It’s a late winter day, but there is hope in the air! The snow is flying outside my office window, and the wind is howling this afternoon, shaking and rattling the doors to our deck. As I watch the snow swirling around and dumping piles and drifts just outside our front door, I am sometimes tempted to feel a bit blue. This time of year has a way of slowing us down (if for no other reason than we simply can’t get out of the driveway!), and it is not uncommon for lots of us to feel kind of sad and discouraged. I’ve heard from one of my RUBY writing buddies that this can be caused by something called SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I guess if you don’t get enough sunlight, which causes your melatonin and serotonin to be depleted, then it causes physical and emotional stress on your body. Some people claim that light therapy has helped them, and people in the Scandinavian countries have used giant mirrors to reflect the limited sunshine that is available so that it is intensified, thus offering more exposure to the benefits of sunshine.
I have always enjoyed wintertime, but the cold does present some challenges to getting around and accomplishing our daily tasks. So even though in the middle of winter, we all tend to have less energy or perhaps have bouts of sadness or discouragement, one thing that has helped me get through the long, dark days of winter is to refocus my energy and time on planning for the future. A time of reflection, so to speak, where I contemplate the events of the past year and, now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is completely in the rearview mirror, I look ahead. And eagerly anticipate spring!
This is a time that some of us, as writers and artists, find the solitude conducive to a bit more creativity. It seems that I mostly feel motivated to write a poem or two on the days when I am forced to slow down long enough to hear my own thoughts and the beating of my own heart. That’s not always easy to do, because we frequently don’t want to remember things from the past, or we don’t want to dwell on what God is speaking to our heart.
This year, during the cold, dark, blustery days of late winter, I am choosing to stop avoiding those times of reflection, and embrace the truth and even the pain and sadness of remembering. One of my goals this year is to return to the regular practice of journaling. Gratitude journaling is the perfect way to refocus our sad thoughts to praising God for all of His good gifts. Be sure to read the article by Theresa Begin in this issue, “How to Start and Keep a Gratitude Journal.” Lots of great tips and encouragement to get started!
If you are struggling through these days of limited sunlight, long, cold, dark nights, loneliness, sadness, discouragement, or despair, why not try journaling? If you have one of those SAD light contraptions, lots of people have been helped by them, so it is definitely worth a try. But whatever you are doing on these seemingly endless gloomy days of winter, always remember that you are never alone. God’s Word tells us that He “. . . will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5. If we trust His grace and forgiveness, praying with thanksgiving for all of His blessings, “. . . the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7]
Let these days of winter be a time of reflection, and a time of seeking God’s love, comfort, encouragement, and blessing. Start that gratitude journal today, and you’ll see what I mean!