The clocks have been reset. We get fewer hours of daylight and the weather is getting chillier by the day. Lots of people can suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder AKA seasonal depression). Unknowingly for quite a few years now, I notice that I, in fact, do get the seasonal blues, as I call them. This year, it has been a bit more of a struggle than years before, but there are ways to fight back against SAD.
The Symptoms of SAD:
Here are some of the symptoms of seasonal depression:
- Low Energy or a persistent feeling of fatigue
- Sleep issues
- Feeling depressed or unhappy most of the day
- Appetite changes
- Becoming easily agitated; irritability
- Trouble focusing
- A lack of interest in activities
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Although you may not experience all the symptoms, you still may be suffering from seasonal depression. For me, it’s been a constant fatigue, (the urge to nap most of the day), sadness and a loss of focus. Being productive is quite a challenge and I also struggle more with insomnia than I do at other times of the year.
But, as I said, there are ways to fight back. Since I have been implementing the methods I’ll be discussing, I’m almost 100% back to normal, (my normal, at least).
Ways to Fight Seasonal Depression
As it is with everything else, not all methods will work for everyone and if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should seek help immediately. Here are my best ways to deal with SAD:
Keep it Bright
Let the sunlight in. Add additional lighting to your rooms, both natural and through the use of lamps. The dark, in itself, has a way of making people more “down” and less productive. Keep your home as bright as possible, especially around 5:00 PM, when it begins to get dark (ugh, I hate the time change).
Keeping rooms well lit will help keep you more focused and alert. It’s a small thing but it does help a lot.
(Update, just bought a “sunrise alarm clock” that mimics a sunrise slowly to wake you up has helped me tremendously!)
Try to get Outside
Even though the temperature is cooler, spending time outdoors is still good for the mind & body. Even if you can only go outside for fifteen minutes a day – it will make a big difference. Try having your coffee outside, taking a walk or reading a few chapters of a book outside.
Even on cloudy days, your body will still absorb sunlight, at least more than you would staying indoors all day.
Don’t Neglect Exercise
Exercise is truly a magical cure for almost everything, in my opinion at least. You don’t even have to go at it hardcore. Just some simple walking or biking will do the trick. The healthier your body is physically, the healthier your mind will become. Seriously, exercise, even on the days you don’t want to. (Doing jumping jacks in between tasks counts!)
Prioritize Self Care
Do activities you love and be sure to pencil in some “me” time into your days. Taking care of yourself when you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD is paramount to dealing with it. Here are some wonderful Self Care activities: Simple Self Care Activities.
Plan some Fun
Coping with SAD can be difficult, but planning events with friends, family or your significant other can help give you something to look forward to. Even on your really bad days, socialization is important, (even when it feels like the last thing you want to be doing).
And, remember, you can also have some fun alone too, but be sure to keep socializing as well. Here are some ideas to add to your “to-do list” during the changing of the seasons:
- A vacation, if you’re able. (Even a short, weekend getaway is sure to help improve your mood).
- Meeting up with friends for lunch.
- A movie night.
- A date night with someone special.
- Some Gaming Time, (Red Dead Redemption is an awesome game, if you’re looking for recommendations).
- A Game night with friends.
- A night out, (visit a new restaurant, have a few drinks at the bar or just take a drive around town and treat it like you’re a tourist).
- Take on a DIY project.
Give Aromatherapy a Try
I am a huge skeptic about all the things people claim essential oils can do but the truth is, they do help, even if only a little bit.
My favorite “perk-up” oils are: Orange, Peppermint, lemongrass and Ying Ylang.
Orange essential oil is probably my favorite on my worst days. It does improve my focus and my ability to stay productive.
Amp up your Vitamins & Supplements Game
Vitamin D is a great vitamin to add to your routine when you’re experiencing SAD. Studies have shown that a lack of vitamin D will worsen depression. So, take some vitamin D.
Some other vitamins & supplements to consider: Fish Oil (you should probably be taking this year round also), vitamin C, Magnesium and of course, MAKE SURE you’re always taking a good multivitamin!
Limit Junk Food
This should be a rule year round, but I get it. Junk food is delicious. (Unfortunately, most things that are the worst for our bodies taste the best – dammit!). Seriously, limit the amount of junk food you’re consuming. It will cause you to be more sluggish, therefore increasing the effects of SAD.
