I saw a post the other day that said, “If the month of august was a day, it would be Sunday.” I laughed as the realization of how true this statement was settled in. Sunday is a great day for resting, taking care of chores, hanging out with people you love, etc.
HOWEVER, it is also a reminder of a new week ahead. In this case with the month of august, as great of month as it is, it is also a reminder that the end of summer is near.
Whether you have a clinical diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder or not, let’s face it, for those who live in the Midwest/east coast especially…these times can feel rough! It gets dark by 3 pm (I may be exaggerating), it’s cold, the stress of the holiday’s kicks in, for those who have seasonal jobs, there’s the possibility of added stress as you get ready for the new work year, I can go on! The most important stressor of this time of year is the lack of SUN. I live in the Chicago area, and I kid you not, last year we didn’t see sun for I believe two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Vitamin D plays a role in our mental health. If we aren’t seeing the sun or taking Vitamin D, depression symptoms do in fact increase. So…how do we cope with the end of summer?
For each seasonal change, I love to set an intention and one value to make the season the best it can be for me. When life stressors get in the way, it’s comforting to resort back to my intention and value. For the seasons of fall and winter, I sometimes add an extra intention and value. For the new season change, I am setting the intention of creativity and my value will be connection. When it’s cold, I tend to isolate. Setting the value c
onnection will be a great reminder for me to recognize that isolation does not help with my mental health challenges. I set the intention of creativity to remind myself to look at the glass half full. When a stressor gets in the way, how can I reframe it as something neutral/positive…I get to be creative.
Another thing I like to do when the cold seasons appear is (you guessed it) resort back to the body. In this case I pay attention to the 5 senses. Cold weather can mean smells that can bring you comfort like an apple cinnamon candle. Cold weather can mean warm touches to the skin like an oversized sweater. Cold weather can mean listening to your steps against the snow. Cold weather can mean hot chocolate, and pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING! Cold weather can mean watching the snow fall and watching your favorite holiday movies. See what I did there? Our bodies KNOW best. Use your five sense to get creative with how you would like to approach the cold weather. I know summer 2023 sounds incredibly far, but there’s always a rainbow when the skies eventually turn blue.
If you are having trouble with coping during the cold months, I am a therapist in the Chicago area who loves to incorporate creativity and body knowledge. Reach out to schedule a session with me today. Let’s cope together!
*I also want to note that I wrote “cold weather can mean” as we know seasonal changes can bring up trauma/ trauma anniversaries that may need more work than just utilizing the five senses (it is a wonderful skill we can include). If you are also finding a difficult time coping through trauma and trauma anniversaries, please reach out as well. The cold weather may enhance trauma responses so together, we will pay attention to these triggers, process and work through your trauma.
-Izzy, MA, LPC, R-DMT