It’s that time of year again, where many of us wish we could just curl up in a blanket burrito and ignore the depression monster. Unfortunately, humans don’t hibernate so we need to keep doing things while mother nature shows her frigid side.
Seasonal depression usually hits me pretty hard. But with starting therapy recently I’ve noticed this year isn’t as bad. After looking at why that is I’ve figured out what I’ve been doing differently.
I’ve been using my sun lamp religiously. Lack of sunlight and vitamin D is the leading cause of seasonal depression. I’ve always had a lamp but I’ve made it a part of my morning routine to turn on the daylight simulator every day while I write. If that isn’t an option, consider leaving your curtains open. Yes, keeping them drawn helps keep the heat in. But bundling up in a blanket and some slippers for a few hours while you let some light in could have a positive impact on your mood.
I’ve been keeping up with self-care activities. It is so easy for me to get caught up in the “there’s no point, I’m not going anywhere” mindset. But if I can forget how good regular hygiene and a change of clothes can feel when depressed then it is likely that others will too. Putting in a small effort to stay showered and in clean clothes not only feels good but subconsciously reinforces the idea that you are worth taking care of. Plus I find that practicing my makeup when I don’t have to go anywhere takes the stress off and means I can do it a little bit quicker when I actually have somewhere to be.
I’ve continued to talk to people and have been transparent about my depression. I understand that not every single person in your life is going to understand what you’re going through. But it’s possible that you’ve got at least one or two people in your life who get it. It is super easy to isolate when you’re depressed. Reaching out over instant message is a good low-pressure way to initiate human contact. I find catch up phone calls with good friends who live far is another way to get the benefits of human contact without having to get full blown dolled up or having to “hide” your depression. I’ve also noticed that my transparency has resulted in a few people checking in from time to time to see how I’m doing and keep me out of my head.
I’ve been breaking my goals down into the tiniest chunks imaginable. When you’re depressed every little thing seems like a mountain to climb. Even “write an article for my blog” seems like too big of a challenge. So I broke it down smaller, “make a list of things that help depression.”, “Write an article for 15 minutes.”, “find a good image,” etc. Smaller tasks can be achieved more easily which means you get to the pay off a little quicker. Plus the sense of satisfaction you get upon completion can sometimes motivate you to take on the next small chunk. Before I knew it, I started craving these small goal oriented activities when I have a spike of negative emotion. Your brain catches on quick to what makes it feel good, keep doing it and eventually this type of coping becomes a habit.
Most importantly remember that you are not alone in suffering from depression. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis please look here for a help line near you.