the suffering. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.”

Once that is understood, you become aware of the power you hold to the freedom and liberation of your own mind and the events that happen along the course of life.

Here are some of the tools that I use to practice impermanence in my daily life:

Appreciating the Beauty Behind an Impermanent World

Life is not possible without impermanence. Without change, a seed would never become a plant, and a boy would never become a man. Human civilization would not be where we are today without the millions of years of progress and evolution.

The idea that nothing will stay the same forever can inspire appreciation towards life and the present moment. Gratitude brings peace to the mind and removes the space for negativity from memories of the past and fears of the future. 

So next time, take out a piece of paper and write down three things that you are grateful for.

It can be as simple as:

I am grateful for the sun rising today.

Creating Balance in Your Life: Save Space for the Good Times, and the Bad

When we understand the essence of impermanence, we understand that nothing lasts forever. This applies to both the good times and the bad.

I used to approach life in a way that when times were good, I would feel on top of the world like nothing could break me.

But then, naturally, change happens. Suddenly, the “happy” reality is gone. And then what happens? All the energy I spent during the good times, left me blindsided and unable to adapt when something shifts. This made the bad times feel like the end of the world with no escape.

So next time, when everything seems to be going well, EMBRACE IT, but also set a simple reminder to yourself that, just like everything in life: This Will Pass.

And when life decides to give you a hard time, just know that: This Too Shall Pass.

Seasonal Depression

Seasonal Depression

The leaves are changing, the scent of pumpkin-spice has started to fill the air, and it’s cold enough to comfortably curl up in a sweater. It’s official- it’s spooky season! While there are so many fantastic things that come with Fall, like discounted candy and the release of new horror movies, Fall also brings dread to those who deal with seasonal depression.

What is seasonal depression?

Seasonal affective disorder, appropriately acronymed SAD, is the medical term for seasonal depression. SAD usually occurs during the fall and winter months.

Some symptoms include:

● Apathy

● Low energy

● Losing interest in activities or friends

● Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

● Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or guilt

SADS is often caused by the change in the amount of sunlight that we get in the fall and winter. The decreased levels of sunlight can disrupt the body’s natural internal clock, which often contributes to issues with sleep and increased feelings of depression. Less sunlight may also cause decreased serotonin levels, which also triggers depression.

Tips for Seasonal Depression

While it may feel very discouraging to experience seasonal depression or depression of any kind, there are a couple of things that can be done in order to help combat it. Hopefully with some of these tips, you can enjoy the fall a little bit more.

It is important to note that if you are struggling with seasonal depression or suspect that you may be struggling with a depressive disorder, it is important to consult a physician or a

psychiatrist. These suggestions are not meant to replace treatment. Please take care of yourself, there is no shame at all in asking for help.

1. Light up your life

a) Phototherapy boxes are little devices that give off a bright artificial light that mimics sunshine. They are often recommended to people who suffer from seasonal depression.

b) If possible, try to keep the blinds open during the day so that you can get some natural light.

c) Dawn simulators are another form of light therapy. They are little alarm clocks that give off light that gradually become brighter.

2. Routine

a. Having a solid sleep schedule makes a huge difference.

b. If you like to exercise, planning an exercise/workout routine might prove to be useful and keep you motivated and excited about it!

3. Self Care

a. Treat yourself- Go ahead, you deserve it!

Routine is important but so is spontaneity. Try doing something nice for yourself, even if it is something small. Once a week, if you have the energy, try to take some time for yourself. This could be re-watching your favourite movie, ordering some food or cooking one of your favourite meals, getting dressed up to go nowhere, etc.

b. Make sure that you are getting enough to eat and drinking plenty of water! Incorporating a supplement such as Vitamin D into your diet may help with some of the sun deficiency caused by the changing weather (Of course, consult your physician before taking supplements).

c. Mindfulness – Even if you don’t enjoy meditation, mindfulness is a great tool for when you are feeling disconnected. Taking a couple of minutes when you first wake up to take in your environment and recognizing yourself in the present might help you feel a little bit more grounded.

4. Let it out

a. Times may be difficult but you don’t have to be alone. If you are able to do so, try calling or texting a friend.

b. Journaling is another good way to vent if you don’t feel like talking to somebody else. There are a lot of fun ways to journal as well. Author Keri Smith has a lot of fun, guided journals like “Wreck-it Journal”.

You’re going to be okay, and you will make it through this. The seasons will change, and so will you. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and try to remind yourself that it is okay that you are going through this.

Be safe and enjoy the rest of October! (At the very least, take advantage of the discounted candy prices after Halloween).

