It’s that time of year again when we turn the clocks back an hour, the sun begins to set earlier, making the daylight hours shorter and shorter. For many people, the result comes in a form of depression known as Seasonal Depression (seasonal affective disorder). Many people suffer from Seasonal Depression as it occurs with the changing of the seasons and effects how you feel, think, and act. There are a variety of symptoms including feelings of sadness, helplessness, worthlessness, irritability, decreased energy, changes in appetite, loss of interest in hobbies and activities, withdrawn from social interests, sleepiness or insomnia, and overall discontent for your circumstances. Fortunately there are ways to treat and cope with Seasonal Depression. This article will discuss three of the many ways to help alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Depression.
Light Therapy: A light box is used to mimic the sunlight and helps to trigger serotonin levels in the brain to help lift your mood. It is recommended to use a light box that produces a brightness of at least 10,000 lux and to use upon waking up in the morning. Place the light box about one foot away from you, letting the light beam onto your face for approximately 30 minutes each day. You should see improved symptoms in about two weeks. If symptoms have not improved, increase your time in front of the light box to 60 minutes each day. I recommend searching on Amazon for inexpensive yet very effective light boxes.
Stay Socially Connected: You may find yourself isolating, justifying staying indoors because it's too cold out or you're too tired as it gets darker earlier in the evening. Make socializing a priority! Hangout with friends, go for a walk or a hike (weather permitting), talk to a family member or friend over FaceTime, or set up a Zoom call with multiple friends and family. Find creative ways to socialize and stay connected to those that are close to you.
Self Care: Self care is extremely important to help alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Depression. Create a schedule each day to assist in consistent sleep and hygiene habits. Include in this schedule a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day, whether that is at a public gym or a workout video from home, incorporate guided meditation videos of at least 5-10 minutes in length, read a book that appeals to your interests, listen to podcasts and/or music, find do it yourself craft projects, journaling at the end of each day, writing down your thoughts and reflect on your emotions that day. Remember, self care is not just caring for your physical appearance. Self care ensures you are caring for yourself emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially, and financially.
You are not alone in your feelings of sadness, self doubt, or loneliness! At Counseling on Call we believe in walking side by side with you to help incorporate these strategies and more to combat and relieve your symptoms of Seasonal Depression. Contact Counseling on Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our first rate therapists that will help you put on your armor and defend against Seasonal Depression!