5 tools to try when battling seasonal depression

I talked about seasonal depression on this blog recently, and I think I'll keep talking about it this season. I, like many, feel a deep drop-off during the cold season. I suffer with Bipolar 2 and anxiety, so this stuff is pretty normal. As in, it happens. So over the past few years I've been trying to look at seasonal depression as a normal routine that comes around every year and stack the cards against it. 

Today I'm gonna list off and talk about five different things one can try during this trying time. Some of these are obvious and some maybe less so. I hope you get something out of any of them, as I have. Always, do what works for you and your mental health.

1. UV light

I knew about this one for a long time, but always kinda scoffed at it. I mean, I didn't completely disregard it, I just didn't think I could take it seriously. You understand, I'm sure. But last year, I decided to go in on a UV light and spend 30 minutes in front of it. While I was sitting in front of it, I didn't want to fall asleep (I have sleep apnea), so I decided to take up adult coloring on a tablet while basking in the light. I found the time to be rewarding. And I took advice of my therapist and others, and started out small. Don't start at 30 minutes. Start with maybe 10 or 15 minutes, and work your way up. I found having the same time set aside each day was also helpful. 

2. Gaming

Recently I've taken up a weekly gaming session with a friend. We started out bouncing between The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Wildlands. We have decided to focus on the latter. It's nice having the set aside time to sit and get in some fun, gaming around and talking with a friend. Even if I don't have to leave the house to do it. But in many ways that's better, because I don't have to worry about anything except being ready at 9pm every Friday evening. If you're a gamer like me, maybe you also struggle gaming during depressive moods. I know I do. So having that commitment to someone else helps keep me in the game. I know, I know. That was rough.

3. Self-care time

I talked about this at length over here recently. Check that link out if you want to know more on this. But basically, last winter I decided to set aside an entire day of self-care. Once a month I take off a day of work and focus on doing absolutely nothing but self-care that day. I highly recommend setting aside a regular time each month if you can like this, it has proven to be really helpful and I always look forward to that one day a month to just relax and focus on me without worries or anxieties or concerns. 

4. Exercise

This one is a little more obvious as it's talked about frequently. This isn't always going to be an option, though. But if you can, try to get in some exercise. Exercise can really energize your body and mind as well. You feel better about yourself when you feel good physically. Maybe ride a bike for a bit, or run, or walk, or do some push-ups or something. It doesn't have to be long. Could be 15 minutes. I'm preaching to myself here. I need to be doing more of this myself. But try not to let it get you down, if you don't. After all, the whole point of these things is to make us feel better not worse. It's so easy to tear ourselves down during depression. 

5. Find something to do

I originally had this section titled "Keep a to-do list" which was way, way wrong. Thankfully I caught that. Don't keep a to-do list. I mean, do if you need to, but not for this stuff. I find to-do lists become the enemy when I'm depressed, maybe you do as well. But the main point I wanted to make of this is that I'll often just go down a list in my head, trying to find something to do. And if it gets no rise out of me, mood-wise, I move on to the next thing. I keep coming up with ideas, moving through a mental list, until I find one thing that gets me perked. And then I do that one thing. Because it's not about doing an entire list of things you have to get done, but about doing something. The lack of energy and drive to get up and move during depression is awful. It's disabling. And it can lead to executive dysfunction. And even if I only complete that one thing, that's still a huge accomplishment. Even if that one thing was technically not a priority, it's still a huge accomplishment. Because during a depressive episode, it can be hard to do any damn thing. And any little thing that can keep you energized or possibly even lift your spirits, well, that's a really important thing.

I often use this technique when I'm going through an episode. It's easier to remind myself that it's an episode and it will pass, but in the meantime let me find that one thing. That one thing I can do that I had some interest in doing. Unlike all the other things.

You see now how I mean this is not a to-do list. It's just finding something from a list, one thing, that can get you interested or uplifted for a bit. And afterwards, you feel better, and a little more energized. Depression is exhausting.

In closing...

These are some things I've been trying. I'm not a professional. Just living it. You do you. Do what works for you. But I always like to share when I find something new, especially if I find it helps me. 

What are you up to this season to help with your depression? Do you have other ideas to add? What do you think of these ideas? Have you tried some, did they work? Wanna try one or another? Are you in a part of the world where it isn't winter and this post feels odd? 😉 Sound off in the comments, ya'll.


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