It is that time of year. The ball dropped, it’s a new year, Christmas decorations begin to come down, winter really comes in hard and, for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder or depression, life gets incredibly difficult.
Have you seen the insane winter weather already? Have you seen the artic chill that is on the way? Ok, maybe the Christmas decorations stay up a while longer. You know, until April.
I’m not sunshine and rainbows all the time. Not even close. As I’ve mentioned numerous times in this space, my baseline is melancholy…but this time of year really gets difficult for me. Normally, my season depression really gets the best of me starting about now, but this time, I’m fighting back as much as I can. One of those ways is to write this blog post in an attempt to tell myself, “Follow your own advice, Stephen.”
I’m learning new ways to battle against the fall the disorder brings and, as that insane weather is on the way, I thought I’d share the list with you. Some of them may seem obvious, but when you’re battling a fall, you do what you need to do in the healthiest way possible. Please feel free to share ways you battle back at the bottom of this post as well.
1. Embrace the emotions you’re feeling.
It is important to admit to yourself you are down. The key is not to feel bad that you feel bad. Understand there are many, many people out there who deal with seasonal affective disorder and you are not alone. There may even be people in your life who suffer from the same issue, but you are not aware of it. Make a plan—such as what the remainder of this list provides—and fight back.
2. Find someone to talk with during this time of year.
Be more proactive than normal and reach out to friends, family or significant others. When you’re relatively calm and present, let them know you are struggling and begin to identify ways they can help you. As mentioned before, there is a good chance they are suffering from the same issues, so enjoy the conversation that can be had in order to become a great support system for each other.
3. Find a hobby to keep you busy, rather than just sitting in front of the TV or Netflix.
It’s incredibly difficult not to just veg out in front of the TV or computer for hours at a time when we’re “stuck” indoors due to the weather, but it’s important to find something that stimulates the mind during this time. Don’t just try to escape into the TV or computer, but embrace a hobby or get something done around the house you’ve meant to for quite a while. Your sense of accomplishment and confidence will continue to grow as you check things off your list.
Understandably, it’s difficult to exercise for some during the winter months. Not everyone—this writer included—enjoys winter sports. If you have a workout room at your home/apartment, use it. Even if just for 15 minutes a day, get on the treadmill and just walk. When you are just sitting around watching TV, get up and do 10 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups and 10 pushups during commercials. Just do something because it will help.
5. Vitamin D supplements.
There isn’t as much sunlight during this time of year, so our bodies are craving Vitamin D. After only a few days, you will notice a difference. Of all the items on this list, this may be the easiest to bring into your life, as it takes a half a second to swallow a pill and you can find Vitamin D almost everywhere. Add Vitamin D to your lives.
People get weird about meditation at times, thinking you have to sit cross-legged, humming to yourself for hours at a time. Nope…not at all. Quite simply, take a moment or two to yourself to just breathe and be present wherever you are at the time. Some people “meditate” when reading a book with beautiful music playing quietly in the background, while others mute the TV and just take a moment to enjoy the quiet, beautiful scenery outside the window during commercials. No matter how you do it, find a way to take a moment or two for yourself each day.
7. Rethink that social media post.
When we’re down, it is sometimes difficult to not post that “woe is me” post on social media. Rethink that right now. If you post it and many people begin to like it, retweet it and comment on it, it only helps to drag you down, even though it may feel good at first to know other people know you are hurting. It may seem contradictory to #2 on this list, but it isn’t. It is passive to compose a post and then wait for others to come to you and it is important when struggling with seasonal affective disorder to be active. Seek out support individually and in a more personal manner than a social media post and the results will be more genuine and helpful to you.
There are many other ways to fight back against seasonal affective disorder. What works for you out there, dear readers? Let’s hear ‘em!