Progress – Relax, Rebuild

Ideas to reduce distress, relax, and rebuild, summarized from monthly posts.

February 2020

Hygge – The Danish / Norwegian recipe for happiness: Get Cozy
This cultural tradition focuses on enjoying simple comforts to find contentment. Especially useful during dreary, soggy winter months!

February 2018

By contributor: Keith Martin, P.Eng

A notebook for your frame of mind!

Writing things down makes an idea, a task, or an emotion that much more clear to me. To help me do this I use several notebooks to organize my thoughts and my plans without having to carry them all in my head.

First, I use a paper agenda to schedule my appointments and to-do’s. Not only is it an effective way to organize my calendar and make notes, it also provides the opportunity to look back at an entire year and take stock of accomplishments, challenges, and special moments.

In addition, I keep a journal to express emotions and thoughts in a private way – something just for me to know and to share. This helps me sort out the thoughts in my mind and remember items I want to discuss with my partner, my therapist, or family.

I also keep a “five-minute journal,” a gift I received from my psychologist cousin. In the morning, I write down a) 3 things I am grateful for, b) 3 things that would make today great, and c) a daily affirmation. I then repeat these aloud to myself, to let them sink in. In the evening, I write down 3 amazing things that happened in the day, and 2 things that would have made it go even better. It is a simple way to bring more positivity into my life.

Lastly, I have another journal where I keep track of ideas, learnings, and inspiration. Entries could be notes from a leadership book I am reading, wisdom from a meeting with a mentor, or personal inspiration. It helps to write them down.

So, I encourage you to take up writing in a notebook for yourself – and see where it takes you!


October 2016

Sleep-in once in a while.

Schedule ahead of time with co-workers, supervisor, clients, etc for a late start some morning.  Catch-up on a home project or non-critical appointments. Visit a friend for coffee.  Recharge.  Especially useful on one of those upcoming winter mornings.

September 2016

Reward to reinforce.

To reinforce habits, set out a reward with each goal. Ensure the reward will reinforce the habit.  This was described by Gretchen Rubin in a recent summit with Michael Hyatt.  Gretchen has authored: Happy at Home, Better than before, The Happiness Project and hosts a podcast:

July 2016


If you haven’t already, start observing your heart rate when you are content or when you become agitated.  Practice noticing a difference when you change your breathing pattern, smooth vs halting or rushed.  Around Minute 17ish of the same video.

June 2016

Summer time bonus time – early wake-up

With brighter June mornings it is easier than ever to get up a bit early.  Try subtracting 15 minutes from your normal alarm during the next week.  Apply this bonus time to drawings, playing music, stretching, thinking deep thoughts (and writing them down).  You might just get hooked!

May 2016

Eat some quality chocolate! or bit of your favourite snack when you’ve had a really good day.  Reward yourself for achieving results from well placed efforts.  Train that brain to work smarter!  You will be amazed home much easier it becomes to have great days!

April 2016

GO fishing!  Learn to light a fire… Find a place and practice primal survival skills to briefly reconnect with nature.

March 2016

Another borrowed from Todd Henry: Creativity – take time to think deep thoughts, build strategy.

Reserve at least 1 hour per week, ideally in the morning. If you want to think deeply, read the works of those who think deeply.

February 2016

 What can you continue doing?  In Ground Hog Day, Bill learns to make his world a better place.  I would suggest his patience and practice at the piano play a big part!  I encourage you to latch onto your favorite hobby and work on mastering it.  Every skill is transferable, especially in music!

January 2016

Keep “work shoes” at work.

Change out of your “work shoes” at the end of the work day.  Your subconscious will shift gears and relax in your next footwear choice. Your shoes will likely last longer as well!

December 2015

Environment inspires you.

Add original art to your work space. It will remind you of the singular focus and invigorating sensation of creating content!  If you created the art, all the better to draw you back to that feeling!

November 2015

Learn to breathe deep.

A fundamental of managing your natural stress response is learning to breath with purpose: Check out this video and try practicing

Or the Elmo “belly breath” song that my 2 year old daughter enjoys!

October 2015

Be intentional in your conversations with others.

Put your phone down, turn-off your computer monitor. Don’t try to multi-task. If it’s a work related conversation, take notes of the current state and the agreed path forward. You will be more relaxed.

In any conversation, be the one to ask the next question:

  1. “How do you expect the next step / meeting / contest / workshop to go?”
  2. “What planning / action / review will make ‘X’ happen smoothly?”
  3. “You said you really enjoyed / hated ‘X’. What made it exceptional?”

September 2015

Spend time making something you can enjoy later: baking, woodwork, knit a toque, create several workout playlists, record your own music, learn how to make jam… You will feel more capable and self-sufficient.

August 2015

Reward yourself!

Set out your reward for achieving a realistic, time-bound, measurable goal. Once you hit the target, bask in your success.  i.e.: exercise 3 time in a week, then you can watch an episode of your favourite series!

July 2015

Perform a morning stretch or workout – 10 -15 minutes.


You will be energized to tackle the day.

June 2015

Write down each evening what you have done that day or evening to relax.

  1. Observe what you enjoyed
  2. Observe what you could have avoided and test the next day

May 2015

Find a way to pay-forward (actively give) of your time or resources monthly

  1. Mentor or volunteer, maybe only an hour per month
  2. Make a physical contribution and see where it is used: give towels to the SPCA, drop food off at a food-bank, donate clothes, supplies to a fire victim relief effort, etc.

April 2015

Plan for an early start each morning

  1. Set out you clothes, breakfast and lunch fixings the night before.
  2. Leave your phone, keys and wallet in the same place each night
  3. Write a note to yourself if you need to remember something on your way out the door.

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