I know all the signs – it’s just a tiny bit too chilly to sit outside. Or the sky gets eerily dark too early in the day. Acorns are pummeling the back porch, the hummingbirds are well on their way to Mexico, and you can’t go 10 feet without seeing a pumpkin product.
This is a wonderful time of year in many ways, and it also opens the door for the winter blues or as they are clinically known, Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).
It’s a particular type of depression that only the fall weather can bring. It could make you feel lethargic, down, unmotivated, and distracted, among other symptoms.
If you start feeling the winter blues creeping in – don’t ignore them! There are many ways for us to take care of ourselves when we aren’t at our happiest. I heard a great analogy the other day – whether your depression is at a “paper-cut” level, or your whole finger has been chopped off, both deserve and need healing.
In addition to enlisting professional help, here are ways to enjoy some self-care:
- Art – get your creative juices flowing with a paint-by-number set or coloring book. Other fun ideas include Mandala Designs with Inspirational Focus Words, a Zen art board, and this list of clever ideas.
- Exercise – when you are feeling down, it’s challenging to make the effort to move around. Hold on to that “sliver of willingness”, as I call it, to take care of yourself! it doesn’t have to be much, maybe a few at-home yoga poses, or inviting a friend on a walk to hold yourself accountable.
- Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) – you might have heard this from a song in the musical Frozen – “Hygge means comfortable; Hygge means cozy; Hygge means sitting by the fire with your cheeks all rosy; Hygge means candlelight; Hygge means easy”. It’s the Danish concept of happy living; anything that nourishes you. This could include bundling up in soft pajamas, using a weighted blanket, wearing some acupuncture shoes, or savoring a warm cup of coffee. Need more tips? Check out The Little Book of Hygge.
- Light therapy – make up for lost daylight and boost your melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D with a light lamp.
- Scents – essential oils, aromatherapy, candles – I am a big fan of using scents to boost mood, bring up good memories, and ease tension. You can even keep some in your pocket with an aromatherapy pen.
- Meditation – taking a few minutes to breathe and re-center is harder than it seems. Luckily, there’s an app for that! Highly rated ones include Calm, Insight Timer, and Healthy Minds Program.
- Vitamin D-rich food – this is another way to replace the vitamins the sun usually provides, which include certain types of mushrooms, egg yolks, fish (specifically salmon), yogurt, and milk. Try these recipe ideas to incorporate them into your diet.
- House plants – not only does indoor gardening help with air quality, but studies also show that tending to plants and having them in your space can improve your mood. If you don’t have a green thumb, succulents work too!
- Journaling – this is another challenging activity, but there are ways to express yourself on paper in bite-size pieces. Ways to get started include a one-line-a-day journal, anxiety worksheets, or this Gratitude exercise.
- Therapy boxes – treat yourself to a subscription full of wellness and self-care treats.