I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. It is now getting dark by 5:30pm. It is cold, 0 celcius or below. There is snow falling outside. Between November and February, the early darkness, cold temperatures and snow will continue. We won’t see relief until April or May.
I’m not here to talk about the weather though. I am here to talk about how I FEEL in the weather, about Seasonal Affective Disorder. I feel moody. I feel irritable. I don’t want to go outside (which for me is odd as I require nature to truly feel peaceful). I am less able to handle the daily stressors that I was coping with effectively only a few weeks ago. What is happening ?
Stress, in the literal definition, means a pressure, tension or strain placed on an object. Bending metal, pulling chain or rope, puts physical stress on the material. Under excessive stress, these materials will break.
Humans are the same, but our pressure, tension and strain are not usually physical. They can be – under situations of extreme exercise or threat of physical harm, but otherwise most of human stress in North America is psychological. These pressures and strains are our daily obligations and expectations that we face in personal, professional and family interactions.
Whether you want to call it the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression, the winter season DOES produce feelings of sadness, hopelessness, despair and loneliness in many people. Usually this change occurs between the months of September and April, with many people noticing a serious change throughout January and February.
If the winter months have you feeling suicidal, I recommend seeking professional help from law enforcement, a hospital, your doctor, or mental health crisis centre.
Why Does the Weather Get Us Down ?
New year. New you. For many people, it seems like a great time to start fresh. We can finally start to eat healthier, start an exercise regime, maybe set some money aside in a separate bank account every week (which I actually tried last year, and made it an entire 7 weeks).
Not because I failed at last year’s resolution to save money (but I totally did), there are a NUMBER of reasons I will not be making any new year’s resolutions moving forward in my life.
Meditate. Yoga. Take a walk. Have a nap. Read. Light some candles. Drink some tea.
These are just a few of the hundreds, maybe thousands of things someone can do as “self care” exercises. Self care is defined simply as doing something you enjoy for no other reason but to show appreciation to yourself.
It’s a great thing, and extremely necessary because people don’t do enough for themselves.
However, self care exercises can easily become another spoke on the wheel of anxiety and judgement.
You should. We should. They should. I should….
Should – used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.
The word “should” denotes an expectation. Families should have children. Children should learn and grow according to the recommended timelines. Parents should send their children to the best schools and enroll their children in physical activities. Young people should go to college. Everyone should get a job. You should save money to buy a house. You should save money for retirement. We should spend money to boost the economy.
Is this word really damaging though?
In the first blog of this series, I defined compassion fatigue and the factors that make caring industries at risk for compassion fatigue. You can read that blog here: https://auraecoaching.ca/2017/11/13/when-compassion-casts-a-shadow-the-dark-side-of-caring-blog-1-of-3/
This blog is going to briefly discuss how compassion fatigue can progress into abusive and cruel behaviour, as well as define the difference between the two.