Describing it as feeling down in the dumps at this time of year is an understatement compared with the depression and disinterest in doing anything I’ve felt since the temperatures dropped and the sun started setting at 6:30 p.m. Getting out of bed has been downright impossible most mornings, and up until this particular January, I’ve never felt the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, quite like this year has thrown down.
The clinical suggestions for treating SAD are phototherapy [light therapy], medication and psychotherapy – however, my dose of those three coping strategies is just not cutting it. Here are five ways to light a fire under your endorphins and get you out of a seasonal funk.
1. Recruit a “text boost” buddy.
You know that friend, the one who is allowed to text you at all hours of the day and night with no judgment? Get her [or him] and put into action a plan to send one humorous meme and one motivating meme each morning. Simply knowing someone is thinking about you could be enough to put a little smile on your face and, hopefully, ease you out of bed.
2. Let the light in.
Manage the illumination in your room and get a handy light timer, so in the event you’re feeling especially weary, the timer will kick in and brighten up your room before the sun has risen to do the job for you. I recently spoke with Heather Kellogg, studio owner and creative director at Yellow Aura Yoga in Geneva, who shared what she does in the morning to encourage energy. “Every morning, the first thing I do is open all of my blinds to get as much light in as I can, [especially] when I’m working from home alone all day.”
3. Instead of hitting snooze, hit diffuse.
Place a small essential oil diffuser next to your alarm and, when you hit snooze, activate the aromatherapy to rouse your senses and, hopefully, bring you up and out of your warm blankets. Citrusy oils offer a fresh and rejuvenating scent that hits the olfactory sensors, which then sends a message to the brain’s limbic system [emotions and memory] and the neo-cortex [conscious thought, language]. If a fruity scent is not your cup of tea, Idaho balsam fur, peppermint, bergamot and rosemary aromas also can give you an energy boost.
4. Get your blood flowing.
Several members in our household lack the early-bird gene, so in an attempt to get everyone up and at ’em, I often resort to a quick morning mini-massage. We’re hard-wired to want touch, plus it’s a wonderful way to communicate with one another – a gentle touch is a nice “I love you” to start your day off right or get you remotivated to tackle a task midday. Don’t have any roommates? Invite a furry cat or dog into your life by way of your local animal shelter. They give the best morning hugs, snuggles and kisses.
5. Create a morning playlist.
Focused on bringing healing and kindness to her community, yoga studio owner Kellogg also spoke about her morning routine of cueing up a few energy-specific playlists. “Adding movement is super helpful [to get you going in the morning],” Kellogg said. “ I also do at least three Sun Salutation A to get fresh blood to the brain.” Sun Salutation A includes 11 fluid movements such as mountain pose, forward folds, upward and downward facing dog, and an upward salute that stretches your arms up and elongates the back. A quick internet search will reveal easy and quick Sun Salutation A tutorials.
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Elizabeth Rago is an Illinois writer and author living in St. Charles. Her online community, “The Modern Domestic Woman,” tells the stories of women around the world, as it homes in and celebrates the simple everyday things that make us tick. You can find more of her writing at themoderndomesticwoman.com. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.