Eat. Sleep. Move. Breathe. I call these ‘the basics’, the bare minimum if you will of what we need to do in order to take care of ourselves. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many more things that we can add to this to create whole, healthy selves – connect, laugh, create, notice, give, receive, and so on and so on.
But sometimes the work of just getting through each day is hard, and there isn’t even energy enough for anything else. For some people January can be a really hard month. Especially in Winnipeg. The dark. The cold. The months ahead of snow and ice and winter. Getting out of bed can be hard. Picking up the phone to call or text can be hard. Putting groceries in the fridge can be hard.
When these times come, when it’s harder to keep going, or when we’re feeling overwhelmed and anxiety strikes – my go-to is to cover ‘the basics.’ For a time, these will likely be enough to get you through. They’ll be enough to keep you going, because this feeling? The one that makes you think you’ll never get out of bed? Or never feel anything but tense? It will pass. And when it does, let’s make sure there is a healthy enough you left to keep moving forward.
Eat. You may not want to. Or maybe you want to too much. Make the next choice a healthy one, one that your body will say ‘thank you’ for. If your stomach is too tight and feels like it can’t, be gentle with it. If all you want is high fat/high sugar comfort foods – perhaps one healthy choice may help you feel good about taking care of your body.
Sleep. Everything is harder when we’re tired. Solving the world’s (or even just your) problems at midnight isn’t a great idea. Get a cozy blanket. Head to bed. Bring a heating pad to keep you warm, or put on some fuzzy pj’s. For those who want to sleep too much…set the alarm. Wake up slowly. Maybe a morning meditation may help that process.
Move. Our bodies are made to move, but this can often be something we cut out of a busy schedule. Movement releases endorphins, which are helpful in increasing mood and leave us feeling better. Unfortunately when stress is high we often fail to engage in the very thing that might help. Moving outside, especially in nature, can also help people feel more grounded, connected, and present. Taking the time to notice the pattern of animal prints in the snow, listening to the chickadees on a clear day, or marveling at how the tree branches look against the sky can help ground you in the present, and more connected with yourself.
Breathe. Have you ever stopped to notice your breath? When we are stressed, our breathing tends to become more shallow – a function of the stress response of our nervous system. When we practice deep, slow breathing it actually stimulates a parasympathetic nervous system reaction which serves to calm us down.
So if the winter blahs have gotten you down, and you’re feeling stuck – why not give the basics a try? Eat. Sleep. Move. Breathe. And know that feelings aren’t forever, the light will return, and we’ll all feel warm one day again.