Are you prone to feeling down each winter? The “winter blues” can be common as we experience fewer hours of sunlight, colder temperatures and the holidays behind us. However, when symptoms of sadness persist, or occur yearly, this may be a sign of something more serious. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that affects people at the same time each year and corresponds with a particular season. It most commonly impacts women, people living in northern regions, and affects people in the late fall to early winter months. Symptoms will be negatively affecting daily life and represent a significant change in functioning. Symptoms commonly include:
- Feeling sad most days?
- Lack of desire to participate in your usual hobbies or interests?
- Sleeping more yet still feeling exhausted?
- Canceling plans and preferring to be alone?
- Eating more than usual or gaining weight?
- Trouble concentrating?
A few additions to your daily routine can help boost your mood during this time.
- Soaking in the sunshine. Open your curtains, sit near windows, take a morning walk or use a lightbox
- Consistent exercise. A large body of literature shows that cardiovascular exercise and weightlifting are effective methods for improving your mood.
- Talking it out. Share your experience with a trusted family member, friend, colleague or pastor. You may also prefer journaling or recording a vlog.
- Develop seasonal hobbies. Participating in seasonal sports, activities (e.g. canning) or volunteering (e.g. tax prep) will give you something to look forward to and will create a yearly tradition.
- Attend therapy. Speaking with a Psychologist can provide the accountability to create and maintain a healthier routine, problem solve through stuck points occurring mentally and environmentally, and teach you coping strategies tailored to reduce depressive symptoms.