Have Seasonal Depression? Building a Self Care Kit Can Help

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Having a self care kit ready to go can make all the difference on your worst days!

What Is Seasonal Depression?

Most people are familiar with what depression is, but what is seasonal depression? Also called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), seasonal depression is a form of depression that manifests only during certain seasons of the year. While some people in the United States do experience it in the late spring and early summer, it is much more common to experience seasonal depression in the fall and winter.

Seasonal depression is a pretty common condition, affecting nearly 10 million people in the United States. Research has shown that roughly 10-20 percent of the population may have a mild form of SAD too. Women are four times more likely to have seasonal depression than men, with the condition beginning typically beginning between the ages of 18 and 30. Reports have found that those with a close relative with a psychiatric disorder, such as a sever depressive disorder, or a relative with history of alcohol abuse are more likely to experience seasonal depression.

How To Make A Self Care Kit

Some treatments for include antidepressants, counseling, taking Vitamin D supplements, and light therapy. However, they aren't the only things that can help. Something else that you can make yourself is a seasonal depression self care kit that includes everything you need for when you're feeling you're lowest. The good news is that they're pretty easy to make and you probably won't need to buy anything!

What you need:

• A box big enough to put everything in. Consider decorating it with markers, stickers, and anything else to make it stand out!

• Items of our list. We selected items that are soothing and specifically good for self care and depression.

• Anything else you'd like to put in your seasonal depression self care kit!

Read on to discover what to include in yours!

1. Dark Chocolate

Not only does having a treat inside your self care kit just seem like a good idea in general, but dark chocolate specifically is a good idea. According to Rebecca Scritchfield, author of Body Kindness, "Dark chocolate also contains serotonin, an antidepressant that can elevate mood." It can also make you feel calmer and contented. Thanks, chocolate!

2. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has been used for centuries and has been thought to help treat many different ailments. Dr. Ani Kalayjian, a doctor of education and adjunct professor of psychology at Columbia University, says that aromatherapy may actually help people that have seasonal depression because the essential oils "can influence the area of the brain that's responsible for controlling moods and the body's internal clock that influences sleep and appetite."

3. A grounding tool

Maybe you haven't heard of grounding before, but it is a form of meditation that connects you back to the present and to your surroundings. It focuses on your breathing and noticing your surroundings through your senses. (Here's a great list of grounding techniques to try!) Having a small object in your self care kit, such as a smooth rock or crystal, a seashell, or something meaningful to you can really help while you're new to grounding.

4. Journal

When you're feeling overwhelmed, writing in your journal can be very powerful. Dr. Kalayjian says that it can have a very positive impact on your mood and can also "help you get some of your negative feeling out of your system." The University of Michigan Depression Center recommends writing about 20 minutes a day on a majority days of the week. Writing at night is best because it give you the chance to reflect on your concerns, thoughts, and feelings you've had over the last 24 hours.

5. Tea

Packs of your favorite tea are great to include in your care kit as well. Green tea is full of antioxidants and, according to nutritional biochemist Shawn Talbot, PhD, contains an amino acid called theanine. Theanine can help relax and destress green tea drinkers. Herbal teas are great choices too. Chamomile is known for its calming properties and to help with anxiety, peppermint is said to help with relaxation, and lemon balm helps with stress and anxiety.

6. Lotion

Many people deal with dry skin in the winter, but if you're suffering from seasonal depression, there's a good chance that moisturizer isn't high on your priority list. That's why it's important to include your favorite lotion. Your skin is the biggest organ in your body and needs the extra care, especially if you live in harsher climates. The act of applying lotion to your skin can act as a great grounding technique and give you the chance to focus on a small, self-soothing task.

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7. Something comforting

Your comfort objects are really up to you. Include what you find solace in no matter how childish or silly it seems. There's nothing about caring for your mental health that is silly if it helps you.

Some items you can include are an old stuffed animal you've had from childhood, your favorite DVDs, copies of your favorite photos that bring back happy memories, letters you've written you to yourself in preparation for feeling depressed or letters others have written to you, a coloring book and more. It really is about what will bring you comfort while you're going through a difficult time.

8. A list of resources

Sometimes, no matter what you do to take care of yourself, suicidal thoughts just won't go away. That's way it's good to have a list of resources ready to go in case you ever reach this point. It should be noted that these are services offered in the United States. Services offered will vary from country to country, so for those outside the U.S., check out these websites for hotline numbers.

Resources:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24/7 "free and confidential" phone line you can call (the number is 1-800-273-8255), along with a 24/7 Lifeline chat service.

The Crisis Textline is a texting service offered 24/7. Those in need text the word "home" to 741741 and are immediately connected with trained Crisis Counselors.

IMALIVE is another resource that allows people in distress to chat with a volunteer.

• Remember that calling 911 is always an option.