Winter is a time of year when our usual tasks and activities feel as though they require an enormous amount of energy and the peace of hibernation and avoidance become more enticing.
Catholic Health’s Casey Beauman, LMSW, shares helpful information for overcoming the “winter blues.”
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
SAD describes an experience familiar to many people: the “winter blues.” The winter months can affect the body and brain’s serotonin and melatonin levels—chemicals that regulate our mood and sleep.
Common signs of “winter blues” include:
- Increased feelings of depression
- Loss of interest and energy
- Social withdrawal
Winter blues can be exacerbated by factors such as the region you live in or already existing mental health challenges in your life. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that millions of Americans experience SAD on a yearly basis.
How can I beat the winter blues?
While there are several factors that can cause the “winter blues,” there is much you can do to improve how you’re feeling during the winter months.
Helpful tips include:
- Seeking light (natural sunlight and artificially created)
- Staying active and healthy
- Talking about your experience
- Allowing yourself to find awe in these temporary winter months
Although it may be easy during this time of year to go on hiatus from our routines, such as exercise and healthy eating, it is important to dig deeper into these activities. Your sleep, energy levels and mood will benefit if you maintain these routines.
What is light therapy?
The power of light, both natural sunlight and artificially created, should not be underestimated. Light therapy, whether using a light box or making sure to be outside for a portion of daylight hours, has been shown to improve our physical and mental health.
Talk about your experience with people in your support system or with a mental health professional if needed. Remind yourself that the seemingly endless winter will indeed end. Similar to many aspects of life, this too shall pass.
Perhaps, however, before it melts away there is an opportunity to find awe and wonder in the beauty of this season as well. Make time, when you can, to find joy in the activities, landscapes and time with ourselves and others that this time of year may offer.
Behavioral Health Care
Catholic Health offers comprehensive behavioral health care services across Long Island.