Many of us are dealing with the triple whammy of mood changes with decreased sunlight, stress about the upcoming holidays, and still navigating the pandemic and all that goes along with it. If daylight saving time is affecting your mood in your part of the U.S., you’re not alone. Starting and ending your day in darkness can be challenging and increase feelings of lethargy, sadness, and depression which may turn into Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Here are a few tips to get through the dark months:
- Natural light is a mood booster for many people. Go outside and get as much sunlight as possible. Even when it’s cloudy, the UV rays still give our bodies the boost we need.
- Invest in a sun lamp to mimic natural light. Use it when you first wake up or throughout the day.
- Move your body often. Whether it’s exercising, walking, or dancing, moving your body elevates your mood.
- Lean into the darkness and allow yourself to rest more, cuddle up with a warm drink and a good movie or book.
We are also entering a season full of religious, cultural, and national holidays that come with a range of acknowledged and unacknowledged expectations. “I have to go because I go every year.” “Will it hurt my relationship (e.g. family, partner, colleague, boss) if I don’t go?” “How long do I have to stay?” are questions that many of us are considering.
Last year, most holiday celebrations looked a lot different because of the pandemic, which continues to be true in many parts of the world. For some, we now have the option to consider what a joyful holiday celebration looks like rather than automatically do what has always been done over the years.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this holiday important to me? If so, why?
- What is my ideal way to celebrate the holiday?
- Who would enjoy celebrating with me in this way?
- Who would not find joy in celebrating the way I desire?
Answering those questions for yourself is the first step in creating celebrations that you enjoy. Once you have a sense of what brings you joy, you can then initiate conversations with your loved ones to share your desires and also hear theirs.
There are many reasons why you may choose not to have this conversation now. Honor that for yourself. If you plan to attend a celebration that may be different than what brings you joy, consider the following to make the experience better for you:
- Intentionally pay attention to moments that bring a smile to your face. These may be small details such as someone helping you with your coat. Notice and appreciate the moment.
- Stay as long as you can be kind. If you start struggling to be kind it’s time to take a break or even leave.
- Take breaks as needed. Offer to go to the store for any last-minute needs or simply walk around the block to take a few breaths.
- Allow yourself permission to have complex feelings. You can feel grateful and joyful and also frustrated and annoyed. It’s often not either/or but both/and.
Whether you are preparing for an upcoming holiday like Thanksgiving in the U.S. or simply easing into the end of the year, be gentle, kind, and compassionate with yourself and others.