Tag Archives: Mental Health

Why I’m Reducing My Blogging Frequency

Content warning: this post includes references to seasonal depression, people who died from Covid-19, and people who are permanently disabled from Covid-19. 

I’ve been blogging for many years now. It’s been my experience that blogging can be a cyclical hobby or profession.

Sometimes bloggers have plenty of time to write and so many topics we can’t imagine how we’ll find room in our editorial calendars for everything we want to say. In other seasons of life, things change.

I Need to Rest

Brown and white bunny in a wicker basket on a bed
Not my bunny or basket, but I grok this feeling.

In some ways, it has felt like March of 2020 never ended. All of the events and trips I looked forward to when the long, dark days of winter feel never-ending were cancelled last year and they are beginning to be rapidly cancelled again this year.

To be perfectly clear, I completely understand why this is necessary for public health and safety and in no way sympathize with the anti-lockdown, anti-mask, and anti-science protestors.

Honestly, I have had a much easier experience during this pandemic than many people out there. I have safe housing, a loving marriage, plenty of food, and money to pay the bills.

Out of all of my relatives who have caught Covid-19 so far, only one distant relation has passed away from it and only one or maybe two closer relatives have what are probably permanent health effects from it.

I’m very grateful for my and our good fortune in these troubled times. So many people are dealing with much harder situations.

With that being said, I’m also bone-tired. For anyone taking notes out there, the winter blues do not mix well with pandemics at all. This combination should be avoided at all costs in both real life and fiction. I’d give it zero stars out of ten even if you have somehow personally have managed not to know anyone who caught Covid-19. It’s exhausting.

I Need to Write Fiction

Closeup photo of person typing on laptop keyboardMy other reason for trimming back on new blog posts here is a cheerful one.I need to preserve more energy and creative juice for writing my speculative fiction stories!

It’s been several years since my last tale was published. That must change. I have pages of notes and rough drafts for future stories. All I need is the time and creative juice to bring them to life.

It is my hope that this new blogging schedule will facilitate that once my mood perks up in the spring.

Longterm readers might remember that I’ve gone through similar periods of cutting back on blogging here before. It’s something I really don’t like doing, but sometimes it’s necessary even if it makes me want to go sit in the Naughty Blogger corner for daring to change my posting schedule. LOL!

I’ll revisit this decision later on this year to see how I’m feeling and how sustainable the new blogging schedule is.

The New Blogging Schedule

Snapshot of an iPad that is opened to a page that says "my weekly priorities" and has a numbered list on it.
My hope is to eventually return to my usual Monday – Thursday schedule, but I’m cutting out all Monday posts for now. They generally tend to take up as much writing time as two to three of my other weekly posts combined.

If you follow me on Twitter, I will continue to share several posts from my archives each Monday for #MondayBlogs. Thank goodness that past me wrote plenty of them to cycle through while current me rests.

(Some? Most?) Tuesdays – Top Ten Tuesday posts. I love the TTT community, so I’ll do my best to stay connected to it when my energy levels and other commitments allow for that.

Wednesdays – Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge posts

Thursdays -speculative fiction book reviews, but probably only for short stories.

This is the hardest part of the year for me even during non-pandemic times. April is always better for my mental health, especially once I’ve had multiple long walks in the warm sunshine and my brain realizes spring truly has arrived.

If only I had a crystal ball that could tell us all exactly when this pandemic will end and life will feel more predictable again.

How has Covid-19 impacted your blogging and writing habits? How are you all feeling now that we’re over one year into this pandemic? Do you also feel guilty about changing your blogging routines?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: How I Take Care of My Health

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

While I did get out of some of these habits last year due to how topsy-turvy 2020 was for so many of us, I’m a health-conscious person in general.

I don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use any other substances. My body can barely handle the side effects of caffeine, much less anything stronger than that. Haha!

I lift weights, do yoga, or take long walks nearly every day of the week. Winter tends to be a more sedentary season for me, but I do still try to get some activity in when everything outside is covered in ice and snow.

close-up photo of fresh raspberries, blackberries, and blueberriesI eat five servings of vegetables and fruit on most days. If I’m hungry between meals, these are the foods I reach for first.

