- the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Does anyone else feel SO ready for winter to be over with? I know I am, and if we’re being honest, I have been done with winter since mid-January. Once the “magic” of the holidays fade and the twinkling lights come down and the daily grind returns, the joy fades and the grey sets in, both outdoors and in mood.
I have worked diligently to become more positive and improve my health and my mindset over the last 2 years and I am so proud of what I have accomplished. However, since I am being honest today, I can share that I struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), on top of a history of depression and anxiety. Even while life is good, SAD can sneak in and make you feel otherwise. It can rob you of joy and make even the smallest issues seem like a mountain to climb.
This year, my SAD has been in full-swing and it has taken a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I know that I am not alone in this, as many of my clients pursuing better health are feeling challenged emotionally and mentally lately too. It has been a dark time, even though I really do have so much to be grateful for. There is so much joy in each day, even in the smallest ways, but it can be hard to see when SAD or depression sinks in.
When we don’t see the sun, it feels dim and dark. In reality, the sun is always shining, it’s just hidden by the clouds. It’s the same way with finding joy. There is some in each and every day, but we can’t always see it when it’s hidden behind the negative things that are weighing us down. I’m learning that I personally have to CHOOSE JOY. I have to seek it out and practice daily gratitude, on purpose, in order to keep the “sun shining” in my own world. Beautiful things happen when we allow the other parts of life to be acknowledged and shine through.
Speaking in my own experience from this past weekend, I had to confront some disappointment and CHOOSE JOY. I absolutely loved spending time connecting at our Fill Up Your Cup monthly social event, but felt like it went by so quickly and was over before I knew it! Instead of focusing on the amazing connections made, I focused on the disappointment of going back to everyday life instead… and friends, I felt really low. It felt like I had just gotten started and then the fun was over! I work from home, so I spend a lot of time by myself, and that is SO hard for me some days. SO, after this event was done, I found myself already missing the joyful “high” that comes from community, connection, laughter, and great conversation. I felt deflated.
Despite that low, my husband supported me and encouraged me through it all. Thank goodness for having a strong and positive support person! Sunday night, I told myself that I needed to focus on all of the greatthings that happened during the weekend. When chose to do that, there was a shift – it was a shift in my heart and mindset. I realized (yet again) that I have so much to be grateful for.
I chose to look at it this way… There is an amazing group of women who have trusted in my dream of community and they have joined me and lifted me up through their gratitude. How awesome is that?! The more I focused on that, I started finding joy in thinking of their kind words and their expressions of appreciation for creating a place for them to gather and connect. That is an incredible feeling and I often wonder why I overlook moments like that! So, it is my goal for this year, to keep CHOOSING joy and practicing an “attitude of gratitude” each day.
My goal in sharing all of this is really just to help you know that if this sounds like you, you are NOT alone. The more we share our stories, the more we help others realize that they too, are not alone. Even if it isn’t about depression, but something else going on in your life, know that someone else has been there too. We are more alike than we are different and more connected than we often realize.
You are seen. You are heard. You are loved. It doesn’t matter what darkness is closing in or how it may seem, you are not alone. The sun is always shining, but know that sometimes other things may be clouding our vision and our hearts, so we are unable to see it at the time. I encourage you to CHOOSE joy – seek it out and practice gratitude on purpose. Start each day with a grateful heart and practice this daily until it turns into a habit. It’s amazing how much more the sun shines when we give it a chance to peek through the clouds.