This time of year can be hard for some people, especially for people who find themselves experiencing SADD. Seasonal Affective Depression Disorder affects a lot of people! Essentially, it is when people experience depression during the winter months. Part of this is caused by the decreased Vitamin D accompanying the lack of sunlight, and sometimes also the holidays are hard for people.
2020 has already been an intense year, to say the least. And if you are finding yourself feeling depressed (or more depressed than your usual amount) during this, you’re not alone.
So what can you do about it? Especially during this time of stay-at-home orders?
Give yourself a fucking break.
Seriously. Put off for tomorrow what does not need to get done today. Let yourself have an extra 30 minutes of laying in bed. Eat what you feel like having. We are literally living through a pandemic, y’all. Our normalcy is being rearranged – and depression (seasonal or not) has a metaphysical reason for demanding rest.
Something I’ve read about briefly is ayurvedic medicine. Within this medicine is the idea of your body being closely aligned with the sun, that our bodies naturally need less sleep in the summer and more in the winter. Our eating habits change seasonally as well.
This is not me saying “depression during the winter is natural, just deal with it”. BUT I am saying that one of the healthiest things we can do is listen to our body. Give yourself the grace and give yourself the space to do your best every day, no matter what that looks like.
Sometimes my best is waking up early and doing yoga and exercising before the sun rises. Other times it’s waking up at 9:30am and eating cookies for breakfast. Life is all about balance, and it’s important that we hold space for ourselves.
So what are some winter activities to do during this time?
❄ Drive around and look at Christmas lights
❄ Make hot chocolate at home and have a game night
❄ Sit in front of a fireplace (in real life or on YouTube) and cozy up under a bunch of blankets
❄ Watch Christmas movies
❄ See if there’s any local Christmas light “events” (In New Jersey, the PNC Bank Arts Center has a drive-thru Christmas light show and they charge a small entry fee per car)
❄ Read one of your favorite chapter books from when you were a kid. (The Inkheart trilogy is my go-to)
❄ Have a movie night (Harry Potter is my go-to!)
❄ Do your favorite winter activities safely!
Remember, you are entitled to your feelings. Right now does suck. But this stork will pass. It might pass like a fucking kidney stone, but this too shall pass.
It’s no secret that we’ve all, collectively, have been going through something within this pandemic. We have all been affected by this time. Curfews, grocery restrictions, changed plans, stay-at-home orders, to say the least. Everyone has been grieving the loss of their normal routines in different ways. Some people are acting as Facebook News Reporter, sharing every article and “researching” every statistic. There are other people who are cleaning everything all day. Others are binge watching TV. Others are just ignoring all the rules and still having friends over. Others are complaining about not being able to go to concerts, watch sports, go out to eat dinner, etc.
Can we all agree on one thing, perhaps? That the way things were before all this started, was not working? That the way we handled our lives – was not working for us?
“I don’t know why you’d say that! I think things were just fine before”.
Really? Then why can’t you sit still? Why are you so uncomfortable with silence? What are you ignoring that you should face? What trauma have you been pushing down that you need the distraction from? Why are you so damn eager to go back to the rat race and the hustle-and-bustle and the diversions from you having a relationship with your mind?
So many of us never process our feelings. We push down our wants, our dreams, our desires, and follow a path that doesn’t feel right. We follow something that’s expected, or that doesn’t match our ideals anymore. We choose divorce over working on something that isn’t even broken. We push our kids into any and all activities to get them away from us and out of the house. We ignore our neighbors. We disregard our friends and family. We choose drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food, video games, absolutely anything possible to numb our feelings because it’s easier to ignore it than to face it. We go through our days on autopilot and our nights numbed or altered. Now that we finally have the free time to just relax, we can’t handle it.
What are you running from?
(I’ve said this before and I’ll say it as many times as I need to. I don’t have my psychology degree (yet!). I’m not a psychologist, therapist, shaman, guru of any kind… but I research as much as I possibly can and I love to learn. And just because I may not have any accreditation does not mean I can’t still be right.)
“So what do you do? Just stare at the wall all day? I need to be DOING something”
No, I don’t stare at the wall all day, silly. I write. I journal my thoughts. I do yoga and meditate and move my body. I read. I also work from home. I pray. I research places to visit, things to do, recipes to try, etc.
But, I get that. I used to not be able to sit still for a full minute. (I’m serious, my boyfriend made me try. Multiples times, and I would fidget after 15 seconds). Because my anxiety, my learned trauma, made me feel as though if I wasn’t productive, if I wasn’t actively doing something at all times, something terrible would happen. I would be wasting time. I’d be wasting the whole day if I didn’t get every single thing done. And that’s how most of us live. Constantly on the go, “the rat race”. Chasing productivity with a blind eye to everything else. And now, things are still. We are still. We have food, shelter, technology, etc, but we’re worried about football? We’re worried about not having new seasons of TV shows?
I gotta say it. That’s bullshit. These are clearly first world problems, but we cannot think outside of ourselves to see the big picture.
Well, I can help with the big picture.
Think of Every. Single. Thing. you could possibly be grateful for. And if you think you have nothing to be grateful for, try to imagine yourself from 10 years ago. What do you have in your life now that you used to dream about? Imagine yourself at 10 years old. What lessons have you learned since then?
