Winterblues make me SAD
Stress and anxiety are not conducive to creativity and I am sorry for neglecting this space for so long. I have decided I either have to start posting here again or take the link off my instagram page so here goes.
There is no doubt about it in my mind: winter makes people sad. I was a winter baby and I like to say I never felt cold in winter til my mid twenties. I wore my running shoes, no long underwear and a leather jacket through the coldest months because I was too cool to feel the cold. I was one of those that said: I might not like it but it isn't a big deal. As I moved through my twenties towards my thirties; I was willing to admit that winter was hard but if you had the right kit you could throw yourself outdoors and get through it comfortably enough. Then I got to skip about 15 winters by moving to the tropics and I can't say I missed it although I tried to avoid ever complaining about the heat where we were.
Now I'm the crazy lady in a coat I could use as a sleeping bag, a silly but warm purple toque and muffled up to my sunglasses in a scarf at the bus stop saying: "at least it is sunny" when it is -20. I remember December-February to be a season of solidly sub zero temperatures in Ottawa. Now we have weeks rain and slushy mess while the temperature yo-yos from single digits above zero down to the deep cold of -20 and -30 Celsius.
This is my third winter back in Ottawa. The first one hit me like a truck. The cold and dark were stressful and exhausting but there was stuff to do and we got through it. I started working at my current job at the start of our second winter. They say change is as good as a holiday so it wasn't as hard a winter for me because I was busy fitting in and I made a habit from the beginning to walk one or two legs of the public transit commute to my desk and home.
This winter has continued with the new normal with freakish yo-yo-ing of temperatures. The 50yr old Winterlude festival will have to take place more off than on the Rideau Canal Skateway because it becomes too messy and may even have to close if we have a week of plus zero temperatures just before or during the festivities.
I am immensely grateful to live in a country that embraces and celebrates winter and that I have the resources and kit to keep myself and my family warm and busy through the darkest months. Throwing myself out of the house, volunteering for community and school events and enjoying the outdoors with my boys have rekindled an appreciation for our northern hemisphere seasons and kept the winter-blues at bay.
This winter, the obvious evidence of global warming affecting winter in Ottawa is exacerbating my winter blahs. So I'm finding relief in admitting to myself and others that my mental health struggles get worse at this time of year and I'm taking my self care up a notch by deliberately cultivating some good/better habits. This blog post is an effort at being more outgoingly creative.
I've been keeping a habit tracker since March 2019 where I track both good and bad habits. Thanks to a daily habit of stopping and drawing little lines on a page in a journal, I'm consistently eating more servings of fresh fruit and veg and taking a vitamin D supplement and glucosamine for my ageing joints. I was tracking my steps on both my phone and my hand drawn tracker but I've given up on the former because I like the pretty patterns I draw for myself better than the electronic "badges" the tracker was awarding me. Keeping track of my alcohol consumption has helped reign in on that and on other habits that can become destructively compulsive like too much screen time.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a medicalized label for what i believe is a spectrum of emotions and physical effects we all suffer to some degree or another diagnosed or admitted or not. I started habit tracking to address GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). Learning and practicing coping and resilience strategies sometimes feels silly or even meaningless but making colourful lines on my habit tracker brings a little light into the dark days of winter and helped me focus through the mad days of summer. I'm going to keep it up for now.
Wishing all comfort and peace wherever you are. TTFN