Preparing for Winter: Tips for Seasonal Depression and Nervous System Support

Written by: Karenna Soto
The Fully Expressed Podcast
The Fully Expressed Podcast
Preparing for Winter: Tips for Seasonal Depression and Nervous System Support
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The winter season can significantly impact your mood, energy levels, and overall wellbeing. Shorter daylight hours and less time spent outdoors can take a toll on your nervous system. Many people experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and ‘winter blues.’

In this insightful solo episode, Karenna gets vulnerable about her own struggles with seasonal depression last winter. For the first time, she felt the effects of low energy, sadness, disrupted sleep cycles, and wanting to hibernate during the colder, darker months.

Karenna realized she needed to be much more proactive about nervous system regulation this time of year. She shares the mindset shifts, lifestyle habits, and self-care practices she’ll be implementing to thrive this winter.

If you also get the winter blues, you’ll find this episode full of actionable tips for feeling your best mentally, physically and emotionally. Karenna offers guidance on minimizing seasonal depression and honoring your body’s needs during hibernation mode.

Tune in and be a part of this enlightening conversation!

You can read the full podcast transcript for this episode below:

0:01
Welcome to the Fully Expressed Podcast with Karenna today.
0:06
You get a little solo action episode with me.
0:10
I’m so stoked.
0:11
I’ve been sitting on this episode and thinking about how I want to talk about this episode for a couple of weeks.
0:18
Now.
0:19
It’s a very important episode to me because last year was the first year that I’ve experienced, I think.
0:26
Well, let’s take it back last year.
0:28
It was the first year that I experienced that and I was aware that I was experiencing some kind of seasonal depression just overall not my best self when it comes to the winter season.
0:44
I especially now that I am way more in tune with my body now that I’m way more aware of what seasons feel like to me and what I like, what it feels like to feel good, to be honest, I think that’s where a lot of the awareness is coming from.
1:00
I think, you know, I’ve done so much work to feel good, right, to feel good in my body.
1:07
And last year was the year, the, the summer before last year was a really grounding year.
1:15
Like I remember feeling really good and then going into the winter time this year, I was like, wow, I’ve never experienced so many lows and I’ll explain why.
1:25
But the reason for this episode is really because because of that and if any of you are, are nervous or aren’t necessarily looking forward to the winter time or maybe you love the winter time and I’m so excited for you.
1:41
But this is really going to be an episode where I, I share what kind of came up for me last year and as well as what am I going to be doing this year?
1:49
That’s different and, and across my mindset shifts, what I’m gonna be doing to take care of my physical health, what I’m gonna be focusing on when it comes to my nutrition and things that I’m going to be planning to look forward to.
2:03
And the reason why I have set up such a beautiful intention and structure for this winter time this year is because I wanna make sure I go into it really unattached and ready for what winter actually means.
2:19
And that is, that’s really one of the biggest shifts for me is in the difference this year compared to last year is that I’m going to be really looking at winter time as an opportunity to dive with inward and hibernate.
2:34
And what does that actually mean?
2:36
Like as some of, you know, and I really do prioritize sinking my life to my menstrual cycle.
2:47
It has been one of truly the biggest gifts that I’ve ever received implemented over the last few years.
2:54
And something that I’ve realized as a woman is that throughout the month, we are literally four different people.
3:01
We have summer, spring, fall and winter and going through those cycles monthly and knowing and being giving myself permission to be fully expressed in every single month to whatever my body actually needs.
3:16
So I’ll give you a little tip inside and I’m going to bring it back into what the purpose of this episode is.
3:21
But basically, you know, when it comes to your menstrual cycle, when you get your period, that is day one, that is actually your winter.
3:31
So you are fully in hibernation mode, you are bleeding, you are releasing, you are purging, you are cleansing your body on so many levels.
3:41
And then you go into the spring into the follicular phase and that’s where you start to feel a little lighter, a little happier.
3:51
And then you go into ovulation phase, which is summer baby.
3:55
This is where we feel like 1000 per 1000.
3:59
Like we feel really good in our bodies.
4:01
We have bright, we have so much energy and we just feel really great.
4:05
And then we go back into the fall and our luteal phase and then we go back into winter and see we go through this every single month.
4:12
