This week the season change hit me unexpectedly, and I was faced with my first wave of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. I struggled to smile at work, I cried at work, I cried because my seatbelt wouldn’t buckle, I stared at the corner of my room for an hour, and I compulsively shopped. My emotional state is all over the place, and I know it’s coming every year, but this hit me like a bag of bricks to the crotch.
As someone who suffers from depression, seasonal depression is like an extra cup of suck to add to your already degenerative mental health state. If you also suffer from SAD, as many people in the state of Wisconsin do, you know it’s not just a short-lived feeling. It stretches out and takes months sometimes to shake it. I wanted to share with you all some inexpensive ways I fight my seasonal depression. Especially for those of you who don’t have severe depression, and the change into winter is especially hard, these are some ways I’ve found to pull myself out of the loneliness and despair.
Watch Your Favorite Movie/TV Show
Simple, effective, and you most likely have the ability to watch it on Netflix, Hulu, or you own the DVD’s of the entire series. This is something I do on a constant basis to keep myself grounded. Laughing at the same jokes, or enjoying an epic soundtrack are great ways to focus your attention on the positive. Since you’ve seen it before though, you don’t have to focus only on this. You can do another task, like cleaning or sewing, or folding laundry. I use it as a tool to motivate me to do other chores I’ve been putting off.
I do this religiously in the winter. I pick out a badass picture, and put on either music or a podcast. Music tends to be a better option, as I focus so intently that I barely listen to the podcast, and have to rewind it a bunch of times. Coloring has the same effect on the brain as meditation. You are able to clear you mind, and create something beautiful. It’s just for you, so no one else has to see it, and even when I have bouts of anger, it helps to calm me down. I’d highly recommend scooping up a coloring book if you have the chance to do so.
This is time tested and always true. Whether it’s your kitten, puppy, chinchilla, or parakeet, get all the snuggles or pets. After getting Slagathor, my depression has been curbed immensely because of the therapy provided by him. Even if you have to go to a friends house to love up their dog, spending time with animals is a huge help. If you are snuggling a puppy, also taking the time to go for a walk, or play in the snow is a great option as well. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, but it gets you both up and moving.
Clean Your Place
I tend to get really disorganized and messy during winter because I can’t shake my depression. Some days I get extra motivated so I do a full clean of my place. Clean the bathroom, vacuum, clean my laundry, make the bed, organize my closet, refold clothes, and so on. You can put as little as 20 minutes towards cleaning, but the feeling of accomplishing a small task does great things. And having a clean space really helps your emotional state, because I know the state of my room, reflects the state of my mind.
Look at Photos
This is simple, and can be done with listening to music, podcasts, television shows, and so on. I will go back in my phone and look at old photos and smile at the memories, or if I’m at my parents house, I will grab the photo albums and flip through the printed photographs. It’s fun to see yourself as a kid, and remember fun trips you took. I’d do it with someone else so you can tell stories to them, or even reminisce with your family.
Read a Book
So for this one, I would recommend either reading a book you’ve already read and enjoy. Or something you’ve been putting off. This has the same effect on your mental health as coloring does, it acts as a form of meditation. I know that escaping into a book is very helpful for me, and if you want, go to the local library so you can be out of the house as well!
Spend Time with Friends
GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. I tend to wallow alone in my room, crying, watching meaningless tv, staring at nothing, and thinking about cringeworthy things I’ve done. I know that I work a lot and my friends work a lot so it’s difficult to find time for each other, but it will help you immensely. I went over in my pajamas, and we snuggle on the couch, ate too much food, and watched a movie. It was just nice to be around people I love, and not be alone. You don’t have to go out! Just play a board game, video game, listen to a podcast and craft, or just sit around talking. It’s the camaraderie that you need, and getting out of your own head.
Winter sucks. It really does. But after living in this state for my whole life, I’ve found healthy ways to cope because mental illness doesn’t have to rule your life. Everyone is in a bad mood as the seasons change, but fight to keep your head up and be productive. You can be angry or melancholy as much as you want, but force yourself to get up and do something, even as simple as turning on Netflix. Take small steps and stay strong my friends! SAD won’t defeat us!