“Stress” and “anxiety” are common words used during this time of uncertainty. It is okay that you are feeling this way – everyone is right now! The longer we are on lockdown, the more stressed and anxious we become. We must take the time to take care of our mental health and do things that make us happy. In this case, working out everyday is important for our mental health.
Here are three ways that working out will make your day better
Encourages you to be mindful and focus on one thing – It is easy to get wrapped up in the day’s events. Taking 20 to 30 minutes out of your day to do something active – a Facebook Live fitness class, a Youtube video or going for a walk will allow you to reset and forget your worries and just focus on one thing. This will help with any anxiety since it provides your brain an opportunity to disconnect from the worries and focus on how your body feels during the workout instead.
Encourages you to take some time for yourself – even if you don’t like working out there are many ways to be active instead of taking a fitness class. These include walking, hiking and playing your favourite sport. Taking 30 minutes a day gives you permission to be uninterrupted by your kids or work. It gives you time to just focus on yourself, forget about daily stressors, and just focus on your body for 30 minutes.
Encourages you to break up the day – it is very easy to get sucked into the day if it is either by work, homeschooling, or other commitments. Taking some time every day to workout will all for you to break up the day. It will help release tension and restore energy in your body. It will also increase your attention and productivity when you go back to work or pick up the kids from school.
YMCA Calgary offers Facebook Live fitness classes that are between 20-30 minutes long. You can find the video playlist through this link: Click here
Hi everybody! My name is Stephen from YMCA Calgary, and I am here to chat briefly about a subject that has become increasingly important to me throughout the pandemic – meditation for anxiety. I am like millions who experience the countless physical and mental symptoms associated with stress and anxiety, such as:
- Difficulty focusing
- Problems sleeping
- Mood swings
- Low energy
Some of these symptoms have become amplified during these uncertain and divisive times. However, meditation has emerged as one of the many tools I use to help reduce stress and bring inner peace whenever I need it most. Like anything, it takes practice, but I have found that just a few minutes a day can make a big difference in my mental and physical well-being.
Meditation is a way for me to sort through the whirlwind of thoughts swirling in my mind at any given moment. When I feel overwhelmed or tense, taking 10 minutes to sit down with my thoughts will go a long way to providing me perspective on the stressors in my life and how I can develop skills or strategies to manage them. Meditation is also a great way to bring about self-awareness and guide my focus to the present rather than getting wrapped up in the multitude of worries about the future. Have you ever disagreed with someone and then replayed that moment over-and-over in your head? A short meditation session is a great way to reduce the negative emotions in those moments and increase your patience and tolerance.
There are numerous ways to meditate, but the three methods that have worked well for me are guided meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga. Experimenting with different methods will help you find a technique that works best for you. Combining techniques is also an excellent way to developing an overall strategy to supporting your overall well-being.
Guided meditation: There are dozens of apps and online sources that provided a guided meditation experience for beginners and experts alike. Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Buddhify are growing in popularity but do your research as some require paid memberships (which are worth every penny, in my humble opinion). You can also find guided meditations on social channels like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
Breathing Exercises: Focusing on your breath is considered a form of meditation because it centers your mind on the now, improves the mind-body connection, and reduces anxiety. A simple exercise that anyone can do is called Box Breathing. It is simple, and here is how it’s done: sit up straight in your chair or lay down flat on your back and close your eyes. Empty your lungs in preparation for your first breath of the exercise. Begin breathing in for four seconds, and then hold for four seconds. Proceed to breathe out for four seconds and then hold for four seconds. Repeat this process for four cycles.
Yoga: Developing a yoga practice is a terrific method of meditation that is both beneficial mentally and physically. By performing a series of yoga postures and using a controlled breath, you will build a flexible body and a calm mind. I often perform yoga first thing in the morning or the middle of a busy day because it allows me to shift my focus from what needs to be done to what I am doing at the moment. YMCA Calgary’s Facebook page has dozens of free yoga classes that you can follow from the comfort of your own home, and there are new live classes added every week! Click here
Starting something new is always scary and is never easy, but the most challenging things in life are the things worth doing. Do not feel scared that meditation is difficult or that you have a hard time quieting your thoughts. Meditation is just a way to listen more closely to those thoughts and understand where they come from. There is a style of mediation for everyone, and I hope that this article has inspired you in some way to explore a meditation practice for yourself.
