With the change of time, less daylight, and colder temperatures, winter can be a prime season for individuals to experience depression
Knowing what to expect and how to work with seasonal depression rather than against it can help you navigate the “winter blues.”
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs during a period of time when individuals experience a shift in mood, energy, and mental health. This most often appears with the change in seasons from summer to fall to winter, with symptoms that ease in the spring.
Signs and symptoms of SAD include many of the same symptoms of major depression, but for a shorter period. According to NIMH, these symptoms may include:
- Feeling depressed for the bulk of the day
- Losing interest in activities that once brought you pleasure
- Shifts in appetite or weight
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling lethargic or restless
- Low energy
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Difficulty focusing
- Experiencing recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, beginning individual therapy can be an excellent place to start learning how to navigate the gloomy seasons and your mental health.
Navigating the ‘Winter Blues’
There are many coping skills you can utilize as you support yourself and discover what eases symptoms of SAD for you. Below are four strategies you can consider:
#1. Movement — Although it may feel like the last thing you want to do, finding a movement practice that works for you is one way to boost endorphins that increases your mood and self-esteem while combating symptoms of depression.
#2. Fresh Air — Getting fresh air, even in the colder months, can widen your perspective, serve as an opportunity to be mindful, and boost hormones such as dopamine. All of these things can lead to elevated moods.
#3. Indoor Hobbies — Winter can be a time of turning to Netflix and social media to fill your time with the absence of hobbies you may partake in during the warmer months. While there is nothing inherently wrong with Netflix and social media, too much time spent on either can lead to feeling disconnected and numb. Finding indoor hobbies you enjoy — such as creating art, cooking new recipes, or playing games with your family — can be a better use of your time.
#4. Creating Routines — Developing rituals in your life that feel sacred and that you look forward to can allow you to experience magic in the mundane. Perhaps that is sipping coffee in the morning as you read, meditating with a blanket wrapped around you, or unwinding with tea in the evening in front of the fireplace. Whatever it is, finding practices you enjoy can bring an abundance of pleasure on days that feel hard.
Seasonal affective disorder is challenging to experience as we cannot control the change in seasons. However, we can choose what we do about it, including surrendering the need to be in control. Getting support during seasons of depression — regardless of the season — is a radical act of self-care. Whether through individual therapy, learning coping skills, or determining the proper medication, we can help. To learn more about our services and start the healing process, call us today at (844) 857-5992.