Tools for Tough Times: Get Out(side)!

Thank you for taking a break from your hectic schedule to read the “Tools for Tough Times” blog.   May you find strength, refreshment and courage in it for the day!

The winter has been amazing with its surprising amount of moisture. Even though it is a La Nina year, so much of the country is getting a drenching and burying in rain and snow.  Even so, it is still a great idea to get out and get around in any natural space.

When you get outside, be sure to walk slowly (or briskly if you are an exercise fiend), put the ear buds in your pocket so you can enjoy the sounds of nature, and breathe slowly and deeply.  Focus on things for which to be grateful and remember the things and people that make you smile. It can relax you, can shed some of your stress load, and prepare you to find calm in the remainder of your day. 

Look for a future post on the concept called “Nature bathing,” which will unpack some of the benefits of being in nature year around. For more information on how being immersed in nature – even if it is a back yard, a tree-lined street, or a city park – can help de-stress and ramp up well-being, tune in to the Brown Bag presentation on “Nature Bathing – Help is Just Outside the Door” at

Help for you in your tough times is not only just outside the door, but also at your fingertips if you know where to look for it.  Below are some highlights from the website that you might find helpful in reducing your stress response in difficult times. Since I work in healthcare emergency management, most of these resources are designed for healthcare workers. The ideas are transferable to other fields.

We all need to take a break from the stress-triggering environments in which we work during this pandemic surge.  This one-page resource, “Take a Break”  will give you some ideas to help you take a break in your work day and elsewhere.  The focus is on taking therapeutic breaks that help you shed stress and experience recovery in a short time frame.

If you sense you are struggling with compassion, perhaps this one-pager on “Compassion Fatigue” will be useful to you.  It will help you identify your compassion deficits so you can seek help.  You can find resources for compassion fatigue recovery at

Perhaps you are not sure how well or how unwell you are feeling.  You can find tool from Minnesota Department of Health to help you monitor your exposure to traumatic stress.  The “Covid 19 Responder Self Triage” tool is a useful and simple check-box assessment that can help you understand where you might be struggling with traumatic stress. Remember to talk to appropriate others about any stress or trauma you feel is not resolved. 

And remember to express gratitude every day. Stay strong in the storms of life, everyone.

Image via author, a little fall forest bathing in Dark Canyon, Bears Ears Wilderness, Utah

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