Updated: Jul 12
It’s not uncommon for people to struggle at this time of year. If you find yourself living in Minnesota like me, or a similar location, we don’t have a whole lot of sunshine and it’s not uncommon for the air to be so cold that it hurts your teeth. This is the time of year that seasonal depression (or even just cabin fever) is in full swing and people are itching to be able to spend some time outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Is this normal?
Common symptoms for people who struggle during the colder/darker months can include: oversleeping, fatigue, overeating/weight gain/craving comfort food, loss of interest in things that previously brought joy, feelings of hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts.
When you are struggling (at any point in life or the year) doing even just basic things can take all of the energy you have for a day. Keep in mind that doing something is better than doing nothing. Even if that thing feels minuscule to you, it's not. So if you can’t do your whole normal routine, pick just one or two things that you know make you feel good.
For example, if you can’t shower, wash your face.
If you can’t eat breakfast, drink a glass of water.
Below you will find a list of ideas to help you get started with caring for yourself when things are hard. While this list is long, it is of course not everything you can do to take care of yourself. Think of it just as a place to start if you are struggling to come up with your own ideas. Please don’t try to do everything on this list in one day if you are struggling. Choosing just one or two to try is a great place to start.
I cannot stress this enough. You may choose something from this list and find that you aren’t able to follow through with completing it.
Being compassionate with yourself if you don’t complete the task you set out to do is the absolutely best and most important thing you can do.
The Something List
Brush your hair
Brush your teeth
Drink a glass of water
Change your clothes (even from one pair of pajamas to another)
Wash your face
Pluck your eyebrows
Go for a walk
Make your bed
Diffuse essential oils
Text a friend
List 3 things you’re grateful for
Turn on music you like
Take your vitamins (especially vitamin D!)
Sit next to an open window
Eat (literally anything that you can stomach or sounds good)
Wipe down your counters
Hang out with your pet
Paint your nails
Do your make up
Wash your hair
Fill up your emotional support water bottle with fresh water
Look through your favorite photos
Turn on your favorite show
Change your sheets
Compliment something about yourself
1-5 minutes of mindfulness
Write down the emotion you are experiencing in this moment
A Win is a Win.
You might find that after you do one or two, you actually have motivation to do more than you thought you could. You might also find that the best thing you can do for yourself is to give yourself understanding for simply surviving.
What’s your favorite way to take care of yourself when you are struggling?
What would you add to this list?
If you find yourself in a place with long, hard winters, what makes them easier for you?
Brooke Halliday, MA, LPCC
Owner of Redbird Counseling