Updating your head, one season at a time.
We all have some memory of the first time you realised that seasons change and time goes on. When you started keeping track of when the Christmas holidays were, what time of year your birthday was and what the trees looked like when it was time to wear your winter school uniform. These all seem like small changes that have no real effect on us, but these are nonetheless, important markers through our lives that indicate the passing of time and the changing of seasons.
For most people this happens simply as a fact of life, and apart from what you wear when you go out the door, seasonal changes don’t directly affect your mood and personality. When you feel cold, you take a jacket. Simple as that.
What is so SAD about the seasons?
For the rest of the world though, these seasonal changes often come with a hidden pain point. Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly named SAD is a very real mental health issue that affects a not insignificant number or the population. You are more at risk of prolonged suffering from SAD if you have an additional diagnosis such as Major depressive disorder or Bi-polar depression.
While professional guided help in the form of medication, and psychotherapy, or a combination of both is the most effective, trusted and reliable way to deal with any form of mental health dilemma, there are other things that have also been shown to be beneficial.
We have spoken before about the negative affects of clutter and disorganized living, but now with the seasons changing we want to shine some light on the importance of embracing change, traditions and “leaning into” the seasonality of life as a way to find the beauty within the ever-present changes.
This is not necessarily a trend that has taken off in South Africa just yet, but on a recent trip to family who life in the USA I saw this first hand. As much as we joke in SA about the Christmas jingles in woollies playing earlier each year, its nothing compared to the USA. I was there for 21 days at the end of their summer and saw three seasonal décor changes.
Was this normal?
I asked around and it seams that yes, every single middle class American household has a number of huge see through plastic storage tubs with seasonal décor. And I mean nuanced seasonal décor.
There is early spring, spring, bright summer, full summer, late summer, first leaves of fall, traditional fall (Thanksgiving), first frost, full winter, Christmas, New Years…There is a front door wreath, table runner and corresponding guest hand towel for every single one of these!
While this seems (and is!) exorbitant and a total waste of time, money and resources, there is some method in this madness. With each changed décor item, with each bit of tinsel that is put up only to be taken down again two weeks later, it is as if the North Americans embrace their own impermanence. Nothing stays, nothing is forever, and that’s ok! I realised there could be a lesson in this.
How do I embrace seasonality in my home.
I witnessed the physical acts of changing seasonal décor three times and each change came with heartwarming and personal traditions. The family went for a walk before coming back home and taking down the summer wreath, the kids helped to put out the fake plastic Halloween pumpkins on the lawn while the parents made hot chocolate, they spent an afternoon plotting and planning their holiday light setup for this year’s festive season…Every change was embraced, and celebrated. They leap into each new season with an enviable joy.
As a SAD sufferer myself, I have now decided to approach life differently. I made a festive wreath; I got out seasonally coloured table linens that I haven’t used in years. I switched out my scatter cushions, took off my winter bedlinen and even updated my welcome mats and yes, my guest towels.
Was it extra work? Yes. Will it replace psychotherapy and medication? No.
But it made me feel good, and happy to be part of an ever changing, living and dynamic world.
We are in an uncertain season now, but let’s put up the solar powered (Thanks Eskom!) holiday lights, let’s set the table (with candles), let’s celebrate each single change for what it is – a chance to start again and do better.