For some people, winter is filled with holiday parties, basking in holiday cheer, and making new memories over holidays with family and friends. But, for others it can be filled with sad thoughts, feelings of hopelessness, and a lack of motivation to go anywhere. If this is you around this time every year, you should do some research on SAD. This disorder starts around the fall into the winter months (because of less sunlight) and in most cases, seems to fizzle out when the warmer weather appears. Some of the symptoms can include depression, fatigue, and social withdrawal.
According to the Mayo Clinic, although specific causes remain unknown here are a few things that can affect your mood during the winter months.
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm).The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
- Serotonin levels.A drop-in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop-in serotonin that may trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels.The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Here are some things you can do to feel a little better if you have SAD:
Step 1 GET AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
Tell at least one person what you are going through so that they will hopefully check in on you occasionally and make sure you are getting some form of treatment.
Step 2 LIGHT THERAPY
Because it’s the lack of sunlight that may trigger SAD, then access to more light could really help. It involves sitting close to a bright LED light in the mornings before you start your day. Standing outside and sitting in the sun for 15 extra minutes during the middle of the day can help too.
Step 3 THERAPY
If you have the time, meeting with a therapist to get your feelings out can be a great addition to the other things you are doing.
Step 4 SUPPLEMENTS
In research studies, low vitamin D levels have been associated with depression. Check in with your doctor first, but consider taking a Vitamin D supplement at least during the winter months.
STEP 5 POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
Force yourself every morning on your way to work to listen positive affirmations that remind your brain how amazing you are and how much potential you have.
STEP 6 BABY STEPS
If you are feeling overwhelmed because of SAD, instead of trying to do all of these steps, choose one and try it for a week. Then, take note in your phone or in a journal of how you are feeling. The following week keep doing the same thing and add one more thing. The point is to be proud of yourself for any type of progress you are making to feel better.