Summer High to Winter Lows: 5 Ways to Prepare for The Hit of Seasonal Depression
In Winnipeg, we have 2 solid months of beautiful, hot, summer weather. So when July has come and gone, we hold our breath, jump into as many bodies of water we possibly can as we take in all the sun to the point where we're three shades darker - We wake up early to a beautiful ray of sunshine and wind down to the smell of burning wood and marshmallows.
Since we had such a harsh winter and it dreaded on longer than we anticipated - I didn't realize how much I needed the sun and these long summer nights until this year, and now that we have a backyard again, I've been taking full advantage of just sitting out back - basking in all the heat and humidity.
Typically after the month of July, I start to notice my mood sort of jump into overdrive; I want to spend every last minute enjoying the weather, the company - the boost of energy I didn't know I had. What I think is a "high" on life feeling turns into a deep overturn of anxiety, stress, and unknown reasons for panic attacks.
Does anyone else have seasonal depression? I swear, right after my birthday, I always feel this ache in my stomach knowing that all the fun is over and done with. I probably quote "Wake me up when September ends" every year because I dread the fall/winter so bad that I go into this hole and it's like a flip of a switch - I'm not the same; it's dark, cold, and all I want to do is curl up into a ball underneath all of my bed sheets and stay in there for as long as I possibly can. The unfortunate truth is that this is something I have been dealing with for as long as I could remember.
So how does one find a medium in all this seasonal mess? I'm still trying to find something that truly works for me and since this year, I encouraged myself to learn and understand myself better. I found that there were some things that helped me get out of the slump before it slowly crept its way back to crack open my mental state. Here are a few tips on what to do when you are starting to feel the winter blues:
1. Meditate or Yoga
When I first started practicing meditation a couple of years ago, I used the app called Headspace. The app is free with 3-4 basic sessions which help develop skills of everyday mindfulness. They change their promo from time to time but as of right now, they are offering a free 14-day trial. If you're new to meditating and find yourself daydreaming more than being present, this would be a good start. I also got back into hot yoga which I do at Goodlife as they offer these classes with my membership. Doing this at least once a week reduces my stress levels (especially after a long day), and it helps me stay in tune with myself while releasing toxins from my body so that I can continue with a clear mindset. Practicing these even every other day has helped me so much and I truly believe it will help you.
2. Use Your Time Wisely with Rests in Between
The minute summer hits, I have this urge to overload my schedule with plans so that I can fully make use of my day. I'm clearly more alive in the summer so it just seems a lot easier for me to stay awake and have the mental energy to spend my time. When the sun starts to set earlier, it's like I am wasting away with it. This summer, I wanted to make sure I spent some time either by myself or at home with the pups and acknowledged my social battery and whether it had enough fuel to actually do things that I know would make me feel exhausted the next day, even if it meant 'losing' the full hot summer day. I realized it helped me notice what my triggers were and provided me some clarity on what could set that off during the time that I am at my worst. Using my day with intention and allowing myself to have 'days off' has helped tremendously, and I plan to continue focusing my energy on people who support, understand, and uplift me during the harder days over Fall and Winter Season.
3. Make Plans to Look Forward too
Since I used to power through seeing absolutely everyone in the Summer, I would have nothing to look forward to after September long weekend until Christmas Holidays. I think setting future plans to make sure you keep up with family or friends is an absolute must. Make sure your weekdays aren't just for working, going home to watch TV, sleeping, and doing absolutely nothing when it starts to cool down and when the days seem shorter. But rather plan things accordingly so that you're not gloating around feeling sad about things that are out of your control.
4. Set Your Intentions
I know it's easier said than done. But since I've been doing my best to prepare myself for the Fall. Setting my intentions to see the good in the remaining months of the year is better than setting myself up to be miserable. Lately, I have been trying my best to see the beauty in the small things and I try to acknowledge the simplicity of what the day has to offer. Waking up and practicing gratitude while setting my intentions to do something with any day, rain or shine has been extremely helpful.
5. Talk to someone and seek help
I'm one to talk when I advise someone to seek help. But I know it's very important that you do especially when your mind has taken over and you feel absolutely worthless. I've been there and from time to time I'll find myself thinking about it. Since I've opened up to a number of people about my mental health, I found that it was easier for me to express my vulnerable side when I needed to. I'm lucky enough to have a good support system and often reach out to them when I have to talk it out. You'll be surprised to know that there are people out there who genuinely care and who will support you when you open up about what you're going through. Otherwise, it's never wrong to feel the need to talk to someone else. Seek the help that you need because no one else will do it for you other than yourself.
I hope that this helps those that weather the storm and for those that unconsciously notice that they go through the same seasonal high. You're not alone and we're in this together as we take it day by day towards our seasonal lows.