One of my favourite self-care activities is my daily walks to school. I especially love walking in the crisp, cool winter air. It is invigorating and helps to ground me when it has been a challenging morning. I must admit though that I began to complain during that period of slush and ice; discovering holes in my boots certainly did not help matters. I even felt a bit envious of folks I knew who were in warmer climates. However, I know I am fortunate, unlike many in our region, to have a warm place to retreat to when necessary. Ron Dowhaniuk, Executive Director of United Way of Cambridge and North Dumfries and a former FCCCND ED reminds us of the added challenges of homelessness in the winter in his article featured in the Times earlier this year.
Unlike previous years when I was more inclined to seek shelter indoors, this year I’ve been intentional about applying some of my key principles for working with clients to my relationship with old man winter. I am sharing some of these so that you too can find the gift in winter.
1) Within every crisis or challenge, there is an opportunity. For me, some of the big snow storms gave me the gift of fresh air and exercise as well as a sense of community as I joined with my neighbours to clear our driveways and sidewalks. I also used the opportunity to model giving of my time and helping someone by bringing my children to shovel the driveway of the woman across the street who had been out caring for her dying mother. Moving beyond our problems to help others is a great buffer against depression and anxiety.
2) Beauty is all around us. Healing comes from being in the moment. This year I made a point of taking pictures while out and about and I was amazed by how beautiful the earth looks at this time of year and how there can be some vibrant colours. Mindful meditation and deep breaths have both physical and emotional healing properties; protecting us from stress and depression and reducing anxious symptoms.
3) Let go of what you cannot control. Focus on what you can control. There is nothing more out of our control than the weather. Preparing and planning for inclement weather rather than getting caught in the dangerous traps of “what if” and catastrophic thinking is an important skill to apply to all situations outside of our control. So next time you find yourself stressing about the snow, let go and remember #4.
4) We are never too old to stop playing. Being a grown up can be exhausting. Play, like sleep is restorative and promotes creativity in all ages. This year we bundled up and played at the park, went sledding, had picnics in the snow and took part in some of the community events such as “Winterloo”, especially enjoying racing down the ice slide.
5) Quiet time or solitude spurs creativity and deeper self-awareness. When the weather becomes unsafe for driving, it is a great chance to get lost in a good book, to do some journaling or engage in a favourite childhood activity. Who knows what exciting new ideas or comfort you might find?
As I previously mentioned, the brain can not feel appreciative and anxious at the same time. As more signs of spring become evident I find myself feeling more appreciative of winter and even a little sad to see it go. Despite a hectic pace and some unforeseen challenges, this has been my healthiest winter yet; coincidence I think not.
In the spirit of giving throughout the year, we are excited to give people the gift of entertainment and connection this April. Bring your friends and family and enjoy some laughs while helping us continue to give the gifts of healing, hope and healthy relationships to anyone in need! Check out our Events or Facebook page for more information and please consider sharing on your own personal or professional page or twitter feed. We assure you the money raised will make a lasting difference in your community!
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