Is winter one of those seasons that you struggle with emotionally? How conscious are you of the rainy days and the dark skies? Do you notice that when winter hits your mood drops with it? If so, you may be one of the many people who suffer from depression in the autumn and winter months as a result of the change in season. This is a very common experience with a large number of people reported to be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. People with this form of depression only experience the change in mood when the season changes and may have noticed a pattern over 2 or more years.
I’m one of those rarer people who prefer the cold to hot weather, loving the sound of the rain on a tin roof, the roar of an open fire and a brisk walk to warm me up. For me cold weather allows me to feel more productive, it turns on my focus and concentration, but for others it is the opposite as they face a rapid drop in mood, low motivation levels, irritability and frustration as they crave the warmth and the sunshine. Other symptoms include difficulty waking up in the morning, tendency to oversleep and overeat, lack of energy, social withdrawal and feelings of hopelessness and sadness.
So how do you manage this so you can keep going through the colder months and maintain a good mood? Here are a few tips to manage this depression:
- Recognise the triggers for your mood changing so you can respond quickly to avoid the depression becoming more entrenched
- Let go of the struggle. When we find it hard to accept the change of season and fight against it we create more distress for ourselves in the longer term.
- Activate yourself – get moving with some exercise to keep you warm and lift your mood.
- Notice thoughts that only make you worse and detach from these thoughts as soon as you notice your mind bringing them up. Remind yourself of what you want to be doing in that moment and refocus your attention on that.
- Organise some social activities to make the most of this season.
- Pay attention to the things that you can easily miss when depressed – the autumn leaves, the sound of the rain, the warmth and comfort of an open fire crackling. Utilise all your senses to be fully present, engaging your curiosity in the experience.
- Get some sun and Vitamin D by going outside.
- Contact a psychologist to discuss these feelings and learn new strategies to cope.
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