You’ve heard about SAD, right? (Seasonal Affective Disorder) People who have it usually experience feelings of hopelessness, lethargy, and depression starting in the fall and it lasts through the winter months until spring comes along. The further north you live from the equator, the higher your chances are of having SAD. Up here in Canada, it’s estimated that about 15% of us suffer from it.
There’s a couple of theories as to why people develop this disorder, but it all boils down to one thing: the lack of light. It’s been said to throw off our natural circadian rhythms and affect the way our brain produces chemicals. Personally, I think if this is true then we should all suffer to some extent during the winter months– not necessarily because of a disorder, but from something that I like to call the “cold weather blues”. You don’t want to go outside. You don’t want to see friends. You feel more tired than usual. (I get it; me too.)
Fighting drowsiness is the first way to beat it- make sure you still try to get up every morning at the same time and leave the bedroom to avoid the temptation to go back to bed. (Sometimes a change in bedtime is necessary, too!)
Another way to beat it is to inject some fun into your social life. When the weather gets cold we all have to fight the inclination to stay inside– it’s isolating, and you run the risk of becoming even moodier and depressed. Make a pact with your friends (and yourself!) to plan something fun every week. Mark it on your calendar so it gives you something to look forward to. My friends and I like to make dinner for each other and we take turns hosting so there’s less pressure all around. If you’re not an outdoorsy person, make a point of finding fun indoor activities to do around your city– museums, art galleries, rock climbing, laser tag, rollerskating- or hey, why not try watching a movie in a theatre instead of the usual Netflix and chill?
Last (but not least), please give journaling a try. It may feel silly or unnatural at first, but sometimes getting your thoughts out of your head and down on a piece of paper is all that you need to lift yourself out of your temporary funk. On particularly bad days I try to practice my own form of gratitude in my journal: I try to write down all of the good things that happened during my day, no matter how small they were. Remembering all of those things gives me hope that good things happen every day, even if we have to remind ourselves of it once in a while.
If all else fails remind yourself that winter, just like everything, is only temporary. It may seem far off but come springtime you’ll feel the sunshine on your face, and you’ll try to remember what winter felt like, and you’ll laugh because by then it will have become a distant memory.
In this day and age we place so many demands ourselves that sometimes even going about our day-to-day lives is exhausting. As a person who likes to keep busy, I find myself struggling to stay balanced. You can follow my journey here, or click here or here to find more ways to streamline your life to keep it simple.
What are some of the ways that you stay balanced? Give us your advice below, or email your strategies to firstname.lastname@example.org.