Mental Illness

How to Prepare for Winter with Depression

Yesterday was a very cold chilly day. A big reminder that summer is coming to an end, and fall/winter is on the way. A lot of people who suffer from depression find that their symptoms and general condition worsen in the winter. Myself included.

There are many reasons for this, cold weather that keeps us indoors, lack of sunshine, and sometimes the holidays can really affect your mental health.

Below is my list of things I am doing this year to try and lessen the effect winter will have on my depression.

  • Take vitamin D.

As the sun starts to shorten its appearance in the sky, we are less exposed to the sun’s rays which help our body produce vitamin D. This is a very important vitamin to have for your mental health. I personally use D-drops. I find them really easy to just drip onto a snack once a day.

  • Find ways to exercise inside.

Let’s be honest here, you are much less likely to go out for a run, or go to the gym when it’s cold and miserable outside. Instead of telling yourself you have to go, and then feeling bad when you just can’t, plan ahead. Go out for exercise when you can, but if you planned to exercise on a certain day and really don’t want to go outside when the time comes, you have a backup. Also, if you don’t already exercise regularly, I highly recommend it!

  • Plan to go outside on the nicer days.

It’s going to be cold of course, but some days are nicer than others during the winter. I find fresh air really helps me feel refreshed, but it’s hard going outside when it’s -30 degrees out! I have a dog, which forces me outside even in that horrible weather, but when I have to take her outside during the nicer days, I find I actually feel a bit better. If the sun is out, and it’s not super freezing cold, take a walk around the block, or up to the corner store.

  • Make an appointment with your Doctor (Therapist, psychiatrist, etc)

Speaking with a professional, especially if you’ve already been working with them, is a smart idea. Share with them your concerns about the effects of the winter on your mental health, and together you can come up with a strategy to keep your bad days to a minimum. It’s better to prevent these things rather than go to your Doctor halfway through the winter because you aren’t doing well.

  • Brush up on your coping strategies

If you have worked with a professional in the past and done certain therapies to help cope, make sure you remember what you learned and try to implement them more. I did CBT a couple years ago. And while I know it well and use it occasionally. I am going to read up on my notes again and get into the habit of actually writing my thought records.

  • Ask for help

If you have a trusted person in your life that you can depend on, tell them about your concerns. Ask them to help you keep on track with all of the above. My husband is so helpful, he will remind to do my thought records when I freak out, and I know that if I told him to try to get me to go outside more, he would.

  • Decorate!

This one is just for those who enjoy the holidays during the fall/winter. I know some really don’t like the holidays, and some don’t celebrate them all. But if you do, decorate, make the inside of your home look bright and cheery!

  • Get creative

Watching hours and hours of Netflix can get boring after a while, but when you don’t want to go outside, it’s hard to find things to do that will stimulate your brain. Finding ways to be creative is a wonderful indoor activity without looking at a screen. Colouring, painting, or making crafts and decorations are great, and you have a sense of accomplishment when you finish, that you just don’t have when you finish a series or movie on Netflix. This is why my fashion brand Tarapparel is actually helping my mental health as well as eventually earning me a living.

What strategies do you use to keep yourself healthy during the darker/colder months of the year? Which of these will you be trying?

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