Healthy Living in the North

Can I have a moment of your time?

The present moment, if you think about it, is the only time there is. No matter what time it is, it is always now. -Marianne Williamson

Clock face

There are many way to be in the moment – Reg suggests breathing exercises as a great way to relax and reduce stress.

Time is a funny thing

Time has no wings, but flies occasionally. It has no feet, but sometimes drags on. We never seem to have enough of it, but there’s no way to store it for later. It’s not uncommon to spend time planning our future or reveling in our past glories, however, how often do you truly stop and savour the moment? To be honest, we have neither the future nor the past, only the present moment in time.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t important to plan for the future or look to the past for guidance or inspiration. What I’m saying is that it is important to slow down and appreciate where we are. Finding ways to be in the moment can have a positive effect on your health and well-being. It can help by promoting relaxation, reducing stress and narrowing your focus when needed. Learning to stop and appreciate the moments when good things happen can improve your mood and cheer you up.

Be “in the moment”

There are many ways to be in the moment. Activities like meditation, tai chi, and yoga can help ground you in the present. Even more intense activities like playing sports, cycling, or working out can have the same effect. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it connects you to the current moment in time.

I know, you’re probably thinking that while those are great suggestions, they might not always be practical. In reality, you’re right. I know my employer wouldn’t approve of mountain bike riding through the office corridors as a way of being in the moment! Nevertheless, there is one thing that can be done almost anywhere and anytime. You’ve done it since birth and you’ll do it every day for the rest of your life.

Breathe. Yup, that’s it.

The best thing is there’s nothing hard about breathing and you don’t need any special skills, equipment or a facility to do it in. Breathing exercises are a great way to stop the whirlwind around you and connect with the moment. But as always, there’s a catch.

You really need to pay attention to your breathing. Take a minute and try the following:

  • Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose.
  • Breathe in and fill your lungs with air.
  • Feel your chest and belly expand as you breathe in deeply.
  • Make sure to breathe at a pace that’s comfortable and when your lungs are full, pause for split second and exhale. You can exhale through your mouth or nose, it doesn’t really matter.
  • When your lungs are empty, pause for a split second and repeat.
  • Focus on your body and the breathing process. Feel the air moving into your nostrils and down to your lungs. Feel your chest rising and falling.
  • Repeat until you feel a sense of calm.
  • Open your eyes and be in the moment.

That’s it in a nutshell. You can learn to do many different types of breathing exercises and they all have the benefits of relaxation and stress reduction. Best of all, they aren’t complicated and don’t require hours of practice.

I know that at times it can be hard to focus on your breathing. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you may want to look into downloading apps that have guided breathing exercises. You can also use music if it helps you focus on your breathing. It also helps if you get into a habit of daily practice.

Now, take a few deep breaths and enjoy this moment of your life. A single moment can hold the surprise of a lifetime, but you might miss it if you’re a day ahead of yourself or a day behind.

Reg Wulff

About Reg Wulff

Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.

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Loving yourself: Be bold, be beautiful, be brave!

This month, we want to know how you are preparing for the future by investing in your health! Tell us (or show us) what you do to invest in your body, your mind, and your relationships for your chance to win great weekly prizes and a $150 grand prize! To inspire you, we’ll be featuring regular “invest in your health” content on the Northern Health Matters blog all month long!


Three people in front of a decorated Christmas tree.

Taylar with family members at Christmas: “During the hard times, I surrounded myself with people who loved me for me.”

When we hear “invest in your relationships” – or even just the word relationship – most think that it involves a connection with another person. But have you ever thought about the relationship you have with yourself?

It has probably been some time since you “checked in” with yourself. In this busy world, it’s not uncommon to forget about you and how to care for yourself – even though it can be the most important thing you do since life begins with you!

I recently became single following a very long-term relationship. Through my healing, I have realized that I completely lost myself to my relationship and I didn’t even know who I was anymore, nor did I really like who I had become. I did not love myself anymore.

Loving yourself is essential to a healthy lifestyle and being able to maintain healthy relationships. Putting effort into yourself – investing in you – is just as important as working on any relationship! Loving who you are creates a whole new world for you. It allows you to accept you for who you are, gives you confidence, lets you look and feel better, improves self-esteem and makes you a happier person overall. Love starts with you and, from there, it can flourish into beautiful, meaningful relationships.

Over the past few months, I have been re-building me, learning to love myself again and finding happiness. This is what I have learned from it:

  • Believe in yourself. Believing in you creates opportunities for success, allows you to accept who you are, and builds confidence. A positive attitude of “I can do this” opens doors for achievements you may have doubted and it creates determination within yourself that anything is possible. This may sound scary as it forces you to put yourself out there, push your comfort levels and makes you vulnerable – there is a risk of failure or a setback. But that is what makes us stronger! By not believing in yourself, you may be holding yourself back. Trust yourself and be the best you can be. Know that you are beautiful inside and out.
  • Stay true to who you are. Stay true to what makes you uniquely you – whether that be a quirky trait, an unusual way of eating, singing in the shower or the way you do your hair. This is what makes you, you. Be honest with yourself, recognize what you value, and believe in your morals. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
  • Build support networks. Support is so important in life. Bring people into your life who you can trust: family, friends, health care professionals, community services or organizations. You also have to allow people to support you. Take them up on their offers, whether it’s a coffee date, a chat or a kind gesture. Your support systems are what hold you up in troubled times. They are a shoulder to cry on, ears that listen, and somebody who can just hold space with you and validate your thoughts, emotions and feelings. Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are.
  • Take time for you. Self-care is a staple to being able to love yourself. Practicing self-care is good for your emotional health, mind and soul. Self-care can improve your energy, efficacy and help you maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. Practicing self-care can be done in many ways such as taking some quiet alone time (think: going for walk, reading or having a bath), pampering yourself with a spa at home or at a salon, participating in a sporting event, treating yourself with a favourite food, or simply just spending time with you. Taking time for yourself also allows you to get to know yourself better and to be in touch with yourself more.
  • Get back to your roots. Do you still do the things you “used” to do all the time? Take some time to think about what used to make you happy, like an old hobby or tradition. Bring these back into your life and share them with family and friends. Bringing back these happy times reminds us of who we are and where we came from.

