Winter can be a difficult time of the year for people who struggle with seasonal affective disorder. Often called winter depression, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that affects an estimated 5 percent of adults in the U.S. according to the American Psychiatric Association. Dealing with SAD can make it difficult to enjoy yourself during the holidays. Those struggling with SAD often feel hopeless and overburdened, but that doesn’t have to be the case this holiday season. Use our strategies to help cope with winter depression.
Avoid Isolation: Social withdrawal is a telltale sign of depression. If you are struggling with depression, you may feel a strong urge to isolate yourself from social interaction. This is the opposite of what you should be doing as isolation can contribute to increased feelings of depression. Combat this by gradually increasing the amount that you interact with others. Reaching out to your loved ones and engaging in social activities can be quite beneficial during this time of the year.
Get Enough Sun: Many of SAD’s symptoms manifest during the winter months when there is less daylight. Studies have found a correlation between increased feelings of depression and a decrease in exposure to natural light. It can be difficult to find time to get outside between inclement weather and how hectic the holidays can get. Still, taking the time to get outside for just thirty minutes to an hour can help you handle any feelings of depression you may be facing.
Manage Your Stress: Increased and sustained stress is connected to increased feelings of depression. Many people report that they find the holiday season to be one of the most stressful times of the year. Prolonged periods of stress negatively impact sleep, diet, energy levels, and mood, which can increase susceptibility to depression. Do not let stress get the best of you. Learn strategies for how to manage holiday stress and keep a handle on the holidays.
Seek Help: One of the most effective strategies for coping with seasonal depression is to seek out professional help. Sometimes the feelings that you are dealing with can become too much for you to handle by yourself. You do not have to face your feelings of depression alone. Counseling is an effective outlet for navigating depression and any other struggles you may be facing in your life.
5 Tips for Managing Stress this Holiday Season
- Make a budget and stick to it.
- Find some time to get away.
- Eat healthily and with moderation.
- Don’t be afraid to seek help.
If you feel totally alone and hopeless, consider calling the National Suicide Help line 988. They have trained counselors in your area and know of local places where you can seek help or will just talk to you on the phone.
Linda Marple, Health & Wellness Committee