No matter where you live or what life throws at you, seasonal sadness – sometimes known as the “winter blues” — is simply unavoidable for many people. Whether it’s precipitated by environmental factors, holiday-inspired loneliness, or something else, your feelings are valid.
Roughly five percent of American adults are diagnosed with actual Seasonal Affective Disorder, and for every five people diagnosed, four are women. Mismanaged seasonal depression and anxiety have the uncanny ability to snowball, growing deeper and larger over time. That’s why it can help to develop strategies that work for you in order to manage your moods. Here’s how.
Find a therapist that helps you feel safe and supported no matter the time of year. Whether you visit them regularly, or schedule appointments in anticipation of the season, therapists offer healthy tools to navigate anything you may need help with. And possessing those tools preemptively can make a massive difference. There are ways to find an affordable therapist, so even if money is tight, it may not be out of your reach.
Make sure you’re getting enough rest.
Therapy can be a luxury at times — as can sleep. However, sleep is integral to our mental health, and establishing as regular a sleep schedule as possible for a parent of (insert however many kids you’ve got here) is essential. We all know how awful we feel when running on too little sleep, and reciprocally, how magnificent a solid night’s sleep feels. That’s because our sleep quite literally affects every system in our body. Fortify yourself with better sleep as much as possible, and you’ll undoubtedly feel a difference.
Get plenty of Vitamin D.
Another thing that helps our bodies cultivate a healthy, balanced mindset is Vitamin D, which we primarily obtain from sunlight. That’s why people often take safe Vitamin D supplements or even attempt something called light box therapy if they aren’t obtaining enough naturally. Light is proven to be especially therapeutic for people with any sort of seasonal issues. But fabricated light or vitamins aren’t absolutely necessary; taking short, frequent walks outside can be a lovely change of scenery and an infusion of Vitamin D.
… And get moving.
Speaking of walks: Making time for regular(ish) physical exercise helps immensely with the winter blues, too. It’s absolutely normal to feel less motivated to exercise during the winter, especially as we find ourselves with less free time. But the endorphins released during exercise are natural combatants against the brain chemicals that induce depression, so continuing a regular (again, “-ish”) schedule of activity will help keep those woes and worries at bay.
Feed yourself well.
It can be difficult to find balance, especially during the holidays, but the more heart healthy grub we digest, the better for all of our systems. Antioxidant and vitamin-rich foods quite literally bastion our nervous system more for all the emotional ups and downs we can experience amidst the holidays.
This is all to say that if a) you feel depressed, b) experience consecutive days on which you feel unmotivated to do things you generally enjoy doing, or c) are having trouble eating or sleeping, you should consult a doctor. Medical professionals are trained to help give you the tools to get through it when maintenance steps don’t seem to work. And remember, you’re not alone.
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