I've heard some people recently insisting they love winter. Given the mild winter we're having, I haven't put up much resistance to their optimism. But had I been asked my opinion, I would reply, "Winter sucks! The cold is paralyzing, the wind is harsh and biting, and walking in snow feels like moving in the shallow end of a swimming pool." Every year I become burdened with the heaviness of winter. Sometimes to the degree of seasonal depression, other times I'm blessed to only become a little down, apathetic, or discouraged. This year, likely because of its mildness, winter has only brought me down a little. I find myself feeling unmotivated, irritated, and largely stagnant. My heart longs for growth and renewal, yet the prospect of it becomes too exhausting to pursue.
A conversation with a colleague recently reminded me, one of the best techniques we have to treat depression. The idea that often, depression is simply helped by doing something. Anything. One of the most prevalent symptoms of depression is lack of motivation; not caring enough to force oneself to do something when we don't feel like it. When clients tell me, "Yes, Jennifer, that's a good idea. But when the time comes, I just don't feel like doing it." My response is usually, "That's OK. But I think it would help you to do it anyway." Inevitably, they will do it, even though they don't feel like it, and they will begin to feel better. Not because that particular action worked any kind of miracle, but because one thing leads to another. One positive action leads to another positive thought or action, which leads to another to another to another. When it comes to depression, doing something will almost always be better than doing nothing.
This is advice I could use when winter has me feeling stuck and stubborn. Rather than becoming paralyzed when life feels too dense to step into, I would like to remember that if I do something, anything, I will likely feel better about doing the next thing. One step at a time.
At the same time, I would like to advise myself to sink into winter. The cold, sometimes dark days, present good opportunities to curl up and watch a movie, or read a book. Whether I'm choosing to do this, or feel like its the only choice possible, I would like to allow myself to enjoy these moments. Because the Lord knows, summer will soon be here, and the heat and overwhelming busyness of the season will cause me to write a blog entitled, "Woe to Summer, Give Us Some Rain!"