Though spring is right around the corner, many of us are feeling the full weight of seasonal depression. This year, these feelings are exacerbated by the isolating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stuck indoors, frequently facing grey days or bad weather, it’s easy to lose sight of our joy and excitement for life. Some symptoms of seasonal depression include:

  1. Loss of interest or excitement in activities
  2. Lack of motivation
  3. Loss of sleep schedule/daily schedule
  4. Changes in appetite
  5. Difficulty concentrating
  6. Frequent anxious, sad, or dark thoughts
  7. Fatigue
  8. Social withdrawal

If you relate to any of the symptoms above, you may be suffering from seasonal depression. Don’t give up, though! There are several steps you can take to fight seasonal depression, increase structure in your day, energize yourself, and refocus on your joy in life. Not only that, but God promises us hope, growth, and renewal. Just as Spring brings light and growth to the earth, so God can shine new light into your life. Some practical approaches to fighting seasonal depression include:

Get More Light

One of the primary reasons people experience seasonal depression is the lack of light. Less daylight can throw off your schedule and leave you feeling tired and unmotivated. Taking advantage of any sunlight you get, and keeping your home as well-lit with natural light as possible can boost your mood. Many people have reported the benefits of using a light box to simulate sunlight and taking Vitamin D supplements.

Establish Sleep Patterns and Maintain Your Schedule

A notable symptom of seasonal depression is a change in sleep pattern and schedule. If you find yourself sleeping late and facing structureless days, you are more likely to fall into worse patterns. Combat seasonal depression by establishing solid sleep patterns and maintaining a schedule throughout your day. Getting good rest has a huge impact on your mental health and energy levels. Despite being homebound, it’s still possible to develop a helpful morning and evening routines to bring structure and variety to your day, as well as drawing lines between work and free time. Routines can increase your motivation, and give you things to look forward to!

Get Some Exercise

Seasonal depression can affect your health with a lack of motivation, lethargy, and fatigue. One way to combat these feelings is to incorporate some form of exercise into your day. Whether it’s a morning run, a lunchtime walk and stretch, or an evening yoga session, adding some movement to your routine can make a huge difference. Exercise releases endorphins, increases your appetite and energy, and can add some fun variety to your day.

Spend Time Outdoors

Sometimes winter weather won’t allow you to spend time outdoors, but when the weather permits, go outside! Breathing fresh air and enjoying the beauty of nature can work wonders on your mood, refreshing you. You can even pair exercise and time outdoors by taking a walk or run.

Create Social Situations

While social interaction can be difficult in light of COVID-19, it’s important to maintain some sort of human interaction throughout your week, even if it’s not in person. Whether you have a “bubble” of friends you’re comfortable with, or prefer to interact with your community over video or phone calls, try to schedule intentional time with people you care about. We are all struggling with the difficulties of this pandemic, and need one another’s support. Your friends need you just as much as you need them, even if it’s just a phone call.

Remind Yourself of God’s Promise of Hope and Renewal

The Bible has a lot to say about spring. It is a picture of renewal, growth, innocence, and beauty. God not only brings new life to the earth, but to us. He offers continued mercy and grace daily. We can rely on him to be with us through the cold and dark of winter, and bring joy and light. Spring is a reminder to leave the darkness behind and step into that light, embracing hope in Christ.

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

While we continue to face the struggles of the pandemic, never forget that spring is coming, and with it new opportunities and changes. I hope and pray that some of these tools and activities help you combat seasonal depression, re-energize your life, and bring joy. No matter how dark things may feel at this moment, there is hope that all will be made new.