It’s no secret that I suffer from bouts of depression. I’m pretty vocal about those struggles. The worst time for me is late Fall and through the Winter. When we change the clocks back and the days get shorter- that’s when I start having issues. I have a hard time focusing, it’s hard to force myself to function, I want to stay home and hibernate….basically the sloth becomes my spirit animal. Unfortunately, as Matt points out, hibernating is not actually an option for me. Personally I think that’s total bull but he insists that the kids need to go to school and eat. This year I’m determined to function as close to a normal person as possible. I have a plan.
1. Music- I’ve found that one thing that helps me break out of a funk is blasting music and having a dance party in the kitchen. I spent the last month or so adding new songs to my playlist and dancing around the kitchen while making dinner has become a great part of my day.
2. Sleep- I have insomnia. I’ve suffered from it for years and nothing has helped eliminate it completely. But it gets worse in the winter and there have many weeks I have found myself living on less than 3 hours of sleep for days on end. This makes my depression so much worse. This year I’ve committed to making sure I get enough sleep. If I have a stretch of bad nights where I’m only getting a few hours of sleep then I’m going to adjust my sleeping schedule and take naps to catch up on those missing hours.
3. Puppies- Apparently 2 very funny and active puppies help my depression. Who knew? Abby and Chase are so funny and they are so snuggly. They are also extremely sensitive. On bad days I’ve noticed they stick very close to me, sleeping on my feet, snuggling with me, and persisting until I play with them. It helps a lot.
4. Not over-scheduling- The holidays are coming which means lots of invitations and parties and commitments. This year I’m prepared to say no. I will not over-schedule. I will choose carefully the things I want to do with my family. We’ve scaled down on Thanksgiving this year, we’ve already said no to a couple of family events, and we’ll continue to keep the schedule light.
5. Maintaining routine- I do better with a routine when I’m trying to stabilize my moods. I like a schedule and knowing exactly what I need to do each day. It also helps me space out errands throughout the week to give me a reason to put on real people pants and leave the house every day.
6. Exercise- As much as I don’t like it, exercise makes a huge difference for me. It can be as simple as running on the treadmill for half an hour every day, or taking a walk with the pups in the evening. I struggle with autoimmune arthritis which is horrible in the cold months but I’ve discovered that pushing through that pain to exercise anyway helps a lot.
7. Stuff to look forward to- This is a big one for me. I’m motivated by reward so having something to look forward to at the end of a busy day is a big thing for me. I’ve been stockpiling books from my favorite authors on my Kindle to read this winter. I bought some amazing microfleece sheets and a faux-mink down alternative comforter for our bed. I’ve saved some great shows on the DVR to watch when I’m feeling low.
I’m hoping that this plan will help me minimize the effects of depression this Fall and Winter. Anything is worth a try to actually enjoy the season for a change. I know these things probably seem simple or even lazy to some people who’ve never dealt with depression but believe me, little things matter a lot.