Are you feeling down when the weather becomes cold and bitter?
Chances are, you could be suffering from seasonal depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s extremely common for people to feel down in the winter. It’s as if your emotions exemplify the dreariness outside! So don’t feel so alone; you’re just one of three million affected by the changing of the seasons.
What is SAD?
SAD is a disorder which begins and ends around the same time every year. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, people who have this disorder feel fine otherwise during the year, but experience this depression consecutively each year.
Why would the seasons affect you this way?
There are a few reasons winter can get you down. One reason is the simple truth that the lack of sunlight absorbed through your skin during winter can really dampen your mood. This is the reason why many therapists recommend clinically depressed patients go outside as much as they can in order to soak up the sun and have their day brightened.
Not only is the sun out for a much shorter time during those long winter months, but you are also encouraged to stay inside to avoid the cold weather. Because of this, you could not be getting as much exercise as you would during any other season– simply because you’re utilizing less energy and being less physically active. Even if you’re not the type to hit the gym, the exercise you get from simple everyday tasks release endorphins in your brain, which helps you feel happy. The seasonal cold encourages immobility, and therefore, you lack your normal and preferable amount of endorphins.
Branching off from the lack of exercise, you may also have a tendency to gain weight during the winter, which easily can increase feelings of insecurity. Biologically, human bodies want to store more fat to say warm when it gets colder outside, but to us, who have winter coats, it’s just a nuisance! The holiday food doesn’t help much either, trust me, I know!
There are far less social events during the winter time. This cuts off the amount of interactions people have with their peers and ends up causing people to isolate themselves due to winter barriers, like the infamous cold or even icy roads. This can easily make someone feel depressed, even as if they are somehow being excluded.
Due to the lack of social events, the economy also dips, so the winter tends to be a period of financial hardship for many people. No one enjoys feeling like they have to penny pinch, and it’s hard to get the extra cash that you’re used to when there aren’t as many opportunities to earn it!
All of this is a recipe for the feeling of hopelessness. But fear not, all hope isn’t lost!
What can be done to deter your seasonal depression?
Hit The Gym
Of course, exercise has many health benefits, but winter is an important time to try and go in order for you to release endorphins. Also, it helps you work against your seasonal weight gain, instead of feeling stuck with it.
Start A Hobby
Winter is the perfect time to finally learn how to play guitar, or start knitting, or become a regular jogger. Some sort of an activity to occupy this free time, rather than overthink, obsess, and worry, is optimal. Think of the extra time as a gift, rather than a curse. Warming up with a nice book can sometimes be nicer and more fulfilling than binge watching a new TV show! So don’t stop yourself from branching out of your usual comfort zone when it comes to casual entertainment
Plan A Vacation
Even if you can only swing a weekend getaway, going on vacation during the winter can give such a positive effect on your psyche. A break from your normal routine adds some excitement to those long, boring winter months.
Overall, remember you are not alone in this feeling. SAD is common, but it is not chronic. So don’t stress yourself out, and know what you’re up against. Taking some of these tips can largely improve your season.