The season is changing. In my part of the world, the leaves have turned colors, frost is nipping at the gardens, and piles of pumpkins adorn the roadsides and markets. For me, autumn is a very mixed time. I love the coolness of the air and the comfort of a cozy blanket at night. But all this comes with a cost: many things are ending; there is less sunlight; I get less exercise and time outside and feel more anxiety about the winter darkness closing in. And this year, on top of the natural turning of the seasons, there are many big changes in my personal life and work life. Are you are experiencing personal and seasonal stressors at this time of year, too?
Transitions at any time of year can be difficult. WRAP offers a great way for us to think about ways to not just “get through” transitions, but also ways to use them to enrich and strengthen us. Really using our daily plan can give a sense of consistency and feeling grounded, even when things are changing all around us. An important part of my daily plan is to find some joy in every day and the season. In autumn, I love cooking healthy comfort food with fresh fall vegetables: roasted squash, pumpkin bread, potato soup. I listen for the crunch of the colored leaves underfoot as I walk. I watch the sun setting earlier and embrace more time for inside activities.
Although many things seem to be closing down in the fall, it’s also a great time for fresh starts. Remember the excitement of starting a new school year? Fall is a perfect time to start something new—take a yoga or art class, reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while, start a new project, volunteer to help with a community activity, try out a new wellness activity such as reducing smoking or choosing better foods. Focusing on fresh starts and new activities helps me balance the sense of loss that sometimes comes with transition and changes.
For me, an important fall activity is “taking stock.” For example, as a gardener, I look at what grew well for me this year. Which tomatoes were tasty, and which ones rotted quickly? What will I grow again next year? What didn’t do so well and why? If I tried something different, what did I learn from that? Would I do it again? I also talk to other gardeners to find out what worked and didn’t work for them this year—their wisdom and experience adds to my own. I’ve found that success in the garden boils down to doing more of what “works” and less of what doesn’t “work.” But, it takes time to figure out just what works for my garden, and I learn as much from my failures as my successes. Even though I tried, I’ve learned that peaches just do not grow in my garden!
The principle of “more of what works; less of what doesn’t” also applies to my personal health and my recovery. “Taking stock” is an important activity not just for gardens, but also for our WRAP. When was the last time you took a close look at your plan? What’s working well for you? What’s not working as well as you would like? Does your wellness toolbox need to be updated? Are there things in your daily plan that need to be changed? New things added? Some less helpful things dropped? Are there changes in your relationships and supporters? Have you tried something new or experienced a difficult time? What did you learn from that? With the seasons turning, now is a great time to “take stock” and then make updates to your personal WRAP, maybe even try something new.
WRAP has also been “taking stock,” and the result is some newly updated WRAP materials. If you have not seen the new WRAP Red Book and Workbook, check them out. They may offer some fresh inspiration as you review and update your personal WRAP this fall.