Tag Archives: self-care

Empty Your Backpack

Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up. [Proverbs 12:25]

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

You can see it in their eyes.  Sometimes you can see it the way they walk.  They are the burdened.

The statistics are staggering.  In 2013, the most recent data available, 3 million Canadians, 11.6% of the total population over the age over 18 reported that they had a mood or anxiety disorder.  Mood disorders are characterized by a general lowering of a person’s happiness while anxiety is characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of nervousness and fear.  93% of people with one of these disorders have taken prescription medication with anti-depressant drugs the most prescribed type of drugs for patients between the ages of 25 and 44.

What causes anxiety and depression?

I’m no Doctor but based on my experience I can say with certainty that there are two main causes of depression and anxiety.

First off, depression is mainly an inability to forgive your past mistakes.  I’ve heard it said that depression is the imaginary demon we all carry reminding us of past injustices and set backs we have experienced.  The demon wants us to feel bad about ourselves, its desire is to hold us down and keep us from moving beyond feelings of disappointment and frustration.

Depression has also been described as anger turned inward.  That’s why when people try and get is to really examine our feelings we often lash out.  We don’t want to think about it because it hurts too much so we settle on a generalized, low level depression to numb the pain.  When that stops working we reach for a prescription or other type of bottle to further suppress our true feelings.

The cure of depression therefore is to examine the past.  Stop, take it out of the backpack of experience we all carry, look at it and let it go.  The past belongs in the past.  Like Rafiki says in The Lion King,

“Ah yes, the past can hurt.  But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”

Anxiety on the other hand is an attempt to live in the future.  Anxious people are constantly worried about what might happen and end up worrying themselves out of experiencing life as it happens.

This isn’t the same as being cautious.  Caution is warranted planning.  It accounts for the possibility of something going wrong and takes steps to either prevent disaster or mitigate the damage that could occur.  Putting on your seatbelt or wearing a helmet to play baseball is cautious, thinking about having a wreck every time you get in the car is anxiety.

The cure for anxiety is similar as the cure for depression.  Stop, take it out of the backpack of experience, look at it, take reasonable cautionary steps and let it go.  The future belongs in the future.  Or as Jesus said:

do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:34]

So, leave the past in the past and the future in the future and live each day, no each moment as it comes.  In that way we will carry a much lighter backpack and enjoy life more. Tell me what you’re going to let go of today in the comments below…

Here’s a little more wisdom for the great shaman Rafiki for good measure…



Putting Insomnia To Bed

Not getting enough sleep? Here are eight strategies that can help.

As the saying goes; “You snooze, you lose.” But when you don’t get enough sleep, nobody wins. When we’re tired, we tend not to exercise or eat right either. We also get more irritable, stressed out and are more likely to get sick. And we don’t work as well when we’re tired. By some accounts, sleep deprivation costs Canadian businesses more than $15 billion a year in lost productivity.

So how do you get the rest you need? Try these strategies to help you get a better night’s sleep.

1 – Create a bed-time ritual

Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, even on the weekend. Establishing a pattern of calming bedtime activities like taking a bath, reading, meditation or writing in your journal can help to train you mind and body that it’s time to settle down.

2- Put away your smartphone

Blue light from your phone (or tablet) suppresses the production of melatonin. That is why people who spend a lot of time looking at a screen before bed have more trouble nodding off. If you like to read e-books, try a reader that isn’t back-lit or use a screen cover that minimizes blue light.

3 – Take the pressure off

Poor sleep is our number-one response to stress. It’s also a bit of a double-edged sword as not getting enough shut-eye actually increases stress. So how do you break the cycle? Find ways to recharge and calm down throughout the day. Go for a walk, practice mindfulness exercises, or yoga. Small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference.

4 – Cool it

A cool room can help you too relax as well. Our body temperature naturally drops as we fall asleep, an environment that’s too warm may actually inhibit drifting off. Ideal bedroom temperatures range from 19 to 22 C.

5 – Lose the light

Too much ambient light can suppress melatonin production while darkness triggers it. The darker your bedroom the better so if you live in a brightly light city or near a large industrial installation installing blackout curtains and removing electronics with light-up displays can help.

6 – Move more

People who exercise regularly tend to sleep better. Working out three or four times a week can make a real difference. Don’t hit the gym too close to bedtime though, or the adrenalin from your workout could end up keeping you awake. Morning workouts are best but try to give yourself at least 2 hours for your body to return to normal before trying to go to sleep.

7 – Eat to sleep

Certain foods can help you nod off at night too. Vitamin B6 is important for making melatonin. B6-rich foods like fish, bananas, chickpeas, nuts and lentils can help. Drinking tart cherry juice, right before bed has been proven to alleviate insomnia in some cases.


8 – Avoid alcohol

We all know that cutting back on caffeine can reduce wakefulness. But most forms of alcohol inhibit sleep too.   This one is a bit counter intuitive until you think about it.  A glass of wine may help you drift off, but as the relaxing effects of the alcohol wear off the fermented sugars take over and you’re suddenly wide awake again.

Still can’t sleep?

Try not to stress about it. Insomnia can happen to almost everyone. If you’re tired all the time, talk to your doctor, maybe you have sleep apnea or another underlying cause.

Sweet dreams….

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.