Monday 2 December 2013

Dealing with the dull dark days of winter

Looking at the title of this post, it's hardly very appealing is it? Yet, I feel it's something that I must write about because so many of us - particularly 'round our way' - are affected by the shorter, darker, colder days of winter to a greater or lesser extent.

Those who suffer badly from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) come to dread the changing of the clocks and the reduction of daylight as the year draws to a close.  Unsurprisingly, it's a hot topic on many blogs and forums because it is so commonplace.

I'm not as unlucky as some who find the condition debilitating, however I have to confess that I often struggle on those challenging days when it never really seems to get light, it's bitter outside and the carefree days of summer feel as though they may never return.  Thankfully, there are lots of great tips for coping with our seasonal changes out there in cyberspace.  I can't take credit for coming up with these but I can share with you the little changes that, for me, can make a big difference. None of these involve expensive outlays just, perhaps, a small change in everyday habits and your mind set.

Get outside
Sounds obvious doesn't it? It's not that easy, though, when the weather is distinctly unappealing and you are already feeling the cold indoors, let alone outside.  If you can, grit your teeth, gird your loins, grab your coat/boots/scarf/gloves and go for it! I don't think I've ever felt worse after a walk, even though I've sometimes felt pretty grim prior to venturing out.  If possible, it's even better to go during the middle part of the day when you can maximise your exposure to any sunlight that might just be biding its time behind the grey clouds. Why not make the most of that lunch hour?

Let the outside in
No, I'm not suggesting that you throw your windows and patio doors open (I do live in the north-east of Scotland after all). What I do recommend, though, is that you pull back any blinds during daylight hours to let as much light in as possible. As a homeworker, I've tried doing this in my little office space and I really think it helps (particularly if you don't have the time or motivation to follow recommendation number one above).

Make arrangements
For me, there are usually a few ghastly days each winter when I really just want to hibernate.  This is when advance arrangements come in useful.  If you know that you'll be letting someone else down, whether it is a work meeting, or a quick cuppa with a friend, then you'll be more likely to galvanise yourself into action.  Even promising to take the kids to the library will get you out of your own four walls and into a different environment with some fresh - and hopefully friendly - faces.

Remind yourself it's not for ever
"This too will pass."  It's easy to say but sometimes not quite as easy to believe.  When you're finding it difficult to believe that Spring will return one day, find some practical ways to convince yourself.  Dig out the photo album from your last summer holiday or slather yourself in some sun cream or cocoa butter to bring back the memories of warmer, fun filled days.

Ditch the guilt
Don't be too hard on yourself if you fail to cram in quite as much activity as you do during other times of year.  Congratulate yourself on getting through the tough days and acknowledge that it's normal to have times when you really just want to curl up with a good book, a warm throw and a hot chocolate (even though there are a million other seemingly more productive things that you should be doing).  After all, tomorrow's a new - and hopefully brighter - day...

A walk in the middle of the day can work wonders

Related posts: Beating the January blues

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