27 Oct 2014
Food sources of calcium

Mood Boosting Vitamins – Calcium

This is the first in a 10 week series that I’m going to do on mood boosting vitamins. You’ll see these posts every Monday in “Happy How To”.

This week I want to talk about calcium. We all know this vitamin is vital for bone strength. If we don’t get enough of it, we start having all sorts of physical problems like osteoporosis, nerve sensitivity, muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat and blood clots (among other things). What you might not know is that a calcium deficiency can also cause depression, anxiety and insomnia. In order to properly absorb calcium (and a few other vitamins, as you’ll find out in the coming weeks), you need vitamin D. We get vitamin D from the sun, but we also have to make sure to get it from foods, especially in the winter when the sun isn’t as strong.

PMS can also be caused by or made worse by a calcium deficiency. In fact, it’s possible that what some people think is PMS is actually hypocalcaemia, which is low levels of calcium in the blood. It can be caused by increased estrogen, which affects your body’s ability to absorb calcium.

It’s important to note that having too much calcium can also cause depression. It’s unlikely that you’d manage to get too much calcium from foods. Usually an excess of calcium is caused by a problem with the parathyroid gland, which releases a hormone to regulate the amount of calcium in your bloodstream and bones. However, you should consult your doctor if you’re considering taking calcium supplements, just to make sure you don’t end up taking too much.

So, what can you eat to get calcium without the use of supplements? Usually we think of milk and dairy products (eggs, cheese, yogurt), and these are often fortified with vitamin D to help you absorb the calcium you’re eating. It’s also found in spinach, kale, broccoli, figs, almonds, soy beans, kidney beans, lentils, hazelnuts, sardines and white rice. I was surprised to learn that another good source is brown sugar and molasses, so a lot of deserts can also be made high in calcium.

Here are some links to my favorite calcium-packed recipes:

26 Oct 2014

This week’s smiles

Sorry I’m posting this late, I was in Sudbury week and got busier than I expected to. I can’t really write about the reason I was away, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for my classmates and I and I’m extremely grateful that I was able to take part. Luckily the trip wasn’t all business, though, so I still have some highlights from my gratitude journal to share:

  • Driving through the Muskokas. This has always been one of my favorite places, I’d love to live there one day.
  • Just being away, and not really having to worry about anything for a week.
  • Going out drinking with my friends. We even made it to a dance club the one night, which was loads of fun (although it did make me realize how out of shape I am, lol).
  • Pumpkinferno at Dynamic Earth was pretty awesome. Easily the best haunted house I’ve been in. Dynamic Earth is an abandoned mine shaft that has been turned into a museum, and with the addition of some decorations, dry ice, and awesome actors it was pretty scary.
  • Coming home! A week was a bit long to be away, and I couldn’t wait to snuggle up with my husband and son by the end of it.

It was also great just being in Sudbury again. Liam and I actually met there when we were studying at Cambrian College. A lot has changed, but a lot is familiar too. I didn’t expect to be so excited over seeing all the places we used to hang out.

26 Oct 2014

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

Image by Courtney Zavala, click to see the blog post I got it from :)

22 Oct 2014

On Top Of The World – Imagine Dragons

Next in my Happy Playlist, I wanted to share “On Top Of The World” by “Imagine Dragons”. This song is the one that pretty much got me started on my happy song list. I could be having the worst day ever, and this song will fix it. If you like it, that link will lead you to iTunes. I could only find the music video on there for some reason (which is weird, because I’m pretty sure that’s where I got the version on my phone that doesn’t come with a video).

20 Oct 2014

Gratitude Journals

I like to use Happier.com for my gratitude journal, they have an iPhone app that sends me reminders. Check it out!

I like to use Happier.com for my gratitude journal, they have an iPhone app that sends me reminders and lets me decide what I make public or private. Check it out!

Positive thinking is something that you will probably notice me mentioning a lot. It’s something that has made a big difference in my life, but also something I struggled with a lot (I still do some days).

In my last “Happy How To” post, I talked a bit about the negative thinkers that surrounded me when I was younger and how I started my search for happiness. As I searched, I read a lot about positive thinking, and was pretty sure it would help me a lot, but I had no idea how to become a positive thinker. I had trouble even understanding what positive thinking meant, never mind making a part of my daily life.

