I don’t know what it is about the winter. Maybe it’s the dark. Or the bitter cold. Up until the New Year, I was able to avoid night depression and daily panic attacks. I don’t know how—usually winter is a really tough time for me. I guess I managed to distract myself enough that I didn’t think about the darkness.
But when January came, the nights seemed longer. Sometimes sleepless. Often unbearable. It’s not even like there has to be anything specifically wrong, because if you asked me what it was, I couldn’t tell you. But all of a sudden, I just couldn’t breathe. And that’s a scary feeling.
For those of you who also from seasonal anxiety and depression, it may seem helpless. Like there’s no way to escape the crippling fear. Maybe there isn’t. But I try to avoid it if at all possible. Here are a few things that work for me:
1. Keep the lights on.
Winter has a tendency to make people sad because the days are so short. It can be hard to be positive and happy when it gets dark around 5 PM. If you’re awake and it’s dark outside, don’t stay in a dim room. Your laptop screen isn’t bright enough to keep your spirits up.
2. Watch Netflix.
Over the years, I have found there is solace in escaping into the world of a TV show. It makes you forget about all the things that you’re worried about. My current stress reliever is Friends. (Thank God it’s finally on Netflix!) Friends and How I Met Your Mother are especially good choices because they are lighthearted. The friendships between the characters make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
3. Take melatonin.
For those sleepless nights: Go to Walmart and grab a bottle of melatonin. No prescription needed. Melatonin is totally natural—it helps regulate your sleep cycle. My doctor recommended that I take it every night before bed. Taking it about a half hour before desired bedtime makes you just tired enough to drift off. If you plan something to do during that half hour, you won’t have time to let yourself get upset.
Yes, I know. You’ve heard this a million times. But when you write a thought down, you take away its power in your mind. You don’t have to write a whole journal entry—try a list. Jot down a few things that are bothering you. I once heard this saying I really like: “Take your problem. Can you fix it? If so, fix it and let it go. If not, just let it go. There is nothing you can do.”