Lean Into the Rhythm of Life

Tips for embracing the ebbs and flows of natural cycles

Just like migrating birds or trees that grow then shed their leaves, we too are part of nature. By observing the cycles followed by all living things, we can take cues about how to prepare ourselves for different times of year. This can be especially important for people managing a chronic illness like cystic fibrosis (CF). For some people, winter might be a difficult time that requires extra rest and self-care. Summer may feel like a more natural time to nurture new passions. Noticing how differences in your surrounding environment might be impacting how you feel can help give you a better understanding of what you need to thrive through the season.

Acknowledge the season that you’re in

You can’t stop the seasons from changing, but you can find ways to accept that change is happening. Resisting unwanted emotions and ignoring signals from your mind, body, and surroundings doesn’t serve you in the long run. Instead, allow yourself to be in the present moment and take the opportunity to tune into your body and feel your feelings. Embrace the season’s sensory input. Breathe in the scent of fresh-cut grass. Listen to birdsong, and how it changes through the year. Feel snowflakes melting on your cheeks. Share the sweetness of fresh summer berries with a loved one. Bask in the certain kind of light that comes with shorter days. More than anything, give yourself permission to seek support through family, friends, your care team, or your community if you need it!

You can’t stop the seasons from changing, but you can find ways to accept that change is happening. Resisting unwanted emotions and ignoring signals from your mind, body, and surroundings doesn’t serve you in the long run. Instead, allow yourself to be in the present moment and take the opportunity to tune into your body and feel your feelings. Embrace the season’s sensory input. Breathe in the scent of fresh-cut grass. Listen to birdsong, and how it changes through the year. Feel snowflakes melting on your cheeks. Share the sweetness of fresh summer berries with a loved one. Bask in the certain kind of light that comes with shorter days. More than anything, give yourself permission to seek support through family, friends, your care team, or your community if you need it!

Savor the sun (responsibly!)

Lack of sunlight can contribute to vitamin D deficiency, which is common among people with CF and can lead to decreased bone mass and other related comorbidities. Along with providing a form of this essential vitamin, exposure to sunlight may help improve mood, energy levels, and sleep quality.

But the sun’s strength changes with the seasons. While getting outside on a sunny winter day is definitely not a substitute for vitamin D supplements or therapies, it may still be helpful. And in the summer, when there are both more hours of sunlight and more intense rays, it’s helpful to seek shade, cover up with clothing, and wear sunscreen, especially in the middle of the day.

Before you start soaking up the rays, make sure to talk to your care team about the risks and benefits of sunlight exposure in combination with your treatment plan, no matter what season it is.

Noor, an advocate with CF.

Embrace small pleasures

Little acts of self-care add up. Find what makes you feel good no matter the season. Do you enjoy long walks? Fuzzy socks or your toes in the sand? Treating your family to a cool popsicle or some hot chocolate? It could even be as simple as watching your favorite movie, playing a game with friends, or listening to a playlist that matches your mood. This is your sign to indulge in the little things!

Reaffirm commitments to treatments and healthy routines

While your routines may change with the seasons, your commitment to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to. The ways you keep your body moving can shift through the year. It may be refreshing to go for a swim on a hot summer day, and a hot yoga class can be a cozy way to stay moving when the weather gets cooler. Or, embrace nature’s cues by getting your hands in the garden in the spring or taking a bike ride to enjoy fall colors. Before starting any physical activity or exercise, talk to your doctor to see what may be right for you.

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