“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
– Melody Beattie
As the month of November comes to an end I begin to sense the spirit of gratitude slowly fade away. The “month of gratitude” may be over, but I do not plan to stop practicing gratitude thereafter. My gratitude practice is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that makes every day of my life a magical and wonderful journey of discovery and appreciation. Even in the midst of grief and profound loss.
Until the next post.
Take care + be well,
When I stepped outside and onto my front porch this morning a cool breeze brushed against my face. I also felt a bit of warmth from the fall sun; and both sensations were very soothing. I turned around to close my front door and while doing so I could hear a group of leaves bustling down the street behind me.
Naturally, I didn’t have to turn around to know that they were leaves that had recently fell from the neighborhood trees. In my mind I called upon past memories of the season and I thought to myself, “this only happens once a year.” This was fall in full effect and as I turned around to face the street, all of the leaves began to then scatter to different areas of the street and into yards like little colorful children laughing and playing a game of tag.
It’s always the little things that capture my attention, and where I find some of the most intriguing things to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude allows me to readjust my focus so that I am always able to find “something” good in everything. Even those things that I normally would not find pleasing – like cold weather months, for example.
When fall arrives I know that I will now have to try to plan my outdoor walks and hiking trips a bit more carefully for the next few months, if at all, and this alone contributes to my “blues” along with grieving and missing the sunshine. However, the cooler months also bring with them the opportunity to sit or lay by a fireplace fire, and if I keep looking on the bright side and maintain an open mind, I will also be able to appreciate the fact that I can still perform other exercises and activities indoors. Optimism is a beautiful thing. I guess that is why we as a society celebrate it.
A big part of conquering the “blues” involves maintaining a positive outlook once the weather changes. Yet, as I have discovered, this isn’t always easy to do especially if the shift to cooler weather and shorter daylight hours are affecting you while you are grieving. There are a few things that anyone can do to help make this time of year more pleasant and more manageable and I have listed fifteen tips below that I have personally tried and that seem to be helpful.
- Practice gratitude – Find something in every day, no matter how big or small, to be grateful for. Begin by noticing something good about the changes that come with both the fall and winter seasons.
- Get a pet. Pets can help keep you stay healthy by encouraging you to stay active. It may also help to care for something else other than yourself.
- Open your curtains or blinds as often as possible to allow the sun to shine in and keep your mood positive.
- Exercise or find another way to keep you body active for a few minutes a day.
- Take up a new hobby or start a fall or winter craft. This can be especially helpful in easing any grief. Try creating something in honor of the person who has passed away or create something that sparks your interest. Either way, creative expression is good for managing feelings and emotions.
- Find an exercise buddy to keep things exciting and for accountability.
- Eat healthy and don’t feel bad about treating yourself to a favorite treat once in a while…think balance.
- Volunteer or donate to a cause that you care about, or that your loved one cared about. When we help others it can give us insight and remind us that things aren’t as bad as they may seem.
- Join a club such as a grief group, book club or hiking club, or any club that sparks your interest. This is a great way to maintain social contacts and prevent feelings of isolation.
- Create fall or winter rituals such as decorating for the holidays, cooking holiday meals, baking desserts, (especially those that your lost loved one enjoyed), or burn candles and make a fire in the fireplace. These things can help you enjoy the “warmth” of the season.
- Avoid negativity – Surround yourself with positive people and positive environments. Negativity can be stressful and may trigger unfavorable emotions and memories.
- Look forward – Create something special to look forward to in the coming year such as a memorial event, or a solo or family trip or vacation.
- Stay social – Spend time with family and friends, share family memories and create new ones, or simply get together with friends to watch a movie or have brunch or dinner out at a restaurant.
- Play music – Listen to your favorite music regularly in your home or car to give your mind a break. You may also enjoy playing a little holiday music during the holidays to add a little cheeriness to the gloomier seasons.
- Create a morning and evening ritual – such as practicing meditation, yoga, prayer or journaling as these practices can help with maintaining a positive outlook.
Thankfully, seasons change, and “the blues” will too, but until the seasons actually do change and bring back the longer, brighter days with the trees and other foliage beginning to show hints of a less monochromatic world we have just a few months in which we can savor the beauty that fall and winter bestows us. Let’s enjoy it together. Shall we? Happy October!
Until the next post.
Take Care + Be Well,
When you can’t get enough sunshine…create your own.
Can you feel it? It’s there in the air. The slightly cooler weather. The change in the way that the sun lights up a room? The yearning for comfort food. The cries for pumpkin spice everything. The Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations inside every store that you set foot in. Wanting to pull the covers up to your chin and press the snooze button on those early chilly mornings before you get out of bed.
Regardless of whether you call it Autumn or Fall… it’s here. That time of the year that makes us want to hibernate a little bit and spend more time indoors. As someone who enjoys both the outdoors and warm sunshine on my skin I am going to miss the warmer months and the opportunity to soak up vitamin D naturally.
Spending time in the sun, of course, has its pros and cons. We want to avoid exposing ourselves to too much sunlight as not to increase our chances of getting skin cancer — even with sunscreen. Yet, with sunlight being a natural and ideal way of getting vitamin D into our bodies to maintain our health, we also want to be able to reap that benefit.
During the spring and summer months our bodies produce vitamin D naturally when we spend at least ten to twenty minutes outside receiving ultraviolet B rays from the sun. Yet, during the fall and winter months most of us are less likely to be able to so, which means that we are often left to find others ways of ensuring that we are getting enough vitamin D and maintaining our health and nutrition.
We can do this by eating more vitamin D rich foods such as fortified milk, orange juice, cheese, eggs, mushrooms, or fatty-fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines. For my vegan friends, tofu or fortified plant milks can be good sources of vitamin D. Just be sure to double check your labels. Furthermore, vitamin D supplements tend to be good options for those who may feel as though they are are not receiving enough vitamin D from their food sources. These are just some of the ways that I manage my vitamin D levels as a flexitarian. As always, it would also be a good idea to check with your physician or nutritionist to determine what your unique vitamin or nutritional needs might be.
I think we all know that vitamin D is important for our bone, nail, hair and teeth health, but did you know that it also plays a role in the human cell life cycle and helps regulate both immune and neuromuscular systems?
Potential Benefits of Vitamin D
- May aid depression or S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder / Seasonal Depression).
- May decrease inflammation.
- May prevent bone loss or bone disease.
- May provide relief for some chronic conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis.
- May aid cognitive function.
A few signs of vitamin deficiency include hair loss, muscle pain, having wounds that heal slowly and fatigue. These are symptoms that could also, very easily, be associated with other conditions which is why you should seek professional medical help in the event that you experience any of these symptoms – especially if you are experiencing grief and assuming that your symptoms are solely related to stress from the loss that you have experienced. Deficiency in this vitamin is common and easy to remedy so don’t be afraid to get any of these symptoms checked out.
Until the next post.
Take Care + Be Well,