Overcome Winter Blues SAD

9 Ways to Overcome the Winter Blues

Overcome Winter Blues SAD
These are my ways to deal with the Winter Blues. Hopefully they’ll help you too.
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Do you get sad when autumn or winter comes along? If you’re in the sunnier climates, you may barely notice or you may welcome a break from the heat.  I am a child of spring and summer.   The cold rain of fall where I live used to unnerve me in a way I could never explain.   I thought I was the only one who didn’t like fall and detested winter.   So many people I know love the seasons of pumpkin spice everything and snow, and everything about the impending winter made me irritable and cranky.   

While I could enjoy the holidays, as soon as they were over, the familiar funk would return and I would feel like garbage until spring.   Then I found out about SAD (seasonal affective disorder).   According to the Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.  If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. ”   Yep, that definitely described my blues.

SAD explained downward spiral, the sadness and depression that I felt powerless to do anything about.  It also gave me hope that I could do more than hang on for dear life until spring came.   Before learning about SAD, I would spend months being someone I didn’t like.   After learning about SAD, I could design a life that minimized the symptoms of the blues and maximized joy.   Before learning about SAD, I spent most of my time in January and February on the couch praying that spring would come early.   After, I found ways to get out of the house and sometimes out of the state to make life not only bearable but exciting and fun.   

1.      Vacation.   

Before I had children, I nearly always vacationed in February where it was sunny and warm.   Those trips did wonders to ward off the seasonal blues and carry me through to spring.   After the kids came and started school, the February vacations stopped.   Now that they kids are older, I’ve had a few winter vacations to sunny spots again, and I love it.   For those who can’t afford a winter getaway because of finances or other commitments, there are many more ways to deal with seasonal blues.  

2.      Vitamin D and Sam e.   

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.   Please consult a physician before using any product to treat any medical condition.   Apparently, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere tend to be deficient in that particular vitamin, and some call it sunshine in a bottle so I tried it.   It helped.   Then I upped the dose, and it helped more.   Sam-e is a mood boosting supplement.   There are other mood boosting supplements on the market that I cannot speak to because I’ve never used them.   Sam-e worked for my case of the blues so I didn’t look at any other supplements.

 3.      Light Therapy.   

A couple of years ago, I learned about light therapy and how sitting in front of a full spectrum light could help with SAD, and thanks to the greatest husband ever, I got a full spectrum light box as a Christmas gift.   Some women told me they would be insulted by that, but I was delighted.   To me, that meant that my husband not only believed that what I experienced was real, he was willing to do what he could to help me, and he did.   I use that light box nearly every day in the winter, especially when the days of gray and dreariness seem to go on without end.   I have a Carex  brand light and love it.  You can learn more by clicking here.

 4.      Yoga and meditation.  

I feel like yoga and meditation work together.   For me, yoga is meditation.   It brings my awareness to my body and helps me focus on what will make my body, mind and spirit feel better.   I’ve taken classes, but I get the most benefit from practicing in my own home first thing in the morning.   

 5.      Get creative.   

One year in October, I participated in a creativity bootcamp which boosted my spirits more than I could imagine.   I didn’t finish the project I was working on but in addition to writing, I colored, sketched and painted, things I hadn’t done since I was a child.   Truth be told, most of it looked pretty childish but it stretched my creative muscles and brought me great joy.   I actually enjoyed the entire month because of that bootcamp.   The thing about creativity is that you don’t have to be good at anything.   You just have to enjoy it.   I have thrown away most of the painting and drawings I’ve done, but I had fun doing them and that was the point.  

6.      Journal.   

Ok, I’m a writer and this is one I’ve done for a long time (please don’t mention the bins of journals in my basement to my husband), but this can be a great time to journal for just a few minutes per day.   Don’t know what to write? Start with gratitude.   For 30 days write down five things you’re grateful for without repeating any of them.   After you write down that you’re grateful for your family and friends, you get creative, and you find yourself looking for ways to be grateful to have something to journal about.   That’s a total win in my book…or journal.  

7.      Pick a project.   

This year, I am decluttering my office.   It has become such a dumping ground, but I’m playing a game with the cleanup.   I am decluttering while my tea brews in the morning.   My pace is currently one binder per day and I’m ok with that.   The office looks better.   I feel better when I walk in there and the pace is so easy I hardly notice.   What could you do while your coffee or tea brews? While your shower warms up? While you set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes each morning? Try it for 30 days, and I’ll bet you’ll be amazed at your progress

8.      Laugh.  

 I know this sounds simple, and it is, but it’s also important.   Make a dedicated effort to do things that make you smile and laugh.   My children love to show me YouTube Try Not To Laugh videos, especially when I lose.   This year, our family is going to a comedy concert in a couple of weeks because we all got tickets for Christmas.   I can hardly wait.

 9.      Do something for someone else.   

This one might be my favorite.   Doing something for someone else, especially someone in need, can change your mood and your life faster than you think.   Need ideas? Bake for someone.   Send a thinking of you note to a friend.   Babysit for a young mother so she can have a “me” day.   Send flowers to someone.   Buy two bouquets and send one to yourself too.   Have a movie day with your children or by yourself.   The options are endless, and occasionally you change someone else’s life.   

