Many people suffer anxiety. Since COVID more people than ever find it stressful to complete day to day tasks. A close girlfriend of mine hums when she is in a situation that makes her feel overwhelmed. It is a subconscious coping mechanism to calm her nerves while she deals with the problem. Another 19-year old gal breaks out in hives and cold sweats when she enters a store and fears she will have to interact with a stranger. A young girl hyperventilates and feels faint when she is put in an environment that makes her feel inadequate. These are just three of countless situations that demonstrate how pervasive anxiety is in our daily lives.
When I was younger I don’t remember my friends suffering from anxiety disorders. Perhaps they did but we didn’t call it that. Nowadays, every teen group has a number of kids that have trouble with nervousness and worry, and it is common knowledge amongst their friends. Recognizing the problem is one thing; fixing it is quite another.
One way of trying to combat the issue is to employ visualization. Visualization is designed to help you imagine situations in which you become nervous and then develop and implement coping strategies for dealing with the stress generated by the situation. If you practice how you are going to cope, it makes it easier to actually do what you practiced in real life.
I have found a handful of videos helpful in this regard. A woman named Paige Pradko speaks frequently about dealing with anxiety and staying calm. Developing the ability to stay calm in life is a critical skill and Paige’s methods seem to work for some people. There is also a woman named Kristen Ulmer who talks about visualization as it relates to sports anxiety. Many athletes, even at the top levels of sport, become debilitated by anxiety and need help to overcome the feelings of inadequacy and fear.
If you can learn to harness your emotions and calm yourself when your body becomes stressed, your life will dramatically improve. It may enable my girlfriend to stop humming; the 19-year-old to enter a store without feeling nauseous; and the young girl to stay upright and breathe when she enters that intimidating environment.
Perhaps spend some time watching Paige and Kristen and give visualization a try. I would be interested to know if it helps.
The fact that exercising is a must to keep you healthy is no secret. We all know how important physical activity is, yet many of us find it challenging to add more movement to our days. If you want to reduce your risk for illnesses such as cancer, obesity, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease, your best bet is to keep your weight down, enjoy a healthy diet, and keep moving. Here are 13 ways you can add more movement into your daily routine.
1. Consider Using a Standing Desk
My friend Wayne uses a standup desk and his health has improved immeasurably as a result. His back feels better, his weight is down, and he has more energy. You’ve probably heard that sitting is the new smoking. However, if your work involves mostly desk work, it can be difficult to avoid sitting. The introduction of “standing desks” has completely changed the way we look at the typical workstation. These height-adjustable desks allow you to mix up your day by choosing to stand part of the time. Even doing so in 15-minute intervals throughout the day can make a big difference to your overall health. Your goal should be to stand for half your workday whenever possible.
2. Change Positions Often
Moving while working is a good break. Any movement helps. If a standing desk isn’t an option, make constant changes in your position throughout the day. Remember, you don’t have to participate in traditional exercise to increase movement. Do stretches, get up and walk around your office, do a few squats now and then, or even change the position of your legs frequently – all of these movements add up and can make a difference in your daily stationary routine.
3. Stimulate Your Nerves
Any sort of movement that stimulates your muscles and your joints is good for you. Whether you sit or stand at work, you can stimulate your nerves to help reduce chronic pain and keep your blood circulating. Things like standing on a shiatsu mat or running your feet over a tennis ball or foot massager can stimulate your body and nerves throughout the day. That also eases constant pressure that can lead to aches and pains.
4. Take the Stairs
I always try to take the stairs. This is an easy solution to your movement challenges as you can do it whenever the opportunity arises. Instead of always opting for the escalator or elevator, you can take the stairs. If you’re too many floors up, just do a few flights, or even one to help keep you active. My dad heads up the stairs when he is in Florida…all five flights of them…and it keeps him both healthy and energetic. Even if you work from home, if you have a bathroom on another level, you can use it instead of the one on the same floor of your home office, you can get in some extra steps.
