Personally, I have been sick and tired of listening to everyone complain about being 'sick and tired' during the changing of the seasons this year. Socially something that has peaked my awareness at this time, is the way in which everyone in the NorthEast somehow bonds over the experience of 'seasonal depression.' So I decided I wanted to write this article, in order to give you a shift in perspective on what seasonal depression is, and included are 5 steps to help you lessen your experience of such.
Funny enough I just found an article written by The Scientific American called Seasonal Affective Disorder Doesn't Exist. In this article, they dive deeply into a study previously performed by the CDC about 'seasonal depression'. I was always told that the cause of seasonal depression mainly came from the lack of sunlight we experience. In this article, they give a great example of Norway, which has some of the shortest winter days in the world. Within their research they found that; when functioning with lesser sunlight- there are no major issues psychologically leading to higher depression rates for the people of this country, during the changing of the seasons. This ultimately made me question everything I have ever believed was true about 'seasonal depression,' and how our society views the experience of such. If our intake of sunlight really doesn't make much of a difference. How can we reframe the ways in which we live our lives through the winter months, in order to eliminate these feelings of 'depression'?
After some research, I began thinking to myself about one of my favorite Lao Tzu quotes where he says;
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
Are we really depressed because the seasons are changing, or are we just not living in our present moment experience? How can we learn to love our lives just as much in the winter months as we do in the summer months? 'Seasonal depression' might not actually be anything more than, your inability to accept your current life situation. "Seasonal depression' might be your inability to step into the next season of your own life. 'Seasonal depression' might just be an excuse that you make for yourself to keep from changing, evolving, and growing into the highest expression of YOU, available at this present moment.
I mean let's be honest, during the summer we get to; lay in bikinis by the beach, drink some cold beers on our back porch, enjoy eternal sunshine, and do whatever outdoor activities that float our boat (like shaking your ass on a boat). The sun is out longer, and we tend to feel less stressed because the days feel so long. Of course, the changing of the seasons might initially leave us feeling frustrated because now we have; to shovel snow off our sidewalks, leave the house in our pajamas to turn our cars on, and have limited access to nature, ext. Even though this time of year can seemingly be filled with a lot of 'downsides' in comparison to the summer. I challenge you to remember that there is always a greater reason for every one of the seasons of our lives.
The difference between hot and cold is understood through polarization. To be polarized is to be completely contrasted. Within the duality of our lives is where we can uncover true balance. While you might think that your winter months should be spent on an island in Fiji, not everybody gets the chance to enjoy that luxury. On the other hand, what we do have the opportunity to enjoy whether it's 10 degrees or 100 degrees, is perspective. A change in the way we view the experience of our lives might be all that you need in order to enjoy the colder weather. How can we learn to dance with the polarity embedded within the changing of the seasons? How can we embrace the change in our lives rather than resisting it?
I am going to be listing 5 different ideas for how you can learn to welcome in this new season of your experience, and love your life even when it is cold outside.
1. STOP DIAGNOSING YOURSELF
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” - Les Brown
First things first, STOP DIAGNOSING YOURSELF WITH SEASONAL DEPRESSION. If you have heard it once, you have heard it a million times, your thoughts create your reality. So I challenge you to stop thinking that something is wrong with you just because there has been a shift in your outside experience. The truth is that there is nothing/nobody else externally, that should ever have the opportunity to affect you negatively. You are gifted the opportunity in every single moment of every single day, to live YOUR life. There is never any valid reason why you can't still enjoy every breath you take, every hug you receive, and every smile you share just because the weather is colder. Furthermore, colder weather is not an excuse for you to wallow in self-pity. All I'm saying is that this life is precious and we are slowly dying every day. There is no time to waste here on this planet. Nature does not care about your feelings, and nature always gives you what you need not what you want.
Refrain from convincing yourself and others that there is something wrong with you, just because the weather is changing. If you make this improvement for yourself, you should also give the people in your life this fresh perspective as well. We are not meant to stay the same forever. Start allowing yourself to become inspired by the changing of the seasons, rather than becoming defeated by them. Start asking yourself how you can embrace personal change with the inspiration that nature has given you within your evolving outside world.
2. STOP BEING COMFORTABLE
“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” - Shonda Rhimes
This life is not intended to be that of comfort. It is intended to be one of learning, unlearning, and evolution. None of those things happen within the confines of your comfort zones. Release the idea that just because the weather is changing that your life has to take some sort of a 'pause'. There are no pauses in nature, and before you know it, these days of darkness will eventually lead us into the spring once more. So instead of falling into a depressive loop and letting your mind run wild with the thoughts of your past experiences. Why don't you come back into the present moment and learn to find the magic embedded within your current situation?
