Although many people refer to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as the "Winter Blues" there tends to be more cause for concern if the symptoms mentioned in our first SAD blog continue year after year. Luckily, there are ways to help you feel better. We'll talk a bit about what we do personally and then provide you with some general tips from the web! As always, feel free to YAC AT US about this or any other mental illness!
Whether it's getting back into the normal routine and kissing what felt like summer freedom goodbye or watching the sunset before even driving home from work the transition into the cooler months can feel like a disaster. Feeling the need to munch on everything in sight and the lack of energy to do much else... So how do I curb this? Mostly? I don't. I'm not great at coping with the lack of sun in these wintery months and whether that's my chemical imbalance speaking or just my overall mood I'm not entirely sure. However, I do think I'm pretty good at aiming to keep things positive and this helps a ton. A conscious effort in my brain to cut off the negative and replace it with something positive helps to get me through the day and even, maybe, enjoy it just a little! Of course, this isn't easy for everyone, and I have to tell you it wasn't easy for me initially either. Like I said- conscious effort. Being mindful of what is passing through your brain and choosing to either let it go or put a positive spin on it.
The sun is obviously a huge issue. Especially in the Okanagan. Our sunsets have been before 4pm lately and that's a huge drag. Luckily some of my work takes place outside and I really am thankful for that. I read even getting outside when it's cold and miserable does more for you brain-wise than sitting inside staring longingly at the blustery day. The little bit of natural light- that you may not even be able to tell is there- does wonders. Schedule time to go outside. Whether you bundle up and read ten pages of a book on a park bench, or take your pet for a walk (they'll appreciate this too!). People hate being cold, I get it, me too. But there are mittens and scarves and big parkas and hot paws ... You'll soon run out of excuses to get outdoors! The best time to get that sunlight in is as soon as you wake up. Maybe try making it part of your morning routine - having coffee on your porch or with the window open.
All I want to do is sleep. And eat. The problem with daylight savings time is now the sun is up earlier, but my body is not at all used to it. So I was getting horrible sleep and then staying in bed as long as I possibly could to feel just that ounce more of shut-eye. Invest in blackout blinds. For me, it helped regulate my sleep instead of hindering it. It allowed me to get my normal rest my body is used to and I assume balance my melatonin levels. The problem is being tempted to stay in bed longer now that the room is dark hahah, just set your alarm and stick to it, blinds OPEN at whatever time your alarm goes off!
Do I do these things every day with consistency and forget I even experience SAD in the first place? No. Of course not. I'm not perfect, and neither is anyone else. However, these are little tips and tricks I use even on my darkest days to help motivate me a little more throughout our dark/cold snap. The more and more you build good habits the better you inevitably feel. It doesn't matter what kind of method you use to cope, and it doesn't matter if it's natural or with prescribed medication ... As long as you continue to take steps to help yourself feel more like YOU!
We've read through a few articles we think are helpful in finding ways to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Mood Disorders Association of BC
Visit www.mdabc.net or call 604-873-0103 (in the Lower Mainland) or 1-855-282-7979 (in the rest of BC) for resources and information on mood disorders. You’ll also find more information on support groups around the province.
Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division
Visit www.cmha.bc.ca or call 1-800-555-8222 (toll-free in BC) or 604-688-3234 (in Greater Vancouver) for information and community resources on mental health or any mental illness.
BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information
Visit www.heretohelp.bc.ca for info sheets and personal stories about seasonal affective disorder. You’ll also find more information, tips and self-tests to help you understand many different mental health problems.
Call 811 or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca to access free, non-emergency health information for anyone in your family, including mental health information. Through 811, you can also speak to a registered nurse about symptoms you’re worried about, or talk with a pharmacist about medication questions.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals and are not able to provide licensed medical advice. This is a platform to relay information and share about mental illness.
Heretohelp.bc.ca. (2018). Seasonal Affective Disorder | Here to Help. [online] Available at: http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/seasonal-affective-disorder [Accessed 8 Dec. 2018].
Homewood Health. (2018). Dealing with Seasonal Depression. [online] Available at: https://homewoodhealth.com/corporate/dealing-with-seasonal-depression [Accessed 8 Dec. 2018].
Cohut, M. (2018). Seasonal affective disorder: Prevention and coping strategies. [online] Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320163.php [Accessed 8 Dec. 2018].