I’ll be honest, I’m struggling at the moment. Struggling to find motivation for anything at all. This time of the year always hits me hard. The change in weather and the darker nights affect me so badly. They always have but every year I start off determined to get through without the struggle, and then every year it totally consumes me.
When I say it consumes me, it honestly feels like every fibre of my body is fatigued and achey. Every thought and action takes more energy than I can muster up. I feel inefficient. And for someone who is usually active, motivated and upbeat, it really is a total change to my whole being.
Although I’m not doing the greatest job of dealing with things, I do employ some coping strategies which basically still mean I, at least, get out of bed and go to work every day.
Lumie Bodyclock Lamp
Because I struggle so much and my family members know this, last year my Grammie gave me a Lumie bodyclock lamp that she had been bought but wasn’t using. The one I have retails at £120 (Elite 300 model) but I definitely think it’s worth that. I’m not a morning person at the best of times but during the autumn and winter, I genuinely can’t convince myself to get out of bed to face a cold, dark day. I can lie in bed for hours with my head willing my body to move but my body refusing to cooperate – I don’t mean lying in bed, relaxed and cosy; I mean lying there screaming internally at myself over and over to get up but not being able to get that connection to my limbs so that they get me out of the bed.
The lamp has been life-changing for me. It provides a 30 minute ‘sun rise’ which reaches it brightest at the time I set it for (so the time I need to get up). The gradual light allows me to wake up in a more natural and calming rhythm than being woken by an abrupt alarm, and to have a fully lit bedroom whilst I get up and ready means I can avoid the darkness outside and my body feels convinced that it’s ok to be awake.
The one thing I truly love about autumn is the absolute beauty found in nature. The rich, warm colours of the leaves on the trees are sometimes the only thing to raise a smile on my face throughout a whole day. I drive from the centre of Birmingham out into the countryside for work and I’ve found a real calm when the skies are blue, the sun is shining, the trees are golden and the frost glistens on the fields. When I’m struggling to find calm in a day, I try to visualise that same scene. Almost as if it had been painted. The colours are so clear that I get the same feeling as when I’m looking at a beautiful piece of art in a gallery. So whether it’s nature or something else for you, find at least one thing which brings you calm and use that to help anchor you and give you positivity.
I love lists. I have always found a place of order and calm in list-making. When I’m struggling at this time of year and just can’t find my usual motivation, lists are invaluable for me. Sometimes my list will simply say ‘brush your hair’ but if I can do that one thing and cross it off then that feels like a huge achievement. I also appreciate a prioritised list because there are days when I want to convince myself that I can take on the world as usual but I also know that I probably won’t manage. So maybe it’ll have 5 things on but across different levels of priority and if I don’t manage the ones lower down then I won’t chastise myself, I’ll just focus on what I did manage to get done and be content with that. It’s ok if you’re not at the top of your game every day, but writing down tasks makes them more tangible, gives you specific and clear motivations and stops you shoving things to the back of your thoughts where you could continue to wallow in your struggle.
Don’t buy snacks
I find that when I’m battling through the autumn and winter, I have the most intense and unwavering craving for junk food. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy crisps, sweets and chocolate as much as the next person but I’m usually pretty restrained with how they fit into my otherwise healthy, balanced diet. The craving is at an insatiable high during these months though and I will easily come home and raid the fridge, freezer and cupboards for anything packed full of carbs (and I’m talking refined, processed ones) and sugar.
So, the only way to prevent this is by simply not having those types of foods in the flat at all! Stock up on hearty, healthy foods (again, I definitely have to make a list for this otherwise I walk away from the supermarket with a trolley full of crisps, pretzels and frozen hash browns – LOVE these) and find easy to make recipes and meal options so even when your motivation is low, you can pull together a good meal without much thought or energy spared.
I know I’m not alone in suffering from the ‘winter blues’ or SAD, for a more clinical definition, and I think a lot of people struggle to some degree when the seasons change, so I hope my handful of suggestions will help you muddle through and find calm, positivity and strength even when it all seems so tough. If you have specific things you do/use to cope, leave me a comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org