It’s winter. It’s cold. Its wet. And sometimes, it sucks. Many of us know about depression but some people experience worsening symptoms over the winter. With the season lasting an average of four months, maybe more, we could all use some help keeping our mental health in order. What’s going on? How do we make it stop? ...or at least make it better? We’re here to help.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that has a seasonal pattern. This means that symptoms typically worsen during the winter months with less severe symptoms during the warmer months. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 6% of the population experience seasonal depression, while up to 20% of the population experience a less severe version we often hear as the “winter blues”. The winter blues is REAL, depression is REAL, seasonal affect disorder is REAL. If it’s affecting you, here’s what to do!
Nutrition is a major factor in mental health. During the fall and winter months, the vitamin D we usually get from the sun is minimized drastically. Mushrooms, almond milk, and oatmeal are just a few examples of natural sources of Vitamin D that are easy to incorporate into your diet. If cuisine isn’t too much of your thing, finding a good Vitamin D supplement could do just the trick.
2. Bundle up & Socialize
Alright it’s cold, but don’t let a whole four months pass you by. Hibernation is for the bears & research shows socializing and connecting with others increases positive mood and combats feelings of depression. Step out to dinner or dancing, or invite some friends over for a movie night. Keep the good times coming.
3. Self- Care
We hear the term self-care floating around a lot, but it is included here for an important reason. Self- care is a therapy. It connects you to your inner self despite the chaos in our modern lives. Read, take a nap, or watch your favorite tv show. Remember, the best things in life are free, and the same goes for self-care. However you choose to engage in the act of self care, remember that the healing is in the practice of simply doing something with the sole intention being your happiness.
4. Seek a Professional
It’s important to know that you are not helpless. Mental health professionals and health coaches help to guide and support you during these challenging times. If you are aware of how the change in season affect you, preparation is key. So save some tantalizing vitamin D rich recipes, keep a great support system of loved ones around, make a list of self care activities you know will help to keep your soul at peace, and make sure to find and contact a therapist or health/life coach who can help you along the way.
It’s never too late.