Winter is Coming...How to Prepare Your Body and Your Mind for the Season Change
As the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to drop, I can't help but think about the many people who struggle with the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is characterized by a significant change in mood during the fall and winter months, shown by the symptoms of: sadness, anxiety, irritability, loss of interest in normal activities, and withdrawal from social connections (there are more but I think you get the point.) These symptoms vary by your location on the earth; with those who live in colder, darker regions often reporting more instances of SAD.
Now, many of you may not experience the full severity of these symptoms but I'm guessing you are familiar with a few of them to some degree. We cannot prevent SAD from happening completely but there are ways to prepare for the onslaught of negative thoughts and emotions. Here are some thoughts I have around battling the moodiness that comes from the change in sunlight and warmth.
1. Create an exercise routine you can stick to all season. This is your chance to truly get in touch with your abilities; ie, If you live in an area that gets exceedingly cold and dark in the wintertime, it may be not be a good time to take up trail running. Choose an activity that makes sense for you and the season.
2. Take advantage of the morning sunshine. When you can, throw open the blinds, bask in the warmth coming through the window, and catch the rays while they are there. If you cannot get enough light, check out recommendation #5!
3. Get realistic about your needs and your situation. So often we push away our problems or issues and just try to muscle through our challenges. But in reality we simply need to accept our situation and do what is necessary to take care of ourselves. This is easy for me to talk about over the internet but challenging in practice.
4. Set up a weekly social activity. Get a group of friends together for a weekly dinner and hangout, connect with a local group who cares about the same things you care about, become a team member for an indoor sport. You get the idea, get yourself connected with others and enjoy some social time.
5. Invest in tools, supplements, and if necessary, therapy for your issues. Light boxes have shown to be helpful for those with SAD, just check out these recommendations first. As far as supplements go, make sure you are taking in the vitamins and minerals you need to feel your best. I really like this detailed explanation of the different supplements out there.
If you try your best to deal with SAD on your own and it just isn't working, seek out a therapist who can help you through your issues with seasonal depression. I recommend this as a last resort because I truly believe there are many things you can do on your own to help yourself. Therapy is expensive so I recommend it to those who absolutely need it, and while I do believe that it works, I also believe that SAD is a unique disorder that can often be treated through dedicated self care and alternative therapies. When is it time to go to therapy? When you are having significant trouble engaging in your normal life. If you have trouble getting up for work most days or cannot even consider connecting with a social community, please get help and find someone who can guide you through this season of life.