You probably have burnout even if you don’t know it

For the longest time, I thought that I didn’t feel stress. I thought that I was immune to it. Even in moments when other people were felt uncomfortable and pressured, I couldn’t be less concerned. Eventually I realized that I had simply been operating in a state of low grade stress at all times; and it was so constant that I had just gotten used to it. It was just normal for me.

Since then, I have gotten better at identifying and managing my stress. But something that I haven’t quite learned how to treat is the burnout, or the result of excessive prolonged stress. Feeling generally overwhelmed for extended periods has left me with a really interesting form of underlying mental fatigue; I don’t feel tired enough to skip the gym or go to bed at 8pm every night, but my capacity for creativity and critical thought is at an all time low. It’s like I don’t have the motivation to think deeply about anything, and everything feels dull. It’s like I’m slowly losing my identity and my mind all at once and it’s terrifying.

I thought that our final day of practicum would be a great occasion to talk about this, because I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’ve been doing some research, and it seems like our technology addiction might even be exacerbating the burnout we’re all feeling from school and work. Ironically enough, even with our new smart technology that does so much of our work for us, we’re still not really getting enough opportunities to truly relax. We’re always connected to different forms of technology and bombarding ourselves with information every hour of every day, and we don’t ever give ourselves a chance to decompress from it. How bad does our collective burnout need to get before we change our habits?

I think I’m finally reaching the point in which technology has become more of a detriment to me than a benefit. I miss the times when I wouldn’t feel a constant urge to scroll through my phone searching for something new and interesting to look at. As much as technology has made our lives radically convenient, it’s also keeping me in a state of being constantly overwhelmed.

My plan for this summer is to unplug as much as I possibly can. The snapchat streaks will die, and some Instagram stories will go unwatched, but I think the mental reset is worth the FOMO. I recommend you try it as well; the less time you spend scrolling, the more you have to stop and smell the flowers.

You should watch the Twilight Saga again

The first time I watched the Twilight Saga movies, I was horribly let down. At the time I was an avid Twilight fan, and I still remember the feeling of disappointment when I realized how incredibly different the energy was in the movies from the books. It’s not like they strayed too far from the storyline, but it still just felt so different.

It’s not a secret that the acting is nothing short of tragic, likely as a result of the dreadful lines that were supplied by the writers. You can hardly blame the actors for their performance, when you take into consideration the material that they had to work with.



I recently re-watched the entire Twilight Saga with my cousin, approximately 10 years after the series was released, and I saw the films in a completely different light. After enough time had passed that I wasn’t actively comparing the films to the books, I was no longer filled with rage over the mismatch. I was actually able to just accept the movies for exactly what they are, which is completely ridiculous. When you watch the films through a lens of satire, it’s actually very entertaining. For example, there’s a scene in the first movie where Rosalie (who is a vampire) is sitting in the school cafeteria with an entire wheel of cheese on the table in front of her. *Acts natural*

Another change in my perspective was around the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob debate. After watching the series for a second time, I genuinely cannot fathom how there is even a debate about this at all. Looking at it now as an adult woman, the things that stand out to me are that Edward prioritizes Bella’s welfare above all else, encourages her to have strong boundaries, is a classical musician (how tasteful) and is even offering to fund Bella’s post-secondary education at an Ivy League University. In contrast, all I see when I look at Jacob is a man-child who hates wearing clothes and doesn’t understand that no means no. It’s like we’re comparing a CEO to a middle schooler.

Also, everyone is sleeping on Jasper. It needs to be said.


I can honestly say that even in the moments where it was almost painful to watch, I genuinely enjoyed watching these films a second time. If you just accept the ridiculousness of it, avoid asking questions like ‘what’s the point of the baseball scene’, and simply embrace the corny romantic fantasy, I’m positive that you’ll enjoy it as well.

Debate: Are rodeos unethical?

