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Winter Blues? Sleep Like a Dog!

By Lori Welch Brown

Is it safe to come out from under the covers? Thanks to Cupid and some decent President’s day sales, there were some bright spots, but holy guacamole. Is it my imagination or have the last few weeks felt like a cold, dark, damp sucker punch to the throat? My saving grace has been skipping the news and heading straight to Wordle.

This time of year can be tough—short, overcast days and long dark nights interspersed with bleak headlines. I had lunch recently with a friend who said her husband was having a particularly difficult time dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression known to hit during the winter months that saps your energy and can cause mood swings. “Ever since COVID, I’ve barely been able to get him off the couch—but now it’s even worse.” Hmmm.  “Sounds familiar,” I thought. I’ve heard the same from quite a few folks.

Devastating earthquake aside—I don’t want to place all the blame on Mother Nature blanketing us with melancholy weather when the world in general has felt dark and heavy. Mass shootings continue to dominate the masthead. UFOs are now a thing. AI has replaced driverless cars in my nightmares. Don’t get me started on cancel culture.

I was trying to think of a time before COVID-19 threw us into a worldwide tailspin.  Were we happier? Lighter? Kinder? Maybe it just seems that way. Or, maybe we were happier as recently as September—when we still had some light in the evenings to enjoy cookouts and porch sitting.

When I feel lethargic—which is a frequent occurrence these days—I remind myself that winter is for slowing down, resting, and restoration.  We’re not supposed to be high-energy and frenetic. Napping is good for us. Doing nothing is actually a thing called ‘just being’ as in ‘being in the moment’ without thoughts of what needs to be done or worries about what was done.

And, nothing lasts forever.  Not SAD, or COVID, or even the days crawling up to spring. Contrary to Shakespeare’s caution, “The ides of March are come.” “Ay, Caesar, but not gone,” they will be at some point. Are we there yet?

In the meantime, we can take time to rest, make a few plans with friends who energize (vs. deplete) us, sip a hot toddy by a warm fire. In other words, settle in for a spell. This is probably the only time of year that I actually enjoy a cup of hot tea during the afternoon. It feels warming and cozy.

But—that is different from depression.  If you and/or your significant other are experiencing depression, I highly recommend seeking assistance from a mental health professional.  Trust me—I have for years, and it’s been a lifesaver.

Before you know it, we will be bathed in the glow of sunlight and complaining about the heat and humidity. Sadly—there will always be bad news dominating the headlines. That’s life. But, we get to be in control of how much and when we digest it. If the news is giving you anxiety, it might be time to put down the paper and/or turn the channel—or take a break from Facebook. And, it also may be time to take a break from certain friends and/or family members who are pig piling onto your stressors.

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about self-care lately vs. actually doing it. What am I thinking? Winter is the perfect time for ME time. Not that there’s a bad time, but hey. If you saw me, you’d think I was the ground hog and wonder why I didn’t crawl back in my hole.  My nails are a hot mess, my roots need a touch up, and let’s just say this ground hog might have to shimmy a bit to fit back into the ground.

But whatev’. It’s not marathon time. It’s not pretty toes, sandal time. Frankly, it’s not salad time, although I have been trying.  It’s meat and potatoes and hearty stew time. Okay—well, you’re right. It’s also not ice cream every night time either, but it is Girl Scout cookie time!

If you managed to get through January without alcohol, pat yourself on the back. If you’re giving up chocolate for Lent, my prayers are with you. But, if you found yourself sitting down to watch a Law & Order marathon and polished off a sleeve of Thin Mints, that’s okay too.

All I’m saying is to cut yourself some slack as you’re putting yourself down on the couch for a nap. Another friend just told me about a human dog bed she recently purchased. Huh?  Yep—it’s a big, cozy pillow-like bed you toss on the floor and curl up in. I bought her a weighted blanket in case it storms to sooth her and am thinking about getting her a chew toy. I joke, but I also have one in my cart and am thinking about pulling the trigger.

If you want to be happy(ier), be like your dog. Go for a walk, chase a squirrel, and then take a big, long snooze. I’m in.

About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for over 25 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.

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