A rant about digital marketing

Digital marketing is a difficult beast. Everyone thinks they can do it better than the next person and everyone thinks it takes little-to-no-effort to do that. Truth be told, if you want to be successful in digital marketing, you need to be willing to put the time and effort in. You also need the know-how to make smart, strategic decisions. Whether this is to do with business, or your personal ventures online, the odds of becoming an overnight success is about as likely as you beating Bianca Andreescu at the US Open.

Just because you say it does not mean that people should listen.

It’s a hard lesson to learn. It’s a hard lesson to teach. A few weeks back I was talking to a professional acquaintance of mine who was asking me to make a Facebook page for her business. She wanted to give me a $1,000 budget to make a Facebook page for her business that day and proceed to run Facebook advertisements throughout the next few months.

THIS IS NOT EFFECTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING. Though, by definition, it does meet the requirements of being marketing, is it worth the time, effort or money that it’s going to take? Hell no.

I cannot stress this enough. Just because you say it does not mean that people should or will listen.

If you know your way around the internet, what would your reaction be to seeing a Facebook advertisement, or advertisement on any social media platform for that matter, from a company that had no following, no established profile and made no effort to do so?

You’d probably think twice before believing anything that appeared in that advertisement, right? You’d probably make use of the brain in your head and opt for a business with an established profile on social media. Or, at the very least, one with reviews.

But this acquaintance of mine, she’s under the impression that if she pays for the Facebook advertisements, people will pay for her service. Actually, there’s a lot of people out there who believe this. It’s astounding to me how many people operate under the notion that if you throw money at social media, you’ll get what you want.

I’m using this story as an example because I think it’s an important belief that I’d like to quash. If you open a business profile on social media or WordPress with the single goal being to make sales, you will fail. You’ll likely fall flat on your face very quickly into your quest. If you start your own blog, or twitter, or youtube channel, etc.. with the sole goal of becoming famous, you will likely fail. You can buy the fanciest cameras and computers, all of the editing equipment you could ever desire, and it won’t matter.

People need to see credibility in the content they’re reading, watching or listening to. They need to see an established effort to make connection. They don’t just want productions… or opinions jammed down their throats with no character, humility or genuine nature to them. They want something real. If you fail to establish that real, you’re going to sink before your dreams of success will ever be realized.

I’ve been working in digital marketing for a decade. I’ve worked with social media accounts that only have 100 followers and social media accounts that have nearly 100,000. I’ve made the mistakes. I’ve felt the victories and I’ve seen what it takes to make an account go from 100 followers to 100,000. Let me tell you, there is no quick fix. You’re not going to sink $1,000 into Facebook advertisements and have a booming business. You’re not going to sink a couple of ‘Nice Post’ comments into the comment section of another blog and suddenly have enough money to buy a Range Rover.

If you want people to invest in you (because you are integral to this scenario), your social media following, your blog, your business accounts, any aspect of what is online that you are trying to market, you need to work at it. You need to make strategic decisions and take the appropriate time and effort necessary to grow organically. This applies to business. This applies to personal.

Be authentic. Put forth the necessary effort to actually participate in the realms you’re operating. If you don’t, you’ll never find what you’re seeking from social media, blogs, the web in general, digital marketing will forever escape you and you’ll continue to wonder why.

On making your blog stand out…

I get a lot of questions about my blog. People ask when I started my blog, how it grew so quickly, how to encourage feedback, what type of content to share, etc… And, while I’m extremely humbled and flattered each time someone does ask me, I often wonder if they’re perhaps asking the wrong person. I don’t see my blog as anything all that exceptional, I just consider it a branch of my personality – the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the real.

I started my bog in January of 2019. The truth is, I don’t know how it grew so quickly. Dumb luck, perhaps? Being in the right place at the right time? I’m not really sure how to answer that question because, quite frankly, I think it’s a better thing to ask someone following my blog than it is to ask me. I don’t mean that in an offensive way, I just mean that… I can only speculate as to why people follow me. You would have to ask them to find out for certain.

