What it’s like to have S.A.D…. – by Michelle Hudecki

Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. as it is commonly referred to is a type of depression that is related to the changing of the seasons — S.A.D. begins and ends at about the same time every year. If you’re like most people with S.A.D., your symptoms start in the beginning of winter (when the days are the shortest) and continue into the winter months – usually the lowest point is around mid- February, zapping your energy and making you feel a variety of mixed emotions.

S.A.D. is a real condition and effects 4-6% of the population (4 out of 5 people effected are women). S.A.D. shows up the same way depression shows up in a person.  While the exact cause of S.A.D. is unknown, researchers believe the condition may be related to the body’s internal clock, which regulates temperature and hormone production. Nerve centres in our brain control our daily moods and rhythms and are stimulated by the amount of light that enters our eyes. The reduction of sunlight in the winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood and behaviour) and melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood). S.A.D leaves you with all the same symptoms as someone who is clinically depressed leaving you with feelings of loneliness, sadness, emptiness, unhappiness, loss of interest in things you love, over-sleeping… and the list goes on.

Depression can mask itself in the ugliest forms imaginable, some misunderstood symptoms include: anger, irritability, impatience, sleep problems, anxiety, crying spells- sometimes over nothing at all, inability to concentrate, random physical aches and pains, substance abuse, appetite change and isolation.

When faced with these symptoms – if you do not know how to handle how you are feeling, you may be suffering from this or a similar condition. Speak with your doctor or a therapist. Getting help is so important! Never be afraid to talk to your friends, family, doctor or therapist! Remember you are so loved!  

Since I have suffered with this debilitating condition for over 10 years I can tell you some things that have helped me in this dark time to lighten my mood and if you can relate to these symptoms I hope this helps you too!

BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE: When you are faced with that crippling, can’t get out of bed anxiety, and negative thoughts keeping you down, THIS is what you need. Yet THIS is the hardest thing on the planet to do. Set yourself up for success the night before. Pick a time, pick a class, sign up online (this can help with accountability!) Put whatever you need by the door ie. change of clothes, yoga mat, water bottle, snacks… Set your alarm and DO IT! There has never been a time I’ve had a regret about getting to a yoga class, spin class, or making it to the gym! Exercise increases your levels of serotonin! I promise you won’t regret this one and that is why it is MY NUMBER ONE RULE of S.A.D.

STAY SOCIAL : This can be another challenge when we are caught so low in the “winter blues”. This can be especially tough when the weather is bad and we’re advised not to drive or we end up working from home (which is awesome!!! -but can be very isolating). Spend time with supportive family and friends! Don’t be afraid to share your feelings! Let the ones you love know how you are feeling. The ones you share this with will be there for you, to listen to you, until you feel heard! To hug and squeeze you, until you smile. This is a BIG one – when you hug someone – like really squeeze someone for about 20 seconds or more (cuddling too!) Oxytocin is released. Known as the “love hormone” when it is released it is said to strengthen empathy, trust, your sexual desires and helps to strengthen your relationship. Oxytocin also helps as a treatment for depression, anxiety, intestinal (digestive) issues and a lack of sexual desire. If you know someone is down let that hug last a little longer, a little tighter. Get that Oxytocin flowing!

TAKE A VACATION AND IF YOU CAN’T TAKE A VACATION STICK TO A SCHEDULE: This might not always be feasible because of work, children, life, money or whatever your circumstance might be in. Travelling is soul food. It heals you on a whole new level. It gets you to step out of your comfort zone and into the unknown, maybe you don’t know the language, maybe you get lost, maybe someone helps you along the way – you get to see life from a different perspective. You get to meet new people, understand new cultures and if you forgot to appreciate the life you have back at home 9 out of 10 times you will realize how lucky you are and how much you having been taking your life or people in your life for granted. Vacation time is sometimes not achievable due to the busyness of life – if that is the case try to schedule time for you. Book a massage, schedule a float, give yourself a manicure, a facial, a pedicure. Listen to a guided meditation. Try to follow a schedule and/or a routine. Go to bed at the same time each night. As “boring” or mundane as this might sound, getting into a daily routine can be very healthy and great for your well-being.


