It’s getting cold outside, and the daylight hours are getting shorter. While the world around us changes, some of us may start feeling changes within us as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately abbreviated as SAD, is a type of depression that fluctuates with the change of seasons. While some people feel more depressed in the summer months, many people with this disorder find that the fall and winter months send them into that low place, whether due to colder temperatures, less daylight, or general end-of-year exhaustion. Chances are, if you’ve experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder, you’re not excited about this change. But never fear!
After years of coping with this disorder myself, I’ve curated a list of some goofy, cute ways to combat that overwhelming feeling of existential dread for anyone feeling SAD this fall.
1. Ditch the SAD Light
If your search history is anything like mine, you may have seen ads for SAD lights on social media and beyond. These are lamps that are supposed to boost your mood by mimicking sunlight and triggering serotonin production. All you have to do is sit in its glow for 20-30 minutes per day and BOOM… depression cured!
They’re a complete waste of money. All they do is blind you temporarily. Save your pennies and invest in something that will bring you actual happiness. Like a sex toy. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Masturbate Regularly
I know you’re probably thinking, “Kate! How crass can you be?” The answer: very. But that’s beside the point. Sometimes when you’re in the depths of despair, you have to resort to the basest of activities for a shred of joy. As it turns out, human beings have built-in happiness buttons so we should absolutely utilize them.
Of course, I’m not advocating for constant masturbation. You have to get out of bed sometime. But don’t feel ashamed if diddling yourself is the only thing making you feel better this time of year. Light a candle, put on a Lo-Fi playlist, and diddle away.
3. Be Cozy
Speaking of lighting candles and putting on sleepy music, a great way to claw your way out of depression (at least for a few moments) is to sink into it. Block out the cold and create a safe place to feel like shit. You’re going to feel like that anyway. You might as well be comfy.
Make your bed or couch or papasan chair into a nest. Built it with fuzzy blankets and soft pillows. Keep the lights low and avoid harsh fluorescents. Prepare a hot beverage whether it’s coffee or tea. You don’t even have to drink it. Just hold it between your hands for maximum coze. Put on a movie and fall asleep (but put down the hot beverage first).
4. Don’t Get Too Cozy
Listen. The depression nest is great. It’s everything you want and more. But you still have to venture out into the dark and scary world sometimes. I know, I know. It’s cold outside and people are awful. Whether it’s to go to work or buy groceries, you do, unfortunately, have to go out and interact with people. Not because they’re good. Not because it’s fun. Purely because they have stuff you need: food and money. Fuel for your body and fuel for your online shopping habit (clicking “Buy Now” produces serotonin, I hear).
The solution is to try to take the cozy with you. Put a nice heavy coat over your favorite sweatpants/hoodie combo and top it off with a cute beanie. Stay bundled at work with long-sleeved shirts and sweaters. Once your day is done, reward yourself with plenty of time in the depression nest. You deserve it.
5. Talk to Your Doctor
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mental illness, and, like any illness, it needs treatment. If you’ve already been given this diagnosis, great. You’re halfway to feeling okay. The other half is actually doing what the doctor says. Accustom yourself to the idea that medication might be in order, even if only temporarily. They can be expensive, but programs like GoodRx and Kroger Rx Savings offer drastically lower prices at pharmacies across the United States.
If you haven’t been formally diagnosed but suspect you may have SAD, reach out to a physician as soon as possible. Of course, going to the doctor and paying for medications every month isn’t financially feasible for everyone at a moment’s notice. Don’t even get me started on the cost of an initial doctor’s visit without insurance. It’s outrageous. And if you decide to go the Dr. Google route like so many without insurance are forced to, you have to wade through information, trying to find answers to questions you may not even know.
The advice we get from the internet can be comical, but this is a serious illness. If it were cancer, I hope you’d find a way to fight it. Depression can be every bit as life-threatening so I hope you find a way to fight it, too.
So there are your fun, silly ways to overcome Seasonal Affective Disorder, although the truth is there’s no overcoming it. You can simply learn to live with and manage it. Find joy where you can and go easy on yourself. Stay warm until the sun comes back out. And if it gets too bad, tell someone. Find treatment resources here or if it’s an emergency, call 911. You deserve to feel better.