With the Cloverdale Rodeo coming up this weekend, many people are excited to attend and watch the athletes perform, drink some beer and eat some corn dogs. But whenever these kind of events roll around, the debate surrounding the ethics of rodeos is bound to arise. For every person in this world who adores rodeos and is excited to attend, there is also a person who is deeply averse to them. Many people believe that rodeos pose a detriment to the welfare of the animals.

In the past, it has been documented that rodeo animals have experienced serious abuse while being trained for these events. Some of the tools that have been used on animals include metal spurs, electric prods and bucking straps; these tools have been known to cause burns, injuries to tendons and ligaments and broken bones.

These criticism are met with resistance by those who engage in rodeo culture. Many people have been raised in families who have always taken an active part in the culture, so for them, it’s a very important part of their life. Barrel racers love and care for their animals deeply, and you can see that the horses also have a deep bond to their riders. In other events like bull riding, it doesn’t take an rigorous examination to deduce that the bull has a strong advantage over the rider. The question isn’t whether the bull will be able to hurl the rider off its back, it’s simply a matter how long the rider can hold on before the inevitable happens.

But other events, such as calf roping, can be a bit difficult to watch. The first time I saw a calf being wrangled and hurled to the ground as fast as possible, I will admit, I was unsettled. They’re just babies! And they look so scared!  In contrast to the bull riding where the animal clearly has the upper hand, this particular event rubs me the wrong way. I understand that wrangling calves is something that ranchers are required to do in real life for various reasons, but to turn this already unpleasant process into entertainment just seems unethical.

I’m on the fence with this topic because I can see both sides of the argument. But I will say that I think more thought should be put towards the nature of the specific events; perhaps in the future we will be able to phase out questionable ones while still allowing the rodeo as a whole to proceed.



The mental and emotional benefits of golf

I’m not sure if this is correlation or causation, but I have experienced noticeable changes in my life since taking up the sport of golf.

This game has a reputation for being frustrating, slow, boring, uppity, pretentious, exclusive, etc… and I honestly can’t deny any of those things. I have personally experienced every one of those characteristics at some point in my adventures. But despite all of that, golf is an activity which has the potential to be grounding, relaxing, challenging, and exciting all at the same time. It really is a paradox in every sense of the word.

Golf has had an enormous impact on both my physical and psychological fitness. Despite not being overly physically demanding, this sport requires a completely unique set of movements which I had to train endlessly just for it to stop feeling completely unnatural. The pivoting, weight transfer and spine motion in golf is unlike any other sport. Learning this new movement was a challenge, but once I began to grasp it I felt an incredible sense of achievement and reward. Since taking up golf, I have learned to love the process of gradually teaching your body to perform in new abstract movements, which led me to taking up yoga and pilates as well.

In order to stay focused on your game for a whole range session or an entire round of golf, which can be up to 6 hours long, you have to be able to remain focused on the task at hand and not get discouraged no matter what comes your way. In order to perform on the course, you need to know how to regulate your emotions and not let them get in the way of the task ahead of you. We’ve all seen the videos of people losing their temper and throwing their clubs in the water; the urge to do so is a feeling that every golfer has experienced, and the only thing that has kept us all from doing it is our differing levels of impulse control.

Golf is like its own form of meditation. You’ll undoubtedly experience an emotional rollercoaster along the way, but you also learn the power of consistency and perseverance. The level of focus required in this game has turned golf into a bit of a mental sanctuary for me; for the time that I’m at the range or on the course, I’m not concerned about anything but my club and the ball. Nothing else matters.



The Hobbit vs. Lord of the Rings: Which is superior?

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series are undoubtedly some of the most iconic movies of our time. Everything about them, from the imagery to the music in the soundtrack, are distinctly unique to this franchise. But is one better than the other?

To offer a quick explanation of these movies, the Hobbit is the chronological precursor to the Lord of the Rings movies, which according to the story takes place about 60 years prior to the great Lord of the Rings adventure, despite the Lord of the Rings movie series having been created first.

