Supporting Your Recovery with the FSTEP

A foundational support system that creates results fast

I’ve often had the question:  What do you do for yourself to support your recovery?

There are some things I do to maintain recovery which in turn helps with managing my mental health and my effectiveness in the workplace.  I use a simple acronym: FSTEP (Food, Sleep, Treatment, Exercise, Perspective) to help me maintain a foundation of wellness.

F – Food: I make sure to eat 3-4 meals a day with 1-2 snacks. I have removed any dairy and gluten from my diet. And as much as possible I include dark leafy greens and protein in each of my meals. I strive for 8-10 glasses of water a day, and I cut out alcohol in 2007.  I use a great resource, created by my good friend Patricia Borsato, AKA “the Mood Foodie”. Her Mood Foodie guidebook is a practical, positive culinary approach to optimum mental health. I highly recommend her programs and her guidebook. Check her out here.

S – Sleep: I make sure I am getting a consistent amount of sleep each night. My pattern is in bed by 930 pm and up at 6 am. If I find my schedule does not allow that I ensure to have naps as soon as possible to make up for any late night / early morning. What you do before you go to bed makes a difference in your quality of sleep. Find out more about sleep hygiene from Kelly Starrett here  or check out my blog post:

Wakey Wakey Sleepyhead – It’s time to get out of bed!

T – Treatment: Defining treatment is more personal than a general rule. For me, it’s ensuring the basics are in place: medication, see my Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist regularly and peer support groups. If something changes in my life, I make sure I’m talking about it with people that can make a difference. I began a practice about in Nov 2016 where I have a wellness day scheduled in my calendar every 10 business days. I call these my purple days as I colour code them in my calendar to ensure at a glance I can see they are there. These days are reserved for things that give me positive energy – (yoga, walking, catching up on sleep, writing, anything that is nurturing and considered “me” time). In the workplace, you might call them mental health or personal days.

E – Exercise: Over and over we hear in the research and with others who manage their mental health, that some kind of exercise is critical to their mental wellness.  I workout with my personal trainer twice a week and engage in some other form of exercise on 1-2 other days of the week. Add in lots of stretching, and a pilates class and it’s a good week! If I get to the pool in the week we are at a 4-5 on the scale. It is proven that one of the best combinations is some form of cardio, weight training, and pilates and or yoga.

Check out my guest blog post from my friend Allison Smith on how exercise and sleep support mental health.

How Exercise & Sleep Supports Mental Health

 

P – Perspective: This is tricker than the rest as it is subjective and requires a level of self-awareness and reflection to assess where you are on the scale. What I’ve learned is there are some key structures that support a positive outlook and increase my ability to manage the workplace environment. In no particular order: clearing calls with a trusted business colleague twice a week, self-development courses 3-4 times per year, Enneagram Coach and Mentor call once per month, regular check-ins with my husband, daily journal writing, meditation, limited social media use, 60-90 minutes of me time in the morning before checking any email, text or other work-related activities, taking consistent holidays, dancing and basically being goofy.

There is a worksheet you can download to use the FSTEP. Instructions are included. If you have any questions please email me. This is an excellent tool and absolutely works.

FSTEP for Mental Wellness 2018

 

To Thriving in the Workplace!

 

 

 

 

15 Ways to Combat Travel Stress

Over the last 24 months, I’ve traveled on average 2 x per month for both business and personal. I’ve learned a couple of things along the way, mostly from what I wasn’t doing at the beginning. Now that travel is part of my work, it’s important to keep my self-care up even while I’m traveling. I’ve reviewed many articles on the affects of travel, changing time zones, challenges with sleep while on the road, and the general stress of moving from one city to another as something that can be a  trigger for those of us who manage a mental health illness. Any change ( in schedule or routine) or stress can affect our brain. Ensuring we have structures in place to support our lifestyle is important. There are a number of things we can do to take care of our mental health while traveling. I’ve also included some options for our general health.

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Don’t let Ikea Instructions or A 15 ft Wall get in your way!

Taking one of Brene Brown’s course’s means looking at how I am with putting myself out there / taking chances and failure when it doesn’t work out ( in her words, when I’m Daring Greatly and Rising Strong).

