How To Keep The Internal Sun Shining When The Clouds Have Arrived – How to Alleviate Struggling With Seasonal Affective Disorder & The Blues

Are you one of the many people that feel a big internal shift when the clouds roll in?  Here in Portland in the fall, many people find their moods shift dramatically at the first sign of rain.  Many people also experience physical changes in the body’s response to the weather.  You may be one of these people.  You may have noticed that when your body feels out of whack, your moods do too.  Or, vice versa.

People have mentioned experiencing some or all of these physical and emotional symptoms: heaviness, lethargy, feeling unmotivated, experiencing a blanket of sadness, joint aches, body pains, digestive discomfort.  An image that goes with those feelings might be walking against the wind on a rainy day in the sand at the beach.

If you are experiencing some or several of these symptoms, you can get curious and explore your own internal weather system to discover if any of your physical symptoms feel like they might be connected to the emotional symptoms.  Feeling into the aches and pains of the body may lead you right to noticing a contraction of the heart or tension in the mind.  The awareness of your body-mind connection can immediately bring some ease into the experience.

Here are some things you may consider that can additionally contribute to uplifting your spirits:

MOVE  your body every day.

If you have a lot of pain, do more gentle movements like walking or Qi Gong or Restorative Yoga.  If your body feels stronger, try more vigorous exercise.  Feel into what is best for your body.  The key to movement is to be consistent.  See if you can do at least 15 minutes every day.

BREATHE.

I think a lot about the word “inspiration”.  When the clouds roll in, it can be very difficult to feel inspired.  When you think about what inspiring really is, it means “to breathe in”.  When your lungs are not expanding and contracting, your heart isn’t getting a good massage.  It can be difficult to stay in the touch when it’s just sitting there like that!  Becoming mindful of breathing and doing things that help to breathe better can automatically uplift your mood.  Movement does this.  Singing does this.  There are many ways to get more full breaths.  You might intentionally take 3 full breaths as often as you can. 

CREATE.

Find a creative activity that you like to do or have been wanting to do.  Write, play a musical instrument, play, draw, collage, make nature sculptures, sing, dance.  When you can, take some time to tap into your childlike qualities and let them inspire you.  The key is to choose something and do it with as little judgment and critiquing as possible.  Get out of your own way and create as if you were 3 or 4 years old.  Do it just for the fun of it.

CONNECT.

You don’t have to do this alone.  The blues can be exhausting and difficult.  You are not alone.  Reach out to a friend – tell them what’s going on.  See if they can go for a walk with you or take you out dancing or sit next to you at a coffee shop while you do art and create something side-by-side.  Find a therapist who can help support you.  Volunteer somewhere where you can be around people.

NOURISH.

Eat well.  Let go of the sugars and caffeine and alcohol as much as you can.  Feed your body what it truly wants (it’s probably not a donut when you really check-in).  Get a massage.  Take a bath.  See a healthcare practitioner – you may find that someone like a Chinese Medicine Practitioner (Acupuncturist & Herbalist) or Integrative Medical Doctor can help you find some balance with your symptoms.

LIGHT.

Full spectrum lights work incredibly well for a lot of people.  I used to think what could a little lightbulb really do for all this blah?  Then when I tried them, I was shocked at the difference.  They run from $10 to hundreds.  I highly suggest taking to the incredibly informative woman over at Sunlan Lighting on Mississippi Ave.  I have replaced most of the lightbulbs in my home and office and find a dramatic difference for less than $60.

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Some final thoughts are to stay engaged in life.  There is a balance between being too busy and completely dropping off the earth into depression.  It can be enticing to give into the super low energy and dive into bed or stay on the couch but if you can stay gently active and connected to the events of life, it can prevent you from falling into the depressive black hole and also experiencing even more body pain.  Stagnation can contribute to all sorts of vicious cycles.  Use these recommendations as a structure to keep yourself riding on top of the waves instead of underneath.  And… most of all Remember… This is Impermanent.  It is simply an experience moving through you.  It is not who you are.  The more you can treat it with kindness, the easier it will move through.  The more you resist it, the longer it will stay.