To be honest, the battle has already been raging for a couple of weeks.
What battle? Well.. the battle against winter depression.
Some of you in colder countries might have experience with this. It is actually quite common, and you don't even have to be depressed to begin with. Know that feeling you get in the winter, when you can't get out of bed, can't bring up the courage to drag yourself to work, to school, or anywhere? Know that feeling that you just want to stay home in your pj's all day and never leave bed? Know that feeling that when you leave for work, it's dark outside, and when you go back, it's dark again; and asking yourself where your day has been? Know that feeling that you just want to turn up the heater all the time because you can't stop feeling chilly? Know that feeling that a simple cold can knock you out for a week because your resistance is so low?
Well, if you think that sounds familiar, you might have a winter depression, just as millions of other people, myself included.
Winter depression is, simply put, what happens if you don't see enough daylight. Daylight is vital for us, and helps our skin and our body generate a whole bunch of vitamins and also increases our serotonin levels. No daylight can lead to vitamin shortages (which can also be a cause for depression) and low serotonin levels. It can make you feel absolutely terrible.
Today I will explain how to battle this shortage of daylight and how to conquer it!
The first and best option for battling winter depression is *drumroll* daylight!
Try to walk or simply be in the daylight for at least half an hour a day. If you're at work or at school, try to eat your lunch outside, or take a walk around the block. I know it isn't always possible to get a healthy dose of daylight every day and the light is so much less bright in the winter so I wouldn't advise this as the only solution, but it is certainly the first one to consider.
My second advice would be to take your vitamins.
Did you know that the overwhelming majority of the people in the world don't get enough vitamins and minerals? The food nowadays is so much stuffed with unhealthy things and does not contain enough to actually make us thrive. I usually eat healthy but I have my days as well, and especially if you eat a lot of prepackaged foods it is not a bad idea to take a multivitamin every day, especially in winter, when your body (due to the shortage of sunlight) does not work as properly as it should be.
To battle a winter depression you should take at least 25 mcg vitamin D, if not more. I usually take 50 mcg myself. A good multivitamin on top of that is never a bad idea. It will help balance your resistance and keep you healthy as well as happy.
The third thing you can do to battle winter depression (this is especially a good idea when you don't have time to walk outside every day) is buy a light therapy lamp or daylight lamp. I got one from my dad last week and I can already tell that it helps. You technically only have to use it for half an hour, seven days a month but I put mine on every morning and evening and it really helps with my day rythm. It's a very easy way because you literally just have to put it on and sit next to it or in front of it. I am currently typing this blog post with my light therapy lamp next to me. If you have a desk job, you could also take it to work and just place it on your desk.
My fourth advice, given to me by my therapist, is to 'collect your nuts'. She made a comparison to squirrels, who collect nuts in the autumn to help get them through the winter. In short: Go look for stuff, creative projects, series, movies, books, anything you like and collect it all together to help keep yourself busy during the dark days. Like superheroes? Watch a superhero movie every week or get yourself a bunch of comic books. I have a lot of creative projects lined up and am happy to look forward to, and if you keep yourself busy you will have less time for moping and sulking around. Try to do things with your friends as well! Organise parties, get-togethers and movie marathons. Pull yourself and everyone around you out of the misery!
This picture is of one of the 'anti-winterdepression' projects I'm currently working on.
My final advice is something that I figured out by myself. I light a candle every night before I go to bed and just hold it with my eyes closed while sitting on the floor for 10-15 minutes. I try to focus myself on the warmth and light that radiates from the candle - on my skin and through my eyelids. I also like to think about the vital importance of light in this world, and how it will help things grow and thrive; not only plants but animals as well, as well as you and me. If you are able to focus enough, you will feel that slowly, all the stress and the misery will lift off your shoulders and it usually calms me down well enough that I am able to get a good night's sleep.
It's a very simple meditation method but I feel that if I focus myself on what light is and what it does, it also helps me get through the dark days.
I hope this advice will help you make it through the dark days as much as it helps me.
And remember; the shortest night of the year is already due in less than a month (21 dec), and from there on, things will only get better (and lighter!).