When was the last time you stopped and did nothing? Yes, you heard me right! Did nothing?
Stop and take a breath; try this for ten minutes.
If you don’t learn to slow down, the winter blues will only get worse and there’s no time you’ll feel it worse than in January, on and around ‘Blue Monday’.
While it’s not scientific, Blue Monday is the third Monday in January each year, and known for being the most depressing day.
Part of the problem is, during the peak of winter, you keep going and don’t realize you’re even getting the blues. When it gets to the point where it’s persistent, this could lead to seasonal depression, known as Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD).
Many people suffer from SAD; you are not alone. But unfortunately, not everybody talks about it. This leaves you feeling alone and isolated — and isolation is the worst thing you can do for your depression.
You can get help with seasonal depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Here are 7 ways to deal with ‘Blue Monday’ depression and keep an eye out for SAD.
1. Don’t isolate yourself.
When you are feeling depressed, you may be more irritable, which will make you feel like you don’t want to be around other people. You may even hear voices that are telling you to stay in.
But this is the best time to go out or be around friends and family. Even if you feel like you might not know anyone there, being in a positive social atmosphere can help lighten your spirits.
Pull yourself up and make yourself go out. You’ll be glad you did. You may even want to schedule an annual Blue Monday night out with friends!
2. Get outside and soak in the sun’s rays.
You need natural sunlight — aka vitamin D — to help your depression. If you can sit by a window during the day, that’s good, but you also need to get outside. Go for a 20-minute walk If you can. Any time you see that blue sky, pop outside and let your face (and arms, if it’s not too cold) soak up a few minutes of UV!
If you live where it is too cold to get outside during the day, invest in full-spectrum light bulbs rather than fluorescent light.
3. Get moving.
Studies have shown that walking for 30-45 minutes a day, five days a week helps to reduce depression symptoms.
You can exercise inside or outside. Do a workout that will challenge you and get your heart rate up.
I like to start my day with exercise. I am much more focused and in a good mood for the rest of the day. Organize a big Blue Monday workout!
4. Keep things simple.
You are led to believe to get ahead, you must suffer. But this is a myth.
Don’t get me wrong — if you want to get ahead, you will have to sweat, but not at the expense of yourself and your loved ones.
For example, if you can’t afford a new car, then buy a used one. Don’t worry about what others will think. What matters is you won’t be stressed out and feel depressed.
5. Rest your mind.
Make it a practice to set aside 10 minutes a day to breathe and close your eyes. Ten minutes isn’t too much time. On Blue Monday, maybe double it just as a practice.
Keep your mind clear. If thoughts come, don’t judge them; Let them be.
You might think that’s a waste of time because you have trained your brain to think that way. Start retraining your brain today by letting it rest.
Photo: VeronikaSmirnaya via Shutterstock
6. Stop beating yourself up with negative self-talk.
This is something everyone is guilty of — seasonal depression or not — and it is a waste of time. That’s why it’s nice to know that Blue Monday is a thing. You’re not alone!
You tell yourself things that aren’t true. Maybe these are things you heard growing up or were shouted at you in a prior relationship.
Replace each negative thought with a positive thought. It can be as simple as “Today will be a fresh start.”
7. Turn it over to your god or higher power.
When you’re depressed, and it feels like nobody else cares, it’s good to know that a higher power cares. You aren’t meant to be perfect. You shouldn’t expect this of yourself.
It helps if you don’t hang around people who expect perfection from you.
The next time you are feeling stressed out, say a prayer. Then, sit there and breathe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is “related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.”
Talk to friends and family. If that doesn’t help, then talk to a professional. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Don’t let anyone tell you your winter blues are no big deal or that you should get over it. If you are feeling bad, make sure you don’t try to hide it. There is nothing wrong with recognizing you have a problem with seasonal depression and getting help for it.
If you think you have Seasonal Affective Disorder or other signs of depression, make sure to talk to a therapist about it. Asking for help is one of the bravest things you can do. This will help you learn about the source of your pain and what you can do about it.
Lianne Avila is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a practice in San Mateo, CA, and is the founder of Lessons for Love. Her work has been featured in Psych Central, BRIDES, and Prevention.
This article was originally published at Lessons for Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.