Otto, our puppy, needed to go out to potty today. He didn’t like the dreary, cold rain, so I sat him in his doggie play-pen and put an umbrella over the side of it. He still wasn’t happy.
These events made me think about the change in weather and seasons and how before you know it, it will be winter and then Otto will really hate going outside to poop.
For a person with a mood disorder the change in seasons can trigger symptoms. Winters used to affect me greatly, but not as much these days. I suppose some of this is due to changes in physiology and brain chemistry, but I also believe having a positive attitude and practicing an ounce of prevention can play a role. Now I look at winter differently.
It’s a time to try new chili or soup recipes in the crock pot, or watch lots of movies with my family since we are all inside more. It’s an opportunity for reflection and taking stock of what and who I’m grateful for, especially around the holidays. Candles are better on dark days and listening to Billie Holiday in the winter makes me nostalgic for my grandparents and for a time period I never lived in.
For preventing the winter blahs, I also have some strategies in self-care:
- Sitting under my sunlamp in the morning and using the time to meditate or read would be good.
- I can take Vitamin D. This is the vitamin we get from the sun. It helps with immune functioning too.
- Speaking of immune functioning, I can do everything possible to avoid the flu or a sinus infection. (Being physically sick makes me more vulnerable to depression).
- It’s a perfect time for me to try different hot teas. There are tons of varieties and certain decaf selections like chamomile are useful for calming.
- I can enjoy the changing color palate of nature while going for a walk. If I kick it in, I will get a serotonin boost too.
Don’t get me wrong. I know winter in places like the Midwest can be tough. In fact I
recently dusted off an essay I had written last winter about how on a bleak, cold day I had to trek to the grocery store and wasn’t happy about doing the mundane chore in the elements. Everyone shopping that day also seemed to be in a “blah” mood. Looking back, maybe I should have just used the experience as an opportunity to be nicer to the people around me in the store.
A therapist once told me, “It’s all about the stories we tell ourselves.” I can tell myself that the end of summer sucks, and rainy days suck, and winter weather and winter colds seem to last forever. Or I can tell myself a different story about how the changing colors of leaves are breathtaking and bare trees with snow on their branches are magical. I can remind myself the taste of peppermint tea is strangely wonderful, and the smell of veggie chili in our kitchen makes me feel content.
What story are you going to tell yourself as the seasons change?