As days become shorter during the fall and winter, more people tend to experience bouts of depression. Others endure dark times more frequently throughout the year. In addition to talking to your therapist about possible solutions, there are several things you can do to pursue joy even if you are feeling down.
Slow Things Down
Many people try to mask their sadness by maintaining their busy schedules and just pushing through. It doesn't make sense to add burnout to the mix, though. Make a list of essentials and then choose only a few things you really want to do, because these are the things that are most likely to induce the joy that will help bring you out of your funk.
One practice you should consider adding to your schedule, regardless of how busy it is, is taking time to pause and breathe every day. You can choose a specific place if that is helpful to you, but the crucial component is taking the time to check in with yourself, and you can do that anywhere. You may decide to pray or meditate during this time, or you can just focus on taking some deep breaths and letting yourself relax.
Surround Yourself With Creature Comforts
The Danish practice of hygge includes creating a cozy atmosphere in your home (or any other place where you spend a lot of time). Their commitment to intentionally pursuing comfort through their environment and activities that they love may be a big part of the reason the Danes are ranked among the happiest people in the world. You can practice this concept by cultivating a space in your home with cozy elements:
- Comfortable seating
- Good lighting
- Table for holding books, puzzles or warm beverages
- Warm blankets
Another way to spark joy in your life is to give yourself a visual reminder. Create a joy board to hang in your office or in a room in your home where you spend a lot of time. Similar to a vision board, a joy board is a collage of images that inspire feelings of happiness. You can either create it all at once or leave space to add to it as you come across other pictures you like.
Spend Social Media Time Wisely
One benefit of social media is that it can help you feel less alone, particularly if you follow accounts that help normalize the mental health struggles you experience. Take note of how you feel after you scroll through your feed on a particular platform. Do you feel more relaxed or happier than when you started, or do you feel sad or invisible? Once you understand how different platforms affect you, you can favor the ones that are more uplifting.
If you rarely feel good while scrolling through social media, that is also informative. Consider taking a break from your apps that don't bring you joy (or delete them altogether).
Reach Out to Friends and Family
Finally, remember that you don't have to face dark times alone. While social media may provide some communal comfort, it's also good to spend time in person with those who love you when you can. If scheduling an outing seems too overwhelming, simply send a text message to a few friends to let them know you need some company. You may be pleasantly surprised by how willing they are to do all the planning to spend time with you.
Whether you experience seasonal depression or more frequent episodes, you can still also have joy in your life. Talk to your therapist about the easiest ways to find little pockets of happiness, and put them into practice.