SAD: How to Avoid Winter Depression
Making the Season Transition
Transitioning to fall and winter always brings a level of fear and trepidation in those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Although I love the falling leaves, cooler temperatures and hot apple cider, my body clock says “Time to hibernate,”and if I don’t, my brain lets me know it is not happy about that. There are a few things you can do to stave off that hibernation period and the depression that sometimes comes with it.
Being a teacher brings with it the responsibility to increase the tempo during the fall school starts, rather than slow things down. Here are a few things I do to balance the needs of my job, with the tendency to become sluggish and depressed.
1. Use my GoLite from Philips. This handy little blue lite, when used for at least 15 minutes morning and evening, can keep me from spiraling into the pit of autumn despair. For about $145, it’s worth the price. There are many others out there, but this one is only about 5” x 5” and so can sit on my desk, is rechargeable and has a nice built-in timer. Get one.
2. Make hay while the sun shines. An old farm adage, but good advice. I try and be very productive in spring and the beginning of summer, spending extra time with big projects and writing, so that I can clear my plate for fall and winter. I attempt to clear my plate of extraneous activities of work, but slightly increase my social activities that balance my need to crawl into a cave.
3. Make casseroles that can last all week. Instead of cooking each night, or succumbing to the desire to drive-thru, I try and make a casserole or, better, buy a pre-cooked chicken on Sunday that I can eat on all week. I know I won’t feel like doing a lot of food preparation during the darker months, and I want to avoid eating at fast food restaurants out of sheer desperation, so the casserole is king in my household.
4. Spring/Summer cleanfest. I completely understand the need for spring-cleaning. If I get it done in spring or summer, my closet has fewer things I’m going to put on, only to find out it doesn’t fit anymore, or I really hate the bright stripe that runs down the front. Get all your dry cleaning and laundry caught up, wipe and dust everything as you feel the seasons beginning to turn, because you know you won’t want to do it once the fog has set in for October.
5. Let people know. I know this is extra hard to say, “ I have SAD,” because many out there don’t believe it exists. However, let your family and close friends know so that they can help keep you socializing and getting out of the house at least once a week. You must make a concerted effort to put yourself out there during the fall and winter, or you might become seriously depressed. Put it on your “To-do” list to make at least one social phone call, write one snail mail letter and get coffee or go to a concert with a friend.
6. Take your vitamins. Now more than ever, vitamin D and B are essential. Talk to your doctor about upping your dose of these vitamins and even adding some Vitamin K to balance and ward off the depression that follows the change of seasons. Put them in a daily pill reminder box and force yourself to take them. Some of getting through these months means really putting that grit you have into play.
I’m sure there are more tips and suggestions, but these are the biggest sanity savers for the dark and overcast weeks. When you live in the Central Valley of California like I do, and the Tule fog rolls in each morning and evening, you will feel the oppressive weight of the mist-filled days. Take plenty of vitamins, get out and socialize, and do as much ahead of time as you can so that you can be kinder to yourself during this down time. If people know you struggle during this time, and you practice saying “yes” to getting out and “no” to extra tasks, everyone will be happier in the long run. So, watch some football, drink plenty of coffee and rake the leaves to up your endorphins and remember to tell yourself it’s o.k. if you take a short nap on the weekend afternoons. Peace.
, . (2014). SAD: How to Avoid Winter Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar-lifehacks/2014/10/sad-how-to-avoid-winter-depression/