1. Practise being present. The International Listening Association reports that we think at 1,000 to 3,000 words per minute -- a lot faster than we are able to listen. We fill in this gap with our thoughts, by planning what to say next, judging whether we agree with the speaker or thinking about a different matter altogether.
Elizabeth Berlasso, a Halifax-based psychotherapist, suggests taking time to practise being mindful every day so we can learn to be more in the moment and stop our minds from wandering.
Try this: Choose a routine activity, such as washing the dishes, and get all of your senses involved. Pay attention to how the water feels on your hands, listen to the splashing sounds and watch the suds melt away.
Tip: If you start to think about a problem at work, gently bring your attention back to the dishes. "Our mind is like a wild horse," says Berlasso, who also gives workshops in mindfulness-based stress reduction. "Mindfulness is how we make friends with the horse, allowing us to be more present with our listening."
2. Adopt a movie mind-set. Remember the last time you became so engrossed in a movie you lost track of time? Now imagine approaching your next conversation with the same level of interest and sense of adventure. Rebecca Shafir, author of The Zen of Listening (Quest, 2003), suggests that good listeners are able to get into the speaker's conversation as if they are "living it with them."
Try this: Next time you're listening to a friend talk about her vacation, turn off your cellphone and really "experience" the situation being described.
Tip: You'll know you've been successful when you can easily repeat the details to someone else and have her feel like she was there, too.
3. Respond with respect. Since conversations are dynamic by nature -- you say one thing, then I say another -- it's often hard for us to just listen without adding our two cents. But interrupting is a sign that we are not really tuned in to what is being said, says Berlasso. How we respond to a speaker says a lot about us as listeners.
Try this: Make eye contact and use welcoming body language, such as leaning in to the speaker. It shows that you are interested in the conversation.
Providing appropriate and supportive acknowledgment also makes people feel heard, says Marjorie Shore, a trainer and coach who teaches communication workshops at The Coaching Clinic in Toronto. She suggests three ways that we can do this. Use encouraging words such as aha and hmm, as well as open-ended questions, such as "What else happened?" Paraphrasing, or repeating back what you've heard, is another excellent technique. An example might be: "I'm hearing that your boss is really giving you a hard time," or, "It sounds like you're feeling trapped in your relationship."
Tip: Sometimes telling a story with a similar emotional theme helps the listener see that you understand her at her level. This is about relaying an experience when you felt as she does now without telling her how to solve her problem.
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4. Have the right intentions. Whether we're aware of it or not, most of us have a personal agenda when it comes to conversations. (I generally like to convince people I'm right!) "When we are talking with others we often want something from them," says Shore, who believes that we need to shift from "what's in it for me" to being genuinely curious about what the other person has to say.
Try this: Shore says to ask yourself, What is the purpose of each conversation I enter into? Make sure it's one you feel good about. "For instance, if the purpose is to show someone you're better than they are then you shouldn't even have the conversation," she adds. "Or if your intention is to change a friend or her spouse's behaviour, instead simply try to understand their perspective and what's behind their actions."
Tip: The next time you're about to pick up the phone and call your best friend, think about what you hope to achieve. Would you like her to feel listened to and supported? Or do you want to show you're interested in what's going on her life? And if you want to be the one listened to, then come right out and say so. Tell her that you could really use a shoulder to cry on, and make it clear that you're not looking for advice.
5. Put the conversation on hold. It's OK to delay if you don't have the time or energy to be a good listener, such as when your mom calls to talk about the latest family event while you're making dinner, or a coworker shows up at your office door to discuss a problem and you've got a deadline to meet.
Tip: Shore says to tell your family member or coworker that you'd really like to be able to give him your undivided attention and agree to reconnect at a more suitable time.
Dainty and flavourful, everyone loves to indulge in tiny bites of traditional tea sandwiches. Though they appear finicky to make, these tea sandwiches are easy to assemble and entirely make-ahead.
Pinwheel Sandwiches Trim crusts from 5 slices white or whole wheat sandwich loaf, cut Pullman-style. (Ask bakery to cut sandwich loaf horizontally, or Pullman style.) Using rolling pin, flatten slices slightly. Spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread with filling.
Place 1 asparagus spear (or 2 baby gherkins) along 1 short end of each. Starting at asparagus, roll up tightly without squeezing. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. With serrated knife, trim ends; cut each roll into 6 slices.
