The above cartoon may say “November”, but had I drawn it, it would say “October”. I live in Maine where October kicks off the colder temperatures and the increasingly earlier sunsets. I have suffered for as long as I can remember with Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is a difficult problem to handle in a northern state. Thankfully, we have had a fairly mild and warm Autumn so far (*knock on wood*), which has helped a lot. However, the lack of motivation has begun really settling in for me the past couple of weeks.
On the days when Simon and I have to get up early so that I can get him off to preschool and then go to work, I am able to fake my way through it. I have the responsibility of being places on time forcing me to get up and go. Usually though, I will experience a crippling energy dip in the afternoon, after I pick him up and we return home. That is usually when I find myself reaching for more coffee.
On other days, when there is nothing filling the calendar in the morning, I shuffle my way downstairs, fix Simon his breakfast and myself a cup of my beloved coffee, and then we snuggle on the couch under a blanket for far longer than I want us to. I want to be seizing the day, but instead I am fighting the urge to hibernate.
It is not so simple as just snapping myself out of it. I have been trying for years. But I have found things that help.
For example, using a “SAD Light”.
I borrowed one a while back from a fellow SAD sufferer. When I woke in the morning I would turn it on and sit in front of it while I ate my breakfast. It felt soooo good. She eventually needed her light back, but I spoke with my doctor and found out that I can get one with a prescription and insurance will possibly pay for some of the cost. I am going to be filling this prescription ASAP. Jeramy had the fantastic idea of setting it up on my nightstand with a timer, so it will turn itself on in the morning when I need to get up. I just might do that!
Another thing that helps me immensely is cracking down on my healthy habits. It is so hard this time of year, when temperatures get cold, and all I want to do is curl up and eat baked goods all day long. Baked goods are fine, I am not one of those people who rules carbs or grains out, however, they need to not be the main component of a person’s diet. When I focus more on eating loads of veggies and fruits, I always feel better and it helps so much through the winter. Taking a daily multivitamin fills in any gaps for me and gives me more energy too.
I have found that if I take my shower at night, so that all I have to do in the morning is throw on clothes and put my hair in a bun, I am much more likely to get outside sooner. And the sooner I get outside, the more quickly I feel better. Mornings are such a struggle that simply showering can feel like an insurmountable obstacle.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but cutting back on my caffeine helps a lot too because I shed my dependence on it for energy. When I quit caffeine a while back, I felt so much better. I am now back up to a minimum of two cups a day, and I recognize that I need to start cutting back again. I really love coffee, but I can always drink decaf.
Finally, and this is the hardest one for me: moving more. Forcing myself to get some exercise in is so good for my body and my motivation levels. Feeling healthy makes getting up in the morning so much easier. I love yoga and walking/hiking. I need to make them happen.
I would love to hear from you if you are a fellow SAD sufferer. What works for you?