Something that I have been dealing with for the past few years is S.A.D (standing for Seasonal Affective Disorder), or the “Winter Blues”, everybody can feel it each year. Rather than moan about how crap you can feel, I want to share a couple of tips that help me get through it. A more “uplifting” post, if you will. Concentration on a topic like this flutters away so quickly, so it’s taken some time to write but now it’s a beautiful day after Storm Gertrude and I’m feeling fresh (See Post from Storm Frank). I wanted to post this in the earlier part of a new year, as when it gets lighter and slightly warmer earlier, it feels promising and everybody starts getting excited. Then, come October time, I can bring you back here and we’ll try and get through it together.
I’m not saying that I am down most of the time at all. During the winter time, my productivity is low, I sleep a lot more and it takes me a lot longer to get the “get up and go”, which I am sure is like everybody else. Just some days are worse than others, I get stuck in a rut and I face what I call “The Crossroads” and the whole thing begins the affect my daily functioning. Unfortunately, this past Winter has possibly been the most stressful in terms of life, so I’ve probably been really feeling the effects more than other years. The Crossroads is where I know that I am down and I know what to do to sort myself out, so it’s where I either pull myself together or go back to bed. It may seem easy to just say “well, do the first one”, but paired with absolutely no energy, no need to go outside and also maybe a lesser sense of self-worth than usual, that initial push can be extremely difficult to do on your own.
“Katie, I saw how blue and fresh it was outside this morning and I instantly thought of you.”
This is something that I often get on a lovely day by some of my amazing friends. To other friends, they help me objectify the way I’m feeling by reassuring me I’m just feeling shitty like most people get because it’s dreary and miserable – and the feeling WILL pass. To my housemates past & present, I’m known to “Whoosh”; which means that on a day when it is nice outside (like today), I have all of the windows and doors wide open, giving the flat a “whoosh” of fresh air. We actually chose the flat we’re currently in for the floor-to-ceiling windows and the “whoosh factor”, I also have the brightest and airiest room as suggested by my thoughtful housemate.
I think it is so important to let the ones closest to you know what you’re like and how you tend to behave so they can recognise if you’re not feeling yourself. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m in this very strange situation where I know exactly why I am upset and what I can do to fix it however I sometimes need that ‘kick up the arse’ from someone who can see things a little objectively or even being physically throwing them in the shower. You would do the same for them.
A few tips.
So, how do I go about sorting myself out?
- Firstly, prepare for it when you’re happy. By this, I don’t mean sit down and ‘plan’ what to do for the next time you’re feeling crap. I physically jot down places I’ve been or heard of that are perfect to do when it is miserable outside and might not cost a lot of money. If I’m listening to some music that makes me smile, sing or dance to, (an instant mood lifter) I physically save it into a specific playlist. Why physically? How can you expect yourself to think to these up on the spot when you’re head is all cloudy? Be easier on yourself. You might find it difficult enough to remember to open your lists, so don’t make things even harder for yourself.
- I’m not going to tell you to get off the computer as if you may already have cabin fever. You’ll find yourself twiddling your thumbs and feeling anxious not knowing what to do with yourself, but get off Facebook. Nothing good will come out of being on it at that time, it can wait (and you’ll find you haven’t missed out on anything anyway).
- Take a shower. I mean it. I don’t care if it’s not “hair washing day”, stop trying to stick to your own daft rules. Get up, shower and be ready for the day. You won’t go outside if an opportunity or the sudden desire takes you if you’re not dressed. It takes away all that procrastination (and guilt) too. For me, a shower is also a ‘fresh start’, I can suddenly feel better by just washing the day away and starting again (as well as brushing my teeth again!). My face is then a blank canvas to be creative with makeup, just go out somewhere to ‘show it off’, anywhere, see if anybody wants to go for pizza or just walk to the supermarket and buy yourself a little bunch of flowers or something.
- Treat yourself a little. I mean, your sense of self-worth is currently way off. Have some of those teas that you have been saving for special, get out of your trackies and put on a nice outfit, maybe even where a fancy underwear set even if nobody is going to see it. If you’re feeling “Well I’m not worth that at the moment”, pack it in.
- Human contact every day is so important; it stops you from looking inwards so much and becoming more and more withdrawn. I will also sit at 5pm and realise I haven’t actually physically said a word, not even to myself, so I start singing, usually laughing at myself puts me in a better mood. But let’s try and leave the house or even have someone round for a brew. You don’t need to sit and explain how you’re feeling because I can guarantee you’ll see things in a better perspective already, talk about something else.
- Cook yourself a nice lunch or dinner. Rather than go for the ready meals, ordering junk food or not eating at all, try cooking yourself something you enjoy on any other day. It keeps you busy, keeps you healthy and also gives something to show for your work.
- Going to bed at a proper time I feel is also quite important. Tomorrow is a new day, try and keep you’re routine. You don’t want to start the next day off badly due to lack of sleep.
I would also look into investing in a SAD light. A light that beams blue light to replicate natural daylight. I have two of these lights: one on my desk that I put on when I’m working, as I would like to associate it with productivity (I’m not sure if that bit works though!) and I have one in a dark corner of my room too. I can’t really tell you if they work or not, or even if it’s similar to faith healing (although the bright one in the corner is brilliant for putting my makeup on and lighting photos – which, in turn, makes me happy) but it’s something else to try.