With summer coming to an end, and days getting shorter seasonal affective disorder will begin creeping around the corner. Seasonal affective disorder occurs when the days get shorter, and the weather becomes colder. Symptoms often include depressed mood, fatigue, social withdrawal, increased desire for sleep, and changes in appetite. Changes are typically slow to occur and often people don’t realize that they are being affected. They may feel like it’s just a ‘winter funk’ and will pass with time. Treatments often include medication and light therapy, but it is also important to include self-care. Research has shown that although chemical imbalances can result in a depressed mood, positive thinking and behaviors has also been shown to result in chemical changes in the brain reducing depressive moods.

4 strategies to Self-Care

Set aside time for relaxation. We schedule lunches, soccer games, doctor appointments, and play dates. We spend our time cleaning messes, managing bills, running errands, grocery shopping and a million other things. But rarely is there a person that schedules time to relax. In an age where we are always on the go, it has become a necessity to consciously make time to relax. Relaxing can mean different things to different people, but some ideas are taking yoga classes, taking long baths, spending time in meditation or finding a nook to curl up with a novel.

Give attention to your health. Your mood will improve when your body has the nutrients that it needs. Eating healthy every day is a necessity. This includes increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Avoid processed foods, excessive sugars, and excessive carbs. Exercise regularly to strengthen your body, and educate yourself to further understand how to keep your body healthy.

Manage your stress levels. Chronic stress is damaging to the body and reduces ones emotional reserves to cope with stressors. Emotional reserve is like a bank account. Making deposits into your account (i.e., self-care activities) allows for withdrawals (i.e., stressful events). When our accounts are empty, and a stressful event occurs our reserves are depleted and the event overwhelms us. When we have a positive balance in our account we are better able to manage what life throws at us.

Surround yourself with positive. Negative relationships and negative thoughts will only attract more negative. Examine the relationships in your life, and assess if your efforts are reciprocal. Do they treat you with respect? Stay social, and surround yourself with healthy, positive relationships. Negative thoughts can be as harmful negative relationships. Avoid ruminating over negative thoughts, events, and occurrences. Thought stopping is very effective to control hyper-focusing on negative thoughts.

These strategies are proven methods which help relieve depressed moods and can help battle Seasonal Affective Disorder. Focusing on mind, body, and soul will not only make you healthier, but will also make you feel better. When your body feels great, your mind feels great. When your soul is fulfilled, your perspective on the world around you will change. When you see the world in a more positive light, you will feel more positive.

Till then, continue “Discovering Your Own Way”…

- Dr. Brennan

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brennan attended Rutgers University, and graduated with a Bachelor's of Arts in Psychology. She also completed a Master of Arts in Psychology at Pace University. Upon completion, she began a doctorate program at Argosy University completing a Master's of Arts and Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology.

Dr. Brennan worked for 4 years in addictions and with dual diagnosed patients. She understands the unique challenges that are present when living a sober life. Additionally, Dr. Brennan has worked with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) individuals, addressing cognitive difficulties, behavioral modifications, and developing compensatory strategies, in a forensic hospital, and two years as a contractor for the Department of Defense (DCoE).

Presently, Dr. Brennan works as a Professional Life Coach, helping individuals achieve their goals of self improvement through online life coaching. Coaching provides her with the opportunity to offer her clients more behavioral guidance, support, and direction than is available in a more traditional psychotherapy settings.