This year we’re fighting the December Blues
I always wondered why I didn’t like winter. The season always came with grogginess, irritability, and overall depression. After Thanksgiving, I always dreaded what the rest of the cold season would hold for me. It wasn’t until 8th grade when I decided to take a mental health related quiz, and it told me that I might have seasonal depression. Ever since I’ve been letting it beat me up, just waiting for the season to change. With last winter being the worst, I decided it time for something to change. If you find yourself relating to any of this, keep reading to see how we both can fight seasonal depression this upcoming winter.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression triggered by the change of the seasons that occur primarily in the winter. Symptoms include decreased concentration, increased appetite, weight gain, social withdrawal, moodiness, and fatigue. Researchers aren’t sure of its cause. Theories include that the time change is messing with our body clocks and the changing season affects our serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects moods and behaviors, and melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles.
Fortunately, here are multiple treatments to help alleviate the effects of SAD.
Talk with a professional
It’s hard to determine whether this is just sadness or and an indication of seasonal depression, so it’s vital to speak with a doctor or therapist. Symptoms are similar to other forms of depression so it can be misdiagnosed.
Try Light Therapy
One characteristic of the winter season is lack of sunshine, which ultimately affects your mood. Light therapy boxes can mimic sunshine. The light from the boxes is brighter than regular light bulbs. Sitting in front of a light box for at least 30 minutes can stimulate your circadian rhythm and suppress the natural release of melatonin.
The essential oils can influence areas of the brain that are responsible for controlling moods and the body’s internal clock. Try dropping a few of your favorite scents into your bath or on your pillow.
In cold weather, the last thing you want to do is go out and exercise, but it can help alleviate SAD. Exercising outdoors is very helpful. Getting some fresh air is better than staying inside and being cooped up with your thoughts all day. But if you find it is too cold to go for a walk, find the nearest treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical close to a window.
Keep To A Schedule
Do you find yourself having trouble sleeping at night and getting up in the morning? Maintaining a regular sleep schedule improves sleep which can also help with seasonal depression. Also, don’t be afraid to add a few more extracurricular activities. Keeping yourself busy is an easy way to not focus on any of the negative thoughts you are having.
Take a “self care” day
If you have the luxury of taking a vacation during the winter season, get out and do it! If not taking a day off from work or school is still a viable option. Take the day to focus on yourself and try to get back your peace.
A good way to get out of your head is to put your thoughts down on paper. By writing it out or saying it out loud, your worries don’t feel as big. Writing for about 20 minutes a day can positively affect your mood. Include your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. The best time to write would be at night to reflect on the day and maybe plan on how you’re going to make the next day better.
One of the most vital steps you can take in fighting seasonal depression is to be proactive. If you know the weather affects your mental health start working now so that you can keep your peace this winter season. It is important not to treat SAD as an inevitable winter side effect. Taking action can make the difference between a lonely three month stretch and a happy winter.