Seasonal Affective Disorder and The Winter Blues
Here in the Northeast we have been greeted by the winter blues. You know- those cold, damp days with dreary skies and no color in sight with exception of the occasional scattered holiday decoration left behind by the wind that look like they have seen more holidays than Santa himself.
The time of year when we can feel isolated and alone, trapped in the house with no end in sight.
For many the winter blues are just that- they feel a little blue and down with the gray skies. For others, they may be experiencing something called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Most often the signs of seasonally related depression begin in the fall and continue through the winter. Some people experience SAD symptoms in the spring or early summer.
For those with a case of the winter blues, most symptoms are mild, causing mild changes in mood or behavior. This is not SAD however.
The Mayo Clinic reports a wide variety of symptoms related to SAD including:
Feelings of nearly constant, daily depression
Loss of interest in activities
Low energy levels
Appetite or weight changes
Sluggish or agitated feelings
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness
Thoughts of death or suicide
As you can see, SAD is more significant than just a case of the winter blues where you sit dreaming of beaches, warm weather and sunshine, SAD can become a serious condition that warrants medical attention by a qualified health professional, especially when thoughts of death, hurting yourself or other people or suicide are present.
If you think that you may be experiencing symptoms of SAD, speak with your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment which may include things like:
Mind body connection work
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Things to do to address the winter blues
So how do we get that vibrant, alive feeling back?
How do we interpret winter in a way that lifts us up as easily as the warmth of the summer sun?
What can we do to actually look forward to this time of year?
Winter is a time when all of nature slows down and goes into a deep sleep. It's a time of rest and relaxation after the summer growth and autumn harvest.
Winter offers us the time to connect- time we don’t often have during the other seasons. So take this special time of the year to connect to friends, connect to family, connect to nature.
Connect to whatever it is that makes you feel part of something; where you feel you have purpose and meaning. It could be a craft group, movie or book group, dance group, environmental group, dare I say political group … any connection that brings you back into the circle and lifts you up.
Bears are not the only ones who hibernate!
So often we go into hibernation over the winter months forgetting that we are not shut in for the winter, locked away in our cabins with canned fruits and veggies to get us through until the first thaw.
We need to override our biological and generational wiring.
We need to override the natural tendency to hunker down and ride out the months of dreary gray and weathered landscapes.
8 Things To Do To Beat The Winter Blues
Host a game night, vision board or crocheting party
Take a hike in the woods
Call everyone who sent you a picture holiday card and chat
Plan a weekend getaway
Plan a long vacation
Clean out your closets
Decorate or redecorate for the upcoming holidays
I think you get the theme here. For now, take advantage of the stillness of the winter to connect to the people and the activities you love and enjoy!