As I may have mentioned several times, I have mild (very mild – ie not proper depression) Seasonal Affective Disorder. This means that I spend October to February each year wanting to hibernate and because I can’t do that, instead spend winter feeling grumpy, on the verge of bursting into tears and very, very tired. I do stupid things like put my fizzy multi vitamin in my coffee, instead of my water (see above).
Also despite being tired all the time, I struggle to go to sleep and stay asleep, given that my sleep patterns are totally rubbish anyway, this just adds more stress and tiredness into the mix and I’m really not fun to be around and at least everyone else can go home, I have to live with myself!
So I have a list of stuff that I try to remember to do that makes winter bearable:
1. Regular hours for sleeping and being awake.
I think this is the most important thing I can do for most of what ails me. Go to bed and get out of bed at the same time every day. I’m not suggesting that people should get out of bed if they have flu or other forms of sickness. I need to avoid extra long lie-ins. I could spend my life in my bed, I love it that much but I do better when my body knows what I expect of it. So if on work days, I go to bed at 10pm and get up at 6am, it’s a good plan for me to try and keep within 2 hours of that at the weekend.
2. Diet & Supplements
If bootcamp has done anything for me, it’s reminded me of the effect that diet has on my mood and general ability to cope. Cutting out or down on caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed food makes a huge difference to my mood. I’m still going to be tired and possibly grumpy but the lack of sugar highs and lows enables me to have less drama because my reactions to missing the bus is more “this isn’t good, what should I do next?” and less “oh my God everything is awful and this is proof, I want to die”. Given that I also make sure that I take my CoQ10 (I’m doing that anyway for migraines!) and other vitamins, every little helps..
3. Light Lamps
I don’t have a proper light lamp, however, I couldn’t live without my ‘wake up lamp’. It doesn’t make getting out of a cosy, warm bed first thing in the morning easier (it’s only a lamp!) but using it means that I don’t spend the day acting like I just woke up.
While we’re on the subject, I need to flood the house with light. Energy saving light bulbs are dimmer than the old incandescent ones, switching on the overhead lights and some lamps really helps me feel less gloomy. Apparently as you get older, your ability to see in dim lighting diminishes and it has a significant impact on how cheerful you feel. I can believe it, I do better in well lit rooms!!
5. Get into the daylight every day
Winter, you leave home in the dark, you come home in the dark. I make a point of using my lunch hour to get at least 15 minutes in the daylight. It’s also nice to get out and breathe in some fresh air.
It helps, because it actually makes me tired, my body and my brain can be on the same exhausted page. Also endorphins. I need them, they help me feel better.
7. Be realistic
I have a terrible habit of over committing myself. For instance this month is going to be mega busy and I have lots to do but I’m not at my shiny summer best. Being realistic about what I can actually do, rather than saying yes to everything really helps me cope. That might mean that I have to miss some stuff so I can get to bed on time, but going to 10 things and being half hearted about them and wanting to cry is worse than going to 3 and really enjoying them.
8. It won’t be for ever.
Finally, try spring will come around before you know it and some of winter is beautiful!
What do you do to help you through winter?