This morning I woke up as the stars twinkled their last in the pre-dawn sky and walked to Starbucks. It must be fall, because pumpkin pie spice is back on the menu! (Their PPS syrup has dried milk in it, so I chose a dash of nutmeg and cinnamon on top of my decaf latte, instead.) As summer relinquishes her grip and autumn will give way to winter, we may notice a change in benzo withdrawal symptoms.
Although most of us don’t have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a term coined by Dr. Norman Rosenthal in 1986, we may experience an uptick in our symptoms as the days grow shorter. SAD manifests as low energy and a sense of sadness or sorrow. Feeling hopeless, irritable, tired, and an increase or decrease in appetite and sleep. These symptoms are similar to benzo withdrawal symptoms. Not everyone experiences changes in symptoms, but if you do, here are some things that may help. Let’s take a look at how we can “winterize our recovery.”
- Get outside in the morning, if you can. Ensuring enough sunlight, especially morning light can boost our moods and help our bodies create vitamin D.
- Stick to a regular sleep cycle, even if sleep is a challenge.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine. This is so important!
- Refresh your bedroom colors, playing up palettes that are known to induce relaxation: blues, greens, taupe, beige, and grays.
- Pay attention to the temperature in your bedroom. The National Sleep Foundation claims that the optimal sleep temperature is between sixty and sixty-seven degrees.
- Layer your bedding so that you can add or subtract as needed. Cotton flannel sheets are a sweet choice for a cozy burrowing under the covers. Having a throw blanket at the foot of your bed gives you another option for bundling up. A weighted blanket is a great choice, too. The gentle pressure can be reassuring, reducing anxiety.
- To offset the darker days and chase the blues away, add more lighting to your room. Canned uplights, table or floor lamps can help. Chose lights that emit a softer glow to give the room a sense of calm. Lanterns, especially decorative ones, can add a bit of whimsy or romance.
- Candles can create a lovely ambiance. Please make sure they are in places where they are not a fire hazard, and remember to blow them out when unattended. Use only unscented candles as perfumes and even some essential oils can ramp up benzo withdrawal symptoms.
- Get moving! Gentle exercise can help shake loose the blues and refresh our spirits.
- Engage in a daily spiritual practice; meditation, prayer, gratitude, etc.
- Eat a whole-food plant-based diet to help your gut heal so that it can help YOU heal. Avoid animal products as all are inflammatory.
- Learn something new! YouTube is a great resource for learning. Draw, paint, knit, cook, etc., Learning creates new neuronal networks and takes the focus off benzo withdrawal symptoms.
- Reduce stress. This is so important for everyone. Brainstorm what you need to do to reduce stress, then implement your strategies.
- Lower the bar on expectations for the coming holidays. You don’t have to have the “perfect” holiday. Find ways to be grateful, instead of increasing feelings of self-pity.
- Limit your time on the Internet. Write letters, make art, read a book, do some stretches instead.
- Avoid too much time on benzo withdrawal support groups or forums, unless the focus is on solutions for coping and healing. Reading about other people’s suffering can increase our sense of despair and hopelessness.
- Spend time with people who make you feel safe. Giving your nervous system a chance to co-regulate with someone who is calm, supportive, and loving is a wonderful help.
- Observe nature. Watching birds, squirrels and other wildlife in your area settles nervous system. Watching the clouds dance across the sky, or listening to the rhythm of rain are ways to lift our spirits.
- Make seasonal crafts. Micheals is a wonderful resource for DIY projects. Don’t worry about creating perfection, just enjoy the creative process.
- Add your ideas for coping with any seasonal uptick in symptoms here. Please feel free to share them in the blog comment section on my website: benzowithdrawalhelp.com
If you want affordable help to navigate benzo withdrawal, consider joining my live support group, Mornings With Jenn. We meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9 AM Pacific. We focus on the four cornerstones of well-being to help us heal as quickly as possible and to go on to lead healthier, happier lives. Info and sign up can be found on my website.
If you want help moving to or maintaining a whole-food plant-based diet, consider joining my Facebook group, Plant Based With Jenn.
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
This is amazing. Been experiencing this, so it is much appreciated. Will most definitely apply many of the above points.
Hello Dr. Jenn,
Your list of ideas for coping with any seasonal uptick in symptoms is perfect, and thank you very much. I could only add how much comfort our dog brings. He is the most calming therapy — my live weighted blanket :oD. Also, I find this channel [link below is a fav of mine] for “talk down to sleep” helpful. So grateful for you, Dr. Jenn and all of those that share in comments. Keep going. Keep healing.
Great advice with shorter, colder days on the horizon. Especially getting outside in the morning. I like that idea.
I’m still in my boaty/balance issue/benzo flu wave after being wavefree for 9 months.
I have been reading through your past blogs some more, and the wonderful tips for self care you give and encouragement.
You mentioned future tripping to me in a consultation, and I realize just how much of that symptom hangs on for me. If I watch TV, even something calm, I can get sad seeing people even on TV, out and about with their lives wondering if I’ll ever even make it to something as simple as a dinner out with family someday on days that I’m stuck in the house with symptoms.
It’s also amazing how our withdrawal brains can hook onto a certain negative subject that we fear, and that one thing will stick with us all day or all week even. The first step was recognizing I’m doing these things, and now working to be positive to make things as peaceful as possible.
Trying to stay in the present and be positive.
Thanks for all you do, and for your amazing website.
Hi, I am going on twenty months since i withdrawed cold turkey from benzos /antibiotics side effects which has caused kindled brain damage that i am currently healing from. Since I changed my diet to vegan high fruit diet no meats my symptoms are more manageable and I am improving little by little. I agree those benzo groups people should stay away from they are toxic and not good for healing. I cant wait til im fully heal so I can help others and bring awareness to the damage these drugs cause. Thank you for always posting positive messages. God Bless