Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, usually fall/winter.
Living in Canada means that when winter rolls around, sunlight is limited and snow and cold are plenty. While the first snows of the season are exciting and fun, I’m not a winter person and the snowstorms, ice, slush, and cold gets old pretty quick.
Unfortunately, I also suffer through a bit of pre-SAD in November. Halloween festivities are over and nothing really happens in November except everything goes brown, muddy, and cold. I admire those who find November just as beautiful as other months, but I am NOT one of those people.
So how do I stay cheerful as the sun starts setting at 4pm? Here are some of my tips and tricks:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, I’m sure you’ve seen the word Hygge (pronounced: HOO-ga). It’s a Danish concept of getting cozy and spending time with friends and family. It was a trend a couple of years ago, but I’d like to argue that it shouldn’t be a trend. The Danes know what they’re talking about, considering they live in a place that is very familiar with long nights.
So get cozy! Put on those fuzzy socks, light a million candles, have a yummy snack, and just chill out — either alone or with some good company. Basically, do anything that makes you feel great.
The warm light from candles and little fairy lights actually promotes relaxation and helps the body’s natural rhythm stay on track for falling asleep.
There’s a good chance that the weather isn’t going to be very nice in November, but getting some fresh air and sunshine is a benefit that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Northerners especially are lacking in vitamin D, so getting some sunshine on those few nice days — even if it’s cold — is important.
I know I have a hard time seeing the natural beauty at this time of year, but I really force myself because it makes me feel good. Going out into nature and soaking it up might just be the pick-me-up you need.
Get a new hobby
Pick up a new hobby or get back into one you might be neglecting. As the days are getting shorter and all the activities of summer have stopped, there’s more free time. Instead of spending it feeling bad about how it’s dark so early, put that sadness into something more fun.
This time of year is always good for cooking or baking, plus you have something (maybe) eatable at the end. If making food isn’t your thing, knitting yourself some socks is good to combat the cold feet… and knitted socks are very hygge!
You can roll your eyes, but I start listening to Christmas music way early. But, it makes me happy at this time of year. Getting excited for Christmas — especially since Canada has already had Thanksgiving — is a way for me to keep the SAD from creeping in. Cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies also help. Christmas is a time for spending time with loved ones, eating a lot of sweets, and lots of coziness. Perfect!
If you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s okay too! Just listen to any music that makes you happy, watch your favourite movies and spend time with your favourite people.
These are my techniques for fighting off the winter blues as the long freeze inches ever closer. They work for me and I hope they work for you too, but please do what you need to do if your depression is severe.
Don’t let the winter get you down!