Seasonal Affective disorder is for real and it sucks. While this winter pales in comparison to others in the past, it still manages to get right under my skin.
I haven’t seen the sun in 72 hours. There is this flat grayish fortification above us that has been stubbornly stationed for what seems like forever. Day after day I walk outside onto the ashy snow, and I look up at a sky drained of color and abruptly, I am so claustrophobic. I am stuck in time and space unable to leave this icebox prison.
I’m being deprived something. And Today is just not enough.
I drive and arrive at work and the kids cuss me out and suddenly, my job is not enough. My friend calls because he got this new car and I start thinking about my own paycheck and then that’s not enough either. Later that afternoon, I’m rifling through the fridge for the one thing in the whole world that isn’t there and now, my mom’s grocery list isn’t enough. Following that, I walk past the hallway mirror and notice every ounce of added fat since I returned home, and I’m pointing at myself saying,
“HEY! You. Are. Not. E-nough!”
Classic case of Seasonal Depression.
In any case, winter has always represented a rough patch for me. For those fellow soldiers that struggle with depression and anxiety, this season can sap whatever small energy you have left. The inner numbness is compiled with an outer coldness that can leave you feeling so frozen. Also incredibly bitter and resentful.
So here are a few things that I am doing to take the edge off.
1. Finding a balance between solitude and socializing
If you are anything like me, the way you recharge your batts is by being alone for awhile. Perhaps by praying, meditating, reading, or watching a movie, what ever it is, that is how you power up.
Unfortunately, too much separation can warp that precious time into feeling like you’re drifting along in this season all alone. When the dreariness stays the same all afternoon and you have no one to shake up the schedule with, too much solitude can reawaken those old dark thoughts that brought you so far down.
Being with people can take your mind off the crappy weather and give you a place to express whatever is stabbing away at you. Be with friends and feel the warmth it brings. I have been making more of an effort to do this lately, and it is paying off dividends.
2. Everything warm
There is a spot I love to sit near the fireplace. It’s a big blue and cozy couch that I can sprawl out across with a cup of cocoa. Resting there, I let out a few delicious sighs and fully relax, letting my body calm my mind. When I snuggle into that little nook, I do not let the anxious thoughts climb on up. I set aside the tasks of the day and allow myself time to be fully warm, inside and out.
Warm blankets and hoodies and cocoa and fireplaces are all must-haves.
3. But there is such a thing as too much coffee
As a Columbian Coffee addict, I have stayed in denial for far too long. After all, the few hours of daylight given tend to gnaw at your vigor, so coffee seems the sure cure. Right? Not exactly. Now more than ever you need to learn to take everything in moderation. Too much coffee and a cold dark world do not mix well. If I get too hopped up with nowhere to release it all, I get restless and angry. Usually, this is when my worried thoughts creep in, but with all the caffeine, its like they are on steroids.
Stay thirsty my friends. But switch in some cocoa every once in awhile.
4. Bought this App
It’s called Fluid.
There was a time when my anxiety was spiking to new heights. A family friend that works as a consultant for those seeking technological therapy with special needs suggested that I try this calming app. SERIOUSLY- I am so happy I did. It’s free, which is great because I never buy apps, but there was a better version of it that cost about a buck, and without thinking twice, I purchased it. One of the best apps on the market.
As soft music plays, your fingers can ripple the water’s surface as if you are actually before a translucent shallow stream. You can even flip a coin in for good luck!
5. Testing my artisan spirit
Last winter, when my boots were really heavy, I picked up painting. I had tried it before and had been, honestly, a total failure. But after a bit of practice and sheer self-will, I became fairly skilled at it.
Most importantly, doing this took my mind off my worries. Art requires the use of the other side of the brain, the one not scattering here and there over spilled glasses of milk. It draws you into a space where you are the creator of your own world, your own story. It’s freeing.
I have been dusting off the old palette and stretching some canvas lately. Kinda have a nervous excitement about it.
6. Journaling away
I try to keep a steady flow of entries in my journal. The act itself has such a disarming power to those bomb-throwing thoughts in my head. Put some ink down and watch them all shrink in their power. Looking at bullet point problems gives you the insight of your friends that keep telling you to “not to sweat the small stuff”, letting you realize that they’re right.
Journaling is a spiritual act in and of itself. Writing down those crushing struggles on the page leaves a trail of sorts, showing how far you have come since this and that. It keeps you bumping against unexpected affirmations in scripture, a good reminder that no matter who you are, God is in love with you and is in your corner. Even when you feel that world has completely shut down.
These are but a few suggestions, and hardly enough for those seriously in trouble with seasonal depression. But, hey, if you’re not looking to spend $150 bucks on light therapy or aren’t taking any trips to Timbuktu soon, they may be worth a shot.
They may be the “enough” you need ’til all the gorgeous green wakes up.
With warmest love,
What are you doing to fend off the winter blues?