As I sit here with the wind howling down the chimney and rain lashing against the windows it is easy to understand why so many of us feel like crawling under the duvet and hibernating through the coldest months of the year.
But luckily rain clouds pass and it turns out that beyond the grey sky there are actually a few good reasons worth venturing outside for this winter.
Beat the Winter Blues
Time spent in the light of the winter sun can offer a helping hand when it comes to those living with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition is one that has received a lot of attention over the last few years and although it is not as simple as a winter walk to deal with, spending time outdoors and in direct sunshine can offer you some of the light needed to alleviate a number of the disorders symptoms. SAD is caused by low levels of vitamin d and a reduction in the body’s melatonin and serotonin levels, which are thought to be caused by a reaction in a number of people to limited or decreased exposure to sunlight during the year’s darker months. This can leave those suffering with a biological condition that has very similar symptoms to depression.
Try a little wander in the winter sun even for just half an hour a day to make sure you are getting as much natural light as possible during the year’s shortest days.
But, if you do find yourself struggling with the effects of SAD don’t suffer alone, get in touch with someone that can offer support for your condition.
Find your Winter Workout
It’s a cliché but summer bodies really are made in the winter. Even though this time of the year is spent wearing jumpers and layer upon layer of clothing in an attempt to keep warm, now is the time to start thinking about your health and body goals. All too often people leave it until the last minute to try and lose weight for the warmer weather and that can lead to unhealthy diets and exercise routines that in the end may leave you temporarily lighter but ultimately much less healthy. A better thing to do is to establish a new way of life, new routines that are fun, active and sustainable. One way to start this is by getting outside this winter and avoiding the temptation to eat your own body weight in Christmas chocolates. Not only does exercise in the cold burn more fat as out bodies have to use extra energy to keep warm but it also gets your heart pumping which encourages an increase in the level of your body’s natural virus-killing cells which will come in handy for fighting off all the coughs and colds at this time of year.
Discover a Winter Wonderland
It would be impossible to complete this list without including the point that being outside in winter is actually incredibly beautiful. Even though many of us live in areas that will not experience the crisp crunch of deep snow beneath our boots we can take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around us. The great thing is that not only will a winter walk allow you to discover your local area and experience the excitement of the great outdoors but according to Stanford University researchers walking will also lead to increased levels of creativity and an increase in brain function and mental focus. So, if you are feeling uninspired or if you simply want to get a head start on planning the year ahead why not wrap up warm and head outside to get the ideas flowing.
The best part about spending time outside this December is that once you have enjoyed the winter wonderland beyond your front door you can head back indoors for some well earned snuggle time under your trusty duvet.
#winterwonderland #winterwalks #outdoorliving #winteractivities
There’s an unnamed sadness that lurks in the shadows as Christmas spectacularly rolls into town. Behind the dazzling lights, the magic and excitement something else creeps in… for those of us that can’t wait to decorate the tree, write our Christmas cards, sing carols, socialise and find joy in all that is festive we never really see it. Yet it can be a heavy burden for those we know who find Christmas difficult, it latches on and can mean December and the dark winter nights are filled with anxiety, panic and sadness.
If you are dreading Christmas and would rather hibernate until January, then it could be the result of your Christmas phobia (it’s not so short technical name is Chrisougenniatikophobia).
The Cambridge dictionary describes a phobia as
“an extreme fear or dislike of a particular thing or situation, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained.”
So how did you develop this phobia?
There are many who would describe a Christmas phobia as stemming back to an unpleasant event or trauma from childhood that is associated with Christmas. This could be your parents separating, feeling excluded or even the annual family arguments during the festive period. This may resonate with some of you but in my experience as a therapist, there are many who develop this phobia in adulthood.
Take a moment…
Think about the last time you really enjoyed Christmas without that unnamed sadness weighing you down. What’s different between then and now, have you lost something, do you carry a pain you didn’t before? It can be easy to project what is really fuelling our phobia on to consumerism, overspending and indulgence… but let’s be honest even Scrooge and The Grinch had a reason behind their bah humbug philosophy.