Makes 30 pieces. Pinwheel Sandwich recipe: Curried Egg Salad Triangle Sandwiches Spread 16 thin slices whole wheat or white sandwich bread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread filling evenly over 8 of the slices. Top with remaining slices, pressing lightly. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with damp tea towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Trim off crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
Makes 32 pieces. Triangle Sandwich recipe: Ham Pickle Spread Square Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above except use 8 thin slices white and 8 thin slices whole wheat sandwich bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters.
Makes 32 pieces.Square Sandwich recipe: Pimiento Cheese Spread Finger Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above. Cut each sandwich lengthwise into 4 fingers.
Makes 32 pieces. Finger Sandwich recipe: Tuna Olive Salad
Choose the best-quality bread. Never serve end slices. Freezing bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread should be lightly buttered no matter what the filling. Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread butter right to edge of bread.
Cut crusts off bread with long, sharp knife after (not before) assembling sandwiches. This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally. Or use cookie cutters to cut into decorative shapes.
UK (by way of Iceland) trainer Svava Sigbertsdottir, founder of the butt-kicking Viking Workout, talks about her workout philosophy and shares simple, equipment-free exercises that you can do at home.
Working out with Svava Sigbertsdottir should be intimidating—the Icelandic-born, UK-based "fitness maniac" (her words) has seemingly endless energy and is totally buff, of course. But her workout philosophy is so down-to-earth, it’s easy for even the most fitness disinclined to feel inspired.
For example, the trainer, who was in Toronto with Marshalls, doesn’t believe in that personal trainer stand-by, the before and after photo shoot. Instead, she asks clients to do before and after performances.
“The first day of the month, you do a challenge and write down your reps in your online profile. Then you train like a Viking for a month and on the last day, you repeat the challenge. Every month you do a new one,” she explains. “To do these performances and then see how much more you can do is amazing. It gives such a feeling of accomplishment. You realize you can do so much more than you thought you were capable of.”
Not that seeing results doesn’t have its place. “Don’t get me wrong; of course we all want to look our best! When you look good, you feel good, right? It can be motivating,” Svava says. “But the looks are just a by-product, not the focus. We train for our power, strength, agility, resilience, optimum energy, confidence and inner contentment.”
Interested in feeling—and seeing—those results? Here are seven simple moves you can try at home.
1. Squat with a backward lunge:
Start in a squat with your weight on your heels. Keep your chest up and lower back straight. Lunge backward deeply—your back knee should almost touch the floor. Then return to squatting position and switch legs. Troubleshooting: Never lengthen your legs fully to ensure you’ll bounce from the squat to the lunge. “When you are in the lunge, there should be a straight line down from the knee to the ankle of your forward leg,” says Svava.
2. Walking plank
Start standing up. Kneel down and walk your arms forward until you’re in high plank position. Then walk your arms back until you’re in a standing forward bend. Slowly straighten up, until you’re standing with your shoulders back. Troubleshooting: When you’re in the plank, engage your core. Don’t arch your back and keep your arms straight and shoulders down.
3. Towel runs
Place two hand towels on floor in front of you. Place a hand on each towel and get into a sprinter’s start position (bum up and heels off the ground). Run forwards as fast as you can, then turn and run back. Troubleshooting: Make sure that you drive your power from your legs and not your arms. Always keep your shoulders down.
4. Backwards squat jumps
Start in a deep squat with your shoulders and bum far back, placing all your weight on your heels. Jump backwards, ending in a deep squat. Troubleshooting: “Keep your chest up and your shoulders back as you move between each squat. Your torso should not be moving forward as you land in the squat,” says Svava.
5. Kneeling high kick
Kneel on your right knee, with your left knee forward in a 90-degree bend. Press into the left heel to raise your body slightly, lengthening the left leg and, at the same time, kicking the right leg as high as you can. Slowly return to your starting position, then switch legs. Troubleshooting: “Do not use the leg you’re kicking with to lift yourself up—only the one you’re kneeling on. Engage your core and use your power to kick that leg!” says Svava.