There is approximately a 10 year disparity between the creation of the LOTR series and The Hobbit series. Because of this, there is a notable difference between the computer generated imagery in the two series’. The Hobbit CGI technology is distinctly superior to the LOTR technology, which can be observed in virtually every aspect of the film, down to the appearance of the orcs. The Hobbit features a hyper-detailed depiction of the orcs, and because of this, the creators were able to make the orcs more unique and individual. In contrast, the LOTR orcs appear to be more similar to each other in appearance, and are noticeably grosser-looking than the orcs in The Hobbit. Slimy-looking, even. Some believe that the amount of CGI used in the new movies was excessive and they preferred the method used in the LOTR, which was a combination of CGI and prosthetics.

Another significant difference between the series is the development of the characters. It appears that there was more care put into the adaptation between book-and-movie with The Hobbit, as the characters’ personalities appeared to match their depictions from the book more closely. The wizard Gandalf also has much more wit and personality in The Hobbit as Gandalf the Grey as he does in LOTR as Gandalf the White.

Another difference in these films is the extent to which they incorporate the magic of fantasy. Being part of the fantasy genre, the theme is obviously present in both series, but the focus of LOTR appears to be centralized around themes of repetitive war and conflict. In contrast, The Hobbit’s story is distinctly more magical, with more supernatural additions such as the dragon Smaug, the shape-shifting bear Beorn, and noticeably more usage of magic by Gandalf.

It’s fascinating to compare and contrast the features and characteristics of the two series. Regardless of which is superior, this franchise undoubtedly remains a timeless masterpiece.

The Art of Detachment

As human beings, we all encounter emotionally distressing experiences. It’s a part of the human condition. Life as a human is practically just an endless sequence of various forms of suffering, with a few intermittent breaks in between.

When we find ourselves in these emotionally distressing experiences, it usually affects us very deeply. Sometimes, these experiences can fundamentally change who we are as people. It’s wise to learn from your experiences and extract as much information as you can from your moments of suffering, but often times we get so lost in the pain of being human that it consumes us.

Enter, the art of detachment.

By definition, detachment means “to be objective or aloof”. In essence, it is to exist as a separate entity from another. In this context, aloof does not mean that you are not connected or involved in your own emotions, it simply means that you are not attached to any particular outcome.

We can use detachment as a tool to allow us to observe our emotionally painful or distressing situations, and to see the experience as just that; an experience. Something that happens externally, that we can choose to observe without internalizing the experience. We are not our experiences; they are things that happen around us, not to us.

The art of detachment is something that is practiced in Buddhism, where it is regarded as one of the keys to inner peace. Through mindfulness and practice, you can learn to separate yourself from the emotions that we as humans are subject to experiencing, whether that be envy, impulse, resentment, etc. Without invalidating our own human experience, we can learn to see our experiences from a perspective of objectivity.

One of the skills that you need to acquire before you’re able to truly practice detachment is the act of acceptance. Being able to embrace discomfort, uncertainty and other undesirable sensations without trying to alter the situation is key; you must learn to accept experiences as they happen, even if they’re not as you think they’re meant to be.

Much of our attachment comes as a result of our own ego. We can be attached to particular people, careers, or anything that includes an expectation of outcome. Learning to embrace these sorts of things exactly as they are, rather than personally identifying them as being a part of ourselves, relieves us of the sensation of loss if anything doesn’t meet expectations.

Detachment is the art of letting things go.

How to fix your raging dopamine addiction

In our society, we’re constantly bombarded with things that are designed to spike our dopamine levels. From fast food, to sugar, to shopping, to scrolling on social media, our world is full of things that give us a quick hit of dopamine, the neurochemical which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation.

Dopamine is a naturally-occurring hormone, but our modern life is designed to give us an unnatural number of sources. Everything in our world has been modified to maximize the dopamine-triggering stimuli that we encounter in our day.

As great as it is to be able top get a dopamine hit wherever we turn, there is an unpleasant after-effect to this as well, which is the comedown. You know how after we do anything that triggers the dopamine response, you crave it even more afterwards? Yeah, that’s the comedown. It creates a response similar to pain, which motivates you to seek even more dopamine. The convenient sources that we’re surrounded by 24/7 have turned us into a bunch of junkies who are living in a perpetual rollercoaster of seeking a quick hit, then finding one, and the cycle repeats endlessly. Modern society has programmed everyone to be hopelessly addicted to cheap, low-quality dopamine highs.

