Putting aside all of the glittering lights and decorative storefront window displays, there’s something in the winter air that we don’t often talk about. For some, this time of year is a challenging one with a tricky combination of diminishing available light and plentiful stress triggers. Too frequently dismissed or marginalized, seasonal depression is very much a real concern.
The causes of seasonal depression vary, but thankfully so do the options for coping successfully. Prioritizing some of the following tips could make the difference between making the best of the day and letting it get the best of you. By adopting a three-part approach, we can address coping methods for depression in terms of physical, emotional, and mental wellness.
Get moving and get out into the world.
When we talk about seasonal depression, part of that conversation includes a discussion about the physical toll it can take. With the addition of lethargy, irritability, and anxiety, depression can make it difficult to stay motivated or find the strength to set daily goals (exercise, self-care, etc.). Getting the body in motion can help relax the mind while simultaneously encouraging biochemical stability, conscious awareness of yourself and others, and creating opportunity to interact or contribute to the world positively.
Adjust your schedule around the light.
Taking a look at the role of light in seasonal depression, science informs us that our bodies and minds are profoundly affected by light. When the light changes drastically (winter/summer), the body needs time to adjust. There are numerous options, both paid and free, that can help. In recent years, light therapy via electronic devices has proven to be a popular route for some. For others, it may be a matter of scheduling your everyday activities around a new time slot that provides ample ambient light. However you go about it, nothing quite compares to the mood boost we can get by working harmoniously with our own biological needs and rhythms.
Don’t isolate, share your experience with your trusted network.
Depression can affect us all to varying degrees, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to communicate to others. It can be a tempting solution to bottle the stresses of seasonal depression and isolate. The downside to this coping method is that it can further compound existing symptoms. As you feel able and are comfortable doing, trust in your network of mentors, friends, family, or colleagues. They may also be feeling similarly or know someone else who has gone through likewise trying times. Knowing that you are not alone may not be all the comfort you want, but it could be the push you need.
It should be noted that none of these suggestions are definitive solutions to a complex issue, and do not replace the advice of a mental health professional. If you, or anyone you know, is suffering, please reach out for help–no one is ever truly alone, the darkness will always be always be broken by the dawn.