5. Use a Timer
Timers are always going off in my household to remind various members of the family that they want to do something or other. If the half-day of standing is too difficult, use a timer on your phone to remind you to stand up and move every 30 to 60 minutes. This allows you to take a physical break so you can squat, stand, stretch, and walk up and down a flight of stairs to keep moving. Ideally spent two minutes of activity when taking a break.
6. Exit a Stop Sooner, or Park Further Away
Incorporating more walking into your day is critically important. If you drive or take transit to work, consider parking further away or getting off a stop or two sooner. You can get in some extra movement when you need to walk to your door instead of ending up a few steps from the door.
7. Try Calf Raises
Whenever you think about it, lift your heels off the ground to do calf raises. You can do this either sitting or standing and do them whenever you have the chance. Waiting for a bus, standing in line at the grocery store, stuck in a meeting at work, taking the elevator – all of this “dead” time can include these easy exercises throughout the day. They don’t require any space like lunges and are far less noticeable than doing squats so that they can be done anywhere, any time.
8. Take and Make Phone Calls Standing
When I walk in the morning, I talk on the phone to friends and family. Cell phones are known as mobile phones for a reason. They allow you to take and make calls from anywhere. Rather than sitting at your desk while on the phone, walk around the office or for a long call take a half hour walk or stand until the call is complete.
9. Ask Co-workers to Join You for Walking Meetings
If you know that your co-worker is active or wants to be more active, ask them if they would mind having a meeting walking instead of sitting. Don’t let the conventions of the workplace keep you stuck inside or in meeting rooms all day. Walking meetings are far healthier and usually result in a faster meeting. This is perfect if you need one on one time but also works for smaller groups. In nice weather, you can take it outside and get some fresh air.
10. Take a Breather When Stressed
Breath is one of our most powerful tools. Taking a deep breath can calm our body down and energize us. It can remove stress. It impacts our entire body and mind. If you find you are having a particularly stressful day, use it as an excuse to take a breather. Remove yourself from your work environment — anywhere you can move around, take a break, and regain a sense of calm before returning to your day. Breathe deeply into your belly, hold it, then release it entirely so your belly is empty. Repeat. You can also do shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls while breathing. All of this breathing will definitely decrease your stress.
11. Watch TV Standing or Stretching
If you’re binge-watching your favourite show, consider doing something physical instead of just lying on the couch. Do some stretches, walk on the spot, lift some weights, go on the treadmill, and move a bit. Whatever you can do to keep moving works. If this isn’t appealing, at least stand up during the commercials. You spare yourself having to listen to the same messages over and over again and benefit from the movement.
12. Take a Walk at Lunch
Walking outside is so beneficial in so many ways. The movement, the blood flow, the fresh air, the wonder of nature…it is all positive. Hence consider using your lunch hours or break times to go outside and take a walk. Ask a coworker to join you if you want company, or head out on your own for some solitude with nature. On the weekend, don’t break the habit. Have a morning walk or ask your kids or partner to join you on Saturday and Sunday.
13. Take Up a Sport or Activity
An organized sport or activity will permit you to exercise regularly, have fun and potentially meet new people. Think of a sport or activity you could start to avoid spending so much time on the couch. Consider swimming, dancing, tennis, playing catch, biking, frisbee, golf. You are seeking active and healthy.
The more you move, the healthier you are. Your body will feel good with the added activity and will provide you with more energy. Hope you find a few of these tips helpful and capable of being incorporated into your daily routine. The result will keep you moving to hopefully enjoy a longer, healthier and happier life.
I remember reading that Michele Obama woke up really early to ensure she fit a workout in every day. When her first daughter was four months old, that meant 4:30 am. That is a little crazy-early for me. Nonetheless, the concept appealed to me that if you fit your workout in first thing in the morning then it is done for the rest of the day.
