Explore effective tips by Brandi Schmidt, LPCC, LMAC, to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and brighten your winter outlook. From sunlight exposure to therapy, discover strategies to overcome seasonal depression and embrace a positive mindset.

Winter is in full swing, bringing shorter, colder, and darker days. With this,  we might find ourselves dealing with the winter blues. This mood shift is often linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that tends to show up during specific times of the year, mainly in the fall and winter.

SAD is basically a form of depression that’s connected to seasonal changes. While it can happen in the spring and early summer, the most common and widely known version is the winter blues. We’re not entirely sure why SAD happens, but things like less sunlight exposure and shifts in our body’s internal clock (circadian rhythms) are thought to play a big part..

Common signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Experiencing the winter blues involves a range of symptoms that affect your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. While it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis. For a deeper dive into SAD check out this article by the Mayo Clinic. 

Here’s a simple breakdown of some common signs: 

  • Persistent Low Mood: Just feeling kinda meh, sad, or cranky for a while, especially when it’s chilly outside.
  • Energy and Sleep Changes: Ever feel tired all the time? Or maybe your sleep schedule is doing its own thing – either too much or too little Zzzs. Or are you going to bed just because you have nothing else to do?
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Think brain fog. It’s like trying to think through a thick cloud.
  • Appetite & Weight Rollercoaster: Suddenly craving all the carbs and cozy comfort foods? Winter might be to blame for those extra winter layers.
  • Social Hibernation: If you’re dodging social stuff or not enjoying things you used to, it might be the winter blues kicking in.
  • Feelings of hopelessness: Feeling a bit hopeless, worthless, or just not motivated? Winter might be casting a gloomy spell.
  • Physical Troubles: Some folks get headaches or aches and pains. Not talking about shoveling or being cold 😉
  • Seasonal Pattern: The key is that these vibes tend to show up when it’s cold and disappear when things warm up.

Weapons Against the Winter Blues

The winter blues often set in because we’re not soaking up as much sunshine. Sunlight does some important things for us, like keeping our internal clock in check and boosting serotonin – that happy-feel-good neurotransmitter.

And hey, it’s not just about the mood. Sunlight also helps our skin whip up some vitamin D, which is like a mental health superhero. Thinking about popping a Vitamin D supplement during winter? Not a bad idea to shake off those winter blues.

Other things to consider when working to overcome the winter blues include: 

  • Light therapy: Hang out with a bright light that acts like the sun to keep your body clock in check.
  • Increase sunlight exposure: Try to chill outdoors in the daylight, even if the sky is feeling a bit gloomy. Take a stroll or just kick back by a window to soak in that sunlight.
  • Regular exercise & Mindfulness: Move your body regularly to get those good vibes going – it’s proven to lift your mood. Throw in some mindfulness or meditation to handle stress and keep your mental well-being on point.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Keep your eats diverse with nutrient-rich goodies.
  • Social connections: Keep the social vibes alive! Stay in touch with friends and fam to get that emotional backup and shake off any feelings of isolation.

Everyone deals with the winter blues differently, and the symptoms can hit people in various ways. If you’re seeing these signs in yourself or noticing an impact on your daily life, chatting with a professional could be a good move. Winter blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a legit challenge for lots of folks when the seasons change. 

Understanding what’s going on and trying out some strategies can help ease the symptoms and get you back to feeling good. Just remember, you’re not in this alone.

Finding you’re struggling with the winter blues this year? Contact one of our therapists at P50! Brandi and Liz have life experience and therapeutic interventions that are able to help you grow and enhance your coping skills through the winter blues

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