The leaves are changing, the weather is crisp, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes are everywhere. While many people enjoy the new weather, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) starts to affect approximately 9% of individuals during the colder seasons (NIMH.gov).
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects mostly young adults who overproduce melatonin, underproduce Serotonin, and may have Vitamin D deficiencies. The shorter days, colder weather, less direct sunlight, and polarized seasons tend to exacerbate symptoms of loneliness, exhaustion, and social withdrawal. These effects are particularly pronounced for those who already suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder (#Anxiety, #Depression).
If you've experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder, you may understand the dread associated with starting to see the leaves fall. Planning ahead can make coping easier. The following steps may help you frame your approach towards handling your SAD. (#CopingSkills, #MentalHealthMatters).
1. Pivot your routine to include more outdoor time in the morning
In the winter, people are often asleep when the sun comes up and continue working through sundown. This schedule can make sunlight hard to come by. Adjust your routine to create opportunities to experience daylight, such as a morning walk, outdoor breakfast, or moving your work schedule.
2. Hold yourself accountable to see family and friends safely
Unfortunately, COVID has created a society of anxiety when it comes to seeing people socially. Connecting with others is still important, even if it is socially distant or virtual. Consistently connecting with your community can allow for serotonin to more freely flow and relieve symptoms of SAD.
3. Look forward to something every day
This could be a cup of coffee every morning, "you-time" in the afternoon, or a hobby in the evening. Whatever you choose, intention and consistency can allow for more stable moods during the fall and winter.
4. Schedule visits with your therapist
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has shown to help navigate Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seeing a mental health professional is a proactive way to cope with painful patterns and to change your behaviors in a productive, sustainable way.
Pivot Counseling, PLLC offers BCBS covered telehealth and in-person therapy for individuals struggling with Anxiety, Depression, Relationships, and Eating Disorders in Durham, NC. For more information regarding individual counseling, please go to www.pivotcounselingnc.com, or follow us at www.instagram.com/pivotcounseling or www.facebook.com/PivotCounseling