Wintertime can be a magical time. Holidays, snow (for some), and family get-togethers make for special memories. But in some climates, the cold weather, shorter days with grey skies and lack of outdoor activities can take a toll on mental health. If you are job searching or getting ready for a competition, it is important to be aware of your mental and physical rhythms.
I notice a challenge for my own energies and moods when there are multiple days without sunshine. Why is that? Although it is debated in medical circles, many health professionals believe that seasonal depression is real. The term seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Although the symptoms can dissipate in the spring and summer, there are symptoms to recognize and steps you can take to keep your mood and motivation consistent during the year.
Signs and symptoms of SAD can include:
• A persistent low mood
• Losing interest in everyday activities
• Increased irritability
• Low energy and sleeping too much
• Concentration difficulties
• Appetite changes and weight gain
• Feeling hopeless with thoughts of not wanting to live
It is normal to have days when you feel down. But when these feelings persist for days at a time and you’re struggling to cope, you might want to see your health care provider. A physician can do an assessment to check your mental health. There are numerous treatment options for SAD. Your physician will recommend the most appropriate option for you.
To manage SAD, some standard treatments are:
• Lifestyle measures such as exercise, adequate sleep, and getting natural sunlight
• Light therapy where a lightbox lamp can simulate sunlight
• Counseling to talk through your concerns, and manage your stress levels
• Medication and/or supplements as prescribed by your physician or nutritionist
So as the winter months linger, keep in mind what you need to function at your best. Self-care will keep you at your optimum so you can reach your personal and professional goals!