Barbara Fish Counselling Services ... helping your life work

Looking After Ourselves

Helping Your Life Work

Volume 10, Issue 9

September 2014

By most people's accounts, the summer of 2014 was disappointing. It started late, ended early and had too many cool and rainy days in between. Many worried that the limited exposure to the summer sun that we rely on to survive the winter greys would not sustain us. After the cruel winter that we endured last season, we looked forward to a long and glorious summer. When that did not happen, we hoped for an easier winter. Now forecasters are predicting an even more severe and punishing winter than we had last year. We are already starting to dread the worst. So what can we do now before the cold sets in, lethargy takes hold and cravings take over? How can we avoid those feelings of isolation and/or sadness that many of us experienced last winter?

The key is self-care. As great as we might be at taking care of others, we may not be looking after ourselves that well. Most of us are not getting enough sleep and many of us are so busy with work and commitments that we sometimes forget to eat, exercise and find time for fun. If we want to avoid the winter doldrums, we need to ensure that we get enough rest, food and exercise to feel energized, balanced and alert. If we become overly tired, it will be hard to resist the temptation to crawl back under the covers on those cold dark days. If we don't make time to eat during the day, we may stay up at night making up for it, losing sleep and throwing off our schedule.

If it's not possible to eliminate some of our unhealthy behaviours, let's consider reducing them so that they don't negatively impact our lives. If we don't already have them, let's find some physical activities to do throughout the fall and winter so that our body and mind can stay sharp. If we know that this won't happen unless we have a companion to do it with, let's find someone now to join in the activity. If we are not already doing so, let's develop some relaxation techniques, such as attending a yoga class, learning how to meditate or going for a massage. Incorporating some form of daily exercise (a walk around the block if the weather is good or walking up and down steps or through a mall, if it's not), eating several small meals a day to keep our energy level balanced, planning breaks at work as well as fun activities outside of work and getting enough rest and sleep will go a long way to keeping us warm and happy.

Here are some other ideas to consider for the next six months.

  1. If you can afford it, plan a getaway to a sunny climate for later this winter.
  2. Go for a hike through the Niagara Escarpment; take a drive through the Muskokas; or a train ride through the Agawa Canyon to capture Ontario in full fall foliage.
  3. Write that book you have inside you. November is National Novel Writing Month and more than 680,000 Canadians wrote novels of at least 50,000 words last November.
  4. Take up a new hobby or sport, learn a language or take a course.
  5. Go through any unpacked boxes and decide what you want to do with the contents.
  6. If you haven't already done so, create a bucket list and choose one item to do this winter.
  7. Challenge yourself to do something that scares you.
  8. Communicate your feelings to the people in your life.
  9. Do anything that brings a smile or a laugh to your face.
  10. Think positively.

Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
“Helping Your Life Work”

book an appointment

For more information, or to book an appointment at her Toronto office,
please contact Barbara by telephone at 416-498-1352 or by email at