I don’t know about you, but this time of year always feels a little depressing to me.
Fall is so beautiful and inspiring, while winter is just …cold.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians 4-6% of Americans suffer each winter with Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD. Another 10-20% of Americans suffer more mild depressive symptoms during the winter.
Symptoms include appetite changes, low energy, fatigue, irritability (who me?), feelings of hopelessness and trouble concentrating.
Outside of the whole ADHD deal, do any of these symptoms sound familiar?
While I am not sure I have enough symptoms to qualify for the diagnosis itself, I definitely need a little boost this time of year. I used to dread going back to work and school, so I took it upon myself do design a little winter attitude adjustment for all of us.
Reach Out To A Friend
Since so many of us feel this way in January, why not talk openly about it? Call a friend who you missed over the holiday season. Invite her out for coffee or lunch.
You could even schedule a shopping day – there are always great sales after the New Year. If you are on a tight budget, window shop. (I do this all the time, no shame here.)
I always feel better after I talk to one of my female/mom buddies. Comparing stories, laughing and reminiscing are food for the soul.
Need someone to talk to? I’m available, and I get it.
Seriously, get moving. Walk laps around your house while you put away laundry. Dance around while you clean the kitchen. Every step counts. You do not need to have a gym membership.
The great thing about exercise is it is a totally natural way to lift your mood. No drugs, stimulants or whacky chemicals involved. While you’re at it try some fun music. Music has been shown to lift your spirits just as well as exercise. Powerful combination is all I am saying.
If you are able, go to the gym or get moving at least 5 days a week in the winter. Don’t even consider it a resolution, just do it as a form of therapy. It will clear your mind of frustrations and lower your anxiety.
The first 10 minutes of exercise are the hardest, after that you are in a groove.
Research has shown that most of us are not getting enough sleep. Not only does this aggravate your cognitive issues (with ADHD) but it also impacts the hormones in your body that regulate your metabolism and energy.
I suggest trying to get 7-9 hours of shuteye per night. Going to bed on time is a huge part of maintaining a routine.
Pick a bedtime, and do not go more than 30 minutes outside of it. Do the same with your waking time if possible. I promise you will feel better and so will your children.
Also, do yourself a favor and unplug at night. Maybe it is the light; maybe it is just the stimulation of the interwebs – whatever the reason devices seem to affect the sleep quality of humans.
What are you doing reading this at 10 pm? Go to bed!
There is nothing more wonderful than snuggling into a big chair with a cup of coffee (or wine) with a good book. I admit this scene rarely plays out in my life with a husband and an 8 year old following me around. Sigh.
Reading is a mental escape, an adventure for your brain. As women with ADHD we thrive on novelty and exploring new things. Use this to occupy your mind with something other than the winter blues.
For ideas about what to read check out my Pinterest board Recommended Reading. I also enjoy Amazon.com for book reviews and shopping.
create a healthy meal plan
In the winter it is so tempting to just lie around and eat comfort foods. Things like macaroni and cheese or meat and potatoes. Or maybe that’s just me?
Make an attempt to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. They say the more colorful your diet is the more nutrients you are consuming. Create a rainbow on your plate.
All the extra nutrients are good for your body and your mind. Avoid excess starchy carbohydrates. They cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which makes it even harder to concentrate.
The same goes for sugar. I enjoy a cookie or a muffin as much as anyone – but I know that having just one cookie is very hard. Taking one bite of a muffin is even harder. Just get rid of all the stuff that is not necessary for your body. Thank me later.
Create a binder or a Pinterest board of your family’s favorite recipes. It’s actually fun!
Enlist Some Help
Try a light box. I will admit here I have never purchased one of these. But if soaking up some rays and getting a little vitamin D helps with a mid-winter slump I see no problem with it.
The other thing you might want to consider is speaking with your primary care physician, or a licensed psychologist if you feel like your symptoms are affecting your ability to function.
Winter is cold and long – but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The ice will melt, the trees will bloom again and you will soon be enjoying more temperate weather.
This is the perfect time to regroup and take care of you.
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