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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dealing with a Bad Case of 'I Don't Care'? Perhaps it's the Winter Blues

Dealing with a Case of I DON'T CARE

Do you ever deal with a case of I DON'T CARE --especially around winter when spring is a ways off? Perhaps you're dealing with a case of the winter blues.

The winter blues, or SADS--seasonal affective disorder syndrome—is particularly prevalent in people living in the Northern Hemisphere.

According to Michael Craig Miller, M.D., Senior Mental Health Editor at Harvard Health Publications:

"People with seasonal affective disorder syndrome lose steam when the days get shorter and the nights longer. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include loss of pleasure and energy, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate, and uncontrollable urges to eat sugar and high-carbohydrate foods."

I live in the Pacific Northwest where the changing seasons create shorter days and less sunlight. If I'm honest, sometimes I can experience a subtle loss of pleasure and energy that I interpret as a case of 'I don't care'. 

So what do we do if we're hit with a loss of pleasure and energy in winter? We deal with it.

How to Deal with the Winter Blues

Let Go Feeling You're Defective

First of all, let go of feeling something is 'wrong' with you because you're affected by the changing season. It is simply your body's physiological response to the darker season.  Sure that loss of pleasure and energy are indicative of depression as your responses to life are blunted. But that means it's time to take action--not that somethings wrong with you. 

The good news is there are concrete steps you can take to improve how you feel in response to the darker days and longer nights. If you're uncomfortable enough with how you feel to take steps to alleviate your symptoms, try the steps below.  

Check Your Vitamin D3 Levels 

Be diligent about supplementing with Vitamin D3 in Winter—especially if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.  Have your blood levels checked and shoot for maintaining a higher level. Discuss increasing your D3 intake with your doctor. 

Invest in and Use a Light Therapy Box

Regular exposure to full spectrum light can help. Again, this is particularly useful for people living in the Northern Hemisphere.  While you may feel it's inconvenient to sit in front of a light box, the lift in mood is worth it.  Do what you know works.

Seek Perspective and Acceptance

'Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.'   Virginia Satir

Stop thinking life should be another way in winter and start accepting things as they are.

Put your 'pulling-inward' energy in perspective: Bears hibernate during the winter so why shouldn't we? In some ways this is just part of the natural ebb and flow of life--we are in a resting or gestating period where we allow our brains to work off-line as they quietly hum below the surface. 

By accepting the quietude of winter as the natural precursor to the brightness of spring we can create a lighter experience around this understated season.

Actively Participate in Tranquil Activities

Enjoy a nap covered with soft fleece blankets or take a leisurely Epson salt bath or warm shower to ease the cold.

Take a good book or journal out to a cafe  or book store to enjoy the hum of human conversation around you as you sit quietly in a warm, bright environment.

Find ways to create a sense of peace in the misty days.

Get Outside to Get More Light

Bundle up and get outside for a walk or engage in your favorite winter sport--skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing.  Being energetic outside will pick up your mood even if it's foggy and grey. 

'But listen to me, for one moment stop being sad. 
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.' Rumi

Keep Expectations Down

Yes, overcoming inertia can be a challenge when you're in the 'I don't care' mood. So keep your expectations down--make a plan to step outside for the walk or make a plan to drive with friends to the ski lodge.

If after you step out you don't want to walk much, don't. If after you drive to the ski lodge you don't want to ski, enjoy a hot cocoa and book in the lodge. Don't force it--allow possibilities to emerge by taking the first step.

As the old Aesop's Fable said, 'gentleness can succeed where force will fail'. Instead of overwhelming yourself with what you should do to overcome the darkness, find ways to embrace these days to create a more soothing, tranquil tone that lets you replenish your energy before you head into Spring.

How strongly you are affected by darker days and longer nights in winter will determine how motivated you are to do something about it.

No one likes feeling depressed, low or unmotivated. The stronger your symptoms, the more motivated you'll be to do something about it—even if you have to seek help from others. 

The way you cope with SADS will make the difference. Choose to find a way to brighten your winter days.

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For more than 35 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates. 


PurpleTess said...

Such a timely reminder to get out my Happy Light! After reading this I recognize I am starting down that wintry path to hibernation. Thanks, Sue!

PurpleTess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Dear PurpleTess!

I love that you call your full-spectrum light your Happy Light!