6. Plank forward reaches
Get into low plank position. Keep your hips still and slowly reach one arm forward without shifting your body weight. Bring your arm to starting position, then switch sides. “This is a slow exercise, so if you speed it up, you will start shifting your weight and swinging your body, ultimately losing your core,” she says. “Keep that core engaged! And do not arch your lower back.” Troubleshooting: You can tell whether you’re shifting your hips too much by paying close attention to your feet as you reach forward—if you feel more weight on the toes of one foot than the other, you need to engage your core more.
Squat with your bum sticking out and your heels firm on the ground. Place your hands on the ground in between your legs and jump your legs back. (You’ll end up in press up position.) Hold that pose, engaging your core so you don’t drop your middle. Then jump back to the squat, do a squat jump, and land in a squat. That is one burpee. Troubleshooting: “When you’re squatting, your shoulders, back and chest should be straight, so that you aren’t hunched over,” Svava says. “And this is crucial: when you’re doing the squat jump, make sure you’re landing back in a squat with both heels on the ground—rather than landing with your legs straight and then squatting.”
You've perfected your resume to land the gig of your dreams. Now comes the hard part: the interview. So how do you prepare for those hard-hitting questions that could make or break your chance of getting hired? We chatted with Peter Harris, Workopolis.com's editor-in-chief, about how to answer those tough Qs and impress your future employer.
Q1: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Employers don't actually want to know what your life goals are when they pose this question, says Harris. "What they want to know is whether the role that you're applying for fits with your career goals." Harris recommends responding by telling the interviewer how this job will fit within your career development.
Q2: What's your biggest weakness? According to Harris, one of the main reasons employers ask this is because they want to see how you deal with pressure and how you handle uncomfortable questions — they're not just trying to make you squirm. "Talk about an area in which, perhaps, you aren't the strongest," says Harris, "and if it's critical to the role you're applying for, say you're working on developing those skills." This shows that you're self-aware, you're willing to grow and that you're able to learn.
Q3: What are your salary expectations? Harris says your salary should be based on the going rate of your industry, the nature of the job (are the hours long? How demanding is it?), the perks and benefits of the contract, as well as your experience and skill set. If you have to give a number, give a range, says Harris, and tell them why you should come in at the top end.
Q4: Give me an example of overcoming a challenge at your previous place of employment. Most of us have faced adversity at work, so Harris recommends being honest about how you dealt with a particular situation and what you learned from it, even if it didn't turn out as you hoped it would. "It's OK to talk about a situation that turned out poorly as long as you can speak positively about what you learned from it, how you've grown since and what you would do differently now," he says.
Q5: What would you add to this company? "You want to talk about what has set you apart on the jobs in the past," says Harris, "including your key accomplishments and how they can apply to the future success of the company." Talk about how you would apply those measures for success to the team.
Q6: What are some things you think the company can improve upon? Employers want to see that you've done your homework, you've researched the company and that you keep up on industry news. So, when answering the question, "talk about how you can make a significant contribution," says Harris. This means thinking of the challenges of the role and sharing your plans for what you'd like to work on and how that would benefit the company.
Q7: Why should I hire you? The real question here, according to Harris, is whether or not you're confident in your ability to excel in the role. This is where you give your elevator pitch. "It's your opportunity to highlight your key qualifications and why you think you would be excellent at the role," says Harris. Champion your abilities and accomplishments that will make you stand out from other applicants.
Q8: Why do you want to leave your current job? "The best answer for this is not that you're fleeing something negative, it's that you're moving toward something positive," says Harris. Reiterate that you've learned a lot at your current job and that you have enjoyed working with the team, but that it's time for a change and you can see yourself making a big contribution to this new job.
Read on for expert advice on maximizing your enjoyment, staying safe and feeling empowered at every age.
NOT FEELING IT? Many women mistake a low sex drive for a clinical case of sexual dysfunction— but chances are, the cause is more than medical.
You aren't exactly sure what's up, but even though you love your partner, you just haven't felt like sex lately. You duck his touch, opting to watch Netflix instead. Maybe it's been months, and you're starting to wonder: Is there something wrong?
You can carry on with binge-watching The Crown, because, for most women, there's nothing medically amiss between the sheets. And, if it's any comfort, you're not the only one who's concerned about the possibility of sexual dysfunction. Teesha Morgan, a Vancouver sex therapist, says it's the question patients ask most. But, "almost 100 percent of the time, what they're experiencing is normal," she says. "There are so many things that can affect sexual desire: if you have little kids; if you're on antidepressants; if you take the birth control pill; if you're perimenopausal, postmenopausal or going through menopause...."