And as I’ve really tried to and honestly, not just tried, I mean, I’ve truly embodied being super unattached and ready for every single week, every month, right?
4:24
Like I just really found this beautiful dance and beautiful balance of my body and every step of the cycles that I go through.
4:32
And this is, this is what my new perspective is for the years.
4:37
And I don’t truly don’t know how I never, I missed this or how this never clicked for me.
4:42
But I’m gonna be looking at the year the same way.
4:46
and I have been looking at the year in the same way, you know, I, and want to start leaning into that even more because I tend to be someone that loves the summer time.
4:58
Like if you asked my family, my friends, my boyfriend, I am literally a lizard that can lay out on the sand on the sun and feel so good.
5:08
And I think I’ve done this my whole life.
5:11
I don’t really, didn’t really know how much I loved it or why I loved it.
5:15
And until the more recent years and a lot of that has to do with like the sun literally gives me energy and restores me.
5:23
It is the, the answer to my nervous system regulation laying at the beach being on the ground, touching the warm floor.
5:32
Literally, it’s like energy coming out of the ground and into my feet.
5:36
Like I feel that so entirely and I feel that the minute that I step outside and let the sun just touch my face.
5:44
And you know, it’s, there’s so many things now that are just clicking because I’m so in tune with my body and can tell you when I’m in my body and when I’m not and sun just the sun does magic wonders for me.
5:59
And so does water.
6:00
And so, you know, being someone that grew up by the water, I get to jump in the ocean way more in the summer time.
6:07
And it is literally my, my medicine and it continues to be like, I, for example, like it is mid October and Nick and I went and jumped in the ocean yesterday and it was a little windy outside, but the water felt so good and him and I walked out of that like, absolutely like bliss.
6:26
And, you know, we had so much energy for the rest of the afternoon and evening that we had to get some stuff done, but we took care of ourselves and I get to do that a lot in the summer time.
6:36
I get to do that a lot more in the spring time.
6:39
It’s more difficult to do it in the fall in the winter time.
6:43
But because it’s a little colder, but this is the other reasons why I love like cold therapy or cold plunges that I’ve been doing for a years.
6:52
You know, if you don’t know this, like, you know, getting into a cold body of water really helps you reset your nervous system.
6:59
It’s not for everyone.
7:00
I will say that some people’s nervous systems don’t do that great in the cold plunge.
7:06
And if you ever have questions about that, let me know.
7:08
But like bringing it all back like summer is truly my favorite.
7:13
Obviously, right?
7:14
When we’re all ovulating every single month, you know, when you feel really good in your body, feel sexy as fuck and you like look good in your clothes and your bright and you know, all of that.
7:24
Of course, I’m gonna be so like wanting to feel that all the way.
7:28
And last year, last winter, I didn’t realize how, how it affected me as much as it did and how much I craved just summer and bliss and water and warmth and stuff like that.
7:44
And one of the reasons why to here in California and I feel so bad for anyone listening to this because I’m talking about California and you’re like Corona, you have the best weather I hear you.
7:54
And you know, for someone that has experienced really beautiful weather for most of her life.
8:00
Last year, we got the most rain we’ve ever had.
8:03
Like it literally felt like six months of rain and the way that I describe rain to like my sister who has been spending a lot more time in Utah because of her boyfriend living out there, you know, in the snow, she gets to play in the snow in the rain.
8:17
I don’t really have a lot to do.
8:18
And so you found, I found myself, like, really staying inside a lot.
8:23
I ended up working a lot.
8:25
I watched a lot of TV and just laid on the couch because I literally didn’t have anything to do.
8:29
Like, it wasn’t like, I, I enjoyed walking outside in the rain.
8:33
Yes.
8:34
Kuzco.
8:34
And I would go for runs in the rain because you had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the rain.
8:38
But it wasn’t like I did that and that’s the one thing about rain that I don’t love and last year just really, really hit me in that way.
8:46
And,, you know, as I talk about this, there’s also a part of me that feels bad that I’m quote unquote complaining.
8:53
But it’s, it’s my truth and it’s true.
8:55
And as anyone else that’s hearing this, like, maybe you have more seasons where you live or maybe you have more winters than you live in.
9:04
Like one.
9:06
I, I think I resonate way more than ever have because I’ve been able to experience what it feels like to experience weather like that and one power to you.
9:19
And if you’re someone that loves it, kudos to you, like your system is awesome and I’m so excited for you and, you know, both of us have our truths as we talk about this.
9:30
