In my unpopular opinion, I love the winter months. There is something so magical about snowfall and endless snuggling possibilities. However, winter is not all rosy cheeks and cups of hot chocolate. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that rears its ugly head around this time and continues until spring. Commonly referred to as the “winter blues,” SAD is no joke. It’s easy to get caught up in the endless tasks you need to do or should do. Between the papers, projects, and work hours, it is important to find time for self-care.
Self-care looks different for everyone. I’ve included a few methods that have helped me battle my seasonal depression and my major depression. Take your mental health seriously and try some of these methods today. If there is anything you do to care for yourself that I’ve missed, please let me know!
You might think this is silly, but snuggling is actually good for your health. Physical touch increases oxytocin levels in your brain which reduces blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. Grab someone you love and cuddle! Snuggling affects your emotions as well. Being close to someone grounds you and reminds you that you are loved. It doesn’t get much better than that! Whether it’s a friend, an S/O, or a furbaby, take the time to relax today by cuddling up!
Whether it’s writing, drawing, or simply breathing, meditation is one of the best ways to tackle the blues. The ultimate objective of meditation is to reconnect and focus. Meditation involves training the brain to recognize something important. Whether it is to remember to honor your body, connect to something you are passionate about, or to feel a joyful emotion, meditation will help. Our lives tend to get busy and we forget to slow down. Meditation is the tool to help set aside everything and recenter.
Join a Community
More often than not, having a mental illness deposits disordered thoughts into your mind on a regular basis. Feelings of insecurity, fear, and anger are common and the go-to action when feeling this way is to isolate yourself. Don’t feed the depression — get out there and join a community! Being around other people helps you find support and find outlets to express yourself. Spend time with your friends, take a class, or join a club. The possibilities are endless!
Stop spending time with people who make you feel bad
This one is IMPORTANT. It takes a while to learn this practice, but once you do, life gets so much better. If you are spending time with people who discourage you, you will ultimately be discouraged. The people you surround yourself with have a major influence on how you feel. If you have friends who bring you down, it’s time to make a change. Yes, I know, easier said than done. However, I promise you, once you start surrounding yourself with people who inspire and uplift you, you will be in a much better mental state.
Say No or Yes More Often
Let me explain. The amount of “yes’s” and “no’s” you say needs to be balanced. If you say “yes” to too many things, you get burnt out and leave no time for self-care. If you say “no” to too many things, you miss out on opportunities to progress and grow in a variety of ways. This delicate balance is different for everyone, so pay attention to what works for you. Don’t be ashamed if you need to say “no” more often than “yes” or vice versa. Life’s a balancing act and some phases require more self-care than others. Stay in tune with where you are at and plan accordingly!
Brighten up your living space
When it comes to your space, the amount, the state, and the placement of your stuff have a very real effect on your mental wellbeing. I find that when I am depressed, cleaning up my apartment gives me a jolt of energy and cleanses my state of mind. I love the saying, “the state of your bed reflects the state of your head.” Maybe if I made my bed more than once a month my depression would be cured? Probs not. However, it definitely increases my clarity. I’ve also found that adding a new picture to the wall or lighting a brand new candle has a calming effect attached. Feng shui your space to shake things up! It’ll get you inspired and motivate you to tackle your day.
Listen to Music
The power of music is insane. I typically define my mood by the playlist I’ve chosen to listen to that day. Some days you need some good ol’ easy listening to gently begin, and others, you need some hardcore gangsta rap to get yourself going. There are times I specifically listen to sad music because I need a good cry. Or, I need to get in the zone so classical music is my game. Whatever your preference, you can’t deny that music can be a highly effective mood booster.
Exercise to Feel Good
Exercise is a wonderful way to pump out some endorphins and relax your body. However, in our society, we tend to put a lot of pressure on the way we exercise, the amount we exercise, and how we look based on that exercise. That pressure is intimidating and in some ways numbing. Let’s get back to the real reason we exercise…our bodies need it! We need a sweat session to feel good and keep our organs running properly, especially the brain. One of the best ways to work through seasonal depression is to work out. Start small and don’t get discouraged. A walk, a few stretches, or a minute of squats does a world of good when you are feelin’ the blues.
Disclaimer: I’m just a gal with a mental illness. I am not a medical professional in any way. These suggestions are simply practices that have helped me and they aren’t a guaranteed solution. If your case is more severe, I highly suggest seeing a doctor to discuss your options. As someone who suffers from a fairly severe case of clinical depression and anxiety, I am only able to function normally due to a combination of medication, therapy, and self-care exercises. There is no shame in having a mental illness. Please take care of yourself and your mental health this winter. If you’re feeling skeptical, or don’t know whether your case of the blues is “severe” or not, don’t hesitate to reach out! I’d love to grab a cup of cocoa with you and talk about it! 🙂