You've probably noticed that your mood changes right along with the seasons, right? Depression, anxiety, low energy, and an overall sense of glum can all accompany autumn's approach, with the sun's earlier setting further exacerbating the problem. Rest assured, you're not alone: what you're experiencing is Seasonal Affective Disorder or, appropriately, SAD.
Affecting nearly 10 million Americans, Seasonal Affective Disorder is typically more common in women than men, occurring more frequently in adults between the ages of 18 and 30. With the leaves changing and air getting crisper, you no doubt would rather be outdoors enjoying the season rather than grappling with the effects of SAD.
Fortunately, there are a number of helpful ways you can alleviate your Seasonal Affective Disorder and make the most of changing seasons all year round.
Here are some popular tips for beating the seasonal blues:
Get More Sunlight
The sun is one of our biggest sources of Vitamin D, a well known mood booster and all-around vital component for leading a healthy, active life. During the colder seasons we not only find ourselves seeing less sunlight during work hours, but also tend to retreat into our cozy interiors (and who could blame you?)
Making a point of spending at least 10-20 minutes in direct sunlight each day (fully armed with SPF of course) will give you that necessary hit of Vitamin D, and get that serotonin going.
Add A Pop Of Color
We tend to associate colder seasons, especially winter, with equally chilly tones, but did you know that a burst of color can instantly brighten your mood? Try to add some seasonal hues to your personal space, such as Octobery oranges and wintry cranberry shades; even keeping a splashy mug at that office can significantly lighten the atmosphere.
Sedentary living is another common side effect of colder periods–after all, who wants to get up to go running at the frosty crack of dawn or equally foreboding night? However, exercise is not only crucial to maintaining one's physical health, but it's also a great way to boost endorphins, those “happy hormones” you hear so much about.
Just getting out for a brisk walk during or after work can help you stay fit and feel productive, as well as take in the sights of the season.
Instead of isolating yourself when cold weather hits, bundle up and get out! Meeting with friends, attending events, or just taking regular strolls through your neighborhood and chatting with locals will keep you engaged and feeling like part of a wider community that cares.
Don't Slack On Sleep (Especially During The Winter)
Maintaining a normal sleep schedule is extremely important no matter the time of year, but this doubly applies during winter. Our bodies need more rest in colder seasons, so make sure you're logging in at least 8 hours a night. This will not only help you feel fully rested and alert, but also stave off seasonal illnesses that tend to go around.
Keep in mind that too much sleep is just as detrimental as too little. As tempting as it may be to hibernate under your duvet, make sure you're not overdoing it, as the effects can ironically mirror those of too little sleep.
Giving yourself something to look forward to when the seasons change can go a long way towards boosting your outlook. With autumn in full swing, why not go for a hike, take a day trip somewhere festive, or curl up in your favorite cafe to enjoy a seasonal favorite? You could even plan a themed get-together for friends and family, or host an event; the important thing is to stay excited.
Just as socializing keeps you feeling engaged and part of the active world, treating yourself to special occasions and (sensible)luxuries on the regular will make the bleaker months a whole lot brighter.
Work On Personal Projects
Being holed up indoors when the weather turns is the perfect opportunity to devote yourself to personal projects. Have you been interested in learning a new language, musical instrument or pick up a creative pursuit? Now is the perfect time! By staying busy and focused on a personal activity, be it cooking or painting or remodeling a room, you can keep your mind off darker thoughts and keep your body active.
If you're feeling particularly motivated, you can even sign up for an afterwork or weekend class at your local community center, museum, or through various outlets, which will add the additional social perk.
Talk To Someone
If you really feel like your Seasonal Affective Disorder is getting the best of you, don't be afraid to talk to a friend or seek professional help. Seasonal Affective Disorder is no different from any serious mental malaise, and if you find yourself in a particularly precarious state of mind by all means reach out and get the assistance you need.
There are a number of professional therapy services you can seek, from in-office visits to affordable online therapy. The latter in particular is a good option for colder seasons when the sun sets earlier and you just want to be in the comfort of your own home. With a mug of cider or hot chocolate in hand, and from your computer or gadget of choice, you can chat with a fully licensed professional at the hour the best suits your schedule. Many online therapy services offer a free trial month, so why not give it a try?