How I cope + combat seasonal anxiety + depression.
As a huge disclaimer, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. The information below is simply a summary of how I cope during times that I feel anxious or depressed, as well as the rituals /routines I have in place to minimize their onset. My desire is to talk about mental health in a way that is approachable and transparent, and it will never be my intention to give advice to other or heal/fix/cure neither myself NOR anyone else.
I recently polled my friends on Instagram to see how many of us have experienced anxiety + depression and whether or not it's seasonal. I was surprised, as nearly 100% of respondents have experienced anxiety + depression and 60% report it happening seasonally. I'm thankful to have community and wanted to share a few ideas to lift your spirits during the approaching, very dark (literally -- daylights savings is the worst!!!), very cold months.
Get outside. Even on cold days, try to spend an hour outside. I break up my hour into 2-3 walks, a longer (30 min) walk before work in the morning and another evening walk to the market or with Jonah after dinner. Even if you have to dress like an Eskimo, even if you really really really don't want to go, DO IT! Fresh air is so restorative AND restores our circadian rhythm, which too much screen time can alter.
Sweat. I consider my daily workout to be therapy -- just breaking a sweat is grounding and helps move bad energy out. Don't overthink this one either! Set a timer for 10 minutes and do squats, pushups, jumping jacks, planks, or run stairs in your apartment building. Find a 15 minute yoga flow on youtube. Pick up something heavy a few times a week. Bodies like to MOVE even when our brains do not. Trick your brain, make sweating non-negotiable.
EAT. and eat well! Use meal times to just rest and connect. Try going without screen time for the 10-12 minutes it takes to eat -- this can positively impact both mindset and digestion!
Talk. Winter 2020 was extremely difficult for me as I was spending WAY too much time alone. Like many others, my workplace was not welcoming us back to the office so I spent long days in front of my computer in the silence of my empty apartment. I also couldn't go to yoga or dine out or socialize in the capacity that I needed. I spent too much time in my own head because I didn't know how to get out of it. Talking to people -- whether it's a therapist, your mom, a friend -- IS SO IMPORTANT! Just to hear the sound of your own voice, to communicate and acknowledge others is critical to mental health. Make it intentional! For 15 minutes a day, talk to someone outside of the immediate people you live with, simply to exist outside your own head.