As summer slides into fall, many people’s moods take a marked dip that mimics the slow drop in temperature. Colder weather, less sunlight, and more time indoors can lead to general feelings of frustration and sadness, a condition often known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD symptoms usually appear at the start of fall and can continue into the winter months. Sufferers of SAD commonly express disinterest in their activities, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and general unhappiness. While all these symptoms can affect your daily life, there are ways to overcome those gloomy feelings and maintain a happy, healthy mindset all year long.
If a general return to the post-summer drudgery of school or work and a change in temperature are negatively affecting you, you don’t have to settle for feeling less than 100%. A few changes to your daily habits can help you beat the fall and winter blues.
Exercise is important all year round, but it’s especially useful when battling the symptoms of SAD. Exercise boosts your mood and improves your mental functioning, allowing you to approach the day with a clearer mind and increased energy. Regular exercise also gets you up and moving, which is an accomplishment in itself when you’re feeling unhappy.
To encourage yourself to exercise during the gloomy winter months, toss on your best athleisure outfit in the morning. When it comes time to go to the gym, you’ll already be dressed, eliminating at least one excuse that could keep you from squeezing in a workout. Plus, as a cozy twist on trendy fall outfits, you can kick back in your athleisure and embrace the comfort of stretchy leggings and soft t-shirts.
Meditation is a crucial way to quiet your mind and promote focus and productivity. With just 5-15 minutes of meditation per day, you can reduce anxiety and stress while promoting emotional health. Most importantly, meditation allows you to take a few minutes for yourself, free from the worries bringing you down.
If you’re new to meditation, you may find it difficult to start. However, by trying different techniques and committing to consistent practice, you’ll find it increasingly easy to reap the benefits of meditation. Don’t expect to be a success story right out of the gate. Instead, take your time to explore how meditation can work for you. At the very least, you’ll gain a few moments of peace and quiet in your otherwise hectic day.
Your diet has a distinct effect on the way your body feels internally. During the fall and winter, it’s much more tempting to indulge in heavy comfort foods. The pressure of swimsuit season is gone, and the temptation to stuff yourself full of yummy holiday treats can feel almost too much to bear. While treating yourself every now and then is nothing to be ashamed of, you still have to give your body the nutrients it needs. By incorporating veggies, fruits, green superfoods, and lean proteins into your diet, you’re fueling both your body and brain. You just can’t glean the same benefits from your favorite fast food joint.
When your body and mind are functioning well, it’s much easier to combat the negative symptoms that accompany SAD. By boosting your internal functions and feeding your mind as well as your body, you’ll notice a positive difference in your mood that can help you to get past your winter funk.
Speaking of treating yourself, there are other ways to practice self-care that don’t involve daily trips to Chick-fil-A. If you’re battling feelings of unhappiness and anxiety, the best thing you can do is simply be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for how you’re feeling. Instead, find ways to relax and decrease your stress.
Buy a few face masks and have an at-home spa night. Engage in a little retail therapy and get a cute new outfit that’s totally on-trend. Take a day to binge-watch your favorite show. Whatever counts as self-care for you, do it. Paying attention to your needs and promoting your own happiness is crucial in maintaining your happy mindset.
While buying a trendy new set can solve some problems, sometimes you need more than retail therapy. If you’re struggling to overcome the symptoms of SAD, you shouldn’t be ashamed to seek help. There’s only so much you can do on your own. If you’ve tried everything and nothing improves, you may need to reach out to a friend, family member, or professional for help. Taking care of yourself should always be your top priority. Sometimes a little extra assistance is exactly what you need to beat the winter blues and find your summer happiness again.
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.