How To Prioritize Your Mental Health While Battling Seasonal Depression
Some people love winter. There is a lot of enjoyment found in skiing, ice skating, and snuggling up by the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa. However, not everyone enjoys this season quite so much. For many, the winter months are associated with miserable cold, poor driving conditions, and too many hours of darkness.
Not loving winter isn’t a crime, but it’s a struggle that millions of Americans deal with every year. In fact, a particularly dreary winter can even affect mood and behavior. Those affected may have difficulty staying motivated and productive until temperatures begin to rise again.
These feelings of lethargy and sadness are often associated with seasonal depression. These episodes of poor mental health spring up during the winter months when the cold and darkness have a large impact on society. If you struggle with seasonal depression, there are some ways you can combat it. By prioritizing your mental health, you can keep yourself as sharp and happy as you would be at any other time of year.
Consult With a Professional
Fighting seasonal depression is not something you have to do on your own. It can be really beneficial to sit down with a professional to chat about your struggles and discuss solutions. Their education and experience can really help you to find the best and most effective way to approach your seasonal depression.
One suggestion might be to get a prescription that helps you fight off the symptoms of seasonal depression. Your mental health can slip at times, despite your best efforts, which can be incredibly frustrating. The right mental health treatment can fortify the actions you take to fight seasonal depression. A prescription can help regulate the chemicals and hormones in your body that are out of sorts.
Adjust Your Sleep Schedule
Perhaps the single biggest trigger of seasonal depression is the diminished sunlight during the winter months. Exposure to sunlight can increase the levels of serotonin in your body, a hormone that helps you feel happy. If you’re missing out on your daily allotment of sunlight, you’re putting yourself at a greater risk for symptoms of seasonal depression.
Getting more sun will likely require an adjustment to your sleep schedule. To maximize the amount of sunlight you get in a day, you need to get up at sunrise. This may require you to get up earlier than you would like, but it’s worth it. Getting up and getting outside can help you fight the winter blues.
Making sure you get to bed at a good time is also important. During the winter, the sun can set as early as five o’clock in the afternoon. Staying up until midnight on days like this can really throw your mind and body for a loop. Getting to bed earlier will also make it easier to wake up with the sun and enjoy every ray of sunshine you can.
Fill Up Your Calendar
As you well know, depression often settles in while you’re at your most susceptible. This could be while you’re lying awake in bed, driving home from work, or sitting at home with nothing to do. Keeping yourself busy can help keep those negative feelings from creeping up on you and dragging you down.
Maybe you’ve been turning down an invitation from your coworkers to go out for drinks after work on Friday. While this may be a little bit out of your comfort zone, getting some social time in can help distract you from any social anxiety. Scheduling spontaneous trips to the library, a museum, or to visit a friend are other positive ways to spend your time.
Of course, there is such a thing as overdoing it. Don’t overextend yourself. If a full calendar is starting to make you feel stressed and anxious, you’re not achieving your main goal. This may be a good time to start filling up your calendar with personal activities that you enjoy. This might include drawing a warm bath or treating yourself to a movie night alone.
Watch What You Eat
Another reason getting your sunshine time in is so important is to absorb all of that vitamin D.
If you’re not getting enough of those essential vitamins and nutrients, you’ll be lacking energy and motivation. That can lead to a downward spiral of seasonal depression. You can offset the effects of winter by improving your diet.
There’s no secret ingredient to eating better besides, well, choosing better foods. If you resort to fast food and snacks that are high in salts, sugars, and fats, your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs. You should focus on getting enough fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains in your diet for that needed boost.
What you drink is also vital. During the summer, it’s easier to stay hydrated since the heat makes you feel thirsty. However, when it’s cold outside, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated by drinking water regularly. Being hydrated will help you keep a clear mind, so set some reminders to drink up.
These tips can help you combat seasonal depression, but it can take some adjustment. The good news is that winter doesn’t last forever. You just have to hang in there a little while longer. Start developing healthy habits today so when the next winter rolls around you’ll be better prepared to face it head on.