Yes, ’tis the season to be jolly (fa la la la la…la la la la!), but ’tis also the season for seasonal depression. WHOMP.
Not trying to be a Debbie Downer (whomp whomp), just trying to deal it to you straight. That’s what Besties do, right?
To be honest, you don’t have to have a diagnosis of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) to feel rather BLAH when the darker winter months set in. It’s a scientific fact that most people are just plain happier when the sun is shining and it’s not -23 degrees outside.
Sure, there’s plenty to love about winter (especially in December!!), but in case you’re feeling a bit down and out due to the change of seasons, here’s a short and sweet list of ways you can cope:
1. Check your Vitamin D
Definitely have your vitamin D levels checked if you haven’t already in recent months. My sis in-law is a super smart nurse and often says “I’m sure we’re all low in vitamin D living in the Northeast!” I myself had routine blood work done to become a foster mama last year and everything was a-ok…except my vitamin D. I started taking a supplement (use code 152AC2 to get $10 off your first order – SPOILER: the vitamin D is only $10!!) and I haven’t looked back! My son is also low in vitamin D and I’ve noticed a dramatic change in both of our moods and energy levels when we’re regularly taking vitamin D. Chat with your doctor before starting any new supplements, but this was a game changer for us Bearses!
2. Don’t go it alone
When you feel more MEH than merry, it’s easy to want to hibernate under your weighted blanket and re-watch Home Alone for the 39483th time rather than go out and be social. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Until there is.
If you find yourself NEVER going out, then you’re likely going to make your SAD symptoms worse. Try to make plans with friends a few times each month to make sure that you’re not going to have too too much alone time. Also remember that even if you can’t schedule a coffee date this hectic time of year, you can still get many of the same benefits of said coffee date by heading to the coffee shop by yourself with your book or magazine and just being out there in the world. The bottom line? All alone time and no social time makes Jane a SAD girl. (Too much? Nah!)
3. Get physical
If you’ve been hanging around here for long, you’re probably a little tired of me telling you to exercise. Trust me, I have to tell myself to exercise too! But for me, it’s more for my mental health than anything else. I absolutely relate with struggling to work up the willpower to work out at times, but I am ALWAYS so glad I did. And I’ll bet you feel the same way. When you’re feeling down, try giving yourself a few different options for exercise and see which one feels best to you. It’s usually easier for people to answer the question: “would I rather go for a hike or go to spin class?” than it is to just feel like you have to do the thing you always do. Give yourself a choice and then get moving.
4. Talk it out (with a pro)
I shared about this in my Facebook and Instagram live last night (you can catch the replay here), but it’s absolutely worth repeating: if you’re feeling ANY type of depression (seasonal or not), you need to talk to a therapist. Once you share how you’ve been feeling and what you’ve been thinking with a therapist, they can help you decide the BEST course of action to take to treat your depression. Most people (actually all people in my opinion) need an objective professional to help them get the right help for them. Everyone is different, and your manifestation of SAD might look completely different from someone else’s. Your therapist will be able to guide you toward the treatment option that will best treat your specific symptoms.
5. Figure out what you WANT to feel, and plan to feel it
I tell my clients (and my self-care besties!) this all the time. Rather than let yourself be swept away by your feelings, do what you can to CHOOSE how you want to feel and then ACT accordingly. For example, if you want to feel peaceful, joyful, and grateful, but you’re currently stuck in a rut of feeling sad and lethargic, think of activities you can do that will help you feel your desired feelings instead. You could meditate or take a walk outside to feel peaceful, dance around your living room to Christmas music to feel joyful (check my IG stories to see me doing this exact thing!), and make a gratitude list or text someone and tell them you’re thankful for them to feel grateful. The possibilities are endless. And while this strategy isn’t meant to keep you from ever feeling sad or depressed, it IS very effective at providing you with some measure of control over feelings you may have previously felt were unchangeable or “just the way you are.” So not the case.
Ok, my friends! Let me know if you have any other good suggestions for how to cope with seasonal depression. I’m here for you if you have any questions, so don’t hesitate to reach out if that would be helpful! Have a great weekend!