Today I re-routed my errands. Instead of just ticking off the to-do list musts, I took a 5 minute wander into the seasonal section at Canadian Tire. Winter blues haven't been the specter this year that they have been in winters past. But this is the season for getting ahead of them, and one of the ways I do that is by thinking about dirt and fertilizer and seeds.
There's something about the scent of earth and the hope that I'll soon have a spade in one hand, and a satchel of seeds in the other. Spring doesn't feel so far off, even as February holds us in a winter grip.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder aren't necessarily one and the same. SAD is a medically acknowledged condition, and sufferers may benefit from treatment.
The Mayo Clinic notes, in most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
Signs and symptoms of SAD may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Fall and winter SAD
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
Spring and summer SAD
Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
Light therapy and medications may be effective in treating the winter blues, and SAD.
Canadian Living's online magazine offers some helpful guidance on managing mental health at this time of year. Getting out into the sunshine whenever possible is high on the list. Furthermore, consider taking up a winter sport, or throwing a winter social event. Take on a new project and set goals for yourself. Moreover, give your own mental health some of the attention you may not once the weather shifts and life picks up the pace again.
In addition to these useful self-care tips, consider caring for others. A little generosity of spirit can go a long way. Take care of the caretakers in your life. Check-in with the folks who seem to have it all together. Give! Share your time, your heart, your creativity, your resources. It's easier to shiver through the winter doldrums when offering warmth and support to others.