Last week I took a mental health day. I had been getting sick, I hadn’t slept well the night before, and I have discovered that parenting a 7-year-old is rather difficult.

I went back to bed for a while, then I watched some TV, and then I decided to get out of the house for a bit. I went for a drive by myself, stopped for some treats at Baker Bob’s in Almonte. And as I was driving back home I thought of the best thing I could do for myself. I would take my dog and go and visit my favourite place. The dog park.

I don’t know what exactly it is about it – being in nature, in amongst the trees, fresh air, watching my buddy be free, running around like his younger self, the exercise that I get, the quiet. Even when it’s busy you can walk through the woods and only occasionally meet someone else, there on a stroll with their best friend.

We’re all there, just being.

It’s there that I realize I need to walk more – maybe with some music playing – just walking and letting my brain roam to where it wants to be, or where it needs to focus.

I don’t often let myself do that – just think. I tend to distract myself with too many things, and when I finally lie down to sleep all the thoughts come at once. Or not at all, because I’ve exhausted myself avoiding sleep.

The dog park is a good reminder of all the things I can do for myself to avoid needing mental health days.

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