Out of sorts

NOT MYSELF | Leaf with Heart Cut Out and Sun Shining Through | Sandra Mitchell, Life Coach + Writer

This time every year Michigan's gray, gloomy days side-swipe me.

My old and familiar frenemies - anxiety, irritability, and sadness - hang around more often than not. My insomnia reaches new heights, leaving me lethargic and melancholy. A general malaise settles into my spirit. I feel restless, yet unable to talk myself into doing much of anything that I perceive to be worthwhile.

I tell my guy that I feel out of sorts, that I don't feel like myself.

After an unusually warm and bright start to November, mornings begin to show up with gray skies and mist. It takes longer and longer to rise in the chill and dark of the bedroom. Even the puppies, who dive deep under the covers every morning providing warmth and weight, choose sleep over banter.

Just as with Novembers past, I wonder to myself: How have I forgotten that this happens every year? That the sky turns dark, the days and my temper grow short, and I feel blue and dull?

So the days go for awhile.

But a few mornings back when the pups and I were walking our route, the sun reached a pale, thin arm out from under heavy clouds for a sliver of a second, and I was reminded of salient lessons I learned through coaching.

The only way out is through.

My emotional state is here to help me learn something.

Take care of yourself.

For a day or so I take action by not taking action. I sit. I dive deep under the covers. I sleep a little. I resist, then I feel.

Because I'm a list maker, I start writing down all the things I can do to alleviate my funk before it becomes something serious, something beyond my Google-diagnosed seasonal affect disorder.

My coach training showed me how to put structures into place and how to take action steps - and it's one of my favorite things about coaching. So I do that, and my days start to take a different shape.

I read and listen to books that inspire me and make me think or laugh. I journal before bed and start to understand that one of the reasons for my blues is to remind me of my vision of moving somewhere where there's a palm tree in my backyard and a beach just a short walk away.

I plan a winter vacation, and am held up from booking it by my husband's work schedule so I switch to researching how to connect with expats in Mexico and what's needed to move south of the border so when the time comes we are prepared.

I drink more water and make huge pitchers of ice tea because it makes me think of summer. I make real food and chant So Hum (Sanskrit for "I am that") while peeling potatoes because it's calming to me.

I take longer walks and break during the day to play with the dogs. I mark a couple yoga classes on my calendar and commit to attending.

I order a therapeutic light box and while I await its arrival I stand in the shower under water as hot as my skin will allow.

A best friend calls and reminds me to use my essential oils, and I do. I spend an hour on the phone with another bestie and am brightened by her friendship and love. I have lunch with yet another best friend, and she makes me laugh and offers new perspective, and I am deeply happy for her company.

My husband accepts my apology when I am irritable with him; he tells me he married the right woman and I feel glow-y. Kiddo calls, and I am grateful for the sound of his voice and the tales of his California adventures. I take a moment here and there to silently send gratitude into the Universe for these people in my life.

And so the days go.

For whatever reason, I am not fond of the phrase "radical self-care." But there it is, my list of radical self-care practices and to-do's. In the last year I have come to embrace all kinds of things I used to judge and make fun of. And you know what? The joke is quite obviously on me because with each action and practice I undertake, I feel more and more like myself.

How do you take care of you?