New England has officially started to turn cold y’all. And it happened pretty much overnight. So your girl had to take out her gloves, hat, heavier coat, and scarf. The days have also gotten shorter and I am officially ready to hibernate. The change in weather reminded me how much we are affected by seasonal changes.
The winter blues or as clinically stated, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression due to seasonal changes. About 3 million people in the US are diagnosed with this each year. Read more about SAD here.
The symptoms typically start during the Autumn months and continue into the Spring. Moodiness and less energy are typical signs you may be impacted by the season change. Other signs may be increased irritability, weight gain, overeating, depressed mood. The belief is that our bodies are thrown off due to less sunlight and a change in mood regulating neurotransmitters in the brain. You don’t have to be diagnosed with SAD to experience this. Most people will tell you they have an inclination to hibernate and feel less energetic in the cooler months.
So what can you do?
Set a daily routine. Your body has an internal clock and is used to a certain schedule. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time each day. Resist the urge to sleep in or take long naps. This helps to put your body on a schedule and regulates melatonin which helps you to sleep. Get outside and soak up as much sun as you can!!
Get active. Engaging in some physical activity during the day improves energy levels and increases dopamine to help with a better mood.
Get social. Spend some time with friends and family. It’s nice to have others validate your feelings, give hugs, and comfort you. Maybe even plan a mini vacation to warmer temperatures.
Add more plants and fruits to your diet. Cooler months are all about the comfort foods. So instead of sugary treats and high calorie meals, make some casseroles, soups, and stews. Take it from me, when I eat crap, I feel like crap. But when I eat plant-based and less processed foods, I feel lighter and fulfilled. Be mindful of what you are putting into your body and how it affects your mood.
Speak with a therapist if you feel you are experiencing more than winter blues. Most people diagnosed with SAD have experienced a Major Depression episode. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if your symptoms become too overwhelming. Check out the Resources tab to find a therapist.
No matter the season, this is a reminder to take care of yourself. Your mind and body will tell you what it needs.
Have you experienced winter blues? Do you have any self-care practices to support your mental wellness during the winter months? I would be so happy if you would share in the comments below.
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