About that hiatus…

Remember that I didn’t really blog for like 5 months? It became so normal for me to not blog that people even stopped asking my what was happening with my blog. I partially happy people stopped asking (because I didn’t have answers) but also disappointed with the fact that my lack of blogging became so normal. I think I saw it as a type of failure – failure to persevere in difficulty, failure to be creative and figure out what to write.

blank-journalYesterday I took some time to actually think it through. I meant to write more, but have been putting of thinking through what’s next. And now I have a bit of an idea. I know what distracted me from blogging and I have an idea of what I want moving forward. (If you want to hear a bit more about some of the changes in my life that influenced the lack of blogging, I’ll be sending out my next newsletter soon. My newsletters are typically more personal than the blog content. If you’re interested, sign-up here).

Some things haven’t changed

This is a relief. I’m glad that even though I’ve lost interest in some things (staying on top of social media/platform building innovation) other values have still stayed.

GUYS, I still care about running. This, I’m honestly surprised by, but I guess I shouldn’t really be. I haven’t run in almost a year. But I’ve thought a lot about it (I know, it so does not count). BUT, I was this close to getting back into it, and then I fell pregnant (yay!). Because I had been so inactive before, it wasn’t recommended for me to re-start running. This will be postponed until the baby comes. I had a lovely conversation about running with my best friend’s multi-marathoner dad that was inspiring. I think I might try to talk to him more on the topic.

I still value writing. Even though I haven’t done much of it lately, it still is something I want to continue to cultivate the habit of. This winter semester I took a class and was SHOCKED that it took me a couple of painless hours to write a 15 page paper. This is not what my life was like in my undergrad, but all the writing since undergrad has obviously paid off. This was very affirming!

I really like you guys. I don’t know if I can go so far and call the readers of this blog a “community” (my husband is really picky about the proper use of this word!), but I appreciate all of your feedback, the fact that you actually read this and seem to find it helpful. I don’t know where this blog will go and how long it will stay running (I have no plans of being a “mommy blogger”), but I have enjoyed it and been surprised by it and you.

This Summer

I’m not going to make you or myself promises about writing this summer considering I’ll be pretty busy travelling with work as usual in the summer. But, I do know that I’m a different person in the summer: full of energy and ideas. I imagine I will likely have more to say.

I hope this works out! I miss it.

What do the “winter blues” feel like for me?

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left forgotten and unpublished. This was originally dated Nov 12 2012.

It occurred to me this week that I’ve talked about feeling the “winter blues” and I make casually reference in conversations with my friends to feeling “emo” (emotional) sometimes, but I’ve never really explained to anyone what I mean when I say that. Sure, it’s clear enough to get the point across: I don’t feel totally emotionally healthy that day, but what do I feel?*

I’m a person who has always been pretty introspective and in touch with my emotions. I’ve always been able to put a name to what I feel and how I’m doing. I’m also pretty aware of my physical health as well. I’ve never really had to explain to people what certain things feel like. I never felt the need. I know what’s what in my own life and I manage it accordingly.

It never occurred to me that being more specific about what it feels like might be helpful for others to interpret what’s going on in their lives.

This week a few different people mentioned that they have felt lonely recently. That piqued my interest. Partially because I’m saddened by the idea that my friends feel lonely, but mostly because my winter blues feels like loneliness. Why don’t you just say you’re lonely, Jess? Why do you say you have the winter blues? Because I know I’m not actually lonely.

Here’s the other clue. It feels like sadness of the heart. When I have a combination of loneliness and heart-sadness I call this “emo.” This usually happens in  fall up until the end of December, as I’ve already mentioned. In December I’m rarely actually lonely. I’m out with friends celebrating Christmas parties, or with family for actual Christmas. But I rarely have the energy or desire to do things like go cross-country skiing with my family during those holidays and I feel sad and lonely even with them thereThat’s why I say I’m not actually lonely. I’m with people who love me and I love and care for them in return. I don’t feel isolated when I’m with them. But my brain and my heart say something different.

Call it what you may. It only happens from the months of September to December and there’s a remedy for it as I talked about in my post I LOVE LAMP!

