How to cope with seasonal depression
-Dec 9, Jenny Paul , Health -
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but what if you’re one of the people who is grappling with winter depression? Chances are the last thing you need is enforced merriment. Whilst you absolutely don’t have to crack out your cheesiest Christmas jumper and put on a party hat to grin and bear it (or should that be beer it?) there are several proactive steps you can take so you feel less grim.
Remember you’re not alone and talk about how you feel
An estimated 2/3 people will suffer with depression in their lives, so whilst you might not feel like talking about how you feel with your family and friends, if you do, you’ll find that the majority of people will be able to understand because they’ve been through it themselves.
Consider a specialist helpline. We found at least 18 telephone numbers in the UK alone from searching ‘depression helplines’ online, so it’s worth having a search for your country and finding help and advice. These phone lines are manned by friendly volunteers who have grappled with depression themselves, so you’ll find that a helpful and understanding person picks up the phone and you can open up and say how you truly feel.
Finding a good therapist
It can be difficult finding the right therapist, but it’s worth trying to find one you like and trust because talk therapy has been shown to be extremely valuable with helping depression. A lot of people get put off because of various reasons ranging from they saw a therapist in the past and didn’t get on with them, or they’re embarrassed about talking to a stranger about their feelings. These are non-judgemental professionals, who as well as listening, can also teach you practical methods to cope with depression, anxiety and feelings of panic, as well as giving you tools to help soothe you when you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and emotions.
Talk to your doctor
One of the first steps to take when you’re depressed is booking an appointment with your doctor. You may be scared of taking medication, but they can look at how you’re feeling and run tests to see if depression is a symptom of something else. They can also recommend therapists and give practical advice and support.
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Try to exercise every day
One of the greatest myths about depression is that you sit around crying all day. Whilst crying is good for you because it helps to release stress, sometimes it can manifest in the shape of a physical depression where you don’t even have the energy to feel down, you feel completely flat and exhausted.
The thought of going outside for a walk might seem too much, but try to go for an hour-long walk each day at lunchtime. The natural light will give you a gentle source of vitamin D and the fresh air and endorphins from walking around will help, even if you feel tired once you’re back home.
Open the curtains and windows, even if it’s cold
The brain runs on internal cycles – known as the circadian rhythm – that tell the body when to prepare for sleep, or wakefulness. The lack of natural light in winter tells our body that it’s night and thus to ready for sleep, which is why we often feel tired and down in winter. Support these natural processes by exposing yourself to as much natural daylight as possible.
Take a good look at your diet and nutrition
Often when we’re depressed, the first thing we reach for is calorific comfort food in the shape of cake, donuts, pizza and fries. Instead, try to eat as many foods as possible that will make you feel naturally happy. There’s no upper limit on the amount of turmeric you can consume each day so add it to everything. Studies have shown that in some cases turmeric can be as helpful as prozac for treating depression. Other serotonin-boosting foods include; eggs, cheese, tofu, pineapples, salmon, nuts and seeds, plus turkey.
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Take a high quality daily nutritional supplement
Gone are the days of guzzling a multi-vit in the vague hopes that it might do us some good. The high quality super supplements on the market give truly tangible benefits for health and wellness. Lumity’s 2-step Morning and Night supplements now come in both men’s and women’s formulas for optimum results. Included are a hefty dose of omegas for brain health as well as feel-good turmeric.
Write a list, keep a gratitude journal
One of the things you can do when you’re depressed is write a to do list for the mornings, which is when a lot of people often feel much worse. It can be as simple as; get up, avoid social media, clean teeth, shower, dress, go for a walk.
Avoiding social media is key, because it’s one of the main culprits for throwing people off track at the start of the day. As much as you may not want to admit it, there’s likely people you’re connected to online who’ll make you feel negative in some way, whether that’s by triggering anger over something completely irrational or by posting something else that makes you feel down, it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s best to steer clear from potential annoyances if you’re already feeling off kilter.
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Likewise, it’s also worth keeping a gratitude journal. Note down everything in your life that you feel thankful for. It could be, your family, friends, having a home, food and a warm bed. Write down your thoughts too, it doesn’t have to be perfectly spelt or crafted, just see it as your private thoughts for your info only. If you’re too tired to write, why not do one cartoon or doodle a day? It’s all about getting your feelings down on paper so try it and see if it helps you.
Cut back on alcohol and stress
Alcohol and stress can be two of the worst factors for a depressed person to deal with. Alcohol is a depressant and stress is a killer. Add depression to alcohol and stress and it’s like throwing petrol onto a fire. If you can, cut back on alcohol and say no to anything that will stress you out for the foreseeable future.
Instead of alcohol and doing things that make you feel stressed, try yoga and meditation combined with healthy food, long walks, plus talk therapy and whatever your doctor suggests. Remember you’re not alone and there’s help and advice out there to help get you through this time.