As an ADHD coach, I hear about seasonal depression a lot, also known as SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Neurodivergent people, having been aware of our ‘otherness’ in terms of the way we think, are acutely sensitized to the things that impact our psyches, such as the environment. It’s a shame we can’t hibernate until Spring. I wonder whether SAD is a natural urge to do so for the 0.5 to 3% of the population that struggles with it.
If it is, it’s highly inconvenient.
There really is a circadian inclination to do less during shorter days. Knowing this, it pays to be extra attentive to our self-talk as in: ‘You did it again…you didn’t get outside and it’s dark already!’ ‘Well, the sun has set, it’s cold out and I’m all cozy…I really want to blow off that networking event’.
When the sun sets early, it is especially important to hang on to our ‘why’, because how we feel, more than any other time of year, can come into direct conflict with what we want. Yet we need to be gentle with ourselves. Just because a little kid doesn’t want to go to school on a cold winter day doesn’t mean her parents let her stay home. But they can be kind about it: ‘I know you don’t want to go. But if you do it anyway, you’ll be so glad you did. And when you come home, we’ll have a treat…’
All that said, as I previously mentioned, there is a natural rhythm to the year. It’s best, if possible, to plan ahead in order to move with rather than against that rhythm. Things do slow down over the holidays. So it’s natural to want to tie up administrivia and careerist endeavors to the degree that one can.
But if that instinct to get everything off your plate creates unhelpful pressure for you instead, remember: the days will be getting longer soon and January 1st is an arbitrary beginning of the year. Every day is the beginning of a new year, if you look back at this same date a year ago. Don’t resist if you feel a need for extra rest right now. We’re talking one week between Christmas and New Years. That’s not a lot of ground to ‘lose’.
Like bears, we’re all just mammals, after all.