For me, this learning curve has been an adventure that has been scary, exciting, and so rewarding. It hasn’t been easy in any way but I believe that overall, it has made me a better person – to myself and to others.

A healthy sense of self is essential for your well-being. Take the time to invest in you: be easy and kind to yourself. You are worth it.


How are you investing in you this week? Tell us (or show us) for your chance to win great prizes!

Taylar Endean

About Taylar Endean

Taylar is a Registered Nurse working in Preventive Public Health. Taylar was born and raised in Prince George and studied at UNBC to earn her degree in Nursing in 2011. She's still living in the North where she tries to embrace everything it has to offer. In her spare time, Taylar loves being outdoors, spending countless weekends at Ness Lake, walking, snowshoeing and skiing. Taylar also enjoys spending time with family and friends, coaching skating, volunteering at community events and just started to learn to crochet. The north is her home, though she does like to take those sunny vacations!

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I am not just the reflection in the mirror

Label on mirror reading: "Warning: Reflections  in this mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of "beauty"

“I am a whole person; I am not just a reflection in the mirror.” Mental Health Week is a great opportunity to share Darri’s warning label for mirrors and other suggestions for improving body image, self-esteem, and mood.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

This is a phrase I have unfortunately said to myself over and over, trying to talk myself down from a junk food ledge. My reasons for eating or overeating have never been restricted to one particular feeling – it’s a cycle of emotion, whether it be sadness, happiness or celebration. Feel, eat, guilt, restrict, repeat – for me, it’s a fairly predictable cycle.

The feelings I have about my body image at any particular time are also variable. I have always struggled with my weight, how I look to others, how I feel about myself. Placing value on who I am as a person solely on how I carry the weight of my body. Body image is complicated.

“I know that once I am thin enough, I will be happy.” These thoughts, whether rational or not, have been foremost in my mind most of my life. But I have been “thin” and I have still been unhappy. The thing is, changing my outside does not change how I feel on the inside. This is not a groundbreaking epiphany, yet it has taken years for me to accept that my value as a human being is not based on my weight.

So where did these ideas come from?

I could talk about my family and the emphasis that was placed on appearance. My mom and sisters were constantly riding the yo-yo diet train. The messages I received were subtle and self-esteem shaping. But where did my family members get these messages themselves? I can’t ignore the fact that we live in a superficial world full of glossy magazines and blockbuster movies oozing with sexuality. The basic message that we seem to hear all the time is that your successes in life can equate to how you look. The better looking you are on the outside, the more success, health and happiness you can attain.

In a 2004 paper titled The Impact of Exposure to the Thin-Ideal Media Image on Women, Hawkins and her colleagues found that:

Exposure to thin-ideal magazine images increases body dissatisfaction, negative mood states, and eating disorder symptoms and decreases self-esteem. Exposure to thin-ideal media images may contribute to the development of eating disorders by causing body dissatisfaction, negative moods, low self-esteem, and eating disorders symptoms among women.

The impact of body image on mental health and overall well-being is undeniable. How we see ourselves impacts how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with the world around us. What can I do to improve my body image and lessen the impact on my daughters? I can choose to eat healthy, not restrict, give myself permission to eat a variety of foods without shame or guilt; I can be active and do things that energize and motivate me to feel good about the body I live in. I can be kind to myself and all aspects of which I am.

I am a whole person; I am not just the reflection in the mirror.

As a mental health and addictions clinician for Northern Health, I see how body image directly impacts the mental health of the clients with whom I work. Here are some practical suggestions for improving body image, self-esteem and mood:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique and need to celebrate your positive qualities.
  • Practice self-care. Go for a walk in nature, have a bath, read a book, reignite an old hobby you once enjoyed, take time for yourself. Self-care should not be confused with being selfish, it is important for your mental health to take time to re-energize and refresh yourself.
  • Create a support system. Spend time with those who lift you up and support you. They have a positive impact on how you feel about yourself. It’s OK to ask for support!
  • Pay attention to lifestyle. Small changes over time can add up to a large shift in mental health in the future.
  • Seek help from community resources such as Mental Health and Addictions Services. You can contact us through the Northern Health website. For more information on body image, please visit the National Eating Disorders Information Centre or the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Darri O'Neill

About Darri O'Neill

Darri has worked for Northern Health in the position of mental health and addictions clinician for the past six years. Darri enjoys her work and also knows the importance of getting outside to enjoy time with her young family. In the summers, they like to camp at the local lakes and have recently purchased snowshoes which they hope to use to explore the trails around their home in the winter. Darri and her husband were both raised on Vancouver Island and moved to the northwest 10 years ago. They've grown to love the area and appreciate that they can raise their family in such a naturally beautiful part of B.C.

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