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Attempting to Overcome This S.A.D. Season. (Part II)

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Part II: My Wholehearted Attempts to Overcome This SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Season.

Well, my last post was real and raw and the stuff in between….kinda like the lint between your toes, you don’t wanna talk about it but most people deal with it and it’s just yuck. I mean, I know it can be compared to many things but honestly, with the way I have been feeling on and off, the comparison seems ideal to me.

I talk a lot about what’s happening but now let’s talk about what I am doing to counteract the effects of seasonal depression. I can’t say that it fixes it, necessarily, but it does help me get through my days and find sparks of contentment and joy. Some days I can even say that I feel a bit better. The key is to find a list of your own remedies to help you through this hard season of emotional distress.

Here goes nothing. Bear with me. These are in no particular order of importance.


Yoga

OK, I said that these are in no particular order but honestly, Yoga is the most powerful for me. However, I have a hard time being disciplined with it. In our life, it is sometimes hard to find a space away from the chaos to practice calming exercises, as you can imagine (if you have read past writings of mine).

I just need to remind myself that as soon as I start up my Yoga practice for the day, I feel a sense of calm that I can never find anywhere else. I always say to Shannon (the hubby) ” I need to do this every day, this helps me so much!”

I can’t really say that I designate a certain time to my practice but honestly, you can do it at anytime that you feel it would be most beneficial to you. I have gone through some yoga practices that have 30 day challenges. I would do them before my children woke up (back when I didn’t have a child sleeping in my bed every night waking up at the butt crack of dawn). Sometimes, when I am having a rough day with extreme anxiety, I will just plop my mat right down in the middle of the chaos with all three kids crawling all over me, imitating me or trying to talk to me. Whatever. You do you. You know what…some days I just need it and I don’t care what is going on around me. It is what it is and I do get some benefits out of it, even if I don’t make it through the whole session. Just the practice of deep breathing and going through the motions helps me so much.

Do you know what else is great about Yoga? You can relax your entire body and also get in a minor workout while working up a sweat. Some people do not realize all that yoga can do for you. I promise it’s not just some hippy shit (okay, maybe a little bit). I love that there are videos dedicated to certain parts of the body where you feel the most tension, your type of work, an illness you are dealing with and more. Try it out, you just might like it.

I usually go to YouTube and search for yoga but since I have been practicing for a while, here are a few of my faves. They’re weird and quirky just like me:


Starting My Day on a Positive Note

A friend and fellow blogger, Sandy Riguzzi of Sundays with Sandy told me about and also wrote a blog post on her grateful writings to start her day. This had helped her get through a funk, as she called it, and I was willing to try anything. When she told me about it, I inquired and decided that I, too, needed this in my life. So begun, my daily grateful posts and things that I would like to get done before the end of the day.

It is not always easy to write them, I am not going to lie, but it does help. I will often try to find the positive in something that is really rubbing me the wrong way that morning to give my life perspective. Sometimes, it almost seems laughable and I want to roll my eyes at myself but when I turn back to it later in the day, it sticks. When the kids are driving me absolutely berzerk (which happens most mornings, if I’m being honest) then I will write something like “I am grateful for….three healthy children that I get to watch live and grow.” You see what I’m saying. (Did you roll your eyes, too?)


Physical Activity When I Need It Most

When my anxiety is at it’s worst I have to remind myself to stop what I am doing and take a walk, go for a bike ride or get on the elliptical. Just get moving. Is it easy to do with three kids? No. However, with a supportive hubby that knows when I am struggling, he does his very best to help me out and make it possible. He would do anything to make me feel better and that alone means the world to me. I do tend to cling to him a bit more during these times, and I’m not sorry, I am just so very thankful that I have my best friend in my husband to help me navigate these seasons in my life.

At first, I do not even want to try and get motivated to do these physical activities but once I get my butt out there or on the elliptical, I can feel a change. I may not even notice it at first but by the end of my activity, I feel a little less agitation and my mood starts to life. It’s worth it. It helps that I also have an apple watch that reminds me daily to workout and be on the move. You could even set a little alarm on your phone to remind yourself to do a physical activity to get those endorphines flowing.


