Once October comes around, my mood seems to disappear together with the sunlight. This happens every year, and I’m very much aware of the fact that I’m so easily affected by the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder. However, being aware of this yearly occurrence doesn’t really keep it from happening. ‘What does?’ I asked myself.
I’ve come to accept that I’m susceptible for the winter blues, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. To (somewhat) try and battle it, I’ve created a little list of things that can help me through it as best as can be. Below you’ll find the contents of my winter-is-approaching emergency kit, together with the tips some of you have shared on Instagram when I asked you for advice on how to get through this winter:
Before, I always had these reusable gel-packs which are activated upon “clicking” the metal bit within the gel. They’re great, but only good for a single use. To reactivate them you have to boil the packs and let them cool off again – something you can’t just do anywhere at any time.
This electric alternative is much easier to use, and lasts way longer. I can use it on my way to work, on my way back home, and for whatever other activities or trips I have planned that day. Just turn it on and off at will and… it functions as a powerbank as well! This is probably the best purchase I’ve made in quite a while. At times I have to even let go for a second because it becomes a little too warm and cozy. I could technically also turn the heat down from the maximum setting but hey, who’s got time for that?
Now I’m only left with one useless, cold and painful hand – the one I’m driving my power chair with. The other hand remains warm and even able to do things! Like, get out my keys! Or phone! Or just to wiggle my fingers! Woah!
Someone mentioned taking extra Vitamin D and I immediately went “duhh!”
I’ve once had my blood tested on vitamin and mineral levels, and when I did they found quite a few deficiencies which I then got to easily resolve with taking the right kind of supplements. Lately though I haven’t really paid attention to this. About 90% of our essential vitamin D comes from exposure to the sun, and during autumn and winter the sun’s ultraviolet rays aren’t strong enough for the body to synthesise into vitamin D. I’ve immediately dug around the kitchen to find my old multivitamins and Vitamin D supplements, and vowed to myself that I’d start regularly taking them again.
Vitamin D can play an important role in regulating mood and warding off mild forms of depression and anxiety. Easy peasy, and so simple and obvious that I completely forgot about it until someone pointed this out.
I’ve tried several of the soothing sounds and melodies that this pretty thing holds, but it doesn’t thoroughly wake me up to be honest.
The increasing light intensity is however really soothing and pretty. It will slowly but steadily get lighter and lighter, up until your set alarm time. A couple of times I will kind of drift out of my sleep, and in a half-conscious state open my eyes for a second before lightly snoozing off again, during that “sunrise”. Then when the music starts playing meaning I have to get up, I’m already somewhat awake and don’t feel like it brutally ripped me out of a deep sleep cycle.
Opening my eyes after them slowly getting used to light is so much easier and less of a torture. I feel more alert and awake, instead of feeling like a grumpy vampire who can’t stand light or sound and would do anything to just sleep for another 15 minutes.
After doing some digging on the internet I’ve found a lot of stories from people talking very positively about light therapy, and even remember this coming up in a conversation with a friend a while ago. Exposure to the right kind of light may go a long way toward reducing seasonal affective disorder symptoms, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Adding more regular lamps to the home or workplace, sitting near windows, or spending more time outdoors may also help and I’ll definitely give that a try. Besides, I’ll most certainly mention and discuss light therapy when seeing my doctor next week.
The wake-up light and light therapy both seem like very logical benefits to me, especially since I feel my mood is largely affected by the darker days and just the overall lack of sun and warmth.
Someone else on Instagram suggested sunbathing to combat the winter blues.
Tanning or sunbathing increases your body’s production of vitamin D3, which is important to balance out your mood. Secondly your body produces more endorphins when exposed to sunlight or tanning.
I’ve never been tanning and after thinking about it, this is probably because I’m not looking forward to the logistics of the adventure. But I’d see myself trying to find a caregiver or friend who can help me out and give it a go, because this sounds as a potential heavenly treat. And even though tanning doesn’t directly cure the winter blues, it has been proven that the UV rays provide vitamin D which I wouldn’t really mind.
The bottom line is and remains: I find myself constantly fantasising about sunny weather, sipping cocktails somewhere on a beach, not wearing 4 layers + a heavy winter coat, and having the sun shine on my face. And I refuse to trust people whos reaction to the fact that we’re already living in November is “I’m so happy it’s finally getting colder! I can’t wait for winter!”
The one and only good thing about the upcoming calendar month is the fact that Christmas is inching closer. That’s my humble but very resolute opinion. What’s yours? You most certainly won’t change my mind but I am quite curious how you feel about the upcoming cold months, and would love to hear any additions to this emergency kit!