For many, “the most wonderful time of the year” can feel like anything but. From seasonal affective disorder (aptly referred to as SAD), to feeling the pain of lost loved ones, and everything in between, winter is tough. It might be made even tougher by the thought that everyone else is having a grand time. Or maybe the feeling is compounded by guilt from the thought that with all the blessings you do have, you shouldn’t be feeling this way?
This is your official reminder that you are not alone and that you need not feel guilty, but that you do need to take care of yourself. (Self-care is such a buzzword that I tend to shy away from it, but yeah…turns out, it really is important.)
Here are a few ideas that will hopefully help bring some peace to your life right now:
- Go outside. Really!! Too cold? Bundle up! But get out there. Today I noticed yet another article about the benefits of gardening (there are only a billion out there), and I was also reminded of its importance through my own experience this weekend when I finally cleared away our rotten tomato vines. There are a lot of people who don’t think of themselves as the “outdoorsy” type, but in reality, we all are a part of nature, and connecting with it is often the medicine we need.
- Bring the outdoors in. This is a lovely way (in addition to the above point) to connect. Get some houseplants, grow some herbs, make a lovely real wreath. Display the treasures you collect outside somewhere in your house.
- Don’t be afraid to say NO. You don’t have to accept every invitation, or take on every responsibility. Don’t stress over having the perfect holiday decor. Don’t feel like you have to take the kids to every Christmas event. Don’t think you have to buy all the presents.
- Indulge every now and then. Don’t be afraid to do something you want to do. Get a massage if you need it, take a hot bath, make (or buy) your favorite dessert, or do any of those little things that make you smile.
- Cry if you want. I think generally speaking, we have the tendency to think crying is a bad thing. Really, though, crying is not only a normal response to stress, but a healthy one, too. So if you feel the urge, don’t hold back!!
- Keep your perspective. *This may be the time to say, I am not a doctor. If you feel you need real help, please consult a professional!* That being said: if you are simply feeling gloomy as all humans do from time to time, remember that this too will pass.
- Don’t neglect your spiritual side. The most important thing I do this time of year to keep centered is take advantage of the midweek services at my church.
- Remember others. It’s really true that helping others is one of the best ways to help yourself. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or food pantry, ask area senior centers if they need help, or simply be a friend to someone else who may be struggling.
- Start a project. Begin something totally new–take up a new craft, learn a new language, start a class at your rec center. (I’ve been working on an art journal…and will hopefully have more on that later!)
Do you have tips for braving the winter? I would love to hear them!