This blog has only been active for eight months, so I am by no means an expert. That being said, I do understand the whimsy and excitement that comes with someone reading your posts, liking what you’ve written and sharing a piece of themselves that lets you know your words have resonated with them. So, here are some suggestions that I’ve learned, through trial and error, and a decade of working in digital marketing, that might help you along with your blogging journey.

CHOOSE YOUR BLOG NAME WISELY. Give your blog a name that people are going to remember. Your blog name is your personal brand, so make sure that it’s something simple that will stay top-of-mind for readers to easily come back to. If your blog name is “Steve12432342352” people could have a hard time finding you. So pick something that is reflective of yourself, but also, easy to find.

FIND YOUR NICHE. It sounds cliche, but a niche integral to finding any success with blogging. Don’t just say that you’re going to write about life, dig deeper. What aspects of life do you want to share? What feelings and emotions, what experiences do you want to display? An established niche will help you to create more well-rounded content for your blog and help readers determine why they should or should not be coming back to your blog. Some people say that you’re supposed to establish your target audience and I vehemently disagree with that tactic. I believe that first and foremost, you should be writing for yourself and not for an audience that does not yet exist. Furthermore, establishing an audience closes the door to anyone who isn’t in your target demographic, and you don’t want to be closing the door to potential readers.

USE YOUR ‘ABOUT ME’ PAGE TO ANSWER WHY YOU STARTED YOUR BLOG. If someone accidentally stumbles upon your blog one day and they like what they’re reading, the chances are they’re going to want to see who you are and find out more of what your blog is about. A carefully written ‘About Me’ section will allow readers and potential readers to learn about who you are and why they should follow your blog. So please don’t neglect the ‘About Me’ section.

ESTABLISH GOALS. Real, reasonable, honest goals. Sure, it would be great to make a living writing a blog, but that is a by-product, and should not be your goal. The truth of the matter is, most blogs do not make money, and if they do, it’s not enough for someone to live off of. If you’re just blogging in hopes to make money, that will show in the content you produce and will likely lead to a lack of credibility and integrity. Establishing real, reasonable and honest goals for your blog will help to keep you motivated with what you’re doing. Do you want to share your DIY Crafts? Are you hoping to find a like-minded community to talk to? These are the things you should be seeking, and as your blog grows your content can continue to grow with it.

CREATE CONTENT THAT YOU LOVE. I have crossed paths with a few people over the past eight months in which you can definitely tell they’re writing for attention and nothing more. If attention is what you crave, you may find it in the things that you say, but that connection with people will be fleeting before they move onto the next. Use your blog to share things you’re passionate about and that passion and love will be conveyed through all that you do. If readers crave authenticity (and they certainly do) they’re going to adore you for sharing your content with love.

DEVELOP YOUR PERSONAL STYLE. Are you a minimalist? Do you like things to be flashy? What is it about your personality that can shine through in the layout of your blog and in the content that you post to your blog? Think of your blog like a brand. The best brands have a consistent tone to them. If you’re minimalist and quiet one day, flashy and raunchy the next, people will have a hard time following what you’re putting out. But, if you establish your personal style through the posts that you make, people will know what to expect when they visit your blog and will look forward to that.

FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT. Sure, it’s nice to think outside of the box every now and again, but do remember that your strengths are your best asset in blogging. If you suck at poetry but are amazing at short stories, perhaps you could make one out of every five posts a poem. That way, your short stories have their time to shine whilst you’re still practicing your poetry. This same example can be applied to virtually anything you desire to blog about.

IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA THEN DON’T BE. There are plenty of people in this world who would love to have their face plastered all over a blog because it helps to showcase their brand and their personality. Then, there are people like me who are awkward and uncomfortable in front of a camera. That awkwardness would be easily conveyed through any photos of me in existence and would likely turn people away. So I guess all I’m saying with this is, do what’s right for you. Don’t feel pressured to post photos of yourself because you think that’s what is going to make you popular.

