Thursday, January 19, 2012

Making My Own Sunshine

Yesterday, I talked about suffering from seasonal affective disorder (you can read that post here).

I want to talk about fighting it. I have to consistently remind myself that while the weather is out
of my control, I can exert control over some pretty important things. I call it my battle plan.
Eating right. Part of my effort to fight SAD this winter is to make a conscious effort to eat good,
high-nutrition food instead of blowing through empty carbohydrates in an effort to control my
mood (especially in the evening). I started Weight Watchers just before the new year and so
far, I’ve felt really successful at managing my mood swings and cravings. WW is great for me
because I don’t feel like I have to deny myself when I’m hungry but it’s great for helping me
determine portions.
Creating safe refuge space. Keeping the apartment neat and the clutter to a minimum keeps
me from feeling overwhelmed at night (when I’m more likely to be depressed and anxious).
Comforting scents. Along with some woodsy, cozy candles, I’ve been using more scented
lotion this winter. I’ve noticed that smell has a lot to do with my mood. And though I tend to
stay away from fruitier or more tropical smells, I’ve been using lotion with coconut in it because
it reminds me of sunscreen (and inevitably, the beach).
Strategic lighting. I avoid fluorescent or harsh lighting at night and instead opt for softer lamps
and candles after dark. I’m also trying a combination of grow/sun lamps for short intervals in lieu
of actual sunshine. Eventually, I may have to try professional light treatment through my doctor
but I’m going to try this for a little while first.       
Not leaving important decisions/difficult work for late at night. As a grad student, this is difficult
but I’m trying to change my study habits to manage my depression.  
Making fun plans with people. It gets easy to isolate myself in the winter but I’m working hard to stay
involved with friends and make time for fun outings with Kyle and other couples.
And if all else fails…fantasize about how amazing spring break is going to be in Myrtle Beach.

If I close my eyes tight enough, I can almost feel the rays. March can’t come fast enough.

love, elizabeth


Jennifer said...

It's good to know what you need and go after it in order to take the best care of yourself possible. Hoping for an early spring for you and sending you lots of sunny and warm Texas sunshine. <3

Karm said...

awe that sounds sooo good. I cannot wait to see the sunrise at 6ish again. I know you will feel super better soon. Just a few more months of the cold dark mornings (:

twiggy@thedirtlife said...

best of luck with this. i know what this is like (to an extent). i actually do WAY better at night than morning. but, these are good tips!!

Caitlin said...

I have very similar problems with reason why I'm so excited to be moving somewhere sunnier, though I'm sure it'll still be a problem. I had a friend suggest putting sunscreen on to remind me of the summer, so interesting that you had the same revelation! These are all great tips. :)

Alexandria said...

You're such a strong lady for talking about this. It's definitely a huge part of a lot of people's lives, and I'm so glad you're sharing this :)

Megan said...

I love your honesty with this and I LOVE your positive attitude!! You are amazing!!

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