Hello, my name is Kasia Olszewski and I suffer from seasonal depression. Often times, this gets confused as me being a “Grinch.” And while I love to joke about being the Grinch in the flesh (and often times I feel like I am) the truth is that the holidays put me in a hold that I can’t seem to break free of. And no – I’m not making it up.
Seasonal Depression is a real thing that happens to lots of people all over the world. Actually, the term for it is Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD – and it’s way more than just the “Winter Blues,” occurring each year, usually starting in Autumn and may even continue into Winter.
A Few Facts About S.A.D
- It affects an estimated 10 million Americans. That means 1 in 30 people in the United States suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder – which is roughly the population of Michigan.
- The disorder is more common the more north you live. Prevalence ranges from 9.7% in New Hampshire to 1.4% in Florida.
- S.A.D has been observed to run in families, meaning that it likely has a genetic aspect to it’s appearance.
- The term “Seasonal Affective Disorder” first surfaced in 1985.
I wanted to get real about this because Mental Health is not something people are “proud to share.” But I want to put an end to the embarrassment of things that can’t be controlled. So, this is my story.
I’ve been noticing a pattern of this depression, starting in mid-to-late November and lasting throughout the Winter. I couldn’t really understand the anxiety or the weight I felt on my shoulders – let alone why Christmas just didn’t seem as “happy” as it should have felt. The truth is, I still can’t explain while I feel this things.
A True Story
On Thursday, I woke up early in the morning and having to be at work by 10AM, I decided to stay in bed. The problem is that I was feel very….eh. That’s kind of how I explain my moods: “eh.” I didn’t know why I was feeling this way, and thinking about going to work only gave me major anxiety. Even the thought of leaving my bed made me feel like I should just call out entirely. And to conclude this, I cried for about an hour for absolutely no reason. That day, I was two minutes late for work. This isn’t a big deal to most people – but to those that do know me will know that being on time is a very big priority that I set for myself. And I have never ever been late to work before.
I’ve been feeling like this a lot lately – so getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge. Some days I overload myself with work to give myself an excuse as to why I’m having these feelings – but it’s tiring. This is why I’ve decided to admit it to the problems I am currently having. And not as a way to look for pity, just to simply say: “Yes, this problem does exist and YOU are not alone.”
“Researchers have yet to uncover the specific cause for SAD. We do know however, that several factors are at play. The reduction in sunlight in winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood) and melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood).”
I was reading this article (see above excerpt) and was thinking about what was said about lack of light affecting serotonin and melatonin – and I can see why this is a good cause of S.A.D. Most people love rainy days. It’s the perfect time to cozy up with hot tea and a good book…right? Not for me! Gloomy days dramatically change my mood, and while I’d love to stay in and read all day, the truth is…I can’t stop thinking about the gloominess going on around me. And I know it can’t be just me…
But that’s okay!!
I wanted to share some ways that help me get into a better mood when I go through certain stages of this seasonal depression.
Change Out Your Lightbulbs
Okay, I know this seems silly, but hear me out. Now that it gets dark at nighttime, having a warm light can make it feel more dark and dull in the house. Try switching to a white light / daylight light to give off a natural atmosphere.
The winter in the perfect time to keep moving – and not just because the new year is right around the corner. Working out makes you feel less trapped. For example, try to do some quick jumping jacks or jog in place for a few moments.
Stick to A Schedule
I know this seems hard – especially when you’re in a funk. But keeping yourself on a schedule with actually really impact your day for the better.
Create An Upbeat Playlist
Changing your music will also trigger your brain. So try creating an upbeat playlist filled with all the songs that hype you up and give you motivation.
Affirmations Are Key
Pick some of your favorite affirmations and write them down where you’ll see them everyday. Some of my favorite are:
- Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.
- I have the power to stop this.
- I am attracting positive energy into my body.
- I’m courageous and can make it through.
- My challenges bring me better opportunities.
- I release my negative thoughts, to create room for positive thinking and optimism.
Take Vitamin D
In addition, studies show that a daily dose of Vitamin D can significantly improve Seasonal Depression symptoms. If you’re not a huge fan of pills, try eating foods that are rich in the vitamin: like orange juice or kale.
Keep A Journal
I’ve made a pact with myself to start journaling again soon because it really helped me last time. I’m honestly not sure if it will last – but I’m definitely going to try and I may even blog along the way.
Update: Episode Two of “Self-Care, Success, + Sundays” may help you with starting a journal!
Self-Care, Success, + Sundays: Episode Two – Find Clarity, Peace, + Happiness Through JournalingI said it before and I…Posted by Beauty For The Brain on Sunday, January 13, 2019
Lavender oil is the perfect starting point for anyone with S.A.D. It’s been known as a relaxant that can help ease stress – and you could also try Frankincense, Patchouli, and Basil.
**While you’re here, you can get an Essential Oil for free! Just use the code KLOFREE at SimplyEarth.com ***
Last year in the United States, 5x more people were diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder than cancer and it can affect your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It can make you feel exhausted, increase your cravings for carbs, and make you lose interest in your loved activities, for instance.
I wanted to get personal today to show you that your problems are not invisible – and they’re not too big to conquer!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and remember, you are not alone.