Sam is Checking In for November 2021: 10 Things to Make It Through the Worst Month of the Year

My plan was to come at November head on with all my self care and happiness promoting defenses ready to go.

Because November and I are not good friends. Indeed, we haven’t gotten along for awhile.

Image of a book cover: “If God loves me why is it dark at 5 pm ?”

So in the spirit of “the best defense is a good offense” (is that the saying?) I brought out the big guns.

What are they, for me?

Here’s my self care/happiness sustaining list:

  1. Gratitude: It’s a thing around here. I signed up for making November Gratitude Month, see November is Gratitude Month: What are you grateful for? #NationalGratitudeMonth. And Cate chimed in too, writing about the connection between gratitude and health.

2. Books: Reading fiction makes me happy but I struggle to find the time. In November I got deliberate about making it happen, even investing in better reading lights so that with my bad eyesight I can still read into the evening. I also followed Christine’s lead and got myself a bluetooth toque so I can listen to audiobooks while walking Cheddar.

3. Coffee: November is not the month to try to cut back on coffee consumption. Indeed, I might even have bought more lattes than usual.

This month, coffee made the news in the context of the time change–Coffee could boost your mood when there’s less daylight. “A new survey, funded by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, has declared that drinking a cup of coffee every four hours can lead to an improvement in cognition and mood, as well as improve reaction times and alertness.”

4. Bright lights: One the first things people recommend for combatting seasonal sadness is bright lights. I’ve got both a light alarm clock and very bright desk lamp. Do they work? I’m not sure. But I like them and they can’t hurt.

5. Fitness: It’s not a shock to readers of this blog that moving my body brings me joy and at a minimum helps me cope with stress. I’ve ridden my bike nearly 500 km this month en route to my goal of 5500 km. I also rejoined the university gym and exercised inside for the first time since the pandemic began.

6. Friends: We can see them again, in person, sometimes even inside. And we did! Lots. So many dinners and visits with friends. One weekend we saw four different groups of people. Much hugs and many smiles.

7. Fashion: While in other circumstances I might enjoy the aesthetic challenge in wearing the same dress for 100 days, one thing I’ve loved about being back in the office is dressing up for work again. I’ve missed my work dresses and jackets and shoes and jewelry. I take a lot of pleasure in clothes and even though I’m not seeing very many people, I’ve been the ‘back to the office’ selfie queen, playing with the #OOTD hashtag.

8. Plants: Aren’t they beautiful? My son Gavin got me started. My office has great light too.

9. Cozy: This is the month of flannel PJs, warm jackets, and toques.

10. Sleep: It goes without saying that sleep matters for mood. In November I made sure I got enough.

How did it go? Well, it went. There were many bright moments, some sad ones, some silly ones. I got over feeling self-conscious about doing the things that make me happy. After all, it’s necessary. It’s November. But soon, in a matter of days, it won’t be November any longer. There are Christmas lights up and plans to spend the days with family, walking Cheddar in the snow, playing cards, and eating great food. Life is good.

How about for you? Do you suffer from the lack of light in November? What tricks have you developed for making it through the month?

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