Written by Clinical Resident Madeleine Mears
Fall is officially here. Leaves are changing, football is underway, and temperatures are dropping lower each day. For some, the changing of seasons can bring about many positive emotions and experiences, but for a significant amount of people, colder temperatures and dreary days can bring about a slew of negative mental health symptoms.
What’s Going on With Me?
Increased irritability, sadness, difficulty sleeping, or fatigue are all common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD presents with depression-like symptoms, but during only certain times of the year. Colder months, shorter days and holiday stress can all act as triggers for SAD. It is very important to attune to your body and not discount any negative shifts in mood. You do not need to meet the full criteria for SAD in order to admit you are not doing well. It is incredibly important to listen to your body. If it is becoming harder for you to sleep at night or you find yourself eating more or less than usual, pay attention! Any type of disruption to your day-to-day life is valid and worthy of seeking attention for.
Remember, You Are Not Alone
Experiencing depression-like symptoms can oftentimes feel very isolating. Especially during colder months where opportunities for connection decrease. These symptoms can creep up on us and we may not notice we are suffering until we are already in the depths of it. Attuning to your body, implementing positive coping mechanisms, and seeking help are all steps to take if you are experiencing any level or severity of negative symptoms.
What Can I Do?
The word self-care has become fairly ubiquitous in our society. At its core though, self-care is all about actively seeking opportunities to meet your own needs. Self-care looks different for everyone and each person can have a whole ‘tool-belt’ of positive coping mechanisms that can serve as self-care. I regularly encourage my clients to keep a running list of activities that bring them joy. In moments of loneliness or sadness, you can turn to this list and engage in something that can feed your soul. Some of these activities can involve others, such as talking with a friend, but it is also important to have some activities you can do alone. Journaling, engaging in art, listening to a podcast or going for a walk can all serve as positive coping mechanisms.
What Can WE Do?
At the end of the day, the changing of seasons and the upcoming holidays can bring many mixed emotions for many people. It is important to realize that not everyone experiences the holiday season the same. Utilizing healthy coping mechanisms can be a great way to mitigate negative depressive-like symptoms. However, these skills may not be enough.
If you feel overwhelmed, sad, or simply want to find the space to talk about what you are going through, please reach out to Optimum Joy! Our highly trained staff is accepting new clients and are here to help.