Last winter I was really struggling, but I made it through. I think it was the combination of lack of sunlight (one of Christchurch’s darkest winters ever, or so they say), a cold house, adjusting two members of our family to celebrating winter birthdays, and just regular depression stuff. SO MANY THINGS came to my rescue, and I wrote about them here.
This year I’m happy to report that, overall, my spirits have been so much higher!
Here’s the next edition of my answers to Barbara Brown Taylor’s famous question, “What is saving your life right now?”
Like I said, it was SO MUCH sunnier this winter which inevitably boosted my spirits. Between June 1-19th last year Christchurch had less than 14 hours of sunlight, and the average for June is usually 119 hours! Even when cold this year, I took the opportunity to sit out in the sun and I didn’t have to get out my light therapy lamp or supplement with vitamin D. I’m a much happier person when there’s sunshine! Everything looks, well, brighter.
2. 5 HTP + Magnesium
These two supplements I did continue and I never skip them! I take 5-HTP for boosting serotonin production which is an important chemical and neurotransmitter for us and helps regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory, etc. I take magnesium to increase energy, calm nerves and anxiety, for better sleep, and to relieve muscle pains.
3. Ducted Heating + Floor Insulation
We got (what I call) REAL HEAT in our house! *happy dance* Insulating the floor and getting our heat ducted through ceiling vents has made a massive difference. To my American friends: yes, it is almost like having central heating, hooray! Our home, our refuge, our safe space, is no longer perpetually freezing cold, yay! And I didn’t get chilblains 😄 PTL for a warm house.
4. Yoga + Lunch
A big part of supporting my mental health is hanging out with friends. This is a hard one when you still feel somewhat new to a place (and you’re introverted) but you just have to put yourself out there, which is also hard when you have anxiety and depression. Thankfully, one of the yoga classes I frequented was always followed by lunch at the cafe across the street. When the teacher announces it in class, and everyone else goes, it’s hard to say no, even when some days I’d have rather gone home and curled up on the couch. I had so much fun getting to know people in my class and making new friends! We laughed a lot and ate some spectacular food.
5. Rasa (Coffee Alternative) and Bengal Spice Tea
There’s nothing like a warm cuppa to keep the cold away. I had to get myself off coffee again after our stressful and busy ten weeks in the U.S. so I found this coffee alternative called Rasa. There are three different kinds to choose from, all full of adaptogenic herbs to target your nervous system and help your body recover from stress and give you sustained energy. I love it! Also Celestial Seasonings tea is hard to find here but we did manage to snag a few boxes of Bengal Spice, a spicy, cinnamonny, gingery, cardamommy, and clovey blend that reminds me of Kansas City winters with my mother-in-law, yum!
6. Marco Polo
If you don’t have the Marco Polo app, GET IT and send me a message. It is a super fun way to keep in touch with people! I’ve had a blast sending videos to friends and family and receiving theirs in turn. You can watch it live or just whenever you have time, and they can do the same. It’s perfect if your loved ones live in a different time zone, if you want to send clips of your kiddos to grandma (and don’t want to deal with them “behaving” on FaceTime), and way better than Facebook messenger.
7. Geraldine Ukulele Festival
This will probably make the list every year. It is so well-placed during the July school holidays, when it is the middle of winter and everyone is craving some good music and good company. Last year was my first time and I had a lot of fun, but this year… this year was even better than the first! I heard some incredible musicians, participated in fun workshops (and even got to go on stage!), cheered on my friends from Angelfish, met some cool people, and stayed in an airbnb with some lovely ladies who made me laugh harder than I had in a long time. Here’s my video of the weekend!
And of course, John’s endless support and delicious cooking can’t go unmentioned… he really doesn’t get the thanks he deserves! Bless him.
For now, winter is (basically) over and Kiwi spring starts tomorrow, the 1st of September.
Thanks for tuning in,