by Dr. Kristen Ray, DBH, LPC
The spirit of the season is upon us! Holiday music is playing, decorations are front and center in the stores and the scent of pumpkin spice is nearly everywhere. You see words like, “Peace and Joy,” “Believe,” and “Jolly” while you are out running errands. But you are having a very difficult time feeling any of the comfort and joy – which is supposed to wash over you for the next several months. Instead, you are feeling the “winter blues.”
You are not alone in feeling SAD this time of year. Seasonal Depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects over 3 million people per year. Some common symptoms of SAD include: oversleeping, feeling tired or an increased loss in energy, weight gain and appetite changes. More intense symptoms might include feeling hopeless or worthless. Overcoming these feelings is not a hopeless endeavor though. Here’s how you can beat SAD this season:
1: Go for a walk
Arizona is full of trails, paths, and loops outside. If it’s too cold to go outside, walking inside a mall can be a fun alternative.
2: Host a movie night
Instead of staying home alone and disconnecting from your friends and family, invite others over and watch a movie together.
3: Practice mindfulness
Focusing on the present moment and your senses (touch, sight, smell, taste, and sound) can decrease depression, as well as anxiety.
4: Improve your sleep hygiene
By sticking to a routine and removing the phone/TV from your bedroom, getting more and better sleep will help to alleviate many depressive symptoms.
5: Seek professional help
Especially if there hasn’t been any relief from following the above suggestions or if your symptoms worsen.
Bonus suggestion: Keep at it!
Even if you experience SAD every year, it can get better. It’s not uncommon to brush off the symptoms and think, “this will pass.” However, depression is treatable, and the more you practice the above tips, the more relief you will feel.
Dr. Kristen Ray, DBH, LPC is the Vice President of Behavioral Health at Bayless Integrated Healthcare. Dr. Ray works with children and adults individually, in groups, and with their families. Her areas of experience include integrated behavioral health, public health, trauma, abuse, and women’s issues. For more information about Dr. Ray and Bayless Integrated Healthcare, please visit www.baylesshealthcare.com.