Repeated exposure to the pleasure-filled state of dopamine highs leads to us being in a dopamine deficit where we are desensitized to the highs, and eventually we need more just to feel “normal” and not in pain. This cycle can lead to psychological symptoms like depression, anxiety and insomnia, all of which are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

So what can we do to break this cycle? It turns out there’s quite a few modifications we can make to lower the unnatural abundance of dopamine spikes we encounter in a day.

First, limit your consumption of substances like sugar, caffeine, fast food, alcohol and marijuana. A lot of people are unaware of how frequently they consume these substances and what a large quantity they are actually consuming; becoming more more mindful of what’s going into your body, and making sure you prioritize nourishment over pleasure, is the foundation of stabilizing your dopamine levels.

Next, limit the short-form video content you are consuming. This particular format overloads your sensory receptors and maximizes the subsequent dopamine response to an harmful level.

Finally, prioritize endorphin-stimulating activities like physical exercise. Working out regularly gives the same dopamine response as the unhealthy alternatives, except that when you have to work for your reward, it doesn’t send you into the same rollercoaster of highs-and-lows which immediately leaves you craving more.

Admittedly, exercising can at first seem difficult and unlikely to satisfy in the same way that video games or Netflix would. But when you stick with it and begin to see results of your efforts, those results become your motivation.

These might seem like obvious tips, but you’d be surprised how few people actually practice these patterns as a routine. Try it out for a while, and I promise the chokehold that our dopamine-triggering society has on you will be alleviated.

Let’s not forget about 21st Century Breakdown, because its more relevant now than ever

May 15th was the 14th anniversary of Green Day’s ’21st Century Breakdown’ album. This highly decorated album remained at the top of rock music charts for three weeks after its release in 2009, and won the Grammy award for Best Rock Album of 2010.

It’s an important concept album to reflect on because the message behind it, which is regarding the sociopolitical landscape of our world, is only becoming more relevant as time wears on.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong describes the album as a “snapshot of the era in which we live as we question and try to make sense of the selfish manipulation going on around us, whether it be the government, religion, media or frankly any form of authority”.

If you take a look at the media at any given time, it seems that there is a catastrophe happening at all corners of the world at all times. And often times, there is. But in other moments it appears that these catastrophes are intentional, as though there’s a fire being stoked. As observers of media it’s important to reflect on the psychological power and influence that information can hold, particularly over masses of people.

Upon critical evaluation of these ever-present ‘catastrophes’, you can often pick out moments where things are said or done with the intention to provoke an emotional response; we are being herded towards a polarized us-and-them mentality, a never-ending battle between ourselves and anyone who doesn’t view things in the same way as we do.

There always seems to be some group of people who is ‘to blame’ for whatever form of suffering is being experienced at a given time. We are collectively being ushered towards behavioural patterns of fearing thy neighbour and obeying authority. At what point will we sit back and ask ourselves; who does this behaviour benefit? We’ve all heard of the divide-and-conquer strategy by now, haven’t we?



Tracks on the record, such as ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ’21 Guns’, examine the album’s theme of politically motivated anger and alienation, drawing attention towards our inability to see the bigger picture at hand; when we begin to regard politics and media as God and blindly obey commands of the ‘higher power’ without exercising critical thought towards its message, we become extremely vulnerable to mass manipulation. We, as a nation, can become malleable enough that we will wage an assortment of different forms of violence upon anyone who doesn’t abide by the preferred order. In other words, we can become so blind to the real problem that we become the problem.

I highly suggest we all take another listen to this album, keeping the world’s recent global catastrophes in mind. The core message of the poetry in this album might illuminate a new perspective on the way our world is operating.




