Every year without fail, from the second November hits until the day April shows up, I am hit with a gray cloud of seasonal depression.
Here’s what seasonal depression is like.
From April through October I am an optimistic realist with an abundance of gratitude and happiness that flows very naturally and easily. I have the energy to get myself to the gym, through a productive workday, spending quality time with my family, and other activities that come up. Those months of the year I absolutely love being around people and staying active. For 7 months of the year, I feel like myself.
Between November and March when the weather is cold, the sky is gray, and nighttime lasts for 12+ hours, a flip switches in my brain. I become lethargic, negative, have a hard time finding the silver lining, my motivation to do pretty much anything decreases, and all I want to do is lay around under a blanket in a dark room by myself.
Before I knew that seasonal depression was a thing, I was very concerned with how vastly my emotions and attitude differed during the different times of the year.
Was something seriously wrong with me? It wasn’t until I dealt with postpartum depression after having my daughter 3 years ago that I was able to pinpoint what depression felt like. I realized that whether it was my hormones undergoing big changes or if it was big changes coming from the weather, depression is something that my mind grasps onto easily.
Now that I know what to expect in the winter months, I have been able to take steps to combat the effects of seasonal depression without going on medication.
Being proactive instead of reactive has been a big learning process and it’s been a lot easier said than done. It can be really hard to find the energy or desire to even find your way out of the “darkness” when you’re in the thick of it, but taking these small steps has been life-changing for me:
Start each day with a grateful mind.
First, I make sure to wake up every single morning and say out loud what I am grateful for. Putting positivity into my mind first thing in the morning really helps me get into a good mindset for the day.
Move your body.
Next, I make sure to spend at least 20 minutes each day moving my body. In the winter when all I want to do is do nothing, this can be really challenging. But whether I am just going on a walk or stretching on my bedroom floor, I always feel really good after I’m done.
Clean up the diet.
Another challenging (especially around the holidays) thing I try to focus on in the winter months is eating healthy. I have done so much research on nutrition and depression, and if you clean up your diet and get rid of a lot of the sugar, it can do amazing things for your mind.
I find that when I am eating junk, my brain feels like it’s in a cloud and I have a really hard time getting out of it. Eating (mostly) clean has a way of clearing up my mind and gives me a much better focus.
Soak up the cold, winter sunshine.
Soak up as much Vitamin D as possible. Even though it’s not 75 degrees and sunny, when the sun is shining on cold, frigid days, Vitamin D is still abundant. Sitting near windows or taking a quick stroll around the block are great ways to soak some in.
Get quality sleep.
Making sure I get 8-9 hours of sleep each and every night is also a key component to battling seasonal depression. Staying off technology an hour before bedtime and spending that time either talking with my husband or reading a book allows me to end my day on a good note and prepare my mind for quality sleep.
These lifestyle changes that I spend more time focusing on in the winter months when I am overcome with seasonal depression make a world of difference. Yes, those months I still find myself feeling more lethargic, unmotivated, negative, and gloomy than I do when it’s warm, but these things definitely help take the edge off.
Do you deal with seasonal depression? What things can you add to my list of things to do to combat the effects? Let us know in the comments!
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