Since most of us spend a predominant amount of time in our homes during the winter months. Why don't you get out and go somewhere you normally wouldn't? Take a new yoga class. Join a book club. Do your work at the library, or a coffee shop. Check out a local art museum, or go somewhere new for dinner. If you initially feel uncomfortable doing these things, GOOD. That is even more reason you need to do them. Step outside of your comfort zones, because your life has not ended just because the weather has gotten colder.
3. FOCUS ON PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” - Bernice Johnson Reagon
When was the last time that you had a moment to start a new book, workout plan, or meditation practice? Utilize the time you have in your home during the winter, for some personal development. Choose to find something new you want to work on, practice, or improve. Turn off your television for a while, and stop binging those Netflix shows. Rather than passing the time you're being gifted during this season of life, utilize it to become a more optimal version of yourself.
I love to use the winter to build the foundation of a solid life routine. I recommend doing one thing a day that will push your physical body to get stronger such as; working out, running on the treadmill, doing yoga, or doing kettlebell practice. Then, do something else with your day that will give you a clearer mind such as; reading, writing, or researching new topics. Lastly, I encourage you to build a spiritual practice such as; meditation, manifestation, goal setting, or breath work.
4. CONNECT WITH THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE
“When we feel lonely, we are not lacking in love. We are disconnected from love.”Yong Kang Chan
While the summer months might be spent focusing on living YOUR BEST LIFE. Maybe you could utilize the cozy time you've been given in the winter months to impact the lives of those closest to you. Obviously, the holiday season is gifted to us during this time of the year. What if we actually took this time to become more consistently present during our relationships, not only on Christmas day but every day? I'm not just talking about romantic relationships either. I also mean building on the relationships you have with people that you might not see as often. Maybe give someone a call on the phone and let them know that you're thinking about them. Maybe send a good friend of yours a message, and meet up with them for some coffee. You can even use this time to start paying more attention to how you can show up more consistently, and be impactful for the people in your life.
Take this time to slow down, and recognize the role you play in your relationships. How can you bring out the best in those around you? What can you do to embrace the energy of love you share with the people in your life? How can you become more vulnerable with yourself, and with others to deepen the connection you share with them? Get cozy by the fire, cook up some hot cocoa and dive deep into human connection. This will not only bring more connection to love into your life, but it also brings the people you care about into a state of love as well. Do not disconnect at this time, choose to reconnect.
5. CONNECT TO YOURSELF
"I’ve finally stopped running away from myself. Who else is there better to be?" —Goldie Hawn
What does it truly mean to connect with ourselves? What is the best way that we can do this? Personally, I recognize that it can be extremely overwhelming to connect with ourselves in a society pushing us to be 'somebody' else. We wear titles all day long ranging from; mother, father, CEO, coach, friend, sister, lover, ext. Yet I challenge you to drop those labels and truly ask who YOU are outside of who you think you're supposed to be. The best way to do this is to cultivate a mindfulness practice. Mindfulness snaps you into your present moment experience. Past thinking creates depression, future thinking creates anxiety, and mindfulness brings present-moment awareness. Within your noticing of awareness, you can truly uncover who you are.
One of the easiest ways to become more mindful in your life is to perform any mundane activity of your choice. While doing that activity I want you to pay attention to all 5 of your senses; hearing, smelling, seeing, tasting, and touching. While doing this activity allow yourself to become fully engaged in your awareness of all of these sensory experiences. That awareness is your true self. That awareness is your soul shining through the chaos of your mind or the pain of your feelings. Within that awareness, a connection to your truest version of yourself is uncovered. This is your soul, and at this soul level, you are a being that only knows love and light.
Overall, I wanted to write this article to bring a shift into the way you choose to welcome in the winter season. I challenge you to ask more of yourself this year and to mirror that energy back to the people you care about most. Our lives are so fucking precious, and I urge you to remember that we do not have time to waste here on this Earth. Stop waiting for the perfect circumstances to show up, in order for you to start showing up. Choose to WAKE UP and live every single fucking day like it could be your last. Learn something new, become someone better, connect with people you love, and love yourself. This life is a gift and every season we encounter has a blessing embedded within the change, it is just your responsibility to uncover it and cultivate it.
Owner of NAMAI