I love a morning walk. The weather is fresh; it is quiet, still and peaceful; you get your exercise out of the way for the day; and you feel more invigorated with energy for the remainder of the day. It definitely takes extra effort to get up early to add a walk into your morning regime but for me, the benefits far outweigh that one challenge. I am now used to the early rise and like being up before the rest of my crew. I have found that my morning walk brings the following health benefits:
We’ll start here because it is the first thing you’ll notice following your walk. Exercising outdoors is an excellent way to increase your energy. The fresh air and morning quiet gives you a boost. Although I typically walk for between 30 and 60 minutes each morning, it takes just 20 minutes of brisk walking to enjoy the newfound vitality. Instead of reaching for that cup of coffee in the morning with your eyes half closed, may I suggest you instead lace up your shoes and head out to take in some fresh air and get your circulation pumping.
I tend to run happy but notice that even generally cranky people benefit from exercise. So if you live with someone who tends to wake up angry, drag him with you on your morning walk. Mood improvements are a wonderful benefit of morning walks, which can create an overall feeling of well-being. Pumping a few endorphins through your body first thing can improve your mood for the entire day. Your daily constitutional can also improve self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, shake off fatigue, and even ease symptoms of depression. All of these positive feelings can be achieved with a 20 minute walk five mornings a week.
Get Exercise Out of the Way
If you’re like a lot of people, the thought of exercise might be a real turn off. However, a morning walk can provide enough exercise for the day. It is one of the best forms of physical activity and I find it far more pleasant than trying to work out at home or in a gym. If you find yourself trying to avoid exercise, walking feels more like a treat than the drudgery of exercising. Even a slower paced walk can do wonders for your health.. Walk at whatever pace you feel comfortable. After your walk, you will feel satisfaction in the knowledge that you’re done for the day.
Weight Loss and Avoiding Weight Gain
At my age, the objective is not to gain any more weight. A daily walk helps me maintain my weight. For some, a daily walk will not only permit you to maintain your weight but will allow you to shed a few excess pounds. Weight loss typically makes you look better, move easier, and improve overall health. A brisk morning walk lasting 30 minutes burns approximately 150 calories per walk. Walking five days a week means you are burning 750 calories a week from walking. That makes a difference…that is a pound of weight lost each month you walk.
For Your Health
Walking will improve your health. A morning walk can help you better manage your health, prevent some health problems, and make it easier to live with chronic health challenges. Because you are exercising, you are receiving an immune system boost, coursing endorphins through your body, promoting weight maintenance or weight loss, and reducing your risk for heart disease. If you suffer from diabetes, walking can also help you better manage glucose levels. There is even some research suggesting that walking daily will reduce your risk of contracting some forms of cancer and will increase your lifespan. What’s not to like?
Improve Muscle Strength
As we age, we lose muscle and gain fat. Our bodies change in ways we typically don’t appreciate. A nice brisk walk can help strengthen leg muscles. Going uphill or taking the stairs can further increase the impact of walking on your leg muscles and also increase your leg strength. Even a slight incline gets your heart and muscles pumping. A walk is a pleasant way to keep leg muscles toned. To get your arm muscles into the act, consider carrying small weights with you or bringing Nordic poles along on your walk. I often walk to the grocery store in the morning then walk home laden with groceries in my back pack and in my arms. Although sometimes I feel like a pack mule, I have no doubt it is good for me.
For me, being quiet in nature is an excellent stress buster. If you live in a neighbourhood with green space, you can clear your head by drinking in that natural beauty each morning. Even in an urban space, you can improve mental clarity with a morning walk but the more nature you can incorporate into your morning walk, the more you will benefit. As we age, our brains become foggier. A morning walk helps keep that youthful cognitive function that keeps your mind sharp. If you do creative work, a morning walk can open up your creativity and remove blocks. You can even experience improved problem-solving skills. I always find solutions to my problems come to me after a good night’s sleep and a morning walk.
A Good Night’s Sleep
When you are up early for your walk, you tend to tire earlier at night. When my head hits the pillow, it is easy for me to fall asleep. In my view, even though you are walking in the morning, that activity actually helps you sleep better at night. Also, if you suffer from mild insomnia, a morning walk is better than an evening walk because you don’t want your body moving into an energy-producing mode just before bed. Also, with a morning kick start, your metabolism will work better throughout the day. Once your morning walk is a habit, you start to create a nice cycle providing yourself with much needed energy in the morning and throughout the day with improved sleep at night, allowing you to wake ready for your next walk the next morning.