ENGAGE. ENGAGE. ENGAGE. In this day and age people can spend their time doing a million things under the sun. So, the fact that they’re spending time reading your blog does and should mean a lot to you. If they leave you a comment, respond to the comment. If they send you an email, let them know that you got it. If they ask you to check out their page, check out their page. Let them know that you’re listening and that you’re grateful they took time out of their day to view your blog.

TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING. This one, I got from a woman named Catherine on who runs a youtube channel called ‘Do It On A Dime’. Her biggest piece of advice for blogging and vlogging and sharing with the web is that you should take a look at what others are doing, find what you love and ask yourself how you can put a positive twist on that to make it your own. Someone who follows this blog of mine once pointed to me that the things I say aren’t anything that special or different from what anyone else experiences/shares, but that it’s the way in which I say them that draws her in. To me, that was a huge compliment, because that means there’s authenticity in what I’m conveying on my blog. I think that’s what everyone should be aiming for. Taking something that you feel, that others have felt, and putting your own spin on it.

ALWAYS KEEP LEARNING. There are so many tricks to the trade when it comes to digital marketing. Learning things like analytics, audience demographics, trending topics, these things will all help as you look to improve your blog. But just remember that you need to walk and not run. It’s not a marathon. The likelihood of 50,000 people viewing your blog overnight is slim-to-none. What you can do, however is focus on the small improvements to be made. How can you use analytics in your favour? What do demographics mean to you? How can you learn more to help consistently make your blog better in small ways with each passing day?

BE KIND. There’s enough assholes on the internet already. If you have an opinion, you can share it. Just remember that you don’t have to be an asshole in doing so. Because after all, if people think you’re an asshole, what reason do they have to come back to your page?

MOST IMPORTANTLY, HAVE FUN WITH IT. If you treat blogging like it’s enjoyable, it will be. If you treat blogging like it’s a nuisance, it will be.


P.S. – If you haven’t already read it, I did a post in May titled ‘On Building your dream blog’. To read that, Click here >

P.P.S – If you haven’t already read it, I did a post in July titled ‘Beginners guide to wordpress analytics (and using them to grow your audience)’. To read that, Click here >

Mental health and well-being tips Therapists actually provide to patients.

The goal of therapy is to give yourself the necessary tools to help cope, improve or get through whatever situations you’re dealing with that are causing you to struggle. And truth be told, majority of the work done in therapy takes place outside of the Therapist’s office. This is because a Therapist doesn’t fix you, you fix yourself.

What this means is that you have the real power to enact change in your life. Consider taking small steps every day to help yourself feel better. The following are genuine suggestions provided by a therapist to help improve your present situation, if you’re in need of the boost to your well being.

Love, appreciate and respect yourself. If you’re willing to love, appreciate and respect others in your life, why aren’t you willing to do the same for yourself? Imagine what you could accomplish if you directed those feelings towards yourself.

When you’re stuck in a negative spiral, write down three things that you like about yourself. It could be something so simple as ‘I love that I’m tall’. Reminding yourself of the things you like about yourself will help to boost your self-esteem in times of need whilst also forcing some much needed serotonin to your brain to help your mood.

If you cannot control the situation, try to find a positive in every negative. Take your negative situations and turn them on their head. Even if it’s the smallest of positives, every positive thought will do your brain benefit. Ex: Did you get fired from your job? It sucks, yeah. Remind yourself that you dodged a bullet because you hated that job and the people who worked there. Is someone being a real asshole towards you lately? Remind yourself that their actions are a reflection of who they are and not of you.

Do something nice for yourself each day. It’s easy to neglect yourself when you’re in a slump. This, in fact, is one of the worst things you can do for yourself. Treat yourself well. Give yourself a reason to relax. Give yourself a reason to smile. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Make a list of ‘your people’. You know the people who you can call or text any time of the day and they’ll respond, be receptive to what you’ve got to say and try their best to help? Put them on your list and consider it cultivation of our inner circle. These are the people who are going to help you when you’re in your low moments and these are the people you need/want to keep around when you’re on top of the world.

