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9 Things I Did / Am Doing To Combat Seasonal Depression

As you may already know after reading my previous blog posts like THIS ONE , I have been experiencing depression for over ten years now. I have been on and off medications over the years, gone to therapy on and off, but I’ve realized these past couple of years that my depression is really aggressive during the cold winter months in Maine. It’s called seasonal depression and a lot of people experience this. When we are inside and not getting enough sunlight or activity it can be very easy to feel depressed.

This December and January hit me hard. I hadn’t felt a depression so strong since 2016-2017 (before I got pregnant), when I had a serious drinking problem. However, in the middle of January I really broke down. I pulled over and cried hard for about an hour. I was having horrible thoughts about myself and my life and I felt completely worthless. I really feel that I was at rock bottom in that moment. I think these feelings stemmed from the stress of everything going on in my life at the time. We had just closed on a new home, we were struggling financially, I had a brutal first trimester of pregnancy, I was raising a two year old, and just started a new cleaning business. I had amazing things happening, but I felt so stressed and overwhelmed that I eventually broke down. After an hour of crying in my car in some random parking lot I made a choice. I decided that I needed to take action. I knew that I could either remain depressed and miserable, or I could take necessary action to get my mind in a better place.
I am still getting back on my feet from these past couple of months, but I wanted to share what I did and what I’m still doing to feel better and make a comeback.

1. Had an emergency appointment with my therapist
The first thing I did after I finally calmed to the point of being able to speak was schedule an appointment with my therapist. I’m pretty sure the receptionist could hear the distress in my voice because she got the therapist and I spoke to her directly. She told me to take some deep breaths, maybe go get a hot cup of tea, and to come see her in an hour. I went to Dunkin Donuts and I got a hot chocolate. I had an hour appointment with her, venting about everything that was going through my mind, and she really helped me sort out what I was feeling and what I could do. She recommended talking to my fiance and possibly going to visit my mom for the weekend becuase I had mentioned how that would help relax me.

2. Took a long weekend at my mother’s house
So I did just that, I talked to my fiance and then I went to my mom’s house for a long weekend. There’s just something about visitng your momma that always helps in my opinion. It was an amazing long weekend with her, my sister, and my daughter, and I felt totally refreshed when I finally went home. My mom really understood what I was going through and did everything she could to help me out. She made us dinner, she made us breakfast, she helped me with my daughter, she really took care of me.

3. Made vision boards with my little sister

While at my mom’s my sister and I decided to make vision boards. I got some magazines and we cut things out and glued them to poster board. I was honestly really surprised by how much this helped me. It made me focus on the positive things I craved for my life. It made me focus on what is really important to me and redirected my focus from sadness to happiness in a different way. You can find vision board inspiration on Pinterest!

4. Started reading “You are a badass everyday”

A couple of years ago I read “You are a badass” by Jen Sincero and I absolutely loved it. It really did wonderful things for my mindset. I had recenelty purchased one of her sequels, “You are a badass everyday” and I began reading it. It is full of inspirational messages, paragraphs, and chapters. I read a few pages almost everyday still and it heps shift my mindset.

5. Started listening to “Style your mind” podcast

One of the things I did that I am so happy I did was start listening to style your mind podcast by Cara Alwill Leyba. I honestly beieve this podcast is why I’m writing this blog post right now. It helped me realize that my true passion is food, nutrition, and healthy living. It reminded me of the things that really make me happy. It inspired me to chase after my dream and live the life I want to live. It inspired me to really invision the woman I want to be.

6. Motivational Words
I found words and phrases that really stood out to me. I browsed pinterest, found words while creating my vision board, and read quotes in the badass book that really stood out to me. Intention and Comeback are two of my special words. They are two words that motivate and inspire me to move forward and make the effort to be happier. I want to live each day with intention. I want to be going through my days with purpose, not as a zombie. I want to make a comeback. I want to go from depressed frazzled mom, to thriving and confident mom!

7. Visualization
Another thing that I really credit to Cara Alwill Leyba is visualizing the woman I want to be. She often talks about being the woman we want to be before anything else. What does that woman do? What is her everyday life like? She suggests an exercsie where you write a story about the woman you want to be. Mine is a little something like this: “Iva Henke is a bright, happy, and vibrant mother of two. She eats well, drinks plenty of water, and exercises when she can. She is confident and happy. She found success as a food blogger and now makes a living from it. Her number one joy and pride is motherhood and she is a patient, kind, and loving mother. She doesn’t drink energy drinks, she drinks coffee. She has an organized home and takes pride in having a clean and organized living space.” I highly suggest you try this exercise! It’s actually really insightful!

8. Improved water and nutrition
I realized that my water intake and my food choices were less than ideal. I used to drink over 100 oz. of water per day but during this depressive episode I was drinking little to no water. I also didn’t care about my nutrition. I ate ceeral, ice cream, take out, complete junk! Since this time, I have completely immersed myself into learning about nutritional psychiatry and I have learned SO much about eating for mental health! I have implemented several nutritonal changed that I definitel contribute to my improved moods! I will save that awesome information for another post!

9. Started minimal exercise
We all hear that exercise helps with our mood. It’s scientifically proven to be true. When I learned of my pregnancy on the last day of October 2019, I stopped exercising. Mostly because I started to feel the nausea and exhaustion that comes during the first trimester for many women. However, when I was exercising regularly in the past, I truly noticed a difference in my mood and energy. So although I only exercise 1-2 times a week now, it is better than nothing! I would still really love to improve on this.

I hope that this article has given you some fresh ideas on how to combat a depressive episode or your seasonal depression symptoms! I also want to add that I have been on an anti-depressant for about three years now and I definitely recommend speaking with your physician if you are experiencing symptoms of depression!

Since taking the leap and choosing to learn more about health and nutrition, I have gained substantial knowledge on the impact that taking care of our bodies plays in fighting depression. Through my stuides as well as expereince, I know that with proper nutrition, movement, and general self-care, we can pick ourselves up from a dark place and find the brightness again. I would love to connect with anybody who is interested in learning more about all of this!


  1. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be at times more dangerous then regular depression (not to say depression is bad because it is) but the lack of sunlight can be very detrimental to our mental health. Its great you have things that help you get through, something that works for me at this time of year is light therapy. You can find light boxes that provide you with artificial sunlight when there is non outside. It has juristically changed my own depression during the winter. For me, it was November to April where my depression went to crazy lows. Hope all is well.

    1. Thanks for your input James! I have heard a lot about light box therapy but I am yet to try it myself! All I hear are awesome results though! Luckily my SAD is going away slowly but surely now that Spring is getting closer here in Maine!

      1. I am glad. I was skeptical about light therapy but it is effective.

  2. Precise and to the point, nicely done!

    I remember the feeling that I had when that first spring breeze hit me this past week. It carried with it an immediately uplift of spirit. Reminded me how much the winter can be a damper. It can be easy to “get used to it” and think that is the new norm.

    You’ve got to take responsibility and have frequent periods of self-monitoring and connection back to some bigger purpose. That is the theme that I’m seeing between these tools. Reflection and perspective. Very powerful!

    These are topics that I LOVE.

    Well written!
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much for your insight! It’s amazing what some sunshine can do for our mood! Totally agree self monitoring and reflection is KEY! Nobody is going to do it for us! We have to choose to be happy!

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