Updated: Oct 12, 2019

With Canadian Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to chat about being grateful for difficult experiences, after the fact. Does that make sense?. Life might be tough in the moment, but it usually passes and we can look back and smile. You survived! I survived! We survived!

I'm very grateful (most of the time) for the travel I've done. I'm more grateful for the great people I meet along the way. So that's what I'm giving thanks for this Canadian thanksgiving.

I've never subscribed to new age waffle of 'smile though your heart is breaking'! Have you? I think it's really damaging to paste a smile on your face, when you feel blue. I also believe that hiding 'feelings' just puts something off, until problems build up and you blow! Say what you mean and mean what you say! Equally sitting still in your misery isn't going to solve anything, is it?

If you are feeling blue. Open up. Do something positive about it. Often the reason we don't move forward is because we set ourselves impossible targets! Do one small thing each day towards caring for yourself better. Small steps forward are easier to achieve.

If you are a Mum or partner, often you will find one of you is the 'off loader' and the other just gets on with it. The one that gets on with it often soaks up a lot of emotional energy from the other one or especially kids. A great thing to do with children is of course listen but end the conversation with 'so what was good about your day today?'. It works believe me. You can also do this with your partner.

Sometime home chats get heated. Best to take them for a walk or a drink. Be aware that the other half may feel ambushed so be careful with tone. Keep your voice low and deliberate and you will be heard. Managing stress and anger can be learnt. Also be clear on what you want out of a situation. What is it you are trying to achieve? Once you've thought it through beginning, middle and end, you will have a better chance of being heard and getting a positive result. .

I also believe strongly that social media promotes 'editing of our lives' into only the best bits! It's not terribly healthy in my humble opinion. 'Keeping up with the Jones's or Kardashians' can become part of what is causing you stress!. Keep your own goals and keep them real. Dreams can come true if you work hard towards them together as a family.

There is of course the opposite end of the scale where people become their illness online and wear it like a badge. I'm pretty sure that's not healthy either. In life we must find balance and we must talk about real life not fake life. I have health issues and I decided sometime ago, not to fall into the trap of 'hash tagging' them every five minutes. There are plenty of warriors out there blazing the trail for causes around the world. They don't need me. Don't let your illness define you, become you, live well along side it, I say.

As you know I've found this last 9 months here in Canada really tough. I regretted leaving my little farm house, my perfect morning coffee spot, looking out over the fields. Seemed a great idea at the time I guess. He is very persuasive but I left a little of my heart in Yorkshire. It was the best respite after a crazy year but it's done and its also nearly over! I can't go back but I can move forward.

Here, our rushed choice of rental property turned into a living nightmare pretty quickly with road noise and building noise, enough to drive us completely bonkers! I had to learn pretty quickly to manage how it made me feel. I felt trapped! The only way I felt better was walking out in the country, a few miles from here. So thats what I did, I do. You can't make a country girl a city girl overnight.

Then we got the puppy from hell, who is now the sweetest most loving little fluff ball I ever did meet (Don't tell Bertie, eh). If she is all we take from here, then all is well. The gifts maybe few and be very small but they are gifts none the less.

I do believe, it's all a journey, life, that is, a process and an experience. Some of the many moves I've made over the years, I've not particularly enjoyed but years later, I can pick out the good bits and be grateful for the chances given. I'm so aware that many folks spend their lives wishing for travel and they must wonder why I moan so much? I have always been a reluctant traveller.

I've been writing about my year in France lately and I have to say, time is a great healer! One thing I have noticed is how eventful that 12 months was! There's no wonder I was all over the place and so eager to run home.

I was watching a program about the stress hormone cortisol last night and how to manage your stress, using MINDFULLNESS. I've personally only ever managed to find peace in walking or writing and feel I really should try harder, to respond positively to adversity. Stress is bad for our health, we all know that. Our blood pressure rises and we take a fight or flight stance to problems. In turn our anxiety rises and our brains slow down, flooded with thoughts. Stress shows on our faces and bodies too, so it is really important to learn to control the amount of stress we are under daily.

