sheltering in place
“Barn’s burnt down – Now I can see the moon” (Mizuta Masahide)
As I sit here cocooning in my favourite wrap, on the cusp of another probable lockdown, I am contemplating the coming winter and feeling in need of a sheltering plan. The impact of being more housebound than usual with still limited or distanced contact with extended family and with friends is weightier than winters that have come before.
In preparation for the darker, colder days, we put our gardens to bed. We put shorts and T-shirts in storage and make sure scarves, mittens and outdoor winter clothing are more accessible. We get out the snow shovel, put winter tires on the car and dust off our boots, skates and skis.
In our attempts to feel fully prepared for the oncoming, unrelenting cold, why wouldn’t we gather up more than just our physical belongings. I would suggest that we also need to locate each and every possible personal resource we can find to have at our fingertips when we need them. This is never more important this year.
These yet-to-be gathered resources can be relational, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or community-based. We are not meant to make this journey alone. When we balance these gathered resources with our own practiced perseverance skills, I am hopeful that we can experience more ease and more peace through those times when the bitter wind whispers to us that we are not enough.
Consider these ideas for sheltering resources to bolster you in the coming season. Which ones may work for you? Do you have more that you could share that may work for someone else?
Be your own friend
- If a close, loving, empathetic friend was sitting next to you – 6ft away obviously – what would they encourage you to do? What would they do for you?
- Check in with yourself, “how are you doing?”
- Listen compassionately for the answer, “what do you need?”
- Consider softening the powered-up, mega goal-setting mode to create a compassionate design for each day
Illuminate your space
- Go outside, sit near windows, take Vitamin D, or get a Happy Light
- Leave christmas tree lights on all day
- Add light-filled, nourishing contacts to your social media sites
- Use candles as miniature fireplaces and get mesmerized by the flame
- Eat, drink, rest and move with awareness and compassion instead of control
- If, after you eat, drink, rest or move, you feel good momentarily but feel toxic after then reconsider changing it up
- Notice when you need more rest, more activity, more stillness or movement
Celebrate, Soothe and Stretch
- Learn your stress triggers and your window of stress tolerance
- Then decorate that window with celebration – “This is what I can do today!”
- When the window is smaller, colder, darker then engage in soothing routines/ activities
- When the window is larger/ brighter then reach out or add something that stretches you
Give – even just a little
- This may seem counterintuitive when you’re feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or even in despair
- Donating to the food bank, shovelling a neighbour’s sidewalk, supporting the local shelter care programs that house the unhoused, commenting positively on a social media post reminds us that we’re not alone
- Make a list of people you know that are family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances
- Connect with one or two people per week – text, email, post online, video chat, or send a snail mail card
- Take two minutes to say hi, I saw this and thought you’d like it, this reminded me of you, hope you’re well
- Remember that everyone is struggling now so reaching out reminds us, again, that we are not alone
- Get outside!
- Even to just stand at the door and take three deep breaths
- Walk even if just around the block
- Roam, run, ski, slide, skate anything to get outside and shift your body
- Notice the natural world and its response to the season
- Connect gratitude to something you already do
- Sitting, eating, walking, waking, cooking, washing, whining, working
- Intentionally notice something that is going well
- Buddy up! – Gratitude buddies can add friend-infused accountability and fun!
Ask for help
- Put a mark beside the names on your family and friend list of who you would reach out to for help
- Let family and friends know when you’re struggling and offer support when you feel stronger
- Make a list of professional help or free services to have on hand
- We are distanced but not alone
- Don’t go it alone. Don’t give up!
“Now is the season to know that everything you do is sacred” (Hafiz)
Stay tuned for more sheltering supports coming in the form a free online series in January that will provide ideas for compassionately thriving through the second half of winter. Sign up for my newsletter to be notified of this and other events and supports. Peace, calm and courage to you!