Cold Weather Blues

You’ve heard about SAD, right? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) People who have it usually experience feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, and depression starting in the fall and it lasts through the winter months until spring comes along. The further north you live from the equator, the higher your chances are of having SAD. Up here in Canada, it’s estimated that about 15% of us suffer from it.

There’s a couple of theories as to why people develop this disorder, but it all boils down to one thing: the lack of light. It’s been said to throw off our natural circadian rhythms and affect the way our brain produces chemicals. Personally, I think if this is true then we should all suffer to some extent during the winter months– not necessarily because of a disorder, but from something that I like to call the “cold weather blues”. You don’t want to go outside. You don’t want to see friends. You feel more tired than usual. (I get it; me too.)

Fighting drowsiness is the first way to beat it- make sure you still try to get up every morning at the same time and leave the bedroom to avoid the temptation to go back to bed. (Sometimes a change in bedtime is necessary, too!)

Another way to beat it is to inject some fun into your social life. When the weather gets cold we all have to fight the inclination to stay inside– it’s isolating, and you run the risk of becoming even moodier and depressed. Make a pact with your friends (and yourself!) to plan something fun every week. Mark it on your calendar so it gives you something to look forward to. My friends and I like to make dinner for each other and we take turns hosting so there’s less pressure all around. If you’re not an outdoorsy person, make a point of finding fun indoor activities to do around your city– museums, art galleries, rock climbing, laser tag, rollerskating- or hey, why not try watching a movie in a theatre instead of the usual Netflix and chill?

Last (but not least), please give journaling a try. It may feel silly or unnatural at first, but sometimes getting your thoughts out of your head and down on a piece of paper is all that you need to lift yourself out of your temporary funk. On particularly bad days I try to practice my own form of gratitude in my journal: I try to write down all of the good things that happened during my day, no matter how small they were. Remembering all of those things gives me hope that good things happen every day, even if we have to remind ourselves of it once in a while.

If all else fails remind yourself that winter, just like everything, is only temporary. It may seem far off but come springtime you’ll feel the sunshine on your face, and you’ll try to remember what winter felt like, and you’ll laugh because by then it will have become a distant memory.

In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.

What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

How to Get Your Outdoors Ready for Winter

img_1982

It always feels like the official end of summer when the time comes to dismantle the outdoor living space I’ve created on my porch for the season. It’s a bittersweet time; on the one hand, I’m sad to watch the days grow shorter and colder but on the other hand it gives me the opportunity to reflect on how much I’ve enjoyed my time out there this past summer.

Autumn is usually the time when I update my garden notes, paying attention to what worked for me during the growing season and what didn’t. I start brainstorming improvements too so that I can continue to develop these plans over the winter when I’m stuck indoors.

It’s also a good opportunity to do a little research on how to best care for your garden and/or outdoor space over the winter. Don’t limit yourself to just plants. Patio furniture, planters, pots, urns and other outdoor décor and accessories all need to be properly cleaned and stored for the winter as well. You may wish to clean and take inventory of all of your gardening tools at this time of year as well, and make any repairs or replacements accordingly.

Additionally, there are certain house maintenance issues that may require attention. Gutters and eaves should be cleaned and inspected, as should the screens and windows of your house. (Some people have storm windows that should be installed at this time of year as well.)

Getting my outdoors ready for winter is a unique experience for me because I live in an apartment building. Many potted plants will not last the winter; those I can save I bring inside or winterize in their pots. This I do by spreading mulch over the soil, wrapping them with burlap and twine, and stashing them in a sheltered area that will protect them from windy and damp conditions. Plants that find their homes inside often get cut back and repotted in order to stay strong and healthy during the period of hibernation.

In a way, I’m preparing to hibernate as well. Winter is a gloomy time for me (I’m a fresh air and sunshine kind of gal) and I like to get ready for the season indoors as well by giving my house a good clean to clear out all of the dirt and grit that the summer brought in. I usually take a look through my pantry to reorganize and purge unwanted or expired food. All that extra room gives me the opportunity to stock up on ingredients for homemade soups and stews.

You better my quest for cozy doesn’t stop there either. This is the perfect time of year to wash all of your quilts, blankets and pillows in preparation for some serious snuggle time, or at least a lot of hours catching up on Netflix. I do a ton of reading over the winter as well, so fall is the perfect time for me to dust and re-organize my ever-evolving bookshelf (more about that here) and amass my reading material for the season. (I know you wouldn’t expect any less of me.)

Yes, the end of summer is a sad time for summer babies and garden lovers like myself, but for those of you who feel the same way, take heart: there are still other outdoor holiday decorating opportunities coming our way.

KBwB-BFlower-50It feels like yesterday I was just telling you guys about how I get ready for spring. How has all of that time flown by? I want to know how your gardens did over the summer. What do you include as part of your autumn cleaning ritual? Comment below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com. Pictures of fall colors are definitely encouraged.

Looking for other autumn-type stuff to celebrate the season? Click here to read why fall is still an opportunity to make a fresh start, get advice on how to store your summer shoes, or bake something seasonal here.