After a few years of researching and learning about SAD I realised that one of the major factors in how you get through winter is attitude. Let me explain how….
Do you fight winter, or do you try to roll with the punches?
When autumn arrives it is quite easy to start going into battle stations; getting your light box out, making sure you have your supplements stocked and possibly making a doctors appointment to get any meds you might need. It can easily feel like we are collecting our weapons and heading into war. But what if we looked at it a different way?
We could see this as a struggle that we have to get through, or we could accept that this is going to happen and roll with the punches. Struggle instantly sets up a degree of fear in the mind; we are preparing for it to be horrible and we create negative beliefs about how we are going to feel. This instantly brings us down. If, instead we decide to stay in the moment and trust that we will do our best and that our tools will help us we can try to stay positive. This helps us be more upbeat and able to deal with the situations life brings to us.
Do you try to recreate summer through the winter?
I am certain that all of us would much rather winter never came. We could maybe cope with a bit of autumn and some early spring but it would be lovely if the rest of the year was a nice 24ºc and sunny. We can dream but the sad reality is winter is going to happen whether we like it or not, and we are not going to be able to completely recreate it with our tools. In accepting that our weather goes through a set of seasons and that they are natural we can shift our expectations about the winter and find we can be much happier.
In this crazy fast 24/7/52 world we live in we are expected to keep going, keep working, partying, socialising, creating, learning, and being out there living life. On my page on the causes of SAD I explain that it is natural for winter to bring a time of slowing down to our lives; a time when we gather in and recover from the busy summer. If we can change our expectations about what we are going to do through the winter we can find it much easier to be gentle with ourselves. That in itself can reduce tiredness, anxiety and depression. Simply by listening to our bodies and doing what we need to do can instantly make things easier.
So how do we make these changes?
Learn to love the slowness that comes with the changing of the seasons. Do you remember that boxed set you’ve been promising to watch or a book you wanted to read, now is your time. Always wanted to take up a hobby like crafting or learning a language, here is your opportunity!
The Dutch have a concept of Hygge that is the feeling you get when you are sat around a fire with friends, warm and cozy. Develop times when you do this. If you can’t face friends, create it on your own. Seek the inner peace that is there if we look for it. It can bring with it such calmness that you can feel it easing away the anxieties.
If we go into battle with winter and expect to have the same level of energy as we have in the summer we are going to be disappointed. This leads to the worsening of almost all of the symptoms you experience. If you can learn to find good things that bring you a sense of peace, then you will be adding another tool to your toolkit that will help you no end.
My winters contain hot chocolate, blankets, gaming, boxed sets and usually a home study course of some kind. I tell my friends they won’t see so much of me and then I enjoy the time I do have with them more. I am gentler with myself and expect less. I have found this helps no end.
Here in the UK the weather is definitely seeming more springlike and we will be changing the clocks next weekend. Wishing you all sunny days ahead!