‘Tis the season to be JOLLY, or is it?

There are a lot of festivities that come along with this time of year. We have office work parties, kid’s school parties, Christmas eve parties, Christmas day parties, New Year’s eve parties, and sometimes New Year’s day parties.

Not to mention all those invitations we may receive in between from friends who want to get together as well.

You would think that with all these celebrations, one would be happy and jumping up and down with joy all the time.

Unfortunately, this time of year brings about seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for some of us. SAD, which causes anxiety and/or depression, is usually triggered in the fall and winter months due to shorter days that get darker sooner.

The more north you live; the higher probability you have to acquire SAD.

I live in Illinois and it gets pretty gloomy this time of year with many consecutive days that are grey. We also get a lot of snow at times which leaves us home bound.

There are times where I feel like a caged animal because I am stuck at home during a dreary and bitter cold day. However, after almost 16 years of living here, I have had to learn ways to make the most of my situation so I’m not left miserable all winter long.

The following “therapies” are ones I implement on a daily basis to keep me from getting paralyzed from winter depression:

  1. God therapy: First thing in the morning, before anyone else gets up, I spend some time alone reading my Bible and journaling my prayers. This helps me take the focus off of my feelings and unto God so He can direct my path for the day instead of allowing my emotions to govern my steps.

    I also think and write down what I am currently grateful for so I can concentrate on what is good in my life instead of what I feel is bad.

  2. Light therapy: While I am having my quiet time, I use a light box in order to soak its light. Clinical studies have proven that light therapy can by very effective for those of us with SAD.

    I use mine for about 30 minutes but if you are considering getting one, please check with your doctor first to make sure what would be best for you.

  3. Hug therapy: My youngest daughter coined this term the first day she saw me using my light box. She asked me what the light was for and why I was using it. Now that she is 10, I was able to explain to her some of what I go through during this time of year. She then quickly gave me a big hug and said it was “hug therapy”.

    So now I make sure I hug my girls first thing in the morning especially on days where my depression wants to shut everyone out.

  4. Physical therapy: I’m sure you’ve heard that exercise and eating healthy is important to your wellbeing. Well, it is even more important when you are feeling bummed.

    It does take extra effort for me to get moving when all I want to do is crawl underneath my blankets and sleep but I make sure to remember how much better I feel after doing some sort of continuous physical movement.

    If I’m feeling particularly down, I give myself permission to just do 5 minutes and usually once the 5 minutes are done I’m feeling up for more.

If you are someone who suffers from SAD, please take some time to discover what “therapies” work for you so you too can make the most of the winter time and prevent or at least minimize the winter blues.