And so, yeah, the biggest shift that I’m gonna have going into this, this winter is going to be like, all right.
9:38
So I’m going into hibernate.
9:41
This is an opportunity for me to do inner work, to heal, to be with my body, to slow down, to give it permission to sleep in, to give it permission to just be and really trying to do my best in doing that because something that I visit specifically to struggle with when it comes to the winter time is wanting to work out early in the mornings.
10:08
And if you’re somewhat, if you know me, like, I’m someone that loves to work out first thing in the morning because it gives me so much energy for the day, it kind of sets me up.
10:17
But in the winter time, it’s very difficult for me to get out of bed.
10:21
It actually happened this morning where I wanted to get up at like 6 36 45 just so I can get a workout in so I could start before working.
10:29
And that, and I truly couldn’t get out of bed.
10:32
Like, and you know, getting to a place of giving myself permission to do that is so much better than fighting myself.
10:40
I, you know, if we fight ourselves and get hard on ourselves, we end up spending a lot more energy than just being with.
10:47
What is if you listen to the last podcast and if you listen to other podcasts of me, like, I truly believe in just being with, what is it actually moves through a lot quicker and in the same situation.
10:58
So, yes, I will be really looking into the winter time for a little bit of a, not maybe a little death and rebirth, but, you know, just like the plants and the world kind of die and they all come back in bloom, like that’s what I’m going to be looking at winter time.
11:16
Like, and, and it’s not, you know, this year for me is a little different.
11:19
I am going to be going into like a really deep healing season come November, which I will be sharing shortly about and it’s gonna require me to truly slow the fuck down.
11:32
I’m gonna be getting a surgery done in November, which yes, again, I will be telling you guys all what that is, but it’s gonna force me to truly drop down and even without the surgery, you know, I’m, I was planning on doing a lot of these things anyways and implementing this as my go to every single year.
11:54
So I can have some kind of structure and allow myself to flow within that structure and be supported.
11:59
And that’s the thing, right?
12:01
Like this year, I want to be supported.
12:03
I wanna be prepared.
12:04
I wanna take care of my nervous system.
12:07
I want to make sure that I am intentionally being with myself, intentionally creating what I want this winter to look like.
12:17
And So here we go.
12:18
I told you about the mindset shifts.
12:21
When it comes to my actual physical health, I am planning on doubling down on my nervous system support not so much in deep diving into somatics.
12:34
Like yes, I will be able to do my somatic practices and be with whatever emotions come up from slowing down from hibernating, right?
12:41
Like once I get to be in my body, that’s when a lot of shit comes up and having the tools to be with my body, release those emotions and support my emotions are gonna be the most important.
12:54
But the things that I need to give me resource to give me capacity to be able to be with whatever comes up for me this winter.
13:02
Like in truly releasing that I’m going to be supporting my nervous system by trying to get as much sunlight as possible.
13:12
And you’re probably like Creta, how are you going to get a lot of sunlight in the winter time?
13:16
There’s not a lot of time and while that’s true, yes, we don’t physically see the sun as much, but the sun is still shining through the clouds and even on the most gloomy days.
13:26
If you go outside first thing in the morning or throughout the day, your skin, your body is receiving sunlight.
13:33
And so I will be trying to get sunlight first thing in the morning as much as possible.
13:38
Once I get outside, I will be trying to do my best to get breaks out in the outside.
13:43
Even if it’s gloomy, even if there’s a break in the rain, your girls going outside.
13:49
So that’s gonna be a really big intention of mine support.
13:51
Complimented by I will be doubling down on my red light therapy through my red light therapy sauna blanket that I just got for my birthday.
14:03
My friends just got it for me.
14:04
I got the higher dose red light sauna blanket.
14:08
And of course, my boyfriend actually literally texted all my friends saying that hey, chronic is serious seasonal depression and we want to give her, I really want to give her this higher dose blanket to support that this winter.
14:24
And so your girl is gonna be doubling down on that.
14:28
I will make sure to put a link in in the show notes for you guys.
14:32
If you guys want to look into it, it’s it’s gonna be really great.
14:34
It’s not only really great because of the red light, right.
14:36
Right.
14:36
The red light is really gonna be supporting all of the sunlight that I’m not going to be getting.
14:41
It’s also a very healing light, but it’s also going to help me detox.
14:45
So detoxing and opening up the different pathways are going to be very important for me this winter.
14:51