Dr. Natalie Rosen, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Halifax, says true sexual dysfunction persists for at least six months and is "associated with significant distress for the individual or couple, as judged by a clinician." So, while it may seem as though all of your friends are in the same sexless boat, just 12 to 20 percent of women and 11 percent of men have sexual dysfunction.
But if it's not a medical problem, what's behind your lack of drive? As Morgan says, there are tons of reasons. However, one major cause might be a truism we were hoping to write off: In women, sex drive tends to dip over time. According to a study published in Psychological Medicine last year, which looked at sexual function (desire, satisfaction, ability to achieve orgasm) in more than 2,000 women, those in long-term relationships tended to see a drop in desire. But that doesn't mean you should buy into the clichés about women hating sex; instead, take the opportunity to be more realistic about your expectations—it's OK to have less sex! And take heart: The study also found that the long-partnered women had an easier time achieving orgasm.
So, if you want to have sex like a champion, don't be afraid to try new things: Get it on anywhere but the bedroom or use a sex toy—and make your personal preferences clear. Dr. Laurie Betito, a clinical psychologist in Montreal, suggests that you "liken having sex to going to the gym." Put it in your calendar if you have to! Because, just as with exercise, the more you go, the easier it will be to keep your commitment.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES How your smartphone could be messing with your sex life.
No one can be present in the moment if they're waiting to jump on that next ping, so, for God's sake, put down your phone. Experts recommend charging your devices as far from the bedroom as possible. If you really can't let go, at least turn down the volume. And consider trying "mindful intimacy." The wellness buzzword can easily be applied to sexual health; mindfulness is about focusing on the present, and mindful intimacy means being aware of what you are experiencing while you're with your partner. The idea is that couples who practise it can overcome the barriers they've built up and feel more connected to each other and their own individual sexuality. So sign up for a meditation class or use a mindfulness app like Headspace. (Ironic, we know—but apps really are easy and accessible ways to try mindfulness!)
LIBIDO BOOSTERS A look at how the newest sexual aids stack up.
Elvie: Remember those squeezing exercises you had to do after giving birth? Pelvic-floor muscles can make all the difference between a meh or mighty sex life, which is why Kegels are a must. But how do you know they're working? This pelvic-floor exerciser monitors your motion in real time thanks to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app.
Aphrodisiac marijuana: California-based medical marijuana purveyor Paradigm Cannabis Group markets a strain of weed called Sexxpot that promises to boost mood and libido. Researchers haven't been able to definitively establish a link between weed and libido, but there's anecdotal evidence that some people do benefit from partaking before sex. Trial run?
"Viagara for her": Big Pharma has been trying for years tcome up with a love pill for women, with little success. The most recent, Addyi, hit shelves in the U.S. in 2015, with a resounding thunk. A prescription pill aimed at premenopausal women, it delivers an average of just one-half of an extra satisfying sexual event per month—at a cost of US$900!
BACK IN THE SADDLE When you've been ill, sex is often the last item on your to-do list—but that doesn't mean it can't move up a notch or two.
Let's be honest: Sex isn't top of mind after you've been sick. Even sneezing and coughing from a cold or flu can drag you down, so it's no wonder something more serious can affect your sex life. But a thriving connection after a medical condition is possible.
First, though, it's important to know it's OK if you're not exactly feeling frisky. "There's psychology related to illness and sexuality," says Dr. Christine Palmay, a family physician in Toronto. "Depression from an illness, sideeffects from medication and body-image concerns can all lead to a lack of interest in sex."
So don't feel pressured to immediately return to your pre-illness state of affairs. Maybe you've had a mastectomy—that can be a huge blow to your femininity. Or you've had a heart attack and are nervous that strenuous sexual activity will cause another one. You can still be intimate. Trade cuddling for intimate touching—get as naked as you both feel comfortable with, then engage in sex talk or remind each other of favourite moves. It will do more for your relationship than sitting side by side watching TV in parallel play.
And you don't have to worry about a subsequent heart attack after all. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015 says sex doesn't trigger a heart attack or increase your risk of a repeat. In fact, researchers found it's actually considered "moderate physical activity…and is comparable to climbing two staircases or taking a brisk walk." So putting a little hanky-panky back into your repertoire can't hurt—and it might even help your recovery.
