It’s no secret that the summer and spring months are my favorite time of the year. I love being able to explore the woods, dive in the lake, and enjoy some Kindle time while drying off on the shore.
But in the back of my mind, I know the sunshine is fading fast and the crisp autumn wind is on the horizon. Already I see local coffee shops advertising Pumpkin Spice Lattes and pumpkin cream cheese muffins (the undeniable indicators of the fall season). And as the days grow shorter and shorter I know the time is coming to prepare myself for the SADHD Season.
What is SADHD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is “a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — it begins and ends at about the same times every year.” (Mayo Clinic 2021) The change in your body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) and the resulting shift in routine often sends people into a bit of a downward tailspin.
People living with ADHD are especially sensitive to these changes. As an adult living with ADHD I often noticed my sensitivity to things like clothing tags, food textures, and my mood changes if I didn’t get enough sleep, or take my medication on time. Turns out it’s common for neurodivergent individuals to find it difficult to cope with the changes in their environment and find themselves falling into depressive slumps where they can’t focus enough to get anything done.
Here’s how I prepared for S(ADHD)
With the help of my therapist and some ADHD support groups I’ve put together a routine that makes sense for me and helps me overcome that Summertime Slump.
1. Sticking to a schedule
Since I am someone who struggles with managing their internal clock often, I’ve gotten into the habit of being a stickler for my routine: I wake up at 7AM everyday, and have my coffee machine ready to dispense a cup right at 7:30AM. I don’t stay out past the “wind down” time I have set on my Google Home (9:00PM) and ensure I am in bed with my devices shut off by 10:00PM.
2. Keep your body moving:
Moving my body every evening helps me to keep my brain engaged and focused on the present moment. When I find myself spiraling into a not so great mental place, I often want to lay in bed and binge watch reality TV. By committing to stretches or outdoor walks every day I break the cycle of downward spirals. Plus, changing up my environment helps to break the pattern of depressive thoughts and refreshes me mentally.
3. Create a support system:
I often struggled with admitting to people that I was having a really hard time connecting during the winter months. I would withdraw from social activities due to guilt, and lay on my couch ignoring texts because I felt drained and sad that I was disappointing my loved ones. By reaching out to my friends and letting them know I was struggling I helped them to meet me halfway. They were far more understanding of my struggles and learned more about ADHD - now they come over to watch TV with me, or FaceTime me when I’m having a rough day.
4. Build a self care basket:
On my roughest days one of the kindest gestures I could provide myself was a little basket of goodies that helped minimize my mental effort. My SADHD Basket includes yummy cookies, two scented candles, hot chocolate mixes, tea bags, and my favorite microwavable teddy bear with a cozy blanket. I also have a spare book inside in case I misplaced my kindle again and want to detach from doomscrolling.
Overall, I want to close out with - you’re not alone. It’s a learned skill to cope with the stresses that seasonal affective disorder can bring but I hope by sharing these tips you’ll find a routine that makes sense for you. I hope to share more tips and insights, so feel free to follow along.