6 Tools That Can Help You Manage Your Seasonal Depression
Have you ever wondered if you struggle with seasonal affective disorder (or what’s more commonly known as seasonal depression)? We know we first start to feel an internal shift when the season transitions from summer to fall and then again from fall to winter. We’re less motivated, we become more sluggish, we want to live like a hermit 24/7 and we have no idea why.
But guess what? You don’t have to be diagnosed with depression to have seasonal depression. So many people experience some level of seasonal depression, and it comes on especially strong when the winter freeze begins to set in. All you feel like doing is curling up on the couch in your comfy pants alone and binging Netflix, right? We feel you. But since we still have a ways to go before spring arrives, we have to find productive ways to navigate these winter blues.
Instead of succumbing to the winter slump, here are six simple ways to lift your mood and say, “Thank you, next” to your looming seasonal depression. And if you learn to use these tools now, you’ll be extra prepared when the seasons change again this fall.
1. Set a consistent time to get up in the morning and stick to it.
You feel the heavy energy of winter strongly in the morning when you’re trying to wake up and get out of bed. Looking out the window and seeing gray skies is less than motivating, which is why setting a consistent time to get up in the morning during the winter and sticking to it can be a game-changer. Even if you have to set an alarm and place it across the room so you have to physically get out of bed to turn it off, do it. Eventually, your body will get used to waking up at the same time and it will feel slightly less painful each day. Additionally, we suggest leaving yourself 10 to 20 minutes to do something for you right when you wake up to help encourage you to get out of bed. It can be something as simple as lighting a candle you really like and reading for a little bit or following along with a short yoga or meditation video.
2. Journal or meditate when you wake up.
It’s really easy to feel disconnected and foggy during this time of year, so it’s important to do little things to ground yourself and reconnect emotionally. One of the easiest ways? Writing down how you’re feeling in a journal each morning when you get up, and then deciding to be okay with it. And if journaling isn’t for you, try a five-minute guided meditation. There are tons of great meditation videos on YouTube, plus apps like Calm and Headspace. The intention here is to spend a little time being mindful when you first start your day (or whenever you can find the time, honestly) to make getting through this time of year a little bit more manageable.
3. Eat protein early in the day.
We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is especially true during the winter months. Considering how difficult it is to get up and moving, you really need to fuel your body well to power through the day. Eat a solid serving of protein at breakfast to give yourself a boost of energy and prevent your mood from dipping quickly like it would with simple carbs or sugar. Even if you’re not a breakfast person, have a couple of eggs or a spoonful of peanut butter just to get your body moving and help it to sustain its energy levels.
4. Have essential oils handy at home and on the go.
Essential oils are our favorite little secret to lifting our moods in the winter. If you feel that 2 p.m. slump coming on or can’t get yourself going in the morning, rub some energizing essential oils on your wrists and wave your wrists under your nose for a pick-me-up. We always have a bottle or two of essential oils in our purses during this time of year so we are prepared at all times. Citrus scents, like sweet orange and grapefruit, and peppermint are perfect for picking us up. You can also get a diffuser for your home or a small one for your desk at work. These oils help keep you alert and can shift your mood instantly.
5. Schedule little treats for yourself during the week.
That’s right — set aside time to treat yo’ self! This method is especially helpful on the most hectic days because it gives you something to look forward to when work is all said and done. It can be anything you find a little indulgent, from visiting your favorite bakery to getting a manicure. (Those are always at the top of our list.) Whatever it is for you, do it up and enjoy every minute of it because winter sucks and you deserve a little “me” time to get through it.
6. Make plans with friends and follow through with them.
One of the biggest struggles of the harsh winter months is the pressing feeling of wanting to hermit at home away from everyone. This tendency is fine in small doses, but you don’t want to overdo it. To make sure you’re getting out and having some fun (even though you want to stay in), make small plans with friends and stick to them. The plans don’t have to be anything extravagant — we’re still pinching pennies post-holiday over here, too. But have a drink or grab a casual dinner… something simple to get out of the house and socializing with friends.
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