Mental Wellness

Of -15C and Other Excuses…

I haven’t gone for a walk outside yet today. Today in Madison we have a temperature of 5F. I like how cold temperatures sound even more dramatic in Celsius. Five doesn’t sound warm by any stretch of the imagination, but saying -15C makes me shiver.

My favorite is the point where the two scales merge, at -40 C and F are equal. How do I know this? When I grew up in Minnesota, a week of -40 temperatures happened Every January. From experience, I found it’s a question of layers; at least three. The exterior layer is a parka or snow pants and knee high boots.

In college, I’d wait for the bus in those -40F temperatures. Five degrees F is 45 degrees warmer, so theoretically I should have no trouble getting myself out the door to exercise….

But during Covid I’m a hermit. Did I mention how much I miss our gym this winter? –Rebecca

Wind at Lake’s Edge Photo: Rebecca Cuningham
Mental Wellness

Cross Country Skiing: The Joy of Snow

Our banks of snow were beginning to look drab and gray. Then, we had another two inches of snow last weekend. Time to cross country ski again!

A neighbor and I go once or twice a week. It is great exercise and the scenery is beautiful. The park where we ski is within walking distance. We lace up our boots and hoof it there carrying our gear. The first day of the season in December, latching the boots onto our skis was a challenge that took us a full 10 minutes and left us laughing. Each time we’re getting faster at putting them on and gliding over the snow. We’re not advanced skiers, but we have a lovely time.

We feel like the first people in the park, maybe even on earth, when we create our tracks in the snow. Walking home we chat about the snow, the birds, and life. Fun, while masked.

What is your favorite Covid-era exercise?

Happy Manic Monday! –Rebecca

Local Madison Park Winter Scene Photo: Rebecca Cuningham
Mental Wellness

Caregivers Credo

Although I’ve been a parent for twelve years, I continue to seek a healthy balance of caregiving and self-care. My focus errs too much on tending to our munchkin and not enough on nurturing myself. I am working to change that. My thought is that a happier parent can raise a more joyful child.

This coming year, I pledge to myself:

  • Time to laugh
  • Time for exercise
  • Time with friends
  • Time alone
  • Time to find an agent for my memoir, Supergringa in Spain

When I take care of my physical, mental, and spiritual needs with discipline, I have the peace of mind to make good parenting decisions. My personal evolution is as important as that of my child, one need not exclude the other.

What new focus with you adopt this next year?

Happy Manic Monday! –Rebecca

Purple Thistle Photo: Rebecca Cuningham
Mental Wellness

Why Can’t I Sleep?

Several nights a month I can’t turn off my thoughts when I lie down to sleep. If I don’t get enough z’s, my mental health suffers a lot. Without good rest I am more snappish and get upset more easily. What snares do I prepare for myself? I’ve compiled a list of my sleep devils and angels.

Sleep Devils

These rob me of shut eye:

  1. Watching TV or blogging too late in the evening.
  2. Staying indoors all day.
  3. No exercise.
  4. Forget to journal or skip writing.
  5. Leaving the internet on or my phone on my nightstand.
  6. Family members waking up in the night.
  7. Worrying about finances, COVID, family members, career.
  8. Caffeine, including chocolate.

Sleep Angels

This is how I get my best night’s sleep:

  1. Remembering to stop my blue screen time two hours before bedtime. Blue screen light makes my brain think that it is daytime.
  2. Enjoying fresh air outdoors, or near an open window at least 15 minutes a day.
  3. Walking for 15 to 30 minutes a day.
  4. Putting my thoughts to bed by writing in my journal.
  5. Remembering to plug my phone in outside of the bedroom and unplug the internet overnight. (Electric Magnetic Frequency of electrical devices can lower our melatonin levels, which we need to help us feel sleepy. They can disrupt our circadian rhythm.)
  6. Asking my partner to sleep in the other room if their bedtime is past 2 am. That’s a boundary, but if our child has a nightmare, I’m there.
  7. Meditating for 15 minutes a day, with mindful breathing feeling the air enter and leave my nose. That calms me a lot, as does journaling.
  8. No eating chocolate after lunch time.

What are your sleep angels or devils?

Happy Manic Monday! –Rebecca

Sleeping Child Photo: Vanessa Kay