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep? Who’s She?

Sleep is so important for so many reasons. Getting 8-9 hours of sleep increases your energy-levels, encourages a better eating-routine, and helps keep your mind clear and ready for what the day may hold. However, sleep is also difficult for so many reasons. Whether you have insomnia, anxiety, racing-thoughts, or simply can’t get into a good routine, lack of sleep is a common issue that we have all come across at some point. Unfortunately, it is easy to become caught up in a toxic relationship with sleep. When you can’t sleep, things that you struggle with are amplified, and when things that you struggle with are amplified, you can’t sleep. It is a vicious cycle that, while stressful, can absolutely be broken out of.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Good sleep hygiene is very important, especially if you are somebody who struggles with insomnia or the vicious cycle of sleeplessness. Despite how it sounds, sleep hygiene is more than going to bed scrubbed and showered. Good sleep hygiene is a lifestyle change that encourages healthier sleep habits and an overall improvement of quality of life. Practising good sleep-hygiene is an accessible, inexpensive change that anybody can do. It is important to note that while it is healthy and a great thing to incorporate into your life, practicing good sleep hygiene is not intended to replace medical treatment for diagnosed sleep disorders, and that it is always a good idea to check in with your physician if you are having chronic sleep issues.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some surprisingly simple tips for incorporating good sleep hygiene into your life: 1. Your bed is for sleeping

With the ongoing pandemic and the safety protocols that have come with it, more and more companies have been operating remotely. As a result, many people’s homes have also become their office spaces as they work from home. Even though it can be tempting to work from the comfort of your bed, it’s important to be sure to keep your bed separate from other aspects of your life, such as work and school. I also avoid playing video games, eating, and watching tv while I’m in bed. Keeping your bed separate from the rest of your daily activities will help you begin to associate your bed with sleep.

2. Remove any time pressures

I used to have an alarm clock near my bed, and I would watch as the numbers changed; an unnerving neon reminder that I still couldn’t sleep. Removing any clocks or time-displays is a good way to help avoid becoming stressed or fixated with how late it is or how much time is passing. If you need an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning, keep it on your nightstand but cover it with a light cloth or piece of clothing, allowing the alarm to do its job without needing to see the numbers.

3. Fine-tune your environment

Making a couple of small changes to your bedroom or sleep area can help make it a better environment for rest and relaxation. One way that I have done this is by

hanging a tapestry between my bed and the rest of my room, turning my bed into its own comfortable little island. That way, when I leave my computer desk after a day of working or writing, heading to bed feels like walking into a whole different environment. Other easy actions such as opening a window, lighting a candle or incense, playing some white-noise or calming lo-fi music, and setting up comfortable lighting are all things that can help setting up your environment for a good night of sleep.

4. Avoid stimulants before bed

If you are a coffee-drinker or an energy-drink fan, be sure to stay conscious of how much caffeine you are consuming. If you drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis, try to set an alarm or give yourself a time that signals when you should stop drinking anything with caffeine in it. I would recommend doing so in the late afternoon. If you are used to drinking coffee or soda in the evening, try replacing it with a drink that helps promote good sleep, such as warm-milk (or a non-dairy alternative), water, or decaffeinated tea. My personal favourite evening beverage is sleepy-time tea that has chamomile and lavender in it. Having a little routine like that helps signal that it is almost time for bed.

5. Keep a Routine

Speaking of routine, while following the same schedule every day may feel monotonous, consistency is key when it comes to establishing a healthy sleep-schedule. This doesn’t at all mean that there is no room for spontaneity in your schedule, it is also important to not be rigid. The goal isn’t to make sleep the focus of your entire day, but to encourage continuity and healthy habits. A couple of things that I have incorporated into my daily routine involve setting my alarm at a similar time every day, exercising in the morning rather than at night, and eating earlier. I also have added a couple of acts of self-care, such as drinking my favourite tea before bed, taking a bath or shower before bed, doing a relaxed activity that I enjoy such as reading or knitting, and making sure that my sheets are cleaned regularly.

Sleep On It

Even though all of these tips are great ways to help improve your sleep hygiene, the most important thing to do is to be kind to yourself. Sleeping isn’t easy, especially with all of the stressors that happen in our daily lives that keep us tossing and turning at night. Try to not become too discouraged if you do not immediately succeed at getting into a steady sleep routine. If you have a couple of sleepless nights or mornings where you sleep past your alarm, applaud yourself for trying and embrace the day despite the rocky start. You are taking steps towards self-care, and that is the most important step that you can take.

