Beating the Winter Blues

How do you deal with the down days, the dark days? I find January difficult, especially the first week. It’s a time of adjustment after Christmas and New Year and a good time to reflect but has also in the past been a challenging time for us as a family, for a number of reasons.

This week marks a year since my mastectomy, so it also brought my first annual mammogram. The radiographer did all she could to put me at ease, but I was struggling with memories of the biopsy in particular, which had been an awful experience, despite the excellent care from the team looking after me. I’m now waiting a little nervously for the results as well as those from genetic testing that was done in October. Waiting is never easy, but keeping active and busy is helping.

I’m much more confident than I was a year ago, but this has definitely knocked me back a little and prompted some deeper reflection on my priorities. I’ve also just finished working as a breastfeeding counsellor after almost eight years, plus four years of part time study, and although I had cut back on that over the last year and it was a carefully thought through decision, it feels like a change of identity.

I’ve decided to take on a few challenges to help me through, improve my physical well being and boost my mental health and confidence.

The first is RED January, which encourages physical activity – not necessarily running – every day in January and runs in partnership with the mental health charity Mind. I’ve chosen to help raise funds as I do this and am encouraging my family to join in as well. As part of it, I took part in two parkruns on New Year’s Day, which was tough but surprisingly enjoyable, especially the really hilly one at Cliffe Castle. Skipton (which I ran first) seemed quite flat in comparison! The weather was perfect, chilly but with clear blue skies, and I went to the first on my own and the second with my husband, who is definitely catching the parkrun bug!

The second challenge is daily yoga practice – something new to me – as part of Home by Yoga with Adriene. It feels like a good way to bring some peaceful, purposeful activity into each day and will help with the first challenge.

Finally, near the end of the month, a race, my longest in a very long time, but on a ‘Yorkshire flat ‘ course as it’s along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It’s part of a series of It’s Grim Up North Running events called It’s Parky Up North, which also helps raise funds for Parkinson’s UK. I’ve opted for the 10 mile distance, which feels like a good way to build up to a rather more hilly half marathon in May…

Now let’s get back to some creative updates.

I’ve been sewing for my family over Christmas and not for myself, so am looking forward to some time next week when the Smalls are back at school and I can catch up on some planned garment sewing.

The Big Small and I made Daisy and Freddie as Christmas gifts for my parents. Daisy needs some more clothes, starting with undies and a polka dot corduroy coat.

One of the highlights of December was seeing the Smaller Small’s idea for a play, written when she was 7 years old, turned into an amazing show at our local theatre.

I sewed tops and pyjamas for the Smalls and two of their cousins, using quick patterns and quirky fabrics. They were quick and satisfying to sew, without too much stress. There’s just the one on the far left still to be given to our younger niece.

How do you mark the start of a new year, or handle times of stress? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you a very happy New Year,

Eleanor.

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