Tips for Seasonal Changes in Mental Health
It can be hard to cope with the changes in weather during the winter months. Whether you live where it always gets colder in the fall and spring or are dealing with extreme weather swings from one season to another, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is something that many people have to deal with every year. The symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder can be easily confused with other disorders, making it important to consult with a medical professional before beginning treatment.
If you've ever wondered why your mood or energy level changes when the temperatures change outside, this article will help explain how those two things interact and what you can do about it.
Spend Time Outside
If you have seasonal depression, winter can be especially tough. If possible, go outside during the day to help reset your circadian rhythm (your body’s natural clock). Sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms, so try getting outside daily for at least 30 minutes. Avoid using artificial light at night as much as possible; turn off lights in rooms where no one is present, and use warm lighting instead of cool white bulbs wherever possible.
Try a Light Therapy Box
The light therapy box is a safe, natural, affordable SAD treatment. It's a small box that emits full spectrum light in the morning or evening for 20 minutes. A study by Harvard Medical School found that half of the people with SAD were symptom-free after ten weeks of using a light therapy box every morning for 30 minutes.
Focus On Activities That Boost Serotonin
Exercising and socializing are two activities that can increase serotonin levels. Exercise can help you sleep better, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. When you’re feeling sad or anxious, participating in activities that strengthen your relationships with others—such as going out with friends or spending time with family—can also make you feel better because it helps take your mind off negative emotions.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important for your physical and mental health because it allows your brain to recover from the day's activities. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, heart disease, depression, and other mental health issues. It's essential to get enough sleep to have energy throughout the day instead of constantly feeling tired.
Talk About It!
Remember that not everyone experiences the same symptoms during their heightened vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to consult a medical professional if you think something might be wrong with your emotional health or if your moods seem unusual throughout the year. Talk to your doctor about how your mental health may be affected by weather changes, mainly if you live in a place with significant temperature shifts between seasons.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Your doctor can help you decide whether therapy would be helpful and what kind of therapy might work best for your situation.
Geraldine Orentas is a writer in partnership with leading stethoscope distributor Stethoscope.com