Although the warmth of a fire is quite delightful, fall turns to winter, and the weather becomes oh so frightful. Ok, that is a cute little play on words but if we are being honest winter sometimes just sucks. It is dark by mid-afternoon, it’s cold, and laziness is at its finest. Curling up in a blanket, cuddling a pet, and watching a holiday movie is one of my personal favorite lazy day activities 😉 Anyways, all of this can eventually build up to become SAD. I know what you are thinking, being sad is natural, however, I am not talking about the emotion, I am talking about Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as Seasonal Depression or SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder can be characterized by the changing of the seasons, specifically during the fall and winter months. Your body is deprived of vitamin D and replaced with bone chilling cold, sapping up the little energy
still left and eventually encouraging you to crawl under the covers for just one more snooze. Some recognizable symptoms of Seasonal Depression can include feeling down or depressed for multiple days, low interest and motivation, problems sleeping, and changes in appetite. When you combine all of these, they can lead to further complications such as social withdrawal, problems at work or school, substance abuse, or other mental health disorders. Now that sounds like one hell of a blizzard.
No need to let the frostbite you in the butt, haha see what I did there, because now that I have included some terrible winter humor and scared you down the ski slopes (sorry I had to do it again) I want to include some of my favorite tips and tricks for keeping a positive mindset.
Grab some hot cocoa and let’s get started!
- VITAMIN D!!! Sorry about the screaming but, vitamin D and natural light are some of the best remedies for seasonal depression. It is able to increase the amount of available serotonin, something I like to call my happy hormones, and increase overall mood. Opening the blinds, taking a supplement, or buying a sun lamp are some great ways to keep you feeling good.
- Keep that body moving. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for our bodies! It gets the blood pumping and the muscles moving. Other winter activities could include sledding, skating, or skiing!
- Read a book. Focusing your mind on turning words into a major motion picture and escaping to a different reality is fun! One of my favorite series is Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, I would even say they are magical.
- One of my personal favorites is to cozy up and watch a movie or TV show. It gives your mind a 30-90 minute break to decompress and forget some of the worries and sadness. Remember to be aware of the amount of time you spend on technology. Too much can cause negative effects.
- Get some puppy love! Either you can play with a pet or volunteer at the local animal shelter. Giving some belly scratches and playing fetch for a few hours can be the perfect fix. The presence of a heartbeat, even an animal one, can be comforting.
- Stay connected. Whether it be a funny story from school or talking about your feelings, comforting words from others can mean the world. Throughout my mental health journey my mom has been one of my biggest supporters. Talking to her is refreshing and brightens my day. Anyone in your life has the ability to become your support system.
- Write down your thoughts! My favorite thing to do is write using all sorts of pens, markers, and highlighters. It makes your thoughts flow and brightens up any piece of paper, napkin, receipt, or any random object. When you put your thoughts on paper it creates a sense of release. Clear your head and decompress that growing body of yours.
- Listen to some tunes. Pop, country, rap, holiday, and so much more, can turn your mood right around. I highly recommend putting an entire musical production on in the car or bedroom. Singing and dancing along can help release some tension and get you motivated for anything!
- Throw it back to kindergarten and color a picture! This is one of my all time favorite things to do when trying to pass the time. Blend markers with crayons and whip out those colored pencils to make your own personal Picasso. WIth your brain working on the colors and staying in the lines there won’t even be enough time to remember the snowy storm outside.
- Last but not least and definitely the tastiest, cook or bake one of your favorite foods or treats! Pasta, puppy chow, or pastries are a few of thousands of different options. It may even force you to get out of the house for a bit and wander around the grocery store looking for ingredients. It fills up the time and finishes with a great reward.
Now that we have 10 great tips and tricks to keeping your mental health happy, I encourage everyone to hop on a sleigh and take on the day!