Surviving Winter

“November came roaring in with gusty winds and more wet weather. Mandy’s depression would not go away. Her garden seemed sad, too. It was virtually empty now, and the few brave flowers that remained there were flattened by rain, their yellows stalks sprawling in all directions. Most of the trees were bare, and the woods had a wet carpet of leaves.” – Julie Andrews, Mandy

“November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
– Emily Dickinson

It’s one of those oppressive, dreary November days in Vancouver when the rain is never-ending, and living in a basement suite means leaving the indoor lights on all day long. The cats are restless and cranky. And I’m trying to get up enough energy to put on some coffee.

The first few weeks of November that usher in that change from the blue skies and bracing air of October are always the hardest for me. I hate the heaviness, the grayness, and the sudden darkness at 5 pm that epitomize the phrase “night fall”. It sure does. With a thud.

I know I’m not alone, that the loss of sunlight and long dark nights is hard on many people. In fact, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) affects as many as 35% of Canadians in varying degrees, from the winter blues to crippling depression. I was surprised to discover that as many as 80% of those people who experience SAD are women.

Here’s an informative clip fron the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) regarding SAD.

So, I need to work on how not to let November and the long winter to come get me down.

  • I need to keep busy. Luckily, this #NaBloPoMo exercise of a blog post a day for this month is already built in, and it is challenging me in a very positive way. And I also have many activities related to my advocacy work in the disabled community already scheduled for this month. It’s a good beginning.
  • I need to set a schedule. The last several months have been pretty unstructured, and while it did help me tremendously, I need to get more disciplined again. That means earlier to bed, and getting up at dawn, for a start.
  • I need to resurrect my job search. It’s no secret that I need paid work, badly. My months away have eaten into a concerted search, so I need to devote at least a few hours a day to that task.
  • I need to get out of the house every day, no matter how bad the weather is. My tendancy to hunker down in the winter months isn’t beneficial. I actually feel better being out in bad weather, rather than looking at it from the inside. So, it’s more walking for me.
  • I need to see more people. I’ve been spending too much time alone. I always blossom in the company of friends. I need to be more proactive and make plans with people I care about.
  • I need to pursue my interests more actively. I have tons of things I love to do. I need to hear more music, see more art, explore more of my city.
  • I need to take care of myself a bit more. A little self-care wouldn’t hurt, now would it? More bubble baths, and the odd bag of caramel popcorn!

So, that’s my short list. It’ll take some doing, and I won’t be perfect, but it’s a goal to aspire to.

What will you do to get through the winter? I’d love to hear from you!