With the holidays and colder months, you might find yourself feeling more anxious and/or depressed. The days grow darker and colder, something that likely prompts you to consider how you can better prepare for oncoming emotional rollercoasters. You may be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. It’s not separate disorder; instead it is “depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern.” There are a variety of treatment options for this condition as well as things you can do at home to find relief. Let’s look at 9 ways you can ease seasonal depression symptoms.
1. Look for ways to focus on the positive
It may sound silly, but a positive shift in mindset has the potential to help you view winter differently. Take a study done in Norway. When asked why they don’t have seasonal depression, they responded by saying, “Why would we?”
The Norwegians in the study embraced the winter by celebrating the activities they can do only in the winter such as skiing. Spending time outdoors can be great way to ease seasonal depression symptoms even if skiing isn’t in your wheelhouse.
It can be easy to complain about the colder season. When you find yourself about to do so use your new positive shift in mindset to consider what about the change in weather makes you happy. Visualize it and speak out about it to help your body and mind make it happen.
2. Embrace the small things
Once you visualize and speak out about those small things that make you smile, make them happen and embrace every moment. It can even be the simplest things: drinking hot cocoa under your favorite blanket, watching your breath in the cold air, walking your dog in the season’s first snow, breaking your favorite snuggly sweater out from the back of your closet, lighting the fireplace/getting the bonfire ready or inviting friends and loved ones over for a PJs and movie party. Be active in your fight to ease seasonal depression symptoms. Surround yourself with the small things to help you do it.
3. Enjoy the outdoors
Spending time outside is a proven mood-booster. But you might not feel up to staying outside in the cold for long periods of time, which is perfectly fine. Try bringing the outdoors in.
Open up the curtains and blinds in the windows of your house. Place your favorite chair in front of your window. Watch all the activities going on outside from the warmth of your home and with your favorite hot cider in hand. If the weather permits, you could even put a bird feeder close to your window to entice your neighborhood to visit you throughout the winter.
4. Find a festival
Wintertime festivals can be great fun and the perfect way to get you out of the house to enjoy time with others. Look for art festivals, music festivals, local craft fairs or other local events your community is having to ease seasonal depression symptoms to ease seasonal depression symptoms. Click here to search for one in your area.
5. Recognize your triggers
Triggers are things that cause you to feel worse. Everyone is different, so your triggers are likely different from others’. Here are some common ones to look for:
- Stress: Depression and mood swings can cause you to feel more stress, and increased stress can cause your seasonal depression to worsen. It can be a frustrating cycle.
- Poor sleep routine: When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t recharge properly. This could leave you feeling drained, fatigued, foggy and irritable.
- Use of alcohol or drugs: Alcohol acts as a depressant, and certain drugs may induce extreme temporary euphoria before causing you to crash.
- Major life events: Intense emotions could cause you to feel very happy, sad, angry, surprised and more.
- Social events: You may be invited to more social events over the holiday season, which can lead to you needing more time to recharge and reset.
If you start to notice that you’re feeling worse, take a few minutes to regroup and breathe. Meditation may help you feel more centered again.
6. Create your own sanctuary
Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary. Keep it cool, dark and quiet. Don’t surf the web, look at Facebook or watch TV when you’re trying to fall asleep. Decorate your bed with fresh, snuggly blankets. Create a space where you can stretch and do meditation when needed. Light candles where you feel comfortable, but be sure to get up and about each day to help boost your endorphins and to ease seasonal depression symptoms.
7. Connect food with mood
You’ve surely heard the saying “you are what you eat.” People often eat certain foods based on how they are feeling. If you’ve had a bad day, you may have gone home and reached for some “comfort” food or hit the drive-thru window for something quick and convenient. But eating these foods regularly could actually make you feel worse.
On the other hand, if you had a really great day, you may have gone home and cooked a healthy dinner. While we don’t typically know we’re doing it, we connect food with our mood. And when it comes to managing depression and mood swings, it might be time to connect food and mood in a different way.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet has the potential to help you feel better simply by boosting your self-esteem. There is a strong link between eating healthy and maintaining your mental well-being.
8. Keep your body moving
We all know that getting regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy body, but it’s also a huge step in protecting our mental health. Before starting or changing your exercise routine, remember to talk with your doctor. Your doctor may have tips and recommendations to help you reach your goals and to ease seasonal depression symptoms.
Even gentle exercise routines like yoga are great options. They can help promote relaxation, flexibility and balance. They also include breathing techniques that can help calm the mind.
Start slowly and build your activity level over time. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or at a gym all the time. Ask a friend to go for a brisk walk outside with you or head out for a bike ride along a nature trail.
9. Ask for help
You don’t have to manage your seasonal depression alone. Seeking the help of a trained and licensed mental health professional can be an invaluable step as you ease your seasonal depression symptoms. Counselors and therapists have special training and can offer you additional coping strategies. Talking to trusted loved ones can make a significant difference as well. If you aren’t sure where to start, you may find calling a hotline helpful.
Seasonal depression can be challenging to live with. You, your loved ones and your healthcare team can work together to develop a treatment plan to ease seasonal depression symptoms. Remember: you’re not alone. Many people are fighting to ease their seasonal depression symptoms as well.
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