As winter approaches, it is time to be mindful of seasonal changes that can lead to feelings of sadness. Daylight savings, winter darkness, and colder temperatures can lead to winter blues which occurs in about 15-30% of Americans. Symptoms commonly begin in late Autumn and can continue throughout the winter season. Typical symptoms include sleep changes, appetite changes, lack of motivation, lethargy, and fatigue. A more severe form called Seasonal Affective Disorder may require a mental health evaluation. It occurs in about 6-10% of Americans. Common challenges at this time of year include social isolation and withdrawal, stress from holiday planning, and invariably being neglectful of healthy eating behavior and a consistent fitness routine.
The treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder includes phototherapy, psychotherapy, psychopharmacological management, and Vitamin supplements. Dietary changes including a balanced diet and exercise 30 minutes a day three time per week can bolster energy levels and improve mood. Consistency with routine can lead to more structure. It is essential not to over schedule oneself. Try and find a healthy balance between socialization and managing individual priorities. Wake up earlier and spend some quiet time at home before running off to start your day. Spend more time walking rather than rushing, get more light exposure, and enjoy the local culture.