How are you, dear ones? Are you okay? I’m offering an updated version of this post to check in and see how you are as well as offer some information about the winter blues. As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to grow alongside considerable financial and political strains including the horrifying incident of insurrection this week in the U.S., the well-being of folks will also fluctuate significantly.
As Bernice King writes in her post below: “It’s okay not to be okay.
Violence, in the form of white supremacy and racism and in other forms, is traumatizing.
We’ve been moving on without collective therapy, healing, repair and eradication of the violence for far too long.”
Please check in regularly and seek any support or care you may need. Check in on each other. Check in on community.
Symptoms Check In
Monitor for the symptoms listed below as shared by @sitwithwhit and seek support if you notice any of the symptoms listed. Meeting with a mental health practitioner or seeking more urgent care when you notice the symptoms on the right of the chart below is highly recommended.
Winter Blues & Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Perhaps along with all the pandemic, financial and political stressors mentioned above, you’ve notice a change in your mood that started with the change in season from fall to winter.
The winter blues can be quite common with folks experiencing increased unhappiness, change in sleep or appetite, daytime fatigue, and social withdrawal in response to the change in temperature, having to stay indoors more, and the decreased availability of sunlight that winter can bring.
When changes in mood and well-being begin to affect many areas of daily life including work/school and interpersonal relationships, then one may have seasonal affective disorder which is considered a subtype of major depression.
If you are noticing a significant change in mood and functioning that has worsened related to the change in season, then please follow up with a mental health practitioner if you notice symptoms on the right side of the above symptom checklist.
There are a variety of treatment options available including light therapy, psychotherapy, psychopharmacology, supplements including Vitamin D, increased time outdoors, increase in nutrient-rich whole foods, exercise, etc that you can discuss with your practitioner to see which one would be the best fit for you.
Also, I would highly recommend finding consistent ways to stay connected with community especially during these winter months. Depending on your access, perhaps that could entail joining a daily/weekly text group with supportive friends, finding a pen pal to share letters with, joining a book club or online class.
It’s okay not to feel okay and it’s also really important to take care of yourself when you’re not feeling well. Please consider one of the resources below if you are in need of support.
Resources for Support:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741 if in crisis)
- BlackLine for BIPOC in crisis (Text or call 1 800 604 5841)
- NJ, NYC, & National Resources Against Domestic Violence (text LOVEIS to 22522)
- The Trevor Project for LGBTQ+ Teens: 1-866-488-7386
- National Runaway Safeline 1800runaway.org
- Trans LifeLine for Trans Folks: 877-565-8860
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment samhsa.gov
- National Alliance on Mental Illness nami.org
- Resources to find a therapist include Open Path Collective (sliding scale rates), Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy Den, QTPOC Mental Health Practitioner Directory and Inclusive Therapists
Radical Care Check in Reflections. Don’t Give Up:
adapted from the work of Sinope
Have you hydrated or eaten recently? Food and water are our medicines. Nourish yourself regularly.
Have you showered or changed your clothes recently? See how it feels to take a shower, wash your face, brush your teeth, and put on clean clothes.
Have you gone outside today? See what it’s like to gaze up at the sky, to receive the warmth of the sun, to feel the wind touching your skin, to sit in the grass for a moment and allow yourself to be held by the earth.
Are you having trouble sleeping? Explore a supportive nighttime ritual that allows you space from technology. Perhaps enjoy chamomile or passionflower tea, allowing your body to relax and let go of the day. Allow space for your rest and sleep time to not be invaded by guilt, regret, or judgment. Let go of anything that did not go as you like or anything that you did not get to complete. See how it feels to express gratitude for the precious moments. Explore some gentle stretches and deep breathing. Perhaps you can listen to soothing sounds if you find that supportive for sleep. See Lissa’s post about rest and sleep for additional ideas.
Have you moved today? Allow yourself time for supportive movements if that’s swaying, rocking, stretching, shaking, walking, dancing, and whatever else is supportive for you.
Have you said something nice to yourself in the past day? We are often the harshest critics of ourselves. Why not name and see the good in yourself and really allow yourself to receive the message? Perhaps use an I am statement as well such as I am loved, I am enough, I am healing, I am grounding, I am letting go, I am whole, I am here for you, I am home, I am love.
Have you touched anyone or anything today? If you are alone in quarantine, feel free to hug a cuddly stuffed animal or pillow, offer yourself gentle touch resting a hand on the belly and chest following the rising and falling of your hands with each cycle of breath and offering yourself love and care in that warm contact, and if it’s supportive you may explore using a weighted blanket or wearing a weighted item of clothing. Weighted blankets allow for deep touch pressure which can help support grounding and calm, increased happiness, and improved sleep for some.
Have you rested today? Please rest. Even when you’re engaged in doing, allow there to be space for rest. Allow there to be space for rest and not just doing. We often overexert ourselves whether it’s physically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, or via technology. Always allow yourself time for rest. Know that we always need it.
Do you feel like you’ve gotten nothing done today? Can you be easy with yourself? Forgive yourself. Surrender to where you are today. If you have the energy, take care of one task on your to do list and let that be enough. As you have more energy and capacity, you will be able to do more. Trust that. Be patient with yourself.
Do you feel not enough? You are so incredibly worthy in a world designed for none of us to feel worthy for one second of the day. You wouldn’t exist if your life didn’t have meaning. You matter. Your life matters. You have thousands of ancestors at your back who love you, who care for you, who root you on. Lean into them if you ever doubt your worth. They’ve got you.
Does it feel like too much? Take a deep breath. Slow things down. If it feels supportive, lie down on the earth whether this is literally or figuratively, connecting with the stability, centering, and nurturing energy of the earth. Allow the rootedness of the earth to fill throughout your body. Set everything down onto the earth, all the burdens, the worries, all that needs to get done. When you’re ready, pick up only what you need in each moment. You don’t need to carry it all. Remember that.
Wait before making any dire decisions. Sometimes things can seem really hopeless in the moment but with time, perspective, and external support, things can shift and change. Give yourself time. Give yourself care. You can do this. You can get through this.
Please reach out. Please seek help if you need it. Please check on yourself and your people regularly. Let’s take care of us all.
Thank you for your support!
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