Have you experienced any of the following symptoms recently?
- Feeling “down” or “blue”
- Lack of motivation to do anything
- Feelings of depression (even if you’re generally a happy person)
- Weight Gain
- Low energy
- Feeling sluggish or fatigued
- Difficulty Sleeping
If any of these examples apply to you, it’s possible that you’ve been affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. Fortunately, your mental health counselor in Michigan is here to help you combat these challenges and get back on your feet!
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately abbreviated as “SAD”) is a common form of depression that hits certain individuals during the late fall and winter months. The colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours affect many people more than they realize, causing them to slip into a form of depression. This depression tends to wear off once the weather warms back up, but there are some things you can do to combat it now.
Overcoming Seasonal Affective Disorder
Some people tend to minimize SAD by writing it off as “the winter blues,” but it’s important to address the issues you may be facing head-on. No matter how mild or severe it is, depression can severely hinder an individual’s ability to enjoy their life to the fullest. In my experience as a limited licensed psychologist in Michigan, I have identified a few tricks you can use to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Stay Active
Exercising causes our bodies to release chemicals known as endorphins, which work to boost our mood. When the weather is nice, we’re more apt to get outside and get moving. Walking our dogs, hiking, kayaking, camping, playing sports… the opportunities for outdoor activities are endless. When the daylight becomes so limited and the temperatures become so much colder, however, many of us do not have the same incentive to remain active. Outdoor exercise is typically the best for releasing endorphins, but exercising at an indoor gym works too. Either way, staying active may help you overcome SAD.
With such limited daylight hours, it’s important that you take advantage of what natural light there is. I encourage you to get outside and enjoy the daylight hours if at all possible. If you typically work during the day and can’t get outside, make it a point to spend some time outdoors on the weekends. When you must stay indoors, try to position yourself near a window and open the curtains/blinds so you can still enjoy the light. You don’t want the daylight hours to go to waste!
3. Supplement With Artificial Light
Believe it or not, you can buy special lamps that are designed to simulate natural sunlight. These lamps have been shown to help lessen the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder. One of the reasons Seasonal Affective Disorder can be so debilitating is because the lack of daylight encourages our body to continue producing melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. Exposing yourself to this artificial light can trigger your body to stop producing melatonin so that you become more energized.
4. Cut Back On Alcohol And Caffeine
As much as we may enjoy alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, drinking them can sometimes make our symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder worse. Alcohol is a depressant, and when consumed in significant quantities it can lower our moods. Caffeine is a stimulant, but significant amounts can cause muscle tension and anxiety. Sodas and other sugary beverages can also cause problems. Instead, I recommend opting for water or herbal teas.
5. Talk It Out
SAD is a form of depression, and we have seen time and time again that mental health counseling can be enormously beneficial to people suffering from depression. It makes sense that counseling could be equally beneficial for individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. You might be surprised what a difference counseling can make!