Seasonal depression

How to Beat the January Slump

In my most recent newsletter (remember, you can sign up here!), I wrote about the January Slump. I've often said that January (and furthermore, February) is my least favorite month. The reasons can be summed up in this: The holidays are over, the weather is usually atrocious, and it feels like it will be forever before spring arrives. 

I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, or seasonal depression) every year. It doesn't matter that I'm not a huge fan of the sun or of summer in general; I still end up deficient of vitamin D and hating the winter months because of it. The January Slump is just another building block of "ugh" on top of that already pre-existing weirdness. 

I want to share my tips for beating the January Slump. I'm not an expert, by any means, but these are things I do to try and take care of myself whenever January rolls around. 

1. Practice self-care. 

Self-care doesn't have to be what it is often advertised as (bubble baths, binge watching TV shows, eating your favorite food); it's incredibly personal. Self-care, for me, is as simple as reading a book, learning a new hobby (I've taken up cross stitch recently), or lying in bed listening to music. I love these tips from Sarah at Lavender Life as well

2. Use a Happy Lamp. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: buying a Happy Lamp was the best decision I ever made in my entire life. What is a Happy Lamp? It's a lamp that mimics the sun, basically. So if you live in a place (like me) where we have nearly 100% cloud cover from November through May, you miss out on a lot of sunlight--which helps your body produce vitamin D, which helps you have energy and reduce the chance of depression. Yeah, a Happy Lamp is... amazing. You can buy one here. I keep mine on my desk (definitely not Instagram worthy!) and turn it on whenever I'm writing, reading, or just sitting around. 

3. Exercise. 

As I said in my newsletter, recommending exercise is always opening a can of worms. Some people just aren't capable of exercise: it takes up time they don't have or they're dealing with physical issues that prevent exercise. I totally get it. For the past year, I just haven't had time to exercise in the strictest sense of the word. I also just didn't have the motivation. But now that Forrest is older, we can take walks in the park and I don't have to worry about him getting too cold. You don't have to run a marathon or take up bodybuilding; adding in a few walks a day, jogging up a flight of stairs, doing an exercise video in the evening... little things can raise your endorphins and help you feel less depressed and more motivated. 

4. Focus on your goals. 

Have you set any serious goals for 2017? When things are getting hard (the weather is bad, the month just won't end, you're still recovering from December splurges, etc.), focus on what you want to achieve. Set small, manageable tasks for yourself so you can get through the month. Even if those tasks are things like "I'll dress nice for work every day this week" or "I'll cook myself a nice supper instead of eating a packet of saltines and a banana."