Every time the weather shifts from the summer to cooler autumn, it is common for many of us to go into hibernation mode and limit our social interactions to only having the energy for binge-watching the newest Netflix series and staying indoors.
I have certainly been there!
As the days become more infused with darkness, it is an invitation to go inward. And we also must balance our own darkness with light, nevertheless.
For those who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the cooler months bring anything but solitude.
SAD is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern, and becomes heightened in the winter months.
Among the most common symptoms are:
- Low energy
- Sleeping excessively
- Anxiety and sluggishness
- Gaining weight
Those who struggle with SAD experience a shift in their normal routine that can become detrimental to their relationships, career and other aspects of their life.
However, it’s important to note that you are not alone. Fortunately, there are a few healthy habits that complement mental health support, that you can implement to manage your symptoms and find the relief you require to get through the long winter months.
Let’s unpack them together, down below!
1. Consider Light Therapy
As the winter months produce a lack of natural sunlight, this factor alone is one of the leading factors that contribute to seasonal depression. Light Therapy, also known as Phototherapy or Bright Light Therapy, can be used to treat seasonal depression by using artificial light to mimic the sun’s rays.
This technique has grown increasingly popular over the years, as the technique consists of regulating your circadian rhythm and balancing your serotonin levels with artificial light.
Seasonal depression symptoms can be supported with light therapy by sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning, every day, during the fall and winter months.
Have you tried this modality? How did it work for you?
2. Boost Your Vitamin D Intake
As the winter months bring forth longer and darker days, the lack of natural sunlight is a contributing factor to those who struggle with seasonal depression. Therefore, it’s crucial to increase your Vitamin D intake to combat the lack of natural sunlight we receive in the winter.
Vitamin D can be obtained through diet, or through supplementation. Both remedies are beneficial, and it all comes down to what works best for you.
3. Invest in a Healthy Diet
Although curling up on the couch and indulging in some sweets is one of the most comforting ways we can find solitude in the cooler months, you can find comfort by investing in a healthy diet as well.
A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for both your physical and mental health. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in comfort foods, but they don’t have to be high in sugar or saturated fat to provide you with the same amount of comfort. Instead of cake and cookies, try a steaming bowl of vegetable soup to warm you up!
4. Committing to Regular Exercise
Simply being active is one of your most powerful weapons in the fight against seasonal depression. A quick and effective 20-minute yoga session can help support your body’s health and well-being through the magical tools of restoration and balance!
If you are not ready to take the leap into yoga, do not worry! Simple exercises such as walking and jogging all release endorphins and serotonin into the brain, working to improve both your overall mood and health.
It is recommended to commit to 20-30 minutes of exercise a day during the cooler months.
5. Mind-Body Techniques
Meditation, tai chi, and yoga are all examples of mind-body techniques that can help you cope with the onset of seasonal depression.
Practicing gratitude in the forms of mantras and journaling can also help you mentally shift your perspective from helplessness to hope, and foster a sense of support within yourself.
Some easy journal prompts to get you started are:
- What are 3 specific health goals you’d like to achieve?
- How committed are you to making the necessary changes to reach your goals?
- How will this change affect you positively?
- What aspect of this feels the most difficult for you?
6. Immerse Yourself in Nature
Immersing yourself completely in the calm, serene atmosphere of the fall and winter months can do wonders for your soul! You will become surprised by how surrounding yourself with nature can support your well-being in a way that is restorative and balanced.
Studies have shown that immersing yourself with new sights and sounds can elicit feelings of joy, and work to revitalize your energy and mood.
Bundle up, bring your favorite snack and water bottle, and explore a new destination or embark on a new adventure that is encompassed by the great outdoors!
Feel Supported Through the Changing Seasons with Emily
As we begin to embark on the fall season, with winter close on its tail, I invite you to take a step back and take a look at your past behaviors during the cooler months.
Have you noticed a change in your behavior or mindset previously? What modalities or techniques worked for you when you experienced that change? Have you considered reaching out to external support systems?
Asking yourself these three, simple questions, can work wonders for you as your prepare to shift both your physical and mental well-being to accompany the fall and winter months.
The best part? You do not have to do this alone! As a certified health and wellness coach, I can work with you to develop strategies that will best support you during these seasons.
Get in touch today! I would love to hear from you.
Disclaimer: Emily is a board-certified health coach with knowledge and training in these areas, however, it is important to always consult your doctor to make sure any of these ideas are safe and okay for you.
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