If you find you’re feeling a little bit sad and a little bit lonely, consider if you’re exercising and taking Vitamin D, and as always make sure you’re not isolating yourself from your friends and family. You don’t want to make a self-fulfilling prophecy for loneliness.

*I don’t know what it feels like for everyone else. I’m not a medical professional and my advice is based on what has worked for me in the past based on how I feel and what I know to be true about my life and situation.

Motivation: found

Just as quickly as my motivation left, it returned. One piece of information changed my attitude completely. It’s a bit bizarre, actually. I’m not sure why my attitude was dependent on these details. I went from not having zero desire to pursue any of my goals, to realizing I was being an idiot. What changed?

Fall came.

Yes, it’s that time again. When exercise is no longer a luxury or a middle-class hobby, it’s an act of desperation in order to keep on top of my mental health. When my morning routine is a way I keep on top of all of these things because they’re all crucial to me keeping my life in order. I don’t think it’s any coincidence I first posted about morning routines exactly a year ago. Fall, for me, is very pretty torture.

But you know what? I don’t really want to run anymore. I’m working on that one. I used to really enjoy it! And now all these people who started running after me are totally overtaking me in distance covered etc. They’re all running 5, 10ks. People posting their half-marathon times on Facebook and I’m experiencing deep regret over my public declarations.

But that’s kind of the whole point of the public declaration: so I will be shamed/encouraged into continuing.

I still love lamp!

lovelamp

A few weeks ago a friend asked me how things were going with my lamp since I blogged about it. Well, let me tell you: I’m a fool. I started feeling bad as early as the first week of October this year which is earlier than usual. So I started using it regularly in November. That went well. And then December came.

I stopped wanting to. My motivation went through the floor. Every morning I thought to myself, “I don’t really want to…” Then I didn’t. POOR CHOICES.

Here’s the thing: there are one of two mistakes we make when we’re feeling the winter blues (or for any other mental health related things).

  1. I’m feeling good so I don’t need it. Wrong. We’re feeling good because the treatment is working. That doesn’t mean STOP, it means CONTINUE.
  2. I don’t feel like it/I don’t want to. It means the treatment isn’t yet working because motivation is low. At least that’s how it is for my personal experience.

Learn to trust the data

I need to learn to trust data in front of me rather than my feelings. The data of the last few years says: you’re not yourself at Christmas and your family thinks you’re this bump on a log who doesn’t like being with people and doing basically anything but eat and play Dutch Blitz. That’s not who I am normally (though, let’s be serious, I’ll eat and play Dutch Blitz any time). This experience this past winter tells me I need to ask my husband to help me not listen to my feelings or my own head because it isn’t trustworthy.

This past year I tried to do better than the previous year. I did! Sort of!

So here’s to learning about how to function optimally, healthily and to asking for help in doing that.

Do you have a hard time reading or accepting the data that you see about your health? How can you fix that? If you’d like to share, leave a comment or leave some feedback here in the comments.

I LOVE LAMP!

The last four years I’ve noticed a marked difference in my happiness levels starting as early as September 1.  While I may have had it in years prior, I only clued in to the “winter blues” in the last few years. The pattern is the same every year, peaking in the last week of November. The question I’ve been trying to answer every fall is “how do I stay productive while feeling the blues?”

I once heard that during a Canadian winter, one must sunbathe naked at high noon for an hour to naturally get enough Vitamin D. Since I don’t do that (!), the last few years I’ve faithfully taken 1000 IUs of Vitamin D (coupled with Vitamin C) every day. Last year my friend lent me a DayLight which I wasn’t very consistent in using. This past week I started using it again for 15 minutes every morning right when I wake up.

Can I tell you how amazing that was even the first day I used it? The first day! It was like the sun had risen in my heart! I’m confident that this will help throughout this upcoming cold, light-less Montreal winter.

So this winter:

  • vitamin D
  • at least 15 minutes of light therapy a day
  • regular exercise

What about you? Do you get the winter blues? How do you manage? What helps you stay on your game?

UPDATE:

People have been asking me what I recommend. Like I mentioned in the comments, the Philips brand lights are good as well as the DayLight that I use. To be honest, the Philips lights are way more normal sized compared to what I have and probably more reasonable in price, as well as more easily accessible. You can get them at Amazon and Costco.

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