“My old friend the Blues” ?

 

By the time you read this the media created event known as “Blue Monday” will have passed. My Ipswich-based eight week mindfulness course will have started one week later (Jan 23 – still places, hurry!); I am hopeful that in most cases anyone on my course who might be vulnerable to the winter blues will discover new ways of handling it this year.

But for any readers out there, (not on my course) who have noticed a seasonal tendency to become low in spirits at this time of year, let me share a few suggestions?

First of all, notice it. NOTICING it, rather than BEING it … Well that’s a different matter. We call that “accessing the observer self” – and there are a number of names we could give to this elusive concept. But it’s less about describing the viewpoint, more about being in it, experiencing is as an object/process in experience rather than being ‘subjected’ to it!

Having noticed it, perhaps the very first action to take could be described as “attitudinal” – for many people who suffer with repeated episodes of depression one of the first “accelerators” of the downward spiral of negative thinking is the thought “what’s wrong with me?” Rather than jumping immediately into an inner attitude of self criticism, can we turn towards ourselves with kindness, and inner friendliness even towards this seasonal phenomenon “my old friend the blues”?

Yes, I know that may seem odd – but just how has self-criticism helped in the past?

With the attitude of self kindness comes the potential for self-care. The recently described “seasonal adjustment disorder, (SAD)“ has helped with this. It seems it’s now recognised that some people are particularly vulnerable to the times of shorter daylight. And the opposite is true – we all know how long, summer sun filled days lift our spirits, particularly whilst on holiday. But how far away that seems in early February! With self kindness, though, we can remember to make self-care a priority.
Just a couple of days back for example – perusing my long list of “oughts, shoulds and have to’s” – I was on the edge of feeling overwhelmed when I noticed the beams of light from the low winter sun in the sky and a promising patch of blue sky between grey clouds. A ten minute sit facing the sun, just soaking it up and doing very little else other than appreciate, and I was ready to re-engage with my list with considerably more confidence.

And there’s solid science behind it; low vitamin D results in a variety of complex effects on the body and mind. Sunshine helps metabolise elements of our food intake to supplement Vit D levels. You might consider checking with your GP about your Vit D levels and take a supplement if that is indicated?

Regarding light levels – the good news of course is that it gets lighter every day now until midsummer. As ever, the experiences of life are always changing. There are other things that an attitude of self-kindness can point us towards. No space here to speak more about them – over to you, notice, and then to do the kind thing for the person who’s being visited by “my old friend the blues”.

Next 8 week mindfulness course in Ipswich will start after Easter. Do give me a ring if you want to talk about this, or any of the other services that I offer.

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