The Inside Outside Retreat Centre logo, a trail marker blaze within a circle.
Logotype for the Inside Outside Retreat Centre.

In the midst of summer

Here in the northern hemisphere we are in the midst of summer, and there have been some challenges. The long days have frequently been suffused with smoke from wildfires in Northern Quebec and Ontario. Orange sunrises/sunsets, hazy city streets, the smell of smoke, and concerns for people’s health and for the environment have been key topics of conversation.

All of this got me ‘turning to wonder’. Wondering about …

… Managing the stress and fatigue I was feeling

… Challenging my doom-and-gloom fears –– especially in the wee hours of the night

… Staying open to the presence of beauty and the gifts of nature

… Finding ways to refresh my state of mind

In my wondering I realized my answers were close at hand. Very close.

I decided to try a technique I offer in Patient Education to help people identify their own coping skills. Here’s what it looks like:

  • List all the things you do on a day-to-day bases to deal with stress, pain, or fatigue. Big and small; better of worse. No judgement.
  • Look at the list and cross off anything that won’t apply to the current situation or might make the situation worse.
  • Take a closer look at the things on the list which at first glance seem unlikely to help. Is there a theme emerging? Is there something there that can be modified to fit the moment? For example some people note that distractions help, others find movement is useful.

Here’s a few of the things I came up with for myself: connect with family and friends, nap, eat nourishing food, sink into some entertainment – a good book or a movie – listen, breathe.

The invitation is to really look at the ways we deal with Stress, Pain and/or Fatigue. What does this have to show you about your strengths and skills for self-care? How can you adapt these to the present moment or situation?

Trust yourself. And most importantly – be kind. Be kind to others certainly, and be kind to yourself. This journey we are on is full of paradox: challenging and mundane, exhausting and exhilarating, tedious and fun. So remember during the inevitable tougher moments to pause, take a deep breath and be gentle, kind.


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We are settlers on Treaty 13 Land, the traditional territories of many Indigenous Nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples from across Turtle Island. We are committed to honouring the history this land bears witness to, responding to the 94 Calls to Action of the  Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and walking lightly on the Earth. A portion of proceeds from all our offerings are sent to:  The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and The Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation.

The Inside Outside Retreat Centre, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 720 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M5S2R4