It’s a beautiful day in Halifax today but as more winter storms loom, one’s mood can greatly be affected. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a true disorder with varying ranges of severity affecting anywhere from 2-15% of the population according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/#.Uu1I8bTlZFU). Symptoms can include foggy headedness, lack of focus and concentration, excessive tiredness, insomnia, loss or increase in appetite, lethargy, social isolation, overwhelming sadness, anxiety, irritability, and possibly suicidal thoughts.
So, what can you do to beat the winter blues?? Exercise naturally increases the brain’s ability to produce endorphins that boost energy and elevate mood. Vitamin D supplements can also prove to be useful or UV lights (available for purchase or rent at most pharmacies) can help with any deficiencies experienced by the lack of natural light this time of the year. Psychotherapy focused on cognitive-behavioural coping techniques for improving negative thinking patterns are also strongly recommended. For many people, this time of the year also marks “year end” time for business which ads increasing stress and can further exacerbate depressive symptoms. General things you can do to reduce the amount of stress:
Be aware of your time, plan ahead, and get organized
Schedule in frequent breaks, even if they are only short ones
Get outside when you can
Make plans with friends and family or join a social/networking group
Schedule a holiday
Try journaling (not a forced scheduled one, but a mind-dumping ground of sorts)
Limit caffeine and increase water intake
Plan out healthy meals
As a psychological practice, we are also offering yoga workshops that focus on postures to uplift mood during these troublesome dark days. For more information on our yoga program, check out http://waldegrovepsych.com/class-descriptions.
And of course, check with your family physician if symptoms are just too unbearable or if you are having suicidal thoughts. These suggestions are great, but if you can’t get out of bed, getting to the gym will be an extremely difficult task.
Hang in there…spring will be here soon 🙂