Give Yourself Grace This WinterOct 19, 2022
A couple of weeks ago, I suggested reviewing your habits and adjusting for the season. For me, it’s so much easier to get a lot done in the summer when the days seem to last forever. The darkness and cold of fall and winter give me two choices – either alter my expectations and behavior to accommodate how I’m feeling or continue to act like everything is the same and be frustrated and angry that it isn’t. As someone who has dealt with seasonal affective disorder for years and only recently been able to function well in the winter, I want to share some things that helped me (in no particular order):
Sunlight – Get outside every day. Even if you don’t have the energy to walk, just sit outside in the sun. If you have the energy, take a walk. Do it in the morning to set the tone for your day.
Vitamin D – Many of us are deficient (about 25% of USians). We don’t get enough from sun exposure or from our food. Have your doctor check your levels and recommend a supplement. The right amount of Vitamin D is crucial for immune support, healthy bones and teeth, reducing inflammation, and reducing depression. A deficiency can lead to weak bones, inflammation, fatigue, and even hair loss.
Enjoy Your Hobbies – Just because it’s cold and dark and you’re indoors doesn’t mean you have to be bored or watch TV all the time. Not sure what indoor hobbies you like? Experiment! A coloring book and pencils, a cheap watercolor set and some paper, a pack of origami paper and directions on the internet, a skein of yarn and a hook – none of these things costs much. And while they can provide hours of fun, it's okay if you only do them for a few minutes at a time. That few minutes can give you something to talk about, share, and might spark your creativity. Check out my first hand-drawn mandala coloring book!
Get Clean Every Day – I know what it feels like to be too tired to clean up and get dressed. But if this is the only thing you can do, do it. Shower, brush your teeth, put on clean clothes (even if it’s just another set of pajamas). (And then force yourself to sit in the sunlight for 10 minutes.) You can do this.
Make Meals Easy – When I was at my lowest energy for weeks on end, I would grocery shop on Saturday (usually moving slowly through the produce department and deciding I couldn’t get to the rest of the store) and then do meal prep on Sunday. I didn’t have the energy to cook during the week. So I fixed my meals in portion-sized containers that I could grab for lunch or throw in the microwave for dinner. Check out these easy meal prep ideas with less than 8 ingredients.
Choose Joy – This is simple, but not always easy. Sometimes you can only find one thing. Focus on that. Were you able to shower and put on clean clothes? Be glad you aren’t wallowing in your own funk. Made it outside? Be grateful for the sun! Able to take a walk? Your body is doing a great job! Eating healthy because you planned ahead when you had a little bit of energy? Excellent! Eating at all because you have food in the house? Great! Spent 10 minutes coloring? Yeah! Gratitude and joy don’t need to be cartwheeling, backflipping moments. They can be quiet smiles acknowledging that you did your best with the energy and frame of mind that you have.
Connect With Friends, Family, and/or a Doctor for Help – Let somebody know that you’re struggling. You don’t have to do it alone. I did for the longest and that was a very lonely time. Maybe you’ll find an accountability buddy to make sure you get dressed every day. Maybe you’ll find a walking buddy. Maybe you’ll find out that someone needs you as much as you need them.
Give Yourself Grace – Please don’t compare your inside to someone else’s outside. Just because other people look like they’re doing it all and holding it together, doesn’t mean they are. And just because you might struggle, it doesn’t mean you aren’t just as valuable as everyone else. Give yourself grace to do what you can right where you are. And if it doesn’t seem like much at the time, that’s okay. You deserve rest and care, too.