Don’t let your inner-voice win. Anyone who’s dealt with mental health issues can agree, your inner-voice is a duplicitous SOB. Not only that, but it can often feel as though your head wins over your heart every time. Don’t let that negativity rear its ugly head without fighting back. When your brain tells you that you suck, say ‘not at all’. When your brain tells you that no one likes you, say ‘you’re lying’. Don’t let that inner-voice win. It seems easier said than done, so in these moments when you need to tell yourself better, imagine the advice you’d give to your best friend. Take that advice and give it to yourself.

Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution and when your main goal should be to fix things and make your life better, you don’t need that negativity in your life.

Exercise. Every day. Just thirty minutes of minimal exercise is the equivalent to a low-dose of Prozac for your brain. If you’re needing your mood brightened then take a walk, go to the gym, climb the stairs, go for a run, play some basketball, play some baseball. Just exercise. However you do it, it will benefit your mental and physical health.

Cut-back on the alcohol. If you find that you drink when you’re stressed, depressed, anxious or down, you’re probably not doing yourself any good. The alcohol may mask your feelings for a few hours, but the monster will rear its ugly head when the buzz wears off. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism is a crutch… one that isn’t doing you any favours.

Have a night-time ritual. It’s a well known fact that a good night’s sleep is integral to your health and well being. When you’re depressed, anxious, stressed or struggling, getting a good night’s sleep can seem like the world’s most difficult task. Train your body that certain activities are winding you down at the end of each day. Doing this when your in a good place will hep you to do this when you’re not in a good place, so to speak.

Remember that you, and only you, have the power to enact real change in your life. Take control of your mental health today and remember that it takes time to see real improvement. There is no quick fix, you need to make a serious and genuine investment in your well being.


Want to read more on the subjects of mental health and self care? CLICK HERE

How to tackle a shit day.

We all have days when we wake up sad, mad or filled with angst. It’s part of the human condition. And, when you get upset or are having a bad day, it can be really easy to crawl into bed with a bunch of junk food and hide from the world.

The thing is, when you’re having a bad day, that’s probably one of the worst things that you can do for yourself. If anything, crawling into bed is only going to prolong that bad mood. Feeding into negativity promotes more negativity and that, well that is a vicious cycle that no one wants to stay in for too long.

I’ve been writing this post over the past few weeks because I’ve been feeling as though when people make lists like these, they always say the same things, and those lists just aren’t doing it for me. Not everyone can find peace from meditation or trying to think positively.

Here are some suggestions of things you can do to help tackle shitty days.

Get up, get dressed and eat a healthy breakfast. Why? Getting dressed is going to (hopefully) keep you from crawling back into bed. Eating breakfast will jump start your metabolism for the day. If you’re dressed and have eaten, you’re telling your body that this day will not be spent in bed.

Go and buy your coffee, or smoothie or whatever your morning drink is. Whether it’s $1.50 at Tim Hortons, $7.00 at Starbucks, or a cup of joe or smoothie from your local cafe, go and get it. One, you owe it to yourself to treat yourself and two, going out will force you to get out of the house. Getting out of the house on a day when you’re not in a good mood will help give you motivation for the day. Not to mention, coffee houses are notoriously chill places and chill environments can help keep you calm when you’re in a shitty mood.

Exercise. Exercise is so integral to defeating a terrible mood. I was recently informed by a Psychiatrist that just a half hour of minimal exercise is the equivalent to a low-dose of Prozac to the brain. Thus, exercising can literally make you happier. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. Go for a walk! Climb some stairs. Turn on the Tone-It-Up Girls videos on youtube and follow along. All exercise is good exercise.

Do something good in your neighbourhood. Good deeds bring good moods. A friend of mine said that every time he is having a shitty day he goes to the park by his house and picks up trash. It’s a small thing but it means a lot to him and it means a lot to the kids who play in the park. You don’t need to pick up trash, but doing something nice in the area that you live will definitely help you feel better, both about yourself and the place that you live.

Make self care a priority. “With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.” – Susan Weiss Berry . What does this look like? Well that depends on what your style is. For me, I love to put an expensive sheet mask on my face and do some foam rolling over my muscles. For other people, self care can mean getting a manicure, or a massage, playing an instrument or reading a book. Whatever self care looks like to you, take some time for self-care.

