Seasonal mood changes affect people throughout the year. We may wake up on any given day, and feel blue. One form of depression, Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder, (SAD), is a type of depression. However, feeling blue, is how we describe feelings we have when we may not be feeling well or when we are unhappy. When you’re feeling blue, Dr. Seuss advises:
“When you think things are bad
When you feel sour and blue,
When you start to get mad,
You should do what I do.
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
You’re really quite luckt!
Some people are much more…
Oh, ever so much more…
Oh muchly much much more
Unlucky than you.”
This is not to underestimate the seriousness of depression and other mood disorders. Often however, we experience brief and unexpected (out-of-the-blue) changes in our moods, especially when seasons are changing.
We all have times when we are blue. Some of us more than others. It’s rare for me, but today I woke up feeling blue. Blue by itself is a great color—the color of the autumn sky, the color of the sea, or the color of someone’s beautiful laughing eyes. Blue can describe some beautiful soulful music—“Stormy Weather”, “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Rock Me Baby”, and many others. “Chain of Fools” A little of the blues can go a long way though, so when you wake up with the blues and a lot on your plate, how do you cope? What are some of the ways we can lift our spirits and get motivated to do something besides sit around all day or waste time wondering what’s wrong.
Make a List. Write down on your list, 3-4 things you feel you need to take care of today. Then make another list of 3-4 things you think would make you feel better. Writing thoughts down helps to get us out of the trap of running things through our minds, over and over.
Write down the Blues. Make a short list of whatever you think is making you feel down. This helps to not only get the ideas out of your head but also helps put things in perspective. When we are a little bit clearer about what’s bothering us, we can deal with life more easily. Do something symbolic with your moods. One good friend moved to the coast from the Southwest. The first couple of winters were really rough on her. This year, when the first rains came, she set up her easel and began painting the Sun. What a healthy way to cope with the blues.
Turn Problems Over. Sometimes feelings are not easily pinpointed; we simply wake up in a bad mood or wake up feeling sad. Whatever the emotions are that are driving the blues for you, think of one or two ways you might counter the feelings. We need to release the hold negative emotions may have on us. Find ways to release, let go, or surrender your negative emotions. Music is one way that helps. Dance a bad mood away. Prayer is another way to deal with problems we have no control over. Turn it over to your Higher Power or ask God/the Divine to give you insight, relief, or whatever you need. Have a God Jar, and write the problem/issue/bad feeling out, and put it in the jar. These are ways to symbolically deal with challenges we find overwhelming. When we dwell on negative issues, we feed the energy. We need to break the energy up, and release it. We need to invite in positive chi/energy, to fill up the places where negative/bad chi is stuck.
Get up and go. Move beyond the place where you feel trapped. Get out of bed, or off the couch. Strip the bed as you get up, pick up whatever books, papers, or dishes are in front of you on the couch or at your desk. Move energy by beginning the process of clearing up what has accumulated around you. When we work with external energy, we help to break up the places within us where we are stuck. Expend some energy taking care of business. Fix yourself breakfast, and clean up the kitchen sink. Put in a load of laundry, or put clean clothes away. Take a shower and then get dressed. Clean up as you go through your morning ritual, and begin taking care of some of the small tasks that are easily managed. Every time we do something positive, it counters negative energy. This morning, I stripped my bed, got out clean sheets and warmer blankets and am preparing my bedroom for the onset of Autumn and Winter. Once you have taken care of business, move to the next step.
Next it’s time to go. I am taking a walk. Today it’s been raining all day, and living where I do, that is no reason to stay indoors. I’ll put on my rain jacket, and head out for a walk along the river and a visit to a local cafe. Maybe your walk is around the block or maybe it’s farther. The point is, move. Our body, mind, emotions, and spirit respond to movement, fresh air, and getting out and about. Being around other people helps, though you need not get social. Go somewhere where you can sit and relax and change the atmosphere and energy you are feeling.
Give yourself permission to take care of yourself. We often feel down and blue when we have not had enough rest or have not eaten properly. One thing I do on blue days is prepare some nutritious food for meals. Today I am making a Greek Salad, Split Pea Soup, and homemade applesauce. I’ll make large amounts so these dishes can be eaten for the next few days. When my refrigerator is clean and stocked with healthy choices, I feel better. Make an appointment for a massage, a hair appointment, or a visit to your accountant. Do something that will allow you to get help with areas of your life you need support.
Rest more. Another thing you can do is take naps or allow yourself to rest for a while. We push ourselves too much, and taking care of our sleep needs and need for breaks and rest is essential for our health. Honor what your body is telling you about what you need. When the seasons change, our whole being has to adapt to the change. We need to be more careful with how we exercise, eat, rest, and hydrate ourselves. When it gets cooler, and when we have less light, we need to adapt to the changes. Alter the way you get exercise. Maybe start going to the indoor pool more often, or taking a morning yoga or tai chi class.
Take some down time. Often negative energy happens when we are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Give yourself some time to take it easy. Get some books and magazines, and allow yourself time to read. Get out your paints and a fresh canvas, and paint. Make something—fresh bread, soup, or a big pitcher of iced tea. No matter how large or small the task is, each step in a constructive direction helps break up the negativity.
Ask yourself what you are avoiding: Next, some of us let things pile up. Once you are feeling better, make a short list of some things that need to be taken care of. Maybe you have to pay a bill, or return a phone call you have been dreading. Once you identify the things you have been avoiding, set a schedule for when you are going to do it. If possible, do it now. If not, put it on the calendar and allot a particular time to taking care of it. In fact, making a project calendar when you are really busy, is a great idea. It takes an idea (that you might fret or worry about) out of your head and gives it a time and place to be dealt with. Short-term and long-term calendars are helpful for organizing your ideas. They can change, and usually do, but the idea of setting out tasks on a calendar or list helps relieve our minds.
Be grateful. Make a list of 100 things you are grateful for. Once we start looking at our lives, we find so many blessings, even in the darkest times. Focus on those blessings, and be grateful. Hopefully, you will find your sense of humor on that list, and use it to find something light and humorous to lift you up. “If you’re feeling blue, try painting yourself a different color.”
If you have a day when you wake up with the blues, put on some good music, fix yourself a cup of hot tea or coffee, and set about dealing with the blues. Change the energy, and lift your spirits, and be grateful for the life you have