Hello, Ashley here coming at ya from Moab Coffee Roasters. It’s 13° outside and I’m frozen. I wanted to share about my struggles with SAD with you all, but to be clear: this is in no way intended to be a guide, medical advice, or solutions for you.
Winter is knocking on our door and as much as I am trying to keep a welcoming attitude towards it, I can feel the SAD creeping in. I’m not talking about sadness, I’m talking Seasonal Affective Disorder. Each year as the sun dwindles and the cold moves in, there’s a chill that infects my mind and body and leaves me majorly depressed until the warmness of spring is finally upon us. In previous years I have done my best to combat it; remaining active, changing my attitude towards it, using supplements, medication, creating myself a cocoon and never leaving my bed, and probably like every homeopathic remedy you can google and yet- I still find myself struggling. This year though, I am determined to not just survive winter- but thrive in it.
I’ve created a game plan that I think will greatly increase my chances of enjoying this winter: listening to my body. It seems simple, but I assure you- it is not.
Like Chris Traeger, my body is finely tuned, like a microchip. I’ve learned over the years what my body needs to be healthy, happy, and active. The sun plays a major role in my body’s ability to function, more specifically, my Vitamin D levels have correlated with my feelings of depression. (Get a blood test if you think your microchip has been compromised.)
Currently, I’m taking a regime of vitamins that I feel as though are working for me and giving me some extra energy now that my supplies are dwindling. I take vitamins D3 + B12 as well as an iron supplement after my breakfast in the morning and maybe it’s the placebo effect, but either way: I feel pretty dang good considering. I also invested money into quality base layers, socks, and outerwear so I could be outside without shivering or feeling the cold, I swear by the brand Patagonia, they make quality, long-lasting clothing backed with a lifetime warranty- well worth the money. A couple days ago, I purchased a fleece liner for my sleeping bag to give it an extra cozy feeling and it increases the warmth by 15° which is dope! The byproduct of these investments has been insurmountable. I wake up in the morning warm and cozy, I don’t have to jump up, throw layers on or start the van, which makes a big difference on the rest of my day when I don’t start off freezing. When I do get up, I put on my layers and am warm and bundled and not dreading going outside because I’m prepared. These incremental changes all add up and make a measurable difference at the end of the day. I know this because I went from not wanting to leave the bed all day, to getting up and hiking or exploring regardless of the 19° weather.
I have committed myself to going for a hike every day now that the cold is here. I know my body needs and craves it, I just have to battle my mind to get it moving. Another part of listening to my body is ignoring my minds will. Depression wants me to stay in bed and let the winter and life pass me by, but my body wants to move, explore, and feel the seasons, I must let my body win this battle. So far, I have been doing really well keeping this commitment to myself and I’m certain the effects have been noticeable. What helps me, is to have a going list of all the different ways I can go outside and move my body during the day, and just picking the one that feels best for that day. Maybe it’s only an hour walk around town, or a quick 2 mile hike to an overlook, whatever my body needs that day, I do that. It’s not easy, it is a fierce battle, but this year, I’m determined to let my body win the SAD battle.
Something really weird that I’ve done for the past 2 years that I swear by is kind of a trick I play on my SAD. The shortest day of the year is December, 21, every day leading up to that gets shorter and shorter, until December 22, every day gets longer and longer. I am usually so pre-occupied enjoying the holiday festivities, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that my depression doesn’t have time to fully settle in, so by the time my SAD is in full-swing, it’s like January 2nd lol. I try to focus my mind on the glass being half-full, and that every day stays light out for longer and longer and that spring and warmth are just right around the corner! I don’t have any idea why or how this works, but I offer it to you to try and see if you can trick your own brain. Good luck!
No matter what this winter brings and how I get through it, I will know that I tried my best and that will definitely be enough for me. I’ve struggled with depression my entire life, so I know I can make it through this season too. If you feel the depression start to creep in, know that you aren’t alone and that you’re feelings are 100% valid and real. Reach out if you’re starting to feel depressed, ask loved ones to keep an eye on you, communicate when you’re struggling, and most importantly: listen to your body.
If you’re struggling with feelings of suicide, seek help immediately. Click here for the phone number or to chat with someone who wants to help + listen.
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