 

Through her research as a Shame and Vulnerability expert, she discovered there are ten elements to the Physics of Vulnerability; The first being:

“If I am brave enough, often enough, I will fall;

this is the physics of vulnerability.”

 

In her course, I was reflecting on how I got up after a fall/failure and wrote the following words:

“I haven’t experienced many (I’ve had some) failures. They happened early on in my working career, and I got smart in how to avoid them.” (more…)

Protecting What is Important to You

The Big Rocks story is a great metaphor for Steven Covey’s priority matrix. That is, making sure all the Important but not yet Urgent ( #2) activities are in your calendar first.

I’ve used this strategy with many clients, and they have discovered that we, (yes including me) typically spend most of our time focusing on those things that are Urgent and Important (#1) instead. Usually, this results from a lack of planning and the inability to say no and/or manage interruptions. Sound familiar? (more…)

Peer Support for Professionals – Mental Health, Toronto

Is it possible to experience a mental health challenge and be effective and succeed at work?

Many wonder if it is indeed possible for a person living with a mental health challenge to work effectively, accomplish goals, reconnect with self and others, and recapture meaning and purpose in life.

 Peer Support for Professionals builds local community and connections among working professionals who have experience with a mental health challenge. (more…)

One woman’s 52-minute crisis

I haven’t always been challenged with directions. Reading signs and understanding where I’m going was something I did easily when I was young. I remember driving with my father and looking at the map. Usually, it was somewhere up north. He helped me understand how to read a map and the street signs. We never did any driving trips to Quebec so there was no need to learn or understand the Quebec road maps. I could have used some of that Dad support today! You see my Dad is originally from Val D’or Quebec, speaks perfect French and always knew what to do when we were lost. (more…)

Hall Pass

When you have been diagnosed with mental illness, life doesn’t stop giving you obstacles to overcome. Life doesn’t give you hall passes, get out of jail free cards or golden tickets. We deal with and work through all the same challenges as people who haven’t been diagnosed.

 

There is no Difference

We get married and divorced; our loved ones die, and there are wonderful births in our families. Our children do well in school, and they fail. We get jobs, and we lose jobs. We are no different from anyone else. Except, we are susceptible to being triggered by any one of the above listed events. Research has shown that anything that puts a stress on our brain (positive and negative) can affect our mood and our stability. It is critical to have support around you and a way to manage these kinds of changes in our lives. (more…)

A Leap of Faith – Disclosing Mental Illness in the Workplace

Telling a potential new client that I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder 17 years ago was the farthest thought from my mind last Friday. We were sitting in their boardroom hammering out the final details of our contract. Our next step was to review and agree on what both parties had put forward and sign off on the 1-year agreement. Still not a done deal.

I’m not sure how this happened; we started talking about our personal lives, and suddenly my partner looked over at me and said “what’s your passion, Leslie?”

Time slowed down; my heart dropped to my stomach, I felt a tightening in my chest; my mind started racing from one thought to the next, and as I looked at the clock on the wall, I realized I had three minutes to share my commitment and passion in transforming the Mental Health system in Canada. (more…)

A Lesson from Mother Nature

I love metaphors. Especially when I’m trying to sort something out that doesn’t feel so good. Living and speaking about mental health doesn’t always feel so good to me. The constant background conversation in my head says over and over again that ”they are going to judge you and think less of you if you let them know you have Bipolar Disorder” over and over again.

Frustrating,  so back to my metaphors. Today I was completing my patio garden and I began to think about how this year it’s has been very different for the deck and flowers, even my attitude. (more…)

Scared to Death

Got up this morning at 6 am for a scheduled MRI appointment for my wrist. No problem – easy peasy. I’ll just show up have the procedure and get on with rehabbing my wrist. 

If it was just that easy

Here’s what happened:

After checking in and answering a series of questions including if I had any metal piercings on my body or if I’d had a MRI before – both of which I answered yes. The technician asked again if I had any metal on me – yes my belly button ring, I said: the person who booked the appointment with me, checked with the technician and said it was ok.  I would have removed it if I needed to. (more…)