Mental Health 2: Electric Boogaloo

As the days get shorter, I want to talk to you once more about something I feel very passionately about: mental health!

While October is for sure my favorite month of the year (Pumpkins! Pretty leaves! Drizzly gray days! Not feeling sweat dripping down my back when I do literally anything!), I head into the winter every year with the same attitude as I approach a root canal: let me get to the other side in one piece, and then I can actually return to the land of the living.

freezing
Just wrap me in several sweaters and stick me in storage til April kthanksbye

Advice that historically has not helped me cope with Satan’s Season:

  • “Oh, you’ll grow out of it someday.” STILL WAITING
  • “Try smiling more!” YES LET ME FAKE SOME MORE EMOTIONS, SEEMS HEALTHY
  • “Just remember that it’s all in your head.” tHaT iS lItTeRaLlY tHe EnTiRe PrObLeM

However, over the years I have managed to find a few things that make a truly noticeable difference in my ability to navigate the uncaring ocean of my brain chemistry from November through March:

  • Drinking too much water. Staying hydrated gives me so much more energy, keeps me more mentally focused, helps stave off headaches, clears my skin, and keeps me moving. You know, because of all the bathroom breaks. Seriously though- I can’t emphasize enough how much of an effect this has on every aspect of my life.
  • Making my bed every morning. This creates a definite separation for me from bed time to awake time. Literally as soon as I’ve gotten out of bed, I’ve accomplished something! Sometimes that’s the momentum I need to start my day. And then when I get home in the evening I feel like I’m coming home to a neat, clean room. Even if the bed is the only neat and clean thing about it.
  • Cutting out caffeine. I know, this sounds like sacrilege to you coffee-addicts out there. But I’ve never been a huge coffee drinker, even in the summer! My sleep schedule definitely gets more sensitive when the days get shorter so I tend to cut out caffeine all together. I stick with herbal teas or cocoa when I’m craving a warm drink, but my best friend is my Nalgene filled with- you guessed it- water. Otherwise I end up staying awake for 3 days in a row and I wish I was exaggerating.
  • Staying active. That physical momentum is so helpful. And I like the way my body feels when I’m fit- I look pretty much the same all the time, but I can definitely feel the difference when my fitness starts slipping. I even invested in some stupid expensive equipment to make exercising fun, and his name is Francis.
  • Buying a horse. For realz, Frankie has been the biggest bro in the world. He gives me a huge reason to stay active- he thrives on exercise, we need to stay in shape to keep progressing, etc. He also gives good structure to my days- I can’t just go home and shlump into bed. I gotsta get dem endorphins going. And I can’t leave out the fact that he’s just the sweetest creature on the planet. He doesn’t care that there might be a few crossed wires upstairs, he just thinks it’s neat that I scratch his ears and take him on adventures. He is a never-ending source of quiet affection. Also owning a horse means I’m too distracted by stress about money to remember that I’m depressed!
  • Giving myself days off. Between work, the barn, going home to see family, celebrating birthdays, going out for happy hour, and other social events, sometimes it feels like I have something on the calendar every single day. And while I genuinely like people, I NEED my alone time to rejuvenate and re-energize. So sometimes I’ll pencil in a day to just lay around in my pajamas, watch Netflix, drink tea, and be a lazy garbage person. These garbage person days make me less of a garbage person on the other days. It’s a delicate garbage balance.

I’ve also built in a bunch of fun things to look forward to this winter: I’m visiting family and bringing Manfriend, we’re taking a trip to Florida with my roomie and her manfriend, I’ll be taking time to go compete at WEC with the Frankenator, all sorts of things like that.

So while I’m already looking forward to the warm spring breezes that bring allergens to make Manfriend sneeze real cute, I feel good about the robust preparation I’m putting into making this winter an enjoyable season instead of just a survivable one. I know there will still be ups and downs, and I’ve got the warm fuzzies thinking about the absolutely stellar support system I have- both two-legged and four-legged.

IMG_0854
My attraction to tall, strong, gorgeous, emotionally stable males is extremely helpful

For all of you: I would love to be part of your support system. As mentioned, I genuinely like people (weird, I know) and I like crazy people the best. I have no answers to big questions and give pretty crappy advice (usually I just tell you to hydrate more), but I’d love to chat at any time. Unless I’m sleeping. Hit me up but not before 7am or after 10pm thanks.

Cheers to a fantastic season of fun adventures and progress in all of our personal and professional endeavors!

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24 thoughts on “Mental Health 2: Electric Boogaloo

  1. Allison Stitzinger 10/13/2017 / 7:41 am

    Winter is really tough for me too; it’s all about survival. What also helps me is to get out there and make myself RIDE even when it’s 20 degrees out and windy and awful. Because once I start not-riding, then I remain not-riding, which makes me even more depressed and spirals everything down even further. So even if it’s literally walking around bareback for 15 minutes, just staying in the routine of getting dressed, going to the barn, and getting on the pony even when I don’t want to or don’t think I can is really helpful in keeping me moving and avoiding becoming a sad, sad puddle of a person on my couch.

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    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:15 pm

      YES. ALL OF THIS YES. And then once you’re on the pony, you always end up smiling. Because pony. Let’s not be sad couch puddles this year, and be pony puddles instead (baby steps, right?)