Another way that I will be doubling down on that this week, this winter is one I am going to be going through much more of like a physical cleanse.
15:03
So I plan on doing a liver detox, and parasite cleanse.
15:07
And so I can fully purge and release anything that my body is holding this winter.
15:14
I, because of my surgery in November, I think I’m gonna be personally probably doing starting it, November, December, probably like early January get, get my body ready to detox, ready to purge, ready to release, not just like physically but emotionally and energetically, just get shit out of my body and really prepare myself for that.
15:38
And something that I love about the winter time is an opportunity to eat warming foods and drink a lot of bone broth and eat cooked vegetables.
15:46
All these types of things are, are really helpful for just gut nutrition and gut health.
15:54
And so in preparation for the cleanse, I will be doing a lot of warming foods.
16:00
A lot of bone broth, cooked veggies, teas.
16:05
I’m going to try my best to cut back on coffee and just focus on bo broth as much as possible.
16:13
I really don’t drink coffee as much anymore, but I don’t want my system to be in a highly reactive state or a stimulated state this winter.
16:23
I really want it to be present and with what is.
16:26
And so, so those are the kinds of things that I’m looking at this winter and you know, really soaking up a lot of the rest and slowness.
16:36
And so I am intentionally diving into this winter, ready to heal emotionally, physically, spiritually and energetically.
16:46
I am setting myself up and doing that.
16:49
I am.
16:49
If you find this episode interesting, I would invite you to reach out to, to me so I can connect you with my boyfriend.
16:59
He is a natural, he’s in school to becoming a naturopathic doctor, a traditional naturopathic doctor and has his, he’s a nutritionist, he’s a health coach.
17:11
And so if you want like a more serious plan for yourself and what actually meets your needs, he can do that.
17:18
What I’m specifically talking about is what I’m going to be doing.
17:21
This is not medical advice, don’t just do it because I said it, make sure your system is actually ready to do this.
17:28
But the takeaways here is that I’m leaning into this winter as an opportunity to hibernate detox per release.
17:36
All the things that I need to.
17:38
It’s very similar to my menstrual cycle that I get to do every single month, right?
17:43
Every single period I am releasing and purging and being with whatever needs to come up.
17:50
You know, in old ribes, I don’t know if you know this, but in tribes and cultures, they used to look at women around at this time of the month like the period you’re when you’re bleeding and you’re on your period as an opportunity for them to talk about and share what was working within the tribe and what was not working within the tribe because we have such a beautiful gift of being able to become aware of what’s actually working in our lives.
18:13
I’m going to take that same view and perspective into this winter.
18:18
I want to look at this winter as truly of like purging, releasing kind of doing an audit of like what’s working, what’s not working.
18:26
What do I want next year to look like?
18:27
What do I want spring and summer to look like?
18:31
And that’s all built into the plan that I’m taking and the pillars of that are going to be my mindset, which I already shared, getting my physical health primed and ready for the detox, which is what I’m doing with sunlight, red light therapy, eating really healthy foods, trying to not eat as much processed foods as possible and staying in and really being ready for this rest and slowness.
18:58
Now, along with that, I will also be creating things to look forward to.
19:02
So one thing that I found myself last winter being like, oh my gosh, I can’t wait for like, when can I get out of here?
19:08
I wanna go somewhere warm, I wanna go do that.
19:11
And it wasn’t because I wanted to escape what was doing.
19:15
It’s because my system needed to be resourced to be able to tackle what was going on here.
19:21
And so something that I intentionally plan to double down on this winter, which it’s traditionally the opposite of what I do, one thing is seeing friends and getting connected and being in community.
19:35
You know, I can fall into the practice, especially because the sun goes down at 44 30 here where I end up getting, eating dinner and going to bed really early and not really seeing a lot of people throughout the week.
19:46
And I want to change that.
19:47
I want to find the joy and the connection and the vulnerability and the authentic connection through my friendships.
19:58
And so I have been going back and forth about whether doing a biweekly family dinner with all of my friends or a monthly dinner with all of my friends and weekly would be great.
20:10
But I think biweekly might feel best.
20:12
I’m gonna kind of see what that feels like for them.
20:14
I already pitched it to them and they’re like 100%.
20:16
But the goal there is for me to have connection throughout the week, right?
20:20
Not being fully alone.
20:22
