Sunday, January 20, 2008

Creating in the Midst Of - Part II

First a plug for two interviews coming up here at the Creative Circle Cafe on February 14th and 15th which I think you'll really find interesting and helpful. I'm pleased to share again the work of Dr. Eric Maisel who I'll be interviewing about his book The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path through Depression, just released in paperback by New World Library. I hope you'll join us. The focus for each interview near as I can say now will be as follows but these are working titles and could change.

  • Love Helps Heal the Blues - February 14th, Valentine's Day
  • Tenderness and Depression in Creative People - February 15th

Antidotes for Northern Hemisphere Blues
So, now Part II in a four part series entitled Creating in the Midst Of where we're chatting about issues that support or hinder our creative work and this week we're going to chat about feeling blue and some ideas about self-care. If you live in the northern hemisphere, work indoors, travel to and from work mostly in the dark and don't spent a good amount of time outside during daylight you might be a good candidate for a case of the Northern Hemisphere Blues. The days begin to get longer after Winter Solstice on December 21 but by the time that rolls around we've already got lots of short, light-deprived days under our belts. For many of us this delivers a case of winter depression. While it's true that many folks don't seem to experience negative side effects from light deprivation at this time of the year, it's not "all in your head" if you can't concentrate, lose your focus, become sad and disorganized or experience a host of other symptoms. The cumulative effects often begin to show up in late December and January so it seems timely to put in a friendly plug about some simple ways we can gently help ourselves through this time. To that end my blog today is an incomplete, unscientific list of suggested ways to love yourself through and out of the Northern Hemisphere Blues. If you're feeling the blues, don't take it lying down. Perhaps you'll find just the right mix amongst these healing homespun suggestions for self-care. If you try one thing and nothing changes, try another, gently try a bunch of them.

- talk to someone you like and trust about how you feel, on the phone or in person and even email works.
- do some gentle exercise on the floor at home, a daily stretching routine might help and get you started.
- try a light lamp. I have friends who swear by them. It should be certified to meet the treatment specifications you need. You may be able to get a prescription for a light lamp from your doctor.
- try to spend some time outdoors once a day, take a walk, sit on a bench. Spend time with nature.
- spent time with friends even if you don't feel like talking.
- ask a friend or family member if you can check-in with them once a week about tasks you feel are important to help you focus and complete them. Be sure to tell them you need encouragement not censoring.
- look back over the last year or two for events that might have added to your depressed feelings and, if you find any, be aware that you're still processing those events so give yourself a break; be patient. Consider talking with a psychologist or therapist.
- if symptoms persist or you feel hopeless talk to your doctor. Listen to all your options and try to keep an open mind. Many neighborhoods have a free clinic if paying to see a doctor is a problem.
- remember you're not alone, you're not weird and it's not weird that this is happening to you.
- try as much as possible to resist the temptation to shame or blame yourself for the way you feel or for not being able to think your way out of it.
- give yourself a pat on the back for everything you do manage to accomplish on any given day no matter how small you think the accomplishment is.
- humility and acceptance are a challenge to achieve at the best of times nevertheless "just for today" try to be humble and accept your situation as it is while you begin a gently daily practice of some new kinds of self-care.
- take a peek at The Van Gogh Blues by Dr. Eric Maisel and just released in paperback by New World Press (ISBN 978-1-57731-604-6). The book offers 230 pages of humane insightful help, ideas and stories.
- consider hiring a professional organizer for just a couple of hours a week, do so to help you stay on top of bills and paperwork. One friend who did this said it made all the difference in the world, it was miraculous and made the difference between doing something and doing nothing. This might sound extravagant but it's very practical.
- once in a while consider dropping off laundry at your local self-serve laundromat many of which will charge by the pound to wash and fold your laundry. If you can afford it take laundry in once a week. Again, this is a practical option which conserves your energy for family, your job, etc.

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