My 12-Step Gray Day Survival Plan

It’s a Catch-22. All summer, our front yard bakes in the sun and our back yard turns into dust and blows away. I want rain, I want mud, I want to dig in the ground, plant trees, and dream of spring.

But as soon as winter’s weak light sneaks in, with its cold, hollow darkness creeping earlier into the evening and dawdling later into the morning, I regret my foolish, sun-drenched desires. My muscles and joints hurt, my head pounds, and my mood matches the cold, damp, heavy cloud cover. Yeah, I’m not a lot of fun. More like crotchety, I’d say.

Sleeping Cat Unsplash 640

It is time for A Gray Day Survival Plan. Here’s an 12-step shot of espresso, I mean, strategy for happiness, to get us all started. Rain, rain, get out of my head…and into my yard.

  1. Keep in tune with the changing light. I just check Apple’s iPod basic weather app so I know when the sun will rise and set which lets me lightly sketch out the day’s activities, and prevents shock when the sun drops out of sight.
  2. Shower in hot water every single day. I talk myself out of this all the time and deeply, deeply regret it. Just do it. Take a morning shower to get loosened up or one at night to warm up enough to sleep. Then give yourself a massage with warmed coconut or olive oil (keep it in the shower). Try Unkers Medicated Salve or Tiger Balm if you are achy and stiff.
  3. If you need it, take your prescriptions, take your nutritional supplements. If you need it, pray, read the Bible. If you need it, go to therapy, move your body. Dark, cold days are not the time for over-confident, on-the-fly improvisation. Stick with the plan, stick with your support system.
  4. Make taking supplements as fun as possible. No, really. As a tan, depressed lady living in the Pacific NW, I’ve been ordered to take a good amount of Vitamin D. These gummy D’s make me (and the rest of the family) so happy in the morning. It’s the little things. Or maybe it’s the sugar.
  5. Admit it if you need coffee to get jump-started. Every year since moving out here I get on a health kick and go off coffee for a bit and lose my mind. Join me on the dark (roast) side and let’s enjoy our addiction together.
  6. As hard as it is, step out the door and get some fresh air. If you don’t do it now, you probably won’t tomorrow, either. If you’re feeling brave, go to a park. Wrap a picnic lunch of dried meat, cheese, and a piece of fruit in a large cloth napkin and get going.
  7. While you’re out there, get a fragrant winter or early spring blooming perennial, shrub, tree or bulbs. Go home, plant it in your yard, pot up for the porch, or in front of a window. Pat yourself on the back for giving yourself and your neighbors something to look forward to.
  8. Heat up a flaxseed neck pillow and snuggle up with it as often as possible. I call mine “Precious” and often accompanies me around the house riding on my shoulders.
  9. Cook or bake to keep the house warm, help relieve aches, and boost your mood with yummy aromas. (Find a new favorite cookbook (<–affiliate link) to motivate you!) While you’re in the kitchen, simmer water on the stove and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
  10. Use a special crystal glass or teacup every night. Fill it up with sparkling water or a relaxing beverage and sit down after the children are in bed (if applicable).
  11. Read, read, read. When the words become too much, rest your eyes with (affiliate links ahead–>) Guy Delisle’s graphic novels Jerusalem or Pyongyang or Heart Brain: The Awkward Yeti Collection by Nick Seluk. When reading is no longer possible in one’s current state of mental health, Netflix, Netflix, Netflix.
  12. Speak in moving, poetic terms about the rain and dramatic winds, the leaves blowing by, the mud puddles, etc., allowing your mood to rise with along with your newly discovered positive attitude. Because in the end, a positive attitude solves everything, right?*

* (ᗒᗜᗕ)՛̵̖ Well, they do say laughter is the best medicine…

P.S. Need more suggestions? Take a gander at Grace Quantock’s 103 Ways to Cheer Up When You Are Sad (Or When It’s Rainy).

Photo Credits: Gratisography and Unsplash