It’s that time of year when things seem to get a bit sad for some. Don’t worry. You are not going crazy. There is a name for it. It’s called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Every year about the same time, usually during the winter months SAD claims about 4-6% Americans according to everydayhealth.com. It is said that SAD could be caused from the lack of sunlight. I guess southerners can be grateful that we have more sun in the winter months than those in the North (5-15% more). On average, Portland and New York get 48 and 46 sunny days respectively while Columbia, SC and Dallas, TX enjoy 115 and 135.
You may not want to move, but understanding the seasonal challenges can help you cope. There are a few triggers that aid those winter blues. I will end with some tips to overcome SAD.
Trigger #1: The Weather
It seems to me that the weather change is the first trigger. I know for me colder weather means it’s time to hibernate. I have yet to do this, but that’s how I feel. The weather we were accustomed to in the summer has deserted us, and now we mourn it. Not only is the weather changing, the leaves are falling and the days are shorter. I can see how this can be depressing in comparison to the summer months of warm temperatures and bright days. The challenge we are left with is to find something to like about fall and winter.
I like the array of the pretty shades of colors falling, myself. Some people look forward to the cooler temperatures so they can wear their favorite sweater that has been packed away all summer. We can’t control the weather. It will happen anyway. But, we can control how we let it affect us. See it as an opportunity rather than a time of mourning.
How can a time that supposed to be so happy, make some so sad? For most people holidays means family, friends, gifts and food. It’s just my opinion, but I feel commercials, past traditions, and society has a lot to do with how some people think a holiday should be celebrated in order to be meaningful. The holidays is the perfect set-up for a stressful situation. With all the shopping, parties to plan, and finding the perfect gift for everybody, disappointment is greater if something doesn’t work out.
The challenge here is to create your own way to celebrate. Don’t hold yourself to the way others say you should do it. Find joy and peace that will last even past the holiday.
Trigger #3: Isolation and loneliness
If you tend to feel isolated and lonely during the later months of the year, the source of those feelings is worth investigating. It’s not healthy to maintain those feelings any time of the year, but for some the winter blues appear to exaggerate that isolation and loneliness. Often, I feel these feelings are not a true reality. Often, during the holidays the pressure is on to be in on all the parties and festivities. For a person who is experiencing SAD, not getting an invite to a party or not being able to travel to see family may be enough to trigger a feeling of isolation and loneliness?
The challenge is to ask yourself a few questions. Do I have someone I can call and talk to? Is my support system still intact? Am I just feeling sorry myself and why? The danger is to internalize something that is not true. If you feel yourself taking the isolation and loneliness feeling too far, get help from someone you trust. It may help for someone else to put things into perspective.
- Look for the positive in everything.
- Find something productive to engage yourself in.
- Create your own holiday tradition with what’s meaningful to you.
- Enjoy alone time, use that time to unwind and relax, or meditate.
The seasons must change, but they don’t have to change us. Being content can be challenging for some. Realizing where you have control can help with feelings of SAD. We do have the promise of spring not far away. Till then stay busy and create a happy environment.
[Taunya is nurse, author, and a three-year homeschool veteran. She is currently working on two books, the 3rd in the Brady Boe series, and Truth–the first in the End Time Saga Trilogy. #ReadTSW at taunyasBnB.com]