NEGATIVE SELF TALK: A lot of mental and emotional suffering can come from the way we talk about ourselves. It is scientifically proven people who talk negatively about themselves are under higher stress, have trouble getting into routines and can often be overweight. All of those cant’s, wont’s, don’ts shouldn’t, couldn’ts… can really eat away at our self-esteem. When our self-esteem is low we can have trouble making decisions. If our thoughts determine how we feel, our feelings often become our stories, and our stories become our truths. When we keep telling ourselves negative stories we start to believe them and they become our reality. However, when our stories are about how amazing we are, how lucky we are or how awesome our lives are…. THAT becomes the story. THAT becomes your reality! Start your day by telling yourself 3 things you love about you!

ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Alcohol and substances are temporary “fixes”. At the time we feel good, but alcohol is a depressant. When you start to come down you will often become lower or bluer than when you started. Drinking too much is harmful to your cognitive function, your memory and can also lead to depression. When you drink too much you are more likely to act on an impulse and make bad decisions. Alcohol and substances can lead you further down the rabbit hole into depression.

LET GO OF OLD PATTERNS AND TOXIC BEHAVIOUR: Sometimes it is easy to stay in the same stagnant patterns. Sometimes we get used to eating poorly – greasy, fatty foods or drinking too much… These patterns can have a negative effect on our bodies, our self-esteem, our well-being and how we view ourselves and the world around us. It takes 30 days to create a habit. If you want to try to introduce something new into your life… start small. Maybe eating a vegetable at every meal or cutting soda or super refined sugars from your diet. Once you are able to stick with these small changes for 30 days you will notice how much easier it becomes to add on healthier habits! Start small and tell yourself – “Yes, you can!”

We are all going through something in our lives, we are all at different stages. Be kind to everyone you meet, because everyone is fighting their own battle and has their own unique story. When you can live with compassion, you can learn to drop judgment and realize we are all just skin, bones and souls. 

Michelle Hudecki
245 h RYT Hatha-Vinyasa-Yin

Dreaming In Real Time – by Myrtle Sodhi

Have you ever drooled over something so much that you could barely wait till you got it? Like the time I saw this very striking jacket with 3 quarter length sleeves, with a skirt that flowed out like a tutu at the waist, and was held together by a lavish belt. I know-  irresistible.  I literally couldn’t wait until it was delivered to my house.  Everyday I would check my emails to see if any delivery notifications appeared on my inbox. 

Well it did arrive and as I ran my fingers down the quilted fabric of this extravagant purchase I felt such excitement.  I tried it on and twirled around in front of my mirror, watching the sides of the skirt flare open and ripple all around me.  I couldn’t wait to wear it out – maybe my birthday dinner – who knows.  Well it has been 2 years to be exact and I still haven’t worn it.  It still stands on a hanger in my closet poking out from all the other dream outfits.  The dream outfits will never cut it. The problem is the more we devour is the more we are devoured. The system we live in was intentionally created to keep us consuming without being satisfied.  Realizing this I embarked on a journey to figure out how to live outside of this misaligned value system.

Dreaming at What Cost?

Since Covid came through and swept us up into a state of stillness, reflection and a bit of life assessment, I have come to realize that I had been sold a big, big, big lie.  Not just one about fashion either – about everything.  As a child of an immigrant single mother from the Caribbean I was expected to fulfil the dream dreamt by my mother and her parents.  To go abroad, settle, and acquire all the things that show that we were worth the stamps on the visas, the seats on the plane, the desks in the schools, and the jobs that were so “graciously” handed to us.  We wouldn’t waste this opportunity – this chance at happiness, and success – at dreaming in real time.   One problem remained – the dreams stole our ability to experience living.  Yet, we still continued with them. We devoured them even though we choked on them from time to time. 

The truth is the dreams we were sold came at the cost of community, service, self-care, leisure and renewal.  We had no time for rest, to linger long enough on a thought to invite a spark, to sit long enough with a pause to welcome the creative spirit that usually accompanies it. The dreams also told us the lives that we left behind were somehow substandard, backward, and lacked value.  Moving at a slower pace meant we didn’t value work.  Taking a break meant we were not valuable.  The hard to swallow dreams raged on.