Stress changes your DNA! It cuts years from our time on this earth. Did you know this?

At this time of year, migrants and EXPATS thoughts turn to the festive season ahead and those they left behind. Winter makes it all seem less exciting and lets face it winter celebrations are all about family.

In the summer you were busy out in the sun and feeling good. Winter see's you huddled in front of the log fire and your mind wanders to those you love, miss and you ask yourself 'is it all worth it?'. Are you selfish for following your dreams and making your lives better?.

No of course not.

I guess, If it is better, then all well and good but if it isn't, what then? Well my lovely you aren't glued to that exact spot are you! Remember that. Find a way to make it better for you all or move! Go visit home, yes home. You can't suddenly wipe out all those years growing up in one spot with your family, because you moved across the pond.

Look, just because you moved abroad doesn't mean family problems pass you by. Often they seem harder to resolve simply because of the distance between you. I know most of us wish to leave behind the bad but it tends to follow us, doesn't it?

How do we deal with the stress of family problems miles away? Not all your family members will be happy for you or wish you well. I'm afraid you have to filter the negative out and ignore. Don't respond to criticism. Just wish them well and carry on. Don't give them head space. Their opinions are theirs not yours. What they think of you is not your business.

One of the biggest online issues these days is GASLIGHTING. This is when someone you knew well and were fond of, had a relationship with, or did business with suddenly ignores you. They drop off the planet. It's utterly cruel. People generally do this as its easier than dealing with a problem head on. The kindest thing to do is explain that you feel you have moved on in a different direction and will be taking time away from the friendship or relationship. Set your contact rules out clearly. I've never seen the point of leaving someone to just wonder what happened? Where did you go?. I experience it a lot with potential bloggers. They are all for it and then nothing. Rather than say, 'I thought I'd be good at it, enjoy it but actually I find it overwhelming'. Or 'I'm sorry I'm so busy with my family/business, I don't have time right now'. It's really simple to be honest without being offensive.

Social media is fast paced. Things get missed. Not every post needs a like. If you get caught up in statistics you will suddenly find you aren't enjoying it anymore. One of the best ways to maintain good mental health is to ensure you have time off from social media. It really should be part of your self care routine.

If you find yourself being overwhelmed with homesickness, contact home. Pick up the phone and ring, SKYPE even. Seeing your loved one's face is a great way of connecting until the next visit.

Keep photos of your family around the house, might seem obvious but it does help. Send little parcels home and get them to reciprocate. Don't be afraid to tell someone you miss them. Get your family to film big events so you can be part of them, if you can't make it home.

These days there are so many free ways to contact your folks abroad! No excuse really!

The other ways to deal with homesickness is to be present where you are. Join in! Find something to do with people that are actually in the same boat as yourself. Walk it off together. Reach out. Tell friends how you are feeling. Let them help. Keep moving forward. A bad day is often just a bad day, not a bad life.

Exercise is a great way to de stress. Doesn't have to be an olympic activity! I have bought myself water proof gear so I don't become a fair weather walker, which I'm in danger of becoming. A little rain never hurt anyone did it!

Eating well and getting sun light is very important. In fact, light is very important inside as well as out.

Here's a few things you can do to feel better!

walk 40 minutes daily

stay hydrated

eat feel good foods such a citrus fruit, nuts and green vegetables

limit high sugar and carb loaded foods

take supplements such as vitamin D

make lists and keep a journal

buy a SAD lamp to read by

turn dow the heating and wear extra clothes instead

have regular contact with family and friends

talk about how you feel

meet up with friends in your local area

join clubs

consider adopting a pet

move every 20 minutes during the core hours

stretch for 10 minutes every morning

limit coffee to two a day

volunteer to ensure you get out of the house a couple of times a week

set yourself some winter projects

practice patience and kindness with other people

try not to be judgmental

reach out to someone in need

finish each day writing down what you are grateful for

If you find your feelings getting too much, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss a way ahead.

Donna x

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