I have been feeling quite low in energy and consequently mood for the past couple of weeks. This often coincides with the full moon (which was a powerful one this week) or happens premenstrually, but it is also an autumn thing for me. Every year my energies dwindle in the autumn and I feel I would rather be a hedgehog and go into hibernation for a spell (!), but of course that isn’t possible, so I keep going, but it leaves me feeling more and more exhausted. This week my energies were so low, I found myself too tired to do the things I enjoy, like writing, imagining, creating… I have been feeling rather flat and uninspired 😦
For years, I suffered from SAD without knowing and always found myself in Counselling by January! For me, it really starts at the end of August (when the light changes imperceptibly, but my body notices). I start to feel tearful or overwhelmed for no particular reason, even though it still feels very summery. I am so sensitive to the seasons and the moon. So sensitive in general. I always considered it to be a handicap, to be so controlled by and at the mercy of the elements and things/people around me. I now realise that my sensitivity is really a gift thanks to this book and other wise people I have encountered in my life. I know very quickly if things are out of kilter, if my life balance is off. My body tells me. It can feel quite inconvenient, this being a busy time of year; with a birthday and Christmas around the corner, but I need to learn to pace myself and to listen. If I listen to my body, I know it is time to take better care of myself; to take that Epsom Salts bath, to light some candles and just be, to sit quietly with a cup of warm herbal tea or to cosy up with a good book or an uplifting film and some knitting.
When I started writing here, I wanted to share only the good stuff, the things that I enjoy and for which I am grateful. I still want to share what works for me and the joys, but I feel that it wouldn’t be authentic to not share the struggles at times and what I do to help myself during these times, as there may be someone out there just like me that it could help. After all life is made up of 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. We don’t do anyone any favours by pretending all is well all the time, just as we don’t do our friends any favours if our house is always pristine and tidy when they visit. Life and home life is a lot more messy than that and we all secretly know that.
I wonder if there are others of you out there who find this time of year a struggle too; who also feel a need to retreat from the busyness of modern family life?
Over time, I have learnt some tools that can help me at this time of year when my mood and energy starts to dip. I thought I would share them with you in case there is anyone who it could help:
- I have a “Happy (mood) Lamp” – if I start using it early enough it helps considerably. A mere 15 minutes a day can boost you. I often put it on at breakfast or whilst sewing. It mimics daylight and has been helping me for years. Because of the sunshine we have been having, I have only just retrieved it out from the attic again. I will report back on how I am feeling at a later date.
- Vitamin D spray – I stopped using this over the summer because of all the sun we were having, but I can see I probably shouldn’t have as I do need it.
- Walking – if I go for a good walk – even 10 minutes of brisk walking – it lifts my mood, especially if I go out in nature.
- Quiet time. Just reserving my energy – as an introvert, my energy comes from being alone. When we are constantly busy or in company we easily get tired and cranky.
- Making time for playfulness. Last year I attended a course on The Artists Way. I found that making myself go on an “Artist Date” every week – a solo trip out with just playfulness and relaxation in mind – was just what I needed to boost my mood. It takes you back to all the things you could indulge in as a teenager/young adult that seem so elusive as a mama with all the time constraints and commitments, but which we so need. I see that that is sorely missing this year and I will try to change that.
- Do one thing – even if time is limited, I have a list of things that I really enjoy, that relax me and ‘fill my cup’. For me these include: walking, a candlelit bath, reading ( even a few pages of this or another wholesome magazine), journalling, meditation, sudoku, knitting, yoga, rebounding, dancing around my lounge (!), a mindful cup of tea… If time is limited, it is still possible to fit one of those in, even for 10 minutes. It changes things. At the end of the day, I look back and see if I have included at least one thing that is just for me. I must admit, I have really gone off the boil with this but it really helps.
- Gratitude List – at the end of the day, I try to write 10 things for which I am grateful. When I was feeling good during the summer, I rather let this go, but I have restarted this practise as it really helps me to put things into perspective and focusing on gratitude is so important.
- Meditation – helps me to bring my mind into the present, to listen to the tension in my body and to let it go. It can sometimes be difficult to focus when I am tired or my mind is restless and I have even been known to fall asleep in an evening meditation(!), but I would highly recommend a meditation practice or using affirmations, like ‘all is well, all will be well‘.
I am going to try to listen to my body; to slow down and be more present; to boost it with nourishing foods and more sleep. Our bodies have wisdom that we often ignore or resist. Resistance causes stress and stress wears us out.
I do know what to do, I just need to allow myself this time. Our culture wants us to keep going, everyone is busy and that is how we think it has to be. If there is a space in our schedule, we fill it with something. There is rarely a space to just be. I was listening to an interview at the Nourished Momma Summit and one of the speakers (I don’t recall who) mentioned that we are human beings, not human doings and this really resonated with me. I am always thinking what needs doing, what to do next, forgetting that it is o.k to just be.
I have a party to organise for my eldest on her Hallowe’en birthday. I had planned to do two parties, one small one on Hallowe’en, as she really wants to have a Hallowe’en themed party this year (we haven’t had one for a couple of years as I thought it really overshadowed her birthday and she agreed) and then I was planning to do a craft party the week after for her school friends. Due to my low energy levels, I have persuaded her that one party is enough and she would rather have a calm mummy than the frazzled mummy I was becoming! There will be four friends and lots of fun and games.
Tomorrow we are heading off for a weekend in the New Forest in Hampshire – a wonderful place to spend an autumn day. We are really craving some family time together and a break from routine. Our family needs this regularly and we try to factor it in, especially at busy times. There is a deep need in us to reconnect in nature and away from home. Hopefully this will help my energy levels. I have certainly spent a lot of time indoors this half term while the children were at school; decluttering, doing jobs around the house, making things etc, so hopefully being out in nature will give me the boost I need and of course being with the ones I love in a relaxed space, taking things slowly.
Wishing you a peaceful autumn with many quiet moments to just be.