28 Feb The Season of “Bleh”
Winter. Just seeing, saying or hearing that word fills me with dread and makes me shiver. To me, it’s like an onomatopoeia— a word that sounds like what it means. It bears a striking resemblance to a harsh burrrrrr! From my perspective anyway! Some people love winter. I don’t. Mostly because I can struggle with seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to *Mayo Clinic, “[this] is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons— SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. These symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer months.” Yet, knowing these symptoms will most likely not continue once winter ends does not lessen the importance of acknowledging and managing this depression. Even if you are just feeling the “bleh” of the season, this is for you as well!
HOW DO YOU KNOW?
SAD affects over 10 million adults in the US according to *Boston University in 2019, and you’re here maybe wondering if you suffer from it. Are you more tired than usual? Feeling blue? Hopeless? Discouraged? Lost interest in the things you once loved? (If you are unsure if it is seasonal or something more, please consult a psychologist.) Can you relate to any of these symptoms? Yes? Now, what can you do to battle the melancholy that keeps your brain in a fog? (I am not a professional — these are just ways I have found to be helpful and I hope to encourage you with them! For more resources, see the end of the page!)
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
Something I have found helpful is to know my triggers! With the days being oh-so-short and the nights oh-so-long, the lack of sunshine is a huge contributor to SAD for me. I’m that person who turns their face to the sunshine and warmth to soak it all in! The inability (because I hate being out in the cold) to go outside and do all the things I love to do, plays a role in bringing me to a place of “bleh” as well. Dead, brown landscape is not very pleasing to the eye either! However, I have no control over the sunshine or lack-there-of. I cannot stop the bitter wind from blowing. The trees will bud when they are ready and not because of anything I do. So if all this is out of our control, what are some practical things that we can do that is in our control?
LAUNCH A COUNTER ATTACK
Now, you may be asking, “What can I do about it then?” First, I would suggest to you with kindness to seek counsel if your symptoms persist and you have thoughts of self-harm. You are far too valuable to not take that step and seek the help you may need! Second, it is a good idea to see your primary care physician as well to get your overall health checked. You may have a Vitamin D deficiency– I have in the past and believe me it makes a huge difference in energy once your levels get back to normal!
I find being consistent in my slot and spot with reading the Word of God helps keep me well balanced. Scripture like Jeremiah 29:11 that tells me, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” gives me hope that this is just a season and God will see me through it!
VISUALLY CUE YOUR BRAIN
Looking at beautiful pictures and/or videos of bright sunshiny beaches just make me happy! They are like a breath of fresh air. The vibrant blues and greens shift my mind from cold dread to warm hope. What are your favorite images that just lift your spirits when you see them? Get them out and put them somewhere you will see them often!
If you are feeling hopeless, then give yourself something to look forward to! Like planning a spring garden. Just seeing the bright pinks, reds and yellows remind me that spring will come! So take the initiative and begin to plan whatever that “something” is for you.
GET THE BLOOD FLOWING
Working out has so many benefits! One being that it stimulates our endorphins; you know, that chemical that sparks happiness? So no matter how I feel, I stick to my workout regimen because I know it helps. What steps can you take today to get your heart rate up and those endorphins flowing?
Gathering with family, friends and/or your J-Group helps break up the mundane of the long winter, too. Who can you connect with by going to lunch or talking on the phone with that will cheer you up? Or maybe be the one to lift up someone else you know is struggling right now. What a benefit to both of you!
YOUR WELL-BEING IS IMPORTANT
Whatever you’re dealing with at this particular time, know that if it is important to you, it’s important. Your overall well-being starts with recognizing that. Don’t ignore or brush off the symptoms. It’s okay to admit you are having a hard time. It’s okay to talk to someone about this. It’s okay to take the time you need to take care of yourself! Remember that you are worth it! In the midst of the fog, seek those moments to treasure; they help in tremendous ways. Admittedly, it takes a little more effort to manage that right now, but they’re there. Intentionally seek those moments friends, hold them close to your heart, they will help you through your season of “bleh”!
Devotional Area Coordinator
Teresa Barton is a wife, mother and a new grandmother! She loves her family and friends and strives to seek moments to treasure with them each day in some small way! Teresa serves on the Communications team and enjoys connecting with her J-Group. Inspiring and encouraging others with the written word is Teresa’s passion.
TO SEEK HELP
Please seek immediate help if you are having thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide by dialing 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
Mental Health Resources from The Journey and other partners
Safe Harbor Christian Counseling (To make an appointment with Safe Harbor, call 1-800-305-2089)
Renewed Life Christian Counseling Center (To make an appointment with RLCCC, call 302-464-0515 or visit their website)
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Blog originally posted in “Moments To Treasure” by Teresa Barton
*Mayo Clinic, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”
*Boston University, “Seasonal Affective Disorder Impacts 10 Million Americans”
Nina PhillipsPosted at 21:49h, 28 February
The scripture Jeremiah 29 verse 11 is really beautiful. My favorite.
Your blog is lovely- comprehensive information presented in clarity and beauty .
The JourneyPosted at 11:15h, 01 March
Thank you Nina! I am so glad you were encouraged by it!
Mary CannonPosted at 10:42h, 01 March
Thank you Teresa for telling people about SAD. I was diagnosed with it twenty years ago. I have a special full spectrum light I sit under while doing my morning slot and spot. I call it “being in the light while reading of the Light of the world (Jesus)”.
The JourneyPosted at 11:17h, 01 March
Hi Mary! I have thought about the lights but never invested in one! Thank you for the tip!
Alfred R CeaserPosted at 11:52h, 04 March
Thank you Theresa for your inspirational devotional and helpful information. I pray that it’s a healing balm for people who are going through SAD and depression. I have dealt with both and it’s a cibstant reminder to me how much I need Jesus and his children to help me win the battles I face. God bless you and the ministry work you’re doing.
The JourneyPosted at 10:28h, 07 March
Hi Alfred, Thank you for sharing your struggles with depression too! I appreciate your kind words and encouragement! And you are so right, we cannot do this alone… Jesus and others are vital to recovery! Pray you are well Alfred!