January is here and that means winter is in full force for most of the United States. With winter comes an array of issues that can negatively impact your health – colds, dry skin and eyes, and seasonal affective depression (SAD).
What is SAD?
SAD is a form of depression that is related to changes in the seasons, with symptoms beginning at the beginning of winter and ending as spring begins. The seasonal disorder affects more than 500,000 people in the US with symptoms including anxiety, sadness, irritability, social withdrawal, fatigue, and lack of concentration.
The cause of SAD isn’t known but many scientists believe it is related to hormone changes due to less sunlight. Reduced exposure to sunlight can cause imbalances of brain chemicals which affect your mood.
Coping with Stress
When you couple the emergence of winter-related depression with the already mental health concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure you are healthily managing stress.
Not all stress is bad and each person copes with stress differently. The key is coping with stress healthily and positively. Below are some examples of how to positively manage stress.
- Build in regular exercise
- Take your pet for daily walks
- Start a yoga program
- Connect with friends in a weekly virtual meet-up
- Watch your favorite comedy movie with a friend (can be done virtually)
- Carve out time for a favorite hobby
- Evaluate and re-align work/life balance
- Practice mediation
- Listen to music
Eat and Sleep
- Eat a well-balanced meal filled with fruits and veggies
- Make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night
- Avoid excess alcohol consumption
Stress is a natural part of life but handling it in a positive manner will make all the difference.