SAD Tips for Winter Days

We’ve reached another difficult time of year in many places. Here in British Columbia, Canada, the darkness seems to stretch onwards, delaying spring as long as it can. Though November brings a rather intense wave of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) for many, I find that February’s second wave can be worse. It feels like the bulk of winter is over and we should be moving towards the light, but it feels like it lasts forever.

So, in the spirit of kicking it’s butt this year, I’ve decided to share some tips I’ve found helpful for dealing with SAD. Some of these might work for you, others might not. In the end, my hope is that you are inspired to find something that will help, whether you find that here or not.

Allow for Hibernation Days

Resting is something difficult to allow ourselves without the added stress of the time of year. It’s even more important to listen to your body this time of year. It might help your overall productivity if you take a few hours or a day to do something fun and non-work related (video games, going out with friends, reading, etc.).

Music/Movies/TV Shows/Etc

This relates to the above point a bit, as these are all activities that you can do to unwind and allow yourself to relax during. They can also help productivity, if you’re like me. I can’t just do one thing at a time. Having music or a familiar TV show playing in the background allows my thoughts to focus and go down onto the page much easier. These can also bring a smile or a laugh when the depression gets too heavy, which is super necessary.

Be Awake During Daylight (as much as you can)

Hold the darkness at bay. I know there aren’t very many daylight hours this time of year. Here in BC right now, the sun rises around 8:00 am and sets by 4:30 pm and that’s so much better than it was a month or two ago. Most people leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark. For me, it means that sleeping in feels like I’ve missed the entire day. I end up being almost entirely nocturnal since I’m never tired enough to go to bed on time. If you can’t be awake during all of the daylight hours, that’s okay! But I promise every day that you can get some light will help your brain to feel better.

Keep as Active as You Can

I know this is on so many lists, so I’ll keep it short. Active means whatever it needs to. Yoga, workouts, walks, runs, YouTube videos to follow, or my personal favourite: putting on my headphones, turning all the lights off, and having a dance party for a good two or three hours. It feels amazing for both body and brain, gives all the happy chemicals, and warms you up! Even just doing some pacing back and forth every hour to get some steps in will help. I know how easy it is to stay sitting for far too long because it’s so hard to keep track of the time. Timers or alarms might help to remind you to move.

Fend off the Guilt

The guilt is the worst symptom for me. Worse than sleep schedules and being active. Being hard on yourself can trigger more depressive thoughts and create a downward spiral. Plus, guilty feelings don’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong. It’s entirely normal to struggle with SAD and depression during these months and finding the courage to accept that this is how it is might be exactly what you need to do. Give yourself permission to feel all your feelings. If you can’t seem to get your sleep schedule on track and you have the ability to, sleep when you’re tired and just make sure you aren’t staying up late. If you can’t bring yourself to be active, try to find something productive to do while sitting instead of being on a device.

Pick your battles and don’t be too hard on yourself. The darkness is battling with you quite enough for the moment.

If you need someone to talk to, reach out to a friend, family member, or safe person. Being alone can make everything else multiply and even just chatting or Zoom calling with someone can make all the difference.


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