Normally, this is the time of year when the winter blues hit. Months of cold, dark days start taking their toll. Add to this the isolation COVID-19 has forced upon us, and many of us are left with feelings of anxiety and loneliness and are not sure how to cope.
Thankfully, Thunder Bay Public Library has many resources to help us navigate through these tough times and help maintain a sense of wellness. Studies have shown that reading has numerous mental health benefits. Whether you find solace in a great fiction title, or you seek self-help through a book with a more clinical approach of coping with things such as depression, we’re here to help. A quick key-word search of our catalogue will bring up an abundance of titles which you can place on hold, or you can contact an open branch and ask the staff to put together a book bundle for you. Brodie, Mary J.L. Black, and Waverley remain open for curbside pickup during the lockdown. If you prefer to stay home, and you have a smart phone or tablet, you can download the cloudLibrary app and access our electronic and audio book collections.
Although reading choices are very individual and personal, one book I’ve recently found helpful is The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu by Katja Pantzar. What is sisu you ask? There is no concrete definition, but in a nutshell it’s known as the Finnish spirit of inner strength, tenacity and determination that keeps one from giving up when things get tough. This book describes how sisu, and a simple, nature-embracing lifestyle keep Finland at the top of the happiest countries list year after year.
Keeping active is a good way to cope, so what better time than now to discover a new hobby, or revisit past interests. Whether it’s dusting off your old guitar, digging out some knitting needles, doodling, or using those mysterious kitchen gadgets, you might find how self-fulfilling it is to create. TBPL has books on just about any hobby you can think of to get you started. In addition, you can currently access Ancestry Library Edition from home with your library card if you’d like to use this time to delve into your family history. You can apply for or renew a library card online by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mild to moderate exercise is scientifically proven to boost physical and mental health, especially if it can be done outdoors. Whether it’s a walk around the block or a visit to a park or trail system, a quick socially distanced outing does wonders. If you feel unstable walking, TBPL has walking poles that you can borrow to help you along. Another suggestion for those with a smart phone or tablet is to download the cloudLibrary app and enjoy an audiobook while you are out. If you’d rather do your exercise indoors, TBPL is hosting a Winter Wellness exercise class via Zoom, as well as meditation sessions on our YouTube channel in February. For information on these programs as well as crafts and other activities, visit http://www.tbpl.ca/onlinecalendar
Perhaps the most important thing for our mental health at this time is to maintain contact with family and friends. Although we can’t visit one another, video chats or daily messages are a lifeline for our well being. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford, or access needed technology. Thanks to grants from the Thunder Bay Community Foundation, United Way, and Government of Canada, TBPL, in partnership with numerous local organizations have started a Bridging the Digital Divide program in which we lend tablets and wifi hubs to those in need. If you or someone you know could benefit from this program, please call the Library at 345-8275 for details.
Stay safe. Find your inner sisu, and we’ll get through this together.
Heather Miller –www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you.