Black History Month’s theme this year is Black Health and Wellness, and I’ve been thinking about how important it is for parents to take care of our physical and mental wellness needs. So much of our focus is on our children, families and communities, and we need reminding that we need to focus on staying healthy and strong for ourselves as well as for our loved ones.
I had an incredible conversation with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in the (GCP podcast Season 4 opener) who decided not to run for a second term as Atlanta’s mayor after doing her own wellness check. She emphasized how vital it is that we parents make sure to “protect our peace” as we go about making sure everyone else is well cared for. When daily routines resume and chaos ensues, it can be quite challenging to remember to take care of ourselves, but doing so will make us more confident and prepared parents.
I definitely have been feeling the February Blues. I’m still moving through life and finding ways to enjoy myself, but at times I’m hit with an energy-sapping malaise which makes me feel less like my normal self. After chatting with many of you in the #GCP Community, I know that I am not alone. Whether the blues are brought on by winter’s cold weather and limited sunlight, the letdown after the holidays, the pandemic, or something else, they are weighing a number of folks down.
Knowing this is something lots of us may be experiencing motivated me to look for ways to combat these blues and protect our peace. Here are some ideas you can try to connect to joy, peace and get back to feeling like your best self.
Let There Be Light
Reduced sunlight can disrupt our body’s internal clock (our circadian rhythm) which can lead to moodiness and sluggishness. Getting outside and soaking up the sun even for 15 minutes can make a big difference. Can’t handle the short days and long nights? Try using a light therapy lamp. It’s an artificial box that emits full spectrum lux light and with consistent use can improve sleep, mood, focus and energy.
Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D:
Exposure to natural sunlight helps our bodies produce Vitamin D. The shorter days of winter and the hibernation many of us have been doing over the past two years makes us good candidates for a Vitamin D deficiency, which has been associated with an increased risk of depression. Try upping foods rich in vitamin D like fatty fish and eggs, and ask your healthcare provider to check your levels and, if necessary, recommend a Vitamin D supplement.
Take a Break:
Are you constantly moving from work commitments to parenting duties without a pause? Try to regularly schedule an intentional break that sparks joy for you. Start small with just five minutes a day, and see if you can build more time into your schedule to break up your daily routine. I’ve been forcing myself to walk outside daily, if only for a few moments, to clear my head and soak up whatever sun there may be!
If The Fog Won’t Lift:
Feeling sluggish or down during the winter months is a pretty common occurrence, according to medical professionals. The good news is that the “winter blues” tend to go away in a fairly short amount of time. If it gets to the point where your mood won’t lift, your productivity halts, you are having sleep or appetite changes, and losing interest in things you used to enjoy, it’s possible you’re experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is associated with the lack of sunlight in the winter season. Keep track of your lows and speak with a healthcare professional about these symptoms and/or see a therapist to help you as you make your way through.
For those of you like me who could use this information, I hope it’s helpful. Remember, even our strongest-seeming friends may be going through something we don’t know about, so please share these resources with your community and let them know they are cared for!
Stay tuned for new episodes of my Ground Control Parenting podcast coming soon! Many of my conversations this coming season focus on a variety of wellness issues that parents need to know about. I can’t wait for you to hear them!