Toronto has been hot the past few days. Walking in the middle of the day would be uncomfortable. Walking in the morning allows you to take advantage of the coolest part of the day. I always drink a big glass of water before heading out for my walk, and another one upon my return. Others bring water with them.
Motion is Lotion
Three members of my household suffer from back pain. Although laying down may seem the obvious fix, they find it is actually the worst thing you can do. Staying up and staying active will help work out the back problem faster than lying prone and still. If you suffer from chronic pain of any kind, it is hard to get into the spirit of the motion-is-lotion movement. However, I believe it is true and can help you relieve your pain. You can start out with slower, shorter walks and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Instead, take your time and remember that every step is one towards improved health and a reduction in muscle stiffness and joint pain. Walking actually helps protect your joints, as it promotes production of lubrication while helping to strengthen joint muscles. Once again, this is very important as you age, as it can help manage issues such as arthritis. As a low-impact exercise, it is the safest way to avoid increasing pain, and instead helps reduce swelling and stiffness.
I still think Michelle Obama is a little crazy being up that early. But I agree wholeheartedly with her opinion that morning is the best time to exercise. Hopefully the above benefits have encouraged you to give a morning walk a try if you don’t already enjoy one. If so, then lace it up, take it slow to start, and always stay hydrated.
Canada is 40th in the world in vaccination rollout and Ontario is in our third lockdown since the pandemic began. Clearly we are punching way below our weight in the fight against COVID.
Closing restaurants, health clubs, hair salons and small retailers is clearly not going to stem the increase in COVID infections. That decision is merely going to put those businesses closer and closer to the precipice of bankruptcy. Closing the entire province when the problem is in Toronto and Peel is also asinine. This punishes the entire province when the COVID problem is concentrated in two main regions.
We have protected our elderly and most vulnerable living in congregate settings through mass vaccinations where they live. Let’s now focus on the sources of the current COVID problem: the mass outbreaks in essential service workplaces in the hot zones of Toronto and Peel. Let’s immediately vaccinate all essential workers regardless of age, at their workplaces. This would include the Amazon warehouse workers, the Canada Post workers, the teachers and the meat packer workers. Let’s also focus our current vaccines on Toronto and Peel because that is Ground Zero in Ontario. You solve the problem there, it reduces or eliminates the spread everywhere else.
I cannot fathom how frustrating a province wide shutdown must feel like in Sault Ste. Marie or Sarnia. Doesn’t common sense dictate that we focus on the problem. My dad had an analogy. If Ford Motor Company had a problem in one factory, they would solve the problem in that factory. They would not close all the other factories until they figured out the solution for the one problem in the one factory.
Rather than close businesses that have nothing to do with increasing COVID outbreaks; rather than shut down a province where infection rates are low in most regions; rather than damage certain segments of the economy already teetering on the edge, why don’t we just focus on the problem. First, immediately vaccinate all essential workers regardless of their age. Second, focus the vaccines available to vaccinate those living in Peel’s and Toronto’s highest risk neighbourhoods regardless of age. And re-open the province, for goodness’ sake.
Those moves might at least demonstrate that we are still in the ring trying to knock out the foe using a modicum of common sense and a glimmer of intelligence. Imagine.
Over the past two years, I have watched with interest and some consternation as more major retailers than I have fingers and toes have gone into receivership or bankruptcy. COVID has accelerated trends that were already happening in the marketplace. Four of those trends bear highlighting.
Apparel retailers are in trouble. Any apparel retailer with significant debt will fail in the next two years. COVID has caused those stores to be completely closed for the past three months. Now that they are permitted to re-open, the restrictions being placed upon them coupled with the general anxiety amongst a large portion of the population about venturing outside of their homes will work together to significantly reduce their sales. This reduction in revenue will leave them unable to cover their debts. That means receivership or bankruptcy.
