How To Combat ‘Winter Depression’

How To Combat ‘Winter Depression’

I didn’t realise until a few years ago that the ‘winter depression’ was actually a thing and that I wasn’t the only person that experienced it. I’m hesitant to call what I have seasonal affective disorder (or SAD – the acronym makes it sound even more depressing!) as I haven’t been properly diagnosed, but most of my symptoms correlate. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes during certain seasons, mainly winter.

I’ve always loved summer and never quite understood how anyone could ever enjoy the cold winter months, being tangled up in 10 layers and most of your day being dark. The only thing I really enjoyed about winter was Christmas, Halloween, the festive spirit and the snow. Although this year has been a lot better (I’m loving autumn/winter fashion at the moment!), I’m definitely still more of a summer girl: I love waking up to the sunlight beaming through the peeps of my blinds onto my bed, the warmth, the summer euphoria and all the activities that come along with it.

Throughout the years, I’ve always found my mood to be a lot lower during winter. I lack energy like no other, just feeling so fatigued in everything I do; I hate the artificial lights throughout the day, when my house lights being turned on in the morning when I wake up and in the early afternoon to evening; and I would struggle to get up every day so badly – I craved the warmth of my bed and the fact that it was dark outside at 7am just really upset me. I find that even if it’s summer and it’s dark and rainy outside, I don’t have energy throughout the day either! Through all of this, I’ve found some coping mechanisms that have helped me, especially in the transitioning stages of autumn to winter. If you feel you struggle with ‘winter depression’ or think you have or do have SAD, here are my favourite things to do to pick up the energy.

Make sure you have some light coming into your room in the morning for as long as you can

I refuse to have proper room-darkening blinds. I hate waking up in darkness and love having light come into my room. I currently have wooden blinds that let speckles of light seep through into the room when it’s daylight outside, so waking up for the past few weeks where it’s still daylight at 8 o’clock has been really nice. I know that will change soon, but it helps in the transition period!

Fill the space you work in with as much light as possible

I personally hate artificial light and try to rely on staying near a window for as long as possible, but sometimes it’s still a bit too dark. Turn the light on instead of being stuck in darkness! It sounds so simple, but even if it’s light outside, sometimes working with a light on brings my energy up.

Exercise

This I have discovered recently – not working out for a day really lowers my mood a lot, so working out throughout the winter could be the key to your problems. Exercise helps with stress levels (which is perfect for this day and age) and is just good for your overall health. I have found that my ‘winter depression’ has gone ever so slightly when I work out, so I would definitely give it a go (and for those who want a certain body for the summer, this is your time to start working!)

Stay outdoors when you can

Don’t just sit by a window – go outside! Again, this sounds so simple but it’s really effective. Just taking a little walk around and getting those steps in helps you not only expose yourself to sunlight, but again, relive stress. I’ve been craving going outdoors more this year because we’re missing out on so much due to coronavirus, so during lockdown, I’ll be taking more walks around my local area to keep my spirits up.

Maintain a balanced diet

It can be so difficult to reach for carbohydrates all the time during the winter – its ‘cosy food.’ And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with eating carbs! Just remember to eat in moderation. Try and find warm alternative foods like soup and porridge to eat. But also remember that Christmas is coming and you can splurge all you want then! Also, if you fancy comfort food, eat comfort food but remember to balance it out with healthier alternatives (more healthy than unhealthy!)

If you want to read more information on SAD, click here. Make sure to ask for help if you struggle severely with any of the symptoms. Stay safe and well!

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Why We Need To Keep Talking About Mental Health And Why We Should Always Choose Kindness

Mental Health Awareness Week: Why We Need To Keep Talking About Mental Health And Why We Should Always Choose Kindness

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I thought it was important to shift my normal blogging content to this topic as discussing mental health is very close to my heart. I believe that mental health should be spoken about freely and without stigma, and sure, it is spoken about a lot more especially in recent years, but it is not without judgement or stigma in some places.

Continue reading “Mental Health Awareness Week: Why We Need To Keep Talking About Mental Health And Why We Should Always Choose Kindness”

The Ultimate Self-Care Day

The Ultimate Self-Care Day

Sit back, relax and inspire yourself. Yep, you heard me right: inspire. As much as a self-care day should be a day to sit back and be stress free, it should also inspire you to feel your best and continue with healthy habits that you can hopefully continue with as part of your daily routine. Here are my top tips for the ultimate self-care day.

