Depression, Mental Health, Top Stories

4 Seasonal Depression Tips to Help You Reframe Your Thinking and Cope with Seasonal Sadness

Seasonal Depression Tips

4 Seasonal Depression Tips to Help You Reframe Your Thinking and Cope with Seasonal Sadness

The “winter blues” and their more serious counterpart, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), are unfortunately all too common during the fall and winter months, but seasonal depression tips that help you reframe this time of year could make a big difference in how you feel. 

Below, we’re exploring four tips for how to deal with seasonal depression, including easy ways to reframe your perception of the colder season and get more joy out of these long and lingering months. 

Taking Care of Mental Health in Winter

If you notice changes in your mood during the fall and winter months, you’re definitely not alone. About 5% of American adults suffer from SAD, and 10-20% struggle with a milder form, known as the winter blues. These and other winter depression facts tell us that this emotional shift isn’t just in your head – and that there’s more at play than just preferring warmer temperatures. 

While researchers still have a lot to learn about why seasonal depression happens, it’s currently thought to be a result of several conflating factors. Among them are a reduction in natural sunlight, plummeting temperatures, a tendency to spend more time indoors and alone, and the body producing less serotonin. 

Because these factors are situational, individuals in climates that tend to be particularly cold or dark may be more at risk of seasonal depression. As for why some people suffer from SAD and others suffer from the winter blues, that’s likely due to an existing predisposition toward mental health conditions. Certain risk factors for SAD include a family history of depression or current issues with depression or bipolar disorder. 

If you’re one of the many people dreading the fall and winter months, it might help you to get ahead of it. Where to start? By reframing your thoughts in order to combat seasonal depression and take a new approach to the upcoming seasons. 

4 Tips for Coping with Seasonal Depression

It’s not always easy to boost mood throughout the winter months, but it’s not impossible either, especially when you adopt a more positive focus. Here are four seasonal depression tips to help you with reframing and get you on the path to a happier cold weather season.

Appreciate the Beauty of Fall and Winter

Did you know that less sun reduces the chlorophyll in leaves and that’s what makes them go from green to bright hues of red, yellow, and orange? Or that there are more than 35 different types of snowflakes, in addition to every snowflake being unique?

There is so much beauty in the fall and winter. By paying attention to it, you can become more attuned to the magic all around you, instead of just noticing what’s lacking. 

Spin Negative Thoughts Around

Rather than harping on negative thoughts, look for ways to spin them into something more positive. For example, instead of saying “I hate winter,” say, “I’m not usually a fan of winter but this year I’m going to find ways to enjoy it.” Making a simple effort to call out negative thoughts and put a more positive spin on them will make you more aware of the thoughts that are bringing you down, all while encouraging you to look on the bright side of your current situation. 

Preemptively Plan Solutions

There are several actionable steps you can take ahead of time to deal with seasonal depression, including:

  • Get an artificial light lamp
  • Start seeing a mental health professional
  • Let a trusted friend or family member know you’ll want to check in or get together more often to stave off isolation and loneliness
  • Plan a trip somewhere sunny, if it’s in the budget

Whatever your plan, put it into place as early as possible. That way, you’ll already have tools for dealing with seasonal depression and won’t have to fight through feelings of sadness to get what you need. 

Try to Have Fun

Even if you’re not big on the holidays, there are still so many fun things to do during the fall and winter. Try to make the most of the seasons by engaging in your favorite seasonal activities, whether that’s fall hikes and winter ski runs or a weekend of watching scary movies on the couch. Commit to doing one or more fun activities, and even better, ask a friend or family member to join you. 

Don’t Go it Alone This Fall and Winter

Seasonal depression can make you feel alone, but know that support is always available. We invite you to browse the Synergy Health Programs site, where you’ll find mental health resources and access to mental health services. And if you are in recovery from substance use, please read about the connection between SAD and relapse and why it’s crucial you have a plan set up for protecting your health in the months ahead.

October 10th, 2022

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