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The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and in many places, the weather is getting pretty gray. While there are tons of people who adore winter and fall, and all of the seasonal changes that they bring, there are others who don’t fare so well with life at this time of year. Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is thought to affect around 5% of adults in the US.

It’s more complex than a case of winter blues, so it’s important that it’s taken seriously. If you experience SAD, we’ve got some self-care ideas to help you stay happy and healthy this Autumn and Winter.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder can affect anyone at any age. For those who are affected, it usually occurs throughout 40% of the year (or almost 5 months). It’s more common in women than in men, and although it can occur in spring and summer, it’s usually experienced in fall and winter.

SAD has many different symptoms, and people may experience some or all of them. The most common are depression, changes in appetite and sleep schedule, and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. In rarer cases, those with SAD may even have thoughts of death or suicide.

Self-Care Ideas to Help Beat SAD

Luckily, there are a number of different things you can do to improve symptoms of SAD. It may help to talk to friends, family, or a therapist about your feelings. Sharing your emotions and worries may help to lighten the load.

In the winter months, the days are at their shortest, and this can be one factor that contributes to SAD. This is why for some people, increased exposure to sunlight can help improve symptoms of SAD. This can be done by getting outside each day, or even with the help of special light therapy lamps that help you wake up in the morning when it’s still dark.

Also, try getting enough exercise each day. Mental health is linked to physical health. Being active throughout the day can help with symptoms of depression, getting better sleep, and feeling better about yourself.

Finally, it can help to practice mindfulness. Acknowledge that this is a time of year that is often challenging and give yourself the space and time to manage it. Be mindful, and be kind to yourself during this time.

Try taking more bubble baths or scheduling a massage. Whatever your own personal favorite form of self-care is will help to take the sting out of the colder seasons.

Learn How to Care for Yourself

It’s important to take care of yourself throughout the year. But at those times you might be particularly vulnerable, it’s especially crucial. We hope the above self-care ideas have inspired you to be extra kind to yourself this season.

If you’re feeling down, or simply need someone to talk to, Isaiah Counseling & Wellness is happy to help. Get in touch to schedule an appointment now.