As the weather cools down and the sun shines less, seasonal depression often starts to rear its ugly head—leaving many feel down. It is estimated that as many as 10 million Americans struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) each year, while many more face the winter blues, according to Psychology Today.
Seasonal depression doesn’t have to take over your life. There are ways to keep symptoms away and to manage your feelings as they come. Brighter days are ahead. Here are some suggestions from us at Rooted & Rising:
1.) Recognize when it is time to get help.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do if you suffer from seasonal depression is to recognize when it is time to get help from a professional. Depression is very serious and sometimes you need a little guidance from a counselor or therapist. Some of the signs that you might want to consider help are consistent feelings of low mood, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, lack of energy, hopelessness, and despair. People with SAD may disconnect from family and friends, lose interest in the things they once enjoyed, have difficulty concentrating, oversleep, or have muscle tension or stomach problems.
If you have severe symptoms of SAD or are struggling to pull yourself out of a depressed state then consider seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional. A trained counselor or therapist can help you work through this time and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
2.) Get outside and move.
Fresh air can do wonders for your mood and your overall mental health, combine that with some movement and the benefits can be huge. Layer up and go for a short walk each day outside. If you have dogs, take them with you. Consider taking up a hobby like skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. Build a snowman with the kids or engage them in a snowball fight. It doesn’t take much. A little time outside each day will go a long way.
3.) Get some sun.
The biggest challenge this time of the year is the lack of sunlight. Make the most of the sun when you can. Take advantage of sunny days by opening the blinds and sitting by the window. Go for walks on sunny days. Consider planning a vacation to somewhere warm during the winter months, a break in the heart of the cold can be a great reset. Another helpful tool for many SAD sufferers is light therapy. You can purchase special lights that help to mimic sunlight and use those a few minutes a day on the darkest days.
4.) Stick to a routine.
Routines can be helpful tools when you are trying to avoid getting into a depressive state. Do your best to maintain a consistent routine. Keep consistent sleep and wake times, add in exercise a few days a week, and stick to a regular eating schedule. Even if you feel like all you want to do is stay in bed, don’t. Once you start breaking the routine and avoiding regular life activities, you become at risk of getting severely depressed.
5.) Maintain healthy eating habits.
The winter months can be an easy time to overindulge in sweets, fatty foods, and alcohol or other substances. We are all inside and bored, after all. But try to avoid overdoing it. It will only make you feel worse. Maintain healthy eating habits so that you can keep feeling your best and keep your immune system in top shape.
6.) Keep connecting.
A major sign of depression is withdrawing from others. That might be exactly what you feel like doing, but try to maintain connection. Connect with others through phone calls or text messages. Meet friends for meals or activities outside the home, if you are comfortable. Human connection is an important part of life. It can help to lift your mood and keep you healthy.
7.) Remember this won’t last forever.
The winter months won’t last forever, even if they feel like it. The sun will return. In the meantime, you are becoming more resilient and stronger than ever. You are learning how to cope and heal. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a counselor or therapist if you are struggling. They can help to guide you.
Ready to begin counseling in PA?
The professionally trained and licensed counselors at Rooted & Rising Therapy in Bridgeville have openings. Our practice specializes in treating individuals through years of experience, we’re confident that no problem is too great to overcome. Through therapy, there is always a way to address the issues you face and learn coping strategies to help you both right now and in the future. Just call our office at (412) 228-8489 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started to feeling better today. We are here for you.