Romanticizing the Colder Months: How I Plan to Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal depression and seasonal affective disorder are real and affect over 3 million Americans per year. Read on to find out why I'm not worried about either of them this year.
As a swimmer and someone of Caribbean heritage, I've always been all about warm summer days and island vibes. I'm that person that simply can't stand the cold and has to wear an extra layer of everything to be able to cope.
For as long as I can remember, the colder months also brought my mood down tremendously. Those were the months that I had my worst anxiety and depression flare-ups, but at the time I didn't know this was an actual disorder.
Fast forward to being accepted to Rochester Institute of Technology (we get lots of snow up here) ... I was excited to go to college here but I was not excited about the winters. I read up about how students up here are at high risk for experiencing seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder and that was the first time I really took it seriously.
This is now my third year studying in Rochester and for once I'm feeling good about going into the fall and winter months. Keep reading for my advice on how to romanticize the coming months and how I plan to beat seasonal depression.
This was always my downfall in previous years but I'm making it a point to turn this around in 2021. I truly do get cold way too easily, hence why in winter's past I avoided being outside like hell. Don't get me wrong, no one wants to be outside freezing their butt cheeks off in the winter. Especially not I. But I promise it's as simple as wearing layers, a long thick jacket, and making a habit of carrying a hot tea or coffee with you. I know my nearest Starbucks will see me every day before class this winter and I have no shame about it😌.
Buy clothes you like
Say it with me: "I will not spend all winter in sweatpants and sweatshirts." Say it again if you have to because this alone will get you excited for the cold months.
Over the last year, I let my wardrobe get to a point where I didn't actually like any of the clothes that I was wearing. They were literally all free shirts and sweatpants I got from various events at my university and they made me feel really bummy. I knew that going into my 20's, I wanted a more mature wardrobe that reflected my age. So I made it my mission to set aside some money from my summer job specifically for buying winter clothes that I liked.
When August rolled around I had a blast doing tons of shopping. A bunch of turtlenecks, jeans, and jackets later, I feel super confident about stepping outside this season.
Do the corny seasonal things
I know we all joke about these things being basic but hey, why not? This season is much more than cold weather and short days, there are some really great festivities to get up to! Do all the haunted hayrides, apple picking, pumpkin carving, black Friday shopping, and Christmas decorating you can. Celebrating the seasons is a great way to spend more time with friends and really get into the fall/winter spirit.
Personally, I love having a fall/Halloween day with friends in October where we carve pumpkins, eat pie, and watch all the Disney Halloween movies from our childhood. It's simple, relaxing, and doesn't necessarily require too much effort or money. But Christmas? Christmas usually drains my card dry and I'm not mad about it. I am that festive fiend who decorates every part of their house and spares no expense with fancy wrapping... I can't help it! I just love buying presents for people, it makes me so insanely happy. I will no doubt share all of my 2021 Christmas plans here on my website! They seem to get bigger and bigger every year😅.
Talk to your doc about vitamin D
If you're not aware, vitamin D is the vitamin that your body produces when directly exposed to sunlight. It's a vital vitamin that promotes bone health and mental health. As someone with dark skin, my body absorbs 50 - 70% less ultraviolet light than those with lighter skin tones. And to be completely transparent, my habit of wearing sunscreen all year round (skincare junkies know the vibes lol) probably doesn't help my already low absorption of sunlight.
All that on top of the fact that I spend most of the winter in Rochester (UV levels here are very low), meant that my vitamin D levels got really messed up by the time my second year was finished. I felt sooo off last winter and I think my lack of vitamin D might have been the cause. Over the summer, I did a blood test and the results showed that my vitamin D level was less than half of what it was supposed to be... Per my doctor's recommendation, I stocked up on vitamin D supplements and have been taking them every day since. You guys know I take mental health so seriously, so if anything, I wanted to make sure my vitamin D levels were high enough to support that.
If seasonal depression/seasonal affective disorder is something that you struggle with ask your doctor if vitamin D supplements might help.
Make your space your autumn/winter sanctuary
If you're going to have to spend more time inside, make sure your space feels like home. Whether you have a bad day, have a good day, get a promotion, get at a bad grade, etc, you'll have to come home to your space at the end of the night. Make it someplace where you feel safe and at peace.
This can be as simple as putting prints or posters on your walls, buying a candle, and changing your covers to your favorite color. You can even take it a step further and tweak your decor based on the season. I think I might become one of those girls who has a Christmas tree in her room😂.
Thanks for reading through! I do want to add that if you are struggling this winter don't hesitate to seek help! Please please please talk to someone about how you're feeling or even just write it down. You are not alone or crazy! I've put some resources below if you need them.
As always if you want to see more of my day to day you can follow me on insta @ ariels_view. I'll most likely be sharing more of my life on Instagram and Pinterest (and maybe youtube) as xmas gets closer!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing) For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741
National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-7233
Veterans Crisis Line (800) 273-8255, PRESS 1 Text 838255
National Grad Crisis Line (877) 472-3457
National Sexual Assault Hotline (800) 656-4673
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (800) 422-4453
CDC National HIV and AIDS Hotline (800) 232-4636