When I’m going through my yearly winter low, I know that it’s extremely important that I make sure to take good care of myself. Good self-care is essential; otherwise I’m just making a bad situation worse. Of course, the cruel irony is that when you’re depressed, you really don’t feel like engaging in good self-care habits, now do you?
For me, good self-care, first and foremost, is all about getting enough sleep. I need more in the winter, plain and simple, despite the fact that I’m actually putting out less physical energy than in the summer. Those darker days means that my body really just goes into hibernation mode. One of the big mistakes I made earlier this month when CBG and I were on vacation was that I failed to get enough rest. We had all kinds of plans for stuff we were going to do around our house, and basically we went flat-out for an entire week, trying to “do it all.” Well, we didn’t manage to do it all, but what it meant that come the start of the work-week (i.e. last week) , I was exhausted.
Since then I’ve been making a greater effort to just simply go to bed earlier. So far, it’s been helping. I’m still tired when it’s time to get up in the morning, but I’m significantly less cranky about it. At this point, I’ll take it.
Another important thing for me is to remember to take my vitamins. I have a few supplements that I take daily, and I find that if I let this slide for too long, I just feel rotten. Particularly in the winter when I’m getting less fruits and veggies than I do in the summer and fall.
Eating well is also an important thing for me when I’m feeling low. The temptation is to fill myself up with comforting junk food, and while that seems to help in the moment (I mean, it’s called comfort food for a reason, right?), in the long term it just leaves me feeling bloated and lethargic. Not to mention the inevitable weight gain this leads to, and this only certainly adds to feelings of negativity about oneself.
The biggest component for me in this whole self-care business, is exercise. I always knew that exercise was important for me, but I honestly never really realized it until last winter. I started using a SAD lamp in the mornings, which seemed to really help with my mood and energy levels, to the point where I had the energy and motivation to go out regularly to go for morning runs. This helped a great deal with my mood and energy levels. It seems almost counter-intuitive though, doesn’t it? Breaking a sweat and exercise to give you more energy? Sounds crazy at first, but it’s absolutely true.
I’ve been consistently running every day for months now, so I’ve got that part down pat. The only problem is that for the last few weeks I’ve basically been half-assing it, meaning that yes, I’ve been out there running in the mornings, but I haven’t been challenging myself in any way. A lot of days I just get out there and do a few kilometres just to say that I’d done something. This week I’ve been making a point at pushing myself (gently, of course) and the result has been that I’ve been feeling more energized and even a little bit happier. Who knew?
I’d love to hear from others — what’s important to you in terms of self care?