Self Love Rituals to keep SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) at Bay
Prepare to learn to love yourself extra
So many folks experience Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) to varying degrees. Some of us aren't diagnosed, but experience all kinds of symptoms that point in that direction, (exhaustion, glum, lethargy, depression, cabin fever, avoidance, overeating). I don't like to say “suffer from”, because language is powerful, and there's enough suffering in the world.
But, once you're in it, much like any other form of mental wellness challenge, we don’t feel like we can get out of it easily or without help.
The upside of SAD is that we know it’s coming. Winter is inevitable and we can prepare our mind and body for the shift, (instead of what most of us do..create anxiety and impending doom waiting for it.)
Our habits and rituals can add to our feeling of exhaustion and depression, just as wellness habits and rituals can help us avoid those sad SAD experiences altogether.
Most folks are fine until about November, and then it hits—total exhaustion no matter how long you slept for. Sometimes we have such low energy by mid-afternoon, we can't keep our heads up. We know we should exercise, but walking out of the building and into the dark just increases exhaustion.
Many of us gain weight around this time as well, because in the midst of all this the body is craving carbs in an attempt to get energized. Did you know that quieting the mind and moving slowly can help energize you without feeling like you're pushing yourself? Just knowing yoga and meditation can help us through these moments, can be a huge asset.
So let's get comfy with starting new habits and rituals that you can introduce or may already practice. And learn how to set intentions easily to keep the winter blues away.
1) Exercise for Happy Feels
Often the last thing you want to do when the weather gets cold is exercise, but keep working out. Any form of raising your heart rate for 30 minutes a day helps to ease depression and raises your vibration!
We release all the feel-good chemicals when we move our bodies; endorphins like serotonin and dopamine. The easy access depression armor.
2) Keep an Open Heart
Fill that heart chakra up! Sit quietly and visualize the space in your heart center filling up with green glowing light. Ask to be shown moments and memories where your heart felt full, or you experienced joy. Your first love, a child's laugh. Cultivating that deep sense of love can shine light in the dark, cold, dreary days of winter.
Take loving action. Surround yourself with people you love that lift you up. Listen to music that warms your soul. Go to yoga classes or jiu jitsu after work, even if you’re feeling a little tired. Some yoga poses, meditations, and sound baths are actually designed to aid in opening your heart chakra. They allow you to relax, feel revitalized, and take in the collective healing energy in the room.
And remember, you are not alone in your SAD struggles. When you attend holistic classes or even discussions online, you are with your tribe. Humans adapt to new behaviors easier in a group, find a group or start one and grow!
And even if you’re solo, I find a quiet space, even in my car and visual something that immediately brings me joy, like a memory of my child’s face when they were younger and immediately cracks my heart chakra wide open.
Using the heart charka blend can also help!
3) Sound is a Mood Lifter
Music is just one more thing that affects your senses. Listening to beach songs from last summer can remind you of the sun beating on your face. There are many modalities for sound healing for therapy, including guided meditations, singing bowl sound baths, and music and binaural beats.
Pro Tip/; For easing the symptoms of depression, listening to Binaural Beats with alpha, delta, or theta music can offer the following benefits: Deeply relaxed state, Improved mood, Improved motivation, Improved sleep cycle, Increased focus, Reduced anxiety
4) Meditate to Combat the SAD feels
Mediation is a beautiful way to center yourself. When life is stressful or your mind is racing, you can always turn to meditation. It’s also accessible to everyone because you can do it anywhere. All you need to do is find a quiet, comfortable space, close your eyes, and simply breathe. Check out Tara Brach and her Rain Meditation for a great start!
5) Practice Gratitude and Shift your Mindset
Having a morning and nighttime routine that’s dedicated to gratitude is an amazing way to boost your self-love. And all you need is a journal to start. When you wake up every morning and each night before you sleep, write down three things for which you’re grateful. It’s a beautiful way to honor yourself and your life. It’s a perfect time to say thank you to your body!
6) Surround Yourself with Joy
Wherever you spend your time, create an environment you absolutely love. Some of my favorite things to surround myself with are fresh flowers, art, pictures of people I love, salt lamps, essential oils, and inspiring books. It’s an act of self-love when you are in a comfortable environment full of the things that bring you joy. When you can smile by just looking around, you’re practicing self-love!
Start with one room, create a space, a little honey hole that is a reflection of your joy. You will see how your love grows!
7) Yoga and other Mindful Movement for Depression
Moving your body in a mindful way is much different than exercising or working out. Words are powerful. Working out can feel arduous or a chore. Mindful movements are healing and a gift of celebration to be in this soul vessel. Ask you body what it needs. Even walking the dog can be mindful. Enjoying the connection, looking at the sky, the flora and fauna, the present moment beauty.
Find a way to move that makes both your body and mind feel good. Maybe a hike or a bike ride? If you haven’t found your mindful movement of choice, keep looking, your body will thank you.
8) Plan a spiritual based getaway
Creating a practice of having a sun getaway in the winter can be a game changer. A healthy blast of vitamin D and the taste of freedom that comes with knowing we can get restful sleep is the respite we need to stay high vibe..
An even better idea, if your goal is to honor your highest self, is a wellness retreat. Boozie girls weekends are always fun, until you get home and feel worse than when you left. Taking a few days to eat clean, do daily meditations, hikes and yoga, get out in nature and have conversations focused on healing and rejuvenation will be life
We need to be good to ourselves through the autumn and winter months (duh, all year round). Do all the things we never have time to do when the weather is nice. Nourish our bodies with good foods, and spend time with people we deeply care about. Take part in some soul-nurturing groups/getaways throughout the season. Get outside, even if it’s damn cold. Move your body when it is too cold outside. Learn a new hobby and fall in love with it. Drink warm tea under a blanket.
These months aren’t always easy, but offering ourselves an extra dose of self-love can make a big difference in how we not only manage them but thrive in them!
By: Tara O'Brien