You may have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is an annual depression that arises with the onset of the cooler months. Reverse Seasonal Depression, characterized by the same emotional effects but in the summer, can also be debilitating, although less common. If you’re feeling slower these days, you’re not alone — and this condition just isn’t discussed as much.
You may not be cured of Seasonal Affective Disorder or Reverse Seasonal Depression — but here are some tips to help you navigate through some of your pain by using your online calendar to remember to give yourself healing help and healing time.
1. Make Time for Movement
Exercise is something that you either love or you hate — but you can’t deny its positive effects on the body. For people suffering from depression, the thought of exercise can be taxing, particularly when you lack energy for basic tasks. But staying in motion doesn’t actually have to be rigorous or draining to be beneficial. A simple walk, even if as short as five minutes, can make a notable difference in your daily mind functions.
Because of this, you should try to schedule some movement during your workdays in order to keep yourself up. This is where your online calendar can help by actually including them in your official itinerary. Some days you’ll only have the energy to follow the structure your calendar provides, and this lets you do both.
2. Fit in Some Sunlight
In a similar vein, sunlight has a comparable effect as exercise due to your circadian rhythm and instincts at large. Depression often causes sleep schedules to misbehave as energy varies, and being tired during the day makes that time worse. Not everyone can exercise for various reasons, but if you can, try doing so outside. Otherwise, just spending some time in the sun is enough to help your brain set its inner clock properly.
Plan your time in the sun much in the same way as you would your exercise or alongside it. You can eat lunch in your backyard or sit for a few minutes in a public park. If this sounds like too much, you can at least open the blinds on your windows to let some in.
3. Stay in Touch With Loved Ones
Depression of any type can cause damage to your relationships by draining you of your social energy. As simpler tasks require more of your effort, small details like texts, calls, and invitations go declined or unanswered. This isn’t always a bad thing — you can’t reasonably expect yourself to be available 24/7. But under these depressive conditions, it can quickly evolve into isolating yourself — though your loved ones can improve your mood.
Because of this, you’ll want to schedule plans even if they’re not more often than once a week. Accept invitations or extend them, and the resulting plans, set up in your calendar, can end up being very refreshing. It makes a difference if you go out to dinner with your friends versus eating at home.
4. Create a Productive Routine
As previously mentioned, depression is known for its ability to suck out all of your energy for the day. You may not be capable of doing much other than following your schedule, which is designed to keep you moving. Luckily, that’s exactly what you need; design your schedule well, and the initial motivation will let you progress without depleting. When you have energy, sit down and figure out on your calendar how to build and snowball this momentum.
For example, anything more than eating a piece of toast may feel too daunting to follow through with. That’s great — set “Make Toast” as your first daily task because completing it will build a little momentum to continue. Then schedule something a little bigger, like brushing your teeth, then getting dressed, sitting down at your desk, etc. Let these tasks guide you on what to do next; before you know it, you’ll be finishing the workday.
5. Plan Breaks Throughout the Day
If you feel like you’ve been resting a lot lately due to depression, that makes sense because you have been. You haven’t, however, been lazy! When depressed, everything takes more energy, so you truly do need it. Even without depression, the need for rest generally goes unacknowledged, and a lack of adequate sleep causes whole hosts of health issues. That’s why you should use your online calendar to plan sleep times and extra rest during your workday so you can relax properly.
Breaks don’t need to be longer than five minutes to be valuable but can be as long as you need. Put your breaks in your calendar to make sure you look out for yourself, and take these “rest breaks” when you can. Think of it this way: the more you rest, the more energy and bandwidth you’ll have when you aren’t resting. Truly, this may be the way you can keep up with your work.
6. Plan Outings for Yourself in Advance
Sometimes a bit of excitement will get you through the week, but in the trenches, you might have trouble beginning. You may use your calendar mainly for work, but it provides a lot of structure for your personal life too. The best solution is to combine both — plan activities for yourself on your schedule so you can follow them easily. The more difficult self-motivation is during your free time, the easier it will be with a calendar by your side.
Say that weekends are a drag of empty time and you have trouble knowing what to do. Think about your interests or places nearby that sound like nice outings like parks or concerts. In this way, you can schedule the day for going out and essentially push yourself to do so. If this doesn’t work, what a great movie you love. Sometimes it’s easier to watch something you are very familiar with rather than something new. A movie or book that is familiar can feel comforting, and sometimes new is too stimulating and aggravating.
7. Set Simple, Attainable Goals
It may be helpful to you to use your calendar as a place to put notes and goals for yourself. Many programs allow you to do this without setting up dates or times for these goals. This can be a low-effort, constructive way to keep track of your desired progress without too much pressure on yourself. That, of course, further depends on what kinds of goals you set and the expectations you have for yourself.
Set a weekly goal without a specific time in mind, and the program will keep it visible throughout the week. Make sure that these goals are not too intense or abstract so they can be clearly attained. Instead of planning to “do some reading” each week, plan instead to “read three chapters” by the end of the week.
8. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Love Techniques
Now you’ve scheduled small breaks throughout the day, written notes, and set goals in your calendar. Using these methods, do the same to encourage yourself to engage in mindful activities like meditation or self-affirmation. You can do this by leaving affirming notes in your schedule or taking a moment to do nothing but sit with yourself and think (or not think) during a break. Mindfulness can be anything from being at one with the universe to keeping yourself hydrated when you’d normally forget to.
Don’t underestimate the power of sitting with your thoughts, even if they are painful or it feels futile. Schedule some time for meditation and include some different meditation methods in your calendar notes so you can experiment with different methods. You can find many mindfulness methods online. I like Calm. Maybe set aside time to do something that calms you, like making a cup of tea or listening to music.
Getting depressed when the sun comes out can be devastating because of how positively society sees the summer. But reverse seasonal depression occurs in so many people, in so many places, and is a serious, valid condition. So take your time and structure it however you need to push yourself just a little further each time.
You deserve all the best and all the patience in the world. Be kind to yourself. This year, try using your Calendar and actually schedule time and reminders so you give the best to yourself.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!