Everything isn’t always so merry and bright during the holidays. For some people the holidays are the hardest times of the year. With everything going on in the world, seasonal depression is at an all time high. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a form of seasonal depression that is brought on in the colder months. Experts aren’t certain why seasonal depression happens; however, theories are based on lack of light and colder, slower days. Covid and pressure of the holidays probably aren’t helping much. We’ve done some digging to come up with 10 tips to help with seasonal depression. We’ve got this!
1. Go Outside
Why do people always suggest taking a walk or getting some fresh air when you’re upset? Because it works! Studies show multiple benefits from being in nature every day. Finding time to get outside, soak in the vitamin d, and find space for yourself is a great way to give you a little energy boost. Remember that it’s okay to be sad and down. It’s okay to feel lost and out of control at times. Make the time for yourself to work through your feelings. A great way is by disconnecting and getting outside to think and reflect with no distractions.
We’ve talked in the past about how helpful meditation can be to reduce and ease anxiety. Meditation can be a great outlet to aid seasonal depression as well. Getting into meditation can be difficult when you have little experience with it. We recommend finding some guided meditation on apps like Headspace or for free on YouTube! You can find a lot of free content that can be so beneficial and help you build on your own skills for meditation.
3. Light Box
There are a ton of treatment methods when it comes to seasonal depression. Before antidepressants, consider looking into a light box. Studies show that light therapy for SAD has been helpful for 50-80% of patients. Light boxes can be up to 20 times brighter than traditional indoor lights. With 30 minutes each day, these little lights can be more helpful than you think. If you live in a place that is dark for a majority of the day, look into different light options. There are TONS of options to choose from that range in price. They also have ones with settings that help you wake up and increase cortisol levels!
4. Happy Smells
Seasonal depression can be very lonely and isolating. If you’re having a tough day plan to spend the night alone and relaxing. Although keeping yourself busy and being around friends can help, sometimes you just need time to decompress alone. We all know by now how important selfcare can be. More times that night we still go far too long without taking care of ourselves. Take a couple of hours at night for yourself and utilize smells to relax and increase happy chemicals in your brain. Studies show that smells of citrus and eucalyptus raise energy levels. A great idea if you don’t have citrus is to light a candel or spray a scent that transports you to a happy time you’ve had whether it be from a vacation or time from the past.
5. Cozy Up
Going had in hand with a self-care night, ensuring that you’re cozy and comfortable can do a lot for your spirits. After meditating, showering, and doing your skincare, slip into something warm and comfortable. Cozy up with your favorite book, podcast or movie and take the night off from your phone and social obligations. You’ll thank yourself when you feel refreshed the next day.
6. Care for Others
Taking time out of your day to show love to others can have big effects on your mood. It doesn’t necessarily need to be people. Surrounding yourself with plants and animals can have positive contributions to your seasonal depression. Studies have shown that gardening and caring from something small can add easy purpose to your everyday life. Caring for something small like a plant gives you a task that you have to so everyday sometimes even more than once a day. The small simple things can do a lot to remove those gray clouds from your mood.
7. Booked and Busy
On the other hand, some days self-care and a little plant love won’t do the trick. Staying busy with a social calendar can make those dark days feel a little easier. We know with Covid it is increasingly more difficult to see friends and spend quality time together, but technology can be your best friend. Take an outdoor walk with a friend or do a workout in the park. Stressed about Covid or its way too cold where you live? Utilize Facetime and Zoom to spend time with family and friends. You can play games, eat meals and even watch movies together just through screens!
8. Schedules and Routine
Keeping up with a schedule may be just what you need to kick you back into gear. If taking time for yourself isn’t doing the trick, try a firmer approach by keeping yourself on a schedule. If you find yourself feeling lethargic and low energy write out a schedule for things that you can get accomplished that day, even if it’s small like making your bed or eating lunch. Checking things off of your to do list or sticking with your schedule will leave you feeling productive. Be proud of yourself for making it through the day and getting stuff done!
Journaling has been proven to help majorly with mental health. Loss, grief, trauma, anxiety, and depression can be worked through and healed just by journaling. Like mediation, journaling can be tough to get into and stick with because you have to make yourself do the work. Try writing prompts for working your way to longer journaling sessions. Putting your feelings on paper with words and art can be more therapeutic than you think. Give it a try!
Still struggling with depression even after trying these tips on your own. Medical professionals have found that taking some time away from your everyday normalcy can be helpful. A much-needed vacation in the sunshine might be just what you need to help ease your seasonal depression. We know living in the colder, darker climates can be challenging. Be gentle with yourself and take a vacation! After this year, you deserve it!
2020 has sucked. It’s okay and totally normal to feel down and sad during this time. Be gentle with yourself and others and remember that everyone live their own complex lives just like you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek professional help if you find that these tips and other trick don’t help. You’re not alone.