How To Keep Depression At Bay During The Winter Blues
We all have times where we feel in a low mood and we can’t snap out of it. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal, especially at this time of year!
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is very common in the winter months due to the lack of sunlight and cold, rainy weather. We go to work and then come home and sit on the sofa every night because the weather doesn’t inspire us to do much more.
There are many things that can get us down in life and make us feel hopeless. Like me, I don’t have a job at the moment due to a massive cock-up in my life plans. For somebody who has to always be busy, it’s actually really stressful NOT having anything to do.
Sure, I keep myself busy, but I don’t feel like I have a purpose right now and it is getting me hellah down!
So, this is a post for all the people who are feeling as hopeless as me. Sometimes life gets us down, but there are things we can do to help ourselves before those feelings of self-loathing get out of hand.
Here are my top tips on how to keep depression at bay…
Have a shower
Sounds basic, but when we start to feel depressed, our personal hygiene is one of the first things to slide. So get up and have that shower – it will make you feel so much more ready to attack the day.
Do 20 minutes of exercise
There are so many studies to prove that we feel better after we have exercised due to the release of endorphins. Exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling low, but it doesn’t have to be a hardcore HIIT workout.
It also doesn’t have to cost you a penny. YouTube has so many free workouts that you can do from the comfort of your home. Why not try out one of these linked YouTube workouts below…
Minimal effort: If you want something really easy that’s more of a stretch session, then try out this Cat Meffan video with yoga to de-stress.
Moderate effort: Dancing is a great way of letting loose and pumping up your heart rate. Check out this dance workout by PopSugar Fitness – I’m obsessed with the sassy dance instructor. (The moves are really easy too, so don’t feel intimidated that it’s a difficult routine.)
Maximum effort: If you want to work up a sweat and blow off some steam, then boxing is always my best bet. Have a go at this boxing workout by Class FitSugar.
Get outside: Sometimes I just need some fresh air, especially if I’ve been cooped up inside all day. Head out for a 20-minute walk, or work up to a jog to get some much-needed gentle exercise.
Put down your phone and pick up a book
Phones are an easy distraction, but they also are a source of major anxiety for most people.
We see ‘perfect’ pictures of people having a good time socialising or celebrating work promotions and life milestones. When we are feeling low, this is the last thing we want to be seeing. It’s not inspiring, it just makes us compare ourselves.
Just a reminder: SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL LIFE. We only put up our best bits on social media; it’s like a highlight reel.
So turn off your phone, or leave it in another room. If it is in your pocket, or in front of you on the table, then it will keep distracting you with notifications. Keep it out of sight, and pick up a book.
Engage your brain with something that isn’t social media. Start reading that book you’ve had on your shelf for months, or crack open your laptop and read some articles on something you’re interested in. You will exercise your brain and find more purpose by reading than by scrolling.
Ask yourself why you are feeling low. Now troubleshoot.
Is it because you feel out of shape? OK then, join a gym, or start an exercise class, or start watching some YouTube videos.
Is it because you are stressed about money? Write down your monthly income and your necessary outgoings, like bills. Now, work out where the rest of your money is going and how you can cut back on unnecessary things. Could you pick up some extra hours at work, or get a second job, to bring in some extra money? Do you need a new job that pays more? Why not talk to a career’s counsellor about what your next step could be.
Do you have no idea why you feel so low? Let’s write a list of all the positive things in your life and then the negative things. What is causing you stress and how can you fix it? Let’s talk to someone we trust about it; it might just feel good to get things off your chest.
Is it because you still have to wait over a month for the final season of Game of Thrones to come out, but when it does come it’s over forever and it’s never coming back? I’m sorry, I can’t help you there, but I totally understand your grief.
Don’t make any rash decisions
Don’t go ‘screw this’ and quit your job, pack up your things and go jet-setting. Travelling may sound like the perfect escape but when you come back, your problems will still be there.
Just the same, don’t quit your job without somewhere to go to first. Being unemployed is stressful if you have rent and bills to pay. Try to troubleshoot the problem at work first by talking to your manager. If there is no solving it then start looking for a new job.
It’s a lot easier to find a new job when you currently have one. It takes the pressure off as you know that at least you have money coming in.
Likewise, if you and your partner are going through a rough patch, don’t just break up. Try to work through it first by talking to each other and making an effort to change things. You may need a bit of a break, rather than a break-up.
Don’t make a permanent decision based on a temporary feeling.
Cuddle a dog
Because dogs are the best and will always love you.
Talk to someone
The classic reason why people hide their low feelings is that they don’t want to ‘be a burden’ to anyone. They don’t want to bother people with their problems and so they don’t reach out. Nobody wants to be the ‘Debbie Downer’ of the group.
But guess what? You’re not a Debbie Downer! You’re just going through a rough patch, and the only way your friends will know is if you speak to them.
If you don’t confide in your friends then they won’t know anything is wrong. That’s when resentment starts to grow. How can you expect anyone to help you or be there for you if you haven’t told them how you’re feeling?
You aren’t a burden and you aren’t ‘bothering’ anyone by telling them that you are feeling low. I bet your friends and family would actually be upset if they found out that you had been suffering alone without reaching out to them.
Your friends and family love and care about you, so let them show it. Don’t keep them in the dark because ‘the dark’ is lonely for both sides of the coin. Everyone goes through these patches at one time or another, so don’t suffer in silence. Reach out!
There is no straight forward answer for how to keep depression at bay, but we can at least try to help ourselves.
Of course, sometimes things can get so out of hand that a walk in the park and a shower aren’t going to fix the job. When that happens and you find yourself crying every day, getting angry and pushing away your loved ones, feeling totally unmotivated to do anything to help yourself and are questioning your existence, PLEASE go see a doctor.
Doctors are getting better at taking mental health seriously. If you go to them and beg for help, they can point you in the right direction of councilling or medication.
And for the record, medication isn’t a taboo subject anymore. If it helps, then it helps. Don’t see yourself as weak if you take medication. I have used medication and I am sure as hell not weak! Are you calling me weak? I dare you to call me ‘weak’!
Please don’t give yourself a hard time. Reach out for help!
Now, maybe I should go take a leaf out of my own book and do some of these things today. It’s very easy to wallow in your own self-pity and low mood, so before you let it consume you, get up and do something about it. If you allow your low mood to control you then it can be a very slippery slope that will be even harder to climb out of eventually.