Monday, 4 September 2017

S.A.D AND FEARING AUTUMN




The recent bank holiday Monday, the day I came back from Reading Festival, we were all greeted with a glorious last surge of summer sun. So despite feeling like a dried up raison who wanted to hibernate to recover under the cover for the next week to return to metaphorical grape form, I said to Si that we must get out and bask in it. So we put on summery outfits, in my case an off shoulder print dress from Light In The Box that I hadn’t managed to wear yet due to a lack of holiday, and not being free to enjoy the few sunny days we’ve had in the UK. I’m never too comfortable wearing dresses that show off my d├ęcolletage, so I find cold-shoulder pieces the perfect solution - I think bare shoulders are just as sexy as displayed chest with less risk of a nipple reveal. This dress was only £10.55, and the site is full of similar bargains, but just please be mindful of custom charges that will come with an order from the UK. I love the bell sleeves and the print, it’s got real hippy bohemian vibes which is a vibe I’ve always been drawn to. 




You can find it here -


For many of us Reading festival signal the end of summer. So with Reading 2017 being a week long memory now, I have had a few days to ponder how I feel about Autumns imminent arrival. 


It’s fair to say my feelings are mixed at best. 

I’ve seen a lot of people saying they can’t wait for Summer to be over, the majority of those being people who don’t cope well in the hotter months (fair skinned or profuse sweaters), people who have jobs that aren’t made easy by increased temperature - whether it be the work being more taxing because of it, or the tube commute delivering B.O and body crushing misery. Then there are the bloggers who much prefer their social feed aesthetic when filled with copper and rust hues, with outfit posts incorporating stylish coats and knitwear wishing the final few days of summer away. 


For me it always brings a significant element of doom. Not only does it mean another birthday is looming (which at my age is nothing to be excited about,) but that the darker evenings and mornings are on their way too. Whilst I can’t say this particular summer has been at all successful at elevating my mood as much as I relied on it to do, I know all too well that Autumn/Winter will bring many more obstacles to my ability to stay positive and happy. 

I’ve not managed to be well enough or in a position to neglect work to enjoy many of the beautiful summer weather we’ve had, so I don’t feel like I’ve been able to soak up my year’s quota of Vitamin D, and in turn the benefits it delivers to my body and mindset. I feel a bit cheated to be honest, and would love a second go at this summer. If I’d known how it was going to pan out I would have got myself in the garden during the first heatwave to ensure the glow soaked into my skin and gave me some nourishment that I could try and ration out over the summer months. 


The reality is I don’t have the power to pause or stop seasons (Imagine if I did?!) so rather than dwell on the passing of my favourite season, or fear the one about to arrive, I should instead focus on emotional management, maintaining my mind and body health, and trying to seek out some positives. 


When I first started to do my Mind Matters interviews I wanted them to be a useful reference for others to seek comfort or information, I now realise I too can gain a lot from my interviewee’s personal coping mechanisms and remedy’s. My recent one with Sean from While She Sleeps delivered a brand new perspective, with aids coming in the form of teas, Daoism, and changing how one perceives the entire concept of Depression and Anxiety (watch the interview to hear more on that). So while I will continue to do my meditation and be open about my battles with depression, I will also try to look into these Eastern religious practices. After half and hour with Sean, it was impossible not to feel convinced that they have some power to transform people’s lives for the better, and that western medicine and traditional routes aren’t always the right fit in combating these issues. 


Knowing that I will likely spend even more time inside over the next few months I need to work on making my home and in particular, my bedroom, a sanctuary and somewhere that doesn’t add to the muddle in my head. I need to crack back on with my decluttering and create some space on my floor which is currently littered with crusty clothes, even crustier plates and cutlery, and contents of goodie bags which don’t seem to have a rightful place. 

I also need to have some things/moments in my calendar to look forward to. For many Halloween or Christmas are something to work towards, or to count down to in excitable fashion, but as a fan of neither I don’t have anything to split up the months. A/W mentally feels like a big stretch of time to get through without being broken up by some joyous occasion or landmark event. This morning in bed I actually said to Si that we need to have a night in a hotel booked or a meal out at a restaurant we’ve always wanted to go to - just so there’s some light in what I predict to be a period of predominant darkness. 


But perhaps that last sentence is part of the problem - the fact that I just assume A/W will bring a bad phase in my depression. The lack of sunlight and the shorter days has definitely had that effect in the past, but I have to recognise that my ability to combat it may be stronger now, and I may have coping mechanisms in place that could potentially make it more manageable. Maybe I need to try and not write off this seasons every year before I’ve given them a proper chance to prove that perhaps history doesn’t need to repeat itself. 


But if things do take an emotional downturn then there is still stuff I can do to attempt to ease it, so I’ll continue with those….

I will finally buy one of those light boxes, and make soaking up the light rays part of my daily routine, just as important as brushing my teeth and the morning trip to the loo. I will also be more vigilant about taking my vitamins and supplements, and perhaps making sure my meals are a bit more nutritious. I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that I gorge on snacks/unhealthy food when I’m feeling blue or bored, and while those snack attacks deliver a very satisfactory temporary high that I enjoy (A LOT) I know that it’s not nourishing my inside. By now, from personal experience and from the intel from Sean Long in my recent interview, I know that diet can have a notable impact on our emotional health, or our ability to improve it - so I definitely need to be more mindful of that. This is something I know I will find incredibly tricky, working from home makes it all too easy to regularly root through the food cupboards for Digestive biscuits, Monster Munch and Malteser’s, and these frequent visits to the kitchen have almost become routine and habit, and not just something I do when a craving hits. I imagine it’s going to be hard to break that cycle, so I’ll just aim to reduce it to begin with. Me minus Maltesers entirely isn’t a Soph worth knowing. 


