Mental health blog, Nature

My #OneNatureChallenge: Week two

Okay, what in the actual hell was this last week in Ontario? Is it winter again? Could have fooled me with the sub-zero temperatures and relentless snowfall. I can’t even.

Tina Cumby's backyard with a light layer of snow.
Snow… in May…

To add insult to injury, I wasn’t feeling super great this week. That didn’t make it any easier to get outside for the 30 x 30 challenge. With that in mind, I kept it really simple this week with two key activities.

Walking

Walking trail with greenery and a child on heelies.
Walking trail and heelies

Even though I had to bust out my toque and mittens, it was actually really nice to get out for some walks this week. Since I wasn’t able to garden or sit outside much, this was really one of the only activities I could do.

Walking is not only one of the best forms of exercise, but it’s also really great for mental health. Benefits include:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Improved mood
  • Better sleep
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved cognitive function, memory, attention, and processing speeds
  • Reduced cognitive decline and dementia

For more information, check out thisthis, and this.

Additionally, the greener the space, the stronger the effects. Extra points for connecting while you walk. During times of physical distancing, this can be done over-the-phone, with someone you live with, or with an animal.

Extra bonus, walking keeps you warm, which apparently is needed… in the MIDDLE of MAY. Sorry, I’m still a bit sour.

Enjoying the warm moments

Tina Cumby's golden retriever puppy, Roxy.
@Roxy_Baby_The_Dog

So, the week wasn’t a total wash. There were a few brief moments of sunshine when the polar vortex decided to take a beat. I took full advantage by spending as much time outside as I could, connecting with the people I love through phone calls, drinking some tea, catching up with my partner and daughter, and playing with Roxy. I still had to wear extra layers and it wasn’t the most comfortable, but I did it. 

The weather doesn’t always have to be picture perfect to enjoy time outside. It’s not always easy, but the effort pays off. Here is something I try to remember whenever I’m finding it difficult to get outside due to weather:

Meme with snow covered trees that reads: "If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow." @mindfulfitness
#Perspective

Helps put things in perspective, doesn’t it? I hope you find inspiration in this as well.

Looking ahead

Sand with three picture blocks lined up in a row: one with a picture of the sun, one with an arrow pointing to the right, and one with a happy face.
Sunshine and happiness to come

It looks like the weather is about to improve significantly in the temperature department, so I should be able to engage in more varied activities next week, which I seriously need right now. I was completely teased last week, which literally started with a tank top and short shorts. A far cry from the winter coat, two layers of pants, and hat that started this week. I am proud of myself for making the best of it. Nonetheless, I am seriously hoping I can get into the garden this week. Nothing is better for my mental health. Wish me luck and stay tuned!

If you want to do your own One Nature Challenge, let me know in the comments section below or follow me on social media and tag me in your photos. I’d love to support your journey too.

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Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW
Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW

Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW, is an independent writer and creator of free content for mental health professionals. She has been employed as a social worker for four years and has another year of case management and policy development experience. She works primarily with adults living at the intersections of poverty, disability, and trauma at all levels of practice (micro, mezzo, and macro). Tina is particularly well versed in social work case management and student supervision.

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