Do You Experience Seasonal Depression?

Winter is coming.

We all feel that familiar dread creeping in - the dread of this year’s seasonal depression.

Because the winter consists of shorter days, it’s natural for us to feel a little out of whack. The sun goes down early, leaving us with hours and hours of life still yet to live, in the pitch black.

Though there is no scientific evidence proving seasonal depression is a disorder, experts believe that this feeling is most likely due to a change in the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during the day and night.

When it’s dark, we’re triggered to slow down the day, get sleepy, and tuck in. When it’s light, we’re triggered to get up and start the day. So when all of a sudden it starts to look like 10 pm at 5 pm, we may feel rushed, stressed, or defeated at the end of a long work day.

We may even feel inclined to cancel our evening hobbies or gym classes, because similar to the excuses we make during a rainy day, it’s dark, late, and we just don’t feel up for it.

This lack of commitment to those activities like walking outside or taking our dogs to the park may not seem like a big deal in the short term, but in the long term we start to realize those little tasks were what made our day so special. Our mental health can start to take a nosedive.

But it doesn’t have to!

Grouport wanted to offer you a few of our favorite hacks for how to conquer your seasonal depression this year - so read on and put some into action today!

1. Don’t skip out on your social life

Make it a point to stick to your usual schedule. If you go to Zumba every Tuesday, then continue to go. Throw in proactive activities as well. If you regularly check your town’s newsletter or Facebook events to see the local happenings, keep checking it. Keep surprising yourself to break up the week. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while and go get tacos together. Buy a canvas and some paint and enjoy a quiet night in. Mix it up!

2. Move around

Since seasonal depression [not so conveniently] hits during the same months as the holidays, you might see some unexpected weight gain. It can seem too cold or dark to go on an evening run, something you used to look forward to. Try moving your workout to the early morning hours, you can even catch a beautiful sunrise during your jog! The crucial part is to not skip your routine workouts.

3. Take advantage of the sunlight

Snowballing off the last tip, get the most sunlight as humanly possible! Save your indoor chores or emailing to the nighttime and go for a walk around the neighborhood. If you have to work during the sunlight hours, keep your blinds open or take your laptop on the balcony for an hour or two.

4. Book a “Staycation”

Envious of that arty hotel downtown? Book it for a night! Who cares if you live just 20 minutes away. Staying at a glamorous hotel with great dining and a fun atmosphere can really make you feel like you’re far away on vacation. Just what the doctor ordered for seasonal depression - get out of that rut!

5. Journal your gratitude

Studies have found that regularly giving thanks by recounting what we are grateful for can help people sleep better, lower their stress levels, and improve their relationships. For best results, journal all year round - but especially now, don’t forget to write down your blessings.

6. Avoid the booze

Alcohol is a depressant, so despite it’s short-term feelings of relaxation and mood lifting, it actually works against us long-term, making us feel worse. It can feel comforting to turn to alcohol in moments of boredom, restlessness, or sadness from seasonal depression, but it’s important to remind ourselves that this is just a habit and it doesn’t need to be leaned on or increased just because it gets darker earlier! Pay attention to how often you’re drinking and the reasons why.

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