COPING WITH "S.A.D."
JAN 23, 2019
I've seen so many people sharing in posts, and now in just the first month of 2019, about suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or more appropriately referred to as “S.A.D”. Not sure what S.A.D is, you can read up on it here.
Like many of my in person friendships and my blogger/Instagram friends, I too am suffering from SAD this season. It's probably the worst I've ever experienced to be honest. Some weeks are completely fine, others are horribly anxiety ridden, exhausted feeling, incredibly cruel to myself and my poor husband, emotionally drained and over emotional for no reason. Also, emotions don’t have to manifest as just sadness or feeling down. Your S.A.D can bring out impatience, anger outbursts, nervousness. Besides reaching out to my doctor about my mental health, I've also tried to do some things on my own to make me feel more like me again. As my dad says, a doctor/professional can only do so much, the rest is up to you to do.
With that mentality I've come up with a list of the things that are helping me cope, or make me feel good about a day. By no means am I claiming to be a "know it all" or offering the remedy to overcoming seasonal affective disorder, or any other mental health issue. What lifts me up may seem like the most ridiculous coping strategy for you, but I've said many times before knowledge and sharing is power. Especially, when it comes to something that affects a majority of us and takes away who we really are. So, maybe you think my ideas are super silly, that’s ok. Maybe you have better strategies, and I’d love to hear what they are! Maybe you get one coping idea from my list, which would be amazing! Whatever you get from this post, I hope I can help in some way. Maybe by using one of my methods or maybe just by opening up this conversation.
Wearing a brightly coloured piece of clothing. I know, I know, someone reading this is thinking "are you kidding me b*tch?" while rolling their eyes, but hear me out. Winter is usually dark and grey. It’s rare to see sunshine. Our winter wardrobes tend to be the same, greys, blacks.... Basically the darkest version of any colour. Overly bulky for warmth. However if you look closely, stores have beautiful bright colours you can sport in the winter, or incorporate a piece from your spring or summer wardrobe into a winter outfit. That could even be an accessory, like a scarf or necklace. I have a spring skirt, bright yellow, I still wear in the winter. I always get compliments on how nice and bright it is on a grey day, and how I’m bringing the sunshine. No matter who you are, compliments make you feel good and the pop of colour in your weekly wardrobe perks you up.
Set monthly goals. Feeling not yourself can really demotivate your life, so making a small list of goals to complete by the end of the month helps keep you accountable. Tops, I make right now are 5 to 6 goals, and not one's that are unattainable. For example this month, one of the goals was to return a library book. Crossing those goals off after doing them makes you feel accomplished, which in turn makes you feel good about yourself. The more you do it, the more monthly goals you can make or the more "harder" the goals.
Incorporate movement into your daily life. I say movement versus fitness or exercise, because those two words can sound daunting or discouraging. Especially when you’re in a super horrible funk emotionally. Being a little extra active in a day can make a HUGE difference in your mood. For me it’s my 28 minute BBG workout. However, 28 minutes may be too long for you right now. Instead try taking a walk on your lunch break, skip the elevator and take the stairs. Are you a stay at home mom or self employed? Try any of the Blogilates videos! Cassey has a variety of short videos, some as short as 5 minutes, to follow. If the movement doesn't perk up your endorphins Cassey's bubbly personality definitely will! Below is one of my fave video’s of her’s to do, only 6 minutes!
Stay away from processed foods and sugars. Seriously, what we fuel our bodies with impacts us. I feel the difference in my mood if I've over indulged on crap food. I get it, sometimes our bodies and souls do need the treat, but I find for me personally when I'm in the thick of S.A.D I abuse the treating myself and just create a vicious cycle internally. Try setting one of your monthly goals to meal plan lunch or dinners for the week. By making your own healthy lunch you avoid grabbing the easy processed foods.
Make your damn bed. That encourages you to get out of your bed on the days you don’t want to and it's the first thing you can accomplish in a day. Even if you make it to only spend 1 hour out of bed, it’s a step in the right direction.
Find yourself a hype song(s). That song that instantly picks you up and lifts your mood. Don't lie, you have that song or multiple songs to keep you sad, you also need songs to help you kick ass. One particularly shitty time in my life it was La Roux "Bulletproof" on repeat. Currently my hype song is "Giant" by Calvin Harris featuring Rag 'n' Bone Man. It makes me feel pretty invincible when I listen to it.
Turn the Netflix off. Anytime I noticed a mood shift in my spouse, stepdaughter or myself it was after a weekend of sedentary Netflix binging. By all means, watch your shows BUT break it up. Pause the show to go make yourself lunch or dinner, have a shower, climb your stairs once or twice as your movement for the day, read a chapter or two of a book, have a conversation with someone. Just don't park your butt on a couch all weekend, it will greatly effect your emotional state.
Keep a diary or thought journal. Write out all the anxious, sad or sometimes irrational thoughts in your head onto paper. Get them out of your head to allow you to think clearer. Getting rid of all that emotional baggage does wonders. A thought journal is great for those of us who aren't comfortable sharing their feelings out loud.
Take a mental health day, or two. Sometimes the best for our souls is actually a day spent in bed or a day binge watching your fave show. Sometimes we do need those days, so I’m not knocking doing these things when I’ve listed the opposite as a strategy. My suggestion when in a Netflix binge mood, watch a comedy. Seriously. Arrested Development is one of my favourite go to's when feeling down. Always perks me up. Life is about balance, so some days we need the all day in bed or all day Netflix-ing, but we also need the days of getting out of bed, setting goals, making meals etc.
If your coping methods don't seem to be working, and a day or two spent in bed is turning into weeks, then you need to ask your doctor for help. There's zero shame in seeking assistance for our mental health. If you're not ready for that step, check out the crisis text line or Connex Ontario.