With pumpkin spice out and peppermint mocha in, the winter months are fast approaching. Many people like this change in weather and scenery, especially because of the holidays coming up. Another thing that will be changing is our clocks. That’s right! We are moving our clocks back 1 hour on Sunday, November 5th. On the bright side, we get an extra hour of sleep, woo! On the down side, it will be getting darker sooner. Surprisingly enough, this one hour change can have some big impacts. Keep reading to find out what they are and how you can prepare yourself.
During the winter months, many people experience symptoms from what is called, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short. The symptoms related to SAD include: depressed mood, changes in sleep patterns, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, feeling anxious, craving certain foods, and isolating (DSM-5). If you notice yourself feeling any of these symptoms, you are not alone. However, now that you know what to look out for, I am going to give you some tips on how to combat these changes.
One of the most effective things is light therapy. This doesn’t mean you turn on some extra lights in your house. There are specially designed lights that you can purchase that help mimic natural sunlight. Researchers have found these special lights really work. You can purchase a good one on Amazon, which I will link at the end of this article. Another thing you can do is take advantage of the sunlight that is available! Try to step outside for some fresh air and sun for just a few minutes at work. Your body will thank you.
Even though Chicago winters can get really cold, try to plan some fun activities outside when possible! For example, Lincoln Park Zoo is free. Or maybe get a group of friends and visit Starved Rock and go hiking. Just remember to wear a lot of layers! Another suggestion I can make is try to stay physical to help your body get those natural endorphins. This could mean joining a gym (Planet Fitness is $10/month) or going walking at your local park district. That might be free, depending on your neighborhood. If you do not want to leave your house, then I will challenge you to do a short workout video. I’m sure you can find something interesting on Youtube.
The last thing I want to mention is try and approach winter with a positive mindset. I know there are a lot of things we do not look forward to, such as driving in the snow, but if you try your best to focus on the positive, I promise it will be a little more manageable. For instance, if you are on the highway, and everyone is driving super slowly, try and notice any negative thoughts you might be having and restructure them into more positive thoughts, such as “at least we are moving” or “I am grateful I have heat in my car.” Now that you know these tips and tricks, I hope you are more prepared to tackle the next few months! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to any of us counselors here at Life Synergy!
By BiBI Naumovski, LPC
-Light therapy: https://www.amazon.com/NatureBright-SunTouch-Light-Therapy-package/dp/B000W8Y7FY/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1509592948&sr=8-1&keywords=light+therapy+for+SAD&dpID=31yRc4EuwnL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch