“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”Prof. Albus Dumbledore – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
It’s officially the start of Fall and I am starting to feel the effects of my seasonal depression. For me, it starts in the mornings when my drive to work begins in darkness and occasionally allows be to see the sunrise. When the season changes, many people start to experience effects on their mood due less sunlight and more grey days. If you’re also in a climate that gets colder over the Fall and then gets major snowfall during the Winter months, your chances of being affected is further increased.
Although the true cause of seasonal depression has not yet been pinpointed, there are positive results from light therapy and a few adjustments to your daily routine. I’ve listed below some tips to lift you up and keep up those positive feelings.
Talk It Up
Stay in touch with your tribe. Call your loved ones and talk to the people you care about the most. Tell them how you are feeling and what you need as support.
Get Up and Go
Start being more active through daily outdoor exercises like walking, running, skiing or other winter activities. If your not the outdoorsy type, then aim for a class at the local gym or check out yoga or swimming options in your area. Studies have shown that exercise has a positive effect on mood.
Face Your Fears
Whatever brings on your low mood, it’s important to address it instead of running away from the feelings which will just lower your mood even more. Facing something difficult will boost your self confidence, and enable you to take control of your moods. Battling depression is a daily fight (and it is in no way easy) but you are the boss of your emotions – I know that taking small steps can lead to big gains.
Control Your Diet
One of my symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is that I have no appetite whatsoever. It’s normal to feel no desire to eat when you struggle with depression. The key is to choose healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables, eat in small amounts, several times a day and find healthy versions of your favourite comfort foods. What works for me is also to prepare meals in advance, stocking up my freezer with proteins and veggies, and have healthy snack foods in the fridge.
Routine is Key
Your body needs a regular schedule of sleep, wake/sleep times, and meal times. Sticking to a regular schedule has been shown to decrease stress levels and low moods. If you divert from your routine, you may notice increased levels of sadness and a short fuse in everyday situations.
These tips may not work for everyone so please reach out to a professional if you can’t handle things on our own. Sometimes the right medication and a plan of attack for your mental health struggles will help battle the depression to provide you with a sense of normalcy all year long. Whatever your personal situation, remember that there are people available to support your through this difficult time.