Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a bout of depression that coincides with a change in season. Though some people can be affected by seasonal depression in the spring and summer, most people experience periods of low mood as autumn ends and winter begins.
Like depression, some symptoms of SAD include low energy and motivation to take care of yourself, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy and feeling sluggish, or in more serious cases feeling hopeless, worthless and contemplating hurting yourself. As our days get shorter, colder and darker, read on to learn how you can cope with seasonal depression and ease its symptoms.
Get more sunlight - real or artificial
One of the main reasons people feel depressed around this time is the lack of sun. Exposure to sunlight increases the amount of mood-boosting hormones in our bodies called serotonin. A bright, sunny day can instantly put you in good spirits, so in the winter, it can be hard to feel that same motivation and good energy. How do we get excited about the prospects a new year brings when it’s pitch black by 5pm?
We can’t increase the amount of sunlight we get, but we can be mindful of it and plan into our journals time to go outside more often to enjoy it. Start going outside during your lunch breaks, walk to the station during your morning commute rather than get the bus, start visiting public green spaces on the weekends. You can even buy realistic, affordable lighting for your home that mimics sunlight such as light boxes to lift your mood.
Colour therapy has been used for centuries to treat low mood. Blue lights are thought to increase alertness, general mood and attentiveness while pink light can help with detoxifying. You can get affordable LED lights for your room to add colour to your life. Many spas even offer colour therapy with their sessions, but if you can’t afford or don’t have time for that right now, why not try colouring with pencils, pens and paints? Adult colouring has been increasingly popular because it helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and sleep and relieve feelings of depression, loneliness and sadness. All of our goodies have hundreds of illustrations for you to get creative.
During a new year, we tend to nest and stay indoors to avoid the cold, dark weather, especially if we are going through seasonal depression. For a lot of us, it’s also our busiest period at work, so we are often too tired to be sociable. Even if you are introverted, planning it into your schedule and making time for a drink with a friend or evening meal with your family can reduce feelings of depression and sadness. If you don’t have the time, squeeze in a Facetime call, or even an iMessage game with a loved one to feel connected.
Talk to a doctor
There is no shame in talking to a doctor if things get really hard, especially if you are really struggling to cope and get through the day. A doctor can recommend the best therapies or medication that you may need. Remember that seasonal depression is extremely common, so this won’t be new to them. You aren’t alone and it’s your right to get medical attention if you need it. Please also check out a list of mental health support systems we have put together that you can reach out to if you need more support.
Seasonal depression will pass, but it can be exhausting and upsetting to go through. With these tips, you will hopefully be able to cope with it a little better and hold on to the balance, happiness and health you deserve.
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