In this post: If you feel the winter blues starting to kick in this time of year, you’re not alone. Here are 25 simple and realistic ways I help manage my own seasonal depression.
If you’ve ever wondered what seasonal depression feels like, it’s not fun. I haven’t ever been officially diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I’m extremely familiar with the winter blues hitting this time of year. Especially with turning the clocks back a few weeks ago and the ridiculously early time it gets dark out, my mood and productivity have absolutely declined. It takes so much more energy for me to get myself up and out of the door when I know it’s cold outside, which feels like wasted stamina that I could be using for other things. I have less desire to do things I love, like spending time with other people or going to work out. Not to mention my anxiety seems to spike more without warning or reason, and some days my self esteem seems to be non-existent. Plus, basically my entire Instagram feed is trying to peer pressure me into liking fall, so there’s that societal conflict to deal with, too.
But, if there’s anything dealing with anxiety and depression over the years has taught me, it’s to always have a toolbox of various simple strategies ready to go that I can dive into to help myself.
Since I know I’m not alone in dealing with this, I wanted to do a post on easy things that I already do (and some that I want to integrate into my life more regularly) to get through this time of year. And, I’m accompanying this with a set of fun, summery images (with ice cream from one of my favorite Pittsburgh spots, Klavon’s) to remind you that days of tanks tops, sun kissed cheeks, and endless ice cream cones will be back before you know it!
I know, I know. It’s cold and I am the last person who enjoys being outside with a red nose and barely feelable fingers, but there’s just no substitute for fresh air. Shaun and I just took a little getaway to Hershey, and spending time outside at both the park and the bed and breakfast we stayed at definitely felt refreshing.
I am completely obsessed with my Mood Booster Journal. Writing in it and following the prompts has forced me to jot down the happy, feel-good moments in my life that I probably would have forgotten about otherwise. When I’m having a down moment, it’s hard to recall past positive experiences on my own, but The Mood Booster Journal gives me an opportunity to easily look back on the good things and literally see them right in front of me. It’s one of the few things I own that I know, without a doubt, will lift me up and brush a smile on my face when I pick it up!
Check in With Yourself
Self-care is like physical therapy, but in order for it to be effective, we have to know what part of our soul/being we’re currently trying to heal, otherwise we’re blindly applying ineffective efforts to the wrong areas. So, when I’m feeling depression, anxiety, overwhelmed, or not okay, I often take a moment to ask myself, “What do I need in order to be able to go from ‘not okay’ to ‘okay’?”. When I stop in my tracks to think about the answer(s), it always surprises me that I actually have some quality, realistic suggestions for myself.
Buy a Planner
But don’t just get any planner, get one the speaks to you. When you find the right one (recs here and here), I’m willing to bet you’ll be a bit more excited to plan out the next few months. I’ve found that planning ahead instead of living day-to-day can be a big help in upholding commitments and maintaining my interactions with other humans.
Schedule Something to Look Forward To
When we booked our recent little getaway, I had no idea just how much having it on my calendar would do for my mental health. Having something I was excited about with a set date to look forward to kept me going on the days where I felt like I couldn’t keep going.
Don’t Neglect Self-Discipline
It’s hard to feel comfortable this time of year, which means mustering up self control in everything from food consumption to time management can be extra hard. However, the more you do to maintain self-discipline, the smoother staying on track will be.
Seek professional help
Seeing a therapist was one of the best decisions I ever made, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting help when you need it. Screw the stigma and go talk to someone if depression (seasonal or otherwise) is significantly impacting your quality of life.
And a few more…
- Be more mindful about structuring your daily routine to promote strong mental health
- Look for little ways to find more peace every day
- Buy flowers to put on your desk (Trader Joe’s has THE BEST florals for super reasonable prices!)
- Give yourself permission to say “no” from the start so that you don’t feel worse for being a flake last minute
- Buy a pair of stylish joggers to live in (you can even dress them up with heels like I did here)… You’ll thank me later
- Remind yourself it’s okay to not be okay… you’re allowed to feel all your feelings and be sad if the colder months are hard on you
- Try these 9 yoga poses for reducing stress and anxiety or these 5 simple yoga poses to boost energy
- Volunteer somewhere – helping others is one of the best ways to tap back into your sense of purpose
- Cozy up in the softest blanket you can find (I rubbed up against this one when I was out shopping the other day and I’ve never felt anything softer) and consume a warm beverage like hot chocolate, coffee, or tea
- Do or say something to make someone else in your life feel important
- Stay active, because exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands
- And if you don’t get the reference in the bullet above, you can add “watch Legally Blonde” on your list, because how can you not feel empowered and full of possibilities after witnessing Elle Woods defy expectations while taking on law school and her ex-boyfriend?
- Try your best to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning
- Also, watch Ellen, because her show always makes me giggle and reminds me there are good people in this world
- Order a few HelloFresh boxes so that you don’t have to leave your house for an excellent meal
- Use the power of music to gain control of your mood
And above all, I recommend keeping up with both your summer workout regimen and ice cream intake for optimal happiness. =)
Are the winter blues or seasonal depression something you also deal with? What have you found that helps get you through it? Tell me in the comments!
**This post contains shoppable affiliate links which means we may make a small commission if you click on or purchase from them, but we really do love these items! [c/o] indicates a gifted product and [sp] indicates a product sponsorship.**