Feeling the end-of-summer blues? For many people, the struggle is real.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. SAD symptoms, including low energy, moodiness, and a general “down in the dumps” frame of mind, typically start in the fall and continue into the winter months.
SAD has been most closely linked to a decreased exposure to light. As a result of darker days, SAD could throw off a variety of body processes that manage our mood and sleep, including circadian rhythms, serotonin regulation, and melatonin production.
Although fall is upon us, you can still keep those summertime vibes going strong. Rely on these seven tips to induce that easy-breezy feeling throughout the year:
Thanks to Halloween and Thanksgiving (and Black Friday!), fall can be an exhausting and overwhelming time of the year. There are decorations to put up, food to prepare, and gifts to buy. In the midst of the holiday craze, set aside some ‘do nothing’ time. It may sound impossible, but if you delegate chores, automate your bill payments, and shut off your phone, you could easily free up some much-needed me time.
Now is not the time to isolate yourself. Withdrawal will only deepen the sadness you may feel. Take the initiative to reach out to friends and get together more often. Who knows? They’re probably craving the connection and support just as much as you.
When the cold and the rain is just too much to take, create your own cozy B&B at home. Make your favorite breakfast and then head back to bed to savor every bite and sip your coffee or tea slowly. As you sit with your thoughts, shift your thinking from the negative (bad weather outdoors) to the positive (warm, comfy-cozy bedroom) and express thanks for where you are and what you have in that moment. Studies show that even a simple gratitude practice like this can decrease feelings of depression.
When we’re feeling down, the last thing we want to do is head to the gym. But exercise is known to be an effective mood lifter and stress reducer. Keeping your regular workout routine or adopting a new one could be your saving grace during the dark days of fall. When you get a break in the weather, take your workout outdoors and soak up the sun. This gives you the one-two punch of Vitamin D, thanks to natural-light exposure, and healthy blood flow, thanks to physical activity.
Eating a nutrient-dense diet can help keep irritability at bay. Anti-inflammatory foods are increasingly recognized as “feel-good foods,” meaning that they support good mental health year-round. Some of these foods include berries, fatty fish, avocados, olive oil, nuts, mushrooms, and green tea. On the flip side, certain dietary choices are linked to an increased risk of seasonal affective disorder. Be mindful of the food choices you make around this time of year. Specifically, you’ll want to minimize your consumption of sugar, processed meats, and refined carbohydrates.
This is the season for parties, which means you may find yourself drinking alcohol a bit more than you typically would. But be wary: excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to seasonal affective disorder. As a depressant, alcohol can disrupt your mood and sleep, so drink with caution. For a safe and fun alternative, experiment with festive mocktail recipes and find your new favorite.
You don’t have to hop a plane to get feel-good vacation vibes. Planning a fun and relaxing activity in your own hometown can be a powerful tool in reclaiming feel-good vibes. Think of what takes your mind off of worries and stress. Is it a massage? Is it a day at the museum? Is it dinner and a movie? Whatever you choose, sink into the experience and let your breathe flow easily. When your breath relaxes, you relax.
If you’re like us, you’re probably begging for warmer, longer, sunnier days to stick around. But keeping the summer vibes going strong is a lot easier than you think. Try the above-mentioned tips and you could be singing good day sunshine in no time. But if you find yourself still struggling with moodiness, it may be time to be evaluated by your physician.
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