I actually ended up giving up on the whole idea for a number of months, until I came across a video someone had shared on Facebook. The video talked about gratitude journals and positive thinking. To be honest, I dismissed it at first. It seemed embarrassingly cheesy to pause and write down things I was grateful for every day, even if it was private. It also seemed too simple. How could a few little notes each day erase nearly 25 years of negative thinking?

But once I knew the term “gratitude journal”, it suddenly stood out to me everywhere I looked, and I found myself reading more on the subject. I found that taking the time to recognize the things we’re grateful for results in better sleep, less illness and more happiness… which sounded suspiciously similar to the results of positive thinking. I ended up learning from experience that positive thinking and being grateful go hand in hand.

Positive thinking isn’t just about doing things that make you happy, it’s about recognizing the things that make you happy, no matter how big or small they are, even on the worst days of your life.

Gratitude journals make you pause each day to write down a few things that made your day brighter, causing you to realize how much you appreciate those things. The things you write don’t have to be big, either – in fact, I encourage you to recognize small things that you might normally take for granted. Things like “the sun is shining” or “I’m enjoying my morning coffee”. It’s also better to elaborate on the things you’re writing, and avoid writing the same thing every day. For example, I could write “I’m grateful for my husband” every single day, but then I would likely start taking that statement for granted and not really focusing on my gratitude anymore. Instead, I write “Hubby had dinner on the table when I got home from school!” one day and “Hubby took our son to the park so I could have some time to myself” another. This lets me focus on the things he does that made my day brighter rather than just the fact that he exists.

A gratitude journal can be pretty much anything you can write on. It can be a notebook in your back pocket, a note on your phone, little bits of paper in a jar, a poster that you scribble on, or status updates on your favorite social network. You don’t even have to keep the notes after you write them, but writing them down is an important part of recognizing them in your day to day life. Writing down our thoughts makes us more aware of them, and causes those thoughts to have a deeper emotional meaning.

At first I felt kind of silly searching for happy things to write down, but after a few weeks I started to catch myself having positive thoughts at times when I least expected it. I remember surprising myself one day when the college shut down because of a snow storm. I was sitting on the bus thinking how great it was that I was going to be home for dinner instead of freaking out over all the work I wasn’t going to get done that day. Until that moment I didn’t understand what positive thinking was, and I catch myself unconsciously turning negatives into positives all the time. I’m not yet what I would call a “positive thinker”, but I’m getting better, and my friends and family have started to notice.

What are you grateful for today?

18 Oct 2014

This Week’s Smiles

I had trouble picking just 5 things to share this week. Thanksgiving is always all about family, I love it!

  • AIMG_0781

    Spotted this little guy hiding in a tree while we were geocaching.

    Turkey! I’m really not a huge fan of turkey, but I’ve never been to a turkey dinner I didn’t enjoy!

  • While we were waiting for that turkey dinner, Liam, his father and I took Steven and our niece Geocaching. It was our niece’s first time, and she had a lot of fun. It was also great to go Geocaching in a more rural area, instead of in the few little pockets of trees we can find in the city. Wherever you are, though, if you like the outdoors, check it out! It’s fun for the whole family and a great excuse to get outdoors (and who doesn’t like treasure hunting?).
  • I saw an amazingly musical family at a Fall Fair we went to over the weekend. I was just so in awe of them, I could have stood there all day watching. The parents and the kids all played multiple instruments, even the littlest one who looked like she was maybe 5 or 6. And the kids were amazing tap dancers too, perfectly in sync with each other.
  • I finally learned to play Euchre… sort of, lol. I have a vague idea of what to play when, so long as I’m playing with people patient enough to answer the same questions over and over again. Also, I still have no idea what anyone means when they’re talking about game strategies… But it’s a start!
  • I’ve gotten back into photography, which used to be one of my favorite hobbies. For the longest time I didn’t have a useful camera, but I recently found a brand new one for a really good price on kijiji and I’ve started taking it with me just about everywhere. It’s amazing what you notice when you’re looking for photo subjects that you might normally walk past without another thought.