There’s nothing more beautiful or heartening than the warm glow of sunshine, especially during the cooler months of the year, although its scorching heat gets unbearable during summer. Sunlight infuses a sense of vibrancy, urging us to go about our daily routine like clockwork. While most of us do welcome the cool monsoon or winter season to escape the heat, shorter days and longer nights are bound to be a tad gloomy and depressing, especially if the weather forces you to stay indoors.
Seasonal Anxiety and Depression (SAD) is a common problem triggered by the seasonal changes, especially less of sunlight, that we’re are so accustomed to for the major part of the year. Unwinding and relaxing as the sun goes down is a habit that all of us have developed over time, and our body and mind tends to shut down and relax as soon as seasonal changes set in. Our response to seasons and changing hours of daylight is encoded in our genes as well.
You may take a short break from work or daily routine but need to bounce back before being hit by the blues. Not all cases of SAD require the attention of an experienced psychotherapist, but if you are bogged down by negative thoughts that interfere with normal your life, then a therapist can help you deal with SAD in a more effective manner than the self-care approaches that are outlined here.
Can You Tackle the Winter Blues or SAD By Yourself?
Yes. You can make your life interesting, bright, lively and vibrant enough to chase out negativity, gloom and the dullness, characteristic of the bleak seasons by doing what you love the most.
Illuminate Your Personal Space
While there is no substitute for sunlight, ample electric lighting during the monsoon or winter seasons can brighten up your personal space so that you keep active and get on with regular work, as usual, be it at home or at the office. By aptly illuminating your interior space, you tend to stay alert and lively, irrespective of the gloomy weather outdoors which tempts you to curl up in a cozy corner, nap or binge on comfort food, which after a while can get boring! There are specific gadgets that emit light very similar to sunlight that is used in light therapy to treat seasonal mood fluctuations.
An exercise regimen is not only good for your physique but for your heart and mind as well. It definitely helps burn out calories one tends to accumulate when indulging in rich food during the winter months or even during the rainy season. Outdoor workouts are of course ideal as they allow you to enjoy the climate while catching up with friends as well, but if the weather is bad stick to the treadmill or elliptical to get some cardio workout. Exercise triggers the release of a few “feel good” hormones in the body, naturally improving your mood in no time.
Spending time with friends and family does a lot of good to alleviate depression, more so when seasonal changes affect your mood. Visiting friends or inviting them over to a small get together at home or an external venue will get you enthusiastic about preparing for the rendezvous. While you will have to pick your attire, accessories, shop for gifts, etc., if you are attending a get-together, organising one creates a flurry of activity that keeps you busy and enthused!
Stick To Your Daily Routine
Seasonal changes are no excuse to shelve or change your daily schedule. Right from the time you wake up to the time you hit the bed, make it a point to stick to your routine timings as far as possible. It helps you stay active, hardly leaving any free time to feel depressed. This, of course, is easier said than done as your body automatically responds to changes in weather, tempted to rest longer and work for a short while. You may give way to temptation occasionally, but eventually must snap out of it as it makes you lethargic and dull!
Eat Heartily and Healthy
Eating right is a great way to combat depression, SAD or otherwise! Make sure to nurture a good appetite and treat yourself to the seasonal fruits and vegetables. If you have other health concerns, you will need to watch your diet as well. While fatty and sugary eats are default go-to foods during winters and binge eating is characteristic of mood swings, make sure you work out and offset those calories right away.
Holiday in Warmer Destination
If possible, take a break to spend some time at a warmer destination of your choice. You may travel to a tropical destination during the winter season and return rejuvenated just in time to celebrate Christmas and New Year and by the time the festivities are though, it is almost time for spring. The very thought of planning for a vacation can boost your spirits and the joy of a delightful holiday does linger on for a while, keeping you happy and content.
Catch the Sun
Did you know that vitamin D deficiency can trigger depression? Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, and the human skin, when exposed to sunlight, produces Vitamin D.
So make sure to catch the rays of the sun during the daytime, whenever the weather permits. This not only lifts your spirits but also serves to encourage the production of vitamin D in the body, a key vitamin that influences mood swings.
Last but probably the ideal way to counter SAD is to consult a reputed and experienced psychotherapist as depression is a mental condition that may require professional attention. If you are not able to get out of depression or seasonal mood fluctuations by yourself, it is time to seek advice and treatment from an established therapist, who will be able to prescribe a suitable remedy for your problem.