Listen to some upbeat music. And when I say upbeat, I mean upbeat. Don’t put sad songs on. Sad songs will mimic your mood and keep your mindset in the same shitty place. Put some upbeat songs on. Songs that make you want to sing along. Songs that have the potential to brighten your mood just by hearing them. Songs that motivate you. Suggestions include: Walking on Sunshine, Girls just wanna have Fun, Uptown Funk, Moves Like Jagger, Good Life, Wake me up before you Go Go… there are so many. Check upbeat playlists on Spotify and youtube if you need help finding any.

You are what you eat, so eat food that’s good for you. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a bad mood, I crave junk food. The thing about that is, junk food can most often make you feel lethargic and bloated, worsening the bad mood. Try and aim for healthy foods that will give you energy and fuel for the day. Leafy greens, complex carbs, foods rich in proteins that your body can literally turn into energy, that’s what will hep you. Just remember to boil or steam your cruciferous vegetables prior to consumption.

Make a ‘to do’ list for your day, and, make the top two items things you’ve already completed. When lacking in motivation, it can be difficult to feel as though you’ll accomplish anything with your day. Writing a ‘to do’ will help you to acknowledge realistic goals for the day, even with a shitty mood. Writing two items at the top that you’ve already completed is a trick that I’ve picked up over the years. See, a ‘to do’ list feels more do-able when it’s already been started. But purposefully putting something on your ‘to do’ list that you’ve already done, you’re tricking your brain into believing that your list is already started, and thus, more easy to conquer.

Write a blog post about it. This suggestion has been placed last because it may not be the same for everyone, but I know for many people, blogging about a bad mood or a shit day can provide some catharsis. If you’re looking for an outlet, pouring your heart out to strangers on the internet is a pretty good one. I’ve found people on wordpress to be a lot kinder about life’s struggles then most people I know. Don’t be afraid to show the real, messy bits of life on your blog. It could definitely help.

Turn on some episodes of Friends, or Seinfeld, or Frasier, or something from the late 90’s early 2000’s. Something that’s full of sarcasm with plenty of humour can be kept on in the background to make you laugh or bring a smile to your face. They just don’t make TV like they used to.

Distract yourself with someone else’s life. This sounds a little silly, but if you’re in a shit mood and nothing else has worked, sometimes distracting yourself with someone else’s life can be helpful. I have one person that I like to call when this happens. Hearing all about his life helps me to stop thinking about mine. If you have someone who can do that for you, give them a call, talk to them for a half hour, or an hour, or however long they’ll talk to you for. Lending an ear can provide catharsis.

Treat yourself. Don’t just purchase your coffee, remember to treat yourself in general. This doesn’t mean go and max-out your credit card. This just means… be nice to yourself. Buy yourself some dinner, or head to that Yoga class you’ve been thinking of. Do something that treats yourself. Why? You’re worth it.

If you’re having a bad day I hope that you’re able to find some peace. Stay calm, surround yourself with things that can make you happy, pick up your mood or, at the very least, limit your misery. And please don’t stay in bed all day. Staying in bed all day will only make you feel worse.

Sending some positive vibes to the universe, because as with all things in life, this too shall pass (the bad days).

‘Whatever makes you happy, my love.’

They’re simple words, so genuine and heartfelt. Spoken with truth to them they have the power to make you feel as though you’re the only person in the world who matters. Or, perhaps even, the only person in the world at all.

A few weeks back, I made a post titled Tips for coping with anxiety from a Psychiatrist.

One of the tips mentioned in that post, reads as follows:

Think of a memory, one happy memory, and keep that memory at the top of your mind, always. When you think of happy memories, it produces serotonin in your body that can help boost your mood. If you keep one happy memory at top of mind, always, you can use that memory when you’re feeling triggered. Forcing that happy memory on your brain when you’re feeling anxious/stressed can help trick your brain. It’s not going to take away the things in your life causing you stress, but it will help you cope with the stress better.

