The last days of summer are gone, and fall has finally arrived. From hot drinks to cozy sweaters to pumpkin patches, there’s a lot to love about the change of season. Although sweater season can be nice, the change in weather and lack of sunshine can leave others feeling depressed and less motivated. These symptoms often reflect Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include but are not limited to depression, lack of motivation, lethargy, and social withdrawal. If you suffer from any of those symptoms during this time of year, you aren’t alone! There are many ways to help prevent and manage the effects of SAD. Here are some tips to help find light during the darker months ahead.
1. Find Professional Support
If you have previously struggled with your mental health during the colder season, try talking with a therapist ahead of time. They can help you try to prepare for the months ahead. Based on previous sessions, your therapist can help create a personalized list of coping mechanisms that will work best for you.
Although there isn’t a cure, seeking mental health treatment can help you develop strategies to cope and keep you on top of your mental health. Medication is also a potential solution, and with today’s current advancements, you can even get a prescription online. Visit here to learn more about how to access mental health treatment online.
2. Soak up the Sun
Try to find ways to increase exposure to natural or artificial light in your day-to-day life. While you may prefer physical sunlight, it can be hard to capture on short winter days. Try waking up early for sunrise to soak up any sunshine you can. Vitamin D from the sun is needed to boost serotonin production.
If sunlight is limited throughout your day, buy an artificial light, such as a happy light, to keep your circadian rhythm on schedule. If you have windows, open your blinds throughout the day, and turn on your lights at night. Capturing as much light as you can help prevent fatigue and headaches.
3. Get Your Exercise On
When you exercise, your body naturally releases dopamine and endorphins that increase your mood and energy. Cold weather can sometimes prohibit you from enjoying your regular outdoor activities. Try finding indoor activities such as swimming, rock climbing, or working out at the gym to get your blood pumping! If the weather permits, take a walk around your neighborhood with a friend. Cardio can help release stress and tension in your body and set your day off on the right start.
4. Increase Your Vitamin Intake
This winter’s secret to your happiness may just be what’s on your plate. People who suffer from SAD tend to lean toward comfort foods with high sugar levels and carbs. Although quick and easy junk food may bring you temporary satisfaction, these foods often lead to fatigue and stomach aches. Try to stock up on food that is high in vitamins and healthy protein, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. The better foods you eat, the better you will feel.
5. Find a Nighttime Hobby
During the daytime, we are often busy at work or running errands to dwell too much on our SAD feelings. It’s harder to ignore feelings of loneliness and fatigue once you get home and switch your mind off from work mode. To distract yourself, try cheering yourself up with a new hobby you enjoy! Hobbies could include puzzles, knitting, reading, cooking, and more! Doing something that you enjoy can offer you a feeling of self-fulfillment and happiness.
6. Find Your Community
Winter months can make it easier for you to experience isolation and loneliness. Maintaining a proper social life can help increase your mood and motivation. If you don’t want to venture out in the cold, keep in touch with your friends virtually. Find times that work best for you and your loved ones and schedule weekly check-ins or online game nights. If you want to get out of the house, try meeting your friends at local coffee shops or cafes to keep warm.
7. Create Your Hibernation Den
This project can keep you busy and provide you with a safe, comfortable environment to chase the blues away. Find a favorite place in your home and fill it with items or decorations that bring happiness. This might be your bedroom, the living room, or even your office.
If you love summertime flowers, try buying indoor plants or fake flowers to decorate your area. If you are missing the smell of a rose, buy rose-scented candles to light when you get home from work. You might just enjoy a quiet place to sip some tea and read a book. A clean space of your own can help you feel relaxed and worry-free!
SAD-Proof Your Surroundings
Remember, Seasonal Affective Disorder is temporary. Although you may not be able to control the weather, you can help manage how it affects your mood. Start by thinking of everything that brings you happiness in the summer and how you can continue to practice them throughout the summer.
Brighten up the environment around you by adding lights and decorations. If you work from home, make sure you are maintaining a social life and reaching out to friends and family throughout the day. And remember, don’t be afraid to talk through your struggles with professionals for extra support.