When the seasons change, our moods can change too. Find out what's happening and what you can do about it.
It’s the end of Daylight Saving Time again. Early Sunday morning, the clocks reversed themselves giving us an additional hour’s sleep and by proxy throwing off the equilibrium of everything else.
Personally, I hate this time of year. There is very little sunlight so I am not able to work out outside. I really enjoy getting outside for walks and gardening. With the limited sunlight, by the time I get home from work, the sun is halfway set. For the first few weeks after the time change, I get S.A.D. A few years ago I noticed that right after the clocks go back, I get moody, tired, and sluggish. My sleep pattern is wonky for a few weeks - like why am I falling asleep at 5:48 in the evening? - it just sucks. I already wake up hella early, but during this time I can wake up around 2 AM and can’t go back to sleep. No Bueno.
Because of the reduction in sunlight, a few things are affected:
- Circadian rhythm - the body’s internal clock. Because the change is so sudden, your body seems to be in a state of shock.
- Serotonin levels - these hormone levels can drop and trigger depression. This is where the moodiness comes from.
- Melatonin - more darkness causes your body to produce more melatonin. More melatonin causes you to feel tired. This is why I am yawning like a sleep-deprived madwoman at 3:42 PM.
- Vitamin D levels - natural vitamin d comes from the sun, but if you spend all day at work or doing stuff indoors, your levels are likely to drop. It may be best to consult your medical provider to find out if you should start taking supplements.
- Chronic Depression - some people have the type of depression that persists year-round, but it seems more prevalent when the seasons change. If you find this is the case, please contact a wellness professional for an appointment.
Common symptoms of S.A.D. include
- Increased drowsiness during your regular waking hours.
- Increased emotions and sensitivity to rejection
- Increased appetite for sweets and carbs
- Decreased focus
- Decreased sex drive
How to treat S.A.D.
As with any condition dealing with your mental health, it’s best to consult a professional in regard to treatment and to make sure there are no underlying issues. If necessary, they may recommend more therapy or prescribe medication. I know there is a stigma around going to see a mental health professional, but I don’t understand why. Some brains are wired differently. Some brains have suffered trauma and need assistance to function. It’s better to address what’s going on and start feeling better than to fight with yourself about treatment.
If a medical professional confirms that you are being affected by S.A.D. there are a few things you can do to beat back the winter blues. First, get outside during the day; even if it's just for a few minutes. You also have the option of trying light therapy. There is a special lamp that works just like the sun and it is know to help people feel better.
It is also helpful to be around other people. Get a group of friends and go have fun. Plan a picnic in the park, go see a movie, or have a sleepover. The object is to enjoy yourself so you feel satisfaction. Exercise is also a proven way to increase your mood. Don’t discount a good dose of endorphins. Stretching before bed can also help you sleep better.
The point is to not sit back and do nothing. If something feels off, it probably is. There is no shame in needing help. You are encouraged to reach out to me for a complimentary discovery call. It’s 30 minutes to decompress and hopefully leave feeling better.