10 for 2016

Greetings from Coffee and All That Jazz, already firmly entrenched as my favourite Toronto coffee shop. I’m drinking a nuclear-strength dark roast, listening to X’s More Fun in the New World record, and basking in the early-morning sun. The sun hates Toronto during the wintertime; one of the hardest things about moving here was simultaneously abandoning Canada’s sunniest city, although it’s a bit easier to stomach cloudy and grey when it’s +6 in February.

Anyway. This is an updated version of an entry from 2013. It’s a list of health goals, mostly centred around mental wellness, that I’ve committed to this coming year! Leave some of your own suggestions in the comments, why don’t ya?

  1. Resume mental health blogging. I used to blog about mental health so often I started a separate blog, Brain of SNJ (awkward Pearl Jam references FTW!). My output slowed as OCD became little more than a dull roar in my day-to-day life. But it got loud again last summer – long story, and an overdue one – and that, combined with some of the inspiring personal mental health accounts I read during Bell Let’s Talk day, convinced me to start telling my story again. Stay tuned.
  2. Re-commit to Partners for Mental Health…and commit to #SickNotWeak. A follow-up to point #1. In the meantime, I’ve also signed up to volunteer with Michael Landsberg’s #SickNotWeak initiative. Together, these organizations are helping blow up the stigma surrounding mental illness. I can think of no cause more important.
  3. Fully commit myself to my exposure therapy. That means no shortcuts, no stepping down from challenges, and not skipping any days unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. And it means being honest with myself. That’s one of the hardest things about exposure: it isn’t pleasurable, at all, and the temptation to slack off is high. Being honest means calling myself out when I’m showing signs of slackening commitment.
  4. Wake up in the morning. I should clarify: not “wake up” in the literal sense, since I quite clearly do that, but rather “wake up earlier.” Last year I dabbled briefly with getting up at 6am and getting my day started earlier. And I loved it! I was waking up to start my day, not simply waking up so I could go to work, and that subtle paradigm shift made a world of difference. It’s been harder since I’ve been looking for work. In that vein, here are sixteen tips for getting up early.
  5. Develop my Go Hard Idiot Gene. Yesterday I ran 5km for the first time since injuring my knee three years ago. Together, the run comprised several small, tentative steps towards accomplishing my two main running goals for my thirty-fifth year. I’m excited to report I’m relatively pain-free this morning. On a related note, I’m currently reading a book called Spark, which delineates the staggering relationship between exercise and good mental health. Check it out!
  6. Write. Self-explanatory.
  7. Go to the movies. Among the many benefits of no longer being in a long-distance relationship is having a steady +1 during Oscar season. Plus, there’s an independent cinema around the corner from our new place (moving in March 1, same day as the first of two Who concerts in Toronto!). I think I’ve seen more movies in the past two months than the entire eight years I lived in Calgary.
  8. Perform. I want to play the drums again. I want to keep learning guitar; I want to pick the piano up again. And I want to perform in front of an audience. Performing galavanizes me like few other things.
  9. Socialize. OCD loves cancelled plans almost as much as it hates rational thought. Yet getting out and socializing can be as important to recovery as any form of medication or therapy. Socializing can be as basic as reading in a coffee shop instead of in a living room or as complex as hearing The River live in its entirety…which I’ll be doing tomorrow evening, by the way!
  10. Explore Toronto. It’s funny: I spent most of the past eight years clamouring to move back to Toronto, yet now that I’m here I’m feeling profoundly discombobulated. And while it’s perfectly understandle why I feel like this, getting out and exploring my “new” city – fully inhabiting it, as opposed to merely living here – will both help me adjust and reduce the anxiety surrounding the move.

So? What do you think??


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