As you know, I have times when I struggle with my mental health. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and it’s definitely a dark cloud looming over me sometimes. The last few months of the year are really hard for me mentally and emotionally. This is around the time I tend to get really depressed and when I want to commit suicide. There have been a few attempts in the past but thankfully, I’m still here. Which is why I’m so passionate about mental health. If I can prevent just one person from commiting suicide, then I’m satisfied.
What is SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression triggered by changes in daylight and weather that occur primarily in winter. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it affects around 15 million adults in the US. That’s like 6.8% of the country. What are some symptoms? Some symptoms can include: Feelings of depression that happen most of the day, every day, in a seasonal pattern, having tiredness or low energy, loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy, changes in appetite or weight gain, and/or sleeping too much.
So what can help? The tips that are mentioned will help to minimize the affects of SAD. They’re not a cure all, just some things that can help you feel a bit better mentally. Choose what works for you because not everything mentioned will work for everyone. Try some and see what works. Maybe there needs to be an adjustment somewhere that fits more into your life.
- Work out! Working out helps to release endorphins which is a happy chemical. Try to see what type of exercise works for you. Maybe you can try yoga, running, walking, HIIT workouts. My favorites are barre and Pilates. Again, find what works for you. I have a friend (Ashley) who teaches yoga both in person and virtually and in fact, she’s having a yoga self-care challenge on Instagram called “Glowing for the Holidays”. Maybe you can try that!
- Journal. It’s not healthy bottling up our feelings. It can cause us to lose our cool and it’s a great way of seeing what’s wrong especially if we see a psychiatrist. It’s a great way of seeing what may have caused it, how we are exactly feeling and can maybe plan for the future if these feelings begin to creep back up. Writing out our feelings is a great way to get your negative thoughts and feelings out.
- Medication. Medication may not work for everyone, but it can help. There’s nothing wrong with using medication to help you cope. It can help alleviate our mood. It doesn’t mean that you’re crazy or you’re weak. It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing either, you can just use it from the Fall to the Spring!
- Use Aromatherapy. I don’t know about you but I love scents! In the Fall, I want it to smell like pumpkin spice and all those yummy fall scents. And in the Winter, I legit want it to smell like Christmas. During other times, I prefer scents like lavender, bergamont, eucalyptus, and others like that. They help to ease the mood in the room you’re in and can help to put you at ease! Using aromatherapy can also help to both stimulate your appetite and can help you to get some sleep as well!
- Don’t Isolate Yourself. Around this time is the Holidays, so it’s a time for family and friends which is great but can also be lonesome for others at time. I know personally for me, it is quite lonesome and it makes me feel disconnected and alone. It’s important to not isolate ourselves. I know there’s still a pandemic going on but you can use Zoom or FaceTime if you can’t physically meet in person with someone. Be with those who lifts your spirits and can pour love into. Try to limit time with people to put you down or make you feel even worse about yourself.
- Go Outside. I’m lucky to live in Florida where it stays sunny pretty much the majority of the year. Sunlight helps to lighten the mood. However, some others live where it can get dark and gloomy. If that’s the case where you live, try light therapy! You can buy a Himalayan salt lamp, one of those light gadgets that you can adjust the amount of light you get. They mimic sunshine and can help reduce your depressive mood.
- Pray. Some people aren’t religious so disregard this, unless you want to give God a try. You are precious to God. In Luke 12:6-7, he mentions that we “are worth more than many sparrows”. Jehovah God is close to those who are crushed and brokenhearted. Throw all your burdens on him because he promises to lighten the load. Use his name too when you come to him in prayer. It will help you to draw closer to him. Ask him to help you persevere.
- Go to Counseling. I’m a stan for therapy. Therapy helps a lot when it comes to our mental health. They can give you helpful tools to cope with whatever is bothering you without bias. They are mental health professionals and you should not feel embarrassed about going to a therapist. You can also visit a therapist virtually if going in person isn’t convenient for you. They are there to help. If you visit a doctor if you are physically ill, why not see one if you are mentally ill?
- Do something you enjoy. Obviously when were are doing things that we like doing, our mood can be lifted. For me, that means curling up with a good book, calling or texting a friend, looking at shows or movies that I enjoy. For you it could mean going on a bike ride or a night out on the town. Maybe you enjoy bubble baths or going to a coffee shop. Maybe visiting loved ones can help too. Point it, do something that you actually like to do.
If you find your mood dwindling around this time of the year, don’t despair. There are measures you can take to make SAD less harmful. You can beat this! Don’t feel alone. There is help out there, if you’re willing to seek it.
What are some things that help lift your mood around this time of the year? What tips ad advice would you give others?