Winter Sunsets

Tonight was the first time since Daylight Savings Time that the boys and I were home alone at sunset. And the first time I’ve been alone, without Jake, at sunset.

Why is this significant?

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. And sunset this time of year kicks. my. butt. For me, SAD usually rears it’s ugly head in October, but this year, it showed up at the end of September. It’s already been a long couple months, and if you know much about my family and our story, you know we also lost a baby a couple weeks ago.

Between my usual seasonal funk + a miscarriage + the upcoming holidays + some other stressors at this stage of life… I have been an emotional basket case recently. Because I knew that I would be flying solo for tonight’s sunset, I did some planning ahead to make sure this evening was as positive as possible. And it worked!

So I wanted to share some ways that I am working hard to manage my SAD and proactively improve my own mental and emotional health.

•I planned ahead. I knew ahead of time that Jake would be gone. So I mentally prepared myself. I envisioned a great evening. I told the boys we were going to have lots of fun tonight! I spoke life over myself and my family and thus created a positive environment.

•I put a plan and a schedule in place. While the boys took their naps, I planned out the rest of the day. I wrote down what needed to be done, and I scheduled what we would do at what times. Knowing ahead of time what to expect can be incredibly empowering. And it can really combat anxiety.

•I checked to see what time sunset was, and I made sure that for 15 minutes before through 15 minutes after sunset that I would be actively engaged with my kids! I put the phone down and set a timer so I wasn’t constantly checking the time, making me anxious. And during that time, I allowed myself to be caught up in playing and enjoyment!

•Long before sunset, the boys and I picked up the house and took care of chores. We got dinner ready early. And we chose a meal with minimal clean up. So that there was very little stress and very few to-do items hanging over my head.

•music!!!! We listened to music all throughout the evening. This is an incredible way to minister to your own brain. When we turn on that happy music, the kids enjoy it, we all dance together, and it’s so easy to get lost in a fun moment.

•I set up all the essential oil diffusers in my house ahead of time, so that we could turn them on a little bit before sunset. Using essential oils topically and aromatically are two wonderful ways to get the benefits of oils and stimulate the limbic system in your brain! This is often called your emotional brain. And positive, healthy smells, like pure essential oils, can have a fantastic impact on mental health by lifting emotions and encouraging peace and low-stress reactions. Here was my oil routine:

~diffused Lavender + Grapefruit + Geranium in the open spaces of our home

~applied Joy + Tangerine to one wrist

~applied Northern Lights Black Spruce + Frankincense to the other wrist

~applied Valor to the inside of each upper arm

This afternoon and evening went drastically better than I thought they would. And that allowed us all to be in a good place by bedtime. While I know I might struggle with SAD for a long time, I love knowing that there are steps I can take to improve my health and make this season much more manageable!

If you are interested in learning more about managing emotions during the holidays, I will be doing a Facebook Live event tomorrow evening to share more. Please let me know if you’d like an invite.

Do you have a particular time of year or time of day that is especially challenging for you? I would love to hear what steps you take to manage it!

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