Bevin's Blog I'm blogging the relentless pursuit of my joy

2021-10-18

Getting Out Ahead of Seasonal Depression

It’s that time of year again! Where I live we are losing three minutes of light per day! Rapidly approaching Winter, long nights already begun, big storms, cloudy days.

I’ve been dealing with seasonal depression / seasonal affective disorder my entire life! I didn’t identify it until I lived on the East Coast, and thought it was the cold and the dark that affected my mood.

My mom shared with me after I moved to Los Angeles and I realized I was still coming up against SAD that when I was little I was incredibly “grumpy” in the Winter. I was also incredibly depressed my entire teens and most of the time growing up so I didn’t identify the different, enhanced struggles in the Winter.

Once I had more mental health awareness, tools and self care I have floated in and out of different depression and anxiety struggles as an adult but the seasonal is easier to identify.

I deeply thought that moving to LA was going to kick my SAD. “What if all my self care from October through April wasn’t just to fight SAD, how great could my quality of life be?” I wondered naively.

Prevention is the best defense against SAD and I have some of my best self care tips for SAD to give you now. Enhanced by my further studies living in Washington State so close to Canada I can see it on a clear day.

I hope these help you to care for yourself more gently in the coming season and spark ideas for your self care. I am not a medical professional and all of this is presented as information only! Use at your own risk!

UV Light!

Also called “SAD Lamps” these mimic the UV rays of the sun, vital to Vitamin D production and feelings of joy. I use mine for 15-30 minutes in the morning. I love to sleep and I don’t like my sleep disturbed, so early day UV rays are better for all those natural rhythms. I have had several but my current one is a lil gal that sits on my desk and stores easily in my small home.

This is the lamp I use now. All of the Amazon links here give me a small commission (3% or so) at no cost to you, but I do encourage you to buy from small businesses when you can because your purchase with them feeds a family rather than putting Bezos into space. But if you’re buying from him anyway I love that 3% it helps buy get audio books. Anything you buy from Amazon after clicking a link to them on my website earns me that commission.

Go Outside!

Our human bodies need to be moving outdoors for two hours a day. I’m obsessed with the physiology of high performance since I weave it into Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics so much and when I learned this it made a lot of sense.

Our brains and bodies have evolved differently. Our bodies believe we’re still in the 1700s living that farmer life. Being outside and moving is what our bodies wanna do even when our brains don’t. That’s self care, doing what you don’t wanna do now so that you’ll feel better later.

When I lived in the NYC snow life, I’d go out at least 20 minutes at noon to get as much light into my walk as possible. Now that I have access to many acres of old growth forest I go for at least 1 probably 2 hours most days, even when the weather is yucky. It makes a big difference in my overall well-being year round.

I’m obsessed with Big Leaf Maples.

Movement

Tying into the outside time is also moving your body! Even five minutes of dancing helps raise your spirit.

Blood flow to the brain helps! If you’re a yoga person don’t skip the inversion. Legs up the wall is my fav chill inversion.

Supplements!

Turns out, I actually had a lot of nutrient deficiencies for most of my life that have affected my brain’s functioning and last Winter–2020-21–I had the easiest, least SAD affected Winter of my life. During a global pandemic in a very cold and dark place!

The right quality supplements made the biggest difference. I had off and on used supplements from the drug store that weren’t effective in a way I could feel. I now use a super high quality source from a company that has their own organic farms and high quality fish.

Fish oil made the biggest difference in my brain. When I have more cash I want to try doubling how much I take and see if it is even better in there. I truly hate eating fish so this is why I think finding the right supplement (that doesn’t taste fishy) has been such a game changer for me.

I take a memory vitamin with ginko and cistanche. Blood flow to the brain helps with mood!

My doctor has me on 2,000% of the RDA of Vitamin D and I take a mushroom based supplement for that along with calcium and magnesium to prevent migraines. Fat folks need more Vitamin D than thin folks!

And Vitamin D is what a lot of studies show keep you out of the hospital with that deadly virus that is going around. (In that vein I take a lot of Vitamin C and Zinc and wear a mask outside of my quarantine pod to support immunity.)

Lipstick / Getting Dressed

I’ve been working from home primarily since 2008. It can be really easy to never get dressed or look cute. But honestly, taking that shower, getting dressed and for me putting on lipstick makes a giant impact on my mood. Especially through the pandemic, as I get ready for my daily walk I usually add lipstick and straighten my bangs because it makes me feel good.

For you it might be a special essential oil or perfume, or doing your hair or whatever. Notice when you’re in a particularly good mood and assess how you can recreate those conditions for yourself on the blah days. It’s a lot easier to start all this SAD prevention before you feel too depressed to shower or groom yourself so before you get out of the habit of doing it and slide deep into that place, consider your best defense a good offense. If you want! There’s nothing morally wrong about being in that place either, you don’t owe anyone your mental health.

Essential Oils!

Mood boosting oils I love include orange, geranium, peppermint, patchouli and lavender for chill. Connect to your friend who sells them and support a small business. I like them diffused, in carrier oils on elbow pits and wrists, or if food grade in a lil hot chocolate!

Resting More!

Our bodies are naturally attuned to light and when it’s more dark they want to rest more! I think a big difference in my experience of SAD is not beating myself up for needing more rest! I think a lot of my depression was anger pointed toward myself for not meeting my unrealistic expectations of myself.

I have been meditating a long time, from a shitty inconsistent meditator to a daily sometimes three times daily meditator. What it’s done for me is conditioned me to be a neutral observer of my body and brain. I can notice, “Oh my body needs more rest,” without the cavalcade of negative thoughts and beating myself up.

I’m not a “busy” person, I am a highly prioritized person running two businesses. It could be nuts / I could be nutes but instead I’m measured and neutral about my body and her cues.

I prioritize my body and what she needs and letting go of beating myself up for not being “productive” took me many years and I’m grateful for that fruit in my life today. Self care is learning how to speak to yourself with kindness and compassion.

So I rest more! Winter means more puzzles and books and longer sleep. Though I have been grieving a lot this past year which also means my body needs more rest so I’ve already been long sleeping.

I finally left quarantine to go camping with my friends. I was as safe as I could be to prevent the virus but I did take my chances by hugging 12+ times a day. Touch hunger! Mimi gives great hugs and makes great care packages! DM her!

Connection!

Humans need connection! Like a physiological need! And yes I’m totally touch hungry living alone in the woods but I do make it a point to connect with at least 3 people a day (my new goal is 10).

A connection vs saying hi and walking by is all about intention and inquiry. Am I being interested or interesting in a conversation? They don’t need to take very long but it’s worth it. I genuinely notice a difference in my body and mood on days I’ve had my three connections.

If you live with other humans or have a quarantine pod that hugs, try hugging 12+ times a day. I recently read that’s what it takes to truly thrive!

Plant Medicine

I love plants that help me heal and return to myself and my connection to Source/the Goddess. I love using Cannabis to boost my mood (especially citrus strains) and I have been using psilocybin to prevent depression to great effect (including over last Winter). More on my podcast episode about my experience using psilocybin.

I hope these are helpful tips! I don’t have the resources to monitor comments here but if you have other ideas or want to nerd out about supplements with me send me an email fatkiddanceparty at gmail! Love you! Hope you invest in feeling better this Winter because you deserve to feel good.


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