For my first substantive post I'd like to address the shift into fall in Seattle. Aside from the excitement I feel about crisp fall weather, I also have a looming sense of dread about the upcoming dark, damp months. Here's what I've come up with to deal with it. It's not rocket science, but there are things that help me to ease the pain of a long, dark winter. What works for you?
1- Self-care: Self-care to me means massages, yoga, healthy food, acupuncture, chiropractic care, exercise, hydrotherapy, laughter and sleep. When you care for yourself, you feel better and you will treat those around you better. If you have a block against treating yourself, get over it! You will seriously be a better, kinder, happier, healthier person if you take care of yourself.
2- Get outside: It can be hard when it's damp and dark, but even a walk around the block can help a tired, sour self. Fresh air, circulation, whatever light is out... these can all increase your mood and energy. Even better if you can go out for a day hike or head to a sunnier place (like east of the mountains) for a bit of light and fresh air.
3- Light: Buy a happy light. Use it for at least 10 minutes in the morning. This stimulates your brain to wake up and helps fight fatigue. It can boost your mood and energy. You can even take it to a desk job and turn it on the afternoon when you feel the afternoon doldrums sink in. Here's what I have.
4- Honor the highs and lows: Sometimes we fight how we really feel. It's normal to have times when you feel more lethargic or sad than others. This is part of the beauty of the human experience... the full range of emotions. When we try desperately to combat it, we just create a struggle for ourselves. I think of the struggle as adding an extra layer of suffering onto something that already feels like suffering. If you feel down, take a moment and let yourself feel it. Honor it. Know that it's normal and OK. It will pass. Breathe, rest, relax, do self-care, and be OK.
5- Check your attitude: If you're anything like me, you love to get melodramatic about the winters here. Yes, we don't often get much daylight, but there is plenty to celebrate about our PNW in the cooler months. Many places have bitter dry cold snowy winters, but it's so lush and green here. We get off easy. When you start feeling gloomy, it can be nice to breathe in the fresh damp earth smell of the winters and embrace the cold darkness by snuggling in a letting it wrap you up like a hug.
6- Get out of town: I was going to say, 'If all else fails, get out of town.' But go ahead and do it even if the other things are working! Taking a trip somewhere in Jan/Feb/March is a great way to refresh yourself, see a little more daylight, and get away from the collective gloom that is upon us here. Last year I went to the Big Island... I thought it was so funny that they gave us mai tai's on the way over, but nothing on the way back. I'm going to suggest they give you a shot of espresso and a wellbutrin for flights into Seattle :)
Happy fall, everyone! Have a warm, caffeinated beverage, get a massage, and go to bed early.