Daily Affirmations

When I am struggling I have a really hard time finding the positive attributes in myself. I try, I really do, but my damn brain just keeps returning to negative, negative and oh yeah, negative. Recently, I had Boudoir Shots taken and I had to keep saying in my head:

I am beautiful. I am strong. I am amazing.

You see, I had way too much anxiety sitting on these pictures. I know it seems so trivial and minute compared to most things I could focus on but that is what I seem to do. I try to hide the really big issues in the back of my mind and then I focus all of my anxiety, sickeningly so, on the things that most may not find as stressful or important. I don’t have a clinical reason, I just do, okay Susan!

Every day, try to find something positive to say to yourself when you hear your mind wandering into the negative abyss. Try it. You would be surprised how much it helps. If you have a hard time remembering, put post it notes around your home or in frequented spots (like the inside of the front door or the mirror in your bathroom) to constantly remind yourself just how amazing you are.

Book Club

A neighbor of mine mentioned starting a little Book Club. I thought that this would be a great way to have something to look forward to in the upcoming dreary months. She mentioned keeping it small and although this is normally not my style, I have been deciding that I need to start changing my outlook. In keeping events and such small, it helps with my extreme anxiety in more ways than one. I mainly just invited a few people in the school district that lived pretty close to my new home. I felt bad leaving people out (that’s how I always am, I hate doing that) but I figured we will see how the first few go and then we can invite more people in if needed. And yes, you guessed it, then I will stress that they think I don’t like them as much because they were picked later. Sigh.

As hard as it may be to initiate experiences like this, it can be very beneficial to your mental health. There may be a lurking dread ahead of the event but once it begins, usually, there is relief and enjoyment (if you’re not a complete introvert, which is fine, too).

Try it out! Start your own Girl’s Night Out/ Manly Monthly Bash or something of that nature and go have yourself a good time! Sometimes even putting in the effort of getting yourself ready can make you feel like a new person. If your friends are assholes though, maybe first start a new circle with people that are less asshole-like? Just a thought.


Family Bike Rides, Movie and Game Nights

Not gonna lie, this one can be a bit tricky, especially if you have a complicated family like mine. I mean, I adore the little shits but to say that they are complicated, well, let’s just leave it at that for this publication.

Getting them prepared, ready and actually out on a bike ride can be quite a disaster, however, once we get out there and my blood pressure has already peaked, it’s not so bad.

No, seriously though, getting out into the open air and having a family moment like that is very therapeutic and truly makes my heart sing. Because it is so hard to make such things commense, it is even more meaningful to me when it goes well.

We recently realized that our kids are not nearly as cinematically educated in the nineties era of movies, so we decided to make that happen. It has been a hoot watching my ten and seven year old react to some of the movies that we watched over and over and tend to quote at cinematic moments in our lives. So far the list is along the lines of Billy Madison, Water Boy, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures, Dumb and Dumber, to name a few. Yes, there are some inappropriate parts in there but obviously you can cater to your family and what you deem acceptable.

You do what you love with those you love and before you know it, you may just see a spark of happy in there. It really does help.


Get Out There and Volunteer

I sometimes feel selfish when saying this outloud but helping other can really help you. The simple act of helping others has soooo many positive affects on you, it’s almost hard to believe. A few that you may not know are: helping others lowers blood pressure, can relieve chronic pain and it can even help you to live a longer life, as found in this article by Mental Floss: http://mentalfloss.com/article/71964/7-scientific-benefits-helping-others. So there ya go! Even if it’s not really your thing, try it out, who knows, it may stick.

I also feel like this would be a very valuable lesson from my offspring in the process. I want to share in these important experiences with them. I want them to continue on in life and know how important it is to keep life into perspective and donate your time to those in need. It may not be easy to get them out of their comfort zone, in the beginning, but I think, in the long run, the lesson is invaluable.


Long talks with friends

This one is pretty self explanatory, well, at least it is if your best friends aren’t total assholes and I truly hope not. We all deserve to have that person or two or three that you can turn to when things get really rough. You know, the person that knows your ins and outs and ups and downs but loves you for you.