Use Your ‘I’m Saving This For Another Day’ Items

Everyone has them: the things you want to ‘save for a rainy day’ or save another day when there’s something coming up and you want to use them before the event. Here’s the sign you were looking for: use them! You’ve been wanting to use them for a while, so just do it! These items could be a really good face mask (I love the ‘Oh K!’ masks so much, and they’re massively reduced in TKMaxx sometimes, if you can find them), a special bath bomb, the out-there eyeshadow or lipstick – make yourself feel good! That’s the point of a self-care day.

Do Your Full Skincare Routine

And I mean the whole thing – do every step and take the time to take care of your skin. You’ll feel so much better about yourself after you do it. If you’re looking for some inspiration or new products, check out my previous post.

Tea

Everything you do should start and/or end with a cup of tea! It just sets a nice tone and mood. I pick my tea depending on how I’m feeling at the time, or what time of day it is, so I find that herbal tea in particular relaxes me in the evening. If I have a stomach ache (which I am quite prone too actually) or I just need something soothing, I opt for fennel tea with a couple spoons of honey to sweeten it. My other favourite herbal teas are lemon & ginger, chamomile and moringa. During the day, if I don’t fancy herbal tea, I normally opt for English Breakfast, Earl Grey or just normal PG Tips. If you’re not a tea person, try sticking to one coffee for the day.

Be Productive

Is it just me who feels bad after doing nothing all day? Do a little bit of work (catch up on some uni work for an hour or so for example, just so you don’t feel like you’ve done nothing), or clean that room you’ve been meaning to tidy up for a while. If you want a completely chilled out day, you still can do that. Being productive can be making your bed, or cleaning up your desk a little. It doesn’t have to be long, but a little effort can make you feel like you’ve accomplished something that day, allowing for a more stress-free day.

Stretch And/Or Exercise

Again, this doesn’t have to be long – my exercises never are. A home workout of your choice could be ideal to release some stress and excrete endorphins for the day. Let’s be honest: how often do you regret working out? I tend to do 20 minute interval HIIT workouts from youtube (workout challenge blog post coming soon!). If you prefer yoga, I’ve heard it’s a very relaxing and enjoyable exercise which is actually much harder than it may look! If you don’t feel like working out (which I often don’t), do some stretching. Stretching is a great way to release tension and improve your mobility: I do this before and after working out, and I feel so good after stretching. Just feeling the muscles work is a great way to get the blood circulating and feel so much better about yourself.

Eat Foods That Make You Feel Good

There’s nothing worst than eating something then feeling like bloated and unenergised whilst sitting on the sofa. Eat foods that make you feel good and that will make you feel uplifted throughout the day. I often choose to eat fruits, yoghurts (check out my banana and honey granola recipe for a nice breakfast/lunch option!), pasta, chicken, vegetables etc. Foods that don’t make me feel good personally are, for example, too much chocolate, Doritos and ham and cheese toasties (if I’ve had them day after day, otherwise I love them). I also hate eating till I’m stuffed to the brim, even though I do sometimes. The pattern with all these is that I love all these foods so much, but in moderation: too much of them makes me feel unhealthy and bloated and full. Which leads me on to my next point…

Treat Yourself!

I’m definitely not going to diet on my self-care day! Of course I might have a few Cool Original Doritos (the best flavour, not even up for debate), but not too many that will make me feel like a whale afterwards. Everything in moderation! However, ‘treat yourself’ doesn’t only apply to foods, but to how you’re spending your day – go the extra mile today! Binge your favourite TV series, paint your nails, put a hair mask on, have your favourite drink. The list is endless! Just do something you don’t usually do but really want to.

Reconnect With Yourself

This might be the most important point on here. It’s essential to reconnect with yourself to take care of yourself: remind yourself of what hobbies you used to love that you maybe don’t do anymore; take a moment to breathe, meditate if you want, and reflect on how everything’s going; write down what’s going on and think about where you want to go. It’s important to check in on your mental wellbeing regularly, and what a better time to do it than your self-care day. I find that writing down my feelings really helps, or just writing whatever comes to mind generally: I end up feeling like a massive weight has been lifted, and I can continue with the rest of my day. I’ve also rediscovered my love for drawing: I used to love drawing as a kid, and even though I’m no Picasso, I’ve loved rediscovering the joy and peace I feel from doing it. Other ideas could be reading a book, scrapbooking some old pictures or even painting. Make sure to do things that you may have forgotten brought you happiness, and take a moment to relax and talk your feelings out with friends and family: it’s almost essential to your mental health that you have a loving support system around you.

And that’s it! I hope your much needed self-care day rejuvenates you and I hope these tips helped. Comment below any steps you like to use in your self-care routine.