Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a syndrome characterized by reoccurring depression that happens at the same time each year. Many Central New Yorkers know the feeling as we are hit with such beautiful, yet often taxing seasonal changes. It is important to seek proper medical attention for any kind of mental health concern. Seasonal affective disorder should not be taken lightly and can have drastic effects on a person’s quality of life. In conjunction with professional help there are some things you can try at home as quick pick-me-ups.
One of the reasons changing seasons can be so emotionally draining is that for many of us it means a lack of sunlight and thereby a lack of vitamin D intake. Although the sun is not shining as brightly as we may want it to, there are usually some rays poking between our puffs of cold breath so get outside as much and as safely as possible…..go for a walk, rake the leaves, enjoy an outdoor sporting event, and shovel the driveway when the snow arrives. Things that keep us active and allow a few rays to hit our frostbitten cheeks can do a world of good. There are also special lamps created to simulate the effects of sun light indoors.
Eating right and staying active is critical as well. Frozen vegetables are better than canned and they maintain much of the nutritional value we get from the fresh produce we enjoy during warmer months. There are also some healthy food choices that are geared toward the colder months such as winter squash. Butternut, acorn and spaghetti squashes bring the warmth of comfort food and guilt free vegetable feeling together into a delicious combination. Pomegranates and pomegranate juice can also be delicious winter sweet treats with great antioxidants. Further, while there are creative seasonal exercises such as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowman building, for those of us who prefer the warmth of indoors there are also a plethora of fun exercise videos for free on the internet. Use the colder months as an opportunity to explore your various work out possibilities in the comfort of your own living room.
All of these measures can aid in keeping yourself mentally healthy during the shifting seasons. While it can be hard, try to embrace the traditions and joys that come with a Central New York fall that fades into winter. Apple picking, the smell of Hollenbeck’s freshly cooking doughnuts, the crunch of fresh snow underfoot are all things that warm us to our core even if they don’t warm our frostbitten faces.
The Cortland LGBTQ Center
A division of family counseling services