A little less than two months ago I wrote briefly about my struggles with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). What I didn’t talk about where some of my coping mechanisms for dealing with this illness. Part of the reason for that is because I don’t want to wash my dirty laundry in public (I know that sounds a little weird.) The other reason for my silence on this issue is because I have this stubborn idea that my mood is nobody’s business.
However, after another sun-free week in the Twin Cities I’m definitely struggling. Couple that with the fact that I’m fairly stressed out about finding a new job, this week has definitely not been a pleasant one. The sun just came out and my mood is slightly lifted, so I decided that I would take this opportunity to talk about some tools I use to improve my mood.
1) One of the first things I do when I notice that I’m in a rotten mood is to ask myself what I’ve been eating. If I eat to much junk food, I crash. And I mean that in every sense of the word. I may start crying hysterically, get really angry, or just fall asleep. Sometimes all three of those things happen. If the answer to my question is yes, I promptly grab a piece of fruit and sit by myself for a minute.
2) If the answer to my food question is no, then I can move on. Is there a legitimate reason for my anger or sadness that I’m just trying to suppress? I often feel intense pressure to be happy all the time, as most women in Western society do. Many women I know (both in real life and in the virtual world) report having been comanded by complete strangers “Smile!” If there is a legitimate concern then I will address it and it goes from there.
3) However, if the answer to my second question is no then there are a few self-assessing questions I ask. How did I sleep last night? How long has it been since I’ve seen the sun? Did my cat wake me up at 4:00 am today with her meow that sounds like she’s saying “herro, herro?” After I have pinpointed exactly what’s going on I can make a plan of attack.
Here are a few things that I do to help myself get through my depressive symptoms. Some of these are preventative and some are not.
A) Regular Exercise – Yes, I’m also insanely lazy and exercising can be tough. But I find that doing some sort of vigerous movement is really helpful in keeping my body in check.
B) Eating Healthfully – I also use this to alleviate symptoms, but if I just eat healthy to begin with then it’s much easier for me to answer my first question.
C) Meditation – I have to admit, I haven’t meditated in quite a while. Yoga Nidra is my preferred form of meditation. It’s great because it’s broken up into four seperate segments. These segments can be preformed together (this takes about an hour) or seperately. If you’re busy and you just need some time to unwind, this is perfect!
D) Catch up on what my family is doing – This typically involves spending time on Facebook (which I’ll never say no to, haha) and allows me to get out of myself for a while.
E) Do something nice – sometimes it’s for myself (take a bath, have a facial, etc) and sometimes it’s for someone else.
I hope that you’ll find some of these tips helpful. As you go through these please bear in mind that I am not a medical professional. These are just things that help me and I’m writing about them in the hopes that they may work for you as well.