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Thriving Through The Dark

Each fall around this time, I feel compelled to encourage those who struggle with the changing of the seasons and consequent shortening of our daylight hours. Whether this takes the form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), feeling the disappointment that comes with a cessation of your warm-weather hobbies, or a shade of blue somewhere in-between, it can be challenging to bring to mind those small, intentional decisions that boost your serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphin levels. I call them “happy-mones” - the natural chemicals that help to regulate your mood and general well-being.

One of those decisions might be to create some new autumn and winter rituals. Teaching yourself to associate predictable, good things with the seasonal change can help to balance out any dread that might be associated with this time of year. What if you chose to keep a gratitude journal for the months of October and November? Or eat dinner by cheerful candlelight as often as you can? Maybe this year you start working on your Christmas cards now…a few every evening…and spend time reminiscing about memories that include each recipient as you add a personal greeting?

I often look to the five senses for inspiration. I'll do things like:

  • Smell | Wear a certain perfume/cologne only during the cooler months.

  • Hearing | Create or find seasonal music playlists that signal the start of autumn and the holidays.

  • Touch | Place my warm throws out on couches, chairs, and beds to invite me to take time to cozy up.

  • Taste | Find recipes or full weekly meal plans that we put into rotation beginning on September 1st.

  • Sight | Get outside for recurring Sunday hikes or Saturday scenic drives.

Scheduling these rituals out on the calendar gives me something to continually look forward to and makes sure they actually happen!

Don't forget to keep yourself connected with your social circle. Even though many people get extra busy during the holiday season, it's still usually feasible to fit in coffee or lunch dates here and there. A friend of mine likes to meet up to go grocery shopping together. Isn't that a great example of mixing business with pleasure?

Self-care should always be on our agenda, but it can be difficult to think of what really fills up your soul when you're not quite feeling yourself. I'd suggest slowly compiling a “Self-Care Menu”. Add things that predictably lift your spirits whenever they happen to come to mind, and you'll soon have a wonderful list to help jog your memory whenever you need a boost. Even better if they're things that don't depend on money or other people to make them possible. Low hanging fruit always feels most manageable during challenging times.

I hope this collection of thoughts encourages you to face the seasonal blues armed with a bit more intention and hope this year, friends.


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