Mental Health · Monthly Reflection

January 2018 {monthly reflection}

Within the first few days of January, I knew I had taken on a lot and would need to focus ultra hard the next four months to accomplish everything in my job jar. Having been sick with a nasty flu for about a week near the end of December made it so that it didn’t really feel like I had a break from work. Within the first week of the new year, I returned home from visiting friends/family for Christmas, resumed my regular job, began instructing the Online Communications and Social Media course at Red Deer College, and had to say bye to my boyfriend who left for six months for schooling. Needless to say, it was an intense introduction to 2018.

I was sad when Travis left the province and permitted myself a day ofย junk food in an effort to comfort myself. Normally I’m not a believer in “eating your feelings,” but in this case (and in many others, I’m certain), it felt good to indulge. The day after, I found myself wanting more salty and sweet food, and I gave into my cravings. This lasted for well over a week. Maybe two. Maybe more. I would watch people online or in person discuss their health and wellness goals and instead of joining the conversation, I would listen and realized that I was perfectly okayย not having similar goals as the masses. For me, January was about letting myself enjoy “bad” foods without guilt. January was about feeling content with winter weight and knowing that I will get back on track in a short while. January was about indulging. January was about planning for the next eleven months. January was not about fitness or regrets.

My bestie Catherine knows I can get down in the winter months. Like many others, Seasonal Affective Disorder comes from a lack of vitamin D and contributes to an increase in sad feelings. Catherine asked me if I’d like to join her to visit her dad and his fiancee in Florida for a few days since they were renting a house there for a month. She insisted that while it was a long flight to get there, the sunshine would do me wonders. And she was right.

I cannot thank Rudy and Christine enough for their generosity in hosting me. Catherine and I joined them, as well as her sister, for a few days in the warm sunshine where we rode bikes, sat outside in or beside the pool/hot tub, visited theme parks, and ate delicious food. It felt absolutely amazing to go without a jacket and to wear a bathing suit outside in January. It was the break from life/work that I so desperately needed and didn’t get in December. It was a short trip but completely satisfying. I went back to work feeling energized and satisfied.

Thank you again, Rudy and Christine! And Catherine. You know me well, and I would never have gone anywhere if it wasn’t for her insisting I needed to go.

It’s no big secret that I’m not an artist. My drawing and painting skills have not improved since elementary school, namely because I haven’t tried to improve them. And I’m okay with that. It’s not as if I think I have some undiscovered skills deep within. But it’s sure fun to paint and draw the odd time. So when Catherine asked me to attend a Paint Nite with her I was quite excited. We found a date that worked for us both and a painting we thought we could handle creating within the event’s 2-hour timeframe.

It was my first time attending Paint Nite and I was completely fine with everything until the moment came where I had to put the wet paintbrush to the canvas. I listened intently to the instructions and howled with laughter when I saw what I began to create. Within ten minutes of listening to instructions, I began to panic. My laughter turned to the nervous kind, and I started to think I couldn’t go on. I started to wonder if my painting would turn out to be similar to the instructor’s and if people were secretly laughing at my canvas. The instructions went by quickly and I always felt a step or two behind. At some point, I told myself to simply enjoy the experience and instead of focusing on the instructions, to focus on the painting itself. And that’s when the entire experience changed and I began to feel joy instead of stress or anxiety. I felt freedom instead of confinement. I felt peace instead of fear. I felt joy. I felt satisfied. My soul was happy.

While I was still a little unsure of my painting when I left Paint Nite, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I ended up placing my artwork by my front door and am reminded daily of the happiness and contentment that grew within me that evening. If you haven’t painted or drawn or done something you used to as a kid, I highly recommend it. Your inner child wants to be tapped into!

The final product!

– Top photo by Markus Spiskeย from Pexels

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