The darkened skies and rain have chased many inside to hunker down, crank up the heat and wait for that bright sunlight – or at least a break in the downpour.
It’s gloomy out there. And for some, the gloominess seeps in. Ho-hum. It could be the winter blues, also known as seasonal depression. Symptoms can include crankiness, sluggishness, sleep loss and sadness.
It’s hardly something you can just snap out of. But a first step is to take responsibility for the fact that we know this can be a hard time of year, and not give into it. Don’t stagnate.
“Push yourself to do the things you truly don’t want to do,” said Monica Erdosh, a licensed clinical social worker in Auburn. “And don’t change your routine. Try to stick with normal. Don’t avoid the outdoors. Put your raingear on and go outside, go for a walk.”
That means breathing deep the cool, fresh air, getting your blood flowing, and even jumping in puddles. “We dry off easily,” Erdosh said.
Also try the stretch and lean method. That’s yoga, and facing your fears. “It’s a great time to take a yoga class,” said Erdosh. “My belief is that we lean in to the things that are difficult for us, not fall apart. Lean into it.”
Doing things indoor could mean taking on that project or doing some crafts.
And, as always, be prepared beforehand with food, supplies, rain gear, a stack of books.
And keep healthy food in the fridge. Maybe take a day and make a big pot of soup or bake fresh muffins, and share with friends.
“Connecting with other people is very important, interacting,” said Merrill Powers, a licensed clinical social worker in Auburn. “Even if you can’t get outside, try going to a meeting, church, invite friends over to sit around the fire and eat soup. We tend to isolate and that could deepen depression. The antidote to depression is connection with others.”
Also, don’t give in to temptation. Don’t indulge in things that make you feel worse, falling into bad habits, such as increased alcohol use. “The temptation is there to comfort you,” said Erdosh. “But will ultimately lead to making you feel worse, to regret.”
We’re all a work in progress, so self reflection, knowing yourself, is always important.
If you know that you have first taken responsibility, tried everything on your own, and your depression becomes severe, consider contacting your doctor, said Erdosh.
Just remember, after every storm, the sun does rise.
Reach Features Editor Carol Guild at email@example.com.