S A D. I’ve got a good dose of it. Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Grumpies. The Winter Blues. It happens about the first week of January every year. Lethargic. Grumpy. Unmotivated. Unable to sleep. It can be rough!
It’s not fun to feel like the only activity worth doing is to lay on the couch and binge-watch Netflix. That’s not healthy. I have developed so much empathy for people who struggle with really serious mental illness. My little disorder can affect my days off and on, but I really feel for people who suffer daily with debilitating issues.
One thing I’ve learned through it all is that everyone is different. So my solution might not work for anyone but ME. That said, I want to share how I’ve learned to beat those blues, and maybe something will strike a chord with someone else. I haven’t wanted to use prescription drugs to boost my mood. I wanted to overcome this on my own terms.
And so, one day a few years ago, when I was really struggling, I decided to take action. I started planning. I made a list of all my favorite activities and decided to make ACTIVITY my medication. And so, here’s my own personal mental health regimen that has kept me moving and breathing and smiling through some gloomy days:
1. PLAN A VACATION: I have realized that I have to go somewhere warm and sunny during the winter. Even seven days on the beach can reset my mood for weeks after I’ve returned home.
2. SIT IN THE SUN: When the sun is shining outside, I bundle up and soak in the Vitamin D. Even if we’ve got temps in the 20s, just feeling the sunshine on my body has magical, healing powers. (For dark days, invest in a sun lamp for artificial light therapy.)
3. MOVE THE BODY: I have to exercise. I notice a huge difference on days that I don’t move. If I start the day doing something physical, my entire day improves. Endorphins are real, baby!
4. PLAN A VACATION: Okay, I know this is listed as number 1 in my list already, but here’s Part II: I LOVE to travel. When I can’t be off somewhere in the world, I PLAN. I’ve got about 10 trip itineraries all planned and ready to whip out when we decide to hit the road: Morocco, Ireland, China…they’re all in there. Maybe I can’t physically leave the snow and cold and fog, but it’s sure fun to study and learn about a place you’ve never been to!
5. COOK: Obviously, I love to cook! I’ve been known to trudge through two feet of fresh winter powder, light up the grill and grill up a whole mess of beautiful steaks by flashlight and in 30-degree temps.
6. BE WITH PEOPLE: Plan a party, visit friends, be with family. Being with people you love is pretty much a sure-fire way to pull yourself out of the doldrums.
7. SERVE: I’ve learned that it’s pretty hard to be sad when you’re serving someone else. I’ve found that when I take the focus off of MY troubles, I often forget just what those troubles are in the first place.
Okay, my point is this. Everyone has those days when The Grumpies set in. For people who have serious diagnoses, it’s another story. I respect you and pray for you and wish you only success in your battles. If you’ve got a simple case of The Grumpies, however, make a list of things you love and then DO THEM!
Don’t let The Grumpies take over your life. Move. Plan. Act. Create. Live. We were meant to be happy.
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