We’ve been devouring all things pumpkin spice, wearing sweaters, going apple picking and crunching leaves under our feet. It is safe to say that fall has been in full swing for awhile. The time has come where we slowly start transitioning into the upcoming winter season. On Sunday all clocks will adjust back one hour at 2:00 AM, giving everyone an extra hour to sleep. This seems great when we get that extra hour to sleep in, but will this change be beneficial in the long run? Days will get shorter and nights will get even longer, with the sun starting to set as early as 4:30 PM. This change might mess with circadian rhythms, daily schedules, and energy levels. Yikes!
All these changes can bring upon this pesky little thing known as Seasonal Depression/Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD can come in the form of one or more of the following symptoms: changes in mood, low energy levels, lack of enjoyment, less time socializing, feeling lonely, difficulty concentrating, sleeping too much, feeling depressed,etc. These symptoms can range from mild, severe, or fall anywhere in between.
If your symptoms fall on the mild spectrum, the following tips can help improve your mood and lessen the winter blues effects. However, if your symptoms fall on the severe spectrum, we highly suggest seeing your doctor or a professional mental health provider.
1. Maintain a regular sleeping schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday, even on the weekends. Depressed patients often show altered circadian rhythms. A consistent sleep routine improves mood and energy levels by allowing your circadian rhythm to operate at its peak.
Exercising is beneficial for anyone who is suffering from depression. Exercising helps you feel better by releasing endorphins and increasing dopamine levels in the brain. The more dopamine you produce = the more pleasure you experience. Go for a walk, go on a bike ride, go to the gym or sign up for a class. Any form of exercise will improve your mood. Go and get active!
3. Get as much natural light as possible
Exposure to natural light boosts the production of serotonin, a calming/feel food neurotransmitter. So, try to expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible! Exercise outside, wake up earlier, open the curtains upon waking, sit near windows, etc.
4. Eat a balanced diet
According to Piedmont Healthcare “It’s important to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet that build brain power, allowing you to improve your mood. Try foods rich in omega 3 fats, like salmon or walnuts.”
5. Spend time with friends and family
Hangout with your friends, reconnect with old friends you haven’t talked to in awhile, make new friends, sign up for a class, call your mom, etc. Spending time with friends and family is a great way to change your mood. If you feel comfortable enough, talk to someone about how the season is affecting you.