Counterintuitive Cures

How confronting winter elements head-on helped quell my Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms

When deciding to attempt the #1000hoursoutside challenge, I knew winter would be my Everest. How could I possibly spend time outside during the months that made me want to curl up and hibernate until May? The mere minutes I was spending between getting out of my SUV and into my work building were barely tolerable. I even hated ‘winter’ when living in California (which yes, seems ridiculous now, but it’s a thing!). This was an especially risky move after the darkness of last year.

I experienced a deep seated period of resentment about living in the Midwest last spring. It had been a frigid winter and even though the calendar was saying positive messages like ‘April’ or even ‘May,’ it just seemed to remain an eternally dreary and damp season. I begged my husband to move us back to California more than a few times, if only to feel the heat of the sun on my skin again.

Truthfully, I was worried for winter to arrive this year. I was bracing myself for another episode of sadness and hopelessness.

To say the outdoor challenge came at the right time is an understatement I contemplate often. Here I was, preparing to deal with the after-holiday lull of gray January, and I had decided to venture outside. Silly! What was I thinking? But confronting the elements was exactly the perspective I needed to not only appreciate, but enjoy the beauty of an Iowa winter. For suddenly I was spotting bald eagles and startling a herd of deer and discovering the cutest little fungi clinging to the trees. My eyes were twinkling at the multi-faceted splendor of ice encasing a magnificently alive forest. It’s been the best medicine (here is my disclaimer that I’m not suggesting nature is a cure-all for depression. I am not a doctor, obviously).

So as March rolls in and spring eventually makes its debut, I’m ready to welcome it with open arms like a friend I haven’t seen since, well, last year. I’ll stomp in puddles and delight in freshly sprouted buds. I’ll probably complain about the bugs and fickle nature of the rain.

But for the first time, I’ll also be a little bit sad to see winter leave.

2023 hours so far: 70.5

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