It's also worth noting that lots of women struggle after illness. "Energy levels post chemotherapy tend not to improve for several years. In some cases, women never return to their previous level of functioning," says Dr. Palmay. "So be gentle and patient with yourself." And when you do eventually feel ready, "experiment, be adventurous," she says. "Maybe sex will play a different role in your new life, and that's OK."
YES MEANS YES Consent isn't just a concept that affects carefree young people. "It's still a consideration in relationships, whether of a casual, short- or longterm nature," says Mary-Jean Malyszka, a registered provisional psychologist and clinical sex therapist in Calgary. But it can be sticky to address. Here are some tips for striking up the conversation.
With your partner: Consent is an ongoing conversation. "If you would like to change the type or degree of sexual activity, check in by asking, 'Is this OK?' or 'How would you feel about…?' " says Malyszka. Or remind your partner to check in with you. And, if you're planning to try something new, consider choosing a code word or action that means "stop immediately," she advises.
With your teens: Explain what consent is, keeping it simple but clear: You are allowed to stop at any point if it doesn't feel right, even if the other person really wants to continue. "You don't need to go into a big explanation. It's all about what you want and don't want for your body, and your partner has to respect that," Malyszka says.
With your parents: This can be an awkward conversation, but, considering the possibility of cognitive decline, an important one. Explain the importance of informed affirmative consent, which means each partner understands exactly what is going to happen and is enthusiastic about trying it.
SAFETY FIRST Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among older adults. Here's what you need to know.
Remember having "the talk" with your kids about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? It's time to revisit that conversation— with yourself.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says the national rate of STI infection has been rising steadily since the late '90s, including among older adults. According to the Sexual Health at Midlife Study, a joint project by Trojan and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), the rates of chlamydia, for instance, among Canadians aged 40 to 59 increased by 153 percent between 2003 and 2012.
Dr. Betito has noticed an increasing need to educate even elderly adults. "Seniors' residences are like college dorms. There's often one man for several women, and they don't use condoms because there's no risk of pregnancy," she says. Dr. Palmay has also seen more STIs in her perimenopausal, menopausal and postmenopausal patients. "My senior patients go to Myrtle Beach, have fun in the sun and come back with syphilis, and they're nonchalant about it," she says.
Postmenopausal women are actually more vulnerable to STIs—the lining of the vagina becomes drier with age, which makes it "more likely to tear and become irritated during sex," says Dr. Palmay. "These tears could lead to more susceptibility to STIs."
Blame lack of condom use for the increased health risk—of the 77 percent of respondents in the Trojan/SIECCAN study who had intercourse in their last sexual encounter, only about 28 percent of women said their partner used a condom (see What's Behind the Rise, below, for more info).
"Youth today are taught 'no glove, no love,' but older women didn't grow up with that concept," says Dr. Betito, adding that people who are widowed or recently divorced "don't know how to negotiate condom use with a new partner." She advises women to take charge by carrying condoms and telling their partners they expect safe sex.
WHAT'S BEHIND THE RISE? Experts say the increasing incidence of STIs among the 40- to 59-year-old cohort can be traced back to three things.
Hookup-specific apps such as Tinder and Bumble: People looking for casual hookups use these apps to find potential sex partners with the swipe of a screen—no sexual history required.
Birth control use over condom use: For the 40-year-olds, birth control may help prevent pregnancy, but the pill doesn't ward off STIs. Condoms are close to 100 percent effective (though you can still contract HPV and herpes through oral sex).
Screening confusion: Not all STIs are diagnosed through blood or urine tests, and not all STIs are part of standard screening. For example, herpes and HPV require their own tests.
RUBBER CHECK If you thought we'd reached the apex of what a condom could be, think again. This is what rubbers could look like in the near future.
The number-one protector against STIs, HIV and, yes, babies, the latex condom has held steady for years. But once you've got thinner condoms, flavoured condoms and condoms bearing Sailor Moon designs, where do you go? To science, that's where. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is backing projects searching for a biodegradable condom that works just as well as the traditional sort, and a model that can also act as a drug-delivery system forSTI prevention. And, if those two aren't enough, behold the Rapidom. It's an applicator that will help a guy get the rubber out of the package and onto his penis in one swift move. Handy (and more likely to prevent user error)!