Beating the Winter Blues

For years, there have been unexplained times of sadness in my life that I described to my family and friends as me being “in my dark room.” My “dark room” is actually a metaphor for my mood that left me feeling like I was trapped in a dark, cold hole of sadness. I felt drained with no energy, I lacked motivation, and my appetite was either non-existent or I craved only carbs and other comfort foods. I also noticed that I would become emotionally dependent on whoever was closest to me at that time while “ghosting” on everyone else in my life.

After years of experiencing this feeling, I noticed that I felt it most during specific times of the year and sometimes during days with dark, cloudy, and cold weather. Around 3 years ago I discovered what’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s also sometimes called the Winter Blues or Seasonal Depression. The National Institute of Mental Health defines Seasonal Affective Disorder as a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.

Symptoms:

  • Having low energy
  • Hypersomnia
  • Overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Craving for carbohydrates
  • Social withdrawal

SAD or the Winter Blues sounds much like my “dark room”. While I have not been diagnosed with this disorder, I do identify with the feeling and the symptoms and I have found new ways to maneuver around the symptoms each year. Personally, it will always be depressing to notice the sun's absence at 5:30 pm, but there are ways to feel better.

Here are some of my own Winter Blues remedies:

  • Absorb sunlight each day, as much as possible. Sit, lie, stand near windows. Take walks. Sungaze. At all costs, enjoy the sun while you can.
  • Rise with or before the sun. I get much satisfaction by knowing that I haven’t missed out on any daylight. It feels so good to be up before the sun waiting for its good morning kiss.
  • Fuel your body with water and healthy, whole foods.
  • Make a to-do list for what must be done each day.
  • Plan for your self-care time. This is YOUR time to do something enjoyable and healing. Make sure that you have completed any task that may prohibit you from taking this time for yourself.
  • Aromatherapy. I constantly diffuse my favorite calming oils in my diffuser. Incense is great for this as well.
  • I keep a bottle of rosewater on hand to give myself a quick spritz on the face when I need to refresh and be reminded to breathe.
  • Daily meditation and prayer. Need I say more?
  • Journaling my feelings
  • Warm cups of herbal tea
  • LEAVING THE HOME! It may be cold and it’s probably getting dark outside soon, but you must leave. Resist the urge to hibernate and sit in sadness. Get out and let the outside world inspire you.