      Like

  2. Lauren 10/13/2017 / 7:47 am

    I agree with this whole post. While the seasons don’t typically bother me, I deal with a lot of personal anxiety. I’ve found that the most important piece for me to be able to handle that is to make sure that I have taken care of myself. I.e. eating right, staying active, finding me time, etc.

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  3. Holly 10/13/2017 / 8:00 am

    Frankie is seriously the snuggliest horse I’ve ever met. Can my solution be to fly out and cuddle him?
    Otherwise, my solution in the past has been to… not live cold places? But rly.
    This year should be interesting. I’m focusing on buying cute winter clothes I’m excited to wear, having things planned to look forward to and taking a lot of hot showers where I close my eyes and pretend I’m on a beach.

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    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:14 pm

      You’re gonna rock the cold. And you know you can come snuggle Francis any time 😉

      Like

  4. the_everything_pony 10/13/2017 / 9:03 am

    Yes this is so true! As soon as the days start shortening my energy levels absolutely plummet. I try to drink a lot of water via hot chocolate, but I must have my coffee in the morning. Winter is like half a year of pumpkin spice and I love PSLs lol. But I actually find I get seasonal depression. Just so blah when winter hits, and I don’t even live in a cold place! The only time I felt okay during winter was when we lived in Hawaii, so it’s either the equator or deal with it lol. But I’ve actually found that sun tanning helps me. I’ll grab a deal or something during the winter months and go a few times a month to a tanning salon, and even those 20 minutes in the booth just really help to rejuvenate me. (also helps that I tend to nap when I go in for those lol) I’m actually hoping too that with me wanting to get lessons and working towards eventing in the spring will also give me greater drive to actually ride in the winter. I haven’t had too much to work towards in those Nov to Feb months so I get really lax on riding. Hopefully English and wanting to event will not only give me drive but keep me a little fitter this winter! Also sleep. I need so much more sleep in the winter lol.

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    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:13 pm

      I’ve definitely found that setting competitive goals for myself helped keep me working more consistently over the winter! And SO MUCH yes to the extra sleep.

      Like

  5. Centered in the Saddle 10/13/2017 / 9:04 am

    I really relate to this post! I’m also already looking forward to spring, while simultaneously loving fall and being excited about the Christmas season #mostwonderfultimeoftheyear. I’ve already noticed our days in Wisconsin getting shorter (no more outside lessons sob) and I’m about to start taking my vitamin D supplement, which really does help improve my energy and mood during the winter. Good advice on water and penciling in days to be a lazy garbage person – I also need to recharge away from people now and then. Hang in there, we can do this!

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    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:10 pm

      Ooh yes I forgot to write down the Vitamin D, that helps so much!

      Like

  6. L. Williams 10/13/2017 / 11:20 am

    I’m like the opposite, Fall and Winter energize me and I start dragging around Spring/Summer.

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    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:10 pm

      I have a good friend who is on that same cycle- we balance each other out well 🙂

      Like

  7. Boss Mare Eventing 10/13/2017 / 12:10 pm

    Self care is so important and often forgotten by horse people. Great reminder.

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    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:08 pm

      So totally agreed- I think we all tend to get so wrapped up in our horses and then forget to take adequate care of our own needs

      Like

  8. Karen M 10/13/2017 / 2:50 pm

    I 100% love and support this post! Minus the caffeine thing — I drink a 30 oz yeti of coffee every day. I have been mulling over a post about existentialist dread and how to fight it and I find this post extremely inspirational.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:08 pm

      I would be EXTREMELY interested to read that post if you write it!

      Like

  9. diaryofahunterprincess 10/15/2017 / 4:11 pm

    So I love this post for a variety of reasons. I don’t have the best luck with my health, so it’s very easy for me to get stuck in a rut and feel down about my situation. I’ve been doing well lately, meditating has been a savior for me, but sometimes it can be a bit too much.

    Summers for me are the worst here in Florida, I think it mostly has to do with the fact that my Lyme disease gets more active in the heat.

    But one of the best ways I’ve found to feel better is finding mindless things to do. Like coloring books, origami, watching those Tasty videos on Facebook. Literally the act of just mindlessly letting my brain shut off for a minute of two is so necessary for my mental health.

    Like

    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:06 pm

      Girl I got a whole stack of coloring books for Christmas last year and they have been FANTASTIC for quiet activity. So so so awesome.

      Like

  10. Stacie Seidman 10/16/2017 / 9:35 am

    I’m so with you on winter. Add in the problem of not getting to ride since I don’t have an indoor, and I definitely just go into lets-just-get-through-this mode. Having the baby Badger in FL has helped the last few years since I can get out of the torture for a few long weekends. But coming back is the worst! (Except for the reuniting with all the four leggeds of course!). I like the idea of a few garbage days here and there. I think maybe I’ll have to pencil some of those in!

    Like

    • hellomylivia 10/18/2017 / 12:03 pm

      Scheduled garbage days are what keeps me sane for sure

      Like

  11. Liz 10/17/2017 / 6:12 pm

    I also am a garbage person who needs scheduled days alone. I salute you.

    Like

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