The results are in: 2016 is a dumpster fire. Personally and professionally my year has been fine but everytime I check in on current events it seems like the world is going to hell in a child made designer knock-off handbasket. To top it off, here in Vancouver, we’ve just endured nearly two months of rain. Despite living on the wet coast for most of my adult life I can’t deny that I’m a prairie girl at heart; I need that sweet sunshine!
So to fight the downward spiral of Seasonal Affective Disorder that I sometimes experience I’ve dedicated myself to some new routines/ habits/ tactics to pack S.A.D. and everything it owns in a box to the left. Here are five things that I’ve been doing to keep my frown upside down.
One: Log Off
After obsessively clicking on article after article trying to make sense with the world post November 8, aka the day many white people got woke to racism in America, I decided to take a break from The Social Network because it was dragging me down.
I have only enjoyed the world without status updates for a little over a week, but it’s going pretty well. I’m going to check in once a week for the next little while but I’m already convinced it’s improving my mental health.
Since logging off of Facebook I am no longer seeing fake news in my life. I’m going straight to respected news outlets. I am no longer seeing terrible articles by actors I met 8 years ago whom I kept on my friends list in the hopes that one day they’d attend one of my shows. Bonus: I’m also missing out on said actors status updates about the work they’ve booked or how #grateful they are to follow their dreams. Newsflash: I should de-friend some people.
Two: Move it, Move it
You know what’s better than sitting on your couch watching Netflix? Getting off of it. I have gone for a walk whenever there is sunshine or break in the downpour. I’ve also made exercise an important part of my daily routine. I go to a horrible chain gym but I love the people watching and I’m trying to get out and dance whenever I can. I have never left the gym or dance floor feeling worse. My spirits are always lifted.
I highly recommend Dance Dance Party Party (Tuesday night @ Mt Pleasant Community Centre 8:15 PM), it’s only $7 to drop in.
Three: Get Cultured
Last week I managed to get to see a play, a sketch show, attend a literary event, and I went to a square dance. AND I pulled this off without Facebook! Do you know how hard it is to find people to hang out with you last minute without that site? I pretty much forgot who I knew in the city. I persevered and scrolled through my phone’s contact list and connected with friends and with culture. My heart was touched and my perspective was lifted above the clouds. Art is going to be what pulls us through these dark days and I’m not just talking about winter.
Four: Chocolate! Coffee!
Get some caffeine in your body! It’s working for me. I usually have coffee between 11:30 AM and 2 PM and chocolate between 5 PM – 8 PM. My body is quite sensitive to stimulants so a little bit at the right time really does the trick. Is there any science behind this? Maybe. I’m sure I could find an article online to support it, but it might be false or heavily biased. All I can say is that it’s working for me.
Of course, if you don’t like coffee or chocolate you don’t have to consume it, but if you do let me be your enabler … in moderation.
I’ve kept up a daily meditation practice for the last two years. I’m currently on a 170+ day streak. (Pats self on back). Taking just 10-20 minutes a day to focus on my breath and thoughts is like hitting a reset button in my mind. On days when my monkey mind is too chatty I switch to a guided meditation to hold my hand through the experience.
Other things that are working for me: dreaming about swimming in sunny weather and then playing with kittens, hanging out with friends, making sure I get my veggies, journaling, reading books, and trying to not be so hard on myself.
Some other self care I’m planning on doing soon include: a visit to Golden Feet, getting a massage, pretending that I’m in a tropical paradise at Shameful Tiki Room, and dancing at Calabash’s Class of 94 night.
Of course, if you are experiencing prolonged depression and other S.A.D. symptoms, you should go to your doctor. There’s no harm in it.
What do you do? How are you going to get through the gloomy winter this year?