Fall is here and while it can be beautiful it soon turns dreary. Already we are into that time of year where it is dark before five, and I find myself really having to work on not staying in bed and avoiding the world. It is like I get this feeling of “why bother getting up when it is dark before I even have a good amount of work done”? It seems like the days just fade into more night. I never liked night time, for one. For me, I preferred daytime: the sun, the noises, the unlimited things you could do. The only thing I enjoyed about the night in Louisiana was it was a small amount of cool down temperature wise. Here in Massachusetts I can’t say that getting any colder is a good thing. It certainly is beautiful though!
I know for sure I am not alone in not liking fall and winter months. I also know I am not alone in feeling more depression during this time as well. There is even a specific name for this depression, a depression that happens when seasons change. You may know of it as SAD (Seasonal affective disorder).
“SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” It can also happen to some during spring and summer months, although it’s hard for me personally to understand how sadness happens when the sun comes out. I know that everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes.
The thing about SAD in the winter months is people like to pass it off by saying things like it’s just “winter blues” or a seasonal funk”. Don’t ignore the fact if you are struggling and not able to push the blues away.
According to the Mayo Clinic web site, symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, may include:
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Tiredness or low energy
Other side effects can be:
Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having low energy
Having problems with sleeping
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
So, have you decided that you may know all too well about SAD? Are you now asking yourself what you can do about it? Well first and most importantly seek out a therapist, someone like a pastor, or someone you can confide in. A therapist is always the most viable choice. It can be so therapeutic to talk to someone with no prior knowledge of who you are, they just know you in the present and want to help you get better.
In addition to outside help, I can help provide some tips and tricks right here to help you deal with SAD from my personal ongoing fight against it. I like to try and wake up at the same time every day. This means going to bed at around the same time each night. For yourself, this may be the perfect time to cut your evening down and hit the hay a bit earlier. Getting plenty of sleep is so important, and even though I myself have known this for years I have fought against it. When I follow through, I not only feel like the day is more of a normal day but I normally feel more productive. Speaking of daytime – I like, NO I LOVE sun. I love how it feels on your skin, how bright and beautiful a day looks when the sun is high in the sky. So therefore getting up at an earlier time during the winter helps someone who loves the sun get to see it more… PLOT twist though: where I live in New England this side of the US just does not get a lot of sun, ever. How does a sun loving chick get stuck in this gloomy area? Well folks, that would be due to falling in love, which brings me to tip 2. Spend as much time with the people you love. If a friend says hey let’s go out to lunch or a spouse wants to cuddle in front of the fire, even if you’re not in the mood DO IT ANYWAY! Breaking up your normal routine and spending an extra special moment with someone is about as good as medication you can get. Almost guarantee you, you will not regret interacting with another human.
Now this next part may or may not be something you struggle with. I struggle with getting dressed. This also involves another issue for me but for the sake of this blog we will focus on the getting dressed part. Getting up and dressing for the day is so crucial to fighting against SAD. It helps you feel motivated to get things done, and it makes you feel part of society. I’m not just talking about throwing on joggers and socks either. I’m talking about actual clothes you would wear out in public, including putting your shoes on and doing your hair. For some of us make up lovers, take time to do your makeup. This also helps you so that you can say yes to those spontaneous invitations out. You can talk to the mail person or wave at your neighbor without being afraid of looking like a hot mess.
The last tip I will provide is to pick up a hobby or start an old hobby back up. SAD can make us think or feel a lot of things but fighting back with things we love like hobbies is a sure-fire way to give SAD its exit papers. I have recently gotten back into reading. Reading is such a good hobby as iit lets you sink into a story that carries you to other places. I also really love to paint. I haven’t done it in a long time so I am excited about doing some arts and crafts for the holiday months. I also look forward to decorating for all the holidays and seasonal changes as it helps me to really have something to look forward to and not just dread the way the season can make me feel.
I hope these tips and tricks help you to be able to see some positive ways to tend with your SAD. I don’t want to hear about you spending your entire fall and winter in bed, so let’s do this together. Just remember – if you have feelings of suicide don’t wait till it’s too late reach out by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. There are so many people that are out there willing to help.
Peace, Fall, and Winter to you all. You’re not alone!