I am sure you have noticed how much clutter you have at home—especially with the holidays just finishing. Nothing helps you feel like you have some control of your life then taking time to declutter your home. There are many charities and non-profits in Calgary that need everyday household items to distribute to families (and animals!) who would not have the items otherwise. We have compiled a list of different charities you can donate your items to help others:
Made by Momma
For the full wish list: Click here
- New and gently used in-kind donations:
Baby, kids & maternity clothing
- Baby gear
- Baby formula and baby food (unopened, not expired)
- Diapers and baby wipes
See their weekly wish list for urgent needs #MBMWishList
Calgary Food Bank
For the full wish list: Click here
- Canned food
- Pasta sauce
- Peanut butter
- Hygiene items
- Pet Food
- Baby Items
- Bags, cards, party supplies, books, art, and school supplies
- Games, toys, cake mixes, icing, balloons, and candles.
Women in Need Society
For the full wish list: Click here
- Clothing and shoes: Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s
- Accessories: hats, mittens, scarves, socks, purses, wallets, jewelry, and backpacks
- Household goods: cookware, bakeware, dinnerware, cutlery, glassware, plastic storage, and utensils
- Small electrical appliances
- Household décor
- Children’s games, toys, and books
The Children’s Cottage Society
For the full wish list (only accepting new items currently): Click here
- Clothes for newborns and children up to 18 years old
- Baby swings and bouncers
Calgary Flames Sports Bank
For the full wish list: Click here
- Sleds/ Toboggans
- X-Country Skis – 160cm and below
- X-Country Ski Boots – SNS & NNN Style
- Down Hill Skis – 160cm and below
- Ski poles
- Hockey Helmets – certified/non-expired
- Skates – Adult size 5-12 (for the teenagers)
Don’t have any physical goods to give? A financial donation to YMCA Calgary will support youth, children and adults to belong, grow, thrive and lead: Donate today
Join us for a Halloween Celebration – with outdoor activities, safe trick-or-treating and family friendly fun!
Date: Saturday, October 31
Location: Camp Riveredge and Camp Chief Hector YMCA
– Camp Riveredge – $25/Family
– Camp Chief Hector YMCA – $75/Family
– Camp Riveredge – 1-3 pm; 3-5 pm; 5-7 pm
– Camp Chief Hector YMCA – 1-7 pm
Register: email@example.com or call any YMCA location
|Location||Holiday||Hours of Operation|
|Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA||Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
|Saddletowne YMCA||Thanksgiving ||7 am to 2 pm|
Monday, October 12
|Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot
Monday, October 12
Monday, October 12
|Brookfield Residential YMCA|| Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
|7 am to 8:30 pm|
|Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge|| Thanksgiving
Monday, October 12
|7 am to 8:30 pm|
Week five: Nov 9 – 13
Mon, November 9
9:30am:Strength with Michelle
5:30pm: Interval training with Lorelei
Tues, November 10
9:30am: Yoga with Eunmi
Thurs, November 12
12:00pm: Int. Training with Lynda
5:30pm: Core strength with Nancy
Fri, November 13
9:30am: Gentle Fitness with Kaia
– Classes will be 20-30 minutes in length
– Classes will use minimal equipment
– Schedule may change due to instructor availability!
By: Tyson Moore, Health and Fitness Supervisor, YMCA Calgary
Chances are, most of you reading this have had some serious changes to your exercise routine over the past 4 months. The good news is that now that gyms across the country are opening again, we all have a chance to make some serious positive changes for ourselves and others when we get back to the gym floor. Here are 5 things to focus on when you’re ready to hit the weights again:
1) Focus on Improving Gym Culture
Fail videos, staring at anything wearing leggings, “Do you Even Lift Bro?”, fat-shaming.. mainstream gym culture wasn’t exactly the best role model for inclusivity prior to lockdown. Now more than ever is the time for us to be kind, ask for help, and respect differences between yourself and others. With enough focused effort and consideration, we can rebuild gym culture into a place for #goodvibesonly.
2) Focus on Yourself.. the Right Way
Let’s not sugarcoat it, most of us go to the gym for ourselves only. While that’s definitely an appropriate mindset to have, it’s important to consider your mental well-being when focusing on yourself. If you get excited just to have a distraction-free workout and clear your head, you’re going to do great in your first days back. If you come to the gym beating yourself up because you can’t lift as heavy, or you’re busy focusing on how your arms/belly/everything have gotten too flabby, then you’re probably not going to have a very good time. Instead, focus on having fun, trying new things, and feeling positive about anything you accomplish in the gym!
