As I mentioned last week, I’m struggling with the light levels at the moment. Right now, we’re in the ‘dead cat bounce’ part of the year and while I feel like I’ve been preparing for this since August, it’s always a pain to adjust so I can cope. Over the next few weeks, I need to force myself to do the things that will help. I’ve said this before and it’s still true, the worst thing about SAD and some depression, is you have to make some effort to make it better, coping strategies do help but you have to do them, things don’t magically get better by themselves. Actually SAD does magically get better sometime around March/April but that’s a long way off and a long time to spend being miserable (also work won’t just give me the time off so if I want things like food and shelter, then I need to get a grip)
There are things you can do to help SAD, some people swear by a blue light lamp and I’ve written before about why that isn’t something I do. Some winters are easier than others, last winter was much easier for me than the one before because I didn’t have to get up at 6am to go to the office and it was much easier to organise my work and home life. However, right now I need to be in the office a couple of times a week so here are some of my strategies:
Grit Your Teeth and Do the Housework – All things are easier to cope with if where you live is tidy, if my space is messy and chaotic then I feel messy and chaotic. At a bare minimum, I tidy the kitchen every night, I make sure that I’m on top of the laundry and I try to hoover at least once a month. Also changing your bed linen once a week is the best small gift you can give yourself, getting into a lovely clean bed is the best thing so do that for yourself. Basically decide what has to be done and do it, even if you do one things a night, it helps.
Diet and Food Prep – We all know that eating junk doesn’t help you to feel good. So making sure that you have food ready to go for when you’re tired and hungry is a good thing. I eat a lot of soup and vegetable stir fry in winter, because they are easy to prep and quick to cook and save me from the temptation of crisps instead of dinner.
Take Vitamin D – The NHS advises that you take a vitamin D supplement in winter, so take one. It’s not expensive and worth it.
Be in the daylight – Linked to vitamin D, try and get outside in the daylight for a bit. I’m a natural hermit, I could just stay indoors all the time with very little difficulty but it does help to be outside, so I try to get a walk outside when the sun is up. Most usually in the week that’s a walk at lunchtime or on the weekend it’s time on the plot.
Bedtime – I bang on about this all the time, but set times for going to bed and getting up are important. SAD is different from most depressive illnesses as sufferers tend to sleep more than depressed people do. I find I sleep more but have more periods of being awake at 3 in the morning. So I just act like I have insomnia, golden hour, set bed times and set wake up times, even when I’m working from home. We sleep train toddlers, we also need to sleep train ourselves!