Your survival guide for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As daylight savings approaches on November 3rd, it’s a reminder that Hot Girl Summer is really over. Here in New York City the seasons are changing, and with icy weather approaching we know that we might be feeling a little SAD. As in, we might feel the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to Medline Plus, “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. It usually starts in the late fall and early winter and goes away during the spring and summer. Symptoms include: a gloomy outlook, feeling hopeless, worthless, and irritable, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, low energy, and difficulty sleeping or oversleeping.”
Yikes, right? I know that so many people in my community, including myself, experience SAD - so I wanted to find out what coping tools they had found to alleviate the symptoms. For me, therapy and yoga are essential (and those are year round things, too!) but I knew that y’all would come through with some amazing tips. And you did. So we made a SAD survival guide!
As a therapy matchmaking company, we know the importance of developing a game plan when you start to feel a little wobbly. A therapist can help you fill up your tool kit with everything you need to feel supported. If you’re interested in starting your therapy journey, head over to our personalized questionnaire to find your perfect match! We all lose our light sometimes, and we all deserve some help to turn it back on.
YOUR SAD SURVIVAL GUIDE:
Make a playlist of songs that make you feel at home on the inside.
I try to leave the city once a month for a weekend!
I take myself out to eat or to a museum. Exploring a new place helps me!
Omg I just got a happy light! And I have a sun based alarm clock.
Find an indoor hobby. Art? Water colors? Collaging? Keep the mind busy.
Surround myself with things/people/places that bring me joy and comfort.
Soups. Lots of soups. Your favorite soups. Anything to make you feel warm inside.
Clean your house!
Call your parents. They miss you.
Long hot baths with a tropical candle and soothing music.
Make time for phone calls with friends you don’t get to keep up with as often.
Indoor plants. Surround yourself with some green things.
Permission to be sad even during “happy” holiday times.
If financially feasible - go to a sunny place in February.
Finding time to sit in the sunlight and giving myself permission to slow down.
Find your neighborhood ramen place. And frequent it.
Making plans with friends & asking them not to let me cancel.
Music & Exercise :)
Get outside while the sun is still out. Even when it’s f’ing freezing!
Reminding myself that after this cold season, things will be warm and rebirth happens.
Bubble baths and hot tea and spending time with loved ones.
Keep flowers in the room 24/7!!!
Darkness is difficult, but so is harsh lighting. I line my rooms with white lights every year! Cozy!
Even though it’s cold, making sure I still go out or invite friends over is key!
Lift heavy weights!
Yoga, chocolate, and warm hugs.
Open communication with my partner.
Making time for even just a ten minute run outside.
A good morning routine.
A morning routine: having a convo with myself the night before about when I have to get up, giving myself way more itme than I actually need in the morning, laying out sweats and a hoodie to put on in the AM so it’s not too cold, putting my phone on the other side of the room to force myself out of bed to turn my alarm off, and a facecloth with HOT water on my face as soon as I wake up,
Anytime the sun shines, go outside!
Focus on coziness instead of darkness. Twinkle lights & candles & tea!
Hot yoga: the closest thing you’ll get to summer warmth + mindbodysoul love.
Give yourself small rewards for doing daily tasks you find difficult - like warm coffee for getting up!
Keep your blinds open to get natural light.
Step outside first thing in the morning, even just for a second.
Hygge = coziness and comfort. Taking the time to look inward, burn candles, and cook.
Going out dancing!
Having an arsenal of frozen healthy microwave meals. so I make sure I still eat!
Whenever I feel my mood drop, I light a candle. It’s small, but it’s light.
Movement! Even just doing jumping jacks.
Bullet planners with simple daily tasks and goals!
Look up at the sky and take a deep breath (repeat as needed).
Acknowledging it’s the weather and the season but not a problem with you.
I like to look at pictures from a warm and happy time!
Leaving a light on if i’m coming home when it’s dark and cold, makes home feel safe and welcoming.
Sunlight, sunlight, sunlight.
Light therapy every morning.
Going out of the office during lunch to catch some light outside.
Use full spectrum lightbulbs in your home - they mimic sunlight!
Make a list of all the winter things i’m looking forward to, like skating and seeing my family.
Vitamin D, b12, b6, d3, magnesium, GABA, CBD.
Exercise in a warm room that make your insides feel sunny.
Going to an infared sauna.
Books, cat, tea.
AMC A-lister! I see tons of movies in the winter and it really helped me cope last year.
I go get a tan, but it’s not to get tan. Having my skin warm up helps me.
Moving my body softly - dancing or stretching.
Cleaning my apartment with lemon/citrus cleaners! Weird, but it makes me feel lighter.
I deliberately go to bed earlier to wake up earlier. More sun time means more fun time!
I spend time in an indoor botanical garden - I used to meet my therapist there!
Telling my friends to drag me out of my apartment as often as possible.
Buy the right clothes and get outside. Fresh air helps as long as you’re wrapped up warmly.
I wear bright colors. Especially on the days I feel extra awful. My rain coat is bright pink.
Creating gloomy day solo or group traditions to reinforce that stormy weather can mean fun and joy. Example: game night with friends or solo spa day at home.
Allowing myself some time to sit in my sadness because that’s ok!
The hardest thing to do when our mental health is suffering is ask for help.
We hope this Survival Guide will come in handy on all your SAD days, and we also hope it’s a reminder that you are not alone! This list is a supplemental tool guide to help support yourself, but know you don’t have to do it all alone! If therapy is something you’ve been thinking about, and you’re in NYC, check out our matchmaking process and let us help you find your perfect therapy match!
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Haley Jakobson is a writer of plays, poetry, and creative non-fiction. In her writing Haley explores mental health and wellness, sex and trauma, queerness, and bodies. When she isn’t scribbling on the subway, she is hanging out with the MWB team as their Digital Content Manager, and acting as the Artistic Director and co-founder of Brunch Theatre Company, an inclusive platform for emerging theatre artists to join the conversation. A poet in the millennial era, Haley reaches an audience of 11k+ readers on herinstagram page. Haley lives in Brooklyn and is a gemini.
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