Aaaaaah autumn ! Leaves getting red on the trees, pumpkin soup, mulled wine…Or rather rain, temperatures falling and the end of nice summertime terrace appetizers and swimming !
Yes autumn announces several cold months (unless you’re reading me from Florida) and those bring sometimes with them a reduction in morale and energy that can lead to a depression called « seasonal ». Even if some of you have already dreamed about hibernating and wake up when the temperature would have raised a little bit, I thought it was better to write today about 3 tips to prevent seasonal depression in a way to get to spring with a beautiful smile !
Seasonal depression, what are the signs of alarm?
According to the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) depression can be recognized through symptoms like : depressed mood, decreased interest or pleasure in activities that we had pleasure practicing before, significant weight change or change in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of guilt/worthlessness, diminished ability to think or concentrate or even suicidal thoughts.
If you regularly feel those types of symptoms when in autumn or winter, it’s possible that you’re suffering from seasonal depression and it’s important that you contact your doctor to check it out.
What are the seasons doing in that ?
When at night, our body produces a hormone called melatonin that regulates our circadian rhythms (our biological clock). When autumn’s coming, days are getting shorter and we’re less exposed to natural daylight. This change leads to important variations in melatonin production, which could be a cause of the development of seasonal depression.
The major part of the population doesn’t develop a real seasonal affective disorder, but it isn’t rare to feel a reduction in motivation and energy when the cold months are here.
How can we act against this « down phase » and prevent the development of a seasonal depression ?
- Expose yourself to light : go outside and enjoy natural light as often as you can ! It has been proved that light exposure (natural or artificial) helped treating depressive symptoms. If you can’t get enough natural light, you still can buy a special lamp designed for light therapy (like this one: Beurer TL 60 for example). Their light is not always very pleasant and it can be binding to expose yourself during 1 hour in front of it, but this method has proven efficient for a lot of people !
- Readjust your schedule : summertime offers plenty of outdoor activities. So, when the cold arrives, we sometimes have the impression of not knowing what to do anymore during leisure time. Same as you would change clothes on different seasons, it’s crucial to adjust your schedule to activities that fit winter time. Exchange the beer on a terrace with a hot chocolate in a cosy café or switch your daily run with a squash (or any other outdoor sport) session. Enjoy the calm of the winter months to take time to read in your comfortable sofa and learn new things. By adjusting your activities to the season, you’ll avoid being frustrated by the impression of being deprived of your usual activities and you’ll see life in a more optimistic way !
- Focus on things you control : how many times per day do you hear someone complain about the weather ? Maybe you’re doing it yourself ? « It’s so hot outside ! I can’t breathe. » « it’s freezing ! I don’t even dare going out. », well, weather is never good enough… The fact is : you don’t have any influence on the weather. By giving importance and letting yourself emotionally touched, you’re getting the slave of a phenomenon that you don’t control. Let your acts and thoughts determine your emotional state and not an external event. It’s cold ? Get dressed warmer. It’s raining ? Take an umbrella. Be proactive and don’t let it get you down !
- If you regularly feel depressive symptoms : go check it with your doctor.
- In a way to fight the « winter blues », expose yourself as often as possible to natural light or consider buying a light therapy lamp. Adjust your daily schedule and replace summertime activities with activities that suit winter season and focus on how you can adapt to the weather instead of letting it take control on you.