For many of us….it’s beginning. That mild depression that begins right after the holiday season and increases until late February; When it almost feels unbearable and then the sun starts shining and the snow starts melting, and the hope of brighter days returns. Living in the Ithaca area now for just about 35 years, I would like to report what I have learned about myself, the sun (or lack of it), winter blues and survival.
(1)First and foremost is the importance of practicing acceptance. I have spoken with those who enjoy these darker days. It has been described as a time of introspection, hibernation, and solitude. But for me winter has often felt like “lost time.” I would think, “If it were warm and sunny I would be outside, I would be doing more and feeling good enjoying warm air and breezes.” It’s only in my most recent years, I have come to value this time of quiet and introspection a bit more. I find in life that acceptance seems to be an important first step to make hard things bearable and even find peace with them. There were many February’s when I would call one of my dear friends and start complaining about my life, my sadness and hopelessness. She would remind me, “It’s February Susan. You know how you get in February.” And then, I would feel some relief. “Oh yes, it’s just February and those are the feelings that come up for me.”
(2)I also realized by focusing and complaining about how bad and hopeless I felt- I was compelled to talk about it incessantly which seemed to be making it worse. It is almost a relief to just have these emotions without complaining about them so much.
(3)There is something else I noticed about myself. Regardless of how cold or grey it is, the more time I spend outdoors the better I feel. I know that I don’t like feeling cold or having wet feet, etc. In the last few years, I have invested in warmer clothes, boots, gloves and wool socks. Now I bundle up and get outside! Even in the winter, there is nothing quite as therapeutic as a walk in the woods (especially if I am warm.)
(4) Maybe it’s all in my head – but it really seems like when I take Vitamin D, it relieves the oppressive winter blues quite a bit. If you’re like me though…it is very hard to remember to take a vitamin on a regular basis. But, if you are also a bit of a sweet fiend like me, I have found the solution. Although Gummy Bears are not my favorite candy – it seems now you can get almost any vitamin in a gummy bear form. Just keep them away from kids, and don’t overdose on them. I rarely seem to forget to take them these days!
(5) I do admit I love my pellet stove and wood stove, The beautiful campfire light that the flames give off, always brings me gratitude.
(6) A dip in a hot tub on a very cold night (like tonight) offers me both relaxation-and an opportunity to be outdoors. Tonight, in the hot tub I enjoyed the moon, stars and cool air on my face (I had a wool hat on to keep my ears warm.)
(7) Get out of town! Although I can’t always get away to a “warm spot” – even a change of scenery seems to give me an attitude adjustment in a positive way. It’s especially nice if I can get to a sunny place (like Taos) even if it’s still cold. I love visiting the Adirondacks in the winter or exploring new places. Last December I was on a very limited budget but was still able to rent a little cottage in the Pennsylvania Mountains in Aaronsburg. It didn’t have running water but it had a great little wood stove that kept the cabin toasty, a very comfortable bed, and a desk for writing/journaling and mountains all around for exploring.
In Peace and Gratitude,