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Monday, January 21, 2013

Mid-Winter Blues ...

The excitement of the holidays are becoming a distant memory and for many people, as we transition  through January,the effects of winter's cold and short on daylight days has been quietly chipping away at them. I have noticed that winter's lack of sunshine, short daylight days and cold temperatures certainly seem to claw away at me too. Often leaving me wishing I could just sleep through winter and wake-up to April. It was not always like this for me. 

Though I admit winter was never my favourite season, I still always managed to discover things to do to make it fun a season . Not a fan of skiing, but winter to me meant joining my friends (whom for most had been skiing since childhood) and after a quick run or two on the bunny hill - so I could say with honesty that I did go down "a" hill - I would find my way to the lodge ... where hot chocolate and a warm fireplace were always found. Skating at Nathan Phillips Square was also a fun outing with friends. There were other things like tobogganing, snowmobiling or taking a quick trip to the Bahamas that made getting through winter a breeze.  

Though the dark hole that was swallowing me up the winter after my accident was attributed to my injuries and being in the hospital. It would become evident the second winter and through subsequent winters (6 in total so far) that something was happening and affecting me as soon as the cold, dark days of winter began to approach. Eventually SAD (seasonal affective disorder) could not be denied was taking hold of me and due to my brain injury and the various fractures I had sustained in the accident SAD would send me deeper into the black hole of winter blues.

Having fought a great fight to live, I am not about to have a few months each year continue to be taken away from me, any more than they already have. I have noticed, as soon as the time changes my downward spiral starts, gaining momentum and reaching a dangerous peak by mid-winter. Some of the signals for me that I'm treading into SAD, have included:
~Withdrawing from being around people. An overwhelming feeling to hibernate
~ My anxiety increases and my thoughts start to have a negative undertone
~ My energy levels deplete with just thinking about doing something
Being uninterested in most activities that were fun and I  enjoyed 
~ Everything starts to bother me 

Some ways I have found to help or at the very least lessen the intensity of SAD, for me are:

~ A spa outing (alone or with friends) - a massage, body treatment can be most beneficial to the body
~ Taking Dolce and Gabbana for morning and mid-day walk
~ When I feel signals popping up, I refrain from a glass of wine with dinner or any alcoholic beverages for that matter
~ Take a technical break - from the internet, blogging or other social media
~ Make plans to meet friend(s) for dinner, a stroll in the city (especially with good temps) face to face interaction with others is priceless medicine
~ Planning an escape to a warm climate location - even if for only a 3/4 day week-end

I'm certain the winter months would have turned me into a hermit, if it were not for the love and support I get from family and friends who keep an extra-eye on me during the winter. If they don't hear from me, or I'm not responding to calls or emails ~ they know I'm in need of a life-saver ... and an unexpected visit from them.
Are you or someone you know affected by 
the Winter-Blues?

What have you found helpful to ease through winter?


  1. Wow, what you're experiencing describes me to a tee! So unlike me, too. I think this is the first winter I've experienced it so acutely. I usually fight a down-and-out feeling with long walks but that's been impossible because of days of rain. I think I will take your advice and schedule a spa treatment!

  2. Great and timely post. Many folks around here have SAD...we are very limited in sunlight in the winter. It does take a decision and conscious effort not to sucumb. Thanks for the great suggestions and reminder.

  3. I know what you speak of, it affects me every winter and mid February seems to be the hardest for me. The only thing that keeps me going is sheer force to get out and keep moving...that and a hefty dose of vitamin D! I feel a definite rush of extra energy when I keep up with my D drops!
    Luckily our winter hasn't been too harsh so far, making it easier to escape the home, even when its the last thing in the world you feel like doing!

  4. Hi Celia!
    Great post! Yes, I have SAD. It's strange, but the first week in January, I have always verbalized "spring is on the way"....I guess it's the mantra I use to get through the dark days, and symbolic of not only the sunshine but the lifting of the heavy weight of winter off of my chest. Exercise is great because it boosts the serotonin in our brains...which is the "feel good" hormone. Sometimes during the winter I give myself permission to just snuggle up and watch old movies. Another thing I do is make sure I have indoor houseplants because they bring life into the house and boost my spirit. I light candles so the house smells glorious...whatever it takes! I pray that you are well, and remember--spring is on the way.
    Much love to you, my dear friend.

  5. I have to admit that it is in the high 80s here and humid and I have all those symptoms:(
    For me it isn't about the sunshine so much, it shines here pretty much every day of the year, but the oppressive heat that keeps me indoors.
    I know I will be better when we move.. even in cold weather, we can get out easier and do things up there ..
    I am sorry you feel SAD some days and I wish you could come down here and visit again, that would warm you, cheer you up. Me too :)

  6. Dearest Celia,
    Oh my, this is a great post of truth.
    We need more dark chocolate... and imaginary sunshine. But at the moment its raining here and not even fit for making photos that look cheerful.
    Hugs to you dear friend and hang in there; help is on the way...

