Historically, January has been my darkest month of the year. It’s probably the combination of coming down from the holidays, coldness, no sunlight and just nothing happening all month. This year I was determined to fight the down feeling that seems to pervade every crevice of my life, so I made a plan and so far, 8 days into the year, I’m feeling the best I have in January in a long time (ya know, aside from the double ear infection which I finally feel mostly whole from today).
- Go Outside/Sunlight
Living in Indiana does not make the winter easy (especially if you suffer from SAD). The sun is generally not around and the cold can be very bitter. This year, so far it has been warmish (upside to global warming) and the sun has been shining. I have spent time outside every day this week. A lot of it has just been wrapped up in a blanket with my face to the sun (because I’ve been sick), but one day the kids and I hiked around and played Star Wars.
I also asked for a therapy light for Christmas. It looks like a little iPad and it mimics sunlight. I’ve been turning it on and sitting with it while I do my morning reading (or now why I write).
A healthy diet is not my strong suit, it is something I always battle. Eating bad food is just sometimes how I deal with everything. So naturally I am deficient in the vitamins I need to even feel good. In fact, I recently got a trim and my hairdresser noted my hair seemed unhealthy (brittle). Yes, thank you, 2019 wasn’t my best year. So each morning I’ve been trying to take an array of vitamins to help replenish what I am lacking in diet.
Writing and reading are my outlets, what I’m “good” at (or at least what I’m not bad at…hopefully). It’s why I enjoy doing. And while generally I already read most days, there have been several books I’ve started and have just been lazy about finishing. Or there are times I waste just scrolling around on social media that I could be putting to better use. So far I’ve finished 2 books that I had started last year and have made progress in several others.
I’ve also been reading books that are helping me solve my actual problems. It turns out that I don’t know everything about parenting and I have leaned on yelling/just telling them what to do and guys, if you have a smart, strong willed child like I do, that just doesn’t work. You need to understand how their brains work, you need to understand why you parent the way you do and how you can improve. You can learn and make plans to figure whatever problem out that is weighing you down. And you’re likely not the first person to encounter it. There’s a book for that.
I’ve been journaling every day. I’ve been stopping to journal when my worries/anxiety start to turn on and build up. I’ve been taking a moment to recenter myself. It’s okay to need a break.
And obviously I’ve blogged more in the last two weeks then I have in the last couple years. But the writing side of my brain seems turned back on. I narrate stories in my head again that I could share. It’s hard to explain, but a flip has been switched back on.
Writing really is therapeutic guys, it’s been proven to help our brains process things.
(And I’ve sent 3 letters out!)
4. Physical Activity
Everyone knows that the more you move the better you’ll feel. I haven’t been able to workout this year (but hopefully today that will change!). We are renewing our gym memberships, I’ve got new sneakers and I’m ready to rebuild my healthy body. Intense workout is also a great way to keep anxiety at bay.
5. Prayer/Self Talk
I know you’re not all religious out there and when someone says “just pray about it” it’s easy to roll your eyes. I even do it sometimes! But I also know there’s power in prayer and that God does not leave us to do this life alone. He is present in real way.
There’s also a lot of power in self talk. I sit here and I motivate myself with reminders every day: I am capable. I am worthy. I am loved. I can do hard things. I make plans and problem solve the things that weigh on me and give me anxiety. I no longer want my thoughts to bury me.
6. Be Present
It is SO easy to just want to escape into mindless scrolling. There’s something about it that soothes our brains like a drug does. But guys it really doesn’t. It’s a temporary comfort. Set your phone down, pick up something else. Go stare at the sky. Breathe in fresh air. Crank your music. Spend 15 minutes tackling a project. Plan a family night. Read a chapter in a book.
7. Let Go
Therapy. I know it can have a negative connotation and that mental health/illness can be something we want to hide or not be forth coming about. But I can not stress enough that your mental health is the most important health you can have. So if you need to talk to someone, do whatever you need to do to make that happen.
It will help your let go of the things you are holding on to, the trauma that changed your brain, it can be repaired. There is hope.
And I know, I do, that this is all hard. It doesn’t happen over night. I lived in a fog for so long I couldn’t even sit down and say…I need to change, I need healthier solutions. Take it each day, do 1% better each day. Small changes, become big improvements.
And reach out if you need to. We are all out here trying to do the best we can each day.
And finally, be kind to yourself.