When Winter Blues Need Not Be SAD

Winter is the perfect time for me to relax into depression and appreciate how Mother Nature beautifies an often misrepresented state of being. Admittedly, I keep my Winter Blues under my skivvy because I’m trying to keep up with society. But in this blog I want to pay homage to the gravity that envelops me during this time of year and how, even in the depths of Winter, we can find some misty-eyed cheer. The merits of the season like death, letting go, hibernation and fallow graveyards aren’t dangerous but divine, necessary and sublime. We cannot separate our mood from environmental triggers and temperaments – we’re not supposed to! We are visitors on this planet.

I’m not going to sync-in with the popular term  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to explain my luxurious, 12 hour sleepathons. I’m not a psychiatrist so I don’t view my behaviour through disorders. I’ll be frank instead and state how unmotivated I feel about life in general during Winter, as the sun surfs cloud-lines for shorter stints than his Summer days. He’s diminishing his output – so I’m allowed to defer my own light. My energy is low. My thinking is slow and I’ve an appetite for upsized helpings, comfort-style. I’ll even sneak in a cheeky ‘sickie’ and cut myself some slack from the deluge of work. The solstice rites must be honoured if we are to keep human civilisation alive.

So even though the shortest day has passed and we are gearing up for Spring’s onward-upward, I’ve never been one to match speeds in the fast lane. I’m taking my time conserving and gathering energy, inspiration and ninja-focus. I’m grumpy and I may even wear it on my skivvy sleeves.

I don’t believe it’s abnormal to meditate on life’s ‘nothingness’ in the company of deciduous trees. Just as the fog insists on hovering til mid-morning, I’m just as insistant that I’ll take my time to rise and shine. Winter can fee like trudging through mud when our environment is sleepy and dormant. Hibernation naturally equates with anti-social. This mirroring of human behaviour with changes of the season is a quirky kind of concept that I’m keen to live out. Check-in with yourself, is this a flavour of ‘mental illness’ or resistance to the groove of seasonal tides?

Sure, Winter has the potential to trigger the depressive in all of us, yet she does so in true Mother Nature style, burning firewood for wisdom that will see us through to Spring, and a well-earnt rebirth if we care to hear her calling.

Photographer: Lee Norris

Here’s a list of correlations between Winter and mental health, and how this precious season can support us to live in harmony:

1/ Endings

Some trees drop their leaves – other plants wither and die. Endings. Ideas dissolve. Relationships cave-inwards. Projects fizzle-out. Contracts find completion. Use-by-dates have their rightful place. The cycle of life has a phase of death. It’s reflected in the image of a gnarly tree standing lonely on a vacant prairie. The more we resist letting go of what has left our lives, the deeper our depressions can spiral downwards.

2/ Lone Wolf

I find it hard to keep up with social engagements during Winter,  just as I find it hard  to catch my cat inch away from the heater. He doesn’t. He’s there to stay and he’s telling me hibernation is AOK. Rest at its most snug is living Winter in the comfort of hugs and shrugs, and sometimes disconnecting from friends can bring an air of loneliness. But the call for quietude, reflection, solace and the Leave Me Alones, can be a calling loud and clear for some nourishing me-time.

3/ Energy

With less flowers budding I too am groping for the spark of life because at the core of my chi-station is a reserve due for replenishing. I gave last Summer my everything and now it’s time to contract and rest with gentle yoga and short meanders around the block. Keeping energy drink-fuelled gyms at arms length and working calendars to a minimum are wise moves for anyone with a propensity to feel depressed. There’s no need to push oneself and stretch our days when our days are shorter and darker, nor be heavy-handed on ourselves when we can’t keep up. Winter is nature’s way of seeing, ‘Chillax’.

4/ Downtime Not Showtime

The seasons can a be a fantastic guide for creative projects and how we go about launching them to the world. I like to ride the organic groundswell of Spring to set innovation in motion. Trying to get something off the ground in Winter can feel like swimming against the tide. Perculate, ponder, pre-plan and prepare for the amazing treats you dream to share with your community, when the birds are flirting with bees and the crowds are easier to please because everyone is feeling bedazzled by the sunshine.

5/ Escape

I’m not trivialising how challenging it can be to get through Winter with a smile, so consider chasing a warmer climate to offset the blues. Travelling carves space away from our daily ‘normality’ and rewards us with new perspectives inspired from territory we’re yet to charter. Unwind and chase the sun if the season bares heavily on your psyche to remind yourself that the weather, like our moods, always change.

6/ Ancient Wisdom

Capitalise on teachings that are season savvy. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a stellar example of a Healing Art that abides by nature’s laws, encouraging eating seasonal produce and warming the body with stews, soups and ginger, lots of ginger. Turning to the ancients who truly knew how to live through a harrowing winter sans ducted heating, is a great way to sharpen your seasonal knowledge of how to live resourcefully and harmoniously with Mother Nature.

7/ Slack ‘n Easy

Gift yourself with some wiggle-room to be a tad behind the eight-ball. We’re all enveloped by Winter’s frosty limitations so lets claim our collective laziness with confidence. Don’t give yourself a hard time for procrastinating when you’ve found your happy place in a sleep-in. It’s Winter! It’s the hault of the year! It’s that time for bluesy cheer!

Photography: Martin Reddy

Wise words that a dear friend sent to me, remind me that with all the above mentioned in mind, triumphing through wintery blues is always possible:

‘In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.’ – Albert Camus

Dig deep with gentleness. Meet the dark with love.

Love always, Charlotte Claire, The Babyfacedassassin

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