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10 Ways to Prepare Your Mental Health for Winter

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October 7th, 2022

By Jane Marsh

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

The change in seasons from hot summer weather to the crisp chill of fall heralds a time of cozy nights in. For many, this is an exciting period filled with warm soup, good books, and sipping on hot cocoa under a fuzzy blanket.

However, not everyone gets this eager. For some, the shift to colder months means less time spent with family and friends, not enough sunlight, and too long stuck indoors. While both experiences are entirely valid, the latter’s emphasis on certain negative aspects of the cold months may hint at an underlying problem.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) rears its ugly head as the days get shorter and colder.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians 4-6% of the population may experience winter depression in any given year. As many as 10-20% may get mild cases of SAD. Symptoms include fatigue, social isolation, loss of interest in hobbies, weight gain, and irritability, among others.

What Can You Do to Prepare?

If you’re one of the nearly 25% who experience some form of extreme sadness or depression during the colder months, you can begin to alleviate your symptoms by preparing your mental health for winter.

1.  Spend Time Outside

The lack of natural light during the winter is typically the trigger for SAD and the winter blues. Sunlight helps control your biological clock, serotonin, vitamin D, and melatonin, among other things. When you don’t get enough, your mood can worsen, your sleep cycle might suffer, and your energy levels could drop.

Cold temperatures don’t have to keep you indoors. Bundle up tight and get outside daily, even for a little bit. Go for a walk with a friend or just stand on your porch while enjoying a hot coffee. The sunshine and fresh air will do you a world of good. Maintain this habit through the fall and winter months to keep negative feelings at bay.

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