Preparing Yourself For Seasonal Depression
As fall turns to winter and as the sun and warm weather become more scarce, many of us are making shifts in how we live our daily lives. For some of us this time of year is marked by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or seasonal depression.
This winter may be especially nerve-racking as it is layered with the reality of COVID-19 and the physical isolation that comes with trying to be safe in the pandemic. For BIPOC communities navigating these tough socio-political times, we have the additional challenge of maneuvering the way white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, and all of the other forms of oppression that intersect with our racial struggle operate.
SAD is characterized by a biochemical imbalance brought on by a change in the seasons, most commonly associated with a loss in sunlight as it becomes winter.
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SAD is most popularly marked by: having low energy, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, craving for carbohydrates, and social withdrawal (feels like “hibernating”). Symptoms might also include feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, difficulty concentrating, or loss in interest in activities you once enjoyed.
Whether you’re someone who struggles with seasonal depression, the winter blues, or are simply on a journey for self-love, during this uniquely challenging winter there are always new steps you can take for an improved self-care routine that better nourishes your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
A few tips include:
Move your body for at least 15 minutes a day to send “feel good signals” to your brain. For example: dance to your favorite turn up song, take a walk, stretch, hop on an Instagram live or Zoom class that gets you moving.
Create your very own coping kit- To learn more, head over and listen to this brief episode of Dr. Joy’s podcast Therapy For Black Girls: https://therapyforblackgirls.com/2020/04/22/session-152-building-your-coping-kit/
Get your daily dose of Vitamin D/sunlight- Taking vitamin D supplements can be an effective way to address the role that Vitamin D deficiency plays in the melancholy that can come with this time.
If you feel comfortable and safe, schedule small, socially distant COVID-compliant meetups with your loved ones (family/friends). Social isolation often further exacerbates symptoms of depression.
Indulge in your hobby or something you enjoy- While it may take energy to get yourself to commit to doing something that you usually feel more naturally motivated to do, once you get yourself engaged in some form of pleasure-inducing activity, your emotions can oftentimes be uplifted.
Include nutritious & energy fueling food in your diet- Research shows that mental health and gut health are very connected- eating well is a way to take care of your gut health which regulates your mental health.
Get a plant- Being around plants has been shown to decrease feelings of psychological stress, improve concentration and strengthen memory.
Find support from a therapist- You don't have to go through this alone. If you find yourself feeling stuck or would like to be proactive about caring for your mental health, seek help from a licensed professional. To get started, check out directories like openpathcollective, blackfemaletherapists, and inclusive therapists .