Whitley column: Let’s treat each other with kindness as we seek a new normal
February is the hardest month.
That’s traditionally my experience, anyway. I’m one of 10 million Americans, according to Psychology Today, who experience seasonal affective disorder. The majority of us see SAD rear its dreary head in the fall and winter months, and this month is emotionally my darkest.
The days aren’t at their shortest, but so many other markers of hope have passed. The holidays are long over, and with them go the joy or distraction of togetherness. College football ended in January, and fans have settled in for the long wait until the next kick off. (Today, we sit 182 days until the season opener.) NFL fans are, by now, in a similar predicament. And the next paid company holiday isn’t until May.
This year, I’ve found redemption in winter. (Hello, ski slopes. I’ll see you soon.)
Of course, this February has born new challenges as we face a particularly contentious America. I hope this isn’t our new normal. Regardless of whom you voted for, I’d be surprised if the current political climate doesn’t wear on you. It’s not that partisan politics are new, but the conversations of our day are especially divisive.
It’s nearly enough to send me into hiding, with my light-therapy lamp and cats as company.
Instead, I’ve tried to focus on self care. It’s a popular term in my yoga-teacher circles, and regardless of whether it is in yours, I hope it’s something you seek. Self care may look different for you than me. I require a lot of alone time and space to think, which means I’m drawn to contemplative activities like reading, yoga and journaling. My extroverted roommates tend to process in different ways; togetherness and discussion are their love languages.
But we all can find common ground. In my household, that means coffee, good food, pets and kindness. We work to understand one another, even when we disagree on hotly debated topics. (Sometimes I have to raise my hand to remind them the introvert has something to say, but that, too, is part of our pursuit of understanding.)
The origin of the quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is murky. I’d argue it’s also irrelevant. We could all do with more kindness and understanding. Don’t forget to apply that to yourself as much as you do others.
Carla Jean Whitley’s life motto is “seek peace.” Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“We are finally beginning to understand how truly interconnected our internal human systems are … Indeed, several studies have found that our mental health and gut health are intrinsically linked.”