How to Stay in the Light When It's Dark

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I always think Daylight Savings in the Fall is gonna be so cool because of that extra hour of sleep we get. I wanna sleep in as much as R. Stevie Moore and I Go To Sleep like the Kinks cause I'm always so tired like the Beatles. But alas, there's that dreary early sunset to deal with.

I never travel and I am a workaholic, so I have very little authority on how to balance work/life or how to make self-care a necessary priority. But I am acutely aware of my patterns and am starting to be ok with them, which I think they say, is the first step to recovery. 

Now that the sun sets while the early bird specials are still running, the winter blues feel inevitable. Because having the sads is a slippery slope, I try to remind myself of some tried-and-true practices for taking myself out of a thought loop.

1.   LEARN SOMETHING. Since I have always been a nerd, the best way for me to get electricity to take a different path in my brain, (and out of my work, have a drink, sleep repeat loop), is learning something. An easy way for the seriously busy bee to get in some learning is a TED TALK! One of my favorites is about the effects of positive thought exercises on the brain by Shawn Achon. There's some real gems in that talk. For example, Achon says,  "What we found is that only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ, 75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat." He talks super fast so make sure you're in a wakeful mood if you're going to listen. 

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2.  CREATE YOUR OWN RITUAL: Whether its lighting some palo santo, reading an incantation you read in an amateur Wicca book, or having a cup of tea for twenty minutes by yourself before you go into work, I have found that doing an act of tribute for the sun or the moon, (whatever entity that moves you) is a good reminder that the day is a new day and that these  moments in our lives will never happen again. That's a good place to be mentally, especially if you're about to perform a task you have literally performed a thousand times before. It helps you take the time to seeing how this time might be different than the last time, and more importantly, how you can make it so. 

3. READ AN OLD JOURNAL.

Some old prose from a journal entry dated Oct 2007.

Some old prose from a journal entry dated Oct 2007.

 My roommates will attest to the fact that my living room is swallowed by my documents. While its true that for the most part they are an archive from 1992-now of the mostly obvious thoughts in my brain, I have a terrible memory. So every once-in-awhile when I open up a random page, I find out that I'm going through the same thing in my thirties that I was in my mid-twenties or a poem I completely forgot I wrote. There's something comforting about the cycles, and being able to trace my own movements, or find something my subconscious seems to have written without my consent (sometimes with words I don't even know!)

Poster by Chelsea Granger. Available on Etsy.

Poster by Chelsea Granger. Available on Etsy.

4. DO NOT IGNORE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE AN ANIMAL. I am more likely to take my cat to the doctor than I am to take myself. My instincts are always to solve problems in some analytical way instead of in the practical obvious way. My most common approach to the issue of nourishment with books and gemstones, often foregoing the obvious diet and exercise thing. I'm not saying go to the gym more or eat fruits and vegetables, because we all know we are supposed to do that as much as we can, but what I am saying is that if you're cerebral like me, a good way to get back into the mindset is by reading research on food. (There's an awesome Great Course by Mimi Guarneri available on audible . She is a cardiologist-turned-holistic doctor who thought maybe we should prevent disease using food instead of putting stints in broken hearts. There's also a fun book called An Edible History of Humanity or if you're more of a listening type, there's a course about food and culture, that talks about food and how our ideas about it are deeply embedded into our consciousness by history. (I mean, only rich people used to have pepper.)  I bring this up because reminding yourself of how the body works really helps you make different choices when you're grocery shopping or going out to dinner. When I was feeling really tired two years ago, I had my blood tested and found my Vitamin D was so low I had to take 4000 units a day for ten days (or eat some spinach, or get some sun.)  It's so easy to forget exactly what food is for when there's so many deep-fried cheese options on seamless.

Those are my four little tricks and habits I try and use during summer. I'm not suggesting they ward off life crises, but they can certainly help with our strange attachments to our bad moods. With that, I leave you a demo of The Beatles 'I'm So Tired.' Proven fact: good things can come from being tired. I'm no expert on circadian rhythms, although I definitely believe in second sleep, but as far as this song goes, the proof is in the melodic pudding.