According to Mental Health America, about 5% of the U.S. population suffer from what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a form of depression that is prevalent during the winter months. Interestingly enough, the further away you are from the equator, the more likely you are to experience SAD.
As a victim of general depression, I am absolutely susceptible to SAD and I hate it. I notice it effects me more when I don't have a million things to do. For example, I just started back to school after a very busy winter break. I only have one class and hours at work have been cut so I've found myself sitting around the house a LOT. I didn't recognize the symptoms at first, since it hasn't been as bad since I've moved down South. However, this morning when I found myself glued to my recliner watching reruns of American Dad thinking "why do I have zero motivation to do anything," I realized I was just taking in my yearly dose of SAD.
The hardest thing about SAD is that you are constantly tired and don't want to do anything; and I mean anything. Even all of the things I had planned to do today that were super fun made me cringe. All I wanted to do was sit there and wallow in self pity: I'm tired. I'm hungry. Everything hurts. Why do I still have a cold? I just want to sleep.
Well no. I did not allow myself to do that. Yes it takes a crap ton of willpower to peel your ass off the couch and do something. Believe me, I didn't always have it in me. And some days I still don't! But after years of dealing with depression and finding ways to get past it, I keep a few tricks up my sleeve for almost tricking yourself into feeling better.
Do something that seems productive but really isn't
What do I mean by this? Come up with some activities that make you feel like you're getting something accomplished but really don't make a ton of difference. The perfect examples come from self care. Get a shower, moisturize, put on a face mask and chill. These may sound silly and like things you do on a regular day, but if you're feeling as low as I was earlier, you probably will be hesitant to do those too. Basically, by doing something that got me up and moving and feeling like I was being productive, I got my brain in the mindset to continue my productivity.
Take baby steps
By doing things that are only a tiny bit productive, I'm slowly introducing myself into the productive mindset. This works better, I find, than just trying to push myself into doing something very taxing like cleaning or exercising. By taking baby steps, I've been able to slowly engage in more productive activities like writing this post.
Sunlight and Vitamin D
Everything I've read on SAD suggests getting as much Vitamin D as possible. In the past, I've even been prescribed the vitamin because mine was so low. I suggest popping over to your nearest pharmacy and getting in on some of those vitamin gummies. Not only will they help your body adjust to the sunless winter months, but they are also delicious and much more fun than taking a pill.
I've also seen several suggestions for light therapy. I've never tried it, but it seems to be something that really helps people with SAD. Personally, I'm lucky enough to live in the South where I get a good amount of sunshine during the day. So if it is sunny out, make sure to at least open up your blinds and let it shine in!
Create a happy environment
Once you are able to get yourself moving, create a happy and uplifting environment. I put on my summer playlist while I got my shower and lit a beach scented candle. Summertime is my happy place, so using things that reminded me of that definitely made me feel better. I also plan on painting my nails a fun color and put on some fun and comfy clothes.
Move where it's warm
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Like I mentioned earlier, the closer you are to the equator, the less likely you are to suffer from SAD. I also personally hate the cold and want to live in an eternal summer. So if you have the ability and desire to fly south for the winter (or for, like, ever) then do it. You'll probably be a lot happier!
Check out my "Health" board on Pinterest for more information on SAD and other ways to help with depression.
What do you do to get yourself out of a winter slump? Have you tried any of these suggestions? Let me know in the comments!