Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Kick Seasonal Depression

I wrote this post on Seasonal Affective Disorder a year ago today. Last year was a brutal winter - tons and tons of snow combined with shockingly cold temperatures made it a hard year around here for just about everyone. I get to feeling down right around the middle of January every year, and typically stay that way until around the beginning of March, but last year it was worse than normal for me and it led me to brainstorm some ways to head it off at the pass this year. When I look at the way I felt this time last year compared to how I've been feeling this year, it's like night and day. There are some things that contributed to that that I don't really have control over - the weather's been much more mild this year, for example, but I thought I'd share some tips that I feel have contributed to my sunnier outlook this year.

  1. I feel like this is the most important thing out of all of these to do - stay active - During winter, I tend to go into hibernation mode and curl up under a blanket, leaving only to go to work and to take bathroom trips. It seems cozy at the beginning of winter, but quickly leads to feeling sluggish and bummed out. I think it's important to try to do some kind of actual activity each day - be it a project around the house or a trip to the grocery store, just moving around will make you feel better.
  2. On a related note, be productive - This past Saturday I was sitting in my kitchen, doing what I love to do (sipping coffee, playing on the internet), no worries or cares, when I felt that bummed out feeling start to creep in out of nowhere. I immediately hopped out of my chair and begin cleaning my kitchen, which led to me deep cleaning my appliances and scrubbing my floors. The distraction took over the bummed feeling, and when I was finished my kitchen was sparkling clean, which also improved my mood! Two birds with one stone! I think that a big part of my depression problem stems from boredom, so just getting up immediately and doing something fended off the gloom. And the feeling of accomplishment is hard to beat.
  3. Think about exercising - That's all I've done, and it's helped me! (Har, har)
  4. Get outside - I know it's freezing out there and it feels torturous at first, but pick a sunny day and do something that involves being outside for a little while - take a walk, go to a winter festival, shovel your driveway if you have snow, build a snowman. The fresh air will breathe some life into you and the exposure to the sun is vital if you get seasonal depression.
  5. Socialize - It's so easy to get wrapped up in your own little solitary cocoon when the weather is awful and you just want to lounge in sweats and watch Netflix, but social interaction can be really refreshing. It'll also get you out of your head a bit, which is always good.
  6. Plan ahead - Plan a couple of fun activities to look forward to throughout the winter. Whether it's a trip to somewhere warm or just a night out with friends, having something to be excited for definitely staves off gloomy feelings.
  7. Bring some life into your home - I'm not talking about making babies, though if you wanna go in that direction it's definitely a mood lifter (heh). I'm talking about foliage - get some green, living things (plants, flowers, trees) and scatter them throughout your house. It brightens everything up and improves the oxygen in your home. Try not to get too bummed when you inevitably kill them. And by "you", I most definitely don't mean "me".
  8. Bring spring inside - I like to do this by punching up my decor a bit with some bright throw pillows or knick knacks and lighting some fresh-smelling candles. This is one of my favorite fresh, floral scents.
  9. Buy a car - just kidding. But if you have several thousand dollars to just throw around or, ya know, if your car unexpectedly dies on you one day, it definitely doesn't hurt!
  10. Spice it up - I've been trying out a bunch of new recipes recently, and the variety has helped keep things interesting. Again with the boredom - keeping my mind active has helped distract me from feeling bummed.
  11. Set yourself up for success - Around midway last year, I opened a savings account specifically for Christmas gifts. A big part of my funk in January has to do with feeling guilty for spending too much on Christmas and having to pay off my credit cards for the next several months. By tucking away a small amount each month (I actually put a bigger chunk into my main savings account, and have a smaller part of that chunk automatically transferred from my main savings into the Christmas account each month) I'm able to save up a pretty generous amount by Christmas, and I don't even notice it's gone. Plus, if I end up not needing as much as I have saved I can either just transfer the rest back into my main savings or carry it over for the next holiday season. Having money set aside took a huge amount of stress off of me this January.
I hope everyone's having a decent winter, or if you're feeling down in the dumps I hope some of these tips are able to help, at least a little. Depression sucks, seasonal or not, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. If all else fails, know that you're definitely not alone and there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. Et cetera et cetera, corny corny.

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