The weather can often affect our moods and feelings. When it is sunny and warm, many of us feel happy and energetic. While during the colder, gloomier months of winter, many of us may feel lethargic, or plagued by lingering sadness. Sometimes the shorter days, and cold, and grey days can trigger seasonal affective disorder. It’s instigated by change in seasons. Symptoms can include feelings of sadness, loss of energy, and a disinterest in activities you usually enjoy. You may also experience oversleeping, fatigue, and change in appetite.
But you don’t have to brush off these symptoms as winter blues. You can take strategies and steps to increase and maintain your mood and energy, even throughout the winter months. We have rounded up some tips and steps to combat seasonal affective disorder.
Soak up some sunshine.
A lack of sunshine can reduce your levels of vitamin D, which can change your serotonin levels and your mood. A lack of sunlight can increase your levels of melatonin, leading to a lethargic feeling. Therefore, stepping outside for a walk can help maintain your sunlight exposure. If you work from home, you could rearrange your working space to be beside a window. When indoors, keep your blinds open to allow as much natural light in as possible.
Prioritise Socialising with Friends.
Even though you may want to bundle up on the couch in your warm home, it is vital to focus on maintaining social activities, just like you would in warmer months. Stretches of isolation can contribute to feelings of depression and loneliness. Studies have found a relationship between isolation and seasonal affective disorder. Therefore, up keeping your social interactions can help combat those negative feelings and keep you in a better mood. We love meeting friends for coffee, or for a walk at your local park or beach.
Try Aerobic Exercise.
Aerobic exercise such as running can help combat seasonal affective disorder by releasing endorphins which can help lift your spirits, and ease anxiety or long-term sadness. Aerobic exercise while also going outside can help improve your levels of serotonin.
Stick to a Routine.
During the winter, there is less sunlight, and this can affect your biological clock. Your biological clock influences your sleep, hormones, and mood. Sticking to a schedule can improve your sleep by ensuring you achieve consistent and predictable exposure to light. Try sticking to the same meals time as well to maintain energy levels from food. Set regular times for movement.
Start a Journal.
Journals can be a great way to release your thoughts. It can help you compartmentalise your daily life, moods, feelings, and thoughts. Journaling can help you prioritise your problems and anxieties. It can also help you keep track of your daily life, record your symptoms, and provide an outlet for self-soothing. You can also use your journal to track your goals for the winter, giving you something to work towards and better acknowledge your intentions. Thus, it can be a great way to manage stress and ease anxiety and depression.
(2022). Journaling for Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1#:~:text=Journaling%20helps%20control%20your%20symptoms,and%20identifying%20negative%20thoughts%20and
Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Retrieved from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression
Heneghan, C. (2016). 6 Tips for Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder. Retrieved from: https://www.dignityhealth.org/articles/6-tips-for-overcoming-seasonal-affective-disorder
Orenstein, B. W., & Pugle, M. (2021). 14 Ways to Ease Seasonal Depression. Retrieved from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/treatment/ways-to-ease-seasonal-depression/