Because I have been implementing this step into my daily routine, and because my world needs a little more happiness in it each and every day, especially in the past week, I am making the effort to write down my happy memories that I choose to remember in times of stress. Here goes…

Knight likes to buy lottery tickets. I’m not sure if he did prior to meeting me, but, one of the things we talked about on our first date was what each of us would do with the winnings if we ever one the lottery. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s always purchased lottery tickets.

Whenever he goes to the store, he purchases two lottery tickets. One for him and one for me. He turns to me, smiles and tells me to pick wisely.

“What if I chose both?” I ask, specifically trying to be a pain in his ass.

“Then take both,” he laughs. He’s not kidding when he tells me to take both. I know that if I did, he’d let me keep them both.

I’ll give him a ticket back, naturally. I mean… I’m not totally selfish. (I am. But I can be fair, too) And then I continue the discussion explaining to him that if I win, I’m keeping all of the money to myself.

“Whatever makes you happy, my love.” There it is. There’s those words. Genuine. Heartfelt. Thoughtful. Truthful.

“You’re also aware that, if you win, you’re required to share half of your money with me, right?” Chuckling again, he says “I’d expect nothing less”.

It’s the small things, they means so much to me. The fact that when he speaks these words, I know he’s being truthful. The fact that I know he’d never ask a dime of me, if I ever did win the lottery with a ticket he purchased for me. The fact that I’m absolutely certain that if he did win the lottery, he’d want to split it me.

People talk a lot about hypothetical scenarios, and honestly, he and I do a lot as well. I think that our hypotheticals mean more to me though, because there is a layer of truth to them that I don’t get from anyone else I’ve ever known.

I’m not wealthy. I haven’t won… yet. But there’s always a chance. I guess that’s why he purchases them. While I know I like to joke, the truth is, I’d likely give him all of the money if I won on a ticket that he purchased for me.

Thinking back on these moments, it brings great happiness to my mind. It’s my trick to forcing serotonin in my brain when I need it most. It’s my light on the dark days and a means to make me smile, no matter what.

Tips for booking your next hotel stay.

A heavily photoshopped photo of the Tower Hotel, Niagara Falls from the hotel’s posting on Kayak.

Having spent a few hundred nights in hotels over the past few years, I’ve got a lot of opinions about them. In the past 3 weeks alone I’ve been in four different hotels, only one of which I deemed to be worth the value I had to pay for my stay.

When you’re booking a hotel stay, there’s a lot to keep in mind to ensure you don’t wind up having a terrible night in a shitty hotel. After all, if you’re spending your money to stay in a hotel, you want to make sure you’re not wasting your money. Right?

*Note – I mention Expedia a lot in this post because I use Expedia a lot. There are plenty of different good options to use for hotel research beyond Expedia. Just google it and you’ll see what I mean!

Tips for booking your next hotel stay:

