Banishing the March Blues

prespring

The view on my walk: spring sun on piles of snow.

It seems like every year around this time I go through some kind of emotional struggle, or even a physical illness. It’s an old familiar pattern. Even when I start the year off with exciting goals and intentions, March is when things seem to crash. Here in northern New England, while there are some signs of spring, it’s still really cold out. Seasonal transitions can be hard, and this one really kicks my butt.

But I’d rather not live inside an old story. So this month I’m purposefully being mindful. I’m doing some extra self-nurturing, and trying not to have unreasonable expectations of myself. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve talked to quite a few folks who also go through this sort of pre-spring downturn. I put up a query on my Facebook page and received a lot of responses. There was plenty of commiseration, as well as some ideas for helping ourselves get through this tricky stretch of time. I love what Sue L. said: “This time of year kind of reminds me of those last few weeks before childbirth, when you’re just uncomfortable.” That’s it exactly!

Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Here are some suggestions from the community, which I’ve compiled into seven tips. I hope they help you to thrive as the seasons turn toward the much-awaited Spring Equinox.

cabinfevercat

Cabin fever cat goes crazy over sunshine. Watch your feet!

Accept what is. So, it’s not yet spring. Why not just enjoy the last bit of winter? I don’t mean winter sports, unless that’s your thing. Maryanne J. recommends “embracing the darkness and letting it flow.” Remember the spiritual activities of winter? Dreaming, reading, introspection? Hibernating in the creative cave? Enjoy your time doing quiet indoor work before the sun and warm breezes call you outside to play.

Be playful. Amanda W. writes, “I stay positive by infusing my life with joy and play – laughter yoga, hula hooping, dancing, playing games with friends and family.” Find playful activities you enjoy, and immerse yourself in them. I like to dance around the kitchen to my favorite music, or make an art journal page of things I love.

Understand your emotional context. Jenn B. says that her own emotional funk tends to happen in the fall. “For me, it corresponds with loss I’ve experienced over the years. It’s a type of emotional anniversary. I don’t know if this applies for you, but thought I’d share my experience.” It’s true that my much-beloved grandmother died unexpectedly on the Ides of March, when I was a teenager. Could this loss still resonate after so many years? It’s quite possible. If you struggle with a particular season, think about what subconscious feelings might be tugging at you. Let them flow, and feel free to express yourself in your journal or to a close friend.

Add more color to your life. Several folks suggested buying bouquets of flowers, to add some brightness to your day. Outside, the snow is dirty and yards are turning into mudscapes. Brighten up your indoor space. It can help lift your mood a bit. Start some seedlings, and observe the bright green of new growth. Make sure all your winter decorations are put away – even those paper snowflakes on the windows. It’s almost time to decorate eggs.

Nurture your body. “It’s called cabin fever,” writes my cousin Billy. “Very similar to scurvy. Eat an orange and think spring!” Maybe its time to put away the soup recipes and make a spinach salad or a fruit smoothie. Jannine G. writes, “The change is season is when I tend to get sick again, so I am back to loading up on elderberry syrup, and not letting things slip like wearing my hat and gloves.” Getting plenty of sleep is important, too. Take good care of yourself.

Go outside. This week the temperatures were a bit milder, and I got outside for several walks. Even when you still have to bundle up, just being out there in the elements feels good. Exercise is a plus, too, and helps regulate the emotions. Take a walk and look around at all the changes going on right now in nature. As Jen C. reminds us, you can’t really notice the change in sunlight or air from inside your house.

Live in the moment. Maryanne J. says “I felt really springish…until the snow fell again…that was a real moment to embrace! A clear reminder to remain in the moment.” When things don’t go as we wish they would, we can use it as a trigger to be present in the now. Take a few deep breaths. Release expectations. Just be.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for weathering the change from late winter to early spring. I wish you warm days and a peaceful transition. Blessings of approaching Spring!


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