Personal: 'Tis the Season...
Along with the folly jolly, candles, and ho-ho-ho's comes the end of daylight saving time, cold weather, and financial strain. For many of us (up to 26% of Americans surveyed) this also means the start of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For me, this is how my problems with depression began. Aches and pains, low motivation, fatigue, and social anxiety always affected me most in the winter. Slowly, these feelings crept further into my life and continued to pervade the rest of the year. Disclaimer: I'm not an expert. I'm not a doctor. But I am here to listen and help however I can.
So what can we do about it?
If you feel that you are being affected by SAD I recommend you contact your primary care physician (PCP), psychiatrist, or therapist to see how they can help you. Sometimes medicine and therapy isn't enough to maintain your usual life style. So here are some things that I find have helped me cope:
Light Therapy: Try talking to a doctor about this one, but you don't need a prescription. I have a 'happy light' I use it for 1 hour nightly during the winter while I do homework, blogging, reading, etc. at my desk and I find it brings me a bit of motivation.
Join a Gym: This one is not all that affordable for some people but it can really help. This December (as I have in Decembers in the past) I am joining a gym that is near my place of work. Since it is close to where I work I go there before or after my shift for at least 45 minutes (usually 4-ish times per week). This way I don't have to worry about motivating myself to get out of bed, I'm already there, no excuses. You can purchase workout plans online that are cheaper than paying for a trainer (My personal favorite is Crush60 they have a lot of sales so be patient). Even if you have a crappy, short, low effort workout, it is still better than staying home. After all, Endorphins are the best natural way to fight depression.
Start a Journal: It doesn't have to be pretty or perfect like those silly Instagram and Tumblr celebrities will try to convince you. Do what works for you. Aim to journal for 5 minutes twice a week at first and build up to every night. My personal favorite thing to do is make lists of what is worrying me and then make a plan to fix the things that I can and scratch out the ones that I can't. Sometimes I write lists of what I am grateful for or what makes me feel good about myself. Sometimes I just doodle! It's for you, so make it yours.
Aroma Therapy: Try out an essential oil diffuser or some nice candles. Both are equally comforting. When you pair them with a cup of tea, an online yoga class (try Gaia), a mediation session (I like Headspace) they are most effective at calming you down. Try combinations of lavender and eucalyptus with rosemary, orange and peppermint, or lemon with eucalyptus and peppermint. I found my diffuser on sale for a great price at TJMaxx!
Take Vitamins: Vitamin D! Most people in the North become deficient during the winter. Vitamin D3 (I take 5,000IU daily) helps our brains make happy chemicals. Make sure you take some calcium in your diet to help absorb as much as you can. Vitamin B12 in liquid form can help provide energy. Don't forget to maintain your electrolyte intake (take some pedialyte if you notice you're feeling extra dehydrated during this dry season). A general daily multivitamin can also help!
Get Outside: If joining a gym isn't for you, try just getting outside. If you live in a place where skiing is feasible and you can afford it, do it! Try just going for a walk. Grab some cheap snow shoes at a yard sale (that's how I got mine!) and clomp around in the snow. Convince some friends to go for a short hike with you. Just make sure you layer up!
Cuddle: Have a pet? Cuddle up! Cat's purrs are scientifically proven to have healing powers! Dogs are great at relieving anxiety and depression. If you don't have a pet of your own, consider volunteering at a local shelter once a month or talking one of your friends into letting you pet their dog or cat.
Eat: For most people, comfort foods are proven to cheer you up. Try a good bowl of complex carbohydrates (in moderation of course). These will give you quick energy that can help boost your mood. Try pairing these with a fun activity (like one listed above) or a good workout.
I can't say this enough, TALK ABOUT IT! So many people are going through what you are going through. The winter is the easiest time to feel alone, but you ARE NOT ALONE in this. It can be hard sometimes, but try to open up to a professional, a friend, or a family member if you are feeling down, unmotivated, or are having suicidal ideations.
As always, you can contact me anytime through my social media or my contact page!