Wednesday, November 9, 2011

10 Tips to Help Fight Seasonal Depression without the Trip to the Drugstore!

I drove home from work last night around 6pm.  But what’s so great about that? While it may the usual time I drive home from work, this time something was different: it was pitch black outside.  If it wasn’t for the clock on my dashboard, I could have sworn it was midnight (funny how taking the sun away from our late afternoons really makes it feel that much later!).  Yes, daylight savings time has struck again.  At first, daylight savings time in the fall always seems so exciting because, well, we get an extra hour of “sleep”…which sometimes turns into more because we are tired earlier and therefore fall asleep earlier. But with this extra sleep comes less daylight, which I can say for myself is not my favorite!

It is around this time when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) becomes a real issue for many of us (myself included).  Over time, increased darkness and lack of sunshine can lead people to develop SAD, characterized by increased appetite (funny how the winter always brings the extra lbs if you know what I mean), decreased energy (night = sleep to me!), and general unhappiness (L).  Too often people may turn to medication to solve these problems; however, there are alternatives and natural methods that we can all practice to increase our overall happiness in any season! 

Here are 10 tips to try out this season to help beat seasonal depression (if you’re a victim like myself!):

1.      Talk to a professional, that’s what they’re there for!  In order to beat depression we need to be able to talk about our struggles with professionals.  Never hide your feelings, because talking to a professional will help in ways you never realized before! Plus, a counselor will always listen…and who doesn’t love a good listener?
2.      You’re not alone.  Oftentimes people feel embarrassed or ashamed of their depression, but it is important to remember that everyone, depressed or not, has to work at happiness. Knowing you’re not alone can be comforting, and working towards bringing a smile to your face is well worth it!
3.      Get up and go.  Going outside for a walk or getting any sort of exercise will help to clear your mind and refresh your body.  People with depression generally avoid leaving the house, but a little fresh air and exercise will do wonders for the spirit. Too cold outside? Workout videos are always a fun alternative!
4.      Make a list of goals.  Depression is particularly debilitating because it seems like it will never end.  It is important to set manageable daily or weekly goals for yourself.  These goals can be about anything and everything.  Goals will give you a sense of accomplishment and they will help to keep you active and motivated.
5.      Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more!  When something makes you laugh, make an effort to laugh an extra 10 seconds.  Get yourself to laugh at nothing at all.  It’s good for your heart and it acts as an instant mood lifter.
6.      Get some Mr. Sunshine in your day.  The sunshine is a source of instant happiness.  The sun helps us to relax, reflect, and smile, so try to get at least 30 minutes of sun in your day (sunscreen…don’t forget!).  Try stepping outside for your lunch break—maybe doing a lap around the office building to get some energy going!
7.      Fall nose deep into a good book.  There are many books available on depression that will help pull you through rough times and gain new perspective on your issues.  But the book doesn’t have to be all technical, how about a sappy love story? A good mystery? Find a genre you love! Plus, curling up with some light reading will help you relax and keep your mind active in a creative way.
8.      Keep your physical health in check.  I have already mentioned the importance of staying physically active, but paying attention to all health related aspects of your life will help give you a sense of control and even pride.  Your body is a temple, and it deserves to be treated well.  Start by making healthier food choices and from an ESP perspective, non-toxic changes at home!  BPA free bottles can be a good start!
9.      Get creative.  Whether it is writing, drawing, playing music, or working on a craft, creating will gives us a sense of accomplishment and renewal.  Creativity is in the eye of the beholder, so love it, live it, share it!
10.  Try something new.  Try a new hobby, cook a new dish, learn a new language…just try something new! You may find something you love to do and that will bring that wonderful smile to your face.

Hope these tips help!  Let me know if you have any good seasonal depression mood boosters, I’d love to hear from you all!

~ Jessica
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