How To Deal With Holiday-Related Depression And Seasonal Affective Disorder
The holidays can be a difficult time for many people, and for those suffering from depression or seasonal affective disorder, they can be nearly impossible to get through alone. When the temperature drops and the landscape begins to change, it can have a profound effect on some, leading to low days where everything looks bleak and overwhelming.
It’s not just a matter of feeling down on a few gray days; for some individuals, it’s hard to get out of bed. For others, substance abuse is a way of coping. And, unfortunately, others begin to have suicidal thoughts. It’s imperative, then, to recognize these feelings and find healthy ways to deal with them, preferably before they even begin.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to head off these dark feelings at the pass, and while some of them may sound surprisingly simple, sometimes it’s the simple things that help us feel the best. A good diet, adequate rest, and healthy coping mechanisms can mean the difference between not being able to get out of bed and getting up, facing the day, and feeling prepared enough to tackle any challenges that come your way. Here are a few of the best.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s true: eating a balanced diet really can help you feel better in just about every way. So many foods are loaded with refined sugars–from white bread to pasta sauce–and those will only weigh you down. Go for lots of protein-packed foods, such as nuts, fish, chicken, and avocado, drink plenty of water, and cut back on the junk food. It may be hard at first, especially if those unhealthy foods are comforting, but in the long run, you’ll be doing what’s best for your body…and your mood.
You might be one of those people who only needs five hours of sleep a night, and if so, kudos to you! However, most of us need a solid eight hours to feel human the next day, and a continuous lack of good sleep can lead to anxiety, stress, and problems at work or school. Create a relaxing atmosphere in your bedroom with lavender candles or scented oil, invest in some comfy bedding, and make a “no screens” rule. Television and computer time right before bed can leave you lying wide awake, so keep those out of your relaxing space.
You don’t have to join a gym to get in a good workout. When the weather is nice, go for a 30 minute walk. If you have a dog, get him involved; pets are great motivators! Rainy out? Use the stairs in your house for a good cardio session and run up and and down them a few times. Any activity is good for your mood and energy levels and can help you sleep better at night.
Having a trusted friend or support system is ideal, but if you aren’t comfortable talking to someone about your feelings, start a journal. Being able to write down your thoughts, ideas, and feelings is cathartic and may help you sort them out. If writing doesn’t appeal to you, consider checking out an online support group. Remember, depression and seasonal affective disorder are serious issues. You are not alone.
Part of what can cause a person to encounter seasonal affective disorder is a lack of exposure to natural light. Your body’s inner clock works in conjunction with the rising and setting sun, but when winter rolls around and cuts out hours of daylight, it can throw your body into a funk. Light therapy is a safe, holistic way to help you get back on-track. You’ll first need to consult a doctor, but once you establish a regimen together most people are able to do their light therapy right from home.
If you’re struggling with seasonal affective disorder, don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional. In addition to trying the holistic approaches above, you may realize that there are issues coming to surface that you need to face. The guidance of a mental health professional can help you get a stronger grasp of your troubles, big or small. Don’t let winter get the best of you; reach out for support and find not only happier holidays, but improved overall wellness.
This featured article is written by Laura Baker. Laura loves to work on everything from small crafts to DIY home renovations.
She also is an advocate of overall wellness and loves to share information on health.