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Mental Health of Students

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Mental Health of Students

In the aftermath of COVID-19, it has become a top priority to take serious measures and prevent the spread of disease. Schools canceled in-person classes and turned to online learning platforms. However, the new transition was not a seamless process and presented challenges of its own. On a global scale, the mental health of students began to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Those who already dealt with mental health issues found their condition to worsen. That being said, what are the negative effects that COVID-19 had on students’ mental health? 

Social Isolation

Communication is a key contributing factor that enables good connections, fosters strong relationships, and creates effective learning. But with online learning in effect, students experienced feelings of loneliness, depression, and demotivation. They could no longer learn and play alongside their classmates or attend social events, like prom or graduation, with their friends. Those who were enrolled in their first year of university struggled to make new friends or interact with them outside of class. By nature, human beings have always been social creatures that crave human interaction. Without it, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy state of mind. 

Limited Class Engagement and School Pressure

Since classes were no longer being taken in person, there was a limited engagement during online classes. Students usually did not receive adequate feedback when they asked for help or raised questions about the course content.  Soon, they were left with no choice but to learn on their own. Children faced a hard time when they were being assisted by family members who had limited knowledge of the subject at hand. Many students experienced an increase in schoolwork, which elevated their stress and anxiety levels. Those who were caregivers to their family members had to find a balance between their school and personal life. Not only can this affect their academic performance, but also take a toll on their mental health.

“Zoom” Fatigue

Over the course of their academic life, students have grown accustomed to a traditional classroom setting; one in which they attend classes throughout the day, communicate with their teachers and peers, have recess or lunch breaks and participate in extracurricular activities. Now, they no longer have the same routine that provided structure to their lives. Instead, it has become replaced with sitting behind a screen for what felt like an endless about of time. This can lead students to feel fatigued because they have to process a huge amount of information,  while also being exposed to a lot of screen time. As a result of this, their attention levels become hampered and they are left feeling mentally drained.

Lack of Employment Opportunities 

COVID-19 has caused serious drawbacks for the economy and job market. It has been a very difficult time period for youth who are looking for financial independence or work experience but have not successfully found employment. Some of them were laid off from work at the time of the pandemic or their job application processes were put on hold due to social distancing restrictions. University students were burdened with financial stress. Many lost their jobs and worried about paying tuition or rent or supporting their family members.

How Can Students’ Mental Health Be Improved?

In order to have a healthy mind, it is necessary to have a healthy body as well. One of the steps that students can take towards improving their mental wellbeing is by practicing a healthy lifestyle. This can include eating well, staying hydrated, sleeping on time, and having physical activity. Breaks should be taken as well, whether that be in the form of quick walks, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Students also need to learn how to prioritize themselves more through doing things that they genuinely enjoy such as, video chatting with friends, reading outside, or discovering new hobbies. Those who are dealing with a financial crisis should be given special aid,  including financial support or further assistance in finding employment. Lastly, it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to invest in doing more research on mental health to educate teachers and empathize with students. Students deserve to be given full access to better mental health resources, including both online and in-person counseling that is available at all times. If these measures are actively taken, an overall improvement in the mental health of students can surely be seen over time.

Depression

Depression

**Please note that this piece has been written by one of our volunteer blog writers – all treatments and suggestions are his own opinions and experiences. Always seek medical and psychological attention should you feel any depression symptoms or are feeling unwell**

Depression (also known as major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It can also decrease your ability to function at work and at home.

According to the DSM-IV*, a medical reference commonly used by healthcare professionals to aid in diagnosis, a major depressive episode consists of many of the following symptoms, occurring nearly every day for at least two weeks:

-Depressed mood most of the day; feeling sad or empty, tearful

-Significant loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable

-Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain; decrease or increase in appetite

-Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

-Agitation; or slowing down of thoughts and reduction of physical movements

-Fatigue or loss of energy

-Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt

-Poor concentration or having difficulty making decisions

-Thinking about death or suicide

If you suffer from any of these symptoms or emotions, worry not! The Bach Flower Remedies, an entirely natural means of therapy for primarily emotional problems, can help you manage and heal from depression! The following remedies are especially important to consider:

Mustard: The remedy for depression that comes and goes for no reason. It lifts of its own accord and when it occurs, you feel like you are enveloped in a black cloud of hopelessness.

Elm: The remedy for when you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities and can’t handle any newer responsibilities. This leads to depression and a sense of hopelessness.

Pine: The great remedy for any feelings of guilt for things that may or may not be your fault. Depression due to guilt can be helped by this remedy.

