Beating the Winter Blues
My question deals with something that may sound trivial to others but is a serious challenge for me. I’m wondering what the spiritual approach to dealing with the harshness of winter would be? Although I have never officially been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I’d lay money down that I have it. I am happy, content and thriving throughout most of the year until these harsh winter months hit, especially after the holidays. All I seem to want to do is stay home, sleep, and disengage from life. It truly is a struggle, until spring comes and I’m back to my old self. I’m no longer okay with feeling awful for 3 months of the year for no good reason. There’s got to be another way, right?
~ Mark, North Dakota
There is always another way, because we are creative beings and have the ability to decide how we want to experience any given thing in life. And when co-created events show up that are seemingly out of our control – like harsh, cold, long winters (I’m from MN so I can soooooo relate to this) – we get the opportunity to decide how we are going to experience them as well as who we are in relationship to it.
So now, Mark, it is your turn to decide who you are in relationship to this thing called “the harshness of winter”, and create your experience of it. Don’t worry, I’m not just going to leave you with that, I’m going to help you out with “the how” part as well.
The very first step is to manage all of these thoughts and emotions you have because it’s winter, and the very best way I know of to do this is to engage in a daily practice, one that includes meditation (of any kind, whatever works for you) and gratitude (writing down at least 10 things each day that you are truly grateful for). Those two practices alone go such a long way in quieting the mind chatter and lowering external influences, because it shifts your focus on what is good and gets you centered and connected – always a great starting point when approaching anything in life. Plus, they raise your vibration and put you in a place of desire (creative) vs. a place of lack (resistant) for the next step, which is…
Decide and express who you are in relationship to winter harshness and how you’d like to experience it. Let go of any beliefs about how you’ve experienced it in the past, or how you think it has to be, put your focus on the way you’d like it to be for you, and then express that. For example, if you decide that you’re actually okay with hibernating for winter, then get some good books and/or movies, buy one of those “snuggie” blankets to curl up in, light a candle or start a fire in the fireplace, and enjoy the comforts of home. Quit making yourself wrong for it. On the other hand, if you decide you’d like to still be able to get out and about and be active during the winter, then make it a point to schedule some social dates with friends, sign up for a class, or plan a winter weekend getaway. Engage in winter activities like sledding, skating, or building a snowman, enlist a friend to join you and use each other as accountability partners. Make it a point to connect.
I used to despise the months of January and February here in Minnesota, they were so cold and so long and I never wanted to do anything. My experience nowadays is vastly different. I decided that I am naturally one who does slow down in the winter and hibernate a bit, I spend a lot of time in my cozy house (and yes I have a snuggie blanket) with my family and watch a lot of movies. And I love it. You see, I no longer make myself wrong for wanting to do those things, I embrace it. Incidentally I also decided that I wanted to be someone who enjoys winter, and while the latter is part of what I now enjoy about it, I also make it a point to schedule outings with my family and friends, and play in the snow with my 3 year old (something I previously also despised). And what makes this a sustainable choice and expression of who I am vs. a fleeting one? Those daily practices I spoke of as step one.
Although you may never have a direct say in the weather conditions of winter, Mark, you most certainly have a direct say in how you experience it from now on. And I don’t tell you this in theory, I tell you this from my direct experience. I even look forward to winter now, something my former self of a few years ago would have laughed in your face if she heard you say it.
P.S. I’ve also heard those sun lamps are great for those dealing with SAD, you may want to consider getting one, or making a commitment to spend time outside every day it happens to be sunny.
(Nova Wightman is a CWG Life Coach, as well as the owner and operator of Go Within Life Coaching, www.gowithincoaching.com, specializing in helping individuals blend their spirituality with their humanity in a way that makes life more enjoyable, easy, and fulfilling. She can be reached at Nova@theglobalconversation.com. )
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