In Part 1 of this episode, she talks with host Sophie Grégoire Trudeau about how she stayed committed to her ideals of health and strength on her path to becoming the best in the world. A great believer in the importance of physical fitness, she inspires young girls to remain active while encouraging them to focus more on their accomplishments than on their appearance. Virtue stresses the importance of being kind to ourselves in the often-brutal world of social media, saying, “we need to stop comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.” Her message to young women is, “You’re enough, exactly how you are, every curve, every freckle, it’s perfect, because it’s you.”
In Part 2 of this WE Well-being podcast, Megan Popovic, Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Performance for the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club, life coach and mother of two, shares tips on how parents can help support their kids in building resiliency. Popovic stresses that parents need to recognize that sometimes being uncomfortable can help us grow. She stresses that often the best thing a parent can do is to establish clear, authentic boundaries and then get out of the way. It’s only by allowing a child to experience challenging moments, says Popovic, that they will have the space to grow and develop their own values and decision-making capacities.
Think about how you would greet an old friend. If we weren’t practicing physical distancing, probably with a great big bear hug! Now consider ways you can extend that same affection to yourself. Not sure where to begin? Stretch your arms wide. Cross your hands to opposite shoulders. Squeeze! You have every reason to be your own BFF. Being kind to yourself is a good place to start.
Understand that making mistakes and facing challenges are all part of being human. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When we begin to recognize when we’re uncomfortable, either we get an opportunity to look at what we’re doing and reflect, or we learn that what is making us uncomfortable is growing and expanding us as human beings. Embrace and celebrate challenge!
Lend yourself a curious and compassionate ear. If you notice self-criticism, ask yourself: Is there a kinder response?
Self-compassion is a life-long survival skill. Next time you notice self-criticism, try this: place a hand on your heart, notice the pressure and warmth of this kind touch, and ask yourself how this kind gesture influences your thoughts. This simple action can be enough to remind yourself to extend the same compassion, kindness and care to yourself as you would to a loved one.
Seek to identify and care for your needs.
Make your own emotional first aid kit! Gather a few treasures: photos, souvenirs, inspirational quotes or a sachet of tea. Next time you need a little TLC, this emotional first aid kit will be ready to provide you with a little comfort when you need it most.
Realize your thoughts are just thoughts. The best part about our own thoughts is that we have the power to change them. Did you know that listening to pleasurable music releases ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters that can lift your mood? There are lots of happy songs, but here are a few suggestions to get you started: “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen; “Dancing Queen” by ABBA; “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel; “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves.
Be kind whenever possible, to yourself and to others.
As odd as it sounds, being kind to yourself can take practice. Here’s a little technique used by people all over the world: find a quiet place to sit comfortably and begin paying attention to your breathing. Rest in the quiet, repeating this simple phrase: “May I be peaceful and happy.” Research shows that even a few minutes of this practice can enhance your sense of daily joy, gratitude and hope.
Tessa Virtue is one of the most decorated Olympic figure skaters of all time. Together with her ice dancing partner, Scott Moir, she has won five Olympic medals. Trained in ballet and modern dance, Virtue attended the National Ballet summer school at age nine before choosing to focus on skating. During their spectacular career together, she and Moir also published a book Tessa and Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold and filmed a TV show Tessa and Scott, which focuses on their training for the Olympics. Having announced her retirement from the sport in September 2019, Virtue is focusing on encouraging the next generation of athletes. Her favourite quote, as reported on the Canadian Olympic Team website is, “Don’t be delicate. Be vast and brilliant.”
Megan Popovic is Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Performance for the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club. She holds a PhD from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University and served as a faculty member in the School of Leadership and Social Change at Brescia University College. For over 15 years, she has worked with individuals, teams and organizations to develop resiliency, leadership and emotional well-being. A former elite-level figure skater, Popovic partnered with two former professional hockey players—her brother, Mark Popovic and long-time family friend, Andy Chiodo—to create workshops for players, coaches and parents.
WE Well-being podcasts are not intended as medical advice or treatment and should not be seen as a substitute for therapy or medication. WE Well-being is a program that empowers people of all ages with tools and resources to promote their own well-being and the well-being of their communities.