  1. Determine what’s most important to you. Are you looking for the cheapest room? Are you looking for the best location? Start with a list ahead of looking at any hotels. That way, you can narrow down your search right away and weed-out the hotels you don’t need/want.
  2. Think outside of the box. If you don’t need to be right downtown in a city, there are plenty of available hotels for a lot cheaper that are just a five – ten minute drive from downtown.
  3. Read Reviews. Read all of the reviews! Trivago, Expedia, Hotels.com, all of these websites allow people to post real reviews about said hotels that you’re looking at. Whereas a hotel’s own website might be able to hide the negative reviews, any negative reviews that exist will definitely be on a place like Trivago or Expedia. Personally, I’m partial to Expedia.
  4. Don’t necessarily trust the pictures. Honestly, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. This is another suggestion that ties directly to the tip I have to read reviews. Websites like Expedia allow users to post pictures of their hotel rooms they’re staying in. So, whereas the photos the hotel posts might be heavily photoshopped, professional photographer taken photos – in the reviews you can see real photos from people who’ve stayed there, showcasing the state of the rooms as they are.
  5. Check if there are extra amenities. Some hotels have gyms for guests to use. Some hotels have free laundry services. Some hotels have pools. Some hotels have kitchenettes in them, for the same prices as a room that doesn’t have a kitchenette. Some hotels have no amenities. Knowing the amenities can help you to know if you’re getting more value for your dollar when you’re booking!
  6. PRICE CHECK. Price check on several different websites if you have the time. One hotel can have a different price listed on it’s company website, on Expedia, on Trivago, etc… Checking the prices before you book can help you to ensure that you’re booking your hotel room for the best available price.
  7. Check Groupon. This one came at the suggestion of a friend of mine, quite recently. If you’re headed to a tourist destination, there might be some options on Groupon that allow you to purchase heavily discounted packages that included your hotel stay, restaurant vouchers and activities to take part in all in one purchase. If you’re headed to somewhere that’s touristy in nature, there might be a Groupon package available!
  8. Collect Rewards. Most (I cannot speak to all as I have not researched all) hotels that have rewards programs are rewards programs that are completely free. Yes, it is an extra card for your collection, but if you know that you need to stay at a hotel then you might as well earn points for it.
  9. Book ahead of time, where you can. When you walk up to the front desk of a hotel and ask them if they have a room available for you to book for the night, they are going to charge you the highest possible price EVERY TIME. There’s no competition, there’s no need to advertise, you’re standing right in front of them asking them for a room. You, as a customer, as a guest, lose your purchasing power in booking your stay and they can charge you as much as they want for your stay. Even if it’s so simple as you viewing the price from the parking lot five minutes before you walk to the front desk, book ahead of time. I have, in the past, experienced a hotel quote me that rooms were $159 per night. I then told them I was thinking it over, walked out to the parking lot and booked a room at that hotel on Expedia for $101. When I returned to the front desk they had to honour that booking, knowing that I wasn’t going to be paying the $159 they had just quoted me five minutes earlier. ALWAYS BOOK AHEAD. Even if it’s just five minutes ahead!
  10. Pay ahead of time, where you can. Websites like Expedia allow you to pay for your stay when booking. To me, this is a convenience factor. Paying ahead of time means I need not give the hotel my credit card when I get there. It also means that I earn reward points for booking on Expedia.

If you have the time to research and plan ahead for booking hotel rooms, it can provide so much added value to the trip you’re taking. But, even if you don’t have time to plan ahead, I still strongly encourage everyone to book ahead of walking up to the front desk of a hotel.

PERSONAL STORY TIME:

Last week while in Calgary, I stayed at a hotel called ‘Park Inn by Radisson, Calgary Airport’ that was just a ten minute drive from downtown. This hotel, brand new on the inside, had full kitchenettes in each room, a gym, a laundry room for guests, a computer station for people to do business, a pantry stocked with food guests had access too and it cost me $83 per night. This hotel I chose based on believing it would provide me the best value for my money.

Two weeks ago, I stayed in a hotel called ‘Super 8 by Wyndham, Hamilton Airport’ that was old, run down, had paper thin walls allowing me to hear the conversations of those in the room next door, a bath tub that didn’t drain, cracked foundation in the walls and zero amenities. This hotel was $159 for the night. This hotel I chose solely because it was closest to the Airport that I needed to fly out of.

Both hotels had beautiful photos listed on their websites and promised comforting stays in memorable rooms that would make me feel at home while I was travelling. One succeeded with their promises, one did not. One hotel blocked my Expedia account from being able to book rooms via Expedia for their hotel, after they read my review. But, the important thing is that my review of their hotel is still there. Always read the reviews!

Tips for coping with anxiety from a Psychiatrist, part two.

In working with a Psychiatrist to help cope with the massive amounts of anxiety I’ve been dealing with this year, I’ve been learning a lot about myself. I’ve also been learning a lot of how deal with the anxiety that I have. It’s an invaluable lesson and I’m passing along the things that my psychiatrist is teaching me in hopes that it may resonate with others.

One of the things that she’s teaching me is that, when you’re anxious, it’s really easy to believe things that aren’t necessarily true.

