With colder weather and shorter days, winter is officially here. It’s not unusual for people to experience seasonal mood changes at this time of year. Reduced energy, changes in eating habits, and feeling a bit down can all be signs of the “winter blues.” Instead of jumping out of bed ready to greet the day, many people want to crawl under the covers and wait for spring. However, should these symptoms present themselves in a more serious manner, or should depression set in, it could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka, apt acronym: SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder can impact a person’s health, productivity and relationships. While cold weather may lead to less activity, the seasonal pattern most directly linked with this disorder is diminishing daylight. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock, reduce levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin and melatonin), and disrupt sleep patterns that affect your daily mood.
Strategies to Help v. SAD
- Avoid cabin fever, get out of your house and see the sunlight!
- When you are inside, let as much natural light into your home as possible.
- If necessary, you may even want to explore light therapy.
- Finding the motivation to exercise during the winter can be a challenge, but the effort will do wonders for your physical and emotional well-being.
- Fresh air can make you feel better and exercise releases feel-good hormones.
- If you find yourself not moving for periods of time – set regular reminders to get up and move around. Even a couple minutes at a time will keep your energy levels up.
Body & Mind Therapies
- Meditation, yoga, tai chi and deep-breathing are all helpful strategies against winter SAD-ness.
- You might crave simple carbohydrates such as pasta, but complex carbs, including oatmeal and starchy vegetables, are slower to digest and are a better choice.
- Sleep plays an important role in managing many of the symptoms associated with the winter blues and SAD.
- Waking up in sync with the sun rising can improve your energy, mood, and productivity.
- If you have to wake up particularly early, consider exercising or even just a short walk to start your day.
Embracing the Winter
- Shift your thinking.
- When you are feeling down, do something social or try a new activity.
- Winter can be a wonderful time of year, with many outdoor hobbies at your disposal and lots of daily pleasures to embrace and enjoy. Whether it’s getting in touch with nature or embracing the elements, winter can be a unique time of year to find happiness.
Throughout the holidays, feelings of increased sadness are normal. But as these wintry months wear on, keeping the literal darkness out of your life can be the most effective way to fight any figurative darkness. I encourage you to stay positive and to let as much light into your life as possible!
To learn more about different types of therapies visit our Therapies section on the website. – Thank you