Location: Lower Leas Coastal Park
Date: 21st September 2023
Blog Written by: Michael (Walk Leader)
Any colour but blue.
It was a beautiful afternoon in the Lower Leas Coastal Park, and there was plenty of colour as always, but the colours of autumn were certainly noticeable.
As we always do, there was plenty of interaction with the environment around us, touching, tasting, smelling, listening, watching.
There were plenty of stories and folklore including the tale about blackberries being cursed when the devil was thrown out of heaven and landed in the bramble thorns, following an argument with the Archangel Michael, on the 29th September. This day is known within the Christian calendar as Michaelmas Day. The curse is said to be actioned on any person eating blackberries after this date.
We spoke of autumn being the time when celebrations following in the gathering of the harvest had taken place, one such festival held by pagans known as Mabon. Mabon (which takes place between 21st and 24th September) may have passed but the season continues. For more information about this festival check out this website.
Autumn will bring to us its many colours; yellows, reds, oranges and browns, and as leaves fall and plants go to sleep for the winter, everywhere begins to look a little different. It will feel a little and maybe a lot cooler, it may rain a little or a lot more, and we will notice the long light nights are fast receding, as are the bright summer mornings.
Sadly, for many of us winter brings sadness and low mood, and in the words of Elton John, I guess that’s why they call it the blues, the winter blues are something very real. It’s for this reason we need to prepare ourselves just as nature and animals do, so this winter can bring to us any colour but blue.
If we go into winter fearing it, anxious about it, unprepared for it, and without making any changes, then there is a very good chance we will find our winter and our mood a deeper shade of blue. There are many things we can do though, to prepare and get ready and here are a few suggestions.
⏰Adjust our sleep patterns so that we are awake when it is light, the more natural light we get, the better chance we have of absorbing the natural chemicals and vitamin D our body requires.
🧑🏻🦽Whatever the weather, set aside at least 30 minutes to go outside if we are able and it is safe to do so. Rain, wind, snow, cold, frost, if we are dressed appropriately, they can all be our friends. If we feel we can’t go outside, what plans do we have for exercise inside. It’s important we exercise just as much.
🍓Eat more fruit and vegetables, as they will provide the additional vitamins and nutrients we require, and if we still need more, taking vitamin supplements is an OK substitute.
We are obsessed with the weather in the UK, a forecast can bring us happy or sad thoughts. Our weather is what it is, we can’t change it, it will be what it is. If we think it’s not a great weather forecast, we can rest assured our brain puts us into flight mode, it makes us believe we are not going to enjoy it, it depletes our serotonin levels and before we know it, we find ourself slipping into those blue colours of the weather map. Accept the weather, have a plan for it.
Autumn is a good time to plan our activities, perhaps a new hobby, set a new goal, something that we will enjoy and look forward to doing through the winter. Don’t wait for Christmas for that new craft kit or jigsaw puzzle, let’s get into the habit of doing them now. It will convince our brain we are going to enjoy and make the most of this winter.
It is a good time to brighten our homes, bright colours, plants, photographs of loved ones, they can all raise our spirits, even wearing bright summer colours signals to our brain that we are being positive.
It’s important that if we have gone out to a club or group, or for a pub or cafe lunch as a treat each week, we continue doing these things. Similarly if we meet up with or visit others, these visits continue just the same.
Now is a good time too to plan with family and friends about talking more and making more time for each other during the winter months. Connection will always help in preventing the blues developing.
If we work and can be flexible, think about how we can use that flexibility to ensure we make the most of the best of the winter.
It’s not one that is mentioned in many of the self help guides for managing winter, but these are the months to watch all the comedy shows and films as laughter is a great medicine, and will increase the chemicals we need in our body that make us happier and more positive.
Melatonin and Serotonin are the two key chemicals that will often control our mood. If we have struggled in previous winters with low mood or winter depression, the final piece in our winter survival kit is don’t leave it until it is affecting us, contact your GP or a therapist now. The key is always being prepared and being ready.
During our time together today, to the soothing sound of the sea, these words were shared. A poem written by Becky Hemsley, one of my favourite very current poets.
"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass."
Except that sometimes it is.
Sometimes you are waterlogged.
Waterlogged and wading through flooded waters.
And you are exhausted.
Sometimes you've had too much of the storm.
Because sometimes it has taken too much from you.
So you don't have to dance in the rain if you don't want to.
You don't have to embrace it if you think it might drown you.
You can sit and read a book.
You can call a friend.
You can close your eyes and sleep.
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
It's about figuring out the best way through it.
And sometimes that means facing it, sometimes embracing it.
And sometimes that means closing the curtains,
Turning the music up, and dancing inside instead.
OK winter, bring it on in every colour but blue.
Let’s figure out the best way for us to live through it
Let’s face it, embrace it
Let’s make this a winter full of colour, in any colour but blue.
As I was travelling home there was a very heavy rain shower, which produced the most beautiful double rainbow; red orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, but as I viewed it and as I photographed it, I could barely see the blue. It did make me think that it’s OK to have a bit of blue, but there are 6 other colours, all intertwined to create something beautiful.
It would be foolish to say there won’t be some blue this winter but with the right conditions, as rain and sun produce the rainbow we can at least lessen them. Let it be our aim this winter for our blue moments to be short lived, as with the rainbow as soon as the rain stops.
📸 Image credits: Laura & Gini
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