Often called the “Winter Blues,” Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts about 4 to 6 percent of people in the U.S. If you live on the East Coast, you might already be finding yourself surrounded by darker days and freezing air. When the days get shorter and much, much colder, some people – like me – might experience lethargy, depression, and loss of interest in activities. But it’s OK to not be OK, and there’s things you can do to help you through it!
I’ve had SAD (appropriately nicknamed) since I was 13, and here are 5 things that have helped me through it. Of course, what works for me might not work for you, and if you need help, I encourage you to talk to an adult you trust or to a medical physician.
- Keep a journal – I never liked to write, but keeping a journal through the winter months has helped me instrumentally with my mental health. Sometimes just jotting down how you feel can help release stress from your body. And on the days where I don’t know how I feel? I journal to work it out. Give it a try – you might find yourself jotting down poetry, random thoughts, doodles, or discover something new about yourself you never knew before!
- Prioritize social activities – In the summer, I’m always planning activities with my friends and family outdoors. However, that’s much harder to do this time of year, and as someone who despises the cold, I become a hermit who never wants to leave her apartment. That being said, I invite friends over often or I make sure to hold a virtual movie and trivia nights. Even chatting with friends once a week to ensure we can talk about our days, laugh, and enjoy each other is such a helpful thing to do.
- Take up a new hobby – This is my favorite suggestion because it’s one that lends itself to exploration and adventure! After every winter, I find myself taking up a new hobby, especially one that involves doing something with my hands like knitting or crocheting. If you don’t know which hobby to try out, here’s a long list to get you started!
- Take a break from technology – In winter months, I tend to be on my phone more because I’m outdoors less. However, I’ve learned that being on my phone and scrolling through social media can be detrimental to my mental health, so I’ve been trying to spend less time on Tiktok. There’s functions on your phone that can limit your time on a certain app, and instead of being on an addicting app, try to replace some of the time that you spent on an app (in my case, I would spend 5 hours a day on Tiktok!) with a meditation or yoga practice.
- If you have the means, consider buying a Light Box. Exposure to artificial light via bright light therapy can help keep one’s circadian rhythm on track. For about half an hour, I’ll sit in front of the box to help boost my mood. However, if you can’t get a Light Box, I encourage you to let open your curtains often when the natural light does appear, and like a sunflower, soak the sun in.