Wellness | How to stop your mood from changing with the seasons
Does your mood seem to heavily sway depending on the season? Does a longer winter mean a longer time spent in bed? This is totally normal and could just mean that you have a sensitivity to changes in weather. Some of us thrive in the cold but extended periods of grey and cold can have serious effects on how we feel and act. There are many levels of severity and coping can vary based on the person, but the most important is to educate yourself on the matter so that you can help yourself and others.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by depression that happens the same time each year, usually occurring in the winter months. There are different levels of severity, some may feel a temporary wave of melancholy while others find it challenging to even leave their bed. For those suffering from SAD, it’s possible to feel cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms that can impair one’s ability to maintain regularity in their life. This sudden change in emotion makes it difficult to perform daily tasks and stick to a routine. Simple chores become treacherous endeavours and it becomes difficult to think clearly or stay focused as there’s a decrease in productivity, creativity, sociability and interest. All of this is totally normal, and probably more common than you think. Here are some tips on how to deal with SAD:
Light therapy. There are a few different types, but for the most part people use blue light therapy and box light therapy, which mimic natural light and impact brain chemicals that affect mood and sleep. When the weather changes or becomes inconsistent in the winter months, this can throw off our circadian rhythm, which is the system that regulates our sleep/wake cycle. Your hypothalamus is the powerhouse of your circadian rhythm. When light enters your retina, it stimulates your hypothalamus, keeping your circadian in check. But, the second the days turn to night and the nights become longer, your hypothalamus begins to work improperly. So, by administering light to your retina, each day at the same time, you can regulate your sleep/wake cycle naturally and therefore fight seasonal depression.
Catch some natural UV’s. Less sun exposure can lead to a decrease in serotonin and melatonin excretion in the brain, which can negatively affect your mood and sleep cycle. As mentioned above, sun exposure can help keep your circadian rhythm in check.
Exercise. Physical activity releases mood-boosting endorphins in your brain, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalized. Introducing an exercise schedule can also help create a sense of routine in your daily life.
Maintain your routine. Try to establish winter time hobbies. You may be limited to activities in your home, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue on with the things that bring you joy. Don’t sell yourself short by binge watching every show on Netflix, instead pick up reading, play cognitive games, learn about gardening, seek new knowledge, anything that stimulates your brain and promotes positive thinking. If the sun happens to come out, take advantage of it. Work one outside walk per day into your schedule to allow yourself regularity and the opportunity to soak in some sun.
Eat healthy and ditch junk food. When we are sad, we tend to eat comfort foods, which are usually rich in sugar in starches. This will create a boost in your blood sugar levels which will then crash and leave you wanting more. Try to supplement with healthy snacks that give you the same satisfaction as your favourite treats
Find ways to manage your stress. What helps you find your zen? Practice activities like yoga or meditation to give yourself time to escape from the hustle and bustle and reconnect your mind, body and soul. Grab a book, settle in a hammock, take a nap, go for a run, find what it is that disconnects you and work with it.
Surround yourself with others. Maybe you’re unable to spend a majority of your time outside in the winter months, but that shouldn’t stop you from hanging out with your friends and family. Positivity is infectious so if you surround yourself with good vibes you’ll feel a definite boost in your mood. It is important however, to consider the energy of others. If you are feeling sensitive or unstable, bringing someone in who has negative energy could seriously impact you.
Finally, book a trip! If the winter truly isn’t your thing, then plan accordingly. Find a nice sunny spot, buy your tickets, pack your bags and head off. Even if it’s just for a short amount of time, any break from the cold could do tremendous wonders for your mind and soul. Better yet, come to our women only retreat in Morocco. We practice responsible tourism and sustainable travel while empowering women in a beautiful beachside town in Essaouira.