Editor's Letter • Fall 2023 • Vol 2 | Iss 3 • pg 7
Here in the Northeast, our summer vacation reaches all the way to the sweet and melancholy end of August when the nightly symphony of cicadas and katydids signals the end of long, warm days and a few red leaves start to appear on the trees. In these final days, I spend most of my time on my porch attempting to absorb all of the sunlight, colors, and warmth to bolster me through the upcoming season.
As I write this, these relaxing days are coming to a close, and by the time you read it, they’ll feel like a distant memory. As a warm-weather-ONLY kind of person, I start to get a little anxious this time of year about the impending doom, er, cold, descending upon us. My seasonal affective disorder starts to kick in just as the year goes into fast-forward—Halloween, kid-related tasks, the holidays approaching—and things start to feel a bit harder as the number of meetings, social events, and organizational tasks skyrockets.
It’s taken me years to learn how to flow with these shifts rather than fight against them. Instead of spending six months in grumpy defiance, I’ve developed a routine of self-care that I start in September and continue through March. What works for me is a combination of the following:
Cold exposure: A few years ago I started going outside each morning in my pajamas for a minute or two. I call this routine my “cold therapy”—I’m sure my neighbors call it eccentric. I take my coffee, put on boots if there’s snow on the ground, and step outside with my dog. I invariably feel invigorated afterward. In addition to any health benefits, the practice has helped me to embrace the cold a (tiny) bit more in general and made winter more bearable.
Light therapy: I make sure I get at least 15 minutes of bright light every morning—either during “cold therapy” or from a light-therapy lamp (see link, right). The light filtering through your eyes increases serotonin and stimulates your brain to stop melatonin production—staving off depression. This was literally a lifesaver for me when I discovered it 11 years ago.
Preserving my social energy: The whirlwind of fall meetings and activities creates a drain in my social energy—already diminished by darker days—that needs to be replenished. For me, that means spending time alone to recharge. I used to call it my winter hibernation. Lest I over-isolate for six months, I now try to be deliberate about scheduling some kind of social event once a week.
Meditation: I continue my meditation practice through the winter (sometimes during light therapy) to stay grounded and calm.
In this issue we’re sharing additional ideas to help you stay grounded as we head into the colder months. We look at Making Friends As an (Alcohol-Free) Adult, pg.16; What To Do When Sugar Cravings Hit (did you know these can increase in cold seasons?), pg.12; and Reconnecting With Our Inner Knowing (a practice I’d like to focus on more this year), pg.20. Our resident tea expert Adrienne Etkin teaches us about one of winter’s original cozy beverages, tea, pg.32.
What shifts do you feel as the seasons start to change? What practices can you implement this year to help you tune in and flow through them?
Nicole Pietrandrea Hough
Some items I love: