I’m a little late on the New Years wishing, but nonetheless, I wish you all a wonderful 2017.
2016 was truly a year of remembering who I am, on my own and amid a crowd, and withdrawing into myself so I can reset, renew, re-engage with my creative world.
As I sit here writing this, looking out on the frigid January morning, I find myself trying to remember all the good advice I’ve given out on how to deal with the winter blues. It seems I need to take my own advice, ’tis the season for the blues and I’m suddenly in deep.
Everything is pretty great in my life, it is just the normal struggle of life as an artist, life as a business woman (in the arts), life as a mother, and how to balance those well. Plus, this time of year is mixed with the remembrance of my father, and no matter how much I’ve come to terms with his departure, the sadness sneaks up on me. So today I am reminding myself – and you – of how to beat the winter sadness, or at least how to accept the hard days and be kind to ourselves.
Step 1. Vitamin D3. and B-complex, please. Especially vitamin D.
Somewhere around 20% of us suffer from seasonal depression, and luckily it’s pretty easy to conquer. Take your vitamins and get in the sun. I know it’s cold, I tell myself, but you’re going to feel so much better if you just get out there… Vitamin D and your health.
Which brings me to:
Step 2. Get outside. Go for a walk. You’re going to get a bit of sun, to help you with your vitamin D problem, plus 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. Check it out.
Step 3. Take a break, but not too long.
The basic strategy of my whole plan is to be kind to myself, but not to coddle. Sometimes you just need to slow down a bit, put off that email until tomorrow or do the dishes later. But sometimes, me postponing things turns into a full-on week where I can’t get out of bed. Moderation is key. Finding balance is the ongoing challenge, all year round.
Step 4. Drink some tea, nurture yourself, find the things that feel deliciously good for you, that don’t actually make things worse. Ie: tea instead of beer, 1 glass of wine instead of a bottle, dark chocolate instead of candy. Turns out, chocolate is a mood enhancer. The gods are smiling down upon us!
Step 5. Meditate. Contemplate. Practice Mindfulness.
It’s not news to most of us, but meditation is well known for helping us deal with depression. As little as 5 minutes a day can help, but only if you practice regularly. I’ve joined a group doing a 365 day challenge. I’m on day 16 and rocking it. There’s a long way to go but I can feel the difference in my mind when I am and when I am not meditating daily. It’s a choice for me between sanity and insanity.
I wish I was better at the exercise thing, meanwhile, I’ll sit still and breathe.
Step 6. Go to bed. This is my favourite one. Have I told you how much I love bed?? It’s my favourite place in the world. But apparently it’s a good place to be, for your mood. That is, going to bed (preferably before midnight) and waking up at a regular time everyday helps your circadian rhythms which helps “to improve your concentration, memory, mood and energy levels, as well as helping with weight control, immunity and even increasing your life span.” Not too bad, eh?
Well, those are the basics.
I’ll add one more for good measure:
Step 7. Talk to a friend. Talk to lots of friends. On the phone, in a cafe with a bit of chocolate and tea, in a restaurant with a glass of wine, in the warmth of your own home – sit and chat with a friend.
I’m lucky to have a few great ones in my life that are forever on my side, and put up with my moods and help me chart a course for spring.
I wish you all a posse of true friends, a cupboard full of tea and chocolate and the will to be good to yourself.
P.S. See my upcoming tour dates here.
P.P.S. I might also add step 8: listening to music. It can be a triple or quadruple bonus – go see a show with a friend where you can drink wine or tea and you will likely need to get outside and walk a little bit.