Try a clean eating challenge or better yet, a cleanse. Drink tea over soda and try your best to get those leafy greens into your diet.
I’ve said this before in other posts about anxiety and depression, but having living plants in your house will really make a difference. They bring an element of nature indoors, help filter the air and are an excellent way to add life to your home.
Some great houseplants to consider are: Aloe Vera, Pothos (they’re nearly impossible to kill), Ferns, succulents and herbal plants like mint, cilantro and basil.
Keep Clutter to an absolute minimum
I used to be one of those people who would look at my ridiculously messy desk and say something like, “I like it that way. I know where to find things.” SO NOT TRUE. I was actually just too lazy to organize it. (I still have an issue with stacking folders and papers in no particular order on my desk & I’m working on it). 🙂
Clutter brings down the mood. Make your bed as soon as you wake up. Clear everything off of the designated “junk table”, (we all have one – sometimes it’s even a chair).
You’ll be surprised at how much a clutter-free space will perk you up.
Boost your Nightly Routine & Prioritize Sleep
You need at least 8 hours of sleep to be at your best. Work out the best nightly routine that works for you and make sure you’re catching those Zzz’s. A lack of sleep is a huge contributor to worsening anxiety, depression & YES, even seasonal depression.
Some of my nightly activities that help give ME the best, most restful sleep:
- Diffusing Lavender Essential Oil in the bedroom, (you can even add some to your pillow case).
- Reading before Bed & limiting screen time.
- Having a cup of chamomile tea.
- Rose scented Lotion.
Create YOUR Best Environment
This can mean different things to different people. Basically, you want to make sure that you are surrounding yourself with good vibes. Have images, scents, sounds and stimuli around you that YOU find soothing, relaxing or motivational.
For me, reading through some encouraging quotes, listening to my favorite music and having scents I love around is essential to keeping my seasonal depression at bay.
Use all the stress relievers you have in your arsenal and most importantly – keep pushing through. (To do that you need motivation. Self motivation will help you. Hell, have a pep talk with yourself in the mirror if you’re really getting down. You’ll be surprised at HOW much something so seemingly silly can make boost your mood).
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a nasty bitch. It certainly hit me out of nowhere this year but I’m implementing all the things I mentioned and it’s getting a whole lot better!
It’s important to know when to seek help, also. Like I mentioned early, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts – PLEASE seek the help of a professional! Seriously, the world is better with YOU in it 🙂
Coping with seasonal depression, (especially for those who don’t experience it at any other time of the year), can be challenging. You just have to keep fighting & keeping pushing forward.
Even on those really, really bad days when all you want to do is lay in bed – GET UP, DRESS UP, SHOW UP & NEVER GIVE UP. You’re much stronger than you think you are. You’ve got this. It does get better. The effort is worth it. And hey, if you need to – there’s no shame in crying it out. JUST. KEEP. GOING.
I hope everyone is looking forward to the holidays, staying productive & keeping it nerdy 🙂
Much Love <3 Please share & let me know in the comments if you suffer from seasonal depression & how you cope 🙂
This was a big concern and very real when we lived in Alaska. Doctors use to tell people to go to the tanning booths and tan. Helped many of my friends.
Light therapy is a good alternative to tanning also, Candy. Any exposure to light is sure to help 🙂
I’ve struggled with SAD, and the winters here in Michigan last basically 6 months lol. It’s such a tough time for me. But I’ve found keeping to-do lists and having projects going really helps me. Keeps my mind busy!
I was pregnant through the winter 3 times and each time I suffered depression through the winter. Someone told me to take vitamin D to help with it. I’m not big in swallowing pills but I did get out and get more sunlight when it was there and it helped
I’m glad that the sunlight helped 🙂 . Seasonal Affective Disorder can us really hard.
This is an awesome list! Definitely need to be intentional about this!
Thanks Nicole! I hope it was helpful to you 🙂
I think we are affected by the darkness of winter. I despise January and February after the lights of xmas have gone out. You hit the nail on the head with a lot of your suggestions. Get outside when you can, and if you can get away for some winter sun it’s the best. Your blog got very deep at the end, and I liked how you encouraged those in the dark to get help. Great piece.