The Lord has told us in Genesis 8:22 that “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Thank God for seasons! I cherished the splendor of Autumn days and relished the thrill of snow while growing up in the Northeast, but I have come to appreciate the colder months of sunny San Antonio.
Commonly referred to as “the place where the sunshine spends the winter,” San Antonio boasts refreshingly mild and beautiful Fall and Winter seasons. Temperatures drop below zero only 20 days annually, on average, making our city a comparatively warm place to spend the colder months. However, our city is not immune to the winter blues, and many people struggle with seasonal affective disorder every year.
As days get shorter and darker, some people respond to the lack of light in negative ways. According to scientific findings, higher melatonin levels, lethargy, and symptoms of depression are results of having less light exposure. A few factors can make people more at risk to the blues, including obesity, sleep disorders, and heart disease.
So here are five tips to help you and your family bust the seasonal blues!
1. Don’t let yourself go! Eat smart. Protein is mood stabilizing, while carbohydrates are mood stimulating and depressing. If you are prone to feeling down, consume protein each time you eat to balance your mood! Enjoy traditional holiday treats in moderation, and take in natural and raw foods (fruit, veggies) to keep your brain healthy. Stay active consistently, get your rest, and expose yourself to natural sunlight.
2. Give back. Studies show that altruistic acts combat depression. God commands us to give generously (Gen 15:10). Find creative ways to serve and give during this season (we could always use more volunteers at church!). Thinking about others helps you keep focus off yourself!
3. Gather with your friends. Depression loves isolation, but connecting with others safeguards you from staying down (Ecc. 4:9-10).
4. Choose to forgive. Reuniting with family can be stressful for many people during the holidays, but there is no antidote to relational tension like the mindset of forgiveness (Col. 3:13)! Set aside differences, and try to accept your loved ones as they are. Let God handle what you cannot.
5. Set healthy boundaries. Plan ahead to make life simpler. Learn to say No, and when you say yes to something, cut out something else. You have limits! Determine how much you want to spend on shopping and gifts this year, and stick with your budget! Take time for yourself.
Following these few simple tips can help you approach the winter season wisely, prepare you to enjoy it to the fullest, and position you to make the greatest impact on others. Time is short!
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. (3 John 1:2)