With just a few short weeks until Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday cheer. The busyness of being busy can add up – so much so that the holiday slump hits even harder on the other side. But as a girlie who has been navigating dealing with her depression for the last several years, there are some little things I’ve noticed that have the biggest impact on keeping me feeling the most supported mentally, physically and spiritually at this time of year. And today I wanted to share my tips for how I manage my S.A.D. from now until spring. Sometimes we just need to know we aren’t alone and you most certainly aren’t. So let’s dive in.
5 Things I’m Doing To Manage My S.A.D.
#1 Give Yourself Something To Look Forward To
Hope is a powerful tool. And when we remove it, suddenly things become a lot darker. I’ve noticed that it’s 10x easier for me to get lost in my own darkness when all I’m focused on is my goals. When it’s working, when it’s not – the outcome of my happiness is tied to something outside of me. And it effing stinks.
Instead, this year I’ve decided to do something different. *which I’ll probably share in greater detail in a blog post soon so make sure you’re subscribed* But I’m someone who needs something to look forward to in order to release the pressure on what may or may not be working in my life. So instead of planning my week around everything I have to do, need to do or should do, I want to add a category of things I get to do. A section specific to adding more of the little joys in the week. And if I get to them, lovely. If not, we can throw them back into the pot for another week.
I’m thinking some kind of excel sheet or a actual jar filled with little ideas of stuff maybe you’ve always wanted to do and never made time for. Or an intention list of all the little things that make you happy that you put on your calendar as your fun thing of the day. This could be seasonally themed. But it’s more so about creating space for your joy. Even if we love our jobs, sometimes we need a bit of life’s little whims to come into the mix and balance it all out.
Ideas for this time of the year: try a holiday coffee flight, go for a christmasy walk, get hot cocoa and look at holiday lights, put on festive PJs and watch a Christmas movie, try a new festive latte every day for a week, take a wreath making class, paint an ornament
I could literally go on and on. My plan is to make a big list and then pick a few each week to try. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 5 hours, $5 or free, I know I can come up with lots of ideas to bring the joy back into my S.A.D. season. And I’m happy to share all the ideas with you.
#2 Journal As Though No One Will Ever Read it
Over the years, I’ve learned many people have a complicated relationship with journaling. Whether it’s that you don’t know what to write, you’re judging yourself for your thoughts or you feel like it’s pointless, I’ve been there. But I think the most powerful part of journaling is when we treat it like someone will burn it when we die.
No one will ever read it. You never have to worry about it going past the moment. It’s totally safe for you to say all the sh*t you’ve been avoiding. Feels crazy right?
But here’s the thing: we can’t call BS on the thoughts we can’t see. We can’t move through the stuff that we aren’t willing to look at. And learning how to have a conversation with ourselves without judgment is so POWERFUL.
Here’s what I challenge you to do this S.A.D. Season – buy a new journal, use your notes app, or download GoodNotes (whatever is your jam). And try to incorporate a stream-of-consciousness journaling session into your day. You write down every thought. Punctuation? Doesn’t matter. Grammar? We don’t know her. Changing thought in the middle of the sentence? Encouraged.
Essentially, the idea here is to write it all as though no one will ever see it. Write it all and try to keep it for at least 24 hours. If you’re worried about your child or spouse picking things up, stick that sucker behind the tampons, in your purse or inside of some product no one in your house touches but you. And give yourself permission to just let that sh*t out.
Now here’s the thing: you never have to read it again. But if you want to, let it sit for a bit before you come back. You’ll be amazed at what comes out that you didn’t want to admit. The things you needed to release that you were afraid of saying out loud. Giving words to feels is a powerful thing even if those feelings are scary.
*Savvy note: I highly suggest keeping these journals even if you never read them again because they can make great reference points for therapy. We often don’t know when a shift happens but we can go back and look at the signs in our thoughts. Whether you share those or not, it’s helpful to be able to go back and have a conversation with old you in a new way.
#3 Know Your Dopamine Triggers
I don’t think I’ve spoken as much about this on the blog as I have in social media content. But I started implementing a dopamine detox a few months back. There’s a book you can read on it (free on Kindle Unlimited I believe) that digs in deeper. Essentially, for me, I was looking for the things in my day that would spike my dopamine. Meaning I would go from normal operating levels to a place significantly higher that my brain found it hard to maintain this level of dopamine. This results in a whole lot of distraction, a lot of seeking behavior, and the inability for me to get anything done.
But it also means that there’s a sharp decline. And if you’re already navigating keeping your brain happy during this time of year, why make it harder on yourself? My triggers tend to be scrolling (on any platform), social media, and sugar.
This isn’t necessarily about eliminating the triggers because we aren’t exactly trying to take all the fun out of things. It’s more about knowing that these triggers, whatever they may be for you, set you on a path of a no-win scenario. It can take some time to identify what these are for you but when you do notice them, it’s eye-opening and life-changing. As always, please exercise caution when taking care of your mental health. And seek medical help if needed.
#4 Leaning Into Diet And Exercise Changes
This is always a sticky subject to talk about. So I’ll do my best to go here delicately. I’ve noticed over the last few years, regardless of the internet trends and popular dieticians, that certain things do wonders for me. While others, I should probably do without. And because I’m still navigating this – hopefully with a more dedicated team soon – there’s a lot I don’t know.
That being said (and according to science) there has been a correlation shown between PCOS and depression. The percent gap is wide but with my own recent experience, I can tell a massive difference in my mental health the day before I start my period when I’m not actively doing the things I know work for me.
This looks like fasted workouts to help with insulin resistance. Eating a Fab 4 adapted diet. Prioritizing protein. Limiting alcohol and refined sugars. And adequate sleep. Which all seems manageable to some degree. I can’t say that this works for everyone. But I can say that I’ve seen the results both on a psychological and physical level plus within the data from the various apps I use to track things. I’m thinking of doing a more in-depth 6 month version in the new year so stay tuned for that video. For now, I’ll definitely be adjusting some things.
#5 A Mental Detox
For better or worse, we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t pay attention to the noise we’re adding to our already crowded brains. And it often simply goes unnoticed. Whether that’s the tone and language of the content we’re binging, the inner dialogue of our favorite book heroine, or the people we’re surrounded by in everyday life, it all adds up.
I am by no means about to tell you to ditch everyone and everything to self-isolate for the sake of being a happier human. But if that’s what you need, I have a feeling you know it. I will say it’s worth paying attention to the language under the language of those around you. As well as the energy, if you’re into the sort of thing.
Do the people you follow or spend time with talk sh*t about themselves? Do they often complain about life or others? Also, do they apologize for everything? Does it seem like they feel good about themselves? How do you feel after you’ve spent time with them? Are you choosing to be in their presence or do you feel obligated? Take some time to observe this with the people and content you’re consuming this week. I promise even if it seems like it doesn’t do much, it all adds up.
Wherever you find yourself at this time of year, I hope you know you aren’t alone. I love you. I’m so glad you’re here. Keeping fighting. Until next time. Xoxo, Savvy
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