It’s true; the winter months in the Rockies seem to go on and on. Seasonal depression and a general sense of malaise become commonplace for those living in colder, darker climates, so, it’s understandable, while in a state of mourning, to feel a little more melancholy than we might have felt when the days were brighter.
Not everyone is impacted by the dark, cloudy days, of course; but planning in advance for the coming few months of cold wintery weather can help us better cope with our feelings of sadness and loss. If you are grieving this winter, consider creating a special Winter Wellness Toolkit to help you find the light and peace within the season.
Here are some basics to include in your toolkit. Of course, preferences for self-care are unique to each of us, so add whatever feels right to you and adjust along the way. The important part of this exercise is in having resources that are focused on nurturing ways to attend to your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Be creative!
- Your essential contact list – Yes, you may have every one of your friends and loved ones’ contact information saved in your cell, but there’s something extra comforting about seeing an actual list of people to call anytime you need to. Maybe one friend is a great listener, while another makes you laugh… write these comforting reminders next to their names for quick reference when you need an emotional lift.
- Books or quotes that inspire – You can include actual books or a list of books you’ve been meaning to buy. Some people find little daily reflections books to be a centering, meditative way to start the day.
- Support groups – There are an amazing number of support groups out there, from grief sharing circles to twelve-step groups to church-based study groups. Take advantage of the collective wisdom and healing of a nurturing support group, whenever possible. After all, here’s something incredibly comforting about spending time with those who truly understand.
- Uplifting activities – What do you enjoy doing? Have a favorite hobby or pastime you’ve neglected? Whether you like to knit, do crossword puzzles, watch old films, or bake, keep the supplies needed on-the-ready for long days, when a healthy distraction can come to the rescue.
- Favorite belongings – Some people find scrapbooks, photographs, and mementos to be helpful when experiencing sadness. Others prefer to focus on soothing music, a favorite scented candle, or a lovingly handmade quilt to be comforting. Keep a cache of items that help you focus on the things that are good for your physical and emotional well-being. Indulge in something you’ve always wanted, whether it’s a new camera or a beautiful scarf.
- Get moving – Exercise has been proven to improve mood and healing. If you don’t want to join a gym, consider adding some yoga or tai chi DVDs to your Wellness Toolkit, or invite a friend to go for daily walks.
- Get Creative – Expressing yourself through writing, music, or art is a cathartic and creative way to integrate feelings and thoughts while affirming all that life has to offer.
- Be a friend – Do you know someone who is also struggling with a loss or setback? Sometimes through volunteering or picking up the phone and calling someone who could use cheering can also help lift our own spirits.
If you find yourself really struggling, it’s important to seek help by consulting with a therapist or family physician who can provide additional suggestions and rule out depression.
The long days of winter need not prevent you from giving yourself all of the attention, love, and care you deserve. A Wellness Toolkit can be a great way to start on your journey to self-care and healing.