The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler and summer vacations have come to an end. Fall, you know it’s coming every year but transitioning out of summer can affect your mental health.
That’s because of our biological or internal clock changes with these seasons. This clock is what helps regulate how your body functions with things like sleep, wakefulness, hormones, blood pressure and alertness. We’ve got some info and tips to help you deal with these changes as we head into the new season.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This disorder (also appropriately called SAD) usually shows up around fall when the days get shorter and people see the sun less during their days. Around 3% of Canadians will experience it in their lifetime and SAD makes up 10% of all depression cases in Canada. Some of the symptoms include:
- Tired all of the time or feel like sleeping all the time
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Weight gain
- Appetite change
- Avoiding people or activities
- Feeling sad, guilty, tense or stressed
How to Deal with Seasonal Depression
Yes – there are SAD lamps! Sometimes also called Light Therapy, it has been proven to treat SAD by affecting chemicals in the brain that are linked to mood and sleep. People usually sit near this kind of light for about a half-hour a day to feel the effects. Make sure you talk to your doctor first before you try this as there can be some side effects.
See the Change as a Reboot
Instead of seeing the switch to fall as something coming to an end, try and reframe it as a new start. That’s how we thought about it as kids, right? New school year, friends and adventures. It can be that way again for adults too! Think of new challenges and goals you want to reach this fall season and make a plan on how you’re going to do it. Maybe it’s joining a book club or renovating a room in your home. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something positive you can focus on in the coming months.
Fight Winter Blues with Healthy Diet and Vitamins
When you’re feeling sad and it’s cold out it can be pretty tempting to binge on some warm comfort food. But eating sugary or processed foods can actually make you feel worse this time of year. Make sure you’re including things like whole-grain foods, omega-3 fatty acid, fresh fruit and veggies in your diet and drink lots of water – all of these things will help your energy and mood. Perhaps try vegetarian or vegan a couple of nights! Since you’re getting less sunshine, it is also a good idea to start taking some Vitamin D supplements. This helps with feelings of fatigue and helps to boost your immune system.
Include More Exercise in Your Life
Exercise and movement help not only your body but also your mind. This is important if you’re dealing with seasonal depression because it can boost things like serotonin, endorphins and other chemicals that help your mood. It can also have a big impact on your sleep. You may need to change your exercise routine as the weather becomes colder. Try different social-distanced or online workout classes or buy some equipment you can use indoors.
Get Outside as Much as You Can
Sunshine is your best pal when it starts to transition into fall so try to go out and bask in it whenever you can! Even if it isn’t the sunniest day, getting outside and breathing in the fresh air can boost your mood. If you’re stuck indoors try and get as much sunshine as possible — open your blinds or try and move your workspace to somewhere near a window.
Keep to A Routine
One of the most important parts of your routine will be to make sure that you are getting enough sleep. It can be tempting as the weather turns colder to sleep in or stay in your PJs but try and stick to a regular schedule and routine.
Seasonal depression is real and it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. It’s also good to know there are things that you can do to help curb the effects of SAD. We hope these tips will help you feel good and energized as we head into fall and the end of another year.