I need to also find a method of assessing myself in such a way that will let me know for sure when it’s right for me to say no to social invites/work events and focus on self-care at home, and when it’s helpful for me to me to push myself a bit, go out, and potentially snap out of the funk. I’ve always generally been the one to put on a brave face and keep working and socialising even when my mental or physical health is screaming at me to do neither. But in the recent year as I’ve delved into my mind further via blogs/videos/self assessment I’ve been more inclined to say no, without punishing myself with the sting of guilt or FOMO. As an natural workaholic and people pleaser this will never be easy for me, but it’s a step in the right direction for me to at least be attempting to strike a better balance with it. 

This A/W I will also make an effort to try and reduce or eradicate the things I know bring needless extra stress. That may mean distancing myself from certain friendship groups where drama always seems a predominant theme. It will mean doing less of the work that brings pressure that isn’t somehow counteracted by equal reward. It may mean having some awkward conversations with people to enable you to do this, but in the long run it will make this period of time less IBS inducing.
This leads on to time management too. I need to make sure I spend more time on the things that lead to me feeling happier, fulfilled, appreciated, or that deliver growth of some sort. I know a lot of my darker days are fuelled by a feeling of resentment that’s birthed from putting effort in and it not being recognised or compensated in some form. 


That leads me to financial woes. This has been one of the hardest years for me on that front, so much so I’ve often had to borrow from friends and loved ones to simply get by, which feels pretty horrendous and not great for one’s feeling of self worth. It’s been harder due to my field of work because I’m expected to be at festivals, and events, and they all require train tickets, taxi’s, petrol, and sometimes hotels. During the chillier seasons, I’m going to put my foot down and not feel pressured to be at events unless I believe they will be truly valuable to me in some way, whether it help my progress career wise, or nurture my soul in some way. I will be mindful of how I spend the money I earn. For instance I’d rather have an hours appointment with my osteopath which will leave me feeling better and less creaky for the week ahead, than spend it on going to London and schmoozing with people I’d never choose to spend time with in an ideal world, or on a dress that I’ll love for a few months, but will end up neglected in my wardrobe all of 2018 when that trend has passed. 


One of the things that brings the most happiness to humans is helping others. This can come in many forms. Whether you volunteer for local charities or initiatives, visit a relative that you know lacks regular social interaction due to their situation, or whether you are simply that good pal being there for a friend who is going through something particularly draining, you’ll find great emotional reward in this. Don’t feel guilty about that fact that this is a mutually beneficially action either - obviously do it for the right reason, but embrace the high it delivers too. I think I’m going to focus on helping to make my partners career goals come true. We can get some bogged down with our own aspirations sometimes, we forget the joy that can come from helping someone else chase their dreams too. While I think it’s important to follow your own, it’s never good to be completely self obsessed and I think this is an easy trap for us bloggers to be a bit ‘me me me’. 

This part of the year should also be about recognising that we have less hours of light, but giving that seemingly depressing reality a new slant. Do we dwell on the fact that’s less daylight, or do use it as fuel to motivate us to make the most of those hours? Rather than wake up and focus on the fact there is no longer sunlight streaming through the curtain and reflecting off my mirrored wardrobes and blinding me, I’m going to think about what activities I can do first thing in the morning that don’t require light. I will get up and do my meditations, perhaps do that much needed tidying I’ve been putting off, perhaps a bath (you could incorporate candles), writing emails, preparing food for the day ahead. Then whet the light finally arrives you will have had a productive morning that will make you feel great, and you can get cracking on those light necessary tasks - in my case taking blog pictures, or filming videos or going on a walk and kicking up those fallen leaves. 


Finally, I know even after my attempts to install some rational thought in this blog, the end of summer will still make you/us feel a little bit sombre -we will always associate fun and freedom with summer due to its link to holidays, and the best day ever when we were young - the summer break from school. We can all make an effort to be aware of this and look out for each-other, and be understanding when things feel a bit heavy or misted by doubt or hopelessness. We can be that one to coax someone out of their hermit-ing, or be that friend who will join them for cosy/safe nights in when preferred or needed. 



Think how we approach different seasons when it comes to aesthetics and beauty - in summer many apply fake tans, get waxed, get highlights refreshed and so on. Then in winter we apply extra lip balm to stave off chapped lips, change our moisturiser, buy tights in bulk…I say ‘we’ I do none of these things as I’m rubbish at grooming, but you know what I mean. If we do all this seasonal preparation to look out for our outer shell, why the hell wouldn’t we do it for our inside too. So let’s not let fear of what we deem to be inevitable to stop us trying to prevent the effects of S.A.D. Make this the year you try and work out what helps you, and elevate some of the negative effects of your individual reactions to the transition. There’s always something we can improve on in terms of tailoring our lives to suit our individual issues, tendencies, volume of emotional strain, and we owe it to this beautiful season to try and get to a place where we can enjoy it in all it’s beautiful coppered beauty. 



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