I have my list below. It’s not everything (that would be way too long and boring for y’all. You’re welcome), but it at least should help a little bit with gaining some perspective.
This took me not even 10 minutes. And I feel happier thinking of all the good things I have around me. Like breeds like. If you focus on the negative, negativity will surround you. If you force yourself to think of the positives, you’ll be open to seeing more good things. (This thought process is Law of Attraction 101 that has been said many times in The Secret, The Four Agreements, and most religions).
I know this feels hard right now. But if all you are asked to do is stay home, then this isn’t difficult, this isinconvenient.
Of course, those of us with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health afflictions may be feeling this harder. And to these people, I say that you are not alone. Not only is the entire world going through the same situation, but I understand the struggle. I have had anxiety for my whole life and depression for most; I understand the sneaky, sly ways they warp your brain. Which is why it’s especially important for us to surround ourselves with positivity. To take away the strength of our mental demons and build of walls of good in our minds.
Emotions, any/all of them, are meant to be felt. So if you’re feeling depressed, then sit with that. If you’re feeling anything, sit with that feeling. Talk through it (even if to yourself, I’m talking out loud to myself all the time). Write about it. But remember that all emotions pass. Don’t hold onto the negative ones, let them pass.
So I’m going to assume that you’re in a better head space now. You’re feeling grateful, you’re feeling grounded and less stressed. What’s next?
Being a sports fan or a reality TV show fan or an anime fan or a fan of any show (or anything, really) is nothing to be faulted for. You should have interests and you’re allowed to be passionate about things that make you happy. We all should have hobbies and things that bring us joy. But, in all reality, we can live without most of the things we have in our life. We CAN live without sports. We CAN live without TV. We CAN live without Netflix, festivals, etc. Granted, it may not be as fun or as enjoyable of an experience, but life can still be done without the extras. And realizing just how little we need to live is important.
“Well if I’m not watching baseball during baseball season, then I’m not living.”
Yes you are. You are breathing, and your heart is beating. You are living.
I think an issue society faces is all we see is what is shown to us, rather than thinking for ourselves. And we tend to fall into routines and habits, which is a natural thing to do. But we usually forget to make time for being outside. For mindfully eating. For calling our parents or our kids. We forget to be intentional. Why do we do what we do? What is it even that we do? How does that make us feel?
Maybe self awareness isn’t something you’re interested in, and that’s fine. I support whatever makes you happy. (I mean if you don’t even know yourself then you can’t really be happy…)
“So you said that the way things were before wasn’t working. How do you think they should be, then?“
I think we should prioritize happiness. And love. I think that we should stop complaining about bullshit, petty crap and be grateful for another day. Be grateful you have xyz to complain about.
I’m not going to get into much about politics, but I do think we need to start prioritizing the human beings and living things on this planet. I don’t think money should be more important than health. I don’t think greed should be more prevalent than nature. I think we need to take a step back and realize that we won’t be able to argue about politics if we don’t even have a sustainable environment to live in because we took everything we could from Mother Earth.
Everyone is struggling right now. And everyone is allowed to feel sad during this time. 99% of the world’s population has never lived through, or even seen, a pandemic. It’s scary. But instead of getting angry about not being able to watch sports, check your priorities and remember why you like them. Think about the traditions, the fun, etc., and find a way to incorporate that into your life now. Play catch with your kids, watch old games on YouTube, etc.
To sum up, I kind of can’t stand what this time has brought out in people. It’s replaced common sense with stupidity, it’s replaced logic with fear, and it’s scary to see how many people cannot think for themselves. How their only thoughts are what they’ve read online, and how asinine of an idea it is to challenge what they’ve read instead of just accepting that as truth.
So accept this as your truth: I am reading this on something that is internet-enabled. I am able to access the internet. I am grateful for all the internet can show me – all the good, all the lessons, all the history and miracles and wonders of the world. I am grateful to have electricity, to be breathing, and to have <fill in the blank here>.
Challenge yourself to go past the walls you’ve built to keep everyone else out. Read books. Go for a walk. Sit out on your front step. Meditate. Write in a journal. Have some damn perspective. This is not going to last forever, and the way you handle this is going to be how you handle every obstacle you’ll face from this point out. So do you want to be negative, be scared, and complain? Or do you want to learn why you think the way you do and how you want to start thinking? Do you want to accept life as it is, or pursue more? Do you want to push yourself to the best of your ability, push yourself to reach your highest potential? Do you want to stop running from yourself and finally find some peace?
I want to thank all of the healthcare workers (EMTs, Paramedics, Nurses, Doctors, Techs, CNAs, LPNs, Transporters, etc). I want to thank the teachers. I want to thank the delivery drivers and grocery store workers and those in the food industry. I want to thank the artists and musicians and small businesses for doing things a bit differently. I want to thank all the essential workers and those of us switching things up ans do I want to let the parents know who are now home school teachers that y’all are killing it. I want to acknowledge all the sense of community we’ve been extending to one another. May we find peace during the chaos. May we find love in ourselves, and may we treat our minds as well as we treat our possessions. Wishing you all peace, love, strength, and perspective during this time.