So here it is… I’ve been promising to do a blog post and/ or video about Seasonal Depression for over a year now. It’s probably in the top two requested posts I get messages about online and it hurts my heart to think that so many of us hit this dark spot and inevitably feel so very alone. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to grieve my darkest moments alongside my readers and have gathered together a helpful list of tips and tricks to prevent and get through this trying season.
This post is an outline on how to both prevent S.A.D. as well as “get through it”. Because once you are in it, I know that it takes every ounce of energy to just get up and do the bare minimum.
- Take Vitamin D Supplements. You can read more about the effects of Vitamin D on our moods here and I have to say- this is one thing I’ve noticed makes a drastic change to my winter progression. My Medical Doctor told me years ago that because I have darker skin and higher levels of collagen, my body naturally needs higher levels of Vitamin D. During the long dark winters in Oregon, I find myself with incredibly low levels. When I take a good supplement, I have noticed a difference.
- Use a Sun Lamp morning and evening. These therapy lamps used to be used only by the most homeopathic set, but in the days of prevalent amazon reviews- we can see that the numbers do not lie- these lamps make a major difference in our daily mood and quite likely- our serotonin production and levels. I even had a reader send in the tip to place a sun lamp bulb in your bathroom. This is where you shower and get ready everyday, so you’re more likely to reap it’s benefits as a part of your daily routine.
- Exercise BEFORE the depression hits. Make exercise a part of your daily routine even if that only entails a 10 minute walk outdoors. Because the key is to get your heart rate up, for you to draw in fresh breathe and to stimulate your senses. If you have a very low-key routine that at least gets you outdoors or gets your blood pumping for 10-20 minutes per day, it’s more likely that you can stave off S.A.D. altogether.
- Avoid alcohol. This is a big one for me, because I’m such a light drinker and as well all know- alcohol is a depressant. This means that when you drink, you are slowing down your senses and increasing the chance of your falling into a depressive state. If you know your limit is two drinks, begin to limit your alcohol intake to one drink beginning in late Fall.
- Surround yourself with Family and/or Friends. Perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT remedy on this list, I believe that community and involving your community throughout your struggle with depression can be the most beneficial in coming through it the most quickly. If we let those that love us know when we hit a wall or are going through a difficult time- they will most likely step in as our cheerleaders and carry some of the burden we experience during those darkest times. The trick is to give them a heads up BEFORE the S.A.D. hits. Again, this is preventative and may take a month or two of anticipation, which can entail something as simple as a text message expressing your anxiety about the upcoming winter.
- Cut out all depressants. This means cutting out alcohol completely once you find yourself in the thick of depression. Ask a friend to keep your accountable and make sure to keep teas and coffees at home instead of that red wine.
- Subscribe to Positive Podcasts. This may seem silly, but because you are swimming in your own heaviness and having difficulty creating thoughts of positivity yourself, going to sleep while listening to a sermon or a positive message podcast can begin to break through that darkness.
- Keep those SunLamps on. This can shorten the period of depression and can alleviate some of the anxiety of short, dark days.
- Anti-depressants. Please don’t let anyone tell you that this is a cop-out. While I don’t think this should be the first thing we jump to, anti-depressants are scientifically proven remedy to feeling down and offering enough relief to help you function through the worst of times.
- Find a Therapist. This is as easy as googling “Top Therapists in (Your State)”. *** I have seen several therapists throughout my adult life and have found several through referrals, but at least two of my favorites through a google search and online reviews. A therapist will help you to stay afloat when you feel like you’re drowning. I understand 100% how difficult it can be to function on a daily basis when you’re full-on depressed. The body aches, the heart ache, the numbness- it all feels impenetrable. But it’s not. And it doesn’t have to be.
My goal with this post is to alleviate some of that loneliness and heartache that I know we all struggle through when feeling depressed. And true Seasonal Affective Disorder is more than a feeling- it a physical, spiritual and mental ailment that feeds on us in a way that is almost impossible to describe. But what’s wonderful is that it ALWAYS- let me repeat that- it ALWAYS SUBSIDES.
My reminder and my goal here today is to remind you that there is relief and that the relief is only days, weeks or months away. And the only way to arrive to that relief is to walk through one more day. So please walk through it my loves. And if you have any questions or frustrations or heartaches through any of it, let me know.
*** Here are some resources to get you started if you are looking for a therapist.
ONLINE THERAPY– A Great resource no matter where you’re out or what your travel schedule is like.
PORTLAND THERAPIST– This is an easy search engine that will help your find someone in your neighborhood.