Depression can snag us, and take us down. It seduces us to shrink from the world and hide away. While summer’s balm welcomes us, winter pushes us back into our homes, toward comfort, known quantities and isolation. Here are five ideas that can help you challenge the call of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) depression.
- Take regular exercise outside. Push yourself, even if the weather’s bad. Try to embrace expansion – in your efforts, in the views you reach, in your capacities. Feel the power in your body, the tingle of cold, the thrill of being alive. Aim for 4 times a week.
- Identify any social difficulties you’re having. We’re social creatures, and other people are a dominant part of the world beyond us. Difficulties satisfying your need for fruitful relationships can trigger retreat into depression. Push yourself to engage. Track your relationships, and seek help if they feel too strained, toxic or limited.
- Surprise yourself. Disrupt your routine, and purposefully encounter new experiences. Create wacky art. Get stuck into that shelved idea. Relax in the ordinary, then challenge yourself to find the extraordinary. Break up the blahs, the bland and the boring – your vitality needs your attention, planning and dedication.
- Add awe to your diet. Minimum, one large helping per week. Take a trip, absorb the wonder of stars, feel the breath of infinity raise hairs on the back of your neck. You’re alive and know it; make sure you feel it too.
- Cancel hibernation. We’re not bears, we’re humans. Nature doesn’t get to tell human beings to hibernate. It doesn’t get to tell you that the outside world is too hostile for you, or too grey, or too cold and unwelcoming. Human beings are champions, survivors and conquerors. We don’t hibernate; we rest, regenerate, and go again.
Be mindful that we’re in unusual times. The call to hibernate and withdraw into depression is likely to be stronger this year. We tend to avoid anxiety-inducing situations, and we can stick too long in the comforts of withdrawal. This is not a balanced place to be. Weather advises, but if it determines your being this winter, be wary of becoming SAD – seasonal darkness can become your darkness, and seasonal cold can beckon your drift toward isolation and emotional deep freeze. Feeling vital and engaged is something you can have greater control over than you might realize. This winter, take up the challenge and go against nature’s grain, till you can flow with it again come spring, and relax into summer.