Gentian: This is the remedy for those who are easily discouraged. It is for sadness due to a known cause, such as loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, accidents, etc. Even despondency due to minor setbacks call for this remedy.

Cherry Plum: The remedy for those who lack emotional control and have sudden depressive feelings characterized by a great fear that they might lose control of their emotions or actions. An excellent remedy to compose oneself and regain control of their emotions and feelings.

Larch: This is the go-to remedy for those who suffer from an inferiority complex, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. Such people almost always suffer from a wholly unconscious melancholy, because they feel like they are not good or as capable as others. This is a great remedy to build confidence and dissolve depressive feelings.

Olive: This is a great remedy for those who are completely exhausted both mentally and physically. For those suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It restores renewed vitality and energy to the person and fills him with hope and happiness.

Hornbeam: The remedy for the “Monday morning” feeling, when the day ahead seems too hard and you end up procrastinating. For those who have been totally exhausted mentally. This remedy adds new vitality and clarity to the mind.

White Chestnut: The remedy for those who suffer from a hyperactive mind, with repeated unwanted thoughts churning in their minds non-stop. This leads to depression and insomnia. The remedy can help bring tranquility and peace to the mind, and help with depressive feelings.

Aspen: The remedy for those who are anxious, nervous and scared all day long but don’t know why. They have a feeling that something bad is going to happen, but you cannot put a name on it. This groundless fear day and night can lead to depressive feelings which can be helped by this remedy.

Depression may be helped with the use of Bach Flower Remedies. The Bach Flower Remedies work on the emotional and Vitality levels, healing emotional disorders such as, depression, anxiety, jealousy, fears, trauma, self-confidence and impatience, among many other negative emotional conditions. The Bach Flower Remedies are 100% natural, so they are worth a shot!

Fearful by nature? Aspen Bach flower remedy to the rescue!

Fearful by nature? Aspen Bach flower remedy to the rescue!

Do you suffer from groundless fear all day and night? Are you afraid of the dark for no rational reason? Do you suffer from anxiety and have a heart that is always pounding? If so, you may require Aspen Bach flower remedy.

The negative Aspen state is a very sensitive state and a fearful place to be in for those who suffer from it. Those in need of this Bach flower remedy seem to be unconsciously “stuck” in the emotional and astral plane that we all pass through every night in our dreams – the plane that harbors our personal negative emotional experiences, along with our notions of heaven and hell, superstitions, and even fairy tale ideas. As a result, they experience an eerie kind of fear that they cannot put a finger on or even name specifically. Whereas certain fears and phobias can be specifically named, such as a fear of dogs, fear of ghosts, fear of the teacher, the Aspen fear remains vague and unspecified, and sufferers experience a constant fear for no reason – it is a feeling of dread and anxiety, as if something terrible is about to happen. People needing Aspen remedy are also subconsciously sensitive to impulses and psychic currents around them, such as conflicts in the workplace, the psychic energy of a fellow rider on a bus, and of course, the fear of war, financial disaster, and other similar worries. They are so sensitive to their surroundings and the people around them that they are often aware of developing conflict before others around them even take notice!

In extreme cases, this groundless fear turns into full-blown anxiety attacks, complete with trembling, bouts of sweating, and fluttery feelings in the stomach. The tortures of hell are suffered, and the person then begins to suffer not only from a ‘fear of panic attacks’, but a ‘fear of fear’ itself!

Children in need of Aspen Bach flower remedy have an insufferable fear of the dark and often believe that there is a “monster under the bed” that may be real and may attack them. As a result, they always insist that their bedroom door remain open or that a light be left on all night. Most of these children dread sleeping all by themselves in their bedrooms and prefer sleeping with their parents. The fear of the dark is so intense that they sometimes wake up in the middle of the night screaming and shouting and having wet their pants!

When people requiring Aspen remedy are treated with the Bach Flower Remedy Aspen, they are able to make a connection between personality (person) and their Higher Self. They are then able to recognize the divine power of love within themselves, and to consciously use the positive side of the Aspen Bach flower energy. As a result, they are then able to explore the non-material planes of consciousness, such as the astral and emotional planes, without fear, and to use them for their own benefit, and for the benefit of others.

Many activities can trigger the negative Aspen state in even healthy people. Certain efforts at self-help, becoming too “opened up” by certain group meditation techniques, or being through “bad trips” while on drugs can often cause a negative Aspen state to arise. This can be neutralized by getting off the afore-mentioned activities and using Aspen Bach remedy.

In short, for those who are always fearful, timid, anxious and scared of the dark, Aspen Bach flower remedy can be like a true blessing and one not to be ignored.