Last week I saw a post on Instagram about Blue Monday, which has been deemed the saddest day of the year. This was my first time hearing the term so I decided to research it. I’ve been really into everything mental health related since I started therapy in 2017. Blue Monday falls on the third Monday of every January, which happened to be yesterday. According to experts, this is the saddest day because people are realizing how much holiday debt they’ve incurred and are overwhelmed with new year resolutions. I can certainly relate to the latter.
Although I agree that Blue Monday is a thing, I believe a lot of the negative emotions people feel this time of year are related to seasonal depression (also known as seasonal affective disorder). Most of us are not getting enough sunlight due to the time change and gloomy weather in most parts of the U.S. Here in Atlanta, it has been cold, cloudy and rainy since November. I typically only get a little sunlight on the way to work if the weather cooperates. By the time I leave work, it’s pitch black dark outside.
Sunlight helps our brains release a hormone called serotonin, which is a natural mood booster. Darker light releases melatonin, which is a hormone that helps us sleep. Without proper precautions during the fall and winter months, you may start to notice a major shift in your mental state.
Here are a few signs you’re experiencing seasonal depression:
- Feeling irritable, anxious and/or agitated.
- Increased craving for comfort foods such as carb heavy meals and desserts.
- Weight gain.
- Isolating yourself from friends and family.
- Decreased interest in activities you normally enjoy.
- Trouble falling asleep and/or waking up.
- Heavy drinking and/or dependence or chemical substances for relief.
- Emotional instability
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
Tips on how to combat seasonal depression:
- Try to get 30 mins of sunlight if the weather allows it. Go for a walk in the morning or on your lunch break.
- Get exercise! Endorphins help boost your mood.
- Listen to uplifting music such as worship.
- Acknowledge and honor your emotions. Pray + journal about how you are feeling daily.
- See a therapist regularly.
- Tell a trusted friend or two.
- Go to church and/or join a small group so you have community.
- Start your day with gratitude and thinking positive thoughts for 10 mins. Find some good affirmations you can recite.
- Practice opposite actions. For example, if you want to stay in bed go outside for a few mins.
- Find a fun activity or hobby you can participate in such as going to the movies or on a short trip.
- Practice self care daily. This can be something as small as turning your phone off for an hour and reading a book.
- Try a light therapy box and/or aromatherapy.
- Take mood enhancing supplements such as 5-HTP. You can buy it directly from Amazon!
If you’re having a tough time right now, just know that you are not alone! It does get better. Look forward to the brighter days ahead! -xo Lorean
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