If you are tired of wondering how you are going to survive Christmas, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about finding a little inner peace with the season. This isn’t about present buying, cooking mince pies or volunteering to lead the local choir at the carol concert. It’s about learning to feel happy again at this time of year, letting go of whatever the fear and emotions are that your mind has associated with Christmas. Some of these may be:
A trauma that coincided with the festive period.
Challenging family relationships making you dread visiting the in-laws.
Suffering from a social anxiety and avoiding the office party or shopping.
Death of a loved one either in December or having to spend the festive period without a loved one.
Dealing with a relationship break-up at this time of year, spending Christmas without them or associating Christmas as the catalyst for a loved one ending a relationship in January.
Perhaps we should even consider that the sadness and dread you feel each festive period, is not a fear but a part of a grieving process you haven’t yet completed. Think of your feelings and sadness like the ghosts of past, present and future from a Christmas Carol. Understand your past has shaped who you are but release the fears and pains associated with it. Do not hide away from your own emotions and allow yourself to truly live in the present and be mindful for the future but remember that it is in the now that we forge the life we come to live.
If you’re at odds with this festive season and that oppressive dread and anxiety is weighing you down, why not make a choice to change? As a therapist I have worked with numerous clients to help them find a little magic again in Christmas but more importantly they find joy and happiness in life and the anxiety and sadness that seems heightened in December doesn’t follow them into the New Year. Sometimes surviving Christmas is facing those emotions, fears and pains that we have buried deep inside of us and finally letting them go.
Written by Nicole McKendry
#phobia #christmasphobia #depression #sadness #scrooge #hatechristmas #survivingchristmas
As the hordes of frenzied Christmas shoppers descend onto high streets this December it is becoming harder and harder to identify the festive cheer that we are promised this time of year is sure to bring. With the passing of each year, happiness seems to come packaged in increasingly expensive boxes that leave many of us feeling emotionally and financially stressed in the attempt at making sure it can be found under our tree come Christmas morning.
But in this hunt for consumerism driven joy many of us are actually losing out on the simple pleasures and fulfillment that can be found in the traditional values of Christmas such as love, kindness and charity.
In the words of Dr Seuss,
‘what if Christmas he thought, doesn’t come from a store
What if Christmas perhaps means a little bit more’
That is why at Therapy in the City we have put together a list of our top meaningful Christmas gifts that can help to bring true happiness this December to you and all those you choose to share it with.
When we think back on the best Christmas of our lives it will be on a rare occasion that memory relates to a material gift. The truly great memories all lead back to a moment shared with family and friends, a time well spent with those we love. This December take time out from work, from social media, from the holiday to do list and give someone the most precious gift of all, your time.
This year take the time to acknowledge the people within our communities that are struggling this December. Homelessness, isolation and illness effects thousands of people across the country and for many they are forced to endure these hardships alone. This Christmas help to remind the most vulnerable in our society that they are not alone by working and volunteering with one of the many registered charities and organizations that attempt to offer hope and support to those that need it most.
Just because you are attempting a more meaningful Christmas does not mean that gift giving is completely off the list. What is does mean is that what you give has more intention. For every Christmas treat you purchase why not donate an item to your local foodbank or for each new gift a child receives why not donate something to a Christmas toy drive in your area. In this way, we can all remember to be mindful of what we truly need and not just want we think we want.
Random acts of Kindness is a phrase that most people will have probably heard. Wikipedia describes it as ‘… a selfless act performed by a person or persons wishing to assist or cheer up an individual… there will generally be no reason other than to make people smile, or be happier.’ We don’t think there could be any better reason than this to give the gift of kindness. From something as simple as a smile and pleasant word to assisting someone with a difficult task, this act is limitless.
The best thing about these gifts is that you can give them year after year, month after month. Far from having a sell by date these gifts will last long after the Christmas decorations are packed away. In fact if you choose to, these gifts can last a lifetime.
‘I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year’
#meaningfulchristmas #christmasgiftguide #randomactofkindness
There's always room for one more on our Therapy couch... so whether you join us daily, weekly or just when you have time to stop by we hope that our therapy chatter allows you to take time out in your busy life, to unplug from your everyday stressors and simply breathe, listen and change!