Even those apparel retailers who don’t have a lot of debt will be forced to dramatically reduce their real estate footprint and significantly increase their online sales and web presence. That trend is unstoppable. Stores will be smaller and more reliant upon online sales in the future. They will have to push their brand online and ensure their websites can accommodate and promote online sales.
That rolls into my third prediction, which is that warehousing space will become more expensive and warehouse fulfillment centres will boom over the next two years. Any landlords who have warehouse space available will be able to ask more per square foot because as retailers reduce their real estate footprint, they will need a place to receive, store and ship out their clothing. Warehouse fulfillment and distribution centres will be in demand given the shift to online shopping.
The final prediction concerns malls. Malls will have to diversify their sources of income and their revenues to survive going forward. They will not be able to rely solely upon retailers. This trend has already started. The Shops of Don Mills has ringed the mall with residential towers, providing built-in shoppers. The retailers there still struggle but the restaurants, movie theatres, grocery stores and drug stores are thriving. Bayview Village and Yorkdale malls are trying to replicate that trend, adding significant residential density to the mall and adding more restaurants and entertainment centres to service the residents they propose to move in. Malls in Canada will need to move in that direction to survive.
Those are my four retail real estate predictions for Canada for the next two years. I will continue to watch with interest to see what comes to pass.
She has worked hard her whole life; has raised three good children who are now good adults; has been loyal to her husband; immigrated to Canada to create a better life for her family; and has always tried to help those who are less fortunate than she is. She is now at an age where she expected to be travelling, enjoying her life, enjoying her children and grandchildren, and feeling good.
Instead, in the past three years, her daughter’s husband died within three months of the birth of his first and only child; her daughter suffered a terrible depression after her son-in-law’s death; my landlady contracted cancer which she has been fighting for the past three years; her son married an Iranian woman and moved back to Iran; and her husband spends much of his time in Iran running his business while trying to deal with an economy that is struggling. This is not what she envisioned.
Why do bad things happen to good people? An age old question. Some people say that God only gives you what you can handle. Others say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Others indicate that it is the devil trying to discourage you from your faith. Others that life is random and nothing happens for any reason at all. I don’t know the answer but the only one of the four prior answers that I believe is that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Life is challenging and inexplicable. Bad people become rulers of countries. Bad people make fortunes and use the money for ill intent. Bad people take advantage and abuse their employees, partners, spouses and friends. Bad people succeed in many aspects of life. It doesn’t seem right.
In speaking with my landlady, I was brought back to the reality that life is not fair. All that we have is today. So enjoy every moment without exception because you cannot count on tomorrow or plan for tomorrow with any degree of certainty.
Live in this moment; it is all that you have for certain.
Early in life I was told to find what you love to do and the money will follow.
Back then, I loved to play basketball and I was good at it…by London, Ontario standards anyways. Nonetheless, not being male nor being blessed with the ability to dunk, the advice wasn’t readily useful.
Then I went to university and studied law, met and married my husband, and together we opened a law practice. Along the way I met many wonderful clients and made steady money practicing law but I never loved it. I understood by practicing why lawyers have one of the highest rates of alcoholism and are one of the most miserable of all professionals.
Third time lucky…I enrolled in business school and all of a sudden things became a little clearer. With the financial skills I learned there my husband and I were able to determine that fixing problem properties was something I would enjoy and that may make us some real money.
The first problem property we were looking at was owned by a fellow who was having challenges. He had tried to sever the properties but hadn’t completed the severance. He wasn’t paying his mortgagee/partner. His wife and he had separated and she was suing him for child and spousal support and was about to seize his assets. In the face of all that, he was still difficult to deal with as a vendor despite his desperation. He ultimately ended up fleeing to Florida where he had another property and where he would ultimately be charged with arson because he allegedly tried to torch that property for the insurance money.
