Winter has arrived. The weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter, which means Seasonal Affective Disorder will be making a comeback. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs during the fall and winter seasons. Symptoms include feeling sad or listless for most of the day, having low energy, trouble sleeping and more. SAD affects 10 to 20 percent of the population every year.
During this busy time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday chaos and neglect your own needs. If you’re a person afflicted by SAD, it’s important to remember that taking care of your mental health is not only okay but necessary for your wellbeing. Here are some tips that we’ve put together to help you cope with seasonal depression.
1. Stick to a schedule
Creating a schedule is a great way to ensure you’re keeping busy all day. If you fill your day with work to keep your mind occupied and fun activities to avoid isolation, you’ll have less time to focus on negative feelings. People with SAD often have trouble sleeping. Keeping up with a schedule will also help to improve sleep, which can help to relieve your symptoms.
2. Regular physical activity
Just like any other type of depression, physical activity is a very helpful method for improving your mood and giving you energy. Working out releases endorphins in your brain that help to elevate your mood, which is why it’s important to keep up with your workout routine. Making time in your day to workout can be a daunting task, but even doing a few living room exercises a day will be immensely helpful for you. Check out FTOC’s monthly workout blogs for some inspiration!
3. Take advantage of the sun while it’s there
The lack of sunshine is a huge reason why seasonal depression occurs. Shorter days throw off your circadian rhythm, and lack of exposure to the sun can cause vitamin D deficiency, which often leads to SAD. That and shorter, colder days leave less room for fun activities, which can definitely bring down your mood. That’s why it’s important to soak up the sunshine while it is there. Make plans during the day whenever you’re free and make sure to take some time out of your schedule to go on walks. The more sun you see, the better.
4. Talk to a professional
If your symptoms are affecting your way of life, it absolutely warrants seeking out professional help. If you’re having trouble maintaining energy, scheduling activities and avoiding isolation, a professional will be able to help you achieve healthy habits that will improve your mental health. Talking out your feelings with another person also helps to relieve feelings of depression and it’s important not to keep your feelings bottled up.
5. Keep a journal
Keeping a journal is a great way to track your mood and give yourself an outlet for your emotions when no one else is around to talk to. You aren’t going to be around loved ones or a therapist every time you feel the need to get something off your chest. Just remember that you are your own greatest listener. It will also help you to prioritize your feelings and concerns so you can know what you need to tackle and keep track of the coping methods that have been working for you.
Families Together understands how difficult it is to stay on top of your mental health during the busy holiday season. If you’re in need of some help, please check out our variety of behavioral health services. We also offer wellness services such as fitness training and cooking classes that may be helpful for anyone looking to improve their wellbeing. Please call us at 1(800) 597-7977 ext. 509 for more information.