The onset of winter can be a challenging time for some people. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that occurs during a particular season of the year, usually winter. It's estimated to affect up to 10% of Canadians, and many people don't realize they have SAD or what it might mean for them. The good news is there are effective ways that can help you manage your symptoms and get through the winter months feeling more like yourself again! Read on to know more!
1) Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness exercises are an effective way to mitigate the impact of seasonal depression. Mindfulness is a practice that focuses on being more aware of the present moment and accepting one's thoughts and sensations without judging them. In other words, it means focusing on what's happening around you (or within you) rather than letting your mind wander off into other thoughts. If you're struggling with seasonal depression, try breathing meditation which involves focusing your attention on the sensations of breathing. Moreover, you can also try body scan mindfulness, a practice where you focus on each body part in turn, from head to toe. You can also try listening to music and concentrating on the beats and your breathing without looking at any screen. It is also an excellent way to practice mindfulness and experience its benefits of stress reduction.
2) Physical Activity
Exercise can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve sleep, boost self-esteem, increase energy levels and improve mood. Physical activity is directly responsible for the increase in happy hormones. Hence if you experience any of the symptoms of seasonal depression, there is no better time to start exercising regularly. You do not have to worry about a rigorous gym session. Studies have found that as little as a thirty-minute brisk walk can help you experience an elevated mood and better focus. Get those walking shoes out and start strolling!
3) Light Therapy
Perhaps you have heard of light therapy? Or, you may have a general idea of what it is. Here are the specifics and how it can be helpful during the winter. Full-spectrum lights mimic natural sunlight, while blue bulbs give off more energy that can help with concentration and energy levels. Both types will help improve your mood. However, suppose you're looking for something to help alleviate seasonal depression. In that case, a full-spectrum device might be best for you. You can reap its benefits by exposing yourself to 10–30 minutes of bright light every day at first, gradually working up to 30–60 minutes over time if necessary or desired. It's helpful to remember not to stare directly into the lamp but rather sit across from it at angles between 30–45 degrees away from your body so as not to damage your eyesight over time.
4) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT is a kind of psychotherapy that treats various mental and physical health issues. This therapy bases itself on the premise that human thoughts and behaviour are connected. In other words, how we think can impact how we feel. What's more, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) assists people in recognizing how negative thoughts impact behaviour. It teaches specific skills that help people challenge distorted thoughts and replace them with more constructive thinking or actions. It also allows people to re-evaluate their thinking and promote helpful behaviour.
There are many ways to manage seasonal depression; however, if you find that despite all efforts, you continue to experience the impacts of seasonal depression, speaking to a registered psychologist can be a beneficial first step to managing your seasonal depression.
If you're looking for help in managing some of these symptoms, working with a psychologist might be helpful for you. At Ward & Associates Psychological Services, we offer counselling in Sherwood Park. We specialize in individual counselling for adults, teens, and children and couples counselling and trauma counselling for first responders. We also offer online therapy for clients residing in Alberta. Contact us to learn more about our services or to book an appointment.