HOW TO EMBRACE FALL
We can see the sign of fall; trees are losing their leaves, the weather is more wet and getting colder. Just like spring, this is a time of growth both within ourselves and within nature. How magnificent is it that the falling leaves are leaving space for new growth in the spring.
For many people grappling with depression this might feel like a low point in the year. Those with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are starting to feel the lack of sunshine. Many are cocooning more inside already.
Are you aware of the law of physics? What is in motion stays in motion? That means that if you are staying on the couch instead of doing things it is easy to maintain this stance. But the flip side of that coin is that if you can start moving, start doing activities, even if it is a walk around the block, it will become easier and easier to stay active. It is said that it takes 21 days to create a habit.
The trick is to fool our brain at first. This is a concept of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). So, you don’t feel like going for a walk? Tell yourself “I will go to the end of the block (or 2 blocks depending on the distance) and then if I still don’t feel like doing my walk, I can turn back and go home”. Reality is, getting out the door is the real challenge. Once you start walking you will get the benefits of movement and the chances after walking 5 minutes of turning around are small. The chances are that you will think “I can go another block. I’ve got this”. The point is to start small and slowly add distance.
When you are out on that walk make sure to use all your senses. Do you know about the “Five things you see” exercise? It starts with noticing 5 things, not just in passing but observe them in detail. Like the big maple tree on the street, how the branches fit to the trunk, the odd leaf still attached to it. Do this with 5 different objects. Then notice 4 things you hear. You may hear the wind, the sound of cars, the running of a lawnmower in the distance, a dog barking. These are sounds you would not hear if you didn’t focus on listening. Then notice 3 smells. In the fall there are so many different smells in the air. Focus on that for a minute. Then notice 2 things you can touch; it can be your clothing, or maybe you touch a leaf, or the tree bark. Lastly notice 1 thing you taste. It may be the last thing you ate or drank. Going for a walk is the perfect place to practice this mindfulness exercise . It takes the chatter in your brain away, the list of things to do, the worries of the day. So, for just a few minutes you are truly present.
My message today is short: get out there and move. Push past the initial moment where you have to get out the door. If you come home at the end of the day and don’t feel like exercising once you are inside, put your running shoes by the door. Or if you have a membership at the gym, put your gym bag at the entrance. Just some clues to get you to remember to move. Research has shown that if you exercise, even just going for a walk, your mood will improve. So, what are you waiting for?