Mood boosters: three things you can do to feel better now

Note to Self - Faye Armstrong
Note to Self – Faye Armstrong

Photo by Loren Kerns

Imagine this: you’re presenting at a big meeting tomorrow that could take you from being “kind of a big deal” to being legitimately a big deal. Game face: on. Pinterest-inspired outfit: carefully selected. Alarm clock: set three times on your iPhone. You’ve got this. Until…
You shut all three alarms off in your sleep and wake up late. No time for coffee. When you get to work, Sandra from accounting totally eyes up your outfit – and not in a good way. It’s time to turn things around. But how do you keep your game face on when it’s crunch time and everything seems to be going wrong?
We know about the power of positive thinking, but some days, it can be harder than others to see the bright side – and it doesn’t help when the pressure’s on to be at your best. Here are three quick fixes for when you’re feeling less than stellar.
Power poses
In social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, “Your body shapes who you are,” Cuddy teaches us what our posture does to affect the levels of testosterone and cortisol in our brain, which, in turn, affects our feelings about ourselves.
In other words, even if you’re feeling not so hot about your fine self, standing tall and peacock proud has been proven to have a positive impact on how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us.
Cuddy says that you can put this into practise by doing powerful poses before that big meeting, job interview, or date – whatever you need to pump up those tail feathers for. Sneak away for a little bathroom break and spend a few minutes in powerful stances: keep your feet apart, chin up, and put your hands on your hips or raise them above your head in a V shape.
When you’re done feeling silly, holding this stance for a couple minutes will help boost those alpha-hormones and get you prepped for success. It’ll be our little secret.
Fake it ‘til you make it, Baby.
Get moving
Realistically, you may not have time on a crazy day to squeeze in a workout or yoga sesh before your pressing engagement – and even if you did, that “post-workout glow” might not be the professional look you’re going for during that important presentation. But, sitting at your desk can keep your mind stagnant, and those negative thoughts are not what you want to get stuck on repeat during a crucial moment.
Walk around while you practice your presentation. Give yourself a hug. If you can, sneak a little mini-dance party in. Movement – even simple movements that you can do from anywhere – releases the nurturing hormone oxytocin, improves focus and concentration, and helps to reduce stress.
When you’re really down to the wire or need to discreetly turn things around, this is something you can do even in the midst of a stressful situation: just breathe. Many of our physical reactions to stress are caused by how we are breathing.
If you’re with other people, pause for a moment and take a deep breath or two before continuing. Better yet, if you are alone, or can find a way to quietly sneak this in, do some breathing exercises.
I like the 4-7-8 trick: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this consecutively without taking breaks in between until you start to feel the calm floating in.
Even the simple act of breathing can help slow your heart rate, bringing you out of fight-or-flight mode, and returning your thinking capacity back to a normal state.
Try these on their own or all together for a killer combo for success. And the next time Sandra gives you the stink-eye, tell her she looks stressed and hand her this article.
Faye Armstrong is a life coach based in Winnipeg who is passionate about living life to the fullest and helping others do the same. For a little motivation or to learn more about personal coaching, visit

Lose yourself in the time warp that is Thermea

By Tania Moffat

For most of us, taking time out of our hectic days for ourselves seems like the superfluous inanity of dreams. Deadlines, ringing phones, endless meetings, thousands of countless chores and errands – not to mention the demands of family and our homes – can push us to our breaking points.
Amidst all this insanity, we need to remember to take care of ourselves every once in a while: to treat our minds and bodies to a much-deserved break, disconnect with the world, and reconnect with ourselves.
Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature is a relaxation experience you won’t soon forget. The aroma of a wood-burning fire welcomes you as you exit your car and enter the stunning rock and cedar spa reminiscent of a Scandinavian mountainous retreat.

Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature welcomes you with a wood fire.
Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature welcomes you with a wood fire.

Relaxing music and aromatherapy scents mixed with cedar abound indoors, and as you exit the change room, you are greeted by baths filled with glistening, sky-blue water. Steam dances and swirls as it rises from the pools.
The courtyard, landscaped with alpine accents and cobbled paths between the baths and cedar buildings that house the various methods of relaxation, is edged with snow. Huge flakes begin to fall from the sky as you stroll outdoors in your robe.

The stunning landscape of Thermea spa.
The stunning landscape of Thermea spa.

Thermëa spa officially opened on January 15th of this year. The thermotherapy spa offers several options for guests to enjoy the three-step thermal cycle.
You begin by immersing yourself in heat to cleanse your body of toxins. Enter option one, the Finlandia sauna; it is heated to approximately 80 degrees. There is something about saunas; the rich woody smell, the feel of the heat as you breathe that first breath deep into your lungs, and the enveloping warmth is so welcoming.
Knowing the second step of the thermal cycle is to transition your body into a cold environment, you leave your warm cocoon with trepidation and make your way to the Tempër pool (heated between 20 and 23 C). The outside temperature sits at -10 C and it seems almost ridiculous to be going into a cold pool outdoors – but, when in Rome.

Even though it may be cold out, you'll find yourself comfortable while immersed in temperate water.
Even though there’s snow on the ground, you’ll find yourself cozy while immersed in temperate water.

The initial reaction is “I must be crazy,” but after you immerse yourself in the water, you begin to feel alive. You feel your body waking up as your adrenaline surges. It feels great and surreal to be relaxing in a pool with snowflakes falling all around as you gaze at a magnificent sculpture of ice formed from water splashing the sides of a flowing waterfall.
Leaving the pool, you grab your robe and enter Relaxa, where an assortment of Tazo teas or cold orange- and sage-infused water await. Choose between a quiet room with mattresses and pillows or a two-tier heated tile seating area overlooking the hot pool and a roaring fire.
In this third stage of the thermal cycle, your body will experience a deep sense of relaxation created by the endorphins that are released following the adrenaline rush.
Since it is recommended you repeat the cycle three times, after your rest, you can try out Vaporo where two steam rooms await. Each is infused with its own aromatherapy oil, either the tantalizing scent of orange peel or the invigorating eucalyptus. Exfoliä, located in the same building, offers you a choice of sea salts for an exfoliating rub and shower.
Before you go, you must try Polarbër, the cold plunge bath which is “heated” to a brisk 8 to 12 C, and Gëser, the hot tub, heated to a balmy 39 C.

The hot bath at Thermea - the piece de resistance.
The hot bath at Thermea – the piece de resistance.

Who would ever believe that they would walk through walkways surrounded by snow in flip-flops and a robe, dipping in the outdoor baths of a picturesque spa in the middle of a Winnipeg winter or spring? Believe it – and after a relaxing afternoon, the only thing you’ll be trying to juggle is when to fit in your next visit.