A blog about health, wellness and well-being, with advice on how to achieve it... from your inner depth to your outer surface.

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's getting cold and gloomy: prepare your survival kit!

After some wonderful fall weather, we have been experiencing cold, damp (or plain wet) weather. Everyone had to resign themselves to turn on the heat in the house. The leaves are putting an end to their colorful show. It's dark when we wake up. It's dark right after supper. And it won't get any better.

How to fight back? Especially when - depressing - memories of last year's winter creep in and arouse PTSD-like symptoms? Here are some possible strategies to make the most of the next six months.

Keep going outside. It can be intimidating, the cold, the dark, the windy, the damp. Still get out there. Spending some time under the fall-winter-spring sun can do wonders. If you stay long enough, maybe you will notice the unique beauties of the cold season: the last days of the fall, the birds that stay all year-round, the white powder that covers everything, the silence.

Try a winter sport: skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, hockey, or simply playing in the snow. The idea is 1) to replenish your vitamin D - notably to prevent seasonal depression - you might even want to invest in light therapy; 2) to find ways to enjoy that unforgiving season.

Practice summer sports... indoors: swimming, tennis, badminton, basketball, soccer, etc. Work out in the gym. Sweat! It will make you forget how cold it actually is out there.

Walk and run. If you've been brisk walking or running regularly... keep at it. If you haven't, why not start now? Keeping fit and breathing some fresh air is sure to keep bad moods at bay.

Sleep. You might want to sleep more than you do in the summer. Human beings might need to "part time hibernate".

Engage in a creative activity such as drawing, painting, writing, making music, taking pictures (all photos on this post were taken after the last leaf has fallen and before the first tulip has appeared).

Indulge in cold weather pleasures such as bubble baths, warming up by a fireplace, wearing sweaters and scarfs or fleece PJs and slippers, reading tons of books, eating soup or fondue. Fuel up with good stuff, like lots of fruit and vegetables. Speaking of which: cook or bake. Have hot chocolate, chai tea, mulled wine, hot cider, eggnog and what not.

Do all the things you don't do during summer because it's ''Too darn beautiful outside'': visit museums and libraries and movie theaters and restaurants and cafes.

Feel grateful that you don't need to cover up in sunscreen or bug spray, mow the lawn, garden.

Travel: if your time and money allow for it, go down south for a welcome break from the dreadful weather.

Any other strategies to suggest?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chablis by the sea

A weekend at a friend's house, directly on the beach. Beauty. Pure beauty. Few words to explain. Even pictures lack the sounds and the scents of the ocean. But memories are infallible.

Late afternoon view from the master's bedroom

Backyard (a one minute walk to the beach)

Footsteps in the sand, declining sun



Moonrise 2

Morning view from the kitchen

Morning coffee spot

Morning salt spray

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Floating memories

Geoff LMV, Flickr

“I, or any mortal at any time, may be utterly mistaken as to the situation he is really in.” 
― C.S. LewisA Grief Observed

The girl who's not fazed by much (including snakes, spiders and open wounds) almost had a panic attack when she discovered that her basement had become a wading pool after the latest big rains.

Among other things, a very precious box was sitting in two inches of water: the box that contains more than 25 years of personal diaries (mostly written between the ages of 10 and 20) and creative writing attempts.

The box was salvaged. After further investigation, however, most of its contents proved less valuable than one could have thought. Personal diaries mostly containing soliloquies about this and that crush or fling, usually followed by this and that breakup, become kind of repetitive after a while. Sure, there are some cute or insightful passages, but for the most part, the voluminous production will be better left unpublished.

The one part of the diaries that might prove worthy of sharing exposes the reality of the grieving process. For months after my father passed away (when I was 24), I filled pages and pages, longhand, trying to pour onto paper what was too heavy to keep inside.

It worked. Both the process and the result were successful.

Which takes me to the "writing as therapy" theory. Have you noticed how much writing (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs) serves the purpose of catharsis for overwhelming emotions? There are so many examples. Unrequited love might be one of the most fertile source of inspiration of all, whether it's induced by a love that one longs for in vain, or by a past love that has seen its last days, but lingers cruelly.

Suffering, and the need to exorcise pain in general, is a powerful source of creative production, including in the written form. Coming to terms with a difficult experience, like the loss of a loved one or the loss of one's own health, often creates a compelling need to create. And if pen and paper (or the keyboard) is your favoured outlet, writing can be a powerful coping mechanism.

It wouldn't be surprising if I spent some time re-reading my grieving journal in the coming weeks, especially since my father's birthday is coming very soon, followed three weeks later by the date he passed away. If I find anything that I believe worthy of sharing, I will 1) translate it to English 2) post it here.

While I wrote my own grieving journal I was also reading another one, that of C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed). Religious or not, every reader can gain something from it. Excerpt:

“One never meets Cancer, or War, or Unhappiness (or Happiness). One only meets each hour or moment as it comes... One never gets the total impact of what we call 'the thing itself.' But we call it wrongly. The thing itself is simply all these ups and downs: the rest is a name or an idea.” 

In the meantime, you can also read this blog of a young psychiatrist dealing with cancer.

Have you ever used writing as a form of therapy?
Have you used other people's therapeutic writing as your own therapy?

For more water related posts, look no more: