Don’t get SADMikeDotta/Shutterstock
If you’re suddenly feeling a drop in your energy and happiness levels now that summer’s come to a halting stop, you’re far from alone. Seasonal affective disorder—think of it as winter depression—can lay you low. Here’s how to fight back against the symptoms of SAD. The malady is common, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians: As many as 20 percent of Americans experience it. “SAD is caused by the disruption of hormones, such as serotonin and melatonin, which influence our sleep cycles, mood regulation and overall feeling of well being,” explains Ariane Machin, PhD, clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Conscious Coaching Collective. “It can impact how we function during sleeping and waking hours, causing us to feel more drowsy, lethargic and moody more than normal.” Whether or not you’re experiencing SAD or simply someone who prefers sunshine and warmer weather (we don’t blame you!), there are plenty of ways you can boost your mood and shake off the blues during the off-season. Here, experts share their best-kept secrets to avoiding the condition during the dreary winter months.
Create an action planKseniia Perminova/Shutterstock
If you’re someone who’s used to feeling less happy and energized during the fall and winter months or someone who knows they’ve experienced SAD in the past, you’ll likely know what to expect. You may also, however, experience anticipatory anxiety or moodiness knowing what is to come. “Use this time to reach out to your support network, identify strategies that have worked before and get your action plan in place,” says Dr. Machin. “Reach out to those that care about you and share what you might be experiencing.” Want some tips on how to be a better friend? No problem. She adds that even once the winter months have started, it is not too late.