It’s that time of year, the leaves have fallen, temperatures have dropped and while the sun sets earlier, our emotions fall in the cracks. Known to many as winter blues or seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects nearly 10 million Americans every year, typically during the late fall and winter months.
As we experience less sunlight we are susceptible to drops in serotonin which regulate our mood and a boost in melatonin which is triggered by the night and results in feeling sleepy earlier than normal. According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, symptoms associated with SAD are feelings of loneliness, fatigue, lack of motivation, sudden and unexplained feelings of sadness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns. We’ve scoured the internet to find a few things you can do to help battle seasonal depression:
1. Surround Yourself with Friends and Family
With the temperature dropping, it’s easy to find yourself staying indoors and isolated from your family and friends, but now more than ever is the time to reach out to those you love and make an effort to spend time with them.
2. Get Active
Exercise can help to release serotonin along with endorphins, both known as “feel good” chemicals according to Help Guide. Even something as simple as going for a walk can “improve moods and mental functioning,” according to Harvard Medical School.
3. Watch What You Eat
According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, “serotonin is synthesized in response to carbohydrates, so low serotonin prompts carbohydrate cravings,” which causes weight gain and in turn can contribute to SAD. Not only will maintaining a balanced and stable diet help alleviate winter weight gain but it will also help boost your mood and energy.
4. Soak Up Some Light
Whether it be going out during the day to soak up natural sunlight to help boost serotonin levels or participating in light therapy to combat feeling sleepy as early. Light therapy boxes can be found on Amazon ranging from $19-$60.
5. Take Supplements
With the lack of motivation it may have been easy to fall off of a routine of taking your needed supplements, or, maybe you never took them to begin with. We recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement to make up for the lack of sun and also consulting with your doctor to figure out what vitamins would be the best for your mind and body.
6. Find a Hobby
When you keep yourself focused and moving you have less time to sit idle and fall into the hands of seasonal depression. You could try journaling, fitness classes, or reading, anything to give yourself something to look forward to everyday.
7. Get Help
If none of the self-help practices work for you and you find that your symptoms are crippling, seeking professional help is necessary. Tools like Zocdoc can help you find counselors and therapists near you and in your insurance network.