And the other thing that I will be intentional about this year is kind of looking at January February March, April timeline about places that I can go visit, you know, changing my environment.
20:38
That has always been such a beautiful way to kind of give myself a resort a reset as well as just inspiration to what I want and and changing up this facing environment.
20:51
So I will be planning just trips and sprinkling time to go to warmer places, but also just go to places that change my environment, whether that’s going to maybe the place is not warm, but it looks different.
21:05
You know, the apartment, the place that I’m staying in looks different.
21:08
And so that I will also be planning this year and not trying to make it like a last minute thing.
21:14
Right?
21:15
And this year I don’t want to come from the place of being reactive to the point where my system has just had it where I’m either in like a deep, deep spiral or I’m just anxious to get out of the fuck out of where I am.
21:28
I, I truly want to be intentional and prepared for what’s coming and also allow the opportunity for whatever needs to come up this winter to be here and fully be with it and release it and work through that.
21:42
So, yeah, and the last thing that I’m gonna be doing, I’m going to be very intentional about wellness days, possibly like weekly or bi weekly.
21:52
A lot of my friends here.
21:53
I don’t have the space for this in my apartment.
21:55
They have saunas and cold plunges.
21:58
So wellness days are gonna be the opportunity for me to really, really healthy foods and community double down on the sauna and the cold plunge therapy.
22:09
So going back between cold plunges and saunas for myself and really being stranded by friends.
22:17
So those are the three things that I’m going to be looking forward to.
22:20
So friends trip sprinkled into this winter time as we enter into the spring as well as wellness, very designated wellness days with my friends.
22:32
And so, you know, this is the season, this is the season for us to slow down hibernate, be with whatever the fuck needs to come up.
22:43
You know, and you’re gonna hear me say this all the time, like I’m here for all parts of us and you know, whatever parts come up for a reason and learning to be with that is gonna be the biggest gift you can give for yourself.
22:56
It’s something that I continuously do.
23:00
And welcome when I can and I know this winter time personally because of what I have coming up is going to be another intense layer of healing for me and I have tears coming up in my eyes because once I tell you guys what it is, you’ll know.
23:16
So keep a look out for the next episode because I will be talking about it and openly and vulnerably about what’s coming here in November.
23:25
But anyways, I hope that you realize that the winter is not bad, winter is not something to be scared of.
23:33
Winter is not something for us to fear.
23:36
It’s not something for us to do that.
23:38
And if you’re struggling with working through past experiences where you have had low winters, you know, you’ve reached reached seasons that you didn’t know you were going to get out of in past winters, I don’t want to take away from that.
23:54
And that also is true and that’s valid.
23:58
And I hope that this podcast episode gave you ideas and resources, but you can start to implement into your winter time to give you more resource and more capacity to tackle what el what else comes up for you this winter.
24:16
If you would like some more ideas, feel free to email me at koto at creo dot com.
24:24
We can chat over email, just I’ll drop you guys a little sheet or just a couple bullet points of what you could be doing this winter to get you more resource.
24:35
If you feel like you want to share with me what came up for you last winter and how you can tackle that this year.
24:41
I’d be happy to support you in that as well.
24:44
But I want us to know that we are not alone this winter.
24:48
You know, we don’t have to be alone.
24:50
And at the same time, there is this beautiful peace to spending time with ourselves this winter.
24:56
I think that’s the other reason why we tend to hibernate, right?
24:59
Tend to be more by ourselves and kind of be able to listen and stop and slow down.
25:06
So I think this winter is, at least for me, I’m really looking at it as an opportunity to, to shed another layer of whatever my body is holding on to, whether that is just shit that might have come up this year or shit that I’m holding on from generations of trauma, whatever it is, I don’t need to make sense of it.
25:27
But all I do know is that this winter is gonna be the winter that I will be intentionally stepping into my healing, prepping my body to support that healing process and knowing that I have things to look forward to.
25:45
So with that being said, thank you so much for listening today.
25:50
If you found this episode helpful, I would truly truly ask you to just share it with a friend, share it on social media.
26:00
If you know, if you have any takeaways, please leave me a review because I really want to get this podcast out as much as possible.
26:07
And I hope that you found this helpful, so loving you today, loving you always and we’ll talk soon.

