The days are short, the skies are dark… and it can be incredibly hard to keep your spirits up. But, says W+G Council member and Mama Glow founder Latham Thomas, the way to successfully cope is to embrace your feelings and nurture yourself. Tomorrow in Brooklyn, she will be be part of In My Feelings, a mental health and self-care circle featuring Claire Fountain and sponsored by Saje Wellness.
Autumn is a magical time of year, but the chilly weather and lack of sun can take their toll. As the season changes and the days get shorter, it’s easy to feel lonely, down, and low-energy. Whether you call it seasonal affective disorder or just the seasonal blues, these feelings can be a lot to handle. But guess what: They’re not weird at all, and nothing is wrong with you. These are normal aspects of a person’s life as we move through seasons.
This is why it’s so important to have hands-on tools that you can use to remind yourself to engage in a self-care practice. Here, I’m not talking about just yourself—I’m talking about the community around you. Whether it’s a sister, a friend, or someone you’ve just met, this is an opportunity to engage your community with intention. Look out for each other.
Here are some ways to help yourself feel better when SAD is nipping at your heels.
Listen to your body and mind
I’m someone who’s always cold, so when it’s dark at 4:00pm, I want nothing to do with whatever event I’ve committed to for the evening ahead. (Or as I like to say, “Just know that I’m not coming outside until May.”) I say that to people as a joke, but really, you do need to take a moment for self-care. Your body may be asking you to be still, for instance. Maybe you’ve had to trek through snow, and your adrenals feel taxed, and your muscles feel tired. Perhaps you’re on your period; that’s a time for rest. Other times, your mind may need a break. Maybe your body isn’t under stress, but you haven’t seen the sun in two weeks. In this case, you don’t have the emotional, spiritual, or mental fitness to go all-out. That’s also a time when it’s okay to stay in and take care of yourself. Listen to what your body and spirit need, and be kind to yourself.
Act like an introvert
Introverts don’t thrive at noisy, bustling parties. They’re much more comfortable in their element: one-on-one hangouts and small groups. So if big commitments feel overwhelming, think, “What would an introvert do?” and commit to cozy, low-key social plans. For instance, you can organize a Netflix and chill with your friends at your house or someplace nearby. Or ask some friends to bring specific ingredients, then cook something together and enjoy a meal that everybody’s hands went into preparing. These are great ways to socialize without necessarily having to leave your house or be surrounded by a sea of people.
Use the buddy system
I think the buddy system is amazing because we often find ourselves recoiling from one of the commitments we might have made. Maybe it’s due to lousy weather or because we don’t feel up to it—or it’s the social landscape and political landscape. Whatever the reason, you can start to feel down and unmotivated. Sometimes you need a friend to lovingly drag you to hot yoga or meditation. Other times, you need to be that friend and provide the encouragement and support.
I love aromatherapy because different scents can affect my mood. In terms of relaxation, lavender is popular. Resins like frankincense are grounding. But when you have the seasonal blahs, go for rejuvenating or invigorating scents like citrus: mandarin, grapefruit, lemon, orange. Those are like hitting Control-Alt-Delete and rebooting yourself to a better mood. I like to use warm cloths like they do when you go to the nail salon. Warm a damp cloth, add some essential oil drops, and hold it over your face. Gently pat your face and neck down, then experience your mood improve.
Ask for support
We all get into ruts from time to time. Spending a Saturday in bed with a great book is one thing; not being able to get out of bed all weekend is another. If you find yourself to the point where you can’t get out of the seasonal doldrums, that’s when it’s really important also to engage a qualified practitioner. That could involve talking with a licensed therapist, trying an app like Talk Space, connecting with a spiritual guide, or asking a friend to simply listen.
Again, going back to the buddy system: It’s important to have a person you trust and care for. Being able to check each other’s mental health temperatures and see how you’re doing is important. I think of mental hygiene as a practice, just like how we brush our teeth and how we take care of our bodies with exercise. So get into the practice of looking at how you and your community are adjusting to these seasonal changes; then do what you can to help everyone feel a bit sunnier, even on the cloudiest, darkest days.
Latham Thomas is a master manifestor and the founder of Mama Glow, a healthy gal’s guide to actualization in the modern world. Her second book, Own Your Glow, was recently published by Hay House Inc.
What should Latham write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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