3) Focus on Training Light for a Few Weeks
Studies have consistently shown that when you take a long break from training (15+ weeks seems relevant, doesn’t it?), you are going to lose some strength and muscle mass, while possibly adding on a bit of body fat as well. Thankfully, most of the research also shows that a return to baseline where you’re able to improve on your performance again is only around 5-6 weeks. This means you might have to train a bit lighter for 3-4 weeks before you start ramping up the intensity to pre-lockdown levels. If you focus on frequency as your primary goal setter (ex. How often you go to the gym), and resist the temptation to go all out in your first week back, you’ll be back to where you were in no time.
P.S No matter what you do for your first workout, there is a very good chance you are going to be SORE… so be prepared to have a recovery plan as well!
4) Get Your Rear in Gear – Focus on Your Backside!
Unless you had a pullup bar installed at home and were doing glute bridges while watching Netflix, your posterior chain (back of the body) is going to need some extra love in your return back to the gym. Focus on adding in more sets of exercises like glute bridges, deadlifts, pulldowns, hamstring curls and prone bench rows to balance out any excessive sitting that may have occurred in the last 4 months.
5) Focus on Focusing – Try a Yoga Class!
While it’s going to be tempting to quickly burn off any lockdown calories accumulated with high intensity activities only, you might want to focus on your mobility and your stress levels to make sure your body can handle everything you’re about to put it through. Yoga classes are a terrific choice for your first activity back in the gym, as you can expect a full-body check-in of how your entire body is feeling with slow, easy movements. Perhaps more importantly, the class will also provide an opportunity to take your face away from your phone, which can welcome some much-needed stress relief and relaxation that might be in short supply at home these days. Find where a fitness class is being offered by viewing our drop-in fitness schedule here www.ymcacalgary.org/drop-in-fitness
Guest blog by Calgary Counselling Centre
Over the past couple of months, we’ve heard words and phrases like “unprecedented” and “uncertain times” in the news, social media, and all other forms of communication. These words are repeated so much because they are very true – we’ve never experienced anything like what we’re going through right now. We’re experiencing a collective sense of anxiety and unease on a global scale. Our lives have been altered and each of us is struggling in a different way. Whether it’s the person that has lost their job, the parent that is trying to juggle work and home-schooling their child, the person living on their own and feeling lonely, or the person that has lost someone they love. We each have a story of how COVID has impacted our lives.
Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the pandemic for all of us is the unknown. We don’t know how long this is going to last and when things will go back to normal, go back to what we’re comfortable with. Consistency, routine, predictability – we thrive on these things and right now the things that we can predict are in short supply.
To cope with the uncertain, we need to be deliberate with our thoughts and actions and make choices that prioritize our well-being.
Recognize and accept what you can and can’t control.
There are many things in our lives that we can’t predict and have control over. This is especially true during this time of crisis. We need to make a choice in how we approach these situations. Accepting that what you are feeling is normal can help alleviate some of the discomfort and uneasiness we feel. It can also help to make a list of the things that are and things that aren’t in our control. Here are some examples:
What you can’t control:
• The thoughts and actions of others
• How long the changes the pandemic has brought will last
• How others treat you
What you can control
• Your thoughts
• Your reactions to situations
• How you treat other people
Focusing your time, thoughts, and energy on what is in your control can give you a sense of empowerment, even in the most unpredictable of situations.
Look for the opportunities.
Even in times that seem the darkest, there is hope and there is opportunity for growth. Look for ways to grow and improve your life in this time. Spend time reflecting on the parts of your life that you enjoy and how you can do more of that, and the parts that aren’t working and what you can do to change it.
Find ways to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment, even if it’s small. Check things off your to do list, clean out a room in your house, walk a little farther than you did yesterday. A sense of progress doesn’t have to come from huge tasks to be meaningful.
Be deliberate in looking for the positives.
In times of stress and uncertainty, it can be so easy to fall into negative thought spirals and allow the worry to take over. We need to consciously choose alternative ways of thinking. There is a quote from Fred Rogers where he said:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
We have the ability to choose this attitude and focus on the positive, loving, wonderful things that are still happening around us.
Our current situation may be frightening and frustrating, but if we make the effort to harness our ability to be resilient, we can come out the other side of this, stronger and more at peace.
It’s okay to feel anxious, uneasy, angry, or whatever you’re feeling right now. If you’re struggling, we can help – learn more.
I love our city.
I’m a born and raised Calgarian, so naturally I love the mountains, the Stampede and I love our proud culture of sport and recreation (Go Flames!). I also love our generosity, our kindness, our spirit, and our people.
We miss feeling this at our YMCAs. We miss you.