  7. Wonderful post Celia. Funnily enough, after 12 years of living in 46-50ÂșC heat (when I lived in the Med), I now LOVE Winter. I'm loving everything about Winter; snow (which is forecast for this weekend), dark cosy evenings by the fire, comfort food etc etc. I am taking Vitamin D to make up for my lack up sunlight, but I'm loving my first Winter in 12 years. I just see everything through different eyes now I am back.
    I know SAD can be quite debilitating though. Have you though about buying a SAD lamp. I had one in my office when I previously lived in the UK, and it did work. Might be worth looking into C?
    Sending you big hugs xx

  8. I have a friend who has the most horrid case of SAD in winter. She is often inconsolable. It is hard to know what to say to or do for her so I am usually just there while she e-vents.

    I have heard of a machine similar to a tanning booth that emits the rays (?) similar to sunshine that does wonders for those who battle SAD.

    1. Having a kind friend who listens & supports is so helpful! May you be similarly blessed.

      Here is something that helped me: A light box with a full-spectrum bulb used for 20 minutes every am has helped me with my post-stroke SAD. For less than $125, it is a Sunsation by Sunbox.com. It is small, the size of a reading lamp. I use it in the am for 20 minwhile I read (please see my further comment below. I have no affiliation with this company. This lightbox was suggested by my therapist while recovering from a brainstem stroke when winters seemed to increase my depression & I am unable to take antidepressants because of the stroke.)Perhaps this could help your friend, too.

  9. WA state has a huge problem with SAD.. I use a blue light as I read my emails in the morning.

    ALL the items you listed are wonderful ways of lifting the spirits during this time of year. Take comfort in knowing that you aren't alone.

    I make a point of walking my dogs first before my work day begins. It's torturous on certain days but when I return, I'm rejuvenated, energized and ready to start the day. You really have to get up and force yourself to move (or at least I do:) The older I/we get the more tempting the couch is..

    Social media is wonderful isn't it? You always have friends;

  10. Great suggestions everyone. Here is something that helped me: A light box with a full-spectrum bulb used for 20 minutes every am has helped me with my post-stroke SAD. For less than $125, it is a Sunsation by Sunbox.com. From their website: "From desktops lamps to full-spectrum bulbs to lamps for winter depression that can light an entire room, The Sunbox Company can help you feel great all year long. Just a few minutes exposure per day is all it takes to combat the winter blues. Since 1985, The SunBox Company has been dedicated to helping people conquer winter depression. Our award-winning, nationally-recognized natural lighting products make getting over the winter blues easier than you ever imagined." This was suggested by my therapist (who used it herself), Her advice was to start using it every September as days start to shorten. Hope this is helpful to someone.

    Celia I really enjoy your blog because of your honest sharing and your appreciation of beauty & friendship, and the way you keep on keeping on with such grace. Bless you.

  11. Yes! As of late I am. I think it's tougher when you're home...I feel trapped some days. Those are the days I should just pack up and come to you. :ooo
    Kidding aside, I felt like this right after the holidays and then we had the warmer weather and I got over it. Walking with friends has definitely been a help.

  12. Hi Celia, I don't have the winter blues, but I do not really like cold weather. I do think keeping active (walking or going to the gym) and eating well make me feel my best, and worshiping with my friends every Sunday is a very uplifting experience. Another idea: a gratitude journal. I've heard that persons who concentrate on being grateful change their lives for the better. Celia, take care. You are an amazing, talented, beautiful woman whose been through a lot and you carry on and you're not just existing, you're living! What a credit to the strength of your spirit.
    xo Beth

  13. I'm just gritting my teeth and getting through it. I'm so busy I don't have a lot of time to count the hours of daylight but I can tell you....-11 at 6am is no fun!

  14. I'd say come to Vegas and have some fun...but it has been chilly here too! Let's rendezvous in Tahiti! :)
    May you find some smiles this weekend,

  15. Dearest Celia,
    Okay, forget today about the blues but have a HAPPY Birthday together with your loved ones; two- and four-legged.
    BIG hugs to you from both of us. Parcel got sent off on the 18th... Hope it will reach you both soon.

  16. Hey Celia....I'm not a fan of winter either although I do like a good snowball fight with the kids....I just don't like the cold temps. Your post gives great ideas and reading it I thought I don't think you ever finished your story about recovery. Maybe you did but I can't remember. I love that you've turned your accident into something that helps us.....hugs.


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