As introverted extroverts, both Kurt and I have navigated pandemic life quite successfully ~ until December 2020 when some of our winter coping skills were not accessible (dining out, having good discussions over drinks at a cozy bar, fika-ing to our hearts content, going to art museums, theater and the orchestra for distraction and inspiration, and if we are lucky ~ warm weather travel escapes.). For us the next few months will be the hardest part; if you are feeling the same, we hope to be here to offer up some tools and inspiration.
Lucky for us, we have been working on our 'sisu' for years... (This is the first in our series this month about mind body health).
Over the final weeks of 2020 I read The Finnish Way by Katja Pantzar. I had it in my library hold list pre-pandemic, and then… pandemic ~ library closed. Not only did I fortuitously remember to read this book at the end of 2020, I switched back to my daily practice of reading in front of a sun lamp with my coffee for at least 30 minutes every morning (a practice that went out the window with the pandemic). Returning to this practice, and reading this book, could not have been more timely. It was through reading this book that I returned to one of my top winter coping skills, as well as reconfirming for myself that I DO have the tools to make it through not only winter, but a pandemic winter.
Reading The Finnish Way showed me how all this work has essentially made me ‘Finnish’ in spirit. In her book, Pantzar discusses different lessons she has learned from her time in Finland that I could definitely relate to after 14 years in The North.
- Sisu; developing fortitude, working through the hard things (in life, at work, during exercise) makes you more resilient, accepting, positive, and HAPPY (and bonus ~ more enjoyable to be around)!
- Immersing yourself into the shock of the cold changes your outlook, is therapeutic, and builds your sisu.
- Cycling, nature therapy, sauna time, and diet are all tools to a more content, less anxious, less escapist life ~ and an entry into accepting the now, while developing better mental and physical health.
- Developing a practice, even if it is only 20 minutes a day, adds up!
- Living simply through good design is not only a less stressful and aesthetically pleasing way to live, it is better for our planet and mutual well being.
We may not exactly have the same techniques as Pantzer, but we have developed a tool box that works for us over the years...
- Cycling: Although I have never gotten into winter cycling, I admire those who do and channel that inspiration into the benefits I receive from indoor winter cycling. [We will be talking about our current indoor cycling practices later this month].
- Cold Immersion/Nature Therapy: Although I do not plan to start cold water swimming, I walk the dogs twice daily in very cold winter temperatures ~ immersing myself to similar benefits (starting with the first walk in the dark at 6 am).
- 20 minutes matters: I don’t run a quick 20 minutes a day like Pantzer, but in 2020 we picked our yoga practice back up after years of never having (or making) the time for it. [We will also be talking about our yoga practice in more depth later this month].
- Sauna Practice: After going to Ten Thousand Waves in 2018, we learned how great a sauna can be for both our mental and physical health. Although my gym membership and the sauna sessions went away with Covid, we are saving up to purchase our own.
- Diet: We know what we put in our bodies matters mentally and physically. [We will be devoting a full post to food later this month].
- And yes, design... at my core, I believe good design should be enjoyed by all and can fundamentally enhance our everyday. That is after all how I got into making bicycle bags...