With fall just around the corner, it may be worth exploring how some seasons can affect our mood and wellbeing. While there are different causes of mood changes in the fall and winter months, today we are going to talk about the fact that some people are affected by winter blues. During the spring and summer there are longer periods of light and our bodies react positively to this. In the fall and winter, however, the days get shorter and the sunlight is less. This affects us. Some people report increased feelings of increased depression during the fall and winter. Let’s take a closer look.
How Does Daylight Help Us?
During the spring and summer, the actual amount of daylight increases. The sun is a powerful source of Vitamin D and light and our bodies use vitamin D to maintain itself in multiple ways. Have you noticed during the day we have, on average, more energy. Then comes night, our bodies start to feel more relaxed and not as alert. There are always exceptions to this, but for many, they fall into this description. In large part, it is because of the sun and our bodies responding to the light and creating energy we need to function. Below we take a look at the different ways the sun benefits our bodies.
- Supports bone health
- Prevents disease
- Production of vitamin D for our bodies
- Improved mental health
- Lowers blood pressure
- Immune function
These are just to name a few, but even so, it is easy to see that the sun and its light are important to us. But what happens when there isn’t as much sunlight in the day? We will discuss that next.
What are the Effects of Less Sunlight?
When the active amount of sunlight is decreased our bodies respond in sometimes negative ways. The decreased light can decrease the amount of serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin levels can affect our moods and even lead to feelings of depression in some people. Melatonin is also affected by a change in the sunlight. When our bodies drop in melatonin, it can sometimes disrupt our sleep. Less sleep than needed can then lead to other cognitive challenges or health issues. Some people find it more difficult to function once their body systems react to the change of season or daylight hours. Other things that could be affected by the chain reaction within our bodies are listed below. Have you experienced changes in your mood or abilities during the fall or winter months?
- Issues at school or working
- Social withdrawal
- More anxiety
- Increased substance or alcohol use
- Greater feelings of depression
- Less energy
If you can relate to increased occurrences of the above, you may be affected by the changing of the seasons. There are steps we can take to improve our health during the fall and winter months. Keep reading to see if any of these may work for you.
How Can I Help my Mood in Winter?
We can’t stop the seasons from changing, but we can work on decreasing the affects that has on us physically and mentally. Below are some common recommendations for steps you can take that may help you overcome the blues in winter.
- Start now incorporating things that boost your mood – walks, creativity, group activities
- There are lights specific to ease the symptoms of winter blues
- Be social, get out with friends and do stuff
- Aromatherapy could help
- Establish a consistent schedule, that helps melatonin production
- Open the blinds
- Avoid alcohol or other suppressants
- Keep a journal to express how you feel, getting it out helps
- Visit with a doctor if your symptoms affect your life
Sometimes just preparing yourself mentally for what may come can help. If you have taken some of these steps to try and help improve your winter mood and have struggled to get through winter, reach out for help. You are not alone. It is not always within our control to manage the symptoms that keep our bodies and systems down. There is help. Upstate Restorative Counseling has a team of therapist to help you with feelings of anxiety or depression.