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5 Tips for Getting Through the Holidays When You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder

When my psychiatrist first told me I had seasonal affective disorder (SAD) on top of being bipolar, I was delighted there was a term I could use that wouldn’t scare off my coworkers when I was feeling depressed. Gotta love those stigmas! But, at least it was a term they understood. Not only that, but a few people admitted they had it, too. It helped me explain why I was “down in the dumps,” “moody,” “tired all the time” and not the happy, bubbly person they know I can be throughout the rest of the year.

And, because of the depression, there have been many times between Thanksgiving and New Years that I am miserable, specifically through the holiday season. Maybe it’s because the days get shorter, or maybe because the holidays bring back childhood memories I don’t want to remember, but no matter what the reason, I absolutely hate I can get this way. Seriously. Hate. It. I want to be happy and stable this time of year, or at least not be so depressed!

Do you feel this way too?

Over the years I’ve decided to take charge of my SAD and figure out additional ways to handle the holiday season. Here are a few things that have helped me and hopefully they help all of you beautiful readers, too.

1. Try to maintain a healthy diet. 

I know, I know, everyone is talking about gluten and sugar these days, but it can be for a good reason. I’ve noticed that when I eat well, I tend to stay out of a deep depression, or if I’m in one, I tend to get mostly out of it.

Plus, the more I eat organic vegetables, fruits and proteins, the better I feel.

2. Exercise.

Yes, you heard me, I said the word that I never like saying and some of you may not like hearing. I don’t mean going to the gym and lifting weights (unless that’s your thing), I mean get your body moving. It can be anything you desire as long as you are moving and raising your heart beat. What about a 15-minute walk around the block on a Sunday afternoon or doing yoga in your living room before going to work? If you know me, you know I despise going to the gym or God forbid running, but I love the great feeling I have after just a bit of walking outside in the fresh air. I used to get irritated with my psychiatrist when she would mention I should just get my body moving, but I realize now she is right (and may even have some other good suggestions!).

 3. Don’t wait for Jan. 1 to start your “New Year’s Resolution.”

It all began after hearing “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars. I was in the shower (where I usually have my best thoughts) and I was thinking why couldn’t anyone ever love me just the way I am? But how could anyone love me for who I am if I don’t love me for who I am? And who am I?

My initial thought was that would be my New Year’s resolution to figure out who the real Mimsy was and to love me for me. But I reminded myself I never followed through with my New Year’s resolutions, so if I was going to start on my quest then I needed to start right then and there. So I did. And it was great. I spent the holidays on my own personal development and spent more time with the people who already loved me for me, and it made for not only a great December, but also a great year to follow!

My point is, don’t wait until January to make the changes that you want to change now. Not only will you lose your momentum, you may miss out on experiencing some great things you didn’t think would happen.

4. Read personal development books, listen to positive podcasts, and/or watch inspirational movies.

Have you ever noticed that if you catch yourself slowly going into a funk and then you read, hear or watch something that’s inspirational, it lifts your mood? Lately I’ve been reading more self-improvement and inspirational books, and I’ve noticed I’ve been thinking more positively even after it started getting darker earlier. If it works for me every time throughout the rest of the year, it couldn’t hurt doing it during the holidays too, right? It’s a first for me this holiday season, but I’m going to do it and see if lifts my mood.

5. And finally, get your holiday shopping done early in the season, early in the day or on a Tuesday night.

First of all, I noticed it’s not as fun giving someone a last minute gift, instead of a gift I put a little time and effort into. So I stopped buying presents on Christmas Eve a long time ago.

It’s also so much better for my mind, body and soul when I can get to the stores before the crowds on the weekends, or on a Tuesday night after work.  Do you ever notice people are hardly out shopping at the malls on Tuesdays?

I have finally acknowledged I can’t deal with crowds in stores. I get anxious and irritable and I start feeling very claustrophobic when there are other people looking at the same thing I am, or of I have to wait forever in line to check out. I’ve noticed I even get that way at the grocery store!  It gets worse when I’m in a depressed cycle. So, I’ve become one of those holiday shoppers who is either waiting at the door for the store to open on the weekends, or going out an hour or two before it closes on a Tuesday night so I can get my shopping done when it’s peaceful.

Please note: The tips I gave are not cures for depression, but are little things that have worked for me to help lift my mood. I’m curious to know what things you’ve done in addition to your prescribed meds to help you avoid “the winter blues.” Feel free to comment below!

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