Seasonal Depression

March 30, 2022 in Educate Yourself

During the winter months, I always begin to notice that my depression gets worse. A few years ago in therapy, my therapist informed me that I was most likely suffering from seasonal depression. I knew that I always preferred the spring and summer more than winter, but I had NO idea about the mental toll winter had on me. Not only do I always feel more depressed and anxious, but I find myself being super fatigued and having little motivation. Of course, moving to a warmer area could solve the issue of seasonal depression, but that is not something that I want to do, and a lot of people are unable to move due to seasonal depression. Rather than making a huge life change, here are some things I have found that help combat the winter blues

  • Taking Vitamin D Supplements
    • A routine blood test showed that I am vitamin D deficient and the deficiency gets worse in the winter months. I am known for being out in the sun a lot in the summer, but that is not a luxury I have during the winter, so I am not soaking up as much vitamin D from the sun throughout the winter. Vitamin D plays a key role in mental health regulation, and I’ve found that taking a vitamin d supplement has worked wonders for my mental health in the winter. *ALWAYS ASK YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING A NEW MEDICINE OR SUPPLEMENT*
  • Investing in a “Sun Light”
    • One of the biggest issues I have during the winter is going to work when it’s dark in the morning and not leaving work until it’s dark in the evening. Missing out on the sunlight hours just puts me into a rut. To help this, I bought an artificial “sun light” that is basically a bright light meant to simulate sun light. I use this light when I am eating breakfast in the morning and when I come home in the evening. Despite knowing the light is not actually sun light, I have found that the bright light alone really improves my mood and helps me feel like I am not missing out on precious daylight hours.
  • Enjoying the Nice Days
    • Pittsburgh is known for its fluctuating weather, so some days in the winter it can be freezing and the next day it may be in the 50s. On days that it is warm enough to bear going outside, I try to take some time and take a little walk. Even though it is still cold and I have to bundle up a little, just being outside really boosts my mood. Not only does the small amount of outside time help regulate my mood, but it is also a helpful reminder that the cold and darkness are not permanent and sunny days are ahead and to enjoy each moment along the way!

Everyone experiences the seasons differently, but these are just a few tips I have found for conquering the winter months! I’d love to hear if you have any other tips!

Do you find your mood worsening during the winter months? How do you manage the winter blues?

Loving Your Body

February 2, 2022 in Be Positive, Educate Yourself

How often have you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, “I need to change this” “I don’t like this” or “Why can’t I look like this instead?”  Trust me – you are not alone!

Especially during my middle school and high school years, I was completely obsessed with how I looked and wished I could change certain things about myself.  It got to the point that I was so critical of myself, I couldn’t stand to look at myself and lost all sense of what I truly looked like.  My therapist diagnosed me with body dysmorphia and gave me some tips to love myself – “flaws” and all!  Here are just some of the helpful tips she has had me working on over the past few years.

  • Avoid constantly weighing yourself – weight fluctuates so much throughout the day and chances are if you don’t step on the scale, you would not “see” the weight fluctuations when looking at yourself
  • Pick out pieces of yourself that you truly love – even focusing on seemingly simple things like eye color, smile, and dimples can boost self-confidence and image.
  • Imagine when you’re looking at yourself that you are seeing a stranger – oftentimes the things that we criticize about ourselves we wouldn’t criticize if a stranger had them, in fact, we may find the same features flattering on a stranger.
  • Be kind to yourself! Self-love takes WORK, but it is so worth it.  Everyone has days that they feel down, but remember one bad day does not define who you are as a person.  A positive attitude can go a very long way.

*This advice is solely meant as helpful tips and does not replace seeking a health care professional.  Please, see a mental health professional if you are experiencing similar issues.*

Although I still struggle with body image and body dysmorphia, pairing these tips with consistent therapy has worked wonders in my life. Now, I am able to recognize that even if I have bad days there is no reason tomorrow can’t be a better day. No one is perfect, but find comfort in being perfectly imperfect.

Have you experienced distortions of how you look? Do you have any tips to enable self-love in this regard? Why do you think body dysmorphia is a common experience?

Dealing with Holiday Blues

December 22, 2021 in Educate Yourself

The long-awaited holiday season can evoke so many emotions; joy, thankfulness, love, excitement, wonder – annnnd anxiety.

If you’re like me, you may be feeling guilty for not sharing the same joyous emotions that seem to be filling the air, but take comfort in knowing that it is okay to feel anxiety even when you feel the pressure to be joyous.  Emotions are not solitary, you can still feel the magic of Christmas even when anxiety is creeping inside.  Here are a few tips I have found to help me enjoy the holiday season even while battling anxiety.

Allow yourself to feel your emotions

Your anxiety is definitely not going to budge if you don’t allow yourself to feel it.  Take a few moments for yourself each day to take a deep breath and remember that your anxiety is a piece of you, not all of you.  With each breath you take remind yourself that you are more than your anxiety and you WILL conquer each day,

Enjoy the small moments

I find that part of my anxiety stems from worrying that I am not going to fully enjoy the holiday season, which in turn just causes more anxiety.  Rather than stressing about the holiday season as a whole, I try to just enjoy each small “magical” moment – even if I am still feeling anxious.  Something as simple as stringing up lights can make the most precious, enjoyable memories of the season.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have the perfect holiday season, just enjoy each moment as it comes.

Recognize that you can experience anxiety, joy, and other emotions at the same time

We all know that it is near impossible to turn off anxiety, even in the most important moments.  However, simply reminding yourself that you can still experience joy even with anxiety can go a long way.  Be gentle with yourself during this hectic time.  Don’t let a moment of anxiousness ruin a holiday experience. Recognize the anxiety, remember that you can still enjoy yourself even with anxiety, and make the most of each moment.

Please, be kind to yourself during this stressful time.  Chances are those close to you are also struggling, so don’t be afraid to reach out to loved ones for support.  This is the season for kindness and joy, and there are so many people out there who are rooting for you.  In fact, I am rooting for you!  We got this!

What kinds of emotions do you usually feel around the holiday season? What kind of emotions are you feeling now? During times that are meant to be happy, but you feel anxious, what do you do to feel better?