Look, I understand that depression sometimes requires medical intervention, and if you need that, by all means, do what your doctor prescribes.   For those for whom the blues come and go with the seasons, I hope you have your own set of ways to cope and hopefully thrive through your more difficult seasons.   If not, I hope one of these ways is new to you and helps you immensely.   In any case, it is my privilege to share this information with you, and I thank you for taking the time to read it.   Thanks for being you and wish you a great day.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Hate February

For most of my adult life I’ve hated the month of February.  I don’t use the word hate often because there is very little in this life I hate, but I really have hated  this month with the possible exception of Valentine’s Day.  Why?  I used to think it was because of the weather, the part of the country I lived in. anything but my own biology, until I found out about SAD (seasonal affective disorder).  It used to be quite frustrating to feel the downward spiral and not know what to do about it.  I could feel the sadness and depression coming, and it felt like there wasn’t a thing I could do about it other than hang on for dear life until spring came.  Spring seemed to be the magic elixir for all my ills, so I learned to hate the times I felt like my emotions and mental health were out of my control aka February.  In March things always took a turn for the better because we celebrated two of my sons’ birthdays, we had basketball tournaments which got the adrenaline pumping and there’s March madness.  For this basketball loving mom, it was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my yearly funk.

 

As the years have passed, I learned that there are several ways to cope with the downward spiral and occasionally avoid it all together.  Before I had children, I nearly always vacationed in February where it was sunny and warm.  Those trips did wonders to ward off the seasonal blues and carry me through to spring.  After the kids came and started school, the February vacations stopped and the blues got worse, then I found out about vitamin D.  Apparently, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere tend to be deficient in that particular vitamin, and some call it sunshine in a bottle so I tried it.  It helped.  Then I upped the dose, and it helped more.  February became bearable, and I was so very grateful.

My light box sitting on my kitchen table

 

 

A couple of years ago, I learned about light therapy and how sitting in front of a full spectrum light could help with SAD, and thanks to the greatest husband ever, I got a full spectrum light box as a Christmas gift.  Now I understand that some women would be insulted by a gift like that because they told me they would, but I was delighted.  To me, that meant that my husband not only believed that what I experienced was real, he was willing to do what he could to help me, and he did help me.  I use that light box nearly every day in February, especially when the days of gray and dreariness seem to go on without end.  That box along with yoga, meditation and everything else I’ve mentioned not only make the month bearable, they make it possible for me to shine.

Two of these books are the result of That Curious Love of Green’s Creativity Bootcamps

 

Last year during February, I felt good enough to take part in a creativity bootcamp which boosted my spirits even more.  I didn’t finish the manuscript I was working on but in addition to writing, I colored, sketched and painted, things I hadn’t done since I was a child.  Truth be told, most of it looked pretty childish but it stretched my creative muscles and brought me great joy.  I actually enjoyed February.  Yay!

This year there is no creativity bootcamp, and over the past couple of weeks, I could feel the downward spiral coming.  Add a little family drama, and it is amazing how quickly the darkness can descend, but I learned something from last year’s bootcamp.  I learned the value of having something to do that engages me in a different way than I’m used to.  This month, I began a 60 day spiritual journaling journey.  Each day presents a new question to ponder that is designed to help you think about your life and where you would like it to go.  It feels like a perfect winter activity and reminds me that while the weather looks dim and the plants may look dead, there is still so much activity going on underneath the surface just waiting for spring.  I feel that way too.  I’m writing more than I have in a while, but most of it will never be published because it’s personal and only for me.  When the funk lifts, I know there will be a burst of activity and it will be beautiful, exactly like the spring flowers I love so much.  It keeps me going and helps me to be gentle with myself on the days that life seems more difficult, and it gets me through to days like today that are brilliantly sunny even though it’s snowy, cold and windy.

 

 For those of you that struggle this time of year, I encourage you to find your own place of joy.  If you’re a physical person, exercise a bit longer.  Go dancing or walk at the mall if the weather’s bad.  If you’re an emotional person, watch a few feel good movies where the good guys/girls win, or if you’re a Disney lover like me, watch any of their movies and remember the first time you watched them.  If you’re a spiritual person, find a new path to explore and see what new revelations come to you.  Bake for someone.  Send a thinking of you note to a friend.  The options are endless, and occasionally take a day to do nothing if you need the rest.  Taking a day of rest is still the most difficult for me.  I’m a doer and mover, and it’s my nature to push through whatever is bothering me, but sometimes the best response is to rest, to allow yourself a day of downtime even if you have a million things on your to-do list, especially if that to-do list is getting longer and your list of accomplishments is getting shorter.  Give yourself a “me” day and you might find that the next day you’ve found the person you’ve been looking for.  Even if you don’t, you might feel better just from the break.  In any case, it is my privilege to share what I write with you, and I thank you for reading.  I also than you for being you and wish you a great day.