So Now What?

A few weeks ago I shared one of my deeper struggles of loneliness with the post “when everything is great, but you aren’t.“ I struggle the most during the early months of the year, which I’ve learned this year is called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — which for me is most often during the winter months during the time change. After sharing my struggle I received such a large response, there are so many of you struggling with the exact same thing. A big exhale because I’m not alone, and friend, you aren’t alone either. So, now what?

Since sharing, I’ve learned just how much freedom there is in letting people in & opening up. Chances are, you’ll find out so many others feel the same way & there’s so much power and comfort in the “me too.” Now that I’ve realized it’s a seasonal situation for me, I feel better equipped to step into future winter seasons with a little bit of a game plan. I definitely don’t have all of the answers, but since recognizing my struggle with loneliness & seasonal affective disorder, I’ve found ways to healthily walk into this season and battle SAD.

1. Get outside.
A long walk, sitting outside for coffee, driving around pretty neighborhoods for fun. If it’s nice outside you best believe I’ll be out hopping around town with Sampson. Vitamin D goes a long way, people! This time of year is a little more gloomy, we’ve had more rain than I can ever remember, so this tip has been a little more difficult to follow through with. On gloomy days, I try to find a good “feel good“ rom-com movie to watch, organize our house, finish up some chores etc that help me feel accomplished.

2. Set up dates with friends.
My introverted self definitely needs alone time to recharge, but this time of year I have to do the opposite. I try to have at least 1-2 coffee dates or walks during the week to get in some good quality time with friends. This gives me something to look forward to, and also breaks up my days where I’m not 100% alone all day. If inspiration strikes, I’ll text one of my friends and we’ll go take fun photos just because. Last week, it was a beautiful day so I texted KA to see if she wanted to go take fun photos with this gorgeous row of cherry blossom trees I found. We laughed so much, got Krispy Kreme, and ended up going to get apps with Braden afterwards. Being open to being spontaneous has proven to be a mood lifter!

3. Treat yo’self.
I love a good pedicure or massage. I try and give myself little treats to look forward to every month or so during these darker months. I’m also a big fan of window shopping. I’ll hop over to Target or Nordstrom Rack simply to walk around, be around people, and get out of the house.

4. Start a new bible study.
I’ll be honest, I’m not super disciplined to have quiet time every day. These months especially, I find myself clinging to the Lord more and needing Him. When I’m hustling & thriving it’s so easy to feel like I’ve got everything under control, that I don’t need a Savior to help me through the day to day. We need Him every single day, but clinging to Him during these months has truly helped me feel a stronger sense of peace & grace. I’m currently going through the “Open Your Bible“ study and it’s given me something to look forward to each time I sit down with the Lord.

5. Create consistency.
Working from home is a really weird space sometimes. There’s no 8:30am-5:30pm schedule, no real wake up time, no structure unless you create it. I’ve been aiming to wake up sometime between 7:30-8:00am each day & hopping to Starbucks to do my bible study or start work. I aim to make it to Orange Theory 3 days a week, and go on a long walk 2 days a week. We also go to community group every Tuesday & have been more disciplined to make it to church each Sunday. These are very normal tasks, but these are things I struggle to do this time of year. Being disciplined and having some consistency in the day to day has been a game changer for me.

6. Plan a trip or something to look forward to each week.
Braden and I are planning a big trip or two for this year. We haven’t settled on where, so it’s been fun to dream up some locations we could visit. We are traveling a decent amount for weddings this year as well, so it has been fun to look in those areas to find excellent restaurants, sights, etc to visit while we’re there. Holler if you have recommendations for Chicago, NYC, Linville NC, Bluffton SC, or Norcross GA! Also, let us know if you have any dream vacation recommendations. We are thinking about going big — Australia, Bali, another round in Europe, etc.

On a smaller scale, I’ve enjoyed planning little outings with our family or planning something fun for the weekend. Since wedding season is slow right now, I’ve had more weekends at home, so we’ve enjoyed more “normal“ Saturdays.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to give myself grace. I was consistently getting frustrated with myself — why do I feel so tired, why do I feel sad when there’s no reason to feel sad, beating myself up for feeling down. Most days I feel totally normal, have good energy, and honestly have a lot of joy in my heart. Complete transparency, I still have days where I just wake up and can’t shake the fog & these days require the most grace. Accepting that it’ll pass and it’s 100% okay to have a slow day, to lay down if I need to, or to simplify my schedule for that day. I had one of those days yesterday — I woke up in a mood, felt exhausted and moody, and honestly just wanted to start the day over before it was even lunch time. I’m human, it’s okay, today is a new day.

To anyone else struggling with seasonal affective disorder, I hear you. I hope these little tips encourage you in some way. Now, come on spring!