By: Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
How are you?
No really, how are YOU?
When’s the last time you checked in with yourself?
There are so many things happening in and around the world right now - from the global pandemic that continues to take a toll on our overall health, to distance learning or homeschooling our children while having to balance working from home amidst other responsibilities, to the fight for dismantling anti-black racism and all the systems that support it, and, of course, the recent U.S. elections (anyone else feeling the heaviness from that, or is that just me)? Oh, and on top of all that, there are the other personal situations that we have individually been dealing with.
Recently, we had to set our clocks back an hour, and as we head into the colder and darker months of the year, it’s important to know that many people (myself included!), experience seasonal depression; also known as the “winter blues” and more formally known as, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a kind of depression that appears at certain times of the year. It usually begins in the fall when the days get shorter and lasts through the winter. About 2 to 3% of Canadians will experience SAD in their lifetime. Another 15% will experience a milder form of SAD that leaves them only slightly depressed, but still able to live their life without major disruptions.
Given everything that is going on, I wanted to share some helpful tools and resources as we navigate through these uncertain times.
Mental Health. What activities are you using to support your mental well-being? I know that my stress and anxiety levels have been elevated lately. One way that I work through this is by meditating. Some benefits include: gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, building skills to manage your stress, reducing negative emotions. One type of meditation that I practice is mindfulness. It is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, the focus is on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath as you inhale and exhale. You can start with 5 minutes a day and add one minute a day until you’re able to mediate for your desired time. I’ve found that starting the day with a 5 minute meditation where I focus on my breathing helps me to set the tone for the rest of my day. There are several free meditation apps, such as Insight Timer, Liberate Meditation App: For Black and Indigenous People of Color and YouTube also has a lot of free meditation videos!
Speaking of mindfulness, I encourage you to be mindful of the time you spend consuming current events, whether that be from the television, social media, the radio, or through print media. Set time limits for yourself and honour those limits. If you say you’ll only spend 30 minutes a day consuming media, then set an alarm and when that alarm goes off, set the news aside and move on to doing something else.
Movement. Move your body in a way that honours you. Create what I call a “movement menu”. Think about activities that you enjoy doing. Write them down and put them in a place that you will see them. Some examples are: walking, jogging, running, practicing yoga, pilates, etc. Heck, turn on your favourite song, blast the music and dance away! There are many free exercise apps and YouTube is also a great resource for a variety of exercises.
Choose one activity to do everyday. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. However, if 30 minutes isn’t feasible, start with whatever you can do. Even 5-minutes a day is better than nothing. Be gentle with yourself and meet yourself where you are.
Spend Time In Nature. The objective is to get as much sunlight as you possibly can; the fresh air will help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. However, given the time of year, that may not be the most practical depending on where you live. For additional support, you may look into getting a quality Vitamin D supplement and a Light Therapy Lamp / SAD Lamp (I have both and HIGHLY recommend).
Rituals. Do you currently have any rituals or routines that help to calm and center you? Your morning routine could look like practicing gratitude first thing, stretching, drinking a glass of water,or something else entirely! A mid-day routine could look like checking with yourself to see how you’re doing. How are you feeling? What support do you need? Who do you need to connect with? Have you nourished your body? Is it time to step away from what you’re doing to take a few deep breaths?
One of my favourite breathwork exercises is the 5-5-7 breath. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and release for 7 seconds. Take deep and slow belly breaths. Repeat this technique for at least 2 minutes.
An evening routine may include instituting what I call a power down hour; an hour before bed, where you turn off all electronics. During this hour you could have a bath, do some light stretching, and enjoy some chamomile tea. It doesn’t have to be over the top or complicated. Whatever best supports you in any given moment.
If you aren’t doing these things, please don’t feel overwhelmed. The objective isn’t to overwhelm you; it is to support you. With that being said, start small. Start with one item. You don’t have to do them all. You can choose whichever one speaks to you, or none at all. These are solely suggestions, you are free to take what serves you and leave the rest. I invite you to get curious and explore what calms and centers you.
Our bodies have innate wisdom and are communicating with us all of the time. We just have to slow down, be still and quiet enough to receive its messages.
Take deep and unapologetic care of yourselves.
Nicki Reid, Bilingual BA
Certified Transformational Coach | Certified Essential Oil Specialist |
Certified ARōMATOUCH Practitioner | 200 YTT , Wholesome Mind Health Coaching