During autumn, our bodies and moods react to the change in light and amount of daytime. With these changes, the lack of Vitamin D and the fewer hours we have to spend outside may affect us negatively. We may feel fatigued and down and experience symptoms of depression.
For some, these feelings are manageable and alleviate themselves as acclimation to the new season takes place. For others, however, these feelings are more severe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a chronic sadness that is affiliated with the weather and characterized with occurring at the same time annually. For most, SAD comes to fruition as the days get shorter and cooler with less sunshine and less time to be outside. It affects roughly three million Americans every year and is considered one of the more common forms of depression. The symptoms last a few months and alleviate as the seasons change again. Unlike many forms of depression, SAD is often self-diagnosable and treated without medication.
Luckily for those who live with SAD, therapy professionals and psychologists are trained to handle this type of depression and are equipped with coping mechanisms and teaching tools to assist patients through the feelings of low mood, anhedonia and fatigue.
There are many home remedies that can be used to combat depressive or sad feelings. These are active methods that can be used to keep your body moving, your head clear, and your mood up.
One way to keep your mood up is to get some exercise. When we’re feeling fatigued, the last thing we may want to do is burpees or intensive weight lifting, but regular light exercise releases endorphins which can help to boost mood. Try going for a walk, doing some yoga or Pilates, or going for a hike; the mix of movement and sunshine will leave you feeling better. Don’t forget to stretch and be mindful about how your body feels in the process.
Eating well can also help to combat our depressive symptoms. Fresh fruits and vegetables are nature’s medicine, and eating full, clean, colorful meals can help keep the lower moods at bay and can encourage a steadier, healthy lifestyle. Try sticking to a diet rich in whole, non-processed foods, fresh fruits and whole grains.
Another important aspect of eating well at this time is to work hard not to skip meals. Not keeping up a consistent diet can result in blood sugar dropping, irritability and fatigue. These aspects can leave your body not functioning fully and can adversely affect your mood.
Sleep is extremely important for a keeping mood and energy in check. It is recommended to have seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and when you are feeling low, getting the right amount of rest is a vital part of your routine. Be mindful about the hours at which you go to sleep and wake, trying to keep the hour brackets in consideration. If you are having issues falling asleep or staying asleep, chamomile tea, yoga and deep breathing exercises are holistic combatants.
Perhaps most importantly, at these times when we’re feeling depressed, it is so, so important to put ourselves first. In our fast paced world, it can seem impossible to stop everything for our emotional and mental wellbeing, but perhaps this is what makes it the most important.
Take time to look introspectively and try practicing mindfulness; this daily practice can help you to see which aspects of your life are causing you the most sadness or stress and may help you figure out how to handle them in the most effective manner.
It is vital to your mental health to know that it is completely alright to take a break from your life for a bit. Unplug, take a mental health day, take yourself on a bike ride, or bake some cookies. Take time for yourself.
Your mental health is extremely important, especially at a time where it may be slightly weakened. Perhaps next time you are feeling low, try some of these holistic practices to combat your depression.