10 Top Tips for Fighting Seasonal Depression
The winter months are upon us, and for many states around the US, this means snow. For others, it means endless gloom and rain. And for those few of you who choose to live in the SW, it means eternal sunshine. Wherever you live, seasonal blues are a real and powerful thing, and I struggle every single year with them. Being Australian, the winter is really hard on me, as I’m used to so much sunshine and vitamin D and winter was so mild for me growing up. So for your sake (and my own), I’ve formulated and experimented what daily actions help beat the blues, and I’ve compiled a list of the most practical and helpful.
Get Dressed To Leave The House.
This one is for all of you self employed or seasonal workers. Sometimes it’s really easy to just stay in your pj’s and work, but I’ve learnt that it’s really easy to feel lazy and sluggish that way. Sometimes, just putting on regular clothes and a little makeup/doing my hair gives me the confidence I need to feel much more positive and happier. Adding that extra little bit of time and care onto your morning routine can be huge for your mental health. For those of you who inevitably need to leave the house in the mornings, get up 10 minutes earlier than you normally do and take your time doing your morning routine. Rushing to get ready before work can set your anxiety high for the day, so take some time to not rush.
Leave the House or your Office for 10 minutes, even just for a coffee.
I’m not a coffee drinker anymore, but just the act of going to a coffee shop and having a coffee/tea inside the shop for 10 minutes can feel really good. A new scenery and being around other people, chatting to your barista, appreciating the craft or coffee or tea, it is a tiny bit of inspiration that can be tremendously helpful. I always try and put my phone away when I go out for coffee, and bring a book and try to read a chapter. If you’re at your work or Office, why don’t you try going for a walk through the building to find a coffee/walk around the block and grab a little snack on the way.
Do one thing that inspires you.
Finding out what works for you, and what you love, takes some time. If you already know the perfect way to feel inspired, try and do that at least once a week. Whether that’s visiting a museum, your local gallery or a really beautiful furniture design store, taking a stroll through a bookstore or even just through a neighborhood in town that you really like, make time in your schedule to do that. For me, I love thrifting. There’s a particular adrenaline in thrifting that can’t be matched elsewhere for me; it’s always so satisfying to find a really good bargain on a brand I love, or just to browse and get inspired for next seasons closet etc.
Take your vitamins.
I’m not a good example of this actually, as I have a really bad time taking vitamins without getting incredible nauseous, but I did just start back up on a vegan Vitamin D supplement since this Northwest weather is so gloomy. It might be a good idea to get some blood work done and see what your levels are, since I know what is important for me to take, you might have very differing needs. If you’re feeling really tired and sluggish, you might need iron. If you feel really depressed and emotionally exhausting, B12 could make a difference. Chat to your healthcare professional and see what they would recommend. I’ve also been dosing on CBD oil every day or two just to keep me feeling focused and calm, so if you don’t have CBD oil in your life, that could also be a huge help. (I use Rosebud CBD oil and it’s incredible. Click here for $5 off your first order).
Make Time Screen Free.
Ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling, and then proceeding that feel really depressed and insecure? Yes, stop the scrolling. Put your phone away during certain times of the day. Make intentional time to read a book, or play a game, or eat a meal without your phone in your hand. This is especially important just before bed. Ditch the scrolling before bed and read a book before you sleep. Even watching Netflix or TV can disrupt your sleep time and make your quality of sleep significantly less, and your sleep is vital to your wellbeing and mental clarity.
If you have a regular exercise routine, keep it up. Maybe you could change up something in that routine to make space for a new activity or even just a new schedule of exercise (working out in the morning instead of at lunch, for example). If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, try and get out and go for a walk, or take a class. This week I’ll be rock climbing and doing yoga, both are group activities that I feel inspired to join, and they both motivate me to want to leave the house. Getting your blood moving is so important for feeling those endorphins kick in. If you feel pressed for time, take a 5 minute walk during your lunch break, and park your car 5-10 blocks away from your work to force yourself to walk to and from your work building.
Spend time with people you love.
I think this is the most effective. Spending time with people you love cures the blues like nothing else. Social time in the winter is crucial to your well being, and sometimes just grabbing a drink with a colleague or old friend can recharge your emotional batteries. If you can’t make time for those outings, have a night in with all of your friends. Start a weekly movie night or game night and invite all your closest friends. You’ll have something to look forward to and some social time to feel good about. I’m really lucky to see at least one friend every single day; we live in the same building as some of our best friends that we see quite often, and Mondays we commune at my friend’s house to watch the Bachelor. These social gatherings are essential for me in the winter.
Make time for self care.
If you can’t listen to what your body needs, how will you feel good? I’ve been taking more time to have baths and diffuse oils into my bath water. We’ve also been diffusing some (cat friendly) oils that I love and I’ve bene patient on myself with trying to keep up with dishes etc. I’ve been making sure to keep my living spaces immaculate too, because a messy space creates a messy mind. Do what you know feels good for you.
Make healthy food a priority.
Health food is always essential to overall wellbeing, but when it comes to the winter time and fighting viral sickness and seasonal depression, keeping up with a good nutritious diet is top priority. I’m not talking Brussel sprouts and broccoli every single day (unless you like that, then go ahead, I love it!) but find a balance with what works for you, comfortably. Don’t throw yourself out of your comfort zone eating things you’re not used to yet, but ease your way into more healthy options, less saturated fats and animal products (those hormones and fats will get you down and sluggish) and more greens and antioxidant foods like beets, carrots, and whole-grains. If you’re having a tough day and you just want pizza, make sure to listen to yourself too, but all in moderation and know the decisions you’re making, and make them with intentionality.
Talk to a Professional.
If you’re really feeling down and you’re not sure if it’s just the winter time, or if you’re battling some mental health difficulties, go and speak to someone. There are plenty of counsellors and therapists who offer sliding scale payment options, and sometimes it’s easy to believe that seasonal depression is just seasonal, but don’t dismiss your mental health if you’re genuinely feeling incredibly down.
If there’s other things that you’ve found to be of help, please comment below. I’d love to hear how you’re battling the blues this winter.