I have been pretty lucky in this life to be blessed with quite a few friends that I can call my closest most cherished of people. In all honesty, they were the ones that got me through and I feel they are the reason I am still here today to tell you my story.

My best friend reminded me, when I was at my lowest of lows, that all I really needed to do was the bare minimum. I had already gotten myself out of bed, gotten the kids ready for school and on the bus and had a toddler that I maintained. That was ALL that I needed to worry about. If I needed to take a long nap when the toddler napped, then do it. If I need to lay on the couch when the hubby got home, then do it. It was that simple. And no, it was not easy for my anxiety rotted brain to process but in the end, it got me through my days. When you are feeling that far removed from the person that you usually are, it is okay to take a break from your “normal” day and just get through it. This too will pass. It always does, even if it seems to take forever.

I hope that you, too have friends like this that you can run to when you need it. If you don’t, I encourage you to try to get out there (most likely when you are not feeling your lowest) and try to find people with similar interests. Be it, an interest group on facebook or even an event going on at your local community center. If you like to knit, find a group that knit together and have room to grow. In my area, there is a place called Annie’s Outreach Center that provides support, activities and resources to individual’s that are struggling with mental illness. I bet, if you do a google search, you could find something similar in your area. I dare you.

Going to church (finding your community with similar beliefs)

I found a church that I feel really comfortable in and it just feels right. God is a part of my life and has been for quite some time. However, to find a church that I feel comfortable in and really enjoy listening and learning from my Pastor, now that is huge for me.

I’m not as good at going every Sunday, yet, but I do try my best to get there as much as I can and I have even started volunteering. It’s nice to feel a part of such an inviting and encouraging community.

Now, I understand, this may not be your cup of tea and that’s okay. However, I do encourage you to find a community that you can relate to with common beliefs. I feel that it would really help you to be surrounded by likeminded folks, especially when you need it most.


Staying on top of my Mental Health Care

For me, this means that I finally stepped out of my “not totally taking care of myself” comfort zone and made that appointment to see a psychiatrist and also a therapist. To some, this sounds dreadful but for me, it gave me hope.

You see, I had been making the mistake, for more years than I would like to admit, of just going to my general practitioner to prescribe my anxiety and depression meds. We pretty much played a guessing game of “which anxiety med will work this time?” I mean, you do this a little anyways with depression/anxiety meds but when you are working with a professional in the field it is a little less guessing and a little more fine tuning, you could say.

I was a bit more timid about finding a therapist because unfortunately I had been to a few quacks and it kind of set me back. However, this time around I have found someone that seems to know what is bothering me before I even know. It’s magical. Really. It is. If you try one out and it’s not the right fit, please, for the sake of helping yourself, try again. You can’t expect to find the perfect match right away. Imagine if you had married the first person that was interested. See what I’m saying? Give it time. I promise it will be worth it.

Lots of hugs and love to my kids, even when they piss me off


This one truly is so simple. A hug and some cuddles can make you feel better all around. Research has shown that 20 seconds of a hug actually helps the body to release oxytocin, “the love hormone” and in this article released by Huffpost there are so many other benefits from just one simple hug, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/health-benefits-of-huggin_n_5008616.

So why not give it a try? Give the hugs and lovin’ to those that stress you out the most, your little monsters. Both will benefit and it is a chance to regroup and have a start over. We all have our days, it’s okay.

Don’t have little humans? Fur babies, all the fur babies. What better way to get some cuddles in than with your favorite pooch or other furry creature?! They live for it and it helps you, so have at it.


Takeaway

We all have our ways of coping and what works for one person may not work for another. The main thing is that you find what tried and true methods work for you and stick with them. It is part of your self care (you know, that remedy you put on the back burner and say you will do later) and it is pivotal to your mental health. Sure, you can throw it to the side, but once you have made it to the bottom of the very slippery slope of depression you have no choice but to build your foundation up with those remedies you have been avoiding.

There really are so many other methods of self care that I could have added to this list but for the sake of your attention span and time, I would like to ask you to add some into the comments section. What works for you? How do you cope? I would love to hear about it.

As always, thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog. It means so very much to me.

~ Amanda

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