Finding Winter Light
In the winters, after he retired, my father placed a
kitchen chair beside a window, and stared at the brown, and
sometimes white, winter world. The activity in his life all
seemed to take place during the warmer seasons. He read little,
seemed not to be very interested in TV, and computers in the
home did not exist. No wonder he often felt depressed until the
outdoor spring cleanup could begin. And I wonder if he also
suffered from a condition called S.A.D. Studies show that nearly
10% of those living in northern climates suffer from Seasonal
Affective Disorder, a condition believed to be caused mainly
from the lack of sunlight, but perhaps also from the lack of
meaningful activity in the winter. It is interesting to note
that the S.A.D. percentage drops to 1.5% in Sarasota, FL - - the
sunshine state. There are some practical things we can do with
light therapy to fight S.A.D., and we encourage you to do a
search on the web for help with it. Also search "Christian
depression" for more guidance.
But for less serious cases of the
winter blues, there is much we can do to accept responsibility
for improving our mood. God has given this time to us, and will
help us to do well in it. He is always present with us, waiting
to lift us up. It is OUR responsibility to take the first steps.
Perhaps I am writing on this subject because I too have
experienced down moods in the winter that do not seem to occur
at other times. As a child of God who has been given the winter,
I refuse to waste it in a pit. I awoke this morning thinking
that spring is exactly 60 days away. If I look back 60 days, it
was Thanksgiving time. Seems like yesterday. And so spring will
feel like tomorrow. In the meantime, let's get busy.
1. Accept your feelings as a
human condition, not a spiritual failing. Christians often
feel that if they have found new life in Christ, all down,
depressed, or negative feelings will forever disappear, and any
sign of them show a lack of faith. This is not so. At various
times in his life, Jesus seemed to show an attitude that was
less than joyous. He grieved. He wept for Jerusalem, and on the
cross he expressed dismay that God had forsaken him.
2. Develop a healthy routine.
It can be comforting and reassuring to develop and adhere to a
basic routine. Get up and get dressed at the same time
each morning, and go to bed at the same time each evening. Plan
your meals ahead. If you are alone, determine to plan meals that
require some preparation. You deserve them, and planning them
will be fun.
2. Work on gratitude. Often
gratitude is not a spontaneous feeling. It takes some effort.
Please read the SeniorARK page,
Lists". I must daily remind myself about the many things for
which I am grateful. Try this each morning just after breakfast,
and see if it helps. It is difficult to be grateful and
depressed at the same time.
3. Reach out to others.
Find a couple friends to call every day. These don't need to be
long calls. Just see how you are each doing today, and what the
plans are for the day. If you can get out, become acquainted
with your local senior center, your library. volunteer for an
activity at the church. There is always something to do there.
Check your local paper for things to do, and people to meet.
4.Take a course. Your local
college, or even high school, will be
offering courses on
interesting subjects. Pick one that you think you will like, and
go. You might have fun, and meet some great people.
5. Get a pet. I have not
seen a study showing that seniors who care for a pet live
longer. But I'll bet they do. I do know many seniors who are
much happier during any season of the year with a cat or small
dog. My 80 year old neighbor has a new toy poodle, Rory (I call
him killer, mocking his tiny size). Already she adores that pup,
and is clearly invigorated by his antics. (The day after this
message was posted, we came across this article:
"How a dog's life can make you happier"1-22-07)
6. Develop an interest. We
discuss, at this writing. 52 possible hobbies on our
Hobby Tips page. And
there must be hundreds more. Investigate and select one. If you
don't like it, then try another. Go to our "Just For Fun" page
and work some puzzles, or read some humor.
I have heard the expression that
"MOOD FOLLOWS ACTION". And I believe it too. Often we cease all
action because we have developed a depressed mood. Be bold. Turn
it around. You may not be responsible for the mood you are in,
but you ARE responsible for taking the first steps to change it.
Prayer: Our Father, lift us up
from wherever we may be. When we are down, we need the
everlasting arms to bring us up. When we are up, we need the
everlasting arms to stay there. We know that with you all things
are possible. So this winter, in the northern hemisphere of
your earth, show us how to live richly, in the name of your
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