It happens to all of us, especially at this time of year! We feel a bit low, down in the dumps, life has lost its shine, and we just can’t feel the buzz. Usually we just tough it out and hope that soon we will feel lighter, brighter, and more excited about life. But sometimes this just doesn’t happen and we stay stuck. So if you’ve got the blues this winter, then read on!
First of all, when we feel low we often think ‘I shouldn’t be feeling like this’ or ‘I’ve got no reason to feel like this’. We tell ourselves we should be happy and grateful for all the good things we have. We feel we should be strong, take control and we try to ‘pull ourselves out of it’. So we feel guilty and ashamed for not being able to connect to the joy of life.
Then there is the question of is it depression or is it just feeling low? We can all feel low at times, because we are human, we react to things and situations. Sometimes we feel bright and upbeat, at other times we feel a bit glum and down in the dumps. So when is it ‘ just normal’ to feel low and nothing to worry about, even if it lasts for a while, and when is it something more than that?
IS IT THE BLUES OR DEPRESSION?
Depression is more than just having the blues. Depression comes as a package, a bundle of lots of other symptoms. Usually there is tiredness, exhaustion, and loss of motivation. We just can’t get going, can’t get interested and everything feels like a huge effort. We lose our ability to focus and concentrate and your head can feel like ‘it’s all over the place’.
We can feel anxious, as well as low, and be irritable. We are tearful at the slightest thing, or even crying uncontrollably. We can feel worthless to the point where we wonder ‘what’s the point of me being here’ or ‘ no one would miss me if I wasn’t here’. And then we feel guilty about that!
On the physical side, depression can steal your appetite, or make you overeat. Energy levels plummet and our movements slow down. Or the opposite: we become fidgety and restless, and can’t settle. Our sleep goes out the window or we want to sleep all the hours of the day. In other words, we lose balance, big time.
WHY DO I FEEL THIS WAY?
Lots of things are known to trigger depression:
- Certain medical conditions (eg hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes and arthritis)
- Being lonely
- Being in pain
- Not sleeping eg new parents
- Medications like beta blockers
Sometimes it’s easy to figure out why you are feeling depressed and other times it’s a mystery as to why it has arrived! But either way, there is lots you can do to help yourself.
CAN I DO ANYTHING TO HELP MYSELF?
So whether you are feeling low, got the winter blues or even if you are struggling with full blown depression, one thing is for sure : there is plenty you can do to help yourself.
Just one warning: some of the suggestions below are going to sound ‘ too good to be true’. Because they sound too simple to be effective. All I can say is this: SIMPLE IS massively SIGNIFCANT. The more you can build up your toolkit and the more you can empower yourself to ‘take action’, the more you can start to support your own recovery.
- Move. Exercise is a well-known to mood booster and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply walking will do the job! Getting moving has all sorts of incredible benefits which will support your energy levels, boost your brain endorphins, and give you back some contro
- Hydration, hydration, hydration…the truth is that most of us are slightly dehydrated, and simply drinking more fluids and getting super hydrated can really boost the body’s energy and mood boosting mechanisms.
- Get outside into the light! You don’t have to wait for the sun to come. Simple daylight will do the job. The part of our brain that produces serotonin needs daylight to kickstart it. Aim for at least 20 minutes every day.
- Get out into nature. Lots of studies now support the amazing healing and restorative benefits of being out in nature. It sort of ‘returns us to ourselves’. Things like forest bathing are now well-recognised therapies. But it doesn’t have to be so formal. It can just be a walk in your local park.
- Address the stress. None of us are immune to stress, and we can’t always control our exposure to stress. But what we absolutely can control is our response to stress. Not only that, we can practice learning how to deliberately relax, so that when we do get stressed, we don’t stay stuck in that stressed place.
- Sleep. Getting plenty of good quality shut eye is a huge part of the depression recovery toolkit. Protecting our sleep is the first step, so a few early nights, relaxing in the hour before you go to bed, sleeping in a dark cool room, and turning off the wifi, all come into the mix.
- Balance your blood sugars! Swinging blood sugar levels affect brain function, including the ability of the brain to make serotonin, to focus, to process, and to remember. What this boils down to is what you eat, and a good sugar detox/ healthy carb approach to nutrition is the starting point. In Suss your Sugar, Live your LIfe we really nail this stuff (www.drmargriet.com/online-coaching-programme), so look out for the next programme, if you want some help with this.
And don’t forget to fake it till you make it! When we are feeling low or depressed, we often lack motivation, we lose interest and our self-care goes out the window. But it traps you in a vicious circle, where the less you do, the less you feel like doing. And so you can spiral down. So to begin with, you have to fake it. This means you need to just start doing the recovery work, simply by going through the motions, Whether it resonates with you or not! Think of your ‘recovery work’ as a job. You could even write yourself a job description, or a daily ‘programme’.
So are you ready to kick the winter blues into touch? I hope you now have some ideas, tips and strategies how to BEAT THE WINTER BLUES.
Let’s kick it into touch! Let’s get it sorted! Let’s take action and take control!
Love, Margriet x