I hope you’ve been having a fantastic summer and enjoying the warmth and bright light? How have you been and what have you been up to?
I have been absolutely loving the warmer sunshine-y weather! Work has kept me exceptionally busy this year with a major website development project that required a fair bit of overtime. So you can bet your bottom dollar I did my best to make up for the Saturdays and late evenings I’d worked - sitting in the park, at pavement cafés or on my balcony!
So while I’m enjoying this weather and thinking ‘yay, it’s still summer’, the tail end of Hurricane Bertha this last few days has been a bit of a rude awakening – I actually felt cold this week! Did you get a shock too? It’s not the first change I’ve noted, that made me think ‘hmm, it feels autumnal – time to think about my SAD strategies for the coming months…?’ I have a stubborn view that summer should equal light. But it’s not always that way, is it? Thunderstorms and the gradual shortening of the days now that we’ve passed the summer solstice can throw you. I’ve found myself wanting to curl up under my blanket with a hot chocolate only a couple of weeks after being sat out on my balcony sunbathing and reading with a diet coke!
So without wanting to spoil anybody’s late summer, I’m going to resist my desire to stick my head in the sand and ignore the signs that the season is turning, and invite you to join me…
Can you spare ten minutes? Not for me; for yourself! Recently I was thinking: if you took ten minutes for yourself each day, what could you do with that time? I started to implement this idea and came up with a few suggestions; you will no doubt have your own, which I’d love to hear…
Have you seen the #100happydays exercise? I haven’t done this personally, but a few friends and colleagues did and enjoyed it. Could this be something to help you get through the winter months? Or if you don’t fancy taking photos, how about writing a note in a diary or think through three things you’re grateful for in your day before you close your eyes to sleep? I do this and find there’s usually plenty to remember; even at the end of a tough day I can always find something to be grateful for, and those are the days I find it especially helpful to do this.
Many people swear by yoga to help them relax and incorporating it into your day might give you some lovely me-time! If I get fed up of my daily physio, I re-label it to Pilates and let myself feel virtuous! It involves some stretching and though I don’t always feel like doing it when I get up, it does usually help to wake me up – along with a big glass of water. Some stretches before bed might also help you get ready for sleep? See what works for you…
How many times do you catch yourself during a frantic day thinking ‘gosh if only I had a minute to breathe!’? Could you give yourself ten minutes in the morning or at the end of the day before you go to sleep? Some people find it helpful to have a guided meditation; you might just want to sit and listen to some soothing music for ten minutes and focus on your breathing. I’ve started to do this recently, tacked on to the end of my physio session. I do a short session from a CD I have – just paying attention to the different parts of my body and breathing, letting tension go. I recommend it!
Are you struggling with the idea of a block of ten minutes? How about Just A Minute, a few times a day? Let me know if you try this one – I might swap my morning ten minutes!
Winter skin wonder
How long do you spend on your face on a morning or night? It is, after all, the most exposed part of our bodies and a little TLC for your face might be good to help you relax too! Maybe take a few more minutes to massage moisturiser in to your skin or use a scrub or face mask to be a little more indulgent? You could try to slow down and really pay attention to what you’re doing. Have you tried this technique? What do you think of it? I gave this a go last night and was amazed by how busy my brain is – making random observations, remembering things I must do, wondering how someone’s doing… argh! Whilst I’ve heard this isn’t an easy thing to master, there are many who believe that mindfulness is very beneficial – I found this Guardian article a well-balanced overview of its use.
Hot chocolate and a mag
As it says on the tin! Preferably while wrapped up in a snuggly blanket, or sitting out in the sunshine in warmer weather.
Take your pick – something you enjoy that absorbs you. Treat yourself to ten minutes towards a creative project like knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, card-making… ideally something you can pick up and put down without needing to do a lot of space preparation.
You could even combine these ‘me minutes’ if you fancy a longer indulgence one day, or do different ones on different days?
There isn’t a ‘cure’ for SAD; we know this. While I’ll always advocate trying light therapy as a first line management strategy (after diagnosis from a doctor), I think a little TLC for yourself also goes a long way. Many SAD and winter blues sufferers can feel like they are ‘on edge’ – liable to snap or have a tearful episode with little provocation and I believe it’s because we’re often asking too much of ourselves. We expect to keep giving out all year round – our hard work, love, kindness – and often give ourselves no time to replenish ourselves.
So, can you take ten minutes each day to yourself? If you’re saying no, can you gently ask yourself why not? Would you give ten minutes to a friend? If your boss asked you to stay behind ten minutes, would you say no? I understand that when life feels frantic with work, family, study, running the house and caring for others, it can feel like taking some time for yourself is that last thing on the ‘to do’ list – you know, that task that you never quite get round to? But it can end up making you feel resentful which is never pleasant for you, because then you often wind up feeling guilty for feeling that way. If you can’t do every day how about every other day?
If you’re thinking that you can spend ten minutes on yourself, then now’s a great time to start that new habit; a new management strategy for helping you through Winter Blues or SAD symptoms.
If you’re reading this with a partner or family member in mind, I’m sure they’ll be very grateful if you could offer to help them carve ten minutes out of their day for them – maybe by offering to do the washing up, read the kids a story, do the food shopping…
Can you recommend any other activities we could fill our ten ‘me minutes’ with? Let me know if you decide to do any of these things and how you get on?
- Neens -
Image credit: Yoga - http://www.freeimages.com/photo/580928