Have you experienced a drop in energy level or mood as we transition into fall and the cooler months? If so, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as the winter blues. With the decreasing amounts of sunlight, longer stretches of nightfall, and cooler temperatures, this time of year, while often filled with great joy and cheer around the holidays, also brings with it feelings of sadness and despair brought on by the changing season. A type of depression, the symptoms of SAD, including restlessness, feelings of hopelessness, sadness, social withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, irritability and sleepiness, typically ease around the transition into the spring.
Here are 3 ways to prevent seasonal affective disorder and manage the symptoms throughout the fall and winter.
- Let There Be Light: Limited sunlight during the fall and winter months can decrease the amounts of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our moods; and increase melatonin, a hormone that helps us go to sleep. Bring in light where you can. This may mean turning on indoor lights or opening windows and doors to let the sunlight shine through. It could also mean purchasing a light box, a therapy light that mimics natural sunlight. Going outside into the natural light as well when possible has the same effect.
- Move That Body: Exercise not only improves heart health and manages weight gain. Exercise also releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins. Additionally, hitting the gym or going outside gets you some fresh air, a change of scenery, moving around, accomplishing something, and interacting with others. These are all great ways to improve your mood.
- What’s That Smell?: Enlist the aid of aromatherapy. Use essential oils in your home and at work to uplift your mood. Some essential oils to try include orange, lemon, grapefruit, jasmine and bergamot. Release them into the air using a diffuser, linen spray or add drops into your bath, lotions and soaps. The oils can also be applied to your skin using a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oils to avoid burns.
Seasonal affective disorder can greatly impact a person’s quality of life. If you’re not able to shake the winter blues, see a doctor should you have the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or general depression and get the help that you need.
How do you combat seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues?