If you’ve ever experienced seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, then you probably know just how difficult it is to actually get anything done and be productive.
If you’re not familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, it is a type of depression that is related to a change in this season.
Mayo Clinic says that SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. They also share that if you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, which sap your energy and make you feel moody. The reason this is seasonal is because symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer.
From my understanding, this arises because it gets darker a lot earlier during the wintertime, so it feels just a bit more gloomy. And in addition, people start feeling extra lonely during the holiday season if they’re already feeling lonely and/or have experienced a loss of a loved one.
If you are experiencing this, I really do understand that when you are feeling this way, it is so difficult to get anything done, and then you start feeling guilty and shaming yourself for not being productive, which in turn causes you to get even less done. #iykyk
That being said, this blog post is going to walk you through five tips to help you be more productive when you are experiencing the holiday blues, because these are things that will actually help you navigate through and help manage the symptoms.
I do have an important disclaimer before we get into post. I am not a doctor. If you are feeling led to see a doctor for this, please see a doctor. These are simply some things that have helped me and others through this kind of experience.
In addition, it’s important to mention that I did not include scripture or prayer in these tips, but I do want you to know that those are honestly the number one thing to do. I mention scripture or prayer in just about every blog post, so if you’ve ever tuned into the podcast or read a blog post, then you already know how important I truly believe and know it to be.
But if this is your first first experience with them, then I just want to make sure you know that I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the number one way to navigate seasonal depression or any depression is with Jesus. It is with scripture, prayer, and praise. I talk about these a lot in other episodes, and I even explain how to use scripture, prayer and praise to fight those battles in addition to some other incredible tips.
I say all of this to say that in this blog post, we’re getting very tangible and practical, but I just wanted to make sure that I expressed the importance of learning how to biblically fight your battles.
If you want to hear more about spiritual tools and biblically working through heaviness or trying times, then I’ve got three different episodes for you to check out after this one.
The first one is episode 42, which is titled 5 Steps to Biblically Work Through Feelings of Heaviness, Discouragement, and Disappointment.
The next one is episode four, which is about How To Trust God and Move Forward in the Valleys of Life and Business.
Then we’ve got episode two, which is 5 Reasons You Might be Self-Sabotaging and How to Biblically Stop It.
Definitely check out those episodes after this one. I know you’ll gain so much from them.
But now that those episodes are in your mental podcast queue, let’s go ahead and dive into tip number one.
Tip #1 Get as much sunlight as possible
The very first way you can be more productive when you are experiencing this is to get as much light as possible.
The reason for this is because when sunlight actually enters your eyes, it stimulates the part of your retina that then cues your brain to produce a hormone called serotonin.
Serotonin is actually associated with boosting your mood and plays a role in regulating that and also regulating your emotion and appetite, and digestion.
As you can see, this is actually very, very, very important. And because it gets so much darker so much earlier in the day, it becomes even more important to get as much light as possible. You can do this by going to take walks throughout the day, taking breaks, or just getting outside.
And one of my favorite things to do is that I love to go outside immediately when I first wake up. I love to go walk my dog and feel the sun on my face. Maybe this isn’t possible for you, and I totally get that, but do your best to open the blinds as soon as you wake up because that is going to help you wake up.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include oversleeping, sleeping too much and exhaustion. So, the more light that you bring into your day-to-day life and the more you go outside, the better chance you will have to boost your mood.
Now as a side note, something that I really, really love is something called a dawn simulator or a sunrise alarm clock. I actually like to use an alarm clock instead of my phone because the sunrise alarm clock that I have actually wakes me up with light instead of the blaring noise from my phone. The alarm clock also has the capability to use sound like birds chirping, or streams of water, which is really nice.
But the reason I got it is that it will mimic the sun and gradually get lighter. That being said, this stimulates that serotonin a little bit earlier. You start waking up a little bit more peacefully than you would if you just did that blaring alarm on your phone.
Tip #2 – Do something fun every day
If you do something fun every day, you’ll actually get to be a lot more present and a lot more focused when you are getting work done. And again, it’ll actually boost your mood, so you aren’t feeling like, “Ugh, oh my goodness, I just don’t like life right now. I just don’t like this day.”
This will actually help boost your mood and if you do something fun every single day, again, you are just going to be a happier, more joyful person all around, which means you will wind up getting things done and just be more productive, more clear and more focused when you are working.
How can you do something fun?
You can spend time on your hobbies. If you don’t have a hobby, start a new one. Find a new one, or do more of what you already love to do.
For me, this looks like swing dancing or going dancing, or reading fiction books.
I love doing stuff like that. I also love ax throwing, going to escape rooms, and playing pool. I love those kinds of activities, and I found that when I am proactively making sure that I am bringing these activities into my life, I am just much happier all around. I’m more present and I’m more focused.
That being said, I highly recommend making sure you do something fun every day. That doesn’t mean you have to go to an escape room every single day though (LOL). Like I said, another one of my favorite things to do is read fiction books! This is a great “fun” thing for me to do every day. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate.
There are so many things that you can do if you do not have something in mind, so start a new hobby and just see how that goes.
Tip #3 Prioritize Social Activities
Sometimes tip number two and tip number three can go together.
For example, if you’re doing something fun, maybe you’re doing it with a friend. Maybe that’s not every day though!
So, tip number three is prioritizing social activities.
This is also important because, for one, it’s going to help boost your mood. And number two, it’s going to help you express how you’re feeling. Relationships are super important and we are meant to be in a community.
So, that being said, here are some ways that you can actually prioritize social activities.
1-Get Connected With a Church
If you are not in a church, get connected with a church. Try visiting one until you find your home! A little tip here…
If you really want to find your church home, I highly recommend going to one church that you enjoy consistently multiple weeks in a row. Try to meet at least one new person every time you visit! This helped me a ton when I was actively looking for a home church.
If you’re already connected with a church, join a small group.
If you’re already in a small group, actually take the time to share what’s going on with them and or schedule some time to hang out with them outside of the small group. Get to know them outside of what you’re already doing with the church.
2-Call a Family Member or Friend Daily
Talk to someone for just 20 minutes! It doesn’t have to be the same person, but make sure that you are actively doing something like that to stay connected.
3-Find an Accountability Partner
Maybe you and your accountability partner just decide you want to do something fun every week. Do that with them!
4-Volunteer or participate in community service
Maybe you want to volunteer at the animal shelter, or maybe you want to volunteer at the homeless kitchen. Maybe that’s something that is fun for you, but also a way for you to get involved in your community and prioritize being social. And the really beautiful thing about this is that oftentimes when we are helping others, that often helps us, and boosts our mood because we are meant to help others and we are meant to serve.
That’s how God made us.
So, of course that is also going to boost our mood so we are able to focus more when we sit down to get stuff done.
Tip #4 – Movement
Just like with other forms of depression, exercise can also help alleviate SAD. Now, outdoor exercise may be most helpful for relieving SAD symptoms because you’re getting that sunlight (which boosts serotonin levels, remember?).
But if you can’t exercise outside because it’s too cold, snowy, icy, or rainy, try using a treadmill, stationary bike, or an elliptical machine, if you have one. Go to a gym nearby or just do some body movements inside. Do some strength training using your body weight.
Or, if you’re like me, a really fun way to get some movement in when it is raining outside, you can dance! But if that is not your thing, get a fitness app or something on your TV and follow a workout that way.
Tip #5 Embody Gratitude
This one is so important. In fact, I did an entire podcast episode on this one, and that is to practice and embody gratitude. Gratitude is so important for boosting your mood. It actually helps you feel more positive. It helps you just improve your health, and helps you build strong relationships. There are so many incredible things when it comes to embodying gratitude.
Now, I want you to notice how I said, “embody gratitude” instead of, “feeling grateful.” There is a difference, and I talk all about this difference in episode 45, which is titled 3 Ways to Embody Gratitude When Life and Business Get Hard.
This tip will help you be more productive when you are experiencing that seasonal depression, or SAD, because embodying gratitude is going to be a way for you to actually fight against that, overcome that and navigate those symptoms to where you are fully embodying gratitude instead of embodying this depression that you might be experiencing.
All of that to say, that concludes the 5 tips to help you be more productive when you are experiencing seasonal depression.
I really hope this blessed you.
If you have any questions or you just want to let me know that you’ll be implementing these tips, please join our Facebook group. I absolutely love to interact with you over there.
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I can’t wait to see you in my inbox and inside the Facebook group. So much love to you!