As a Minnesota lifer, I can handle this weather with the best of them, but as I’m getting older, I find my relationship with the snow and ice becoming more acrimonious.
The lure of sledding or snowman building has lost its luster, as the kids have outgrown such activities, and the ice seems more like a good way to maximize my insurance deductible. The January doldrums have taken firm hold over here.
As I sat this morning, drinking my coffee and scrolling social media, a post caught my eye. I admit I was drawn first by the photo of the sun and sandy beach, rather than the caption, which read “January is Mental Wellness Month. Have you taken your mental temperature today?” As I read the article, I realized that my January Blues were both normal and treatable – no beach required!
The World Health Organization defines mental wellness as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes [their] own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to [their] community.”
This doesn’t mean that mental wellness is an absence of mental health issues or diagnoses, but rather that they are acknowledged and addressed, and most importantly that the tools to allow one to thrive are practiced, even during times of stress.
The three tools I find most helpful with my mental wellness is mindfulness, staying active, and practicing positivity.
Mindfulness means learning how to quiet your mind and not dwell on the past or fret about the future – or in my case, agonize about the latest six inches of snow. For some, this could be through prayer or meditation, but it’s really about learning to live your best life in the moment. For all the storms we’ve had this winter, my trees and yard has never looked so beautiful. I quietly appreciate the beauty of this every morning.
Another tool is staying active. Not necessarily working out, though that helps also. I’m talking about changing out of those lounge pants and removing yourself from the recliner. Learn to cook a meal with new-to-you ingredients. Try a walk on our paved paths for a different experience than you may have in June. Volunteer for an hour at the food shelf or the library. Moving your body, even in simple ways, helps increase positive energy.
Lastly, I try hard to practice positivity. I call this the “How Can We” approach with my team. When the task seems too daunting, when everything is falling apart around you, find the one thing you can control and start there. Sometimes it may be as simple as finding positivity in that my kid is a swimmer, allowing me to spend much of my January cheerleading in the high stands of a warm, humid environment rather than the cool confines of the hockey arena. It’s as close to the beach as I’ll get this month.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, reach out to South Central Human Relations Center for assistance at 800-722-0590. Our team can help guide you through the services available in the community to meet your individual needs.