I don’t know what the weather is like where you are. Here in Calgary, we’re on day two of rain.
Today it is REALLY coming down. It’s not our usual “heavy storm for a bit then clear up,” no, this is serious rain. It’s unrelenting. It reminds me a bit of the winter rain in Vancouver.
One of my mental health practices is to go for a walk. Outside. Every day.
But I’ll tell you a secret - I’m a bit of a fair weather walker. I don’t care for the cold. I don’t like getting rained on or snowed on. When the weather is stormy, I’d rather just stay inside where it’s warm and dry.
While I’ve heard the phrase “there’s no bad weather, just bad gear,” I’m not sure I believe it. Or else I simply have bad gear. Maybe both.
So, I’ll admit, I skipped my walk yesterday. My routine is to walk after lunch, after I pass the parenting baton to my husband, right before I sit down for my focused work time.
Yesterday, I looked out the window, saw the rain and said “nope.” I went down to my home office and opened my iPad.
And I could. Not. Focus.
Now, workplace mental health is my area of expertise, so I know that ebbs and flows of productivity are normal and ok, and that these things happen. I know that when we’re having that kind of day, our best bet is to shift gears as much as we can, to match our energy level rather than trying to fight it.
So I downshifted. Did some filing, watched a recorded webinar, and did my best to stay focused on my calls that afternoon. I also rescheduled an evening call and put myself to bed early.
Today, I woke up feeling down. The ongoing cancellation of school and daycare and life as we knew it was really getting to me today.
And ...ugh… not only was it still raining, but it was raining harder.
Yet, I know. I know that if I get out there and go for that walk, I’ll feel way better. I know it’ll help my mood. I know it will help my productivity. Also, it’s just good for me.
So I do it. I put on my waterproof jacket and cinch the hood, lace up my sneakers and I go for my walk.
Now, this is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that once I got out there, it wasn’t so bad, and I felt so amazing, etc, etc. But I respect you too much to lie to you.
It was as bad as I expected. It was cold. It was wet. My coat kept me dry, but my leggings and my sneakers soaked through. I kept going. I focused on my podcast, on my pacing, and avoiding the major puddles.
I got through it, but I sure didn’t enjoy it.
But it turns out that doesn’t matter. I still got all of the benefits of going for a walk outside, even if the walk itself wasn’t great. I still had improved focus, and I was able to work out some of the thorny projects on my To Do list. And I’m in a much better mood than I was earlier today.
That’s the thing about self-care. Sometimes it feels great. Sometimes it feels hard. You still get the benefit by doing it. Maybe you do a shorter or easier version on the hard days or low energy days. Maybe you give it five, 10 minutes. Because it works.
So, tomorrow, even if it’s still raining like this, I’ll be lacing up my shoes and getting out for my walk. It might be hard, but I’ll do it anyway.