Spring Ahead With Hope – Rebecca Perlman Coniglio, LCSW

There was something different about this last snow storm. Usually on a snow day my husband and eight year old daughter go outside to play and shovel while I stay inside and man the door. I woke up that day feeling achy and tired as I have for the last few weeks. When I complain to my mom, also a therapist, she says it is probably due to the cold weather. A small voice inside told me to get outside and enjoy the snow with my family. We all bundled up and headed out. My daughter couldn’t believe her eyes at the sight of me in the snow. I have to say that going with my gut really paid off. We had so much fun! We shoveled, threw snow, and even sledded down a make shift hill on an inflatable tube. Maybe my motivation was because I knew this would finally be the end of the long, cold winter that was.

Here we are at Daylight Savings Time, and the sun is shining, the snow is melting, and it’s all good. This is a perfect day to “Shake off” the winter blues and bring on the hope of brighter days to come. I have always loved springtime because I attach it to the concept of the importance of hope. This is the time of year that ushers in happy pastel colors, pretty holiday dresses, and of course get those of us who love to clean the urge to start spring cleaning. Spring cleaning can mean different things to different people. There is the actual rubber gloves and bucket kind of cleaning, the rearranging dresser draws, turning over the garden, and then there is the emotional kind.

The cold, dark winter days can bring even the cheeriest of people down. So with the longer days of spring and summer coming, the hope is we’ll all have more energy to finally conquer the goals we set for ourselves way back in January. Here are some ideas of what you can do today to get started.

Actually clean. Put away the scarves, gloves, and long underwear too.
Start an exercise plan and stick with it! Sometimes we feel too tired to get moving, but as it gets warmer even going outside for a walk can make you feel grateful to be alive.
Do good. When you clean out the dressers, why not donate things that you don’t need any more to people who can really use them and will appreciate the gesture.
Get involved in a cause. Over the past few years my family has walked in the NJ Sharing Network 5K. We help raise money for organ and tissue donation. As a family we all look forward to the event that takes place in June.
Reach out to an old friend. Maybe hearing his or her voice will make you feel connected and not alone.
Remember to find what you feel lucky and grateful for. No one has everything and things are not always how you want them to be, but we all have things in our lives to celebrate. A job you enjoy, family and friends who have your back, your health.
Take action. If something in your life is not working well make an action plan to improve the quality of your life.
Check out spring/summer fashions. Just the sight of flip flops will make you smile.
Spend time with your children. Follow their lead. They will remind you what joy feels like. Just like I discovered trying to run in six plus inches of snow.
Take a deep breath. If you have hope, you have everything you need.

Some of you reading this may be dealing with a life transition. It is never easy to start over, but at least the light of spring will help you cope with the challenges that lie ahead. I wish you a heart filled with hope, clean dressers, and all the strength you already have inside of you.

Rebecca Perlman Coniglio, LCSW, author of Lily’s Little Life Lessons, is in private practice in New Providence, NJ. Lily’s Little Life Lessons “Running for Riley” is available for preorder on Mascotbooks.com. It will be released on May 5th, 2015. All author proceeds will go to NJ Sharing Network and Riley’s Dance.

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