I Wrote Today! : Tips on Battling Seasonal Depression for Writers

I wrote today!!!

Finally. It’s been months since I’ve even looked at my novel. Since those warm October days I spent sewing Halloween costumes, Election Day and my play’s debut, to all of my kids’ club activities that go into overdrive between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and, of course, the endless mountain of tasks and to-dos that reign supreme between the holidays and the end of the year, there’s been zero time for writing. I always think that when January 1st hits I’ll have some endless bounty of time to indulge myself in the universe I created, and am creating, but that’s¬† not real life is it? There’s illness that decides to sink its evil clutches into your sinuses, cleaning up the mess accumulated over holiday vacation (haha that’s such a cute name for it), and that magical return to club activities for my kids…it wasn’t long before I found myself Netflix and chilling alone when I really had so much to do.

Now the skies are perpetually grey, and all of the requisite time constraints seem to be lifting while the world goes into a mutually agreed upon hibernation, I’m just feeling…blah. It’s like my get-up-and-go had been completely stolen from me. What the heck? Now that I’ve got the time, where’d my mojo go?

Enter Seasonal Depression. Between the lack of sunlight, and the weather induced cabin fever, it’s incredibly common to find yourself battling the winter blues. As a person already pre- disposed to depression, its no stranger in my life. As a person who spent almost an entire year drowning in depression, I’ve decided to fight it. Here’s how:

  1. Permission to rest: It might sound silly to give yourself permission for anything, but you are the only boss of you there is. I had run myself ragged during the last few weeks of the year, and as such, I did get a pretty nasty cold pretty early in the new year. Instead of playing my usual game of working myself until I was too sick to move, I decided to acknowledge that I was tired, and sick. Then I gave myself permission to rest. I turned down invitations, I ordered take-out, and I only did laundry while the kids were at school (okay I was really backed up, so there was no way around this). You know what? It was awesome. I got better more quickly, and I felt good about myself.
  2. Turn off the TV: Once I started feeling better, I made a commitment to myself that I wasn’t going to leave the television on as background noise like I used to. It’s amazing how much time gets sucked into watching the last few seconds of an episode, or lingering over some on-screen interaction. My teenager looked wounded when I informed him that television watching will now be reduced dramatically, in favor of other more creative, and fulfilling activities–like reading books. Guess what? I’m getting way more done with my time now, and I’m not constantly being bombarded with negative messages, whether it’s the last four words of The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, or the news, silence is better than depressing content. Who would’ve thought?
  3. Read: As a writer, reading is the second most important thing you should be doing. I’m ashamed at how little I’ve read in the last few years. This year I decided that I was going to do something about. Not only have I turned the TV off, but I’ve kicked the year off with some book therapy. I’m attempting to dispel my coulrophobia (fear of clowns) by reading the book that inspired my fear- Stephen King’s It. I’m halfway through, as I write these words, and while I intend to write more about the experience when I’m finished, I will tell you that this is one of the most incredible literary journeys I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve also subscribed to a book club box (onceuponabookclub.com) which promises to deliver not only a book every month, but page numbered sealed gifts you open as you read the story! It’s like reading in 3D!
  4. Remember Why I’m a Writer: I’m a pretty insecure person, I can readily admit that, so it might seem like being a writer is a terrible choice. It probably is. The problem is that it isn’t as much a choice as it is a vocation. Being a writer is what I do. Words are the thing I love. Entering into the literary conversation is my dream. My goal is to write a novel for young adults to find themselves in; to inspire them beyond the narrow lens of romance; and to introduce ideas to get them thinking of themselves as the dictators of their own destinies. If I don’t actually get words out on paper, I’m not actually writing, and am therefore not a writer. Not writing will never make my dreams come true.
  5. Get out or exercise in: This is by far the hardest thing for my newly acquired introversion. I struggle with knowing what exactly to do, or finding places to go. I’m very bad at aimless wandering. I’m very bad at extreme temperatures. Depression is a jerk who steals my energy too, but, when I’m having a moment of pure sluggery, I treat myself to a coffee with the only rule being that I have to leave the house to get it. By the time I get through the drive-thru (the ultimate in lazy coffee runs) I can usually think of at least once place I want to go, if not, I go home. Just that burst of fresh air, and the sunlight is usually enough to perk me into getting something done at home. If I can’t pull myself out of the house, I tell myself that I at least need to exercise. Lately I’ve been doing that with free yoga videos I’ve found online. Yin Yoga is a really great way to ease your way in, without needing to know all of those poses. I really love holding the poses for long periods, while getting to meditate and commune directly with my body. Guess what? I usually find that I’ve got the energy to leave the house when I’m done too!
  6. Hug: Did you know that hugs are actually¬†good for you? I’m serious. Just twenty seconds of hugging is enough to trigger oxytocin, which is your body’s own natural anti-depressant. Give it a try. It’s guaranteed to help, even if it’s just a tiny little bit–because sometimes that tiny little bit is all you need to get to tomorrow.

Seasonal depression is no joke, and the hardest truth is that the only person who can force you to beat it, is yourself. If you can’t do all of these things, or even any of them, don’t beat yourself up. Some days are easier than others, and some nights we have to tell ourselves that tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is always another chance to start again. If you find yourself struggling harder than usual, and are having thoughts of hurting yourself or committing suicide, please seek help before you make a permanent decision to a temporary situation.

How do you battle seasonal depression?

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