Wanna know an interesting oxymoron? A quick Google Search says fall is most people’s favorite season. But the Cleveland Clinic states that half a million people suffer from Seasonal Depression (or Seasonal Affective Disorder).
It seems like a ton of people out there love cold weather, Pumpkin Spice everything, holidays and snow. But if you’re anything like me, then you prefer warm months, green plants and time in the sun.
Spring and summer feel like new beginnings, and you’re more open to working on goals that light you up.
But when the chill starts to roll in, it’s like all easy motivation and eagerness flies out the window.
It’s harder to get out of bed in the morning…
It’s harder to keep yourself healthy…
It’s harder to look on the bright side…
I get it. This is me EVERY year. But this past year, I’ve tried a different approach. It’s worked well for me so I’m doing it again this time around.
Please keep in mind, everyone is different, so feel free to take some tips that DO work for you, and leave the rest!
Last January was rough for me. It had been about a month and a half since I decided to step away from my career and step down to part-time. It didn’t help that it was freezing, dark outside and all around miserable.
I usually get some sort of seasonal depression every year. But with the change in my career, the “winter blues” was harder to beat than normal.
At first, when I decided to step down (and make less money), I felt inspired. It was like there was a whole world of possibilities and a change in course was what I needed.
Then the realization of what I did hit me like a ton of bricks.
The negative thoughts crept in next: “You’ve been doing this so long that you probably can’t do anything else“.
Looming dread started to hang over me. I didn’t finish my college degree, and going back to school wasn’t an option.
I worried about making enough money for the future. I was doing a good job of saving money and spending sparingly. But I felt down on myself because I was making less and didn’t have another higher paying job lined up yet.
I let this new wave of self-doubt infect other areas of my life and the cold season compounded that.
I stopped setting intentions and planning my month. Taking daily action towards my goals seemed more mundane with each passing day.
When I felt this, I’d usually go outside and soak up some sunlight. But all of these negative feelings came in when it was cold and gray outside, so I had to switch a few things up for the season.
Here’s how I deal with Seasonal Depression and how you can too
1) Refocus on your purpose and your vision
It’s so easy to start to fall into a seasonal depression when you have nothing to focus on but how cold it is, how you can’t go out as much and feel lethargic.
I’d fall into seasonal depression because I lost energy and motivation. It was like I decided to just wait until it was warm to keep work on myself or my dreams.
During the colder months, spend more time reminding yourself of your vision
I’m a HUGE fan of using visualizations in your life to manifest your goals. Spending dedicated time visualizing what you want your life to look like reminds you there is more ahead than just the freezing cold.
It’s a reminder that winter doesn’t last forever (even though it feels like it)!
And one of the ways to do that is to have a vision board handy.
This is a good visual reminder for you when the “going gets tough”. It reminds you WHAT your goals are and WHY you’re working towards them.
Not to mention, it makes visualizing the end result a lot easier!
Take it a step further, write it down!
While vision boards are great to get you going, sometimes I need a little more “oomph” than that.
That’s why I write a condensed version of my vision of the life I want to have every single day.
I know it sounds like a lot, but there’s a reason why.
It’s only about a paragraph long, but when I write my vision down, it’s a physical action I’m taking. I’m not just looking at a vision board, or thinking about what I want from life.
I’m taking action.
Even if it’s a small action like writing down a paragraph a day, it’s pulling my attention away from the fact that it’s cold (or the holidays, or whatever triggers you about winter).
When I’m in action, I don’t have as much space in my brain for the depression. And usually, if I can get the action momentum going with something small, it’s easier to turn that into bigger actions (like working out, cooking healthy meals, writing, etc).
It helps pull me off the couch and out of my sedentary state.
So what are some small actions you can take to change up your current sedentary state?
2) Focus on your Morning Routine
I don’t know about you, but when my seasonal depression takes over, one of the first things to go is my established morning routine. And once that goes, it’s hard to pull myself up for the rest of the day.
But I’ve added a step to my morning routine to be able to address any lingering concerns or thoughts from the previous night.
It’s called “Stream of Consciousness”
The idea is to get all of your thoughts you have when you wake up (good, bad or ugly) down on a piece of paper so they’re out of just your head.
Will this magically make you feel better and without negative thoughts? … nope!
But, at least they aren’t only bouncing in your mind.
Just like how we talked about action being a way to pull your thoughts in a more positive direction, journaling your feelings is an action, too.
Sometimes, seeing concerns or other negative thoughts in your handwriting can spark ideas or create new thought patterns.
Here’s the how-to:
Take a small-ish notebook and write EVERYTHING on your mind in three pages first thing in the morning.
This is super important: Don’t overthink your writing.
Don’t edit yourself here. You’re literally writing down anything that comes to mind.
If you think it, you write it.
The idea is for you to help clear your mind. So, if something was bothering you all of yesterday, you get it out.
For me, this usually consisted of getting any self-doubt, or anything that I might be stressed about that day out.
So how are you doing it?
Once you’re going down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and helplessness, it can be a slippery slope. Climbing back out is difficult, but not impossible, no matter how far down you’ve gone.
Warm weather will come back again, eventually!
Just know, you are NOT alone in your feelings. I’m with you.
And if you ever want to chat, I’m only a DM away! Find me on Instagram (I’m @MonicaChats)
You’ve got this.
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*Disclaimer* I am NOT a therapist, nor am I pretending to be. So please note these are techniques that work for me. I hope these can help you as well, but if not, please speak with your own licensed professional.