There’s something about dreary winter weather that makes me want to curl up and hibernate until spring. The grey skies. The frigid air. Before I know it, full on winter depression has set in, and according to the calendar it’s still fall.
Winter decided to make its appearance in November this year, at least in my neck of the woods. And as much as I would like to tell you I welcomed it with welcome arms, I didn’t. Our pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm actually made me a little resentful. What happened to fall? What happened to the color, crisp air and mild temps? They were gone in the span of five minutes.
With the early winter came an early change in my attitude, too. As I tried to wrap up the final three chapters of my manuscript, I hit a wall. Feelings of self-defeat and overwhelm came in waves, and as much as I tried to clear my head and focus on truth, I felt like a full-fledged war was taking place.
Winter and I don’t have the best track record. As someone who has to fight depression and anxiety with a resolve to take my thoughts captive, winter is the season when I find this hardest to do.
As tempting as it is to hibernate the entire season with a good book and a cup of coffee, I know that’s not possible. And probably not the most healthy response. It would be a long four months, and the kids would probably object to my sloth-like inertia.
So like any battle we face in life, I came up with a game plan. I’m not going to let the darkness defeat me. With God as my Defender and my Shield, I’m finding the joy of the season and choosing to hold onto it long after the last Christmas lights are put away.
Here are a few ways I’m fighting depression this winter:
I’m being intentional with my time.
Even though I love a good evening at home and have never been one to jam my calendar with activity every day of the week, endless days spent at home doing absolutely nothing can suck the joy right out of me. So, I’m planning fun things to do with the kids. Trips to museums. Afternoons at indoor play places.
I’m also being intentional about spending time with God. Often, it gets interrupted because, well, I’m the mom of three kids. But I start again. I tell the older kids to go play. Letting them see this time is sacred not only impacts me, but it impacts them.
I’m looking for beauty.
Winter has a unique beauty that you can’t find in any other season. The crisp colors in the sky at sunset in contrast to the ground covered with white. The bare trees reaching their arms like soldiers keeping watch at dusk.
But if I want to see the beauty, I have to look for it. On days when I feel the heaviness of life and the endless items on my to-do list, I have to be deliberate about finding it. This year, I’m going a step further. I’m writing it down so I can look back on it when I forget. Because I will. And when I do, it will be there.
I’m taking care of myself.
As moms we often live our lives with a martyr type mentality, thinking that by taking care of everyone else but ourselves, we are doing our people a favor. But let me offer a news flash here. We’re not. When we deplete ourselves of the rest, soul nourishment, and physical care we need, the detriment we do to ourselves will eventually spill into the lives of those we love. They will feel it. And it won’t be pretty.
When Jesus took time to rest and spend time alone with the Father, it wasn’t because the needs ran out. It wasn’t because everyone was healed. It was because he came as a human, just like you and me, and he was presenting a model for us to follow. Although still divine, he felt every weight we do.
Taking care of ourselves will look different for each person, and it’s not an invitation to negate responsibility. Our families need us. Our kids need us. But they also need us to be healthy.
Sometimes when life looks bleak and lifeless outside, we can feel lifeless on the inside too.
There have been days when I’ve felt like the darkness was enclosing me in an envelope, and I couldn’t get a foothold.
I am a strong advocate for counseling and mental health, so let me take a moment to say this: if you feel like your life has no value, seek professional help immediately. The above points are meant to be tools to help you reclaim joy, but they are not one-size-fits all.
Whether winter is a season you love or struggle through, remember this. God makes everything beautiful in its time. Each changing season is a reflection of the One who never changes. Set your mind on his love and his truth, and remember even on the bad days, his promise to be with you endures.