During this time of year, the days are shorter and get darker earlier. The weather is cold and gloomy. You aren't alone if you notice that your mood is changing. Do you feel down more often? Or a lack of motivation to do anything? After the workday is over, you may feel more drained than normal.
If you experience this every winter (or any season), you are likely dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you are still determining if this affects you, let's look at the associated symptoms.
Symptoms Of Seasonal Depression
You may start experiencing milder symptoms as summer turns to fall. But then, as fall transitions to winter, you'll likely see these symptoms slowly worsening. This could look like:
Feeling sad almost every day
Loss of interest in activities
Poor eating habits
Low energy/easily fatigued
Change in sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or not enough)
Tips For Dealing With SAD
Everything may seem very bleak right now, but that doesn't mean you have to continue to suffer.
1. Keep A Routine
Try to keep a consistent schedule. This can apply to many areas of your life. If you can, aim to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night. If you are struggling to get things done, try to block out time each day to get things done. For instance, try to decompress for at least 45 minutes after you get done with work. Afterward, you may find that you have the energy to accomplish a few things.
Also, don't try to force yourself to do too much every day. Balancing kids, work, and household duties are enough of a struggle. Give yourself the understanding that you can't do it all at once.
Just because it's cold out and you don't want to go outside, this doesn't mean you can't still get exercise. You don't even have to sign up for a gym membership. There are plenty of home workouts you can look up on YouTube that are free. And there is the option of paid subscription programs if your budget allows for it.
Exercise releases feel-good endorphins into your body that can improve your mood, fighting depression head-on! Aiming for 30-45 minutes of exercise daily can be a manageable way to get your body moving. You don't even need to do it all at once. 10 to 15-minute intervals at a time is still completely fine.
3. Light Therapy
During the winter months, you have less exposure to light, especially if you live in the northern half of the United States. Artificial sunlight lamps or lightboxes can be game changers in the winter. It can keep your circadian rhythm balanced and counteract the effects of darker days.
With less sunlight exposure, your body is likely lacking in key vitamins. Vitamin D, for instance, is linked to low moods and can make you feel out of balance. Be sure to talk to your primary doctor first to make sure it's safe for you to add supplements to your diet. You can also look up foods that contain key nutrients and vitamins, which can help you eat healthier and feel better.
5. Reach Out For Support
Dealing with seasonal depression is a very real thing. While it may come and go like the seasons, that doesn't make it any less real. No matter what season it is, your mental health and well-being matter. The stigma surrounding mental health has decreased, and more people realize how important it is to find help for their mood disorders or other struggles.