You may have felt it at some point — that little flutter of sadness that comes with the changing of the seasons. You also may have experienced the feeling that comes when you realize it’ll be dark both when you go to work and when you come home for the next few months. Perhaps you’ve even felt dread when you realized that every time you go outside, the weather is going to be less than ideal.
How To Combat The Winter Blues
For many, this is just a brief or fleeting feeling (though you may still count down the days until the seasons change again). But for others, this feeling is much more severe. Some people enter into a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It is a form of major depressive disorder that occurs in predictable, seasonal patterns, typically during the fall and winter months of each year.
People that are diagnosed with SAD often experience symptoms such as changes in their mood including sadness, hopelessness, and numbness. They may also experience a loss of appetite or a loss of interest in things they used to enjoy. Many who experience SAD feel a prolonged period of lethargy and may overeat or oversleep more frequently.
Fortunately, there are many ways that people with SAD can work towards alleviating their symptoms and successfully combat the winter blues.
Ways to Combat SAD
SAD is thought to occur due to a seasonal decrease in the amount of sunlight a person is exposed to. Because of this, one of the most common ways to manage symptoms is to utilize some form of light box. The light exposure mimics sunlight, helping the body and combating feelings of depression.
Likewise, many people work to find ways to combat the feeling of lethargy that comes with the arrival of the winter season. This can include things like a set workout routine that keep the body moving and release endorphins.
Likewise, finding something in the winter to be passionate about can help with staying motivated in all areas of life. Some people have found that performing arts are a great way to stay involved, even if done virtually, especially if they’re struggling with motivation or stuck at home due to inclement weather. Not only does this kind of hobby let you practice doing what you love, but it also allows you to be social and connect with other people.
Improving Your Space
Others have found that they experience real benefits when they reduce some of the other stresses in their life in preparation for the winter. This can involve tasks like a fall cleaning or de-cluttering session. It’s thought that having a clean space can be beneficial for mental health, easing feelings of anxiety and depression as well as giving energy levels a bit of a boost.
For others, taking care of tasks that will help maintain a more comfortable indoor space in the wintertime can also be valuable. Things like putting up fun, seasonal decor or getting a furnace tune-up can ensure that the house stays nice and cozy during the winter. In combination with a powerful light box, it can feel like summer in your home even during the coldest months of winter.
When to See a Professional
All of the previous examples of ways to combat SAD are just that: examples. Everyone has unique experiences with depression. For some people, these tips may work and make the winter months a bit more bearable. For others, these tips may not help, and they may need to seek professional support.
Both doctors and therapists can work to treat SAD. Therapists can be great resources to talk to and seek advice from. Sometimes just having someone to listen to and guide you through things makes a huge difference, especially when you’re struggling.
Likewise, seeking medical advice from a doctor may be the difference between a winter of struggles and one that seems bearable. No matter who you look to for assistance, always follow the advice of your doctor or therapist to best manage SAD and combat the winter blues.
About the Writer: Miles is an independent writer with a background in business and passion for psychology, news, and simply helping people live happy and fulfilled lives. When he is not writing, he is most likely mountain biking or kicking back with a cup of tea.
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