Sheesh! This time of year sucks! I mean, yay cold weather and yay presents, but this time of year is so stressful for me. Not only do I have to find or make gifts for those I love, but I also have to stay in budget.
Have you met my Aunt Carol? NOTHING makes that woman happy! At least, nothing that seems to be in my price range. And oh lord. Don’t get me started on the insulting compliments I have to endure from Grandma June for fear of getting banished by my mother.
Then there’s the constant cleaning, cooking, going to parties I’d rather skip, and driving home in the dark at five in the frickin evening. I did not sign up for this!
Maybe I did. I don’t know. This time of year isn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be, but sometimes it sure feels like that. In fact, despite all these festivities and family events, I have never felt more alone.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you’re like me, this is a tough time of year for you and sometimes you don’t really know why. Personally, I struggle with strong depression and insomnia from about November to January. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
This time of year can trigger multiple persons for many different reasons. The lack of sunlight, the increase in stress, the supreme annoyance of family… they all add up during this time causing low moods, irritability, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and loneliness, and the need to over or under sleep and eat.
Psychologists call this temporary mood change Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. I call it SHTF… or Shit Hit The Fan.
Pick Me Ups
Now, we can sit here griping about what a hard life it is, or we can find a solution. As someone who battles high functioning depression on a regular basis, this time of year my mood typically takes a drastic turn for the worse. I’m talking suicidal ideation kind of worse.
So I create this set of activities that I use as pick me ups. These are activities I enjoy but limit myself to actually doing unless I’m having a bad day.
Some of my pick me ups include taking a bath and reading, going to the movies, going out for Indian food, baking something sweet, and taking a nice hour-long drive around my area with no destination.
Other than reading in the tub, I want you to notice that none of these are really mind escapes. They just get me doing something while giving me time to think and dream, which is what helps me. Now is the time to figure out what helps you.
Make a list of at least five different activities. The only rules I have is it can’t be illegal and can’t involve playing video games, watching YouTube or any type of media (the exception being a comedy), and can’t be sleeping. Now only do the things on the list when you are having a bad day and need a good smile.
The Power of Vitamin D
The shorter days can cause just as much decrease in mood as stress. To combat this, take some vitamin D daily. Go with gel caps. This allows for a better release into your system.
The first time I took vitamin D, I felt a surge of energy within the next hour. Call it a placebo effect or an actual reaction. Either way, I felt great each day I took the vitamin.
This may not be your case. There are different types of depression, triggered by different circumstances. Environmental stress can play a huge part, but don’t underestimate the toll a vitamin deficiency can have on your body.
If you are so inclined, go to the doctor and have your blood tested for deficiencies. Personally, I’m broke so I’m going by trial and error. Vitamin D works for me. Give it a shot if you haven’t already.
You do not have to go to every party or visit every family member. You just don’t! So refuse to feel obligated to go to an event or gathering if you don’t want to go.
Of course, that is easier said than done. Usually what I do is blame my partner and say he’s sick or I’m sick or my cat is sick. That usually does the trick. In extreme circumstances… you could always lie and say there is some sort of family emergency… just don’t use that excuse on your family. They have a tendency to talk to each other.
Create a Power Playlist
Music has such a significant effect on your mood. It’s actually a little insane. Last year I created a playlist called my ‘Power Playlist’. I play it on hard days when I’m anxious or angry. Basically anytime I am anything other than happy and it boosts my mood by the third song.
Now, for me, the majority of this playlist is Owl City. There’s just something about the upbeat, happy tones combined with an authentic meaning that just makes me so happy. I’m weird… but you’re weirder because I’m sure there is an artist or song that does something similar for you.
So find it. Create a playlist and add all these songs that make you happy or peppy and listen to them even when you don’t want to. Trust me, it’ll help.
What Works for YOU?
I’m sure I missed some tip that can help de-stress and pick you up. What was it? Let me know in the comments below!
That’s all for now! Stay safe, stay happy and see you soon!
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