S.A.D or Just Sad
By David A. Morris, LCSW
It’s a weird time of the year. The winter holidays are well behind us and winter seems to be building up its stamina with cold
winds, temperatures and icy roads. It can be a difficult time for our moods with shorter daylight and darker evenings. Some people even have the experience of leaving for work in the dark and returning home in the dark. You may wonder if your low mood is just part of a situational experience or is it more complex like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD expert Dr. Kelly Rohan defined the disorder as, “a regular seasonal pattern of major depressive episodes during the fall and winter months with periods of full improvement in the spring and summer.”
Maybe at first, it didn’t seem so bad, nothing that binge watching your Netflix show and some well-placed sweet treats couldn’t manage. But a few weeks later the mood remains. If this is the case, try a few of some well-practiced techniques to make a change.
- Find the Light – Sunlight can activate specific vitamins in your system as well as regulate the amount of melatonin in your body; both of which are connected to your moods. If you are able find opportunities, despite the cold temperatures, try and get outside. Some research suggest the morning light is best, but anytime you can make time to get outside during these short daylight moments will help.
- Connect the Dots – Picture the people in your life as dots. Look for chances to connect those dots by making visits to those people. Plan a lunch, take a walk, go to a movie, get some coffee. The more dots you connect the better your mood picture will be. If you know the winter impacts your mood, have one of your dots (aka friends) hold you accountable to get out and be social.
- Turn Off Auto Pilot – We often trudge along allowing our auto pilot to take the path of least resistance and minimal stimulation. Turn it off and start savoring what is around you. Look for beauty and pleasant moments before they pass you by. Seek thankfulness and be grateful for what you do have instead of focusing on what you don’t.
If you find your mood to be impacting your daily functioning at home, at work or in public, please contact New Directions Counseling. We have a variety of passionate, caring individuals whom can walk alongside you during this struggle.