The Alberta wildfire smoke is on its way to the Lower Mainland

Following our unseasonable heatwave that we experienced last week, we are now preparing for thick wildfire smoke to roll in later today (Wednesday, May 17th). Meteorologists predict that the smoke will likely remain for a few days.

The smoke is being blown in by Northeastern winds, which is drawing smoke from the wildfires in Peace country and Northern Alberta. The province of Alberta is currently littered with wildfires, with 92 active fires as of this morning, 27 of which are out of control. These fires have caused heavy smoke to descend upon most of the province, including the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, both of which are currently blanketed by a thick layer of smoke. Edmonton is currently under a special air quality statement; as of this morning their Air Quality Health Index was rated at 10+, or very high risk.

Meteorologist Michael Kuss says that the air quality in Vancouver isn’t going to be anywhere near as bad as what they’re experiencing in Alberta. Kuss says it will be “slightly noticeable. Not sure how much [will] filter down to the surface and deteriorates the air quality, but it will create hazier conditions and again tomorrow into the evening.”

Experts are also saying that the unseasonably hot temperatures that we experienced might not be going anywhere any time soon. Some experts say that these record-breaking temperatures are an indication of changing trends and higher average temperatures to come.

Along with hot weather comes an increased risk of wildfires, so it is reasonable to predict that these changing trends will lead to an upsurge of smoke and overall lower air quality levels.

These increased temperatures can also be concerning in developed urban areas such as the cities of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, as infrastructure like concrete and pavement absorb more heat than foliage and natural landscapes. These added variables could create a dangerous environment for the residents of the cities, especially the elderly and medically vulnerable. Heat waves are among the deadliest of natural disasters, and the risk of them often go under acknowledged.

Fortunately, the city of Vancouver is better equipped for extreme weather now than they were two years ago, when we experienced the June 2021 heat dome which killed 619 people.

Medical professionals say that they are experiencing an increase in heat-related emergency calls, but they are not expecting the same urgency that was experienced in 2021. Citizens are advised to continually evaluate how they’re feeling and stay indoors if necessary.



So it turns out that the hype around cold showers isn’t bullshit

Spoiler: this is about dopamine.

If you’ve used the internet at all in the past six months, you’re likely aware that cold showers are all the rage. You see influencers promoting it as their big weight loss secret, health gurus calling it the key to longevity, and internet therapists saying that doing it can keep you from being horribly depressed that day.

But if you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know that it’s also a HIGHLY unpleasant experience.

There’s nothing quite like having cold running water running over your bare skin. For something that’s completely harmless, it sure does make you feel like you’re in danger; there’s nothing quite like standing in ice water to send your body straight into fight or flight mode.

But when I tried it after my unreasonably early 5am wakeup this morning, I realized afterwards that I no longer felt an urge to go back to bed. In fact, I found myself not even craving a coffee, which is quite remarkable because every single morning last 8 years, I have woken up and immediately began seeking caffeine.

It turns out, there’s a solid reason for this. There’s a serious biochemical response that happens from cold exposure.

Abruptly exposing your body to acute cold temperatures increases your body’s dopamine concentrations by 250 percent. (For anyone who is not aware already: dopamine is a hormone that is associated with pleasure and motivation, and it is also highly addictive.)

In addition to that, these elevated dopamine levels remain high for extended periods of time.

Substances like cocaine and alcohol are notorious for their affects on dopamine levels, ie. they spike your dopamine levels after you ingest them, followed by a “crash” which leaves your dopamine levels lower than they were to begin with. In addition to that, the elevated effects of cocaine and alcohol only last for around ten minutes before they begin to drop below baseline. This “crash” is what then facilitates the subsequent cravings for more of that substance, as your body desperately searches for a quick way to re-elevate its levels of the hormone back to its equilibrium.

In contrast, cold showers, while they do elevate your dopamine levels significantly, don’t lead to the same “crash” afterwards. Also, the effects cold exposure on dopamine levels last for over 2.5 hours.

So that right there should be enough to motivate you to at least try taking a cold shower. It feels like drugs! Without taking drugs! What a treat!