This is work

“Winter is hard for me”

“Winter is hard for me”

I’ve been saying this to myself since about 2004 and out loud to others for the past 3 or 4 years. Losing mum in November 2009 didn’t help me get better at handling the winter nights but it certainly wasn’t the beginning.

Throughout the year I’m an early riser, getting shit done before 7am and feeling great even if I use my early starts just to read a book. It still makes me feel like I’m being worthwhile just by being awake. Winter isn’t like that. I really struggle in winter. Even if I can wake early, I feel lethargic and wasteful which keeps a feeling of anxiety in the pit of my stomach.

The weird thing about this for me is that I love dark nights, cold weather and a bit of rain. My birthday is in December and I’ve always been a family person so Christmas is totally magical. That’s the thing, I can know all these things logically and still resent winter and how it makes me feel. I find myself trying to focus on the new year from the beginning of November – think of, and plan for, spring.

This year someone I trust said to me “why don’t you try to find a new story for you and winter?”. She explained it like this: I have a story for how I am in the lighter days when I get up early and feel productive. I have created another (negative) story for my natural behaviour in the winter months. How could I change that? Maybe I’m not going to be getting up early in winter, maybe I’m going to feel differently and have different energy levels. That’s ok – what’s the positive story of that?

I think this is a really interesting way of looking at things. I don’t think I’ve managed to create a positive story around my lying in bed yet but I’m trying not to judge myself.

Something else that has helped me is using my cycle tracking app “clue”. It helps to remind myself that sometimes how I feel is nothing to do with winter or my depression but could just be simple hormones. I find this really reassuring. It might not change how I feel but it changes how I feel about that feeling.

I’m beginning to realise that I don’t necessarily need to change my feelings (especially the negative ones). I can just feel them. As long as I pair that with an understanding of where they come from and that they will pass. 

Maybe my winter story is more about self awareness than change. Maybe.

The Book Bit:

This blog is getting a bit of a reputation for book recommendations so I also wanted to share a really great read that I’ve been enjoying from Brene Brown The Gifts of Imperfection (thanks Jan for the heads up on this one). I’ve enjoyed listening to Brene’s talks online for the past few years and this is a really helpful, more in depth, look at her research, findings and how to action them.

9 thoughts on ““Winter is hard for me”

  1. I totally have the same story for winter. Despite my birthday being in January and loving Christmas and being with family I now dread Winter. I kinda took the drastic approach but as soon as November hit I was the same. I knew what was coming and legged it. Probably not the most sensible thing to do but I like the idea of writing a new story.

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    1. Ha! I think you did exactly the right thing 🙂

      It’s whatever works for you, that’s the important thing. Last year Simon and I went away for 3 weeks and that really helped. Absolutely the right thing to do.

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  2. I used to have issues stemming from a paper round that had me up and about outside at 6 am in the snow in winter. A trauma my parents deemed as character building! A few years ago I decided to cycle to work. This was amazing in the summer. Not so much in Winter though. The alarm, the cold and the bike really brought it all back. However, I slowly ended up changing my point of view from hating it and started looking at it as a measure of how awesome I was in being able to beat winter.

    Cycle to work in the dark – no probs
    Cycle to work in the snow – no probs
    Cycle to work in the dark and snow in shorts – C’MON THEN!
    Take that Winter – I win!

    I’d walk around all day, smug with myself in the way only the self-righteous can be and I loved it.

    (Then i moved to Houston and I was wearing shorts yesterday)

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  3. In winter, most people stop making vitamin D. It’s the lack of daylight and staying indoors. It’s easy to take and makes a huge, huge difference in how you feel. Give yourself a month of taking it daily and record how you feel at the end. It can’t change circumstances, but can change your feel good factor.

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  4. I’m in the same camp when it comes to motivation during the winter months, and it’s been a noticeable shift since moving to the UK from Canada. Lack of vitamin D, the long nights and limited opportunities for keeping my body moving outdoors through cycling create a deficit during winter. One that is hard to reconcile because I love snow, and crisp, cold days with lots of sun. I just wanted to say that reading Brené’s book opened up a new perspective for me too, I’m practicing the art of shaming less nowadays and better understanding my cycles from extrovert to introvert (as I float between the two) with help from Susan Cain’s book, Quiet. Another recommendation if you need it!

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