Seasonal depression is upon us. The days are getting shorter. The amount of light during the day is fading.
Two years ago, I had a breakdown in a meeting with my team. I started crying. These tears were familiar to me. My brain felt cloudy, my heart felt heavy and my soul felt depleted. As I was processing these tears, one of my pastors said to me, “it sounds like you might be suffering from seasonal depression.”
As he said these words, I processed quickly the times of the year when my brain, heart, and soul often feel the heaviest. And what he said to me made a lot of sense. After this conversation, I began to take immediate steps to search and discover what was going on inside of me. I began by talking to a few individuals about what I could do to begin to better understand my depression.
My first step was to detach, slow down from work, find a counselor, and log out of social media. What started as a 30-day detox of social media turned into more than three months away from the online world. I stepped into six months of counseling and I took three weeks away from work. I knew I needed deep focus and the only way to do this was by having an intense approach.
So why do I share this?
Maybe like me, several times throughout the year your life and brain feel out of sorts.
I am here to remind you that you are not alone.
As we head into these fall and winter months, you and I can prepare for what is ahead. Last fall/winter was the first year where I felt like seasonal depression did not get the best of me. (As I am writing this I am not in the best spot mentally, emotionally, and physically, thus, these are reminders for me to lock back in and get proactive. 2021 has been one heck of a year. Another blog post will be coming soon on why!) It was the first time I was intentionally proactive going into the shorter day season.
Here are a few intentional ways I counteracted my seasonal depression:
- I worked out. – Sounds like a no-brainer huh? It is easy to get stuck on the couch, binging and overeating during the winter months. One of the best things we can do is get a consistent workout schedule. Working out 3-4 days a week for 30 minutes has ridiculous benefits to our minds and bodies. We deprive ourselves of natural healthy chemicals and endorphins that our brain needs by not workout out. We release serotonin and dopamine each time we work out. Our brains needs these chemicals to function properly and healthily.
- I picked up a new hobby. – Yoga. Yes, that is right. Yoga has so many crazy benefits to our minds and bodies. From the meditation portion to the movement, stretching, sweating and the overall process of grounding yourself. Yoga has become one of my favorite exercises. If you have never tried yoga, look up a studio near you and give it a try. Commit to a month and see what happens!
- Reading fiction and biographies. – For so many years I have been strictly reading leadership and theology books. While they are great I needed a great escape. And oh my goodness! I found some phenomenal books! I found myself so engaged and invited into the material I was reading. I mean I cried several times while I was reading. Yes, men cry while reading books too!
- Cooking. – Okay, I know I am a true millennial when I say this but I finally got an air fryer and it changed my life. I finally felt like I could contribute to cooking in the home! haha
- Hanging out with friends and traveling safely. – 2020 was hard but man do we ever need community. For those of us, who suffer from seasonal depression, it is so easy to isolate and be alone. But we are not designed to do life alone. I am grateful for my community and hanging out with people brings me joy.
- Journaling/practicing gratitude. – Writing down once a month to process my thoughts and feelings is a game-changer. On top of getting everything out through writing, I have to follow it with writing and saying things I am grateful for. Oftentimes, my journal seems even more depressing lol so following up with gratitude helps me remember all of the good things in my life that I am grateful for. (Fyi… For every negative thought we need five positives.)
I am sure there is more I can add to this but I don’t want it to become exhaustive. I would actually love to hear from you. What are some ways that you address your seasonal depression? What has worked for you or doesn’t work for you?
Well fam, I have more thoughts on this but I wanted to start here. I know this season is not easy for many of us. However, there is a community of us out there, that are learning to continue to overcome. First, it starts with knowing what we are dealing with, why we are dealing with it, and how to best address what is going on in us.
I hope you find this to be helpful.
P.S. Some really cool news that I shared recently is that I started an online store called, Merch That Matters Apparel. The merch is centered a lot around mental health. Check it out: https://www.merchthatmattersapparel.com/ and pick up something to remind you to keep going!
Love yall fam!