This is something I often post in threads on the SAD group I am in but I thought it was something that many people could benefit from so thought I would post it here.
We struggle and fight our way through winter and when summer finally arrives many of us are gripped with fear, depression and anxiety over the coming winter. It seems like some don’t have a summer because they bring winter forward into this moment.
I can understand completely, winter takes so much out of us and we would so love to not have to go through it, but it really is one of the worst things you can do with your time in summer.
Imagine you had a friend who had an illness that came and went, but they didn’t know when the next crisis would come. How would you feel if they spent all their time when they were well worrying about the next crisis?
I am certain you would be telling them not to worry and to make the most of the time they felt well. You would see them depressed and anxious and wish they could just be happy that, at this point in time, they were well.
There is only one difference between this hypothetical friend and what we deal with, we have the benefit of knowing when the next time will come. Yes, this is a benefit!
It means is we can plan ahead!
Rather than spend the summer dreading the winter, get out there and make the most of it (for Summer SADders this isn’t as easy granted) and take the time, energy and focus to learn more about the condition and be prepared. If you don’t have a light box spend spring and summer putting money away so you can get one in August. Read up about the supplements we suggest, learn CBT, take a mindfulness class, read Dr Rosenthal’s book while sitting out in the sun. Take your power back and get the upper hand on winter. Once you have your plans in place, forget about winter, it will come in its own time. Pay attention to your feelings, make sure you are taking your supplements (remember, if you work inside, cover up or use sun block you may still be Vit D deficient) and then be in the moment; be IN summer.
We can either throw our summers away worrying and stressing, or we can stay in the moment, open our eyes and see that the sun is shining, the days are longer and we made it! We got through the winter. Now is the time to relax and be happy, not destroy the goodness of today with fears of tomorrow.
There is another benefit to working to stay happy in the summer; it might make your winters better. There is a concept called neuroplasticity. Now, I am faaaar from being an expert but from my understanding we build up neural pathways in the brain by the way we think. These pathways make us more likely to continue to think in the same way in the future. This means that if we spend the summer filled with depression and anxiety our brains are already pre-programmed to be depressed and anxious at a time when we struggle to stay positive anyway.
If we work to be more genuinely positive, as opposed to the fake positive that many wellness experts pedal, then we are more likely to be able to maintain a more positive attitude in the winter. Being depressed in the summer about how bad the winters are could be creating a self fulfilling prophecy because it might actually make your winters worse.
Please, take some time in the summer to literally smell the roses. Stay in the moment and feel the sun on your skin. Feel the joy that is more apparent to us SADders because we appreciate the weather so much more than “normal” people. It really is worth making the effort.