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How To Survive Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder guide

So it’s no secret that I have a hate/hate relationship my anxiety, but when summer and fall abandon us, I sometimes get bullied by her not-so-distant cousin, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Check out these few tips and tricks that have been helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel. (Like literally!)

 

01 // GET TO KNOW THE SYMPTOMS & SIGNS

It took me until moving into multiple poorly lit apartments in New York City to realize that I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder heavily. The winter months would drain me and what I thought were mood swings would last for weeks. What made it a little tough to come to this conclusion was that it didn’t happen every winter. When I lived in places that allowed daylight to do its rightful and glorious thing, I wasn’t impacted as much.

The Tip: Check in with yourself. Nobody knows you better than you do, so try to be aware of the gradual changes that are happening and take note of them. Making the time to do a quick audit on how you are feeling is a great first step in preparing to combat SAD.

How do I do this?

  • I use a habit tracker to monitor my moods. I’m also a little obsessive, so this may be a little extreme, but I check in with myself by asking these questions: Are you unusually moodier? Sadder? Less energized? How did I sleep? I make note of the answers weekly, and when I start to see a pattern, I spring into action.

02 // DEVELOP YOUR FEEL GOOD ROUTINE

Speaking of springing into action, create yourself a feel-good routine. This is something I’ve mentioned a couple (and I mean a couple) of times. Why? Because it works! A Feel-Good Routine is a routine that is composed of all the different types of activities you can do that aid in making you, well, feel good.

The Tip: The easiest way to begin is to list out everything you like to do that puts you in good spirits (and isn’t promoting any kind of negativity towards you or other people) and then mix and match them for those off days.

What’s part of my feel-good routine?

  • Pulling a positive love note from my affirmation decks.
  • Taking my CBD when needed.
  • Exercising. I hate doing it, but the end results? Glorious.
  • Creating. Whenever I am creating, I am in good spirits!
  • Spending time with loved ones.
  • Watching funny YouTube or IG Clips, Rom-Com movies, or baby videos (look, blame my 30-year-old ovaries, not me!).
  • Meditating. 15 minutes of deep breathing to binaural beats almost always puts me in a relaxed state.
  • Crystal work.

03 // FIND THE LIGHT, LIGHT & MORE LIGHT

Look, sunlight is our friend. Don’t argue with me. Those good ol’ rays are instant mood boosters, and even though sometimes it feels like a drag having to put the extra effort in to go outside to catch the few minutes we may have of it during the winter season, do it. It’ll do your mind and spirit some good.

The Tip: A couple of days ago I asked my Instagram tribe what they did to combat these dark days, and almost all of them said they seek out sunshine. Take a walk during your lunch break. Schedule vacations to warm and sunny places during the wintertime. Whether it is money or time, invest in the sunlight (oh, and some Vitamin D3 too for that matter so you can radiate sunshine from the inside too)!

How do I do this?

  • I bought a daylight lamp for the days the sun just doesn’t feel like showing her face here in New England. Best. Decision. Ever. It’s not exactly the same as sunshine, but it does the trick.
  • I also make sure I catch some sunshine in the morning. 

04 // WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL

I believe in therapy. Let me say it again for the skeptics in the back. I WHOLE-HEARTEDLY BELIEVE IN SOME THERAPY. Working with a professional to get through these hard moments is sometimes a Godsend. For seasonal depression, traditional forms, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, will do wonders in getting you to question those unkind moments and those unsavory thoughts. If you find a therapist that goes beyond the mainstream practices and offers Hypnotherapy and/or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), those can make difference in your healing too! If you need help finding a therapist, check out the guide I put together to make your search a tiny bit easier.

The Tip: Be honest with your therapist. Therapy only works when you do. Be honest and open. Do your homework. Be consistent.

Do I work with a professional?

  • Hell yes and not just during the SAD months. ALL 👏🏾YEAR 👏🏾ROUND!

05 // DON’T FIGHT IT

The Lesson: This last one actually comes from my sister in writing, Noëlle. During one of the last sad moments I shared on Instagram, she sent me the perfect message: a simple “I love you,” but not before reminding me to stop fighting what I am feeling. Last year, I mentioned that my therapist dropped the bomb on me that I was a high-functioning depressed person. Even when I am depressed, I am able to keep doing the things I am supposed to do, but not because I’m pushing through it, but because I can’t stand to sit and feel the feelings. I’m a wimp. Sue me.

The Tip: Acknowledge what you are feeling at that moment. Don’t try to overpower it by forcefully shoving it out of your mind. Acknowledge that you are having a rough emotional period, and then show yourself some self-compassion as you work through it. But with this, be careful with wallowing within the misery. We want to acknowledge the feelings, not nurture them.

How do I do this?

  • Write it out. Journaling helps me to pull all of those dark thoughts out of my mind and into a safe place where I can re-reread them and debunk a few of these thoughts before they become actual beliefs. Don’t let your depressive episodes make you forget who you absolutely know you are (and aren’t).
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One Comment

  1. I’ll add music to the list of Feel Good routines. I have a “Happy” playlist that literally puts a smile on my face. And with Netflix, I can watch a bunch of rom-coms with black main characters and these always make me laugh.

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