Confession: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Me

If you’ve checked out any of my recent posts, you can probably tell that winter has started where I live. Yes, the daylight hours are very short and it is cold and snowy almost everyday. Not the most ideal environment for a winter-hater like myself, but it’s a nice city so I guess I’ll be staying. πŸ˜‰

You read that right… “winter-hater”. I’m a born & raised Canadian and I don’t particularly care for winter. It’s cold, dark, messy, and inconvenient. It’s difficult going months without seeing much daylight when you go to work in the dark and go home in the dark. But another reason I don’t like winter is because I suffer terribly from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I can’t control it and I don’t like the person I am when SAD kicks in. To be honest, I can usually make it till about early January without sinking too deep, but then after that I don’t know how I will react.

Running in snow already!

Running in snow already!

I may have mentioned this aspect about myself on Twitter before, but I thought I should share this post as we’re heading into winter. I feel it’s worth sharing because sometimes I don’t think people take it, or me, seriously. Yes, I will complain about the weather on Twitter or Instagram. I try not to, but when I get the winter blues I will share my hate of the cold weather & snow on social media. I need to watch this because the general response is not positive. Of course, I’m being negative, but I’m not trying to be a “debbie-downer”… I’m trying to share my pain in my own strange complain-y way. It’s not constructive, but it’s like part of me is searching for others who may be experiencing the same thing. I’ve dealt with this for as long as I can remember – through winters in Halifax, Toronto, and Calgary – and I still can’t beat it.

Often when I share my sad feelings about the weather I receive comments like “why complain? you can’t control the weather” – um yeah, I know. Or, “at least it’s not worse”… such as a hurricane or something. Yes, I am most certainly glad it’s not at natural disaster level. People just don’t seem to understand where I am coming from… they see the negative post and assume I’m just being a whiner. And this of course causes me to feel worse.

I share this with you because I know there are others out there dealing with SAD every winter. We don’t feel well. We aren’t ourselves. We WANT to feel better.

I don’t like feeling like a shell of myself.

Honestly, I got shit to do. I want to run. I’m going to train for a marathon. I don’t want to hibernate and lose all face-to-face connections. I want to be my silly, vibrant, weird self.

I’m going to try my best this winter, but I know I’ll need help. Winters tend to be a little longer in Calgary than the other two cities I’ve lived in, so I need extra help. I’ve got a few tips for dealing with SAD in the winter… but, what would you add? If you deal with SAD every year, what’s your best remedy?

My Tips for Dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder

– Vitamin D drops

– Healthy balanced diet

– Get outdoors even when you don’t feel like it

– Exercise… again, even when you don’t feel like it

– Tell people what you are going through. Don’t try to hide it.

– Light lamp… I hear these help. Looks like I should invest in one. Got a brand you recommend?

– Journal and meditation.. write those feelings down.

– Treat yourself – bright new sweater? Warming latte? Do it. Just don’t go overboard… all about balance!

– Keep fun upbeat music or funny movies nearby

– Keep your Christmas lights up as long as you want if they bring you joy (totally me!)

– Travel if you can and if you like to do this sort of thing

– If you need a day bundled up warm at home with movies and hot tea, do it. I like to hide from snowstorms and windchills too sometimes.

– Find a buddy who does enjoy outdoor activities in the winter and join him/her. Allow him/her to kick your butt out the door if necessary.

– Try something new in the winter! I want to finally try snowshoeing this year.

– Go to a local park and just take in the beauty after a fresh snowfall. I don’t like snow, but doing this gives me a more positive perspective. Take pics and post them if you damn well feel like it. πŸ™‚

I’m sure there’s more that I can do to try to keep the winter blues at bay this year. What has helped you in the past?

Yep. (Great share @JennVFitness)

Yep. (Great share @JennVFitness)

Some resources on SAD:

Canadian Mental Health Association

Mayo Clinic

University of British Columbia

(Note: I am not a doctor, these are tips from my own experience. Please check with your physician if you’re going to change any program or exercise regime. Also, if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, please consult your physician.)

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3 thoughts on “Confession: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Me

  1. I think since you committed to this marathon it will help. Your going to be outside for hours running and as long as it’s not windy you’ll forget the cold and get to enjoy how peaceful and quiet it is (then it’s just coping with how terrible it is to start and end those runs…). Popular running spots help too so hopefully you can find some. My favourite thing about running through the winter last year was getting to train for ATB on the course and seeing all the other crazies out there training on course. I can’t really relate on the rest, I don’t have those feelings towards winter, though the past 2 were terrible and even I was complaining by the end. But I actually do get pretty cranky when it’s hot (super sensitive to the sun often get sick if not careful and out too long) and people don’t get that so I kind of get it. Make some buddies to run with from the MEC group!

    • Great tips, thank you very much!! I definitely need to find some run buddies and keep going on the Mec runs this winter. It helps me to know that other people are out there being crazy and running in -20C weather too. πŸ˜€ Last winter in Toronto was challenging training for ATB, but I somehow managed to stay strong. Helps to have a goal!

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