Sometimes I have to take a step back and observe myself from a distance. I’m naturally introspective, so this isn’t hard to do. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the thankful, heart-bursting-with-love-Tami of November is quite a bit different than the angsty, low-energy Tami of March. A lot of this has to do with our long winters here in Minnesota.
Case in point: Snow in November is fantastic and beautiful. It causes us to snuggle up on the couch with our biggest mug of tea or coffee and nestle into the idea of all things cozy and warm. It has us pulling our Christmas trees out of storage and watching holiday movies in anticipation of Christmas. Kids build snowmen and frolic in the fluffy manna from heaven, letting it melt on their tongues, throwing snowballs and building forts, seemingly unaware of the cold. What a glorious thing snow is!
Snow in March however, is deplorable. By then, we’re sick of the white stuff filling our driveways and walkways. Everything outside that isn’t white is brown and stark. It’s all rather dead-looking and barren, and as a result some of us start to feel rather dead-looking and barren. After all, It’s hard to remain chipper when all signs of life are hibernating. Kids get cabin fever and bicker and fight. It gets even harder to “rejoice with those who rejoice” when friends post beautiful pictures online of their warm climate vacations.
If Christmas were in March, I think all of it would be easier to bear. But instead, Christmas marks the beginning of winter for us. And doesn’t leave a whole lot to look forward to, unless of course Valentines Day or St. Patrick’s Day is really your jam.
I’ve spent many years dreading the coming winter; Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) seems right around the corner and I have felt helpless against it’s onslaught. Interestingly, a newer term has popped up recently, calling this phenomenom Autumn Anxiety. Basically, it’s dread, fear or anxiety about what’s coming seasonally.
I’ve decided to be proactive and try to get ahead of things this year. I asked my friends on social media what they do to prevent the winter doldrums and I received quite a good list of really practical things that might help.
They include the following:
- Regularly visit a tanning bed or saunas (particularly infrared saunas) for short amounts of time.
- Take Vitamin D along with a healthy fat for proper absorption.
- Make sure that nutritional needs are being met. Talk with a practitioner about nutrition response therapy or even a homeopathic provider. What we put into our body influences our hormones and it’s important to stay well nourished!
- Before bed, write down 10 positive things that happened that day.
- Play piano or another instrument. As a piano teacher, I could talk about this for a long time. Seriously, it can stop ruminating thoughts in their tracks and is a great way to deal with stress.
- Process your daily life events with a therapist can drastically reduce symptoms. If you need a reference, ask a trusted friend, or go to this link and scroll all the way down: https://substancechurch.com/pastoral-care/
- Move your body. It doesn’t matter if it’s a workout, a stretch, anything helps. (This was a common theme among my friends.) Outdoor sports like snowshoeing and cross country skiing, hiking in the winter, or group exercise classes can really help.
- Drinking hot beverages (even just hot water) can actually be soothing and stress relieving.
- One friend wrote, “staying social and getting time with my people makes all the difference. Get out of the house even if it’s just a stroll to the grocery store.”
- Another friend has a light therapy box by her bathroom’s big mirror. It gets turned on first thing every morning and stays on until she leaves for work.
- If possible, schedule a vacation somewhere warm during the time you get hit hardest.
- Become intentional about setting up weekly visits with friends.
- Read the Psalms out loud! If you’re struggling, you’ll find a kindred spirit among David who when in the deepest depths of despair “strengthened himself in the Lord” (1 Samuel 30:6). Even if you don’t remember what you just read (we’ve all been there) you have still nourished yourself. The word of God does not return void to those who read it, speak it or listen to it! (Isaiah 55:11).
- Turn on some praise and worship and activate your spirit! Your soul realm (mind, will and emotions) might be struggling, but your spirit connects with God easily. Set a timer for 10 minutes and see if you feel better afterwards.
One friend writes notes to herself to open later. This one really struck me as unique and quite possibly very effective. November Tami knows how March Tami gets, after all. She might have some suggestions for her future self to get out of the winter funk. A good place to start would be that gratitude list that we all make either mentally or verbally around the Thanksgiving table. I’m personally challenging you to write it down this year. Seal it in an envelope and stick it in your sock drawer with “Open in March” written on it. I might print out some pictures of my garden from this summer and stick those in an envelope for future Tami to feast her eyes on. Also, November Tami might have some ideas of fun things to do that March Tami might not think of in her sun-deprived state of mind. For those who want to go deeper, what if you asked the Lord to give you a message for your future self? This doesn’t have to be spooky or weird, it could be a scripture, a theme that he’s been speaking to you lately, or a phrase that he whispers to your heart.
What if we all did this? What if we wrote a couple notes to ourselves to open throughout those last couple of winter months? This is some good self-care ladies, and it won’t take much time. Who’s in?
Take whatever stood out to you from the list above and write it down. Make a plan to implement it. I’ve already started researching tanning beds in my area.
I want to leave you with an encouraging scripture.
Psalm 112:6-8: “For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news; (or perhaps we can add, bad seasons.)
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid.”
Tami Glendenning is a wife to Jonathan and mom to Ian, Max and Ben. She is also a piano teacher, crafter and avid book reader.