It’s hard to believe that November is almost over. What’s even more amazing is how good I’m feeling. So far the Long Dark isn’t kicking my ass the way it has in recent year. Yes, I have less energy and want to sleep more. I chalk some of that up to aging. What I haven’t been experiencing are the other symptoms of depression and anxiety. I’m actually pretty happy, and enthusiastic about the work I’m doing.
This year I was as prepared as I could be. I started taking vitamin D back at the equinox in September. My schedule includes more time outside, and I have proper clothes to go walking in the cold and wet weather. I did not stock the pantry as heavily as in years past, forcing me to go grocery shopping at least once per week.
While we have proper lamps for light therapy, I’ve actually gone the opposite direction. Rather than illuminating the house like it’s the finale of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I try to see how long I can go without turning on any lights. Then I keep the least amount of lights on needed to see what I’m doing. I light candles for the ambiance, and they look better in the dark. It’s about enjoying the mood, rather than fighting it.
The biggest changes this year, and the ones that I think have made the difference, center around my bullet journal. I have sent myself some big, hairy, audacious goals between now and April. More than I know I can likely accomplish, but I’m forcing myself to stretch. That’s balanced around a very reasonable schedule that includes time for proper rest and self-care. I’m only working 8 hours a day, but I need to have laser focus during those hours. It’s almost meditative, and that helps with the seasonal depression.
Writing in the journal has helped, too. Tracking the symptoms of my physical and mental health is a keen early warning system. Too often in the past, depression and anxiety have crept up on me. By the time I realize how deep I’ve fallen in, it’s too late. I also journal about the things that bother me, what work, what doesn’t, and how I feel about that. Acknowledging my emotional states is a huge help in modulating them.
For all of that, though, I’m feeling the need to unplug for a week. No TV, no streaming, no music. No news, no social media. Limited time in email, only the most essential meetings. I want to focus on accomplishing those goals. That means reading and writing. A lot of writing. I’ll continue to update the blogs as my primary means of communication with the outside world. I’ve set up the status page for short updates. Fewer distractions, and more of the writer’s retreat vibe that I want my life to be.