Right after Christmas and New Years S.A.D. usually sets in for me. It’s usually when the sky is grey and it’s cold out and there are no leaves on the trees. I just have this feeling that the world will never be warm again. It’s a bit dramatic, but it can also be the symptoms of Seasonal Depressive Disorder, and there’s a lot you can do about it!
My mother used to tell me how when I was born in Chicago, she used to experience S.A.D. and it cleared up once she moved to Florida. I had never lived up north so the idea of being depressed based on the season seemed a little strange. However, now that I moved to Massachusetts I completely understand.
For me, I first noticed it shortly after the holiday season. Christmas and New Years’ was over, and the sky was grey, and it was cold outside, and I just wanted to lay in bed all day. Everything seemed hard to do. Laundry was a struggle, showering was a struggle, I found myself eating as a hobby and I just felt sad! This is apparently not uncommon.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is simply getting depressed based on the season and it happens at the same time every year. For me, I tend to notice it from the end of January to around the end of March. The symptoms are similar to regular depression. You can feel moody, sad, have no energy, and just feel overall unhappy and depressed. I actually start having this delusion where I feel like the world will never be beautiful and green again and that the winter will be eternal.
I personally don’t really like how anti-depressants affect me, but that is an option you should consider with your doctor. However, if you find that you don’t want to go on anti-depressants but you do want to take control of this depressive time, please keep reading these tips!
1.) Take a walk in Nature even for 10 minutes: Going out in the cold might seem like the worst idea. I personally want to hide deep under the covers of my bed. It’s been proven though that going out in nature naturally helps lift moods. The Japanese call it shinrin-yoku which literally translates into Forest Bathing or Taking in the Forest Atmosphere. Going out into nature even if it’s cold and even if it’s for only 10 minutes may greatly impact how you feel!
2.) Light Therapy Box: This is one of those controversial things where some people say it doesn’t do anything and others swear by it. I have a lightbox, and I personally can’t tell if it helps or not but it doesn’t hurt to try. These are pretty affordable online and usually require that you spend one-hour sitting in front of it.
3.) Meditation: Meditation is amazing to do even if there’s nothing wrong with you. There are TONS of studies that show it can do everything from ease anxiety and depression to improving memory! When I meditate during the winter, I either focus on recognizing the temporariness of the season, raising my mood, or trying to visualize how I have felt in warmer places and see if I can’t channel that attitude into my day. There are TONS of different ways you can meditate and I encourage you to check out THIS POST to learn more!
4.) Aromatherapy: I’m going to come clean here. I wasn’t really a believer in this aromatherapy stuff, but then I started reading up on how much our sense of smell plays a part in memory making and moods. There’s a reason house cleaners smell like Lemon and Lavender and not just…chemicals. Smells like Citrus are energizing smells. I also think of places like Florida, or the beach, or summer when I smell citrus things, so that can be a real booster if you find yourself feeling low. You can smell it straight from the container, or put it in a diffuser, or even add a few drops to an Epsom salt bath and see if that doesn’t help you feel better.
5.) Exercise: I learned the magic of exercise and mood recently. I was having a really horrible day and I decided to do a really challenging workout on my treadmill. By the time I was done my attitude had improved immensely. I use that now to moderate a lot of my winter-related anxiety and depression. Yoga, Pilates, and some forms of weight training use the body which means you don’t need any special equipment, and there are plenty of YouTube videos to help you get a good sweat going.
6.) Let some Light into Your Home: It might feel cozy to keep your blinds shut and not be reminded of the dreary weather just outside your front door, but that might not be helping your mood. Seeing sunlight, even for a little bit will help your body regulate sleep, eating patterns, and mood! Leaving the shades on your windows open will allow some much-needed light in.
7.) Stick to a Schedule: This is so important for fighting any kind of depression. the pull might be strong to sleep in on a chilly morning or to skip working out, but these routines are essential to keeping us motivated, focussed, and feeling good! Try to keep your same waking, sleeping and eating schedule even on weekends.
8.) Remember to Eat Healthily: I Love hearty meals during the winter, but it’s important to try to eat healthily. What you eat can contribute heavily to your emotional health. Try to limit alcoholic drinks, and include lots of fiber in your diet. When you eat heavy, dense food your body can feel lethargic trying to process it. If you continue to eat in a healthy way, not only do you spare your body from the extra pounds it would have to manage, but you’ll have more energy to get up and move which is essential to keeping the winter blues away.
If you still find will all this that you are still not happy, or that your emotional lows go to unhealthy places it might be time to see a doctor and talk to them about additional steps you can take from supplements to anti-depressants. You deserve to be happy no matter what season it is. If you liked this post and would like to be kept up to date on it, please be sure to SIGN UP HERE. I hope this helps you, and that you have a HAPPY winter season! Thank you for reading! -Heather Astaneh