Some people feel like entirely different people once the winter season arrives. The bitter cold leaves many feeling gloomy and sluggish. Their usual hobbies aren’t as exciting, and keeping active gets ten times more tedious. Many would rather hide under their covers and wait for spring to arrive. If this sounds familiar, then Peak Brain Centers wants you to know you’re not alone! We see seasonal depression in our neurofeedback patients almost regularly.

Seasonal stress and depression often lead to unhealthy habits, which end up causing even more stress. How can one actively shift their mood and break out of the cycle while experiencing the winter blues? It helps to first understand why you may be feeling the emotions that you do.

man sitting on snowy bank

What is a Seasonal Affective Disorder?

For some, even just the worry of the wintertime can bring down their mood. If you have noticed significant changes in your mood and behavior whenever the seasons change, you may suffer from a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

There are two types of SAD: Winter-pattern and Summer-pattern. The Summer-pattern SAD is less common and starts once the temperature rises in the Spring. On the other hand, with winter-pattern SAD, you may begin experiencing symptoms once the temperature drops in the fall and continues into the winter months.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as something you need to just “suck up” and deal with every winter. It’s time to take a deep breath and work towards achieving conscious awareness and inner peace as the year comes to an end.

Symptoms of SAD

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms for the winter appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. SAD reflects the same signs and symptoms associated with major depression. They start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of SAD may consist of:

  • Disinterest in usual hobbies
  • Sluggishness and low energy
  • Oversleeping
  • Overeating and Weight Gain
  • Concentration Issues
  • Anxiety
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Suicidal Thoughts

Sound familiar? Then it’s likely you’re experiencing SAD – Which is nothing to be ashamed of, but is something we can help with!

man suffering from seasonal depression
warm cup of coffee and fuzzy mittens

Why the Winter Makes You SAD

Both melatonin and serotonin support the body’s daily rhythm, based on the cyclical pattern of the seasons’ night and day. Changes in serotonin and melatonin levels in SAD patients throw off their regular daily routines. Due to their inability to adapt to the seasonal fluctuations in day length, they experience changes in their sleep, mood, and behavior.

Serotonin Decrease

Those suffering from SAD may have lower serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in bad or good mood regulation. The absence of sunlight throughout the winter regulates the molecule levels that help keep the average production of serotonin in place. However, in persons with SAD, this regulation is ineffective, which causes lower serotonin levels during the winter.

Vitamin D Decrease

The body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunshine on the skin and through diet. Winter’s shorter days and less frequent sunshine may reduce vitamin D levels, further impairing serotonin function. On the same note, since vitamin D encourages serotonin activity, vitamin D deficiencies may worsen these issues. Individuals with SAD overproduce the hormone melatonin, which is essential for preserving the regular sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin overproduction can make you feel more sleepy.

5 Ways to Shift Your Mood During the Winter

You don’t have to suffer silently through the symptoms or be SAD alone. Experts offer different treatments to help people experiencing SAD as their mental health takes a dive. Overcome the winter blues and discover which sustainable treatments work best to overcome your SAD!

Keep Active & Regulate Your Temperature

A midday walk might be exactly what you need to boost your mood! Winter typically means less light and more darkness, making you want to hibernate all day. Instead, if you’re feeling stressed, get outside when the sun is shining. But don’t forget to wear sunscreen!

Being exposed to sunlight wakes your body up and allows it to adjust to its normal sleep-wake cycle. On days when the weather is too much, stay active with a dance workout, then end the day with a hot bath or shower to unwind.

Maintain a Proper Diet

It’s time for holiday meals galore! When stressed, it’s easy to reach for more than a snack or two. Food that is high in fat, carbohydrates, and sugar will spike your blood sugar, and then it will drop. So you may feel more energized initially. But in the long run, you get tired and your bad mood intensifies, leading to a Sugar Crash.

Don’t cut out your favorite snacks completely! Eat them in moderation. Fill your belly with healthy and filling meals that will give you the energy you need. Despite the chilly weather, you’ll feel less groggy and accomplish your daily tasks.

Look into Effective Relaxation Techniques

Anxiety and stress often go hand in hand with a winter slump. Both are damaging to your health and may have lasting negative effects if not properly addressed or treated.

When you’re feeling creeping negativity this winter season, explore meditation and relaxation techniques. It may help to do deep conscious breaths, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, and massages.

If you’re stumped over how you can’t get out of your bad moods and habits, your brain may need some rewiring. Once you understand and acknowledge your situation, it becomes more streamlined to find which works best for you!

Make Plans & Stay Social

You don’t have to associate the winter cold with loneliness. Being around family and friends can help you overcome your negative moods and help motivate you to do the things you enjoy.
Avoid locking yourself away when your feelings begin to take a dive and wallowing in your negative emotions by yourself. We all need a little bit of encouragement or advice from time to time. You might just make your friend’s day too!

Seek Help

Old habits bite hard, and you need a hand to discover your appropriate stress response. Even baby steps count as progress! Consulting an expert may provide you with more clarity on your situation. Peak Brain Centers can offer the best method or treatment for you to overcome SAD – And we’re just a phone call away!

Overcome your Winter Blues with Peak Brain Centers!

We at Peak Brain Centers care for your well-being so you can find your life purpose. We want you to be better, and we have the means to achieve that. We use neurofeedback therapy and proper nutrition to give your brain the boost it needs.

Get a free consultation to shift your negative mood and mitigate your Seasonal Affective Disorder today! Understand yourself better and have your questions answered at Peak Brain Centers.

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