So I think it's safe to say that the warm weather is now behind us, and we find ourselves in another season of cold weather and shorter days. This can leave us feeling in a bit of a funk, maybe less motivated to get things done or wanting to sleep more. But for others, this change in weather conditions can mean some serious decline in their mental health. Those who suffer with seasonal depression may see an unexplained change in their mood, energy levels, ability to cope and ability to sleep. When this happens, it can affect their ability to function in their daily lives. Work performance my take a decline, or healthy habits may be put on the back burner.
If you find yourself struggling with these types of symptoms know that you are not alone. According to Mental Health America, seasonal depression affects approximately 5% of Americans every year. These symptoms can range from mild to severe impairment, and left untreated can create a setback that can be difficult to recover from. There are many experts that say that lack of sunlight could be the culprit in this shift of mood. As I talk about frequently, getting outside and being active can greatly reduce symptoms of depression and make them more manageable. However, once we enter late fall/early winter, your ability to get outside decreases due to the sun setting earlier and the temperatures going down.
Luckily, there are ways to combat seasonal depression. If you find yourself having some difficulties managing your mental health, and you think seasonal depression may be to blame, try out these next five things that might be able to help.
Talk to your doctor about medication. Seasonal depression may be treated with certain medications that treat depression. Talk to your doctor about your options, or see if you can get a referral to speak with a psychiatrist. Nothing again primary care providers, but sometimes getting a perspective from someone who specializes in psychotropic medications can increase your chances of getting the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.
Go to therapy. I know this is probably something I talk about a lot. I honestly believe that anyone can benefit from therapy no matter how mild or severe your symptoms are. A therapist can help you gain some insight into your symptoms, identify patterns of thinking or behavior, and help you find ways to make small daily changes that can help you manage easier.
Get a sunlight lamp. If your symptoms are being affected by a lack of sunlight, a special lamp may be what you need to increase motivation and energy levels. Sometimes these can even be prescribed by a doctor to you, giving you the advantage of not having to spend a lot of money to reap the benefits.
Try to keep your routine consistent. Even though it's getting cold and dark outside, it can be helpful to stay consistent in your morning and evening routines. You may be now having a difficult time waking up in the morning or wanting to go to sleep earlier which can throw off your normal schedule. Determine what will work best for you as far as keep your schedule the same or maybe shifting an hour to the right or left. Either way, make sure you keep the consistency going so that you don't lose that traction.
Keep that exercise going. During this time of year it may be more favorable to hit that snooze instead of getting that workout in. Of course, if you're changing up your routine, you may be able to fit in some exercise in the evenings instead. Since the weather is getting colder, you may have to get creative with your chosen activities if you like working out outside. Yoga classes or work out videos at home might be a great alternative once you're not able to get outdoors anymore.
There are definitely more ways to reduce those cold weather blues, but these are a good start to get you to figure out where you may need to make changes in order to get through this season. Do you have other ways that help you maintain a good state of mind when the seasons shift? I'd love to hear about it!
As always, be well and wag on!