How I got through my first winter without seasonal depression
Seasonal Depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is as S.A.D. as it sounds. Get it haha? I tried to think of the last time I didn’t get seasonal depression in the winter, and I honestly couldn’t remember a year without it. Each year I’d get the winter blues pf some sort, and each year I’d be the first person cheering and clapping when spring finally came.
That stretch of time between Halloween and Easter always seems to draaaaag on for me. Winter’s my least favorite season for SO many reasons. I don’t celebrate the fun holiday of Christmas, the winters get sooo cold here in Washington, the sun setting at 5 p.m. makes me want to cry, it’s always raining, and it just seems like a gloomy time no matter what twist I put on it.
If I could compare the feeling I get in winter to anything, it would be the feeling of a soggy sock that you have to walk around in all day (please tell me I’m not the only one this has happened to haha). It’s NOT a fun time at ALL.
Something about this winter didn’t feel very long- and I guess that’s because I was so focused on everything else day to day that I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the gloominess of the entire season. Instead of focusing and obsessing over how long the entire winter would be, and getting stuck in that gloominess, I just took it day by day and did my best. I leaned on really healthy habits that honestly made me forget I was living through my least favorite season. Here’s some of the things I did that made the biggest difference for me:
-stopped thinking and talking and getting stuck on how much I hated winter. I honestly tried to push it from my mind as much as I could. It’s amazing how much your thoughts influence your emotions.
-got vitamin D from being outside as much as I could. If I got somewhere early, I wouldn’t sit in my car and wait. I’d walk around instead. If I came home tired from a long day, I’d decompress by going for a walk around the neighborhood instead of going straight home.
-I made fun goals for myself so I could look forward to reaching them. I ran my first 5k this year and my time came in super slow but I still had a blast!
-Even though I didn’t want to, I’d get myself out of the house after 5 p.m. and stopped acting like I had to hibernate at home as soon as it got dark out. A huge way I did this is by….
-Getting a gym membership! This helped me consistently do something productive after work. The more productive things I got done, the better I felt about myself.
-I woke up earlier so I could get more hours of daylight each day.
-I got better and longer sleep at night so I wouldn’t need a nap during the day. Naps always make me feel groggy, and I already feel groggy enough in the winter, so that really made a difference for me.
-I still went on hikes and trails even though it was cold. I just bundled up really, really well! Before I’d pause going completely as soon as it winter started.
-Found more indoor hobbies. Winter feels like the most boring season to me because it’s hard to find fun things to do. I started reading and writing again and even did a little bit of painting this winter.
-I found beauty in the little things I used to not notice with winter. Like sunsets- I made it a point to go outside and catch as many sunsets as I could. And it reminded me that there’s still beauty in the places I don’t love.
-I learned to give myself grace- like, actually. Some days were harder than others to find motivation for doing stuff and being productive when it’s cold and dark outside. Instead of shaming myself and feeling guilty for those times when I stayed home instead of doing something more productive, I learned to cover my shortcomings in grace and be at ease with that. Because shame and guilt change nothing at the end of the day.
Writing this blog post reminded me of this lovely quote by Hal Borland. “No winter lasts forever, and no spring skips its turn.” I think that’s a wonderful reminder I’m going tell myself even more next winter. I don’t think I’ll ever, ever call winter my favorite season. But if all my future winters go as smooth as this one’s did, I might not hate it so much after all.