So, Summer’s officially coming to a close, Autumn has arrived with a bang, Winter isn’t far behind and Christmas is just round the corner. To top the lot, the clocks go back on Sunday night and it’s downhill all the way till we reach Spring again. All we can look forward to is baggy jumpers, short grey days, extortionate heating bills, stodgy food that will make us put on weight, kids under our feet playing indoors all the time, possibly catching ‘flu and obnoxious relatives descending on Christmas day, right? No, actually – wrong.
Many of us get the ‘winter blues’ at this time of year – but if the symptoms are severe it may be that you’re suffering from SAD – or Seasonal Affective Disorder. The symptoms associated with SAD include feeling down and guilty; tearful and despairing, hopelessness, apathy etc. The ability to deal with everyday tasks is diminished and it can affect your entire life – as well as give you disturbed sleep.
With the reduced light we produce more Melatonin which makes us feel sleepy and lethargic. Reduced light also slows our production of Seratonin (the feel good hormone) and so we feel generally less happy, and voila! A downward spiral ensues. Or does it? Is it inevitable that we’re going to feel down for the next few months? Is there anything you can do to avoid all this miserable stuff?
In NLP, there is an assumption that basically says that if we expect something to happen, it probably will. If you’re constantly looking for negative things to happen around you, you’ll become more aware of them if/when they do. And you can then feel justified in telling yourself – ‘See, I knew that was going to go wrong…’ But, equally, if you start changing your thought process to being more upbeat and start looking for nice things to happen to you, the opposite is true, and you will be more aware of the good things that are going on in your life. Simplistic? Maybe. But just because you found yourself suffering last year, don’t just assume it will be the same again this year. The winter blues are not inevitable, and there are things you do to help yourself avoid them.
- Start to replace those negative thoughts that might be creeping in with thoughts about the nice things that happen during the winter months. Beautiful scenery when the leaves change colour; snowball fights with the kids; snuggling up on the sofa in front of a fire (if you’re lucky enough to have one); catching up with that book you started a few months ago but never finished. Maybe you could collect pine-cones and get crafty; plan your next holiday; visit Christmas markets and join in with the Carol singers; catch up on that TV box set that’s been gathering dust since last year; join a new club or take up a new hobby – whatever floats your boat, have a go – what have you got to lose?
- Avoid disturbing your body clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. (see my article on sleep http://www.lifecoach-directory.org.uk/lifecoach-articles/trouble-sleeping-me-too)
- Head to the kitchen and try cooking some comfort food as a treat. How about trying that soup recipe you cut out last year, with some home-made bread? Or bung something in the slow cooker, go out for a walk, and come back to the wonderful aroma of a stew, or casserole – with dumplings in my case – I love them! Maybe bake some biscuits with the children, and have fun icing and decorating them.
- Try to moderate your ‘stodge’ intake (see 3 above!). Save the comfort food for a well earned treat, but mostly try to eat healthily. Eating fresh fruit and veg every day will help boost your immune system so you can avoid the colds that plague us all (I had a touch of Man Flu last year – makes mental note – try to eat more healthily this year…).
- Go out during the day! Go for a walk – you could always borrow Harry (my dog). You’ll burn off calories, have some fun, and get some light that will help with your Serotonin levels. Kick some leaves, make a snowman. And if you time it right, you can peep into some of the neighbours’ windows just before they close their curtains, and pat yourself on your back for having nicer Christmas decorations than they’ve got!
- Try to reduce your stress. Leave the job application or moving house till next year. Go easy on yourself. Meditation and Mindfulness are great for that, and so is hypnotherapy. If you’re struggling with issues that you can’t shift, perhaps a session with a therapist might help?
- Pamper yourself. Make an appointment for the Spa that you’ve been promising yourself for several months. Or just have a long soak in the bath with some candles, a glass of vino and a good book. Make some time for yourself every day and have little pockets of time that are just for you. No matter how busy you are, everybody can take 5 here and there.
- And finally, make time for friends. Give them a ring, and go and see them. You never know, they might have some lovely new red wellies they want to show off, and you could share that walk together.
Please accept this blog in the spirit in which it is offered. I am intending only to give you some light hearted food for thought here – not reams of indigestible facts that you can find elsewhere all over the internet. If any of the suggestions ring a bell for you – great. This is a simplified version to give you a taster, so if your problem is more serious, and you feel you need more in-depth professional help, please contact a coach who can help you identify any underlying issues that may be holding you back, and allow you to kick-start the process of moving you forward again. And of course, if you feel the need to visit your GP please go straight away. NLP, hypnotherapy and counselling are not a substitute for professional medical advice, but a complementary therapy. Thank you for reading this.
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