These last few months have been hard. For many, our livelihoods, purpose and sense of security have been changed in ways none of us could have predicted. At the same time, a rising unrest is passionately and rightfully highlighting the disparities, discrimination and injustice that still impacts too many of our neighbours. The tragic death of George Floyd further amplifies a deep wound in our societies. It reinforces the important role we must all play to foster inclusion, belonging, diversity and community. These demonstrations are a cry for awareness, equity and change.
This is an important moment for us to be leaders in our communities.
Together as a city, we must continue to strive for positive change for every one of us. This moment calls us to listen carefully, to stand up for, and care for our neighbours; and for each other. This moment calls us to deepen our commitment to work together and to find positive steps forward. And, this moment calls us to double-down on developing future leaders who will move us forward with empathy and hope.
June is National Indigenous History Month; an opportunity to recognize and to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It is also an incredible opportunity to recognize the strength of present-day Indigenous communities, to share stories, and to learn from culture and traditions that help keep us all strong, inspired and connected.
Our YMCA work has always called us to create experiences that give every person we serve the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are proud that our YMCA is for everyone. Now and always, that means we must work to make sure not only our YMCA, but our city, is welcoming to all.
I believe in us Calgary, and I look forward to seeing you in person soon. We’re ready to keep doing our part so that everyone feels they belong.
President and CEO, YMCA Calgary
March 14, 2020
Every day, we are reminded of the changing landscape as the world deals with coronavirus (COVID-19.) Throughout this period, YMCA Calgary has closely followed guidance from the World Health Organization, Health Canada and the Government of Alberta.
Our YMCA facilities are gathering places for community life all over Calgary and in the Bow Valley. Our YMCA is guided by the core values of honesty, respect, responsibility and caring. It is through this lens we are approaching this evolving situation and working to ensure the YMCA continues to be safe and welcoming.
As a precaution to help limit the spread of the virus and support the community’s efforts to promote physical distancing, YMCA Calgary is increasing its response in the following ways:
Membership Hold Option
- Our flexible membership hold option, which allows members to suspend/place memberships on hold for up to 2 months, has been extended to 3 months.
Health, Fitness and Aquatics
- South Health Campus YMCA location ONLY is closed until further notice. This is a request from Alberta Health Services to limit non-essential access to its facilities. Learn more here.
- We will be reducing capacity in all drop-in classes to maintain appropriate physical distancing for participants.
- We have indefinitely closed all YMCA hot tubs, steam rooms and climbing walls as a precaution.
- We have cancelled all AquaFit and Gentle Fitness classes until further notice as these are popular with seniors, a more vulnerable population to the virus.
- Fitness equipment has been managed to maintain physical distancing. This will mean turning off some pieces of equipment, as an example.
- All birthday parties booked at YMCAs have been cancelled until the end of April. We will be in contact with you to schedule a new date or to arrange a refund. No further birthday party bookings will be taken prior to May 1.
Facility Rentals (including ice, pool, gym, theatre, meeting rooms and Camp Chief Hector YMCA)
- All events over 250 participants (including any spectators) are cancelled. We will be in contact with you to schedule a new date or arrange a refund.
- For events under 250 participants, we have relaxed our cancellation policy for March and April. All rentals may be rebooked without penalty, or cancelled with a full refund.
- Rentals for May and beyond remain unchanged at this time (existing rules apply). This will be reviewed in early April and further guidance provided at that time.
Here at the YMCA we are:
- Encouraging frequent hand washing.
- Encouraging cough and sneeze etiquette.
- Cleaning common areas more frequently and deepening our efforts in cleaning and disinfecting surfaces with hospital grade cleaning products.
- Cancelling all domestic and international work-related travel for YMCA staff.
Please help us by:
- Staying home if you or your family members are sick (this includes if you are taking medications to mask symptoms such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath) and calling 8-1-1 (Health Link.) While COVID-19 is mild in most cases, people with underlying medical conditions are at most risk. While you may be okay, others in our YMCA community may not. We ask that you consider the health and well-being of not only yourself, but those around you.
- Washing your hands before and after entering program areas, after using equipment or before sending your child to a program.
- Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, and disposing of tissues immediately.
- Placing dirty towels in the towel bins.
- Wiping down machines and equipment with disinfectant before and after each use.
If you would like more information on the Coronavirus, please refer to the Government of Alberta website at https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
Thank you for your commitment and support for our YMCA team members working in our communities every day. We will get through this, and we’ll do it as a community.
Yours in wellness,
President and CEO
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