The properties we were looking at were completely vacant…of humans anyway although there were definitely creatures living inside. They were 13,700 square feet in size over two buildings. They were connected by a Soviet era bunker/tunnel whereby you could move from the front building to the back without going outside or being seen. It rained indoors. The carpets were mouldy; the walls were peeling off; everything was stained and dirty. They were both in a glaring state of neglect and disrepair. Long before, they had been owned by Peter Monk’s company and had bullet proof glass in parts of them.
Our realtor asked us a number of times if we actually wanted to purchase the properties they were such a mess. He wondered why two lawyers who had a law practice making a bit of money, very limited experience in real estate, and seemingly not a lot of resources would want this money pit.
In hindsight, the answer was simple:
LOCATION: The properties were on Hazelton Avenue in the heart of Yorkville in Toronto, a top drawer location – you couldn’t get much better
SCOPE: The properties comprised enough square footage that if successful, they could really create a ton of equity upon completion of renovation;
FINANCING TERMS: The financial terms we negotiated permitted us to purchase with a minimal down payment and put the remaining money we had towards renovation; and
CHALLENGE: The properties presented just enough of a challenge that I thought we could successfully renovate them…assuming we were frugal and got a bit lucky…and refinance them in the planned amount of time.
That was the why. We were also younger and childless and more willing to roll the dice.
Hence we bought the properties for $2.3 million with $200,000 down, a first mortgage from Community Trust of $1.3 million at 8% and a second vendor take back mortgage of $800,000 at 11%. The plan was to renovate as quickly and cost effectively as possible.
We hired a crew of guys and a contractor who became and still is a great friend. We directly supervised them in ripping out everything that was damaged and replacing it with anything we could find on sale.
The front building was to be renovated first. Once partially done, we moved our tiny little law firm into this huge front building. We then created two residential units, one above and one below the law firm, that occupied quickly. The residential tenant downstairs was a smoker – although she claimed to be a non-smoker when we rented to her – and the smoke infiltrated the entire building, making working difficult. We had to kick her out and replace her, which we did in time.
When we tackled the back building, we went high end residential rental with whatever nice products we could find on kijiji, craigslist, the side of the road, carpet ends, end run tiles, paint on sale, kitchen items on sale, and surplus bathroom items. Money was tight and it was a necessity that we were frugal and smart with our money. We had more time than money, so we spent time finding bargain renovation items.
We completed and filled one suite at a time in the back building and we had some very interesting tenants over the years. One was a professional baseball player who changed his home number every three weeks to avoid his wife meeting the parade of call girls and women for hire that frequented the place when she and the kids weren’t there. We had a Buffalo Bill who refused to live in Buffalo and took a limo every day from our place to Buffalo and back. We had a fellow who made a fortune in the high tech industry in Europe, became a pilot, and brought his former stripper partner back to Toronto with him. He had babies with her while continuing to frequent strip clubs here. Those were just three of the very interesting clientele we met and got to know.
Within a year of purchase, we had renovated, severed, and rented out enough of the buildings to justify an increase in value to $3.5 million collectively. When we were done, the Russian Embassy came knocking because they loved the location, the underground tunnel and the bulletproof glass, but no offer was forthcoming. We thus refinanced each of the properties with traditional lenders at much lower rates. Due to the increase in value, we were able to withdraw our initial down payment of $200,000 along with most of our $300,000 in renovation costs, giving us the money to do it again.
That was our start in the world of fixing problem real estate. We bought in June 2001 and finished in June 2002. For that project, it was definitely accurate that when I found what I loved, the money followed.
My brother is a savvy investor who makes money in the market. One of my best girlfriends worked on Wall Street and Bay Street and makes money in the markets. Her spouse is a portfolio manager turned investment writer and he makes money in the markets.
I, on the other hand, have always lost money in the markets. Every time! I have always felt more comfortable with the thought of controlling my own money. That has meant in the past buying real estate, generally problem real estate, then fixing it. I still love to do that when I have the opportunity.
Everyone has their abilities. The key is figuring out which of your abilities will make you some money.