Is it just me, or does it become increasingly difficult to convince yourself to complete mundane activities during these winter months? Like a lot of people with depression or anxiety, I become especially sad during the 90 days between the beginning of December and the end of February.
It’s not always a matter of “woe is me” or something traumatic happening. It’s mostly a matter of three elements that elevate my depressive states or anxiety: cold and dreary weather, the seemingly increased work load during the school semester, and my inability to keep in contact with friends due to our busy schedules. These three elements combined together serve to make for a very lazy and unhappy Jasmine Rose-Olesco.
Some have termed what I’ve described above as Seasonal Affective Disorder, while others are of the opinion that it’s just another name found on WebMD for people who take themselves and their concerns about their bodies, minds, and spirits too seriously. But this is my article and I completely contend that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing.
Personally, my SAD cages me in during anxiety-laden states when even the simplest activity seems daunting. I’m talking about even the most beneficial self-care routines: getting out of bed, washing one’s face, brushing one’s teeth, moisturizing my skin, painting my nails, applying makeup, and not to mention, my hair-care routine, which, as an African-American woman with textured hair is especially daunting. (Broken hairbrushes or eight-hour primping times, anyone?)
But what I’ve found helps me is my ability to push past the initial “No, I just want to lay here and waste away" with random acts of kindness toward myself. The acts of kindness with me as the recipient that have been most beneficial and soothing are beauty or self-care routines.
For those who would like to improve their self-care or for those who struggle with self-care (there’s more of us out there than you might think), consider the following tips that have aided me.
Use silky hair scarves to wrap your hair at night. This will help preserve styles like perms, relaxers, braids, natural hairstyles, curls, etc. For those of us with textured hair, this is a no-brainer. I can’t speak for other communities, but in the African-American community, we’ve been known to preserve our intricate hairstyles with hair ties, scarves, and rollers for quite some time now.
I admit, I’ve been known to slack off on this essential ritual when the bed is beckoning to me and I can’t resist falling on top of it in one final heap. But this step is very beneficial if you can’t keep up with primping your hair on a daily basis, whether it's because of laziness, forgetfulness, or yes, the very real lethargy that comes from being depressed or having anxiety. With preserving your hairstyles, you can stand to skip a day or two of primping when you just can’t find the energy for those mundane activities you used to enjoy.
Plus, a bad hair day — maybe you couldn’t muster up the energy to wash, comb, or style your hair today? It’s okay, I get you — can be solved by wearing a hat or hair wrap/scarf.
Get back to the basics and think of your showering and face-wash routines in little “to-do” like steps. Ian Cook, Psychiatrist and Director of Depression Research at the University of California in Los Angeles, advises that it’s helpful to get yourself into a routine in order to feel better when the onslaught of depression, anxiety, or lethargy ensues.
Consider your self-care an essential routine and stick to one. Will you wash up/shower at night or in the morning? What are your favorite bath washes or face washes to use? The other day, I discovered a self-care/self-esteem, “how to be the best you on the outside as you are on the inside” type of manual from the '90s that my mother bought me when I was a preteen. As I flipped through the tanned pages that smelled of a must that can only come with age and being in storage for quite some time, I realigned myself with some helpful ways to regard one’s boring washing routine.
First, find yourself a nice-smelling face wash that will cleanse instead of irritate your skin. For me, fruit-scented face washes are the most uplifting when the sky is gray and the ground is wet or icy. My favorite face wash to use is St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub.
Second, as you use your face wash, be sure to massage your skin gently with your fingertips. The key to using is not to irritate your skin. Because drying does occur, I make sure to moisturize my skin (I can’t be ashy out here, no sir, no ma’am) with my favorite Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant Lotion.
As far as showering, I find that showering at night, as opposed to the morning, is easiest, even after a long day because it’s just that final step to relaxing before bed. If you can’t bring yourself to stand (I hear you on that one), a bubble bath can always do the trick.
Remember, washing up can actually get you in the habit of completing other activities during your day instead of lounging around (which is sometimes nice but not always good for you).
Find a daring beauty trend that you haven’t attempted before and give it a try. Is there a nail design you’ve seen on your more fashion-forward friends that you’ve been dying to try but you’re afraid that you can’t pull it off? How about a bold lip color that you’ve seen on your favorite beauty blogs or in street-style photos that you think just couldn’t possibly look right on you?
Well, given the gray, dreary winter weather, I implore you to try a colorful trend as a little pick-me-up. I never thought I could pull of an orange, pink, red, or deep purple lip color because of my darker skin tone, but the colors really help to lighten my mood, and I think my skin tone with the orange lip looks especially good.
Get a free makeover from the beauty counters in your favorite outlet malls. Sometimes having someone fuss over you can be the pick-me-up that you need. And hey, it’s free! While you’re out and about doing your shopping, consider taking some time out to get a pampering from a professional.
Drink a lot of water. You’ve heard it time and time again, but drinking at least seven of glasses of water a day is very good for you and has wonderful effects on your skin as well.
Get some sleep! Getting the advised seven to ten hours of sleep per night can be difficult for those of us with large workloads or for those who have difficulty shutting out the outside world to get some shut-eye. What helps me is eliminating all distractions from my room (the television, books, phone, etc.) when I’m preparing for bed at night. Sleep deprivation can have long-lasting effects, but it is well-known that a full night of sleep can leave you feeling energized come morning.
What do you think? What self-care tricks help you get through tougher winter days?