Every year I feel the same. As soon as winter kicks, I feel sad. The lack of sun, of warmth and the short days have the power to make me feel depressed. I would love to use winter as a time of self reflection but sometimes, I feel so terrible that I just want to spend days in bed, not seeing anyone. Now I now that many people love it more when it’s summer but still, many also enjoy winter and don’t feel the side effects of winter. Well, if when the weather gets colder and days get shorter you feel depressed and much more sensitive, I feel you. I am also S.A.D.
If you know me, you know that I don’t love winter and that I need the sun and warmth to feel good. Unfortunately, since living in London -and even before in France, winter is harsh. It’s freezing, the natural light is grey and the sky gets dark at 4.30pm. Not ideal. When I was experiencing these depressed days or even weeks, I thought I was only missing the sun and it was no big deal. But as the symptoms got more and stronger, I started to look into it. And I realized I had
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing. And if you suffer from it, it is a massive thing. Some days I would wake up tired even if I had 8 hours sleep. Training, walking, reading, all the things I would usually love doing would feel like a burden. All I would be doing is thinking about my existence over and over again, wondering how long it would take before summer and trying to sleep through winter.
Now that I’m aware of it, I feel better about what I experience in winter. I don’t wonder if I have a problem anymore, I just practice more self care than usual to make it easier to go through winter. I figured that some of you might also suffer from it so I wanted to share some of my tips to feel better in winter.
FOMO OR JOMO: YOU DO YOU
If you have a big social life and that’s what makes you happy and S.A.D doesn’t effect it, then spend time with your friends, be social and enjoy! On the contrary, if you get anxious about having to be social, having to go out, then take some time alone. There’s no shame in enjoying staying in rather than going out. If S.A.D effects your social life, that’s normal and sometimes, going out will not be the solution to feel better. Whatever feels good for you, do it. Whether it’s going out or staying in for some me time.
PRACTICE SELF CARE
I personally need more me time when in winter. Sometimes, I think that going out may help me feel better but then I realize that all I want to do and all I need is to be alone. I embrace this time with myself, I prepare a hot bath with candles, I read, I watch documentaries, I write, I do some yoga… Whatever makes me feel good, I do. If you suffer from S.A.D, you might want to take more time for self care. Whether it’s physical or mental care, both matter! Mental health is as important as physical health. In these struggling times, take care of both.
GET SOME LIGHT
As days get shorter and darker, it is hard to get enough natural light and vitamin D to feel good. You should consider going outside in the nature as much as you can to get some natural light and some healing nature vibes. Obviously when it is cold, going outside may be the last thing you want to do. But trust me, you will feel a million times better after a walk in the park. If you really cannot take yourself to the park, you can also consider light therapy, which could also help reducing your S.A.D symptoms.
MOVE YOUR BODY
I know I said that when deep into S.A.D times, I didn’t find joy in exercising anymore. However, I also know what my body needs and how it reacts to exercise. I know that I feel much better after training or moving. Exercising will stimulate your endorphins. Now you don’t need go go crazy about training! Just some light exercise like yoga, swimming, weight training or cardio will massively help you feel better. Don’t go too hard as you may exhaust your body and your mind even more and that’s definitely not the point!
I hope this article helped you or at least made you realize that if you feel depressed for a few months every year, you are not alone. We are many suffering from S.A.D and there is no reason to feel bad about it or ashamed. People will tell you « Everybody prefers summer! Stop complaining we are all cold! ». But now you know that S.A.D is a real thing and you shouldn’t be embarrassed about how it makes you feel. Just try to spot the symptoms and listen to yourself to do what will make you feel better.