Self-Care: Depression or Winding Down?

I used to have a hard time with evenings — especially when it got dark. Winding down, I would feel depressed, like I had not taken advantage enough of the daylight.

I would feel a huge sense of loss and emptiness. I could never figure out why, but I chalked it up to light deprivation or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In my first step toward recovery, after seeing the medical intuitive & learning to eat really healthy foods, my body started to repair itself. After awhile, I found I was not feeling so depressed at night and figured that the SAD symptoms must have really been caused by bingeing & purging.

I wondered if I had an aversion to going to bed
At the time, I was still in a very stressful job and had difficulty feeling like I wanted to go to sleep. I slept well once I went to bed, but was very antsy before bed — finding all kinds of little things to do before finally settling down. I wondered if I had an aversion to going to bed. And then I started wondering why? What happened that made me not want to go to bed? Was it being afraid of the dark or having nightmares as a child?

Honoring Winding Down – The Missing Step

At this point in my recovery journey, I am starting to feel the most grounded I have ever felt. Feeling this way has allowed me to realize what was troubling me about going to bed. Over the past year, I have simplified my life and reduced stress to a manageable level. My days go at the pace I choose and over the past several months, I have started to embrace this as self-care, not laziness. At the same time, I stopped watching television and started winding down earlier in the evenings.

For me, winding down has included playing soft music, talking to my husband, reading or taking a shower and doing a self-massage with sesame oil and lavender essential oil (an Ayurvedic stress-relief and wellness practice). Over the past few months, going to bed became easy. I actually enjoyed getting into bed and reading my favorite inspirational books before turning out the light to go to sleep.

Energy Spike & Crash of Addiction – An Artificial State

Since I am no longer engaging in addictive eating behavior – and I am repairing my inner ecosystem, the adrenaline-“spike and crash” of addiction is no longer there. Instead, my adrenals are healing and I am learning how the cycle of a day goes for me. For example, in the morning, my energy is light and I like to take my time with breakfast and work. Toward 10:00 am and through to about 6:00 pm, my energy is growing and getting really strong. I used to exercise early in the morning, but with my new awareness of my energy cycle, I now listen to my body and exercise in the late afternoon.

My mind wanted to feel “full of energy”
After dinner, my energy starts to get light again. There is a gentle, peaceful, slow feeling. When I was bingeing & purging, I would take this feeling to be depression – and fueled by depleted thyroid and adrenals, too much cortisol from stress and low vitamins & minerals – no wonder. No wonder. I mistook the natural, winding down of energy – the body’s preparation for sleep – to be bad and wrong. Because my mind wanted to feel “full of energy,” I thought there was something wrong with me. Bingeing and purging was the antidote to this feeling of slowness and depression – the adrenaline spike occurred and suddenly I had energy to stay up late and do more work. Suddenly, I needed less sleep, so that I could get up early, exercise and go to my stressful job.

From Recipe For Disaster To Honoring My Natural Energy Cycle

I had all the ingredients for a recipe for disaster. No wonder I thought evenings were depressing. Now I look forward to the peaceful feelings I have. I take the time to do something slow, gentle and caring for myself. Interestingly, I find that the sad dreams or nightmares I had when immersed in disordered eating are gone. I find that I don’t wake up at 3:00 am feeling sad, lonely, panicked or depressed. If I do wake up in the early morning hours, I feel relaxed and peaceful, which makes it much easier to fall back asleep. Each morning, when I wake up, I feel healthy and comfortable. This is when I do my healing meditation, so that my mind-body-spirit connection will continue to work together to repair any damage I may have done from the eating disorder. This meditation centers me and allows me to ease into my day, appreciating the natural cycle of my energy.

Your Actions

  • What are your cycles of energy?
  • How do you feel in the morning, afternoon and evening?
  • Do you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep at night?
  • Consider taking about 3 hours to wind down before bed – select quiet, peaceful activities, light candles, play soothing music – anything that allows your energy to slow down.
  • Consider turning off the TV at least 1 hour before bed – although 3 hours before is even better. TV is stimulating, especially some of the violent programs. Everything we watch, whether aware of it or not, affects our state of mind.
  • Consider trying a short meditation or the healing meditation when you wake up in the morning.
  • Experiment with these actions and write about them in your journal. How do you feel when you give yourself time to wind down at night? How do you feel the next morning?
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As a coach, writer and recovered former executive, I understand the challenges of creating a balanced, healthy lifestyle when over-scheduled. In my journey to radiant health, I created a whole health system of eating, exercise, renewal and recharging -- a roadmap toward health & vitality. I empower clients to create their own whole health systems, in their own unique ways. I have seen amazing results in working with my clients!