Autumn is in full swing. The pumpkins are out and Halloween decorations are starting to pop up all over my neighborhood. The night is closing in on the later hours of the morning and early hours of the evenings as we move toward winter. While this season can be a beautiful time of the year, the changes in the weather and daylight can usher in difficult changes in mood for many individuals.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is an annual depression that affects many individuals from late fall through the end of winter. If you find yourself struggling with low energy, losing interest in festivities that you would normally be excited about, or experiencing other symptoms of depression during this time of year, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those already suffering from another mood disorder, SAD can intensify those symptoms.
It is important to be mindful your mood in order to manage it properly and potentially prevent a more severe drop in mood. Below are a few simple ways to keep your mind healthy as we continue into the fall and winter months.
- Develop healthy sleep hygiene.Sleep has a profound affect on mood. When possible try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Turn off overhead lighting and turn on dim lamps when preparing to go to bed so that the brain knows to begin releasing melatonin. Having an evening routine such as taking a hot bath, sipping a cup of tea, journaling or meditation can also help the mind and body relax and fall asleep faster. It is important to only use the bed for sleep and sex so that the body learns to associate the space with rest. Limit disruptive noise and light as much as possible.
- Exercise regularly.Even if it is just a 15-30 minute walk, 3-4 times a week, exercise generates endorphins that are widely known to improve mood.
- Eat healthy.It may be a bizarre revelation, but the digestive tract contains more neurotransmitters that the brain. Meaning diet can have a big impact on mood and mental health.
- Reach out for support.It is natural to isolate when suffering from a mood disorder, which often times only exacerbates feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. Tell a friend or family member that you are struggling. Get involved with your faith community or join as support group. If you find that your mood is continuing to drop and disrupt your life, seek help from a mental health profession.