Seasonal depression is a royal pain. We’re supposed to be happy in all this darkness, and that somehow makes it worse. As I’ve wrestled with my own doom-and-gloom demons these last couple of weeks, I’ve remembered three things that help me fight the good fight.
1) That thing about “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” is truer than you think.
If you can’t make the bad things in your life go away, you need both the strength to endure them and a way to take a break from them. Not everyone has the privilege of taking that kind of action, but if you have it, you’re foolish not to exercise it. Enjoy whatever good things are in reach, and do what it takes to make your body and your mind feel good at least some of the time.
If uncertainty is killing you, find a way to provide yourself some certainty. Schedule something nice for yourself, a walk, a bath, a phone call to a friend, and do it. You haven’t solved your problem, but you’ve addressed the feeling of helplessness.
2) Don’t mistake comfort for happiness.
When I wake up during a break or on a weekend, I find that unless I’m genuinely recovering from something it’s not actually better to stay in bed half the morning. It takes me out of the routine I use to stay positive and energized. The problem: It’s really comfortable in bed.
I have to remind myself that just because I’m comfortable doesn’t mean I’m happy. In fact the comfort of the bed is contributing towards my unhappiness. Unless I’m able to make a distinction between things that make me comfortable and things that make me happy, I’m likely to choose comfort every time.
Food is another comforter that can be confused with happiness. I’ll sometimes eat for the comfort, even when it makes me overfull and miserable. Of course, if you’re using food for number one on my list, you have to be careful.
3) Don’t think too far ahead unless you have to.
I have a talent for thinking ahead (except in chess). I’m good at foreseeing problems and solutions long before I actually need them. This talent, however, has a tremendous drawback.
If I envision more problems than I can actually solve, I become overwhelmed and anxious. Remember, these are problems I don’t yet have to solve, or may never have to solve. Being prepared for one or two of them (like estate planning) is clever, but being overwhelmed by all of them is a quick ticket to misery.
Since not everyone has my particular demon, this tip may be the least useful of the three. But everyone worries about something. I’m simply suggesting the obvious, that worry creates more misery than it addresses.
I know none of these are new. I hope, however, that the reminder comes to you when you need it. If you have other suggestions for our readers, please post them in comments!
News From a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books
My interview with Maria Kostina posted this week. I discuss being happy, working hard, and the power of music education for both! You can read it in either of the following links:
You can see these and others on my press tab.
Adam Cole is a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books. Fantasy author, educator and performer, Adam chats weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and living your best life. To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net