It’s time to face the fact that winter is coming. As people begin to take down their Halloween decorations and replace them with various ornaments and snowflakes, soon enough it will be 30 degrees and you will need to bring out your huge winter jacket. Now for those of us who do not thrive in the freezing cold, these next few months are going to be tough. Seasonal depression is no joke. There are more than 3 million cases of seasonal depression per year according to Mental Health America, with symptoms including fatigue, depression, social withdrawal and hopelessness. Since seasonal depression is so common it can be easy to just brush it off and dismiss your funk, but making sure you are taking care of your mental health is extremely essential during these chilly months. Here are some tips to help combat seasonal affective disorder.
- Surround yourself with your friends:
- This is essential in making sure you are not shutting yourself out from those who care about you. It is so easy to isolate yourself during this time, especially when staying in and watching movies becomes more appealing (and trust me, that happens to me too), however it is important to make sure to dedicate time to being with your friends and family. Whether it is watching a movie together, going out to dinner or planning a winter themed activity like ice skating or skiing, it is easy to come up with ideas to stay occupied and avoid hibernation!
- Stay active
- Physical activity is important in every aspect of life, not just in the winter. Bering physical releases endorphins and is a natural way to fight against the imbalance of neurotransmitters that help contribute to seasonal depression. I’m not suggesting you attend cross fit everyday or train to run a marathon, but you can definitely find an activity that you enjoy. These activities could be like walking outside with your friends, participating in a yoga class or picking up a new activity you haven’t tried before. Moving your body is so important toward taking care of both your physical and mental health!
- Bright Light Therapy
- Bright Light Therapy is when you sit in front of a light therapy box. You can order one off of Amazon or any other online website. The light works because it stimulates cells in the retina, which connects to the hypothalamus and this helps regulate your circadian rhythms. All it takes is 30 minutes per day and it has found to be very effective in helping decrease seasonal depression and can be easily done at home.
Your mental health is nothing to dismiss. If you feel yourself getting in a funk and beginning to isolate yourself, you may want to try some of these tips or talk to a professional if you find it to be something more serious. Although the cold months may not last as long in North Carolina than in Minnesota, seasonal affective disorder is something that affects one in 20 people in the Northern Half of the United States, according to Oregon Medical Group. While being a college student is very fun, it can be easy to push aside your anxiety or distress. Make sure you are prioritizing your mental health and taking a minimum 30 seconds to check in with yourself every day.