Episode Timestamps:

0:44 – Why lack of sun and more indoor time negatively impacted her last winter

2:19 – Shifting her mindset to see winter as a time for hibernation and slowing down

11:16 – Actionable tips for nervous system regulation like sunlight, red light therapy, detoxing

19:21 – Importance of social connection to stay upbeat when it’s cold

20:38 – Her plan for self-care days and getaways this winter

Key Takeaways:

  • Last winter brought Karenna’s first intense seasonal depression due to relentless rain and lack of sunshine in California.
  • She’s shifting her mindset to embracing winter as a needed time of inward focus, hibernation and release.
  • Tips to support your nervous system during winter include sunlight, red light therapy, thermal therapy, detoxing, rest and healthy food.
  • Social connection helps significantly with seasonal blues – she recommends planning regular community time.
  • It’s key to have things to look forward to, like trips, getaways and wellness days.
  • Karenna is focused on being proactive this winter for full nervous system regulation.

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Karenna Soto

I’m an expert in communication, creating healthy professional and personal relaitonships, and in managing and overcoming anxiety with a knack for navigating difficult conversations both in personal and professional atmospheres. I am here to invite you into your fullest authentic expression and personal evolution.

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More About Karenna

I know how debilitating it can feel to be stuck on the perpetual hamster wheel of a life that you don’t enjoy living. Sure, externally you’ve got it all together, but internally, it likely feels like you’re questioning E V E R Y T H I N G.

Can you relate?

It was when I felt disconnect with what I was doing, and with how I was showing up in my life that I realized the answers lied in how I was doing what I was doing that I decided I no longer wanted to keep living within the box of what I was told to be and decided to boldly express myself and stand for what truly mattered to me.

I have seen the power of fully expressing myself in my personal and professional life. Now I want to bring it to the masses, which is why I’ve created this podcast.

This podcast is my invitation to all people struggling to be fully expressed in life, relationships, and business. It’s for those who are wanting to feel A L I V E, connected, and in love with their life, relationships, and business.

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