A Word on Wellness:
Here's hoping that by the time I send this newsletter Fogust * will truly be over. Some of us are seriously affected by this moody weather and lack of sunshine. There's actually a mental health diagnosis, aptly named SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder that, in most places in the country, plagues people in the winter. Since summer in San Francisco can be more like winter, this is when many people feel the impacts of the weather on their mood. Symptoms can include: oversleeping, feeling sad or moody, trouble concentrating or loss of pleasure in usual activities.
This post isn't about SAD specifically, as much as it's about being aware of your mood and how you're doing on any given day. It's easy to function on autopilot and not notice changes like, "hey, I'm having a tough time getting up in the morning, I've blown off the gym twice this week and I'm irritable at home - what's going on here?" Increasing this awareness will allow you to identify if something is causing this change in your mood and habits. Once you know what's happening, you can be intentional as you go through the day and plan to address your needs so that things can improve.
There's this saying many therapists use, "You have to name it to tame it" (coined by Dr. Dan Siegel) and there is so much truth in this. You can't "tame" or control something if you don't know what it is. Once you can name what's happening, you can take concrete steps forward. But the naming comes first. and The naming requires awareness.
Using the SAD example... this might mean noticing that your mood and motivation has shifted with the lack of sunshine. Simply knowing that this is the cause will allow you to force yourself to exercise, for instance, even when you don't want to. You'll be able to predict, "I'm not going to want to get out of bed in the morning because it will be gloomy" but do it anyway because you know it's what you truly need. You may even plan for some time out of the city where you can get a dose of sunshine and warmth. Whatever the cause of a change in mood (or in some cases no cause at all) knowing that the change has occurred truly is half the battle. Now might be a good time to ask yourself how you're doing. How has your mood been lately?
* Fogust is what San Franciscans call that month in the summer (aka August) where fog can hang over the city for weeks on end.
Something to Read:
This is a compelling read and definitely explains a lot of what I see my teen clients struggle with: Have smartphones destroyed a generation?
A colleague of mine is opening PRACTICE San Francisco, a gorgeous studio space on Union Street, offering programs related to mindfulness and effective coping skills for kids and families. PRACTICE will offer prenatal yoga, yoga for kids and teens, mindfulness classes, parenting workshops and a chance to build real community. I will likely be collaborating to offer workshops there in the future. If you're in the neighborhood on September 16th feel free to stop by the open house!