Has Jack Frost nipping at your nose got you down? If you’re anything like me, you may have noticed that the cold temperatures and dark days of winter bring with them a low mood and low energy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a sup-type of depression which involves experiencing a lower mood during certain seasons of the year. For most people the low mood begins in the fall and ends in the spring. So, if you’ve recently found your sleep is disrupted or that you’re more sluggish, tired, or irritable than usual, you may be able to blame it on the
The reduced sunlight of fall and winter can lower our serotonin and melatonin levels and mess with our circadian rhythm, leaving us feeling lethargic and grumpy. It’s more common in Canadians because we live so far from the equator! It’s also more common in women than men.
Tips on Coping With Seasonal Affective Disorder:
- Open your blinds during the day to let the sunlight in. If you have a window you can sit next to at work, great! If not, seek one out a few times a day.
- Bundle up and get outside. Sit on a bench and soak in the sun, or go for a walk with a friend or colleague.
- Try a light therapy box. These are special lights you can buy which simulate sunlight.
- Get physically active. Even though going out in the cold to drive to a gym might be the last thing you feel like doing after a long day of work, you might be surprised at how much it improves your mood! Exercise is the ultimate stress management strategy.
- Socialize with family and friends. Fight the urge to isolate from people by crawling under the covers on cold, dark evenings and instead maintain your social activities.
- Eat a nutritious diet. Winter usually means craving carbs (which is also a symptom of SAD), but it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet in order to get all the vitamins you need. Take a vitamin D supplement to make sure you’re getting enough in the dark days of winter.
If your moods gets too low and none of these things seem to help, it might be time to talk to a professional. Psychotherapy can help you learn healthy ways to cope with SAD and to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours which might be impacting your mood.