When I get anxious, everything pisses me off. Things that would normally roll-off-my-back seem like insurmountable feats and, it really doesn’t matter what people do, it’s just going to make me angry. As a result, I tend to alienate myself from people. And, when I alienate myself from people, my head is filled with even more anxious thoughts and beliefs that I don’t belong around people and that the people in my life don’t like me. It’s a vicious cycle that I’ve been spinning in for months now. Spending some time sitting down with my psychiatrist and talking about this cycle, she’s provided me some tips to help keep myself calm when I get anxious.

So here are the tips:

  1. When you’re anxious and your spinning, thinking negative thoughts that you cannot control,ask yourself “Is this really true?” Really stop and think about it. Don’t just allow yourself to say ‘Yes it’s true’. How do you know it’s true? Are you thinking inside of said person’s brain? Do you know their thoughts? Do you have hard and fast evidence of what said person is thinking? Because if you cannot prove with 100% certainty that the thoughts/feelings that are making you anxious are, in fact, 100% truth, you need to reflect that on yourself, not on them. Learning to take those situations and put it on yourself, saying “Why am I thinking this? Why is my brain doing this?” will allow you to be more cognizant of your negative thoughts and how to see past them when you do get annoyed/anxious/frustrated.
  2. Self-care is so integral. Looking after yourself on the outside will help you to feel better on the inside. Exercise. Wash your face. Put your feet up when you get the opportunity. Take the little moments that you get during the day to treat yourself, or enjoy yourself. Go to a yoga class, if you can. Or, if you can’t go to Yoga, practice some at-home meditation. When your body is at peace, it will help your mind to be at peace, so don’t just do these things when you feel anxious, do them always.
  3. Don’t own anyone’s bullshit but your own. This one is a big problem for me, and it’s something that I bet a lot of people who struggle with mental illness struggle with. I think that, largely, when you’re anxious and struggling, it can be very easy for you to take on the burden of someone’s lies, bullshit or nonsense without even thinking twice about it. This is something that you need to recognize when it’s happening and put a stop to. If someone lies to you, don’t just accept the lie, call them out on it. Say ‘Thank you, but I do not deserve your lies’. If someone treats you unfairly, remind them that it’s a reflection of them and not yourself. Actually say it out loud… not just inside of your head. Speaking our truth, saying the words in a manner which they can hear will do more for your psyche than anything else in that moment. Feel free to leave the burden of their bullshit with them.
  4. Don’t let negativity people rent space in your head. This one ties back to my previous post (Tips for coping with anxiety from a Psychiatrist). When people in your life are being particularly negative, it’s really easy to let them eat away at you. What my psychiatrist recommends doing is keeping a happy memory, one happy memory, in your mind and regurgitating that memory in your head or out loud when someone’s negativity is tearing you down. Forcing yourself to think of happy thoughts in the moments when someone is being particularly shitty, it will force much needed serotonin into your brain and provide you the extra ‘umph’ you need in order to end the situation. Whether that be walking away from it, telling them to shut up, asking them kindly to move on, or however you end up doing it, when you’re thinking happy thoughts in your mind, it’ll be easier for you to kick their negativity to the curb.
  5. Find your strength. One of the things that my Psychiatrist tells me is that I’m really good at standing up for other people and for coming to the rescue of someone I love or someone that I care about, but when it comes to myself, I tend to lay down and die (so to speak). I have a feeling I am not the only one. One of the best ways to cope with your anxiety is to find your strength, she says. Knowing that you have the power to stand up for yourself is so integral to switching off the negative parts to your brain.
  6. Clean your space. This one should go without saying, but it can also often be a struggle for people. If you’re living in a space that is dirty, cluttered or dusty, it can contribute vastly to your mental health. Much like how SAD(Seasonal Affected Disorder) is a real thing, (Space Affected Disorder) is also very much a real thing. If your indoor space is the equivalent of dark, grey, rainy and gross days, it’s going to to affect the way in which you view the world. Pick up where you can. Dust when you have a few spare moments. Throw away or recycle clutter that you don’t need. It will help you long term.

Most of all, she says, is to go easy on yourself. Your issues are valid and you need time to properly grieve in order to move past them. This is a life-long commitment that you need to make to yourself in order to feel better. You owe it to yourself.