Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is characterized by feelings of depression and lethargy occurring on a seasonal basis, most often during the fall and winter months. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that 10 million Americans experience SAD and another 10 to 20 percent of people face mild symptoms. If you’re suffering from a seasonal mood slump, check out these simple winter wellness tips to keep your mental health strong.
Support Your Mental Health from The Inside Out
When we think about mental health, we often overlook what’s going on inside our bodies. Many times, physical conditions contribute to mental health problems like anxiety and depression. For example, the relationship between inflammation and depression has been extensively studied. Inflammation can be worsened by stress, sleep problems, and a diet high in fats and sugars — three things that many of us experience during the winter. Fortunately, you can combat this by engaging in regular exercise and removing inflammation triggers from your diet. Research has also shown that CBD, the non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, has anti-inflammatory properties and may be helpful in treating depression. Check out this article by Remedy Review to learn more about how CBD oil could benefit you.
Get Outside More Often
Short daylight hours and low levels of sunlight during the winter are thought to be a significant factor in seasonal affective disorder. Try to get outside in the sun for 30 to 60 minutes every day. The sunlight will encourage the production of mood-stabilizing serotonin in the brain, increase your vitamin D levels, and reduce melatonin production to help ward off lingering morning fatigue. A pervasive cloudy climate can make this difficult, so use this as a good excuse to take a vacation somewhere sunny and recharge your mood.
Getting out of the house will also help you connect with others. According to Psych Central, making social connections can ease feelings of isolation. When we spend time with supportive friends and family members, we gain valuable coping strategies and a more positive perspective on the world. Remember, happiness is contagious!
Punishing yourself for sadness or negative thoughts is a terrible way to improve how you feel. Instead, try to embrace self-compassion and learn to let go of all forms of self-criticism and self-hatred. Practicing mindfulness throughout your day is a wonderful way to get started. Mindfulness is all about maintaining an awareness of the present moment and accepting your current thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness can help you acknowledge your emotional reactions to situations and avoid ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, the point is to bring much more positivity into your daily life.
Pick Up a Hobby or Two
Being kind to yourself also means taking the time to engage in activities that bring you joy. Focus on hobbies that improve confidence and self-esteem, like yoga, art, or learning an instrument. If you have the time, solo traveling is a wonderful way to banish that “stuck” feeling that many of us get when we’ve followed the same old routine for too long. Traveling will also give you a fresh perspective on your ability to overcome challenges. Even taking small, weekend trips to someplace nearby can help your life feel more fulfilling.
When you’re battling depression, it can be difficult to find the motivation to start a new hobby. Reading and doing puzzles are good places to start since these activities require little energy or mental attention — in fact, they are actually quite meditative.
Keeping yourself in good health by exercising, eating nutrient-dense foods, and getting adequate sleep will do wonders for your mental health. However, it's also important to address problematic thought patterns and learn how to treat yourself with greater kindness.
Continue practicing these wellness tips all year round to build up mental resilience and healthy coping habits for the next time winter rolls around.
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AUTHOR: Kimberly Hayes - Public Health Alert
Kimberly works tirelessly to help others find health, happiness and wellness, particularly when battling addiction. As someone who suffered from an eating disorder, Kimberly knows what it’s like to feel lost and helpless in the face of adversity.