Posted in Faith, Mental health

5 Sanity-Savers for the Month of January

Well, here we go – out of the freeze, and into the deep freeze.  Or in other words – out of December, and into January.  January and February may not be longer than any other two month block, but sometimes they feel like they go on forever.

On the plus side, our winter thus far in Manitoba has been fairly mild.  There was about a week in December when the temperature scarcely rose above -20 degrees Celsius.  But other than that it has been very bearable, with not too much snow.  Over Christmas time it has been about -5 or -6 during the day, so I’ve even been able to steal a few moments outside with the kids.  If I can be opportunistic about getting outside when it’s warmer, the winter doesn’t feel nearly as long.

Nonetheless, keeping a positive outlook this time of year can be a challenge for me.  So rather than plug my ears, close my eyes, and pretend it’s not coming, I may as well face it head-on!  Here are some things I’m planning to do in the upcoming month, to give myself something to look forward to and stay in my best possible health – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

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1. Prayer and fasting

This is a tradition in my church for January of each year, and something we focus on as a community all month long.  At first, to be honest, I thought it was kind of a bummer.  But after participating in it for a few years now, I have come to look forward to it.  It’s a great way to “detoxify” from all of the excess and noise that may accompany Christmas time.  And I think there’s no better way to begin the year, than by focusing deliberately and intentionally on prayer and intimacy with God.

Fasting may take many shapes and forms, and may be done for a variety of spiritual and physical reasons.  I have some thoughts about it, which I’m planning to share on the blog sometime in the coming month.

2. Exercise

I’m not a fitness buff by any stretch of the imagination.  But I have to put this one on the list because if I don’t make a point of it, I simply won’t do it – especially in winter.  And I know how much better I feel when I do exercise.

In the town where I used to live, there was a sign outside a physiotherapist’s office that said “Exercise is medicine.”  I drove by it several times per week, and I suppose the message has been imprinted on my mind.  Because that’s exactly what I tell myself, each time I get on the treadmill: “Time to take my medicine!”  If I think about it that way, I don’t go overboard with expectations of bodily changes, or requirements to do more and more each time.  “It’s just my medicine.”  I want to feel good, stay as healthy as I can, be strong to take care of my family, and maybe even do some other things too.  If 30 minutes per day at a brisk walk can help with all that, well…it’s definitely worth it!

3. Salad, salad, and more salad

I really love salads.  All kinds of salads.  And in January, I try to trick myself into thinking it’s summer by filling my shopping cart with several types of green leaves.  Sometimes I even indulge in things I wouldn’t normally have on hand to put in my salads: avocados, kale, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, etc.

This kind of goes along with the fasting thing, because I don’t often do a complete and total food fast for very long.  It doesn’t agree with me…I feel ill, headachy, and faint…or, perhaps, I’m just a wimp.  Either way, I usually end up doing a partial fast, like eating only fruits and vegetables for a time.  We sometimes call this a “Daniel fast” because it’s similar to how the Bible says Daniel ate when he was taken to Babylon (see Daniel chapter 1).  Salads come in really handy if I decide to do this kind of fasting.

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4. This blog

This blog is a huge sanity saver for me.  It is my creative outlet, and what I do for a break from housekeeping, cooking, and taking care of kids.  It gives me a chance to slow down, process my thoughts and feelings, and create something from them.  It’s a platform from which I can find people with whom I have things in common.  I can learn from and enjoy the posts of others.  And I just love it when someone puts into words exactly what I have been feeling or experiencing!  I’m not alone, I’m not the only one!

As I mentioned before, I’ll probably put up a few posts in January on the topic of fasting.  In February, I have a post entitled “Groundhog Day” that some may find a little dark, but hey – we all have dark moments.  A couple of poems, perhaps, including one for Valentine’s Day.  Otherwise, there will be some room for sponaneity: those topics that spring up, seemingly out of the blue, and keep me up at night until I write them down.  Realistically, I may miss a week from time to time, but I feel like I have enough of a plan for the next two months to keep me reasonably on track.  It will be a great distraction from the long winter.

5. Trying something new

I’ll be starting a new music therapy contract in January, which will also be a great thing to occupy my thoughts and energy.  I haven’t done music therapy in a few years now, but this contract is small, so it’s a good way to get my feet wet again.  It’s also in a school!  This has me over the moon, because it’s been my goal from the beginning to work in schools.  Those jobs, however, are hard to come by.  I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

All things considered, I think I have a lot to look forward to as we move into January.  No matter how cold it may get!

What are the next two months looking like for you?  Do you have specific plans for your blog, or for yourself?  What’s the weather been like where you live?  I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.

Warm wishes for an excellent 2020!

Lisa