Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs annually for some people starting in the fall and continuing through the winter months. However, this may be the first time you or somebody you know is experiencing it. Don’t brush it off as just a case of the “winter blues.” Instead, take the steps that will help boost your mood and motivation throughout the holiday season. Here are five things to consider to keep your mental health in check:
- Increased nutrition
- Regular exercise
- Relaxation techniques
- Seek counseling
- Positive attitude toward winter
Alter your diet, improve your mood. It’s not uncommon to have an increased appetite in the fall and winter months that can sometimes lead you to feel sluggish or fatigued. Use these healthy tips as a supplement to help you scrape seasonal depression off your plate:
- Limit your refined carbohydrates and sugar intake
- Make sure you’re getting a healthy amount of Vitamin B & D
- Lean towards more plant-based foods
- Eat fish or other foods high in Omega-3s at least once per week
Get your day started and your heart rate up with some exercise in the morning. This can help get you out of that sluggish state and ultimately feel more motivated about the day ahead. Find something within the right intensity for you; if you’re not a fan of running, try going for a bike ride.
If you’re residing somewhere where it does get a bit chilly in the winters, consider trying out snow sports. Some of the most popular snow sports include skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Aside from having tons of fun, your body will thank you for spending some time on the slopes to get some much needed fresh air. Spending time outside in these colder months allows you to soak in the sunlight, boosts Vitamin D levels, and gets your heart rate up.
Similar to how everyone approaches mental health recovery differently based on who you are, finding a relaxation technique that suits you best is key. Listed below are some methods that can help you evoke the relaxation response and reduce stress:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Deep breathing
- Yoga or tai chi
- Soothing music or art therapy
- Deep tissue massage
There are tons of other relaxation techniques that help combat seasonal depression, but these are some of the most commonly practiced ones used over recent years. For some people, it may be as simple as grabbing a mug of hot cocoa and putting on your favorite Netflix show, which is totally okay!
See a counselor
For some of the more moderate and severe cases of seasonal depression, self-care sometimes just isn’t enough. If you ever start to feel hopeless or unmotivated to get out of bed, try taking a visit to your primary care physician or a mental health professional as soon as you can. From there, you’ll be screened to narrow down the common conditions that worsen seasonal depression, which can then be alleviated through therapy and medication over time.
Light therapy is a popular form of treatment used in winter months that has shown to raise your spirits dramatically. Seasonal depression is correlated with the lack of sunshine around this time of year. This leads to a noticeable drop in serotonin, which is also known as the ‘happy chemical’ that naturally occurs in our bodies. Over time, light therapy can help ease symptoms of sad and increase energy levels while giving you a better outlook on life.
A positive attitude toward winter
Going into the winter and fall months with a positive attitude is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Think about all the small things that bring good energy and make you happiest around this time of year. Start looking forward to those evenings by the fire, snowball fights with the kids, and warming up with a cup of hot cocoa because there are plenty waiting ahead.