Good day to you all (in my proper British high society voice). I am literally running on the grace of God and fumes, but I was reminded that winter is upon us and this is a time to make sure our mental and emotional health is on point!
It is proven that the sun’s light and rays emit energy that revitalize our body to get us going. Take a moment to think about it. Do you work night shift and try to sleep during midday, or have you tried to fall back asleep at dawn after waking up to go to the bathroom? It sometimes takes a little while right? Well the sun functions as a natural alarm clock to let our body know it’s time to get up and go! (just Google it)
When fall swoops in and winter slowly begins to show it’s face, many people — especially those who are elderly or live alone — may find themselves more subject to depression or the strong need for companionship. I know this because this was literally my entire last two years of high school. My mood would change for no good reason and I was sad seemingly ALL OF THE TIME. I could be the bubbliest person at school and church, but deep inside my hormones and emotions were off kilter. At first I thought this bundle of confusion came with “that time of the month” (because let’s face it, that’s part of being a growing woman) but I felt down and alone literally from September to March like clockwork. That’s when I knew it was more than just a visit from Aunt Flo. After some research I realized that my rollercoastering emotions were due to the lack of sun and abundance of cold in my environment. During the summer I was happy and ready to take on the world…but once that fall wind hit, I just wanted to be snuggled up in the house with my own personal stash of sun rays to help me BE HAPPY.
Does any of this sound familiar? Some people refer to this as “cuffing season” where your need and cravings to not feel alone cause you to enter into RELATIONS with people you really have no interest in, in an effort to escape feeling alone.
Now that I’m coming onto the third decade of my life, I’m aware and know how to spiritually and physically combat the frigid cold; I want to share with you some of the ways that have helped me along the years:
#1 – Eat healthy.
I don’t always get it right, but I make sure I eat at the proper times, and eat healthy during the winter. Whether it’s homemade chili or soup, or whatever — I make sure I comfort myself with good food rather than a “good time”. I’m not sure why, but it seems in season fruits, vegetables, and proteins tend to help you stay focused on church, work, and daily activities.
#2 – Exercise.
If you know me, you know I’m not America’s next gladiator, but I do make an effort to at least fit in a little running when it’s cold outside. No matter how much it may exhaust me, staying active helps release endorphins to keep me peppy. I always feel accomplished and better about myself when I’m done. When I’m not active and fall into the couch after work, it’s easier for my mind to start wandering and pondering on things I have no business pondering. Stay active and keep your mind focused. A 2005 study from Harvard University suggests walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
#3 – Hang Out.
Again, when it’s cold outside (ESPECIALLY if you’re single like I am) you really want to just stay inside and watch movies while taking the occasional nap. I’ve learned the hard way that this does nothing but isolate me from the outside world and make it harder for my soul to be revitalized and energized by fellowship. Sure I may not be able to go have a picnic in the park, but I try to make an effort to see my friends or talk to my family at least once a week. Regardless of how exhausted I may feel from every day responsibilities. After every conversation and every visit I always feel better and don’t feel as alone as I could’ve felt if I would have allowed the cold to block me off from civilization! Netflicks is nice, but it doesn’t replace human contact. If you MUST stay inside, put on some happy music and have a virtual party. Google Chat is becoming more popular so it’s easy to connect with others to have a good time. If everyone is busy, reorganize your house while jamming your tail off!
#4 Read and Research.
This may seem a bit on the boring side but hear (I mean read) me out! When it’s frigid outside and I feel a little “ho hum” , I start brainstorming about my future. I don’t just whip out a notebook of random scribbles; but I actually take some time to focus on figuring out what it is I’m good at and how I can do more of it. Try it! Start sketching out a business plan or researching degrees if you’re thinking about going back to school. Shoot, write about how you feel day to day …. look at Tina Campbell, she got a book AND an album out of her journals. I use this “cuffing season time” to grow in God and grow my dreams.
All of these tips have been great in helping me stay focused and happy, hopefully it’ll do the same for you! Now don’t miss me when I say NOTHING replaces the joy of knowing and having a relationship with God Almighty Jesus Christ, but these are some practical, physically tangible things you can do to ward off the “downies”. I want to add one last thing, if you know anyone who is elderly or lives alone, take some time to call them or send them a card. I’m telling you it will mean the most! If you want to do more, volunteer at the soup kitchen or Good Will, helping others will not only allow you to connect with people who need it, but also feel good about YOUR OWN life and help you stay grateful for the life you have.
Do you have any suggestions of your own?! Leave them in the comments section. I’d LOVE to read them!