Back to Covid and how it made all of us sit, wander, and contemplate the value, the meaning, the necessity of living.  Of living – for the living.  I started looking closely at what I took joy in.  I was ushered back to community.  To people.  To my mother who from 17 – 65 spent her life working for others – for their happiness, for the fulfillment of their dreams. All the while she endured oppression, racism, and stress induced illnesses.  During the summer of Covid we spent many mornings out in the garden harvesting and planting – noticing all the small changes in nature with each sprout, with each offering.  There I started experiencing dreaming in real time. I was also brought back to my children who forced me to accept that their value was not embedded in being a product of the education system, my parenting, or society’s offerings.  They are evolving beings on their own journey.  With their own right to explore their role in community. To my neighbours and friends who show me that pulling up a chair in the driveway, dropping by to say hello, witnessing voices on the phone are what sweet dreams are truly made of. 

The Community: The Center of the Universe

In The Courage to Be Disliked, Ichiro Kishimi explains that the community is the center of the universe and it is our service to community that brings fulfillment and happiness. Not the acquisition of wealth or approval from others – but service without need of praise or ego stroking. This is the heart center of the universe. So simple. So accessible. Considering all of this – why are we still chasing the capitalist dream? Why do our actions continue to stoke the flames of a system that cares little for the every in everybody? Why do our actions continually place product over people, and profit over impact? All those who have sold us the lie – the capitalist lie of accumulation and domination, are not happier, more fulfilled, or at peace. So why do we keep believing them? What is the root of this cognitive dissonance?

Three Questions for Creating A New Dream

 Before Covid being busy was a sign of success. You gained a sense of worth and value from how in demand your time was from your employer. Now we have been gifted time. Time is the real killer of a capitalist regime. Capitalism tells us that too much time means we will grow weak, stupid, lazy – that our brains will shrivel. But for the first time many people had time to reflect on the tasteless mouthfuls they were consuming. Some of us took the time without guilt to really ask some questions. According to Deepak Chopra, yogis live by 3 questions: Who am I? What do I want? and How do I serve? I started writing these questions down at the top of my daily to do list. Everything that went on that list had to answer one of those questions. It was in the answers I found a way to address the cognitive dissonance that plagued my life. It was also the path to dreaming a new dream that aligned with my values.

Who am I? I am a being with worth just as I am. No degrees, awards, recognition, accomplishments, failures, breakdowns, or heartbreaks can add to or diminish my worth and value.

What do I want? Time to wander, wonder, create, connect and learn.

How do I serve? Inviting others into spaces that help them recognize their worth, explore their connection to community, and experience moments of joy.

So take some time today to explore these three questions and see if your dreams are aligned with who you are, what you seek, and how you serve and start dreaming in real time.

7 Things You Can Do During The Day To Reduce Stress & Increase Overall Energy – by Michelle Hudecki

Working long hours, having a phone glued to your ear, sitting hunched over a computer desk, skipping lunch and rarely taking a break can and will take a toll on your overall well-being and mental health. Make time for yourself during the day! You are never too busy to take proper care of yourself. When you are taking better care of yourself you will notice you naturally have more energy, you will feel less stressed out, will generally feel happier and you will find you are more present for those in your life! I am a 200 hour RYT (registered yoga teacher) and I believe a body in motion stays in motion. You should try to take at least 30 minutes a day to stretch, move and breathe properly.

Here are 7 things I do during the day to keep myself moving, healthy and happy! Here are my seven quick tips to feeling better during the day:

1. STRETCH – Moving your body and connecting with your breath during the day is a great way to kick-start your mind to future tasks. Stretching during the day will keep you positive, build confidence, strengthen your body, relieve headaches, neck and back strain, improve posture, decrease the risk of carpel tunnel syndrome and decrease work related injuries from repetitive motion. If you have the time maybe think of getting to a yoga class before or after work. If you don’t have the time here are 5 stretches you can do at your desk (standing or sitting). (a) Palms up stretch – Reach your arms up with interlaced hands, palms to the sky, hold for 30 seconds or more. Then reach over to the right side and then the left side for approximately 15 seconds or more. (b) Seated forward bend – Keep both feet on the ground and fold forward in your chair, belly thighs and let your head and neck hang. Keep your breath long and deep. (c) Thoracic Spinal movement – Make robot arms with your arms and repeatedly turn to one side and then the other. (d) Seated Cat/Cows – On an inhale squeeze your shoulder blades together, press your chest forward and on an exhale then round your back and tuck your chin in towards your chest for seated cat/cows. (e) Seated Hip Stretch – Start with both feet flat on the floor, cross one leg over the other (the top of your ankle should be on the top of your knee, so your legs look like the number 4) if you need more of a stretch for the hips begin to fold forward, belly to thighs.