I eat a low-sugar diet. That is to say, the natural sugar in whole, fresh fruit is fine, but I avoid the processed stuff unless it’s a holiday or I’m on vacation. (This is one of those rules I broke a lot last year. I’m working hard to make 2021 less sugary).

I meditate most days of the week. It does wonders for my mental health.

I use an electric toothbrush at my dentist’s recommendation. Apparently, they’re better at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes are. All I know is that I feel kind of futuristic and cool when a machine does some of that gentle scrubbing for me.

I’m up-to-date on my vaccinations, but I will never enjoy the sensation of a needle sliding into my arm. Shudder!

I weigh myself daily. There is more to being healthy than the number on the scale, but I like to see what my longterm trends are and stay within a healthy range for my body frame size. Unexplained changes in weight can be an early sign of some pretty dangerous diseases. It’s also handy to know how much you weigh in case a dentist, doctor, or other medical professional needs to prescribe certain types of medication that must be calibrated to your weight in order to be effective and safe.

Why I’m Starting My Light Therapy Sessions Earlier This Year

A hand reaching up to touch a bright lightbulbI am not a doctor, and this post is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider to see if light therapy lamps are right for you.

Last winter I talked about how much light therapy helps me with my winter blues.

When I stopped using it during our sunniest months here in Ontario, I wondered when I should start up again but decided to defer that decision until autumn.

This spring and summer were filled with the glorious light that lifts my mood every year. Like life for almost everyone else on Earth, they were also filled with the cancellation of many long-anticipated events thanks to Covid-19.

I smiled and made the best of the outdoor, physically-distanced activities that were still safe to do, but with autumn coming up I wondered how my mental health would fare once it was cold and dark here once again.

This isn’t meant to sound like a complaint, by the way. Cancelling all of those festivals, parades, and events was absolutely the right thing to do from a public health perspective. I’m also grateful for my good physical health, safe home, and all of the other advantages I have that so many others do not.

And yet there is also something sad about missing out on almost everything you love about spring and summer only to begin the plunge into another long, dark cold season. This became even more true as I read about the cancellation of Halloween on Church and our mayor discussing the possibility of cancelling trick-or-treating as well. My favourite holiday will either be cancelled altogether or is going to be nothing at all like it was in the past.

At this point, I suspect every upcoming holiday will be celebrated virtually, within the same household (or small social bubble), or not at all until enough people have been vaccinated against this disease to stop it in its tracks.

There’s nothing I can do to change things like these. What I could do was start using my light therapy lamp earlier this month as soon as the first faint whispers of autumn appeared in the form of dark, cloudy days.

A blue lamp that is turned on and releasing light against a plain white wall. I’d forgotten how bright it was. That one little lamp fills the whole room with light and still has some left over to spare.It doesn’t emit heat the way the sun does when you’re outside on a bright summer day, but it otherwise feels something similar to that experience.

(Yes, I purposefully picked photos of dimmer lights for this post. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s eyes).

It’s still a little too early for me to feel the effects of it, but that also means it should start working long before November arrives and we start seeing sunsets before 5 pm.

What creative ways are you planning to celebrate upcoming holidays?  If you also have a light therapy lamp, when did or will you begin using it this year?

On Mindfulness, Light Therapy Lamps, and Being a Human Houseplant

A desk lamp shining down on a houseplantMy name is Lydia, and I’m a human houseplant.

Or at least that’s what it feels like at this time of the year. You see, I get the winter blues. While other people are outside revelling in the snow, ice, and cold weather, I’m inside quietly counting down the days until spring.

If winter in Ontario included as many bright, sunny days as spring and summer did, this post might be quite different.

But our winters include months of long, dark nights that make me half-forget what it’s like to feel warm sunlight on my face.

And having access to enough bright light is important for my mental health. It boggles my mind that some people on this planet live in places that don’t see the sun for months on end. I wouldn’t be able to cope with that well at all unless someone invents a way for humans to go dormant for the winter like real plants do.

