Introvert or extrovert?
Self awareness and understanding how we think can help a great deal when it comes to dealing with the psychological aspects of SAD. If you know that you are prone to depression if you do not socialise regularly it is important to plan ahead to ensure that you meet up with compassionate friends and family regularly.
Other people may find that socialising adds to the pressure and can make winter stressful. When this happens accept that you need quiet time and plan your life accordingly. Say no to one or two of the myriad of social events that happen over Christmas and take a moment to recharge doing something you love.
Being gentle with yourself
Although much of this website focuses on how you can become more active during the winter there will always be times when what you need to do is rest. Winter is a time for slowing down and recuperating from a busy summer, we cannot expect to continue living a fast pace life without becoming burnt out when our bodies are telling us to rest.
This is when we must tune in and listen, is it SAD that is making us tired or simply that we have done too much for the energy we have? There is no harm in giving yourself a duvet day every now and then. In fact when we need to stop and smell the roses, pushing ourselves to continue can add to our anxiety levels.
Get used to listening to the messages your body is sending you, don’t be too hard on yourself and take a moment to nurture yourself. You will feel more able to get back up and continue if you do.
Stay in the moment with the weather
It is very easy to look at the weather reports and begin the spiral of depression and anxiety because we fear how we will feel when the dreadful weather that is predicted arrives. Apart from large storms like the polar vortex the US is experiencing as I write it is important to not heed the warnings of “the worst winter since records began”. In my experience these kinds of predictions are often wrong. One week the forecasters are saying this then the next they are predicting a mild winter. If you live in a country where the weather never becomes dangerous ignore the weather reports completely. Open the curtains in the morning and deal with whatever weather you are faced with.
It is also important to stay in the moment with the seasons. Many people start to feel depressed and anxious once we pass the summer solstice. For the most part this is not SAD, this is due to worry and fears of the coming winter. It is very important to stay in the moment. Know that you have your toolkit in place for when you actually need it but stay aware of the beautiful summer weather around you.
Why spoil today with fears of tomorrow?
Just 5 minutes
If you have things you have to do but you just can’t face tell yourself you will do just 5 minutes. Whether it be housework, paperwork or any of those other jobs that seem to pile up set a timer for 5 minutes and work for that long. You are more than likely going to find that when those 5 minutes are up you have got into the swing of it and you are able to carry on. If not, set the timer for another 5 minutes and try to keep going. If after that time you really want to stop, allow that to be ok. At least you got 10 minutes of work out of the way.
Reaching out to other sufferers
I found that talking with other sufferers helped me no end. Although more and more people are speaking out about how they struggle in the winter very few of us know anyone personally who understands how we feel. Like many unseen illnesses we can be confronted with less than compassionate people telling us to just get over it. Joining support groups can not only give you access to people who understand exactly what you are feeling they can help you learn new ways to combat the symptoms.
I have found this Facebook group to be very helpful and if you are a Facebook user I urge you to join, even if you never post and just read what other people have to share.
Choose to believe you will feel better
It is possible that when we have had a number of bad winters we set up beliefs that all winters will be bad, no matter what we try. Our minds are powerful and if we cling to a belief that we suffer during the winter it won’t matter what you try, we continue to suffer and be stuck in misery. However if we choose to believe that the things you change will have a positive effect there is more chance that it will.
When starting light therapy don’t start by thinking it won’t work. Start by believing it will help and build from there.
You can do this!
Above I mentioned that we need to be gentle with ourselves, to pay attention to our energy levels and rest when we can. On the flip side of that we also need to know when sheer bloody mindedness is the only thing to get us through. Learn to be strong and trust your energy levels. In the past when you thought you wouldn’t survive, you did. Why would it be any different today?