2. BREATHE – Proper breathing is vital to our overall health and well-being. You likely don’t pay much attention to your breath, you do it all day long and it has become completely automatic, yet it is the only thing we cannot live without for 2 minutes. When we become stressed our breath tends to become shorter and we begin to breathe only into the chest, which can send our bodies into a fight or flight response and create more stress hormones in the body by decreasing the oxygen levels in our brains and in our blood stream. Deep breathing is the most powerful stress reduction technique we can use. There are many different breathing techniques you can use to slow the body down, increase the supply of oxygen in the blood and to the brain and promote a state of calm. Here is an example of my favourite breath exercise: (a) Sit up nice and tall with both feet flat on the floor. You can take the hands into the lap or palms facing up beside the body. Close the eyes and deeply inhale for a slow count of 5 and exhale for a slow count of 8. I recommend taking about 10 to 20 rounds or more if you feel comfortable. I am very visual so I like to picture the ocean. On my inhale I picture the waves coming into the shore and on the exhale I pictures the waves moving outwards into the ocean. This can also be done in the car when you are in traffic, but with the eyes open and no visualisations.

3. MEDITATE – The most common thing I hear when I tell people to try meditation is resistance – “but I can`t turn off my brain or my thoughts“. Perfect! Either can I! Your mind will never be completely quiet, but allowing space to move between the thoughts will allow you to more clearly, improve memory function and help you to become less distracted during the day. If you are newer to meditation there is an app you can download called Headspace. It starts you off with just 10 minutes of guided meditation. I have found this to be very helpful and easier to incorporate into my life. It is very beneficial to your well-being to take the time to slow down, focus on deep breathing and induce relaxation. Meditation induces relaxation by increasing the compound of nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up and subsequently, blood pressure to drop. You will notice how things flow much more naturally when you slow down and enjoy each present moment. “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” -Zen proverb

4. LAUGH – It is true what they say, laughter really is the best medicine. Keep something in your desk that makes you laugh, buy a joke a day calendar, talk to a co-worker with a hearty sense of humour. A willingness to laugh at yourself sometimes can also serve as a good reminder not to take life so seriously, which can do wonders for your stress level. Laughing reduces your stress hormone level, helps to lower blood pressure, a good belly laugh will work your abs, improve cardiac health and trigger the release of endorphins.

5. BUILD A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT – The next time you notice your thoughts moving towards negativity, think of three positive things that have to do with your environment, job, yourself or someone in your life. If the negativity is towards yourself – drop the negative self-talk! Build and create a positive environment by leaving the gossip to ETalk. Give your co-worker a complement about his or her recent accomplishments!

6. TAKE A WALK – One thing I like to do is plan a healthy lunch with a co-worker or two and begin afternoon with something positive. After a healthy lunch move your body, take a walk outside, or if your office has stairs take the stairs. Breaking up your day with a healthy snack, a walk, and some movement will help you come back to the second part of the day feeling relaxed and ready to take on all the new challenges the day can bring. If the weather is nice get outside. It is proven that natural sunlight, blue sky and green grass naturally cheer you up! This is why 75% of the population favour the colours green and blue.

7. DRINK MORE WATER: Kick that afternoon sugar craving – Get your blood flowing out of your stomach and into your brain! Drink more water. Mild dehydration (fluid loss of 1- 3%) can impair energy levels and mood, and lead to major reductions in memory and brain performance. Drinking water can actually help you to lose weight too. It is actually best to drink cold water, because then the body will use additional energy (calories) to heat the water to body temperature. Stay hydrated!

GIVE YOURSELF TIME Relaxation exercises take time, patience and practice. Don`t be discouraged if you don`t get immediate results. Incorporating a new routine into your day can take about a month (approx. 30 days) before it becomes a habit. With continued practice you will train your brain and body to react to stress differently so you can prevent stress and anxiety from hindering your daily performance. 

Michelle Hudecki
245 h RYT Hatha-Vinyasa-Yin