You probably heard of the term ‘winter blues,’ also known as seasonal depression, to describe the transition from summer to the colder months. During that change, there are noticeable differences. The sun goes down earlier, less natural light is received, and the weather gets chillier.
As defined by Licensed Clinical Therapist and Leadership Wellness Coach Charese L. Josie, those differences can cause a mood disorder called seasonal depression (SAD). “The end of Daylight Savings Time can adversely impact mental well-being.
The time change disrupts your internal body clock, affecting mood, sleep, and hormone regulation,” she explains. About 10 million people are affected by SAD yearly. Josie says seasonal depression is “more common in young adults.” Therefore, addressing and providing solutions is necessary, so we deep-dived with Josie into the topic.
First, she addressed the science behind it. “It [the end of Daylight Savings Time] reduces exposure to natural light and decreases serotonin levels, associated with happiness, focus, and calmness, leading to mood changes,” Josie says. “The increased darkness can ramp up melatonin production, a hormone your brain produces in response to seasonal depression, resulting in fatigue and symptoms of depression. This low mood may discourage outdoor activities and social interactions, exacerbating feelings of isolation.”
Secondly, she outlined five ways to combat seasonal depression, with practical steps to implement those solutions.
Prioritize Self-Care And Boundaries
Be kind to yourself, Don’t attend gatherings if you don’t want to, and Don’t spend money if you don’t have it. If you’re not up for social gatherings, it’s okay to decline invitations. Similarly, don’t feel pressured to spend money you don’t have—emotional well-being outweighs societal expectations.
Cultivate Your Sanctuary
Your environment profoundly influences your mental state. Make time for activities that bring you joy and seek spaces where you feel valued, even if that sanctuary is your home.
Engage In Physical Activity and Nutrition
Regular physical exercise has proven benefits for mental health. You can manage depressive symptoms with a balanced diet, including Vitamin D-rich foods like salmon and green vegetables. Exercise outdoors for a double benefit with fresh air and natural light.
Embrace Light Therapy And Medical Consultation
Light therapy, when used for 30 minutes daily, provides 60-80% relief from symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. This light mimics natural sunlight and can be particularly beneficial in winter when sunlight is scarce. Light therapy can significantly relieve seasonal depression, especially when augmented with Vitamin D supplements. Remember to consult with healthcare providers for personalized guidance. Attending therapy is also a valuable option.
Structure Your Day
Keep sight of what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and set a daily schedule. Having a structured daily routine can provide a sense of stability, especially when dealing with seasonal depression. Set specific times for waking up, engaging in activities, and winding down at night. Use your goals as motivation to adhere to this schedule. Gen Z is notably affected by the social media environment and should be cautious about how it can influence their mood, particularly during the darker seasonal months.
To end, Josie has a few words of wisdom. “Depression affects how you think, feel and function. Ways to address this is to focus on these core areas only. Celebrate yourself every day.”
About the author: Shelby Denise Smith is a full-time Social Media Editor and part-time Freelance Writer. She loves writing about news, wellness, and beauty and hosting impactful conversations with influencers and experts.