Luckily, there are light therapy lamps for wilted houseplants like myself. I’ve been basking in the glow of that artificial sunshine this winter.

Sometimes I sat there and surfed the Internet on my cell phone. It was an especially good way to pass the time when I first accepted the fact that I needed to use one of these lamps but was skeptical about if it would do any good.

If actual plants had opposable thumbs, they might look at cute animal pictures while soaking up light, too, so they didn’t have to count down how many weeks left until spring or how many weeks after that it will take the weather systems in Ontario to shift from cold, wet, and slushy to anything that bears the faintest resemblance to true spring weather.

Then it started to work.The sadness began to lessen. I could concentrate better, I felt less sluggish, my energy levels slowly began rising, and my quality of sleep improved.

Am I back to my old self yet? No, but I’m doing better. That’s something to celebrate, especially as we inch into the time of the year that is the most challenging for me to get through.

For now I sit next to my lamp and chuckle at the fact that I react so much to the lack or the presence of sufficiently strong light. I am entirely human-shaped, and yet somehow I still need to bask in light like a plant to function properly.

When that thought passes, others don’t take its place. In this moment, I am surrounded by light. I breathe in and out as it shines onto me, the desk, the chair, and the floor.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

It’s that simple.

5 Things Spock Would Say About Anxiety

Every year I take a break from blogging for the last two weeks of December. I will be sharing some of my old favourites in the meantime and will be back in January with new material.  This post was originally published on December 4, 2014.

Sometimes when I’m running low on ideas I play around with the various websites out there that help you brainstorm if you provide them with a keyword or two.

Most of the ideas aren’t that spectacular, although I’ve occasionally stumbled across something worth blogging about. I’m not a fan of the original Star Trek series for a long list of reasons that I won’t get into here, but I’ve always liked Spock because he said things like this:

May I say that I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with Humans? I find their illogic and foolish emotions a constant irritant.

and this:

Is there anyone on this ship, who even remotely, looks like Satan? (Kirk)

I am not aware of anyone who fits that description, Captain (Spock)

No, Mr. Spock, I didn’t think you would be (Kirk)

He seemed like the kind of man who had little to no interest in small talk. That alone was enough to endear me to him.

I thought it would be fun to come up with some quotes of things he might have – but didn’t actually – say. My original search had Spock discussing anxiety, so I will stick with that topic in my responses as well. Let’s see if I can capture his voice!

  1. Worrying about it won’t make it more or less likely to occur.
  2. That outcome is highly unlikely.
  3. Have you ever considered the fact that they’re just as apprehensive about meeting you as you are of meeting them?
  4. There is no evidence to support that hypothesis.
  5. Why does your mind immediately jump to the worst possible scenario?

What do you think Spock would say?

 

The Cycle of What If

What if I’d gotten bad pills… What if they didn’t work correctly… What if. What if. What if. “Stop reading and go to bed,” Drew said late last night. I’d just found out that a medication I’m on was recalled and all of my googling was spiralling in circles. The nice thing about being with… Read More

Can People Change?

Barring a serious brain injury could you wake up tomorrow, decide to change your personality and successfully go through with it? There was a time when I thought this was possible but with every passing year I believe more and more strongly that we might be able to change our minds about specific issues – religion,… Read More

How Does the Winter Solstice Affect You?

This is my groggy time of year. Yesterday was particularly sleepy as it was dark and rainy for much of the day in Toronto. I stumbled through the afternoon desperately wanting a nap and wondering why it had to be so gloomy outside. Sometimes I wonder if this profound lack of sunlight is one of… Read More

Don’t Get Mad, Laugh

One of the potential drawbacks of having an online presence is how easy it is to project an image that isn’t actually you. This happens in real life as well but it’s a little easier to do online. Pretending to be someone you’re not takes more effort in face-to-face communication. Body language, tone of voice… Read More

Sometimes Fate is Like a Small Sandstorm

 Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something… Read More