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Coping With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Sad woman looking out a window

Many may find they experience a change in mood and energy levels as the days grow shorter and the temperature goes lower.  This seasonal affective disorder (also referred to as seasonal depression) is appropriately abbreviated, SAD!  Loss of daylight during the winter months can trigger feelings of sadness, lethargy, and a lack of motivation. In this blog, we’ll uncover methods to help manage SAD by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing self-care, and staying socially active.

It’s important to understand what causes seasonal depression. SAD is a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons — more prevalent in the winter.  It is believed that the reduced sunlight affects the brain’s chemicals, such as serotonin and melatonin, both of which regulate mood and sleep patterns.

A healthy lifestyle plays a significant role in managing mental health in any season. Regular exercise helps to release endorphins, improves mood, and helps increase energy levels. I know that when I’m driving home at 6pm and it’s dark outside, the last thing I want to do is go to a crowded gym!  However, I know I will feel much better afterwards (It also helps to pack my gym bag the night before and leave it in the car for the next day). Of course, listen to your body and rest when you need it — rest is important!

It is essential to set aside time to do things that make YOU happy and help you to unwind. Practicing self-care can promote relaxation and reduce stress, and self-care can take many forms — meditation, reading and taking a walk are all great places to start.  Treat yourself to a home spa day or take pleasure in your favorite hobby or creative outlet!  Self-care may also look like organizing your closet to donate clothing you promised yourself you’d wear at some point. The limit does not exist!

While time alone is good, it is vital to maintain social connections while combating seasonal depression. Facetime or phoning a friend is a great way to stay connected (especially if you don’t want to deal with harsh winter conditions). This could also be a great time to try out new or different indoor activities! Maybe this is the time to try a painting class or a new workout class with your friend; maybe you just want to grab a coffee and catch up — anything that will remind you that you are not alone.

Seasonal depression can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can effectively manage its symptoms and learn to embrace the winter weather. Remember to consult a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Article written by Lindsay Romah

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