According to the National Institute of Mental Health, many people go through short periods when they feel sad or unlike their usual selves oftentimes during winter.
We go from having long days and sunlight during the summer to short and cold days during the winter. If you have noticed significant changes in your mood and behavior when the seasons change, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. It’s essential to be aware of these fluctuations and, if necessary, seek support and professional guidance to understand better and manage these seasonal changes in mental well-being.
SAD is a recognized phenomenon where individuals might experience pronounced shifts in mood and behavior in response to changing seasons. By being attuned to these shifts and taking proactive steps to address them, individuals can better navigate the impact of changing seasons on their mental well-being and work towards maintaining a healthier and more balanced state of mind throughout the year.
As the finals are approaching and the workload can negatively impact your mental health, we asked Kathryn Manwiller, who is a wellness counselor at Frederick Community College, what advice she would give to students who could be struggling.
“Embrace the warmth within, even on the coldest days. Just as winter brings its challenges, it also presents opportunities for self-care and resilience,” Manwiller said. “You have the power to create your sunshine, even on the cloudiest day.”
Counseling services are available by walk-in or appointment at the Student Center in Room H 103-B. All services are free and confidential for current FCC students. You can contact her at (301) 624-2757 or through her email [email protected].
Here are five ways to beat the winter blues:
- Light therapy: Lack of sunlight during winter can contribute to SAD. Light therapy involves exposure to a bright light that mimics natural sunlight, and it has been shown to be effective in alleviating symptoms of winter depression. Consider investing in a lightbox and spending time in front of it daily.
- Regular exercise. Physical activity has been linked to improved mood and reduced symptoms of depression. Establish a regular exercise routine, even if it’s a short daily walk, to increase endorphin levels and combat the lethargy often associated with winter depression.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Nutrient-rich foods can positively impact mood and energy levels. Ensure your diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish might also have mood-boosting properties.
- Social engagement. Combat feelings of isolation by staying socially connected. Even though winter may tempt you to stay indoors, make an effort to spend time with friends and family. Social interactions can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging.
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques. Practice mindfulness meditation or relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety associated with winter depression. Techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can help calm the mind and improve overall well-being.
Incorporating these strategies into daily life can significantly contribute to overcoming winter depression. By proactively addressing the challenges posed by winter, individuals can cultivate a resilient mindset and embrace the season with a greater sense of well-being.