Just to give those a disclaimer I am not a doctor or licensed therapist. I haven’t been diagnosed with seasonal depression but I have been able to tell my mood changes around this time each year. However, having a Mass Communications degree and experience with the autistic population, mentoring younger children, and the advice I give my friends and family, I believe that I can give much needed in-depth advice on how to manage your possible seasonal depression.
First, we need to define Seasonal depression. Seasonal depression, also referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually in winter. From my own personal experience I’ve noticed that when the weather gets colder my mood changes, my appetite is limited, and my interaction and patience with people is limited. As I get older I’ve realized I can no longer lash out on people and blame others though because it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Around this time of year people gravitate towards family gatherings a lot more and often feel emotional when they cannot see certain loved ones. Which makes sense because since the weather is so much colder we want to feel the love from our loved ones.
According to Rush University, “The primary culprit of both the winter blues and SAD is the lower level of natural sunlight we are exposed to in the fall and winter.” During the winter many of us just want the sun back. We really enjoy the sunshine because the vitamin D from the sun really boosts our dopamine levels. Hints why when you’re around your friends, family and coworkers their mood may change and they become quite grumpy or standoffish. Don’t take it personal. You need to remember that everyone is going through an internal pain that may stem from losing a loved one or overall, poor coping mechanisms with their emotions.
When I was 19 years old that’s when I started to get even more depressed. My Track coach died in October and my Aunt died in November which sucked because these two were the closet people in the tribe created around me. The both of them taught me how to be more patient, to keep striving, and most importantly, to just laugh and enjoy your time on this earth. I miss them everyday and honestly, around this time of year it hurts a little more!
To combat my feelings I’ve realized I can’t just mope around the house so I decided to take action. Over the past two years it’s been the same consistent schedule for me to help me cope with my emotions better. I hope this helps all of you during this time we are living in. However, I must warn you that this is not an overnight fix, you may fall off the wagon, or you may drift away in negative thought. But like anything in life you have to practice it in order to get it right.
Everyday I mediate
My meditation method is quite simple. It’s just the Wim Hof method every single morning. You just simply breathe in and out through your mouth for 3 rounds. In between each round you will hold your breathe for 1 minute. I can confidently say that this has helped me in remaining calm and making rational decisions. I no longer find myself angry, resentful, or bitter towards anybody which makes me feel better about myself overall knowing that I’m not so quick to snap on others.
Get some sun light 10-15 mins
Well honestly, this one is tricky. I’m not sure where everyone lives but I live in Connecticut. The weather is just bipolar. One minute it will snow than the next minute the sun will come out. Either way, if or when the sun comes out I try to soak up as much of it as I can. However, just going for a brisk walk helps as well as the alternative for me. I’ve found that staying in the house makes things worse because you keep thinking too much, which is never a good thing. You need to just clear your mind and think less at times for your own mental sanity.
Exercise 4-5 days a week
This ties into the previous point I made about fresh air. Most of us will either work out inside or outside. Me, I have a gym that’s a 15 minutes drive from my house. I don’t know what it is but heavy lifts boost my mood. However, for the wonderful ladies that follow this blog, I’m not hating on cycling or spin classes. Those are very beneficial for waking up in the morning. I can’t work out at night or mid-day. It has to be in the morning because getting my body moving in the morning wakes up and keeps me up through out the day.
Monitor what I eat
Around this time of year I do my best to avoid consuming too much junk food. I stick to a whole food plant based diet. I rarely eat processed vegan meat products because I’ve realized it slows down my productivity and lowers my mood. I’d recommend eating 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables, drink 1 gallon of water, cook majority of your food, and order less take out. I know it’s hard because I’ve noticed that when you’re not feeling great, you tend to gravitate towards junk food. However, I myself had to realize that feelings come and go. Simply embrace your feelings and then let them go. This is how you’ll get over that dreadful feeling you keep feeling. The more junk food you consume the less energy you’ll have to get anything done. If you have problem consuming fruits/vegetables I’d recommend investing in a blender and adding flax seeds, dates, and plant based milk to your smoothie to cure those sugar cravings your feeling. Trust me it helps!
Keep a consistent schedule
And now, to wrap it all up you have to do everything I’ve just mentioned consistently. The body has to be in tune mentally and physically in order to even function. When one is out of sync one’s life becomes unmanageable. When I was younger my emotions spiraled out of control. These days it’s a lot better, not perfect, but manageable. However, I had to understand that life is just a crazy roller coaster. You have no idea how high you will be going, if you’ll spin out of control, or even worse, be upside down. But it’s all about your system that makes it easier. If you don’t have one in place life will become harder for you to cope with.
I hope that this has been informative for all of you. Links to last weeks blog and articles I referenced have been listed below for your viewing pleasure. Remember, you can do this but you just have to put in the work and be patient!
More than Just the winter Blues: https://www.rush.edu/news/more-just-winter-blues