Winter blues and cabin fever have always been tough for me. But this year, practicing a little emotional self-care has made a huge difference.
From the first days of fall, I have been prepping for right now with my emotional self-care routines. The countdown on our wall might be a countdown til Christmas, but the countdown that I’m most concerned about is to December 21st, the Winter Solstice.
This is the shortest day of the year. Once we get past this one day, the light starts to return and we will be moving towards spring, even though it is also the first day of winter. It means we are on our way OUT of the cold and darkness, even if we have more winter left to come.
This year, I’ve worked really hard to keep myself and my family as mentally healthy as possible. I even wrote about my personal plan for dealing with seasonal affective disorder. But no matter what, two adults and three kids in a home all day every day together… things start to get a bit rough.
So I dug this little gem I wrote a few years ago when I was having a particularly rough winter as a new mom with my first child who was then a toddler.
I was in a pretty rough place, but I wanted to publish it so other moms can know that if you are having a tough winter, year, life, whatever… we all get into dark places sometimes.
But it is possible to get better as I have over the years. (And definitely reach out to talk to a professional if you need to!)
FROM WINTER 2017:
Being cooped up inside through this winter is making my soul scream for that wild joyful madness.
If I spend one more day watching another Disney Junior show with my toddler I’m going to take her yellow plastic toy bat and smash the shit out of our flatscreen then take the pieces outside to our fire pit and burn it after smothering it in gasoline.
If you have spent even just an hour watching PJ Masks (or insert any kids show here), you will know it is not extreme. In fact, you’ve probably envisioned something similar at some point.
You inevitably feel the pull to go all Office Space on the TV, it iPad, or whatever toy keeps making the same noise for 12 hours straight.
Have you ever been a zoo? Seen animals doing weird shit? Or some that won’t even look up anymore when people tap on their cages? Some who just lay there as if they’re dead, even though you can see their chest rise and fall?
Yeah… that’s how I feel sometimes lately.
While I felt smothered and trapped in a 9-5 job that didn’t fulfill me anymore, I now feel just as smothered and trapped inside of the tiny world I’ve now created for myself.
Wake up. Make breakfast. Put on cartoons for the kid. Check social media. Check email. Try to think of something interesting to say on my blog…
Don’t get me wrong… these are first world problems I’m dealing with here.
But they can be soul-crushing.
When I was pregnant, I didn’t imagine sitting here on this couch surrounded by toys, snacks, an iPad, a dog that seriously needs a bath, and a toddler who is still in her PJ’s at 2:56 p.m.
No… I imagined me and my wild little girl running outside through fields. Laughing. Screaming. Running. Chasing. Yeah…that’s literally what I imagined during a guided meditation while pregnant.
My reality though is a messy living room with cartoons blaring while I’m working on my Mac being intermittently interrupted by calls for snacks from my little angel.
And yeah… I know I should be grateful. I’m totally an advocate of practicing gratitude. But sometimes you have to be real with yourself and say… Damn it, this just sucks.
I want more.
I want to feel alive and excited, not trapped in a crumb laden, toy-strewn, Groundhog Day without even the comic relief of Bill Murray.
BACK TO 2019:
I do feel alive and excited now. Back then I didn’t know how to deal with depression, anxiety, motherhood, stress, all the things. Now I have emotional self-care.
I was in a period of transition.
Now I have three kids, twin toddlers and a 5-year-old, and by all accounts my life should be more stressful, harder. But with every year that passes, even with more kids, I become more comfortable with who I am.
I also have learned how to better care for myself. You see, when I talk about self-care, it isn’t just about bubble baths, though I love me a bubble bath. No, the self-care I’m talking about is this… knowing when you are having a tough time and how to get yourself out of it OR who CAN help you.
The last week has been hard, but I now know why. I know that I haven’t been getting outside, I haven’t been using my light lamp in the mornings, and I’ve been eating like crap.
Those three things are a perfect storm, combined with normal stress and the winter, to get me into a hardcore funk.
But knowing why means I can change it. And that’s what I’m doing.
Winter can be tough, but you are tough too mama, and you’ll learn what emotional self-care practices work for you. Cultivate self-awareness and have some people on speed dial who can help you when you need it. Let’s kick some cabin fever ass together.
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