The gray skies and cold weather of winter are in full swing, and if you’re finding yourself feeling a little less motivated and heavy-hearted, know that you’re not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is related to the changes in seasons, usually beginning in the late fall or early winter days. SAD is a physiological condition where the brain and the body are not getting enough sunlight. Some of the symptoms can be feeling lethargic, irritable, and an overall feeling of sadness.
Seasonal affective disorder is common among adults and young adults, but don’t brush off that feeling as something that you have to get through on your own. Here are a few ways to keep your mood and motivation steady to help you ditch that gloomy feeling this winter.
Exercise is an effective way to reduce feelings of depression for many reasons. First, while exercising, you release endorphins, which are chemicals in your brain that create positive feelings. These changes in the brain are necessary to promote positive feelings and an overall sense of well-being. Taking a walk, weight lifting, swimming, or anything to get your body moving will release endorphins to make your body happy and full of energy.
No matter your age or fitness level, even just 30 minutes of daily movement and exercise can be used to boost your mood.
Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a form treatment involving artificial white light to mimic sunlight. It is meant to compensate for the lack of sunlight in the winter months. Sitting with a light box, or form of white light therapy, for 30 minutes to an hour a day can trick your brain into thinking the day is longer. Even in that short period of time with a light therapy box, your mind can be tricked into being more productive and energized, increasing mood and motivation. There are many types of light therapy devices with different levels of white light that can be purchased easily online. It’s a great investment for your mental health.
Create a Plan
Having a proper schedule in your day or week will allow you to hold yourself accountable, while being at your best mentally and physically. Using a planner can help break up your short-term and long-term goals and create a realistic vision to achieve your goals. Writing down your goals will lead to forming new positive habits, which will ultimately help strengthen your mental health and motivation during the winter season. Creating a practical plan for yourself involving school, work, exercising, and eating healthy will help you get in the right mindset to drive yourself forward.
You don’t have to suffer with SAD this winter. Remember that talking with a licensed therapist is also a great place to process your feelings and learn new tools to help you cope. Try out these easy DIY ways to ditch seasonal affective disorder, and let us know what works for you in the comments section!