Happy Solstice 2018

We made it. The Long Dark’s not over, but at this point the days will start getting longer again. The quality of the light will improve as well, as the sun will move higher in the sky rather than skirting around the horizon. Happy Solstice 2018!

I’m pleased to say that this has been the easiest winter since we’ve been in Finland. A lot of that comes down to being prepared. We’ve got the right clothes, the right interior lighting, and properly framed expectations. I’ve been getting more exercise, and spending more time outside during the little daylight we have.

The most important thing, I think, has been keeping myself busy. I piled on a lot of projects with fairly tight deadlines during November, December, and January. Every project is something that I’ve been enthusiastic to work on, in some cases waiting to get around to for months or years. Having a purpose, something to do, and something to look forward to have helped me to manage my depression and anxiety a lot better.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have difficult days. There have been times when all I want to do is hibernate. After all, if it’s dark outside I should be sleeping, right? I feel blue sometimes, and my enthusiasm to do anything waxes and wanes occasionally. Instead of fighting it, I try to lean into it. I light some candles, put on a Christmas movie, snuggle under a blanket, and eat chocolate. If I need a nap, I take one. Then as I’m able, I go back to work.

Earlier this year I felt as if something had broken inside of me, because there were things I no longer cared about. It took a while for me to realize that I’d just let go of things that didn’t matter. Chief among those was guilt. What’s helped me deal with seasonal affective order this year has been not beating myself up about it. It’s like my chronic pain — it’s a reality I live with, and I have to find ways to function around it.

That means that when I’m able to be productive, I appreciate that time and use it to full advantage. It doesn’t mean that I have to push myself, or try to make up for lost time. It means honoring my body and my mind, not giving in but not wasting energy trying to deny what’s happening. By letting go of this notion that self-care is wasting time, and accepting my limitations, I have become more productive. I’m not wasting up time worrying about down time.

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