Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Coping With The Winter Blahs

The holiday season hasn't even ended yet, and I can already feel the winter doldrums setting in. I usually get tired of winter after the first week. I don't dream of a white Christmas; I actually hope for the snow to stay away.

It happens every winter. At some point the snow and cold become tedious. After the joy and excitement of the holiday season have passed, there's not much else to do. Seasonal depression kicks in for lots of folks, except maybe skiers. Some of us just feel helpless against the weather and shut in with cabin fever.

Sometimes it seems like the only good thing about winter is the end of it.

I used to love the snow when I was a kid. I'd make snow angels and catch snowflakes on my tongue. Now when I see it snowing, I wonder how I'm going to navigate through the the white stuff, both on foot and driving.

It's no fun trudging through the snow when you have MS. I have enough trouble walking without the frozen obstacle. Shovelling snow, brushing off the car, driving along hoping the car doesn't skid - it all gets to be too much sometimes.

Still, in spite of my stiffness and fatigue, I'll plod through the snow every day to fill the birdfeeder hanging off the big tree in the center of my backyard. Then I'll scatter some walnuts for the squirrels. It's become a winter ritual for me, and I do enjoy seeing the birds flying around the feeder and the squirrels bounding through the snow and munching on the walnuts (or occasionally helping themselves to the birdseed).

Simple pleasures like this make winter more tolerable. And even I have to admit a quiet snowfall or the snow glistening in the moonlight can be beautiful.

I don't think I've ever really had what they call seasonal affective disorder, but I do feel more sadness and frustration in the winter, and there is no question the weather is to blame. As the weeks of winter drag on and turn into months, it's easy to get a bit depressed. The days are shorter, the weather is at times unbearable. It seems the only thing to do is look forward to spring.

It's easy to feel trapped in the winter, watching the snow pile up, then having to go out and fight your way through it just to get to work. Or not being able to go anywhere because of a blizzard.

I've noticed on the winter weekends, unless there is a blizzard, the roads are filled with cars. People are out and about, going shopping, doing things. That's the main thing that helps ease the winter doldrums - getting out of the house. Staying home in the winter just makes me more sad. I need to get out whenever possible and get some fresh air and sunlight.

Shaking my fist at the bitter cold wind, I'll go out, brush off the car and head out, hoping I don't get stuck in the driveway, or anywhere else for that matter. By the time I come home, getting back in the warm house and out of my snowy boots gives me such a sense of relief. I made it through the frozen tundra!

Like many other things in life, winter can sure test a positive attitude. It's not easy to fight off the winter blahs. For me, it's the little things that get me through it, like feeding the birds and squirrels, sipping hot cocoa or seeing the occasional snowman when I drive down the street. Sometimes I can't help but smile when I see kids outside riding on their sleds or having snowball fights. It takes me back.

Maybe I'll try to make a snow angel this winter. I'm going to have a heck of a time getting up afterward!

So